Monthly Archives: December 2012

locomotion


locomotion n. movement, motion, moving

chariots-of-fire-w1280

About a week ago my one year old took a dive into the bottom of my bed frame and opened a quarter inch gash in his forehead. Being new parents, we took our blood covered toddler to the ER immediately, where they closed his wound with 2 stitches – all the while, my son trying to continue the sprint he started at home around the empty emergency room. Later in the day, as I went for a jog to clear my head a little bit, it occurred to me that locomotion – specifically running – has been an ever evolving practice in my life.

One of the first things my mother said when my son started walking is that I never walked as a toddler – that I only ran. So it seems my son has inherited this trait from me. He walked for a few weeks and then quickly gained speed and now it seems he only runs. When I was about 4, I was put out into the yard because, understandably, my mother had had enough. I ran, played tag with neighbors, rode my big wheels and usually returned to the house at dinner time covered entirely in hardened filth. My parents bought me roller skates – the great old kind with the key – and I taught myself to roller skate on the gravelly concrete, knocking the wind out of myself quite a few times but keeping myself busy for hours. I was always moving.

When I was in the first grade, my school’s CYO started a track team and my parents were very enthusiastic about getting me signed up. My father had run the Steeplechase in high school and was tall and lanky and loved to run. After or before practices in Votee Park he would race me and I still crack up thinking about the time he lost his footing and fell flat on his face. Saturdays were always my track meet days as a kid. My mom would pack up a picnic lunch and lawn chairs and we would head to a day long track meet with other St. Anastasia Blue Knights. Back in those days there was no stigma about little girls and body weight. We were put into heats based on our weight, and since I was rather portly, I ran against older, faster girls. I placed a few times, but it was just fun to run as fast as I could for 50 or 200 yards. Although, the relays were the most fun. For an 8 year old, learning how to pass the baton mid sprint was learning the true meaning of team work.

In high school, I was a sprinter at a very competitive sprinting high school. Running became more of a worry on my mind, juggling a part time job and school work. Like so many things as I grew older, running became much more complicated. I had to make certain splits to qualify for the invitationals on the weekend and to be in scoring heats for inter mural competition. The girls that sprinted at my high school were thoroughbreds – the best in the state, even the country. I was always in their dust. I used to have nightmares the night before meets thinking about the starter pistol and the blocks that could add whole seconds to your time if you tripped up. Perhaps it was this complicated mind game that led me to injury and not competing. Nonetheless, my sprinting days ended in high school, but the way I would run as an adult began.

I attended Providence College – a division 1 distance running school and I am pretty sure everyone ran – in between beers and keg stands. Providence was a great, hilly city for running and I remember my long runs to the East Side near RISD and Brown. Running became a way to get out of my head. Where sprinting and competing once caused me stress, going out on the road and not worrying about time or distance was heaven. After a few weeks of conditioning and getting used to a slower, natural gait, running became my haven during some difficult times. It still is to this day.

When I was young, I wore shorts and a t shirt – nothing wicking. My sneakers were the fanciest thing I owned. I remember my first pair of New Balances and how great they felt when they were so new and bouncy. I used to have a bright yellow Sony Sports Walkman loaded up with a mix tape of music that I had recorded off of the radio. These days my 34 year old body needs a lot of gear to get up to a 5K distance a few times a week. I don head to toe wicking layers under a wicking, thermal fleece that has 3 zip up pockets – one for my Iphone, one for tissues, and one for my wicking gloves, which inevitably end up coming off mid run. I wear a head band, ear buds and if it’s sunny, sunglasses. I top it off with an occasional knee brace or compression cuff for my groin..all so I can be comfortable while running…a sad imitation of what once came naturally.

My son’s running has earned him 2 stitches in his forehead…a fitting entrance to a life of locomotion.

I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way.

I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way.

And where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within.

– Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

 

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5 Things to Do to Inspire Your Right Brain


5 Things to Do to Inspire Your Right Brain

I was recently featured on a fellow blog called 5 Things to Do Today. Check it out and be inspired!

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cynanthropy


cynanthropy n. a form of madness involving the delusion of being a dog, with correspondingly altered behaviour.

Ms. Stella - My Own Beloved Canine

Dogs are in their heyday – a veritable canine renaissance is occurring as I write this. They have their own boutiques and wardrobes, gourmet food and superstores. They wear rain coats to keep their fur dry and have special sections of the park just so they can run and play with their fellow dog-kind. There is an entire industry of groomers and pet photographers that make a living off of primping up their fur and making them pretty. They have entire charities existing to save them from the harm of puppy mills, hoarders and general mistreatment. It’s even safe to say that some dogs have it better than some humans. The top 1% of dog society probably lives better than I do…so would it be so “mad” to want to be a dog?

I suppose many years ago, before dogs and cats became only second to humans as domesticated animals, being or acting like a dog would have appeared as somewhat alarming. Perhaps someone with this type of madness would drop down on all fours and begin herding people or animals. Maybe they bit random followers or sat by the front door keeping watch and barked when strangers came by. Perhaps they chose to live in a glorified hovel called a doghouse in the backyard. I do believe that although some dogs still perform the aforementioned duties,  the majority of canines live a much more luxurious life these days (do you know anyone who houses their dog in an outdoor shed?) and that having the delusion of being a dog would not be that far afield from being your average college student.

Let’s examine this, shall we?

College students sleep quite a lot, as do dogs – over 10 hours a day. I fondly remember my slumber as a college student. When you have minimal responsibility in life and the only reason you really have to get out of bed is to read Ulysses and sit for an hour to listen to a professor ramble on about Kant, you sleep really, magnificently well. It’s that deep kind of sleep where you wake up feeling new and refreshed. (Once you have a child or a job, this never happens again.) My dog sleeps very much the same way I used to so long ago. She is a 60 pound figure of peace laying amongst down throw pillows on my memory foam mattress…the bed I worked half my life to afford…for at least 10 hours a day. It is arguably her bed as she sleeps in it far longer than I do. So one point for dogs in that respect. My bed in college was a glorified twin cot…which was an upgrade from the top bunk of my freshman year.

College students don’t tend to eat very high quality food – mostly what can be scrounged up cheaply or found at the school cafeteria – cold pizza, cereal, ramen noodles. One would think that humans would win out on the food argument, but unfortunately I have evidence of the latter. Recently as I was in the pet store buying some supplies for Stella, my own personal Holstein – doppelgänger, I scoped out the selection of kibble being offered. Honestly, I don’t think most college kids could afford to eat what some dogs routinely enjoy. $40 seemed the average for the medium-sized bag. This food had organic lamb and rice or bison meat – no chicken beaks or grade B meat. I even noticed Gluten Free dog food – because dogs get celiac too, apparently? And it’s not as if most dogs even exclusively eat only kibble. They get half of what their humans eat most of the time. Since most students will have to do a minimum of dish washing and microwaving, the dogs win this point too as their lack of opposable thumbs means they will never lift a finger in the kitchen.

Well, college students have indoor bathroom facilities, you say? Have you ever been outside a college watering hole on a Friday night? Well – there is a bathroom in the bar, but let’s just say some collegiate members have been frequently known to squat when they need to – males and females alike – especially if the bathroom line is too long. I would think that fraternities and sororities could support this point as well. I have heard stories but have no firsthand experience with the Greeks so I would call this one a wash between dogs vs. students.

I could go on for days but, all in all, I wouldn’t say wanting to be a dog is completely crazy or even very much delusional. They have to be one of the most loved species of animal in existence and are finally coming into their own. It’s quite arguable that dogs are treated better than a good percentage of humans. However, they mustn’t rest on their laurels. If the internet is any indication, it would appear that the cats are hot on their heels…

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flattered v. make (someone) feel honored and pleased

veryinspiringbloggeraward

Many thanks to Kaitlyn Fletcher for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. I am truly flattered.

The Very Inspiring Blog Award is really awesome in so many ways! It gives bloggers a chance to get out there and show their feelings and recognize each other for great things. It’s a chance to make someone stand out for their hard work and feel good about themselves and what they’re doing. Everyone should be nominated!

There are simple rules that go along with accepting this nomination, and those are:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate at least 5 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

7 THINGS ABOUT ME

1. I make really, really, ridiculously good chocolate chip cookies. They are actually from a recipe I found in the New York Times, but for some reason everyone that eats them dreams about them from that point on. I am very particular about the way I make these cookies, but share the recipe often. I believe in sharing things that make others happy. Don’t drool…here is what they look like:

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2.  I am having a hard time adjusting to suburban life. I lived in Brooklyn for 4 years before moving to Essex County, New Jersey and I miss it. However, I do not regret moving. It would be a mistake to live in a tiny apartment in the city with a 60 pound dog and a 1 year old. We would all be covered in dog hair and ready to strangle each other

3. I drive around a lot in a big orange Honda Element and listen to music with my son for fun. We love Montclair, NJ. Driving down Upper Mountain Ave is like taking a Hollywood Mansion tour…and the views of NYC are amazing.

4. I took my son to see Santa for the first time yesterday and this is what happened:

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5. I might be a bad parent per the above posted photo.

6. My dog sheds a lot and we have tumble weeds of dog hair all over the house. Her name is Stella and we love her but finding your dog on Petfinder and picking her up in a hotel parking lot in Connecticut is probably not the wisest decision we have made. She’s originally from Kentucky and was supposed to be part Bassett Hound…which there is no evidence of…her legs aren’t even short. She’s huge – 60+ pounds, looks like a Holstein cow and hates New York City.

7. I used to work for a very famous jewelry company in Product Development but took some time off to be a mom. I miss my job a lot of the time, but sometimes the hardest decisions turn out to be the best ones…I am still waiting for this one to play out.

5 BLOGS I’M INSPIRED BY

  1. Colossal – I read this blog everyday because it is amazing. The writer captures everything from wire sculptures to stop motion videos. I am always amazed and inspired by the work on this blog.
  2. Canadian Hiking Photography – I am a huge photography nerd and just love these hiking photos taken by Patrick Latter. I’m a wimp when it comes to hiking but these photos make me want to strap on a backpack and take over the world.
  3. Biblioklept – Book reviews and pretty pictures that get my imagination going so I can think of something to write. This is a daily stop for me.
  4. Kristen Lamb’s Blog – This lady is an incredible writer and an inspiration. She is strong and well spoken and makes me want to write more.
  5. Mind Pried Open – My husband is the reason why I started blogging…mostly to compete with him (just kidding). He is a much better writer than myself and much more cerebral. He’s the brain and I’m the blubber of the marriage.

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joy


joy n. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness

ravi-shankar-horizontal-gallery

The word joy is inevitably being said more these days as it is the holiday season. “Joy to the world” yadda yadda yadda. I was thinking about joy today while eating lunch. I must have heard it on some Target commercial or perhaps on a sign somewhere. In my mind, joy has a more profound meaning than just “great pleasure.” I feel like I often feel happiness or, more often contentment, but joy seems somehow more pure and untainted. I think we all have moments of happiness in our lives, but our moments of joy are far, far fewer and yet more crystalized in our memories.

I think the OED may have fallen short in defining this word so broadly. I associate joy with childhood. It is happiness that knows no cynicism – pleasure in its purest form. When we are children, we find joy in simple things – like climbing trees or being tickled. The idyllic childhood has you feeling this happiness in an unfettered, unspoiled way. The longer your span of enjoying this joy – or untainted happiness – the happier your childhood. When we are young, we haven’t experienced a lot of evil yet – hopefully. We are naive. We aren’t looking around the corner for the catch or the ghost that spoils it all. It’s a lot like the way a child runs – with complete abandon – because they don’t know to expect fatigue or pain yet. The moment is singular and completely in the present.

When we grow older, we collect the moments when our joy was abbreviated, either by the course of nature or by other people. We become cynical, hardened, expecting our happiness to be short lived or false. We are far likelier to experience contentment – joy’s smug, adult counterpart. Contentment is what we settle for when we are adults because joy is so fleeting and hard to attain intentionally. In this day and age childhood has been expanded far into the twenties, but I don’t think that childhood joy endures. It morphs into a strange hipster irony – almost a reflection of joy – that mocks its existence because it’s easier to be cool and impress people than to get to the unattainable joy.

There are moments in my adulthood when I have experienced joy like I used to as a child. It was not on the day my son was born. Watching him fly out of my body into the arms of my doctor while my husband held my left leg and stared in horror is not what I would describe as joyous. It was a wonderful moment in some ways, but there was too much fear and surprise involved to call it joy. I most often find joy in music…and I’m not talking Beethoven or a Puccini opera…although those would work. I find joy in just listening to all sorts of music and just being there, in the moment…or sometimes singing in the car while Graham bops around. It could be Katy Perry or Metallica, there’s just something about music that brings on a moment of joy for me.

Today marks the passing of a great musician, Ravi Shankar, who I became familiar with when I was 19 years old. My father was very sick from radiation treatment for his brain tumor and I had a job working in a factory soldering circuit boards. I was supposed to be a freshman at Providence College but had to stay back a semester because my father’s health was so precarious, as was our financial situation. I used to go to the public library after work and check out CDs from the basement music department. I had heard sitar and raag in the Beatles music I sometimes listened to so one day I checked out a Ravi Shankar CD. I brought it home and listened to it over and over. There was something very relaxing and quietly joyful in the strings, something I really, really needed during that difficult time.

My father’s tumor was in the occipital lobe of his brain and he had lost a great deal of his eye sight when they removed the tumor and could no longer read books – which was one of the ways I am convinced that my father found joy. I remember sitting in our small living room listening to my CD on a set of headphones when my father asked to hear what I was listening to. So I played him the Ravi Shankar music that I was so fond of. I like to think that that moment was one of joy for my father – just existing in the music the way he used to escape in his books. We played it many times after that and it became our habit to listen to music in the same way we used to share books. There was something about the sound of the sitar that healed both of our pain. It was like listening to audible peace. The memory brings me joy whenever I hear those strings.

R.I.P Ravi Shankar

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYlPcbNAPH8%5D
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ecdysiast


ecdysiast n. a striptease performer

demi_moore___striptease_by_lord_iluvatar-d50cjyg

Such a classy name for such an unclassy practice. I’d love to make a business card for myself with this listed as my profession just so people would go home and look up the word – then gasp in shock. When I first saw this word, I thought of Demi Moore and that movie she was famously topless in. I also thought of that chick from Saved By the Bell who starred in that movie Showgirls. Every now and then VH1 airs it with the addition of very obviously digital bandeau tops to cover the dancers breasts – which are prominently displayed, bare, in every scene. The digital tops are very entertaining as they don’t always move with the dancers correctly…thus taking on a comical life of their own.  I also think of Scores – that famous smutty strip club in Manhattan that you can see while walking down the High Line in the city. It’s such a clash of environs that it always makes me stop and giggle.

I actually think that the art of strip tease has taken a bad rap in our modern society. It has quite a rich history, as mentioned on Wikipedia:

The origins of striptease as a performance art are disputed and various dates and occasions have been given from ancient Babylonia to 20th century America. The term “striptease” was first recorded in 1932, though “stripping”, in the sense of women removing clothing to sexually excite men, seems to go back at least 400 years.

I suppose at some point, someone added the pole and G String, stripping away all of the enticement and attraction of the traditional art of stripping. As much as pole dancing takes quite a lot strength and agility, I don’t consider it an art at all – maybe a good workout, but that’s about it. In my new found learning of the word “ecdysiast”, I think that in order to call it performance art it should maintain some type of dignity and grace – and doesn’t have to show all of the skin to be entertaining. Take this performance by Gypsy Rose, which is perfect for this blog post I might add…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m9kd_nD1mA%5D

I believe pornography also has much to do with the modern day connection between smut and stripping. When women became more liberated sexually and seeing naked or near naked women became something that was common in the day to day, most of the mystique was lost. These days, you seemingly cannot avoid catching a glimpse of risqué appendage just waking down the street – even in my little suburban village. When you turn on the television, you are instantly accosted by sexual images. About the only channels where you don’t run into it are the Disney and Sprout channels – which is only because they are for children. Even PBS splashes some boob here and there usually on Art 21 or National Geographic.

We’ve also combined stripping – or staring at scantily clad females oddly…with eating…Hooters being the best example.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5M8hZWjsvg%5D

The genesis of food, drink and naked ladies can most likely be tracked back to the Playboy Club. A few years back I read Gloria Steinem’s “A Bunny’s Tale.” The infamous feminist went undercover and became a bunny at the famous club and wrote about all that the women had to go through to don the satin bodice and cotton tail of the Playboy Bunny. It was really fascinating. I didn’t walk away from it thinking about men being like pigs. The women wanted to do it. They voluntarily wanted to dress up like busty bunnies and serve drinks to men. It carried an elite status for them. What stands out to me is how Hooters is the antithesis of that older attitude. The bunnies had to stand a certain way, the costumes were painful. It was a strange art form, but admirable in a strange way. At Hooters, you only need the right…ahem…proportions to don the orange shorts and ogled owl tank top. Let’s hear it for women’s liberation?

We are simply no longer shocked by the visage of the nude female body and this is why, in my opinion, the erotic art of strip has become synonymous with lewd and classless in the opinion of many. Why buy the proverbial cow when the milk is free?

But perhaps the world has had it’s fill of Victoria’s Secret Angels, Hooters girls and celebrity sex tapes as burlesque and “pin up” are making a comeback. Instead of swinging around a pole to Motley Crue in see through 6 inch heels and g strings, these women are bringing back performance and confidence to the art of the strip tease – like our lovely friend Gypsy Rose’s apropos performance earlier in this post. Perhaps ecdysiast won’t be regarded as such a dirty word after all and feminists will have more time to deal with that pesky 50 Shades of Grey business…

 

 

 

 

 

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