Archives For Yoga

donut and scale

There’s a reason why the expression is gym “rat.”  It’s not gym “puppy;” puppies are adorable and cuddly. Rats are annoying.

For most of my adult life, I was a gym rat. I exercised every day; some days, for hours. I craved the endorphin high and the all-day energy boost. I loved being fit and strong. If I’m being totally honest – I also measured my self worth by how fit I looked.

My life revolved around the gym. I didn’t intentionally set out to make gym friends but only other people who make exercise such a priority can stand gym rats.

It’s no wonder. While the rest of the world was “aaahhh”-ing over their first sip of coffee, I was at grueling outdoor bootcamp classes. The crack of dawn found me running around Central Park in tights, holding a tire over my head. If an alien from another planet observed me from a far-off galaxy, they probably imagined I was some kind of AAA superhero.

“Flat tire on 86th street? Car Repair Woman saves the day!”

 

During my exercise mania days, I ate “clean” most of the time, which means, I stripped every bit of fun out of the experience of eating. Every day I ate grilled whatchamadingle with a side of steamed doojawockey. I removed sugar, alcohol and complex carbs out of my diet, along with the will to live.

I lifted weights. I trained with kettle bells. I climbed a zillion steps to nowhere on the stairmaster. I yoga’d and spun and kick boxed.

I set impractical and ludicrous fitness goals, like being able to do 20 unassisted pull ups. As my parting gift for this achievement, I received permanently jacked up shoulder joints. I have bone spurs in both rotator cuffs. It feels like tiny angry gladiators are spearing me right where my wings would attach to my body. If I had wings.

I’m supposed to get the spurs surgically removed, but I have to recuperate in a shoulder sling for months. It’s not really practical at this time in my life, or any other time for that matter, since I won’t be able to drive, eat, sleep or wipe my vag after peeing.

Over the years, I’ve injured every part of my body exercising. I’ve pulled muscles, pinched nerves and torn cartilage.

I sprained my asshole.

 

There were other downsides to being an exercise devotee. Going to the gym was time-consuming. Aside from exercising, there’s also getting changed, traveling to and from the gym, showering afterwards – it took up hours of my day.

I put more energy into my relationship with exercise than I did with a living human being.

 

A little over a year ago, I started to dread exercising. I could no longer bear the sight, sounds or smells of the gym.

So I stopped. I know exercise burn out when I feel it.

Playing exercise hooky freed up so much of my time that day, I was delighted. Was this what it felt like when you’re not a slave to the gym?

 

I didn’t want to stop exercising completely, so I took up walking. But when it was snowy or rainy, I skipped those days.

Once again, I marveled over all the extra time. Gradually, I just stopped exercising.

And then the dam…BURST.

I started eating junk food, stuff I hadn’t eaten in decades. Doughnuts, and candy bars, and cake. Carb-o-rama.

I gained 30 pounds. Of course, it bothered me immensely. But some extra weight settled in my breasts, which were finally bigger than a B cup. The last time that happened, Cujo the newborn was gnawing on them constantly. Now, I had a great, baby-free rack.

No one complained that I went from “waif” to “sturdy.” And the extra fat in my face was like taking a Black and Decker steam iron to some of my eye crinkles.

 

For several months I tried to burn fat just hating exercise, but it didn’t work. When I realized I was getting winded eating pancakes, I knew I had to start working out again.

I joined a gym near my house. The fitness director encouraged me to do some really extreme classes, but I declined. I used to measure the success of my workout by how much I wanted to puke. Nowadays, I have no interest in exercising to the point where I’m yakking in the ladies locker room.

I used to be hard-wired to enjoy the pain of exercise. In just a year, I managed to completely turn that around.

This has been such a paradoxical journey. On the one hand, I feel liberated. Those extra hours a day gave me more time to waste on the Internet write. Weekend mornings, instead of bolting out of the door to the gym, I hang out with my kid.

On the other hand – I worry about my health. My father died of a heart attack suddenly at age 46 – the age I am now. I think the the best way to avoid death is to become a moving target.

I’ve had to reframe my whole idea of myself. My identity was wrapped around being waif thin, and I’ve had to give that up. It hasn’t been easy, but to ease the pain of the transition, there’s cake. Mmmm, cake. 

I’ve started back slowly, going every couple of days. I do it only because I must. Exercise has lost its allure for me. The whole time I’m on the treadmill, feeling like a hamster on a spinning wheel, I’m counting the minutes until I can get home and back in front of my keyboard.

The only thing I seem to enjoy exercising these days is my mind.

 

Do you exercise? How do you stay motivated?
Is anything as good as cake? Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

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Yoga Class, Deconstructed

February 5, 2015 — 115 Comments

Yoga_at_a_Gym 9

 

It had been six weeks since I’d been able to breathe, six weeks since the blow to my chest had left my heart charleyhorsed with leftover ache and my lungs restricted. I was living the emotional equivalent of that hackneyed action movie scene, the one where the heroine has been underwater far too long. Just when you think she’s going to die she slashes through the surface and grabs air in big lusty gulps.

I was drowning in several different versions of the truth, all of them weighing me down like kettlebells tied to my ankles.

I had neglected my yoga practice for months. My once limber body had gone stiff, the way Skittle colored Play Doh starts out with the best intentions and gradually dries up, never living up to its full potential.

It dessicates, morphing into the humorless version of itself. Hard, but incredibly easy to crack.

I wished I was doing anything else except a practice whose apparel has become literally the butt of endless online stories. I resent seeing people everywhere refer to “leggings” as “yoga pants.” Those aren’t “driving gloves” unless you regularly wrap them around a steering wheel.

Yoga was not meant to be fashion and if you’ve never worn those pants while doing an inversion, just refer to them as leggings and I can end this paragraph a little less exasperated.

So I went to a Saturday afternoon yoga class; not just any yoga, but hot yoga, which, for the uninitiated, means doing advanced poses in a sauna. A room heated to 104 degrees, with humidity at 40%. I dread it. But I’m convinced it’s the only way to flush out the toxins that have been doing the Foxtrot through my bloodstream since those poison darts leapt off the computer screen and took aim at my heart.

And I’m clinging fiercely to the idea that I’ll have a yoga-induced spiritual epiphany that explains why I choose relationships which reinforce just how little I think I deserve.

Or at least lose a few pounds.

After the teacher chants and instructs us to leave all our earthly possessions at the door, we begin in downward dog, or in my case, sweaty dog panting from heat.

The teacher leads us in a series of sun salutations that get progressively faster and more complicated and I get in touch with why the phrase “hot as hell” was coined. I played yogi slip n slide in my own perspiration and I mull over the possibility that the organs of my body can actually become steamed.

I look at myself in the mirror, a vain counter-yogic move, and in triangle pose notice the cute guy behind me staring at my ass. I’ve noticed him noticing me before; I’ve heard people chat with him and his name is either Don or Jon; it’s hard to be certain in a room constantly waterlogged in sweaty acoustics.

Today, though, I obsess over the sweat droplets that have come together for an impromptu party in my ass crack and wonder if he can see them through the stretched-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life Lycra that covers my butt. And after I shower and dress and check my phone, he’s still lingering around the front of the yoga center. Which can only mean that he’s waiting for ME.

And he is. Don/Jon approaches me and suggests coffee at the Dunkin Donuts next door and I go. I go because it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon in January, and because my kid is with his father; and because I’m high from having pushed my body to its limits and from fresh blood flow;  I go because I like Don/Jon’s puppy doggish exuberance and his obvious pursuit of me – but mostly, I go because I love coffee.

I really love coffee.

My caffeine addiction is the only one I have that hasn’t pushed my dreams off a cliff. I’ve never risked my life for coffee. Not that I wouldn’t; it’s just that one doesn’t have to cruise questionable neighborhoods to procure coffee.

Up close and away from the curtain of steam that blurs everything in the room, Don/Jon is really cute. Lithe, sinewy yoga body aside, he has great hair, a sexy smile and  a killer sense of humor.

I’m not typically attracted to men who do yoga. Every downward douche I’ve ever seen in a yoga class has ended up hooking up with one of the women in the class. It’s why they GO. But I like the idea that I accepted his invitation; that I’m not so jaded that I can’t still occasionally surprise myself.

Coffee talk stretches into late afternoon and I’m surprised to see that its getting dark out. And surprised even more when Don/Jon asks if I’d like to try a Mexican restaurant near his house that he says makes the freshest Pico de gallo this side of Guadalajara. And killer Margaritas, although I don’t really drink.

But I did that evening.

Tequila augments my natural flirtiness and my insecurities are alcohol soluble. I feel attractive because I can feel that he feels attracted to ME. Which is less like an Escher painting than it sounds.

I get tipsy, which shuts off some of the noise in my brain but turns on other noise. We bond over our love for movies, and music, and Breaking Bad, which he talks me into watching at his house.

We end up back at his townhouse, where he makes us more Margaritas and now I am drunk. He has an enormous cozy plush grey couch which looks like a big blimpy manatee, and I sink into the Netflix imprint his butt left in the corner cushion.

Predictably, he starts to kiss me and I haven’t decided how attracted I am to him. But I’m drunk and cozy and sunk into his manatee couch, and at the moment I’d rather kiss him back then push my tequilla-drenched ass into the frosty night.

I hate the cold.

We have 20 minutes of nondescript sex and afterwards he winds around me like a broken slinky.  And I’m thinking I’d like to leave before the sweat dries. Which makes me sound like a sport-fucking man-eater, but it’s really just a way I avoid feeling anything for anyone, and has a high success rate.

I often fantasize about creating an actuarial model using statistics to determine the probability of various romantic risks based on the engagement or avoidance of certain behaviors, and the emotional consequences of those risks. Assign value to certain behaviors and develop mathematical models to evaluate the future romantic implications of, say, performing various sex acts. Or cuddling after. Leaving, or staying the night.

I stay. I don’t want to come off like bitch. I’m anything but a bitch.

I just play one on the Internet.

He falls asleep and I lay there with his arm draped across me, heavy as a fallen tree limb and I stare at the ceiling and write this blog post in my head.

Until about 6:00 am, when dawn’s first light streaks across the sky and I noiselessly hurry to leave, like a vampire in reverse. I get dressed and gather my things and tip toe out, leaving him asleep.

I feel like a ninja escaping into the bruise-colored dawn. I make a clean getaway

I think about him one more time as I pull into my driveway; just once more so I can leave him outside and that’s when it occurs to me, I never found out if his name is Don or Jon. Which bothers me less than the fact that I’m going to have to find a new yoga studio.

 

I don’t have any specific questions. I’m just glad you’re here.
Talk to me.   I’m listening.

lovewill

There are quite a few list posts going around.

So here are is a list of 21 Things I Irrationally Love.

I try to explain them. Which is paradoxical, because, by definition, they are irrational.

 

1. Patti Smith. She melded poetry with kick ass rock and roll, helping to define the punk/underground rock scene. My brother put her debut record, a 45-rpm single, “Hey Joe” with “Piss Factory” on the B side, in my hand when I was 11. This is why I am the way I am

2. Advanced Math. Give me ridiculously hard math problems and my brain lights up like a pinball machine. Numbers make sense in a way that life does not.

3. Movie Previews. If I’m at the movies with Little Dude, we have this thing we do where we rate them. Loudly. I love the stuff he’ll say. “A Must-See!” “Coming to a Cable Box near you!” “Emotionally manipulative!”

4. Yoga. We start chanting at the beginning of a class and I feel like I’m in a cult. Next they’re going to ask me to leave all my worldly possessions at the door. And the teachers say crazy shit. “Trust issues are stored in the hips.” The most irrational thing is loving Hot Yoga. It’s like playing Twister in a sauna. I feel like I’m being punked. Did I really pay to lay in a crumpled heap of my own sweat? Yes.

5. Rock Tee shirts. Especially concert ones. My collection is irrationally important to me. The CBGB’s shirt I’m wearing in my Twitter profile pic is 25 years old. I’ll die before I stop wearing that. As a matter of fact, I’d like to be buried in that.

6. CBGBs. I mourn its passing like a dead relative. It had, hands down, the BEST sound system on the New York club scene. It was a dive bar with cheap drinks, and my all-time favorite club. And I loved Hilly Krystal (the owner). I don’t give a flying fuck what everyone thought of him, because:

A. That club was the birthplace of New York punk rock and
B. That man covered my passed-out ass with a blanket on more than one occasion. So have some respect, yo.

7. Dancing. If there’s no excuse to do it, like being at a club or a wedding, I’ll make one up. At parties even when no one else is. Store aisles if a really good song comes on. My kid goes bonkers with embarrassment. Too bad. Payback for all those times he did embarrassing shit in stores when he was a toddler.

8. Fender Guitars. The sexiest guitars ever made. The Guitar of Rock Stars (okay, argue with me, Les Paul fans!) Whispering “Stratocaster,” “Telecaster,” in my ear practically constitutes foreplay. Looking at pictures of Fender guitars online is almost as good as porn. I said almost.

9. Teenagers. I’m a teenager locked inside a grown woman’s body. It’s High School Revisionist History. Because now I’m so cool, they all want to be/dress/act like me. I’m finally at the cool lunch table. I’m the fucking QUEEN of the cool lunch table.

10. Louis C.K. Not just his stand up. I adored his first show – “Lucky Louie.” It ran on HBO about 8 years ago and was cancelled after one season. But that was a great mistake, like Columbus getting lost and accidentally discovering America. Because after that, he went back on tour, and from there he had his ascendancy to stardom.

11. Black leather clothing. The standard fare – jackets, vests, pants. But I have a black leather hat that my friends call my “gay man’s hat.” And – black leather shorts. Don’t judge. The last time I wore them, my son told me I looked like a “bad Girl Scout.” He has no idea what that even connotes. Out of the mouths of babes.

12. New York City. I’m a die-hard New Yorker. It’s my identity regardless of my zip code. My 10-year-old already knows the NYC subway system. He believes himself to be a New Yorker, although I’m not sure if this can be genetically passed on?

13. My son. Little Dude. This kind of love is so irrational, it’s hard to articulate.
He’s hilarious. Weird. So smart. Feisty. Lovable.

He’s multi-talented. He can play the recorder worse than anyone you EVER heard. He also drinks soda with his eyes.

Oh, shit. He’s sitting here, kicking my ass at Jeopardy, and just saw the part about the recorder. He wants me to change it, and is now demanding $1.00 from me. He made me sign a contract which stipulates that every time I mention him on my blog, I have to pay him $1.00.

14. Baked goods. All kinds. Cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts. I could go into a diabetic coma from eating an entire cake. One cookie is like a gateway drug to the whole box.

15. The Misery Index at the gym. This is my nickname for how miserable you can make yourself while working out. Ever do a leg workout that made you want to yak? That’s a High Misery Index. I love pushing myself to where I feel like I might actually vomit. It’s a Thing.

16. Very muscular arms with ink. This has led me to do other irrational things.

17. Seasons changing. It’s a symbol to me that all things change, all the time. That I am capable of change.

18. The feel of a book. I just don’t enjoy holding a Kindle or a Nook. They lack the visceral sensation of holding the real thing in your hand.

It’s like – a dildo will do the job. But it’s not the same as a penis. You feel me?

19. The sound M&Ms make in a dish. I’ll pick them up in a bowl, and let them fall back down, just to hear that sound that they make. It’s like the foreplay leading up to eating them.

20. Indian Food. Specifically, on 6th street in NYC. The whole street is one long block of Indian restaurants. You walk down the street and smell cardamom and hear sitars. And you’re not even high.

21. The movie “The Graduate.” A great movie. An incredibly well written script. Some really amazing camera angles and shots. Phenomenal acting.

The back story is inspiring. The main character is a handsome blonde jock, like a Robert Redford type. And against all odds, Dustin Hoffman is cast in his first movie role. Totally against type. And he rocks that shit.
After the premiere, an older woman sees him in the lobby and tells him, “Young man, your life will never be the same again.” And it wasn’t.

I had trouble stopping at 21 things. I wanted to add a whole bunch of your names, too.

What are some of the things you love irrationally?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

This is Patti’s cover of “Hey Joe.” She melds her interpretation of what she believes kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst went through, with the rock classic, “Hey Joe.” Un-fucking-believable.

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never-give-up (1)

 

“Write what you know…”

What DON’T I know? My brain is an encyclopedia of everything I’ve ever encountered.

 

I know music.

Not just to listen to, to live to. I’ll talk vinyl vs digital.  Rock vs Bach.

I know music facts.

Facts that lived inside dusty leather bound volumes of Creem and Rolling Stone; vintage issues at the library on lazy Saturday afternoons.

I know the dates Jimi, Janis and Jim died, what American Pie is, and Keith Richard’s favorite drink. And yes, he really did have his blood cleansed of heroin at a clinic in Switzerland. By a dialysis machine.

 

I know theater. I’ve seen plays and read them, more than I can count. I’ve read all 36 plays in Shakespeare’s canon. I’ve seen most of them performed, too.

 

I know film.  I see everything. I’m an Oscar geek. I can tell you which actor has been nominated for best actor most (Jack Nicholson), who’s won for best actress most (Katherine Hepburn) and who’s been nominated 7 times but never won (Richard Burton).

 

I know food.  I know how to cook really well, and for a large group.

I know entertaining. I know how to set a beautiful table. I’m Martha Stewart, the leather version.
Totally incongruous with the rest of my personality, but true, nonetheless.
I set my table for holidays a day in advance. Sometimes two.

I know baking, which is in my opinion, a dying art.
Not enough people bake from scratch anymore, but if you do, I can tell you the perfect flour to use for the perfect pie crust.
And I’ll give you my best cookie recipes because even though I’m Jewish I spend an entire weekend baking Christmas cookies every year.

 

I know poverty. I know how it feels to have your toes press against the inside of your shoe, and not say anything because there’s 6 of you.
And never enough to go around.

I know wealth. I know flying first class to California and Europe; five star hotels, five star restaurants.
I know limos and champagne and things I have no right even saying I know, so I’ll just stop right here.

 

I know New York. I know it like you know a lover’s body, familiar and built for pleasure and you want to live there forever.

 

I know Ebonics and Spanglish. You can’t live in New York and not learn a little of both. Although truth be told, the Spanglish was more from all the Puerto Rican men I dated; they hiss at you in bed:

“ay, mami,
chupa mi pinga, mi puta blanca!”

 

And yes, while I’m on the subject, I know blowjobs.
But I’m only mentioning it because I’ve already blogged about it.
And because now my real life girlfriends are following me, and if I don’t give it a hey now, they’ll be all like, “what’s up with that? She’s all ABOUT smokin’ it.”

 

I know teenagers.

I know them better than you do, and I feel bad that I know what your kids are up to and you don’t but I’ll never tell.
I know rainbow parties and ABC parties and hooking up and “Turn Up!”

I know why you should let your daughter go to Wildwood after prom.
She hasn’t been a virgin since the 10th grade. Why don’t you just be sensible and put her on birth control?

Just don’t tell your husband.

I know…hes not ready for that.

I know what my teens have taught me.
I know they feel alienated and misunderstood by their parents. Which makes me want to be a different sort of mother.

I know how the education system has failed them. I know I desperately want to change that.

I don’t know how.

 

I know some famous people.

Mostly rock musicians, and mostly from doing drugs with them..
That’s all I’m going to say about that. But it had to be said.
Because it was all part of a big goddamn party I was invited to. And even though the party is way over, I’m glad I went.

 

I know books.
It’s the most passionate, enduring love affair I’ve ever had. It’s over 35 years since I fell in love with “A Wrinkle in Time.”
Quantum physics, witches, the timeless story of Good vs Evil, a bodiless telepathic brain, all mixed together in a mind bending story where I KNEW I was Meg, the protagonist, the outcast.
I was a fool for book love.
And never the same again.

And because of books, I know philosophers. And feminism. And history. And wicca. And architecture. And how all of those are connected, which they are.

 

I know drugs. So does everybody. Next.

 

I know addiction. Not addiction as partying. I know addiction as survival; addiction as coping.

I know recovery. Or really, just kicking stone cold turkey. No rehab. No detox. No money.
It took three grown men to hold me inside my apartment while I kicked dope.
It’s like a mother holding a car up to save her baby. You have the strength of a demon.

 

I know shooting galleries.

The kind you get raped in on Avenue D, but also

the kind you go to with your kid’s friend’s dad. Because, why not? Shooting guns sounded like a cool way to spend an afternoon.

It is.

 

I know sports.

Not organized sports, although I know I superbowl game when I don’t see one, and I’m glad the halftime show was at least a springboard to teach Little Dude some Peppers,

and there is that Yankees tramp stamp but girl, that’s a Bronx thing. Not a baseball thing.

I mean, I know athleticism. I know the sheer joy of the sweat, the burn,the endorphins, the high.
From lifting, or cycling, or hiking or yoga.

I know the bliss of a Low Lunge into a perfect Warrior Three. It feels like dance and mysticism all mixed together, especially with that trippy Indian music in the background.
Namaste, bitches.

 

I know fashion – or rather, style. Fashion is prepackaged. Style I invent. I take what’s left and make it right.
And when that obnoxious kid in the mall points at a woman and says,
“Just because she can FIT in those clothes doesn’t mean she should be WEARING them. Ugh.”

it’s ME she’s talking about.

And I know – I don’t give a fuck.

 

I know math. I know geometry which is useless, unless you’re a professional quilter.
And algebra. And I know averages and ratios and logic problems and calculus.
And percentages. And James Altucher is right – I’ve been saying that for years. If you don’t know at least percentages, you’re screwed.

I know I love math. I have a shirt that a student made for me “I love math.” I rarely wear it. It irritates people.

I know why.

 

I know LOVE.

I know love so hard that other people’s love paled in comparison.
We had a blue glow around us all the time, like moonlight. Even in the daytime.

 

I know loss of love. I know I’m on emotional lock down. I know I’m done with the kind of love I just described.
I know “Happy Ever After” really is just a fairy tale.

 

I know Death.

Too much and too close. AIDS, cancer, suicide, heart attacks.

Sometimes, I feel like I know death a little too personally, and that’s why I took some of the chances I did.
Come and get me.

 

I know friendship. unbelievable friendships. Friendship that have lasted over decades, and thousands of miles.

Fierce friendships. I love fiercely and am loved fiercely back.
I have friends who would literally give me the shirts off their backs.
She’s reading this, right now.

 

I know betrayal.

I know finding your life savings wiped out, your credit cards maxed out, your signature forged on loans you didn’t know existed.

I know being told lies. By people who abandon you when you need them most. When all hope is gone.
When you’re desperate to find one friend left you can trust.

 

I know depression.
I know post partum depression so severe I wanted to drown my own child.

And I crossed to the other side to a love so deep, I’m the one drowning now.

 

I know fear.

A fear that made me almost stop writing these words.

Until I realized that to stop these words

would make me lose MYSELF

because to write –

is to breathe.

 

“Write what you know”

I know Truth.

I know Courage.

I know Words.

I know

“Publish”

For a Jew I bake some mean-ass Christmas cookies

For a Jew I bake some bad ass Christmas cookies

Did you ever stop blogging? Or think about quitting? 

Talk to me. I’m listening. 

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