Katie “Barre” The Door

“I’m not here to torture you”, said the instructor at the minute class started. Knowing people usually say the opposite of what they’re thinking, I thought “oh shit, here we go”.  

I’ve wanted to try Barre for a long time, but I needed to find a female friend to take me, because I can tell you from experience, when a guy shows up to take a class with a room full of women, they look at you like… Well:

1.   A group of pediatric nurses watching a newborn boy get circumcised 

2.  Like they want to search you for roofies

3.  Like “creepy” just walked out of the dictionary and came to class.  

Trust me, you would never go to another country without a passport, do not go to a women’s exercise class without a female to escort you.   

For the uninitiated, barre, according to the barre evolution website may be defined as “Barre (bar) n.: Exercise modality that uses a ballet barre for balance, your own bodyweight for resistance, and a series of small, low impact movements to rapidly yield a tight, toned and transformed physique.”   These “small, low impact, isometric movements create what is called “barre burn”. While “burn” is a good term, it’s a little misleading and here’s why.  Anyone who’s ever built a fire, or seen a fire built will identify.  In building a good fire, you need tinder (something to start the fire that burns easily, like paper) and then kindling (small sticks of wood or little branches that will,catch first easily from the tinder, and then pieces of wood which gradually increase in size.   Think of this muscle “burn” as the smoke that rises after the match is first put to paper, followed by the glint of flame as the paper flares I fire and starts to heat the kindling, followed by the hotter flame as the kindling is consumed, followed by the raging fire as the larger pieces of wood are consumed in flames.  Or if you e ever seen a building burn, you know that first there is a little smoke and then in a moment, the entire building is consumed in flames.  This is your muscles in Barre 

This might be just one of the thoughts that enter your mind as you stand, feet wide apart squat, your toes turned out to opposite walls, standing on your toes, doing infinitesimally small bends.  Or, you might think of that one time when you thought, “why can’t I climb a barbed wire fence, I’ll be careful” , or as a guy, “how hard can a split really be?”  Ever woke up in the middle of the night, with a charlie horse so bad, you literally levitate straight up out of the bed, to land on the floor, on your feet, massaging your cramped muscle?  This is barre. 

Ever gotten a foot cramp so bad when driving, you literally had to pull over to get out of the car to stand on the cramped foot to get the cramp out?   This is barre

But in fairness it’s a cross between the excruciating burn of isolating a muscle to exhaustion with the shaking and quivering which comes from actually having exhausted the muscle.  

They have accoutrements of torture including straps (yay bondage), hand weights, little green balls (I never did find out what the balls were for) , mats and some wooden thing on the wall about four feet wide and going up about 8 feet with little round rungs. My escort said it was for you to hang by, but she forgot its name.  The rack I said, it’s “the rack”. 

If there was a warm up I missed it. The class progresses from push ups and planks, to arm and shoulder exercises (if you want an idea what this feels like hold your arms straight up with your palms outstretched.  Now watch Gone with the the Wind.  Drop your arms). Then gluteus and thighs. Then abdominal.   Thankfully the difficulty of coping with the searing pain in so many parts of your body is slightly distracting.  

There was a clearly announced “cool down” period which involved a series of more exercises in which the instructor was not clamoring for more pain.   The lack of clamoring did not reduce the pain.  

If, like me, you’re happily wandering through the sadomasochism of various modalities of exercise, barre is clearly a torture session you don’t want to miss. I can’t wait to go back. 

Yoga Dragon Sequence or as I’ve Renamed It- My Ex Sequence

One of my yoga instructors is enamored with “dragon sequence” which I have, just this evening renamed “my ex sequence”.  Allow me to explain .  Since describing the dragon wil take more words than I’m wiling to write and certainly you to read, here is an instructional video. 

Just a few points not to mislead, before I proceed. I cannot do everything in is video.  Like, that twisting upside down thing ain’t happening.  I could go on about all the other things I can’t do, but let me offer this analogy as to what I think I look like when we do this. Ever seen an enormous male dog, like a lab or a golden retriever try to copulate with a small female like a daschund or a toy poodle in heat?  If you’ve ever watched those enthusiastic but misguided attempts to contort their bodies so the act will still not work, that’s me doing dragon.  If you’re wondering if I’m the large dog or the small do, take your pick. Also, there’s timing.  While this video is 7 min long, keep in mind we’re doing this for 35 minutes. 

Yoga goddess says this is to “open our heart and lung meridians of energy”. This is yoga speak for we’re going. To do a series of difficult and strenuous movements so fast you’re going to seriously contemplate your heart exploding while you’re asphyxiating from gasping for air, while you trying to control your breathing and not sound like a freshmen in high school in PE class having to run 5 miles in an hour st 9:30 am. You’ll also notice that the video instructor explains ways to “modify” the pose in a variety of ways.   Encouragement to modify your pose is yoga speak for, “please God  do not push yourself to the point of actually passing out, because our liability carrier requires us to call and ambulance for any loss of consciousness and that will screw up the rest of class.”  

So, the first time I was exposed to this “dragon” was a couple of months ago.  I really don’t remember much about that first time, other than spending the entire 35 minutes contemplating my mortality.  My thoughts went from an “OMG, I’m gonna die” to a welcoming acceptance and looking forward to it in a Jesus on the cross, “into your hands I commend my spirit”, kind of way.

Then we did it in a couple of more classes where I was just miserable, but not calling for death like it was a long lost friend who needed to visit soon.  

She announced last week we were going to do dragon this week, particularly because I had grumbled about it. Now I love this yoga instructor  because she gets so filled with joy she giggles. During class. A lot. Although I’ve become a little suspicious that she’s really watching me move through asanas and vinyasas and wondering whether I’m the big or small dog.  I had a choice tonight between the county bar’s annual holiday party in a spectacular setting, with yummy catered food and an open bar…. Or yoga class.  I marveled at my choice of masochism instead of a party all the way there. Hold this thought a moment

She also recommended that during class we might want to employ Thicht Nach Hahn, the extraordinary Vietnamese Buddhist Monks famous mantra, “as I breathe in I relax, as I breathe out I smile”.  Hold this thought too.  

  (BTW, my favorite quote of his is: ” “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you  understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”.

So I’m rotating and gasping and doing my miserable thing, and I’m marveling at my masochistic choice.  Then I realize I’m kinda getting used to it, and I have the epiphany, “hey, this is like my ex marriage”. Then I notice the “I breath in I relax, I breathe out I smile is not having the desired meditative effect and I think, “when I breathe in, I get divorced, when I breathe out, I’m giddy with joy” and all of a sudden, I’m in my happy place. Hence, my renaming the dragon, “my ex”. Hopefully I’ll learn from the dragon, oops my ex some of the same things like non judgment, non attachment, personal responsibility, self awareness, boundaries and compassion.  Or maybe my heart will just explode. 

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“Sandbag in the ballsasana” – A New Yoga Pose

“We’re going to do a wall class today.”, the instructor chirped cheerfully as we walked into the room, grabbing props and putting down mats along the way.  “Has everyone taken a wall class?”  I said, “I spent a lot of time against the wall in college, mostly as a hold myself up, last stop before the “I’m not too drunk to lay on the floor stage”.  (Thinking that while I’ve had may classes where we did certain poses against the wall, I couldn’t recall a “wall class”.  All the while various silly rifts on “wall” were running through my brain- “Up against the wall, M*^%#r F#%*#r!!!   “Balls to the wall”.). I’m open to new experiences I though – I’m in.

Class starts with this lovely quote by Eric Schiffman.  “Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are. It is also a way of learning to be centered in action so that you always have the clearest perspective on what’s happening and are therefore able to respond most appropriately.” That’s nice I think… stillness.  I’ll try to quit thinking about the fact that these first few minutes of poses are already making me feel a little gassy, and what Karmic Lesson im supposed to learn from the phone call two hours ago explaining to me the $600 in repairs my car needs to come out of the shop.  “Stillness”

“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are. It is also a way of learning to be centered in action so that you always have the clearest perspective on what’s happening and are therefore able to respond most appropriately.”  As she reads it again.  I’m feeling more peaceful – and gassy. And disappointed over this $600 bill. 

For the “yoga free” readers, many of the poses done all the time freestanding on your mat can also be done against a wall. The positive benefit is that the wall provides support and eliminates the strain in entering and holding the pose while balancing (because despite what all the yoga instructors sweetly chortle about “Don’t worry if you fall over, your neighbor won’t mind”, is unbelievably NOT true because your “neighbor” is gonna be downright pissed if you fall over into her, sending the entire line of yogi’s crashing to the floor like dominoes. 

Here’s one example of a pose normally done free standing but also done against the wall. Taiko asana, or triangle pose.

  
Like I said, what’s nice about this is that while you contort yourself into this position, since your back is against the wall, you’re not busting a gut struggling not to topple over. What’s “challenging” about this pose is trying to get both arms, your shoulders and your back, well, UP AGAINST THE WALL.  Or as the yoga instructors syrupily say, “providing opportunities to check your alignment”.  Ahhhh “Stillness”

So we get through 45 minutes of class and reach the final pose of every yoga class, Savasana.  A time of deep relaxation (or nap time for me, after I have twisted myself into such a pretzel I have actually gotten my own head up my own ass – which I have been told on more than one occasion even years before I DID yoga). Savasana is googled defined as “The final pose of any yoga class is one of deep restoration: Corpse Pose, also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”).”  Now, I’m a big fan of corpse pose.  As challenging as I find yoga, I can lie on the floor with the best of ’em.  Sometimes, people do savasana in “legs up the wall pose”. It looks like this:

  
So, her we are, at deep relation time, and we’re in legs up the wall.  Except, since we’re relaxing, I have my feet apart by about a foot.  I’m settling into relaxing, when all of a sudden she come over to me, and the guy on the mat next to me and puts a 16 inch wide black 2 lb sandbag balanced on the bottoms of our feet. Hmmmm, I thought, I’ve never been sandbagged in a yoga class, but ok. I’m open to new experiences.  “Stillness”.

I’m settling back in when I feel the left part of the sandbag on the left foot slip to the right, a little more In between my legs.  Then about 30 seconds later the right half does the same thing. After a fleeting thought about keeping my feet flatter and more flexed, the left slide slips again and I realize that if this sandbag just falls between my legs I’m about to get sacked in the balls by a sandbag.  And after all those twists in class, I’m feeling more gassy.  (Despite the common myth,  it is NEVER cool to pass gas in yoga class and sometimes the interesting look you see on people’s faces as they leave yoga class is not endorphins or meditation but the effect of holding back gas until you can feel your eardrums coming out your ear canal from the pressure.

The right side slips again. I’m normally trying not to snore by this point in a savasana, but instead I’m feeling sweat beading on my forehead as I’m trying to survive this silly version of a hazing episode from a military college. The left slide slips again.  I now sadly realize, and with some anxiety, that the sandbag careering towards my balls is an inevitability. This is all complicated by the cultural requirement that one not move, get up, make any noise or otherwise disturb all the other savasana junkies in the room.  This 10 minutes of bliss already feels like an hour. I’ve often said that I don’t understand why the CIA water boarded suspected terrorists after 9/11 when we had an entire legion of yoga instructors who could have easily extracted any information by using a variety of poses over say- 4 hours”. This is my karma for that joke I think.  I’d tell re anything right now to come and get this sandbag.  The bag finally falls and I instinctively slam my knees shut, catching the sandbag, pre ball smashing.  I did think however, how the human body can move faster than Donald Trump on a bicycle through a Latino festival on Cinqo de Mayo when a heavy object is hurtling towards ones genitals.

So now, I’m laying there and my knees are slammed together and my feet are spread apart and I’m holding ever muscle so I don’t sound like the proverbial old person who get up to cross the room and passes gas all the way sounding like an Evinrude on full throttle racing to get to the spot on the lake where the other guy just caught the 36 in bass.  I realize I look like a 10 yr old kid who REALLY needs to pee, but can’t get to a bathroom for one reason or another. You know, THIS LOOK…..

   Except I’m on my back, upside down, with my legs up the wall, squeezing a sandbag between my knees. 
 FINALLY, she starts the nornal wind up and I can grab the sandbag and fall to the floor exhausted and soaked from sweat.  

It’s ok, the next time an instructor come up with a sandbag while my legs up the wall, I’m gonna put my feet together, flex them flat, take a deep breath, think “Stillness”, exhale slowly……and stab the soft underbelly of her feet with my fingernails until she drops the sandbag.  

 

THE SORROW OF YOGA CLOTHES FOR THE HORIZONTALLY CHALLENGED

Here’s the Facebook instant message from my 6ft 8 in 125 pound  (I may be exaggerating his height and weight just a little, but just to keep him anonymous ;))  good male friend that started this rant: “In other news, I’m setting my running ensemble aside for future yoga wear and shopping up some yoga clothes – WTF?! Why do all the men’s stuff look like board shorts and hoodies and all the ladies shit looks like it works right (tight but stretchy)?!?! Discrimination!! Lol!”  My reply:  “Boo F%&#ing HOO! I can’t even BUY yoga clothes, because APPARENTLY, Im the only fat ass doing yoga with a man’s waist above a 36. AND THATS the extra large – O…  don’t %^&$ing get me started!”

Well too late, I’m started now.  Wait, you say, you may be thinking “its nothing personal against fat people, (excuse me, “obese” is the proper term), it’s just a dollar and cents issue – if there was a ‘big” (pardon the pun) enough demand for workout/yoga clothes for fat people,  businesses would make them to sell. Pfffft.   Here are my thoughts on this issue.

1.  Lane Bryant and Men’s Big and Tall stores – meaning that big and tall people, (male and female) have a need/desire for every other kind of clothing so you know there is a demand for workout clothes.  And, since at my last count there were 9,547 web sites which pop up when you google “women in yoga pants”  in which almost none of them are ACTUALLY doing yoga,  I would argue the demand is definitely there.

2.  But, you say, “that many fat people don’t work out.”  I would reply that “fat” is a relative term.  Also, have you BEEN to yoga classes lately?  I would say the horizontally challenged are more in attendance than ever.  (If you’re trying to get back into shape,  meaning you can’t CRAWL a mile let alone run it or walk it – yoga is a great place to start). And lastly, under the “treadmill as clothes closet alternative”, I would suggest that fat people want to lounge around, shop, and drink beer in workout clothes as much as anyone else.

3.  The people of Wal Mart website(s).  If you haven’t seen this yet,  you need to.  You will see people wearing workout clothes, (and everything else) beyond your imagination.

Here’s a typical size “chart” or reference from a website or company that sells men’s yoga pants:  “Size Reference: S:29-31″ waist, M:32-33″ waist, L: 34-35″ waist, XL:36-38″ waist, XXL:39-40″ waist”.  Any guy who’s ever had a weight issue knows how ridiculous this scale is. (Personally, when I lose another 20 pounds on top of the 30 I’ve already lost,  I may be able to get into the 40 waist, assuming its not cut like a 36 waist).    For you ladies who may not have had the misfortune to have to buy any men in your life clothing – this would be the female equivalent:   S:000-00,  M:0-2,  L: 2-4,  XL: 4-6.  XXL 8-10. (I would not want to work for the store to hear the comments you’d get that actually used such a chart)  Now that I type that,  I’m thinking after 7 years of yoga classes, and thinking about what people wear, that this may be an accurate women’s size list for yoga clothing.  My daughter recently lost 150 pounds, and I remember one year for Christmas, her godfather gave her a gift certificate to American Eagle.  I remember her saying, “Well, ok, the only things they have there that will fit me are the baseball caps,  and that’s only if they have a large)

here’s a classic example – there is a national clothing chain called Rochester Big and Tall which, wait for it, sells clothing to men who are, “Big and or tall”.  They appear to make a lot of money.  They have wide  offerings of types of clothes and designer clothes.  Yes, Ralph Lauren even makes clothes for fat people.  Here’s their offerings:

rochester what they offer

YAY!!! Active wear, casual wear and GOLF (shoot me).  Here’s what happens when you search for “yoga”.

rochester big and tall

Fat people want to look cute too.  I rest my case.  Rant over.  Ohh yeah – Namaste.

D.A.S.H diet – Deprived, Angry, Sad and Hungry

(or Hopeless, Hostile, take your pick) I think all diets should be called the D.A.S.H. diet. I almost spit out my green kale beet asparagus sawdust juice cocktail when I saw this on the news and then googled it. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet The acronym D.A.S.H really stands for 1. Don’t Ask for Sugar, Honey. 2. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension 3. Dying a Slow Hunger 4. Dieting – A Sad Hopelesness.

A quick google search shows that the reason the US News does this every year is that ALMOST as often, the NY times does an article on “what percentage of people gain the weight they lost BACK? 90% That’s NINETY PERCENT. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/health/biological-changes-thwart-weight-loss-efforts-study-finds.html

“See the top 35 diets”. “Best Diabetes Diets” “Best Weight Loss Diets” “Best Diets Overall” “Best Heart health Diets” “Best health Eating Diets” “Best Diets for Healthy Eating” “Easiest Diets to Follow” “Best Plant Based Diets” “Easiest Diets to Follow” “Best Jewish Diets” “Best Pet Lovers Diets” “Best Online Dating Diets” “Best No Exercise Diets” “Best Cross Fit Then Throw Up Diets” What is this, the Oscars? Can you tell in that list where I veered off from the actual list on the US News site into satire? If any of these REALLY worked, would we need 35 of them? Weight Watchers, one of the oldest of the group, ranked quite high. Watch the weight come off, then watch it come right back on.

The longer I work to try to be/eat/live a healthy lifestyle, the funnier I find all of it, and the more absurd all of it is. I fully expect, should I ever reach my weight loss goal, to get run over by a bus, that day or shortly thereafter, as some kind of cosmic punchline. There are no shortage of absurdities I hear everyday associated with healthly living. “If you don’t eat enough, your body will think you’re starving, and you’ll (pick one) 1. retain weight 2 hold on to weight 3 need to eat even less calories to lose weight 4. lose muscle. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH No. If you starve – you’ll lose weight – fat (and fast) – till you’ve lost all of that, and then you’ll lose muscle. Bariatric Surgery – medically supervised starvation – with them supervising the water and muscle loss part. kenyan runners

My second favorite and most diets/nutritionists are guilty of this one (the big lie): “if you follow this diet/program/health eating blah blah blah, you’ll feel full/satieted/not deprived content like a golden retriever on a goose down pillow petted by its owner next to the heater on a cold winter day. Bullshit. Anyone whos dieted any length of time (and if you’re one of those people who’s been struggling to lose just 5 pounds – i wish I could just reach through the screen and slap you – no, this is for those people who struggle with the BIG numbers) you know dieting is about, at some point, the deprived, angry, sad and hungry. The D.A.S.H. diet.

Here’s why. Three simple reasons. 1. If you have that much to lose you have broken you metabolism in some way and you need to fix it. In some way. 2. If you read enough, there is nothing healthy for you to eat. Processed food. No. This means nothing in a box, or can. Or with a label on it. Or in a bottle. Or jar. Essentially, nothing from an aisle in the grocery store. No salt. No sugar. No Carbohydrates. No Wheat (Gluten) No Meat (They have feelings,pain. Vegetables would be ok, but they have to be organic – no GMO’s. No corn – aflatoxins. Lots of mycotoxins in vegetables. No eggs – (cruelty to animals thing. What’s ok to eat – sawdust. Wood right off the tree is ok, if you have really good teeth, but crowns are expensive, so I recommend sawdust, and the tree huggers are a nasty bunch, so be careful there. 3. Considering the average adult only needs 1600 to 2000 calories a day, after you take into account 1 and 2, you need to restrict your calories severely to healthy options to actually lose weight. Regardless of the 35 diet programs you look at the US News site, this basically translates to one asparagus stick for breakfast, another asparagus stick for lunch (sub a brocoli floret or brussel sprout for variety as you may like) and then for dinner, 3 oz of protein. This consists of one chicken wing, or saying the word Salmon, or Steak very slowly in the mirror while licking your lips.

Here’s to healthy living.

Ebola update from the Future- November 2017

Panic continues to grip the country as CNN announced this morning the 123rd person died from this raging epidemic. Since it’s been a little over two years since this dreaded disease has swept across the world decimating the world’s population causing 11,142.4 deaths, 24 euthanized dogs, 16 cats, and one beloved hamster, Harry; we should probably look at how we got to where we are today.

The Ebola crisis helped the republicans regain control of the senate in the midterm 2014 elections. They immediately introduced a sweeping bill to completely close all our borders. This passed on a completely party line vote as expected. However, due to vociferous lobbying by their constituencies in the airline, cruise, train, automobile, and law enforcement lobbies, the airline, airports, harbors, roads, train stations, and bus line were exempt from this bill. So, in the last two years, no Canadians in go carts WITH OR WITHOUT Ebola have entered our sacred shores. They also banned airline flights from Gdansk Poland and Tolmachevo Airport, Siberia Russia. (These two airports did not send in their portion of the lobbying fee to the airports association lobbyist so they were negotiated out of the bill).

The CDC finally bowing to pressure, from well…. Microbiologists and virologists started communicating honestly about the disease. By this time however, they had lost most credibility with the majority of people who got their information from MSNBC, FOX NEWS, or the Internet. Congress got a proposal to disband the CDC and to transfer their duties to the DEA, which was suffering from budget cuts due to the ever larger number of states legalizing marijuana. The DEA suggested a “WAR ON EBOLA” in which people who LOOKED sick would be arrested, their assets forfeited in order to fund operations to go to West Africa to kill the disease, and those producing it. This was very attractive to Congress, which immediately adopted it, and also provided a great place to resell the government glut of used military hardware since Ferguson Missouri had to stop buying it since their recent unpleasantness in 2014 and 2015 in which more people died from rioting and police clashes then total Ebola deaths for both years.

The pharmaceutical industry, seeing a tremendous opportunity had a vaccine ready by summer of 2015 and the FDA immediately suspended all its rules and rushed it to approval. Scientists with the pharmaceutical company said that if 97% of the population was inoculated, EBOLA would be wiped out by the end of 2016. The national group “NUTJOBS”- (No Unctuous Toxic Junk 4 Our Babies) (a new national group which formed uniting all the anti vaccinators especially in light of the huge spike in measles, whooping-cough and other childhood diseases which were now killing children nationwide). Based on this endorsement from scientists alone, 25% of the population REFUSED to take it. Congress then introduced a bill making it mandatory. This completely split the two political parties truly demonstrating the fascist- protectionist, ACLU-freedom schizophrenia in both parties. The Democrats “We must protect you wing” went to war with the “right to choose” wing. The Republican’s law enforcement wing went to war with the tea party gun control too much government wing, which in may cases were the same people, which led to an enormous spike in mental health admissions, taxing an already overtaxed health care system. Nonetheless, the bill passed and the vaccinations were now mandatory. At first, the IRS was in charge. They revoked NUTJOBS tax exempt status. Another 25% STOPPED getting vaccinated BECAUSE it was mandatory.

Because it was now mandatory, it became illegal to get vaccinated by anyone except the government, so the DEA got involved. So did the old marijuana organized crime industry, which had been going out of business since the stuff had been going legal, so they started selling non GMO vaccines, some flavored, some for snorting, some for parties and some with other drugs mixed in. Vaccine use now jumped back up to 75% but these were just estimates because people’s responses to the survey depended on who was asking and there was an entire ANOTHER industry which had popped up selling fake government vaccine certifications.

The panic of the last two years however has been great for the media, and they have stopped hiring journalists and have been hiring microbiologists and virologists to scour the planet to identify new diseases and scourges that they can then sensationalize and just wait for people to make up facts and fears about. Not having journalists doing the news anymore was not missed by any of the viewers of any of the media outlets since news had not been reported by any news show in decades. However, most of the scientists were too intelligent and not good-looking enough to actually be on camera, so the networks started hiring more homeless people as their high population of extreme mental illness actually was an assistance in meeting the ever higher bar that was becoming known as “cable news”. They were also cheap to clean up, and cheap to pay, mostly with and alcohol and drugs and by this year, nobody noticed if all the news anchors were sober or not.

Coca Cola dropped its plans in 2015 to attack sagging sales with a strawberry colored carbonated, diet, stevia sweeted drink called ECOLA- to capitalize on it being a diet drink for the electronic age, due to its name, and its blood color. They also induced the soft drink association to file suit against the WHO for trademark infringement for the name EBOLA as being too close to “Cola” or “Coca Cola”. Just recently, the federal Court referred their case to the Patent and Trademark office, who is actually, sensitive to the argument that the name “EBOLA” is offensive to native cola drinkers everywhere, and is considering revoking EBOLAs trademark. While originally named for Zaire, Coke is suggesting the name be changed to the tea virus or the milk virus. This suggestion is not going well with the – you guessed it, tea lobby and the milk lobby.

Oops, I see my exit coming up. Gotta get off this interstate. I try to make it a rule now, not to blog and drive in downtown traffic. Safety first!

So… You Want to Be a Blogger?

After I finished my last post on my one year anniversary of Zumba, I realized it was also my one year anniversary of.. Blogging. Realizing I had even less worthwhile expertise, knowledge and ability in blogging then I did in Zumba, I knew I just had to write about it. Since I’m an idiot, who writes, as compared to a “writer”, I begin with apologies to real “writers”. I know you’re out there, I’ve read your writing. I admire you and your writing. There is no advice for you here. Probably not even humor for you here, so “click on” lest your zeitgeist be offended.

My blogging began innocently enough. I went to a Zumba class, and came home and posted about it. After a bunch of likes and ha, ha, ha’s and a few, “you should write a blog”, I went to another Zumba class and wrote another post about it, and got some more, “you should write a blog”, so after some thought I did.

The reason I’m writing this blog, is that the experience of setting up, and figuring out the blogosphere has been one of the most mind numbing, confusing, unbelievable technological journeys of my life, so as an old, non techy person, I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learned.

1. Everyone will tell you its “easy”. They tell you the same thing about having a baby. They are liars. Its not. Its hard as hell. Find that IT Computer Expert Hacker Software Fix a Computer friend of yours who used to be a programmer at the NSA and taught all those machines to download all our cell phone stuff and spy on us. You know, the guy/gal who, with all their friends, are always showing off always talking in initials to each other. “Hey, hows the IPXN, going? “Aw, shit, I don’t know, my CXPY is just fried”. “Bahahaha, you can depend on that shitty hardware.” This goes on for half a page of posts until you feel like you flunked out of 3rd grade. Yeah, those guys/chicks. They can set up your blog page for you. You can’t. Also, there’s a gazillion choices of blogger places to choose from and once you get there, 4,795 different themes to pick out. Its mind numbing. Just mind numbing. Just on this wordpress.com site alone, they claim to be responsible for almost 20% of web traffic. Here’s a good article on 10 of the best free sites. http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/best-free-blogging-sites/#!GfeLA

2. But fear not, no one will actually read what you write. All that stuff you read about going viral, getting famous – yeah, right after the little old lady in Manhattan who played her Chinese fortune cookie numbers and won 5 million dollars and quit her job at the sewing factory and is moving to Paris with her lesbian lover, after buying her great grandchildren a new house. Yes, that happens, but not to you. Or me. Blogging is like disrobing in a crowded public place. Which, I agree, is frightening and humiliating. Until you realize everyone is walking by and not looking. Or caring. Or watching. Or even glancing.

3. Pay NO attention to your followers. Most of mine are people selling: diet schemes by mail; ways to get rich selling online ads, or how to sell diet schemes, or how to get rich doing nothing all day at home, or some of it really makes not sense at all “something or others”. WordPress also counts my entire Facebook friend count, since I post from Facebook. This does not require that anyone of my Facebook friends actually READS the blog. Based on some word of mouth feedback, and just some basic logical deduction, I’m guessing that my 743 followers listed by WordPress actually comes down to about 6 people who actually read my blog. Which is ok, but…. you get my drift.

4. So, think of blogging as a big, narcissistic diary, drawn on a fancy Louis the XVI Mirror, in cheap hooker lipstick, that everyone can read, but no one does. Which comes to think of it, if blogging actually gave us all a little humility, then maybe its a good thing after all.

Zumba – End of First Trimester

I’m pleased to announce that as of July 24th, I have successfully completed my first trimester of Zumba and while I’m no expert on Obstetrics, my understanding is that my statistical likelihood of carrying this Zumba to full term is now substantially enhanced, despite my continued misgivings. Yes, the nausea is better, thank you and while I’m still having trouble breathing, I’m getting more adjusted to it. I’m a little nervous about what this Zumba is going to look like at 40 weeks, full term, but some mystery is one of the exciting parts of life, isn’t it.

On Wednesday, I was actually feeling good about all this. I had just come off a recent six months Dr’s checkup, where I had some pretty nice improvements on my blood work, (not that any of that was bad but always nice to see improvement) and I know all this increased exercise is helping. I’ve been finding I can actually make it for thirty minutes of the 55 minute class before I run out of air, gas, motivation and energy, instead of the 6.7 seconds when I started. I’m actually getting the hang of the steps and the arm movements. In fact, I feel fully qualified to taxi any aircraft of any size at any major airport now, and with panache, mind you. Yes, I was feeling pretty good on Wednesday…. and then I went to class.

I was originally thinking that this was my 90 day anniversary, along the lines of “it takes 90 days to form a new habit”, blah blah blah but then on Wednesday, two of the ladies spoke to me. One said I was a “brave soul”, commenting on a man who attended class on Monday and probably wouldn’t be back. “Many are called, few are chosen,” I said. The other said she thought I was slimming down and while not true, was incredibly sweet and supportive. That’s when I realized that I had completed my first trimester and now that they thought I might not miscarry my Zumba, I was in for a little more support.

But, hey, I’m no quitter. When I was in Boy Scouts, our summer camp was “aquatic based” meaning they offered every aquatic merit badge offered in Scouting. My first year I signed up for rowing- sounded like good exercise, fun, how hard could it be, right? Well, one of the requirements was to row the boat out to the middle of the lake (I use this word euphemistically – this was a very very large round ditch, of reddish brown, clay filled water, about 3 feet deep at its center), get out of the row boat, swamp the boat and turn it upside down. You were then supposed to climb up on the bottom of the boat, reach across, grab the gunnel on the OTHER side, pull the boat right side up and row it back half filled with water back to shore. We quickly discovered that I was so short, and as one of my yoga instructors likes to say and with “tyrannosaurus Rex arms” that I would scramble up on the bottom of the boat, and in order to actually REACH the gunnel on the other side, I would have to reach so far, I would FALL OFF the other side. This was VERY FUNNY to the other class participants and the instructor. This went on every day for a week, until I was covered in bruises from my neck to my knees. If it was today, instead of 1968, I would have been removed by Child Protective Services.

Camp Year II. Back to Rowing. I had what they called a “Partial” – meaning I still had credit for all the requirements, except the “turn the boat over”. Row out to middle of lake, swamp boat, scramble on bottom, reach for other side, fall over other side, repeat. I got to where I could do that 10 or 15 times in an hour, Monday through Friday. It had the same humorous effect but towards the end of the week, I started to get some of that special ed sympathy. Friday, camp over, another partial.

Camp Year III Back to Rowing. Still had a Partial. Row out to middle of lake, swamp boat, scramble on bottom, reach for other side, fall over other side, repeat. I’m beginning to take pride in this assortment of body bruises although the camp staff is starting to take this a little personally. Friday comes, time to come home – Another partial.

Camp Year IV I’m welcomed back to the lake by my first name by all the staff, some of which are first year staffers, but who have all heard my story. By now, its a mixture of respect and humiliation. Somebody suggests I should take canoeing. I punch them. I’m on year II of lifesaving. Someone laughingly suggests I get up at 5 am and do the mile swim. I go, and get the patch. Screw you, smart ass – I can do 80 laps – before breakfast. Now you go tomorrow. Wednesday – row out to middle of lake, scramble of bottom on boat, reach across, grab gunnel…. holy shit, I’m still on the bottom of the boat – slide backward, till shoulder pulls from socket, jerk shoulder out of socket the rest of way, boat comes out, turns over, cheers from bank of lake – OMG – I’m in the Rocky Movie. (Ok, Rocky didn’t come out for 5 more years, but I couldn’t think of a better movie reference for 1971)

I love that Zumba brings up every bad childhood memory like this I have, although I have to admit, that ever since, when I’ve ever felt like my back was against the wall and I’ve felt like quitting, I think of rowing. And that smart ass who thought I couldn’t swim a mile. So, I’m taking this Zumba to term. And I may even raise it.

Zumba Class 5.

Went to Zumba class #5 yesterday. The following contains pieces from classes 4 & 5 without regard to continuity or location but since I’m in a dissociative state, you might as well be too. Driving to class last night, I pull into the parking lot of the IOP rec center and all the oxygen leaves my body. Initially shocked, I realize my cells are like the kid who’s been bullied too many times by the same kids in the neighborhood so he runs at first sight of them.

I stop at the desk to check off my name on the three pages of registered Zumbaronians but the receptionist is speaking to one of the other class members. I wait patiently, she looks up at me like a fan of the reality show “an Idiot Abroad” and says with a smirk, “I’ll sign you in”. How can she already know my name? Then, Wow, I think. I’m not even in the room, and I’m embarrassed already. I’ve only been to Zumba twice and the entire IOP rec center knows who the fat guy is taking the Zumba class.

Waiting for class to start. Lady next to me says, “first time?” “Yes”, I lie. Dale gives you quite a good workout, she says. She must be the cemetery tour guide, I think. “These are graves, these are tombstones”. What would I say to newbies a year from now I think? “When you get out of here, call home and have them remove all guns, knives and drugs from your home”. “This is fun, are all your premiums current?” ”

Class begins. Why do gyms/dance/fitness/aerobics rooms have wall to wall mirrors? I googled it. There’s an entry for each one of those. One reason is it distorts the size of the rooms by making them look bigger. I know this to be true because each week, I have run backwards into the wall, my high score being 3 times, the last time so hard I knocked the wind out of myself. But I digress. I think the mirrors are a variation of “does my ass look fat in these blank”? Mine looks like an old dominion 18 wheeler truck backing out of a narrow downtown residential driveway ripping the piazza off a charleston single house while running over a tricycle. And thanks for that image from three separate directions.

And why are workout clothes so tight? I do now understand why some people prefer the front row

Min 0-15. As I enter my usual dissociative state it’s starting to have a familiar comforting feeling like macaroni & cheese, meditation, alcohol or drug abuse or the delusions from a major depressive episode

Min 15-27 I’m actually starting not only to recognize some of these steps, but name them in my head- there’s the “dog peeing on a fire hydrant while running” and the “heel to toe DUI sobriety test for drag shows only”. (This is how I did well in school, it helps me keep up)

Min 27-30. I swear I am dancing to a disco Hispanic version of the theme song to Gilligans Island. I know, you young’uns are gonna have to you tube the song, folks my age just peed a little.

Min 45. Lovely lady next to me says, “I wish my husband could come”. “TMI”. I I think. When the Cialis commercial with the two of them in two separate bathtubs first came out I told Leah, “if that stuff really works, they’d be in the same bathtub”

Min 46-58. I wanna take a class taught by a woman dual certified in tantric yoga and Zumba. (Yes, this single thought occupied me for the remaining twelve minutes)

Class ends. “I am the Walrus, goo goo g’joob”

copyrite. Lawrence Laddaga 2013