Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A Snapshot

So here we are, all standing on the back of the boat looking at 2008 dissolving in the wake. While I occasionally, and by occasionally I mean always, really buck forced compliance and status quo, I do think there are times when the value of the effort outweighs the commonality of the function. I hope that made sense.

One of my personal struggles is routinely looking toward the future and failing to recognize the present. I miss the"little things" that make life great, and the more I do this the more I suffer.

So, with that in mind, here's my 2008 recap and 2009 outline.

2008
  • Acquired an amazing horse (who I can't seem to find time to ride but love anyway).
  • Went to Europe with my besties. Most awesome trip ever, even though I lost my camera the first night we were in Spain. I leapt over a major hurdle somewhere between Naples and Mykonos and yes, I got my groove back.
  • Earned my STOTT PILATES certification for matwork/reformer; continued training and moving toward CCB certification. In the beginning, this was my secret pipeline dream but I lacked confidence and felt it wasn't something I was worthy of pursuing. I've never been happier to have been wrong.
  • Spent lots of quality time with my friends and family and was reminded on the last day of the year that relationships - even the ones you depend on the most or rank as the most infallible - require constant attention and mutual respect, and if you cannot get the blinders off of your own harness race long enough to recognize that, you might need to go back to the training ring. (Ooh, good horsey metaphor!)
  • Wrote more in my book, and had a haunting interlude with a source I hope will add to it.
  • Perched my toes on the edge of a fun writing venture with some people I love and appreciate. It's going to be great.
2009

  • Robby Of The Month: I have vowed to go to Mobile once each month to spend time with my family. We're going to do a specific thing each month and work ahead so that Christmas isn't such a barracuda. I've put my parents on a pilates program (yay!) and as I have no big trips planned, am taking advantage of the semi-staycation.
  • 20 Years Old: My class reunion is in July and I'm having fun planning it with a committee of great people. Here's to a splendid event.
  • CCB: Finishing the Chair and Barrel training and earning my STOTT PILATES certification there.
  • Draft 1 of my book - even if it's 3rd grade - by July 1.
  • Making more time for people and things that matter.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crazy In Holiday

Sometimes I be gettin' all crazy in holiday and by that I mean I could cut me some Christmas.

"You got your shopping did? You got your tree did? You got your life did?"

Those are questions I get throughout the season and if a bitch starts talking in September about how she has finished her shopping, I will hide behind a door and jump out and shank her.

Why is this? Obviously it's forced compliance and the fact that I have a HUGE issue with it. Please don't tell me what I need to do in the name of a "season." Just be nice year round. That would be an awesome gift.

Now, with that big spew of bitter out of the way, let me say that as soon as I am immersed in a holiday atmosphere - especially with my family - I'm all, "I'll be home with bells on, trim the tree and wrap the presents let the Christmas watermelonwatermelonwatermelon" so I do know I'm not quite at Grinch level. Just at Robby's Rock Bottom when it comes to the hols. So like any good 12-stepper, I'm going to accept that I have a problem so I can begin my recovery.

What might that mean?

1.) I have a neat idea for an abstract yet sustainable Christmas tree that I intend to build for next year. Simple, clean lines, easy to assemble and store. Say goodbye to fluffy synthetic fake trees and hello to art display.
2.) Summer shopping. Yes, maybe I WILL be finished by September next year. I mean, here's the reality: I have 5 gifts to buy and 3 of them are traditionally gift cards. That's accomplished in, oh, t-minus 2, so why am I so overwhelmed?
3.) Maybe even going giftless for 2009. Instead of establishing a predictable gift (I know he always gon' be getting me a gift card) maybe my predictability will be NO GIFT! Now there's a concept, right? I mean, I love me some people but what I love most is just being with them and having the opportunity to connect.

And so I give you photographic evidence of the legendary MSJ, new and improved with 40 years behind her, as well as the mystical, elusive MCV, who has sworn off her journey toward the big Four Oh. (You can do it girl, I have faith!) This was at our family holiday gathering Saturday night. I'm heading back down to the Coast today, after my yoga class, wherein I hope to "get right" and have my little chakras all dancing in a row so as not to be this year's Christmas Concern.

I'll be back next week. Enjoy your holiday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hummingbird Me

So just so everyone knows my schedule:

Noon today I'm trouncing down to Mobz to get to my sister's 40th birthday party tonight. Happy birthday Julie!

I'll bounce back to Ttown on Sunday, work Monday and Tuesday, then back down Tuesday night (maybe Wednesday morning), and stay through Saturday when I zip over to New Orleans to roll it with my homey and body clip 2 horses. Then I'm back on Sunday the 28th.

Guess who has earned himself a spa day?
Guess who is NOT doing a damned thing in January?

Me! That's who!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays

In case I missed you on Facebook or direct email, here's my holiday greeting for the year. And if this is the third time you've seen it, happy holidays anyway, muthafuckas! Daddy meanz it!

When I take Maddie walking through the trails in the woods at my parents' house, where I used to ride my horses (and fall off of them, sometimes even inciting a neighborhood SAR effort after said horse went galloping by kitchen window, riderless, freaking a non-horsey mom out!), I often marvel at how quickly the underbrush has overtaken the trails. And by quickly I mean 20 years but still, it seems like yesterday.

Like many, I typically protest encroachment by an uninvited visitor (unless it's Clive Owen in which case, visit on dude, visit on!) but I love the red berries on the highly invasive yaupan. I was walking Maddie over Thanksgiving and came upon this bush forming a canopy over the trail. I stopped to admire it and thought, "Wow, you bear this fruit and it's likely that no one will ever see it, but it's really beautiful and I'm thankful I was here to admire it."

And that led me to realize that no matter how shitty we think we have it, how Scrooge-y we are, we're all still very, very blessed and no matter how depressing the situation is we still have beautiful things around us to evoke fond memories, and help define our current moments. I cling to these recognitions when I get a bit melancholy; they give me perspective and make me feel healthy.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pokerface

I think this song is made hotter by the video, which I think is REALLY hott.

I might be in love with Lady Gaga. I know - so predictable, right? But what can I say ... sometimes that's just me.

Last night I picked up a neat little book of quotations my friends Schwynn gave me for my birthday, when we were in Europe. I was reading and laughing and flipped a page to SURPRISE! the Barnes & Noble gift card that was also part of the gift. I'm so excited. It's like Christmas for me all over again!

Thanks Schwynn!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Voices

I am very blessed in that my very good friend Joe has hooked me up with a friend who rents me his guest suite in the French Quarter, when I need to get my New Orleans on. The home is directly on Bourbon Street, just a few blocks from Esplanade Avenue, in a residential area. The guest suite is immediately behind the walk-up.

As a general rule, it's quiet. And yet it's also the sort of place where pedestrians have gotten just far enough away from the crowd to begin speaking about things of a very personal nature.

From my vantage point - comfortably ensconced in the four-poster bed, locked behind both the front door and the hurricane shutter - I can hear everything as if they're in the room with me. And over the past 2 years, I've heard quite a bit. Much of it is private; often its intimate. It embarrasses me, humors me, frightens me, and sometimes repulses me. And yet I'm oddly drawn to it because while it's akin to spying, it's not purposeful and the lacking element most spies rely upon - the visual - is missing. It's eerily inspirational from the perspective of a writer, and maybe how a blind person perceives a verbal exchange. With no other communicative reference (i.e. non-verbal feedback, physical perception of subjects, etc.) beyond the words, it's surprising what you tend to hear and retain.

Initially I was going to share some tidbits from the weekend because I found them comical, but the context here isn't appropriate. I think to fully appreciate it you have to hear the associated tones and inflection in the voices. However, I will say if one day you read a story I've written, and it happens to have elements of meth addicts eschewing their partners physical advances, or gay guys talking about their fathers' credit cards, or criminals threatening to kill each other by cutting off their legs, or ravers tripping on acid, you'll know its genesis.

Here's a pic of me with my dear friend Allie from the weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sara ...



OK, I've just purchased my first Christmas gift online. While there is no Cindy Loo Who to melt my Grinchy heart this season (what's wrong with me?), I have had a couple of nice experiences this week that've at least begun to temper it. I think what's wrong with me is that I've not heard "Feed The World" this holiday season and quite frankly, it's not Christmas until I do. Since I've been back in Alabama I typically hear it on our Muzak when I'm having a slash, and then I just hum it and sing - my favorite part is the George Michael vocal - while I notice that I tend to balance with my right leg like 6 inches behind the left indicating a possible rotation of the pelvis, and then I must focus on bringing both of my feet up to the same line of tile so that I'm balanced. I once got distracted mid-stream due to my ADD when a little bitty lizard found its way into the building and was sliding all over the floor tile, forcing me to quickly finish and revert to Robby: Wilderness Boy, capturing him then releasing him back to the wild, but that was last summer and had nothing to do with Christmas. Ahhh, Bathroom Crazy. Larry Craig has nothing on me.

A song I do love regardless of the season? This one. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And The Thunder Rolls

Between things that go bump in the night and the rapid onset of REALLY severe weather, I sometimes wonder if I were a medieval king (which I wasam), would my nemeses plot to overthrow me by a late night ploy?

"Attack at 2 a.m. He's completely retarded when awakened from a deep slumber. He'll give you the keys to his car and his American Express card just to let him get 10 more minutes of sleep."

Last night I actually came "this close" to doing something preemptive. The thunderstorm was so violent it was lighting up my room like daylight and not once, but twice, I heard the proverbial train.

Of course, I went right to the window and opened the blind (greenish yellow sky at 2:15? check!) then decided the smart thing to do would be put on clothes in case a tornado did hit, I wouldn't be found nekkid ... mostly because I felt like I was having a fat day. That was only after I contemplated going into the bathroom and sleeping in the tub which, can I just say, did not sound like fun.

I probably need some supervision when it comes to these sorts of things. Since I routinely find myself saying, "I didn't realize it was going to rain today," then right behind it admitting, "Granted, I've not watched the news in 2 years so why would I?" I need to be a little more aware of what the weather potential is.

Thankfully there's no sign of damage and I didn't even lose power. But, still, if you must strike, I think it's apparent the witching hour is around 2:15. Completely incapacitated, I am, at that time.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Janes

There are 3 Janes in my life right now.

They're scattered all over North America but each of them has a significant impact on my life, and I'm happy I have them.

Love you Janes!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Squirrel 2: Robby 0

I hate you.

It apparently has nothing to do with the chain and caribiner. Instead it seems to have everything to do with some sort of varmint being able to slide that green tube up while simultaneously rocking the feeder off of the small hook inside.

Seriously? This might be the work of something bigger than me. I have no idea how they do it. I just know they leave their little muddy paw prints as evidence and uneaten seeds on the ground as a testament to their power, like the woodlands version of La Cosa Nostra.

But I've got another weapon and I've already unleashed it. And that weapon is duct tape. I am taking back the night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Aveda Pure Privilege

And it came to pass in those days that skin was in, and God said, "Let there be blemish-free faces dotting my beautiful Earth," and sent a messenger, Horst Rechelbacher, to fulfill this order. And the result is Aveda. And if you think I'm not a junkie, you're wrong. I've been an addict since 1992 or so.

I feel it's my duty, and God's will, to share with the world that this weekend there is a major opportunity to get discounts using your Pure Privilege card.

Align your chakras. Enhance your senses. Send crow's feet back to their corner. We all have choices in life, and we can be pilots or we can be passengers.

Act accordingly.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Baggu: It's Not Just For The Enviro; It's For Christmas!

I love me some Baggu. I was thrilled when I got their email yesterday. I'd forgotten how awesome the product is and I love how they've repurposed the bag as gift wrap.

This holiday season, give the gift of Baggu. It will intimidate the plebians at your grocery store and make you feel even more hipster and eco-chic. And isn't that what this season is all about?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Squirrels: Prepare For Battle

I know I know I know ... he's just a squirrel tryin'a get a nut, right? Squirrel gotta eat too, yadayadayada ... I've heard them all time and time again.

But here's the thing Squirrel. If you ain't get yo' black ass off my damn bird feeder we gon' go HEAD UP, ok?

I know my little feeder that is Squirrel-proof pissed you off so bad that you had to figure out a way to lift it off the hook (and not in a good way), causing it to fall and disassemble, and putting me in a perilous position of traipsing down a serious hilly incline - in my Hush Puppies for God's sake - to pick up the pieces, but I've got a solution. And that solution is a chain, and a caribiner clip.

And just so you know, my next step will be my CO2 pellet pistol. That's what we do here in Alabama and I ain't skeert to pop a cap. OK?

UPDATE: Image of treacherous feeder location added to illustrate the risk I take in feeding birds and going up against the squirrels. Let's see if my chain and caribiner solution works.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Breakdown Here II



Just when I thought I was going to post something all reflective and sentimental and thusly went on a search of YouTube for Julie Robert's big debut song (which my friend Shannon and I love), my ADD takes over and I find this. And it brings it all back into perspective. Comedy rulez!

I went to a World AIDS Day event last night which was quite solemn and stark but, at the same time, really accurate and authentic. Several speakers were very moving and struck some chords close to me - one in particular who told the story of her brother and how he was moved by seeing a cardinal just two days before he died, and how this specific cardinal stayed around throughout his funeral and followed the sister as she was making arrangements, etc. The same was true with my grandmother, to whom I was very close, and while possibly a bit "out there," it really did remind me of someone I loved, and how looking out into the cold, gray, bleak yesterday I saw two cardinals in the now-stripped dogwood tree outside my office window.

Afterward I shared my story with her, and had a bit of a breakdown with a complete stranger. She gasped audibly once I finally sputtered it out because I think it may've given her some validation for taking a risk and speaking publicly about something many might perceive whimsical and trite.

Sometimes I struggle for purpose and affirmation, but I always trust a guiding force and higher power and while I used to question why I was put in places that didn't fulfill me - moreso from an anger perspective - I have come to look for the lessons I'm intended to learn, and the contributions I can make to improve a situation, not just from my perspective, but from the larger community scale.

I agreed to sit on the board for West Alabama AIDS Outreach a few weeks back, and last night's event really solidified the decision for me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'll Remember

Today is World AIDS Day.

Yesterday I was driving home from Mobile with my new partner-in-driving Claudia Schiffer playing the role of wingman. It's not the real Claudia Schiffer (she's far too old) but instead, my kick-ass little pilates client who has become a pal. I heart her like whoa.

As we drove into Jackson, Alabama, I was reminded of a friend I had many years ago who was from that small town. I knew him when I was 19, and we worked together in a store in the mall. He was 21, and the first "out" person I ever really knew. As a group from work, we'd all go out downtown before it was revitalized, to watch the drag shows. Because I was young, they'd pull strings at the door so I could get in.

He didn't stay on at the clothing store after the holiday season, and quickly we lost touch. A few years later I was having lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter and a mutual acquaintence was waiting our table. It was odd to see his face in that setting too (such a small world), and I asked about our friend.

He got this really puzzled look on his face and just said, "He died. Years ago."

As it turns out, our friend had AIDS. In 1990. At age 21. Dead by the time he was 23. Even now, nearly half of my life later, it's difficult for me to fathom someone dying so young, and so senselessly.

I remember him today, and I remind everyone that HIV/AIDS struggles are still very much a reality. There is no cure. There is no guarantee. Educate yourself, and remain committed to a cure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Heartfelt Thanks ...

Obviously even on our roughest day in America we still have much for which we should be grateful. The more I recognize this, the more humble I become. When I'm bitching about hating my clothes, for example, a little voice goes off in my head that reminds me of one the Gee's Bend quilts that a woman made using her dead husband's wardrobe. All of the clothing he owned made one thin quilt.

Or the news, for example. Everyone is so freaked out over this economic crisis, and I do understand there are many reasons why, but I'm reminded that as Americans what we stand to lose is still greater than what many have never had. Even me and my piddly little 401(k) - the loss there is more than a villager in Africa might make in a year. Life on our globe is not life in America. Everything we have is not a divine right, nor should it be an assumption.

Which is why I was completely touched this week when, randomly, I received a gift certificate to Prana from someone who reads my blog. It was so unexpected and yet so heartfelt that I just had to sit and reflect (before immediately using it online!) on how the act of generosity changed me, and made realize how petty my needs sometimes can be. But also how kind people can be. I will pay it forward, and I'm grateful for that reminder this week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4 Minutes



So I have no time to write a complete report because life is a mystery and I'm out here standing alone and feeling like I just got home and all.

Her bikini? Small.
Heels? Tall.
She said she liked the ocean.

Oh yeah, the shrieking is sorta a comical funny thing my friend Robert and I do to tap into our inner white trash. It's what happens when you put South Carolina and Alabama together in Georgia.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Words



While not the actual video, I thought I'd share this one anyway to wrap up the week. Lots of obscure Madonna material is out there and, well, there's only so much we can accomplish in 5 days. Think of it as a little Madonna sampler appetizer.

I still listen to 1992's "Erotica" album from time-to-time. It was really fantastic, despite the critical bash of the accompanying "SEX" book. I believe I gave my SEX book to my friend Wilbur during "le divorce."

Wilbur, if you still have it, I sorta feel like I want it back. And you didn't do "Jack Jack No Take Back" when I gave it to you because, at 39, that would've been really appropriate, so I think I'm entitled. But if you wanted to eBay it and split the profit, I'd be down too. Holla!

Everybody, Y'all: Madonna



At any moment I fully expect to see a cut-in to Denise Huxtable on the dancefloor with her friends - more than likely wearing a big cross and clearly a bowler because that's what you do in 1983 - followed by Claire and Cliff busting into the Danceteria to find her because she lied about spending the night with friends, then lecturing her sternly before, finally, they go home for ice cream. Vanessa is pissed, of course, when they return because she totally wants to be Denise, and Rudy is just happy for the ice cream.

Videos have come a long way, haven't they? I mean, it's stuff like this that should keep a bitch humble. Know what I'm sayin'? "Girl I know you all about yo' red string and shizz but I remember when you did that same shuffle-ball-change-twirl step with your little 'Everybody' song in that damn outfit from Esprit, so don't act like you was born trying to save Africa."

Also, speaking directly to my partner-in-crime Jon ... if you think we are not rehearsing that move at about 3:16 for our next foray into trouble, you're wrong. We need a third person to complete the concept, though.

OK, in all seriousness, I love me some "Everybody." It has had staying power, you know? I mean, it's 25 years old and you still hear that little "Dance and sing get up and do your thing," sample mixed in from time to time and you know what? Most er'body get up and dance when they hear it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Madonna: You'll See



Do you like how I'm now blogging at night? Didn't notice? Who cares? Yeah, that's how I feel about it too. I think it's because I've been a snooze demon this week and, you know, I'm OK with it. It's been really cold here and the thought of getting out of bed is quite daunting. Maddie is a late sleeper too, so she's of no use in insisting we get out of bed.

Though not hugely popular as a chart topper, this has to be the world's best breakup song. Don't act like it's not. You know when you've been dumped that you have truth on your side. The other scumbag only has deceit. That means you win.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Madonna Week: Nothing Really Matters



This is one of my favorites. I loved the entire "Ray Of Light" album, but I think I really "got" this one as a.) I'd also just finished reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" and b.) I connected to the lyrics as I was just beginning to recognize how little value I was contributing by expecting something good to happen to me, because I was entitled to it. The blessing was realizing that I was already blessed, and that it was my responsibility to share that with as many as I possibly can. Plus I liked that pulsing sort of camera-work and the whole mystical Dali-esque element of the treatment. Sometimes I still run up and down the hall dragging my hands on it and expecting a big bubble wrap baby to be waiting in a bassinet. True story.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Madonna Week 1



It's Madonna countdown week here at robbyjohnson.com. Yes, I will be getting my Sticky & Sweet Tour on next Monday night, God willing and the creek don't rise, in the - what? - A.T.L. with my homeboy Doc Martin and I'm excited. I need a little fun and excitement to put the shimmy back in my shake, mmkay?

And thank God for YouTube, where you too can relive the past 18 years of Madonna. Or just let me select 5 days of my favorites to share with you. Either way, you win, and I win. And do you know who else wins? Madonna. That's who. Yes, by being a fan we all contribute to her Id and serious bank account, as well as children in Africa and semi-odd mystical cultish practices.

But that's all ok. Because at the end of the day, she launched the 90's in gold Gaultier on a red velvet bed. Definitely the sorta shit one should have on their resume and in their obituary. Right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pimp Me Out

Yesterday I finally went to my mailbox which, can I just say, I hate and yes, it's because I hate a bill and all of the bloody structure and compliance associated with it. "Pay me, pay me," they say. And it just makes me want to slap a bitch. Freedom is my thing ... I'm a bird baby, I need to fly!

Why did I start with the mailbox? Oh yeah, right, so the thing is my "Eventing" magazine was in the box and I read it - not much has changed there ... keep trying and practicing and you'll get better. Horses are still horses. Young riders are still rich. You get the picture.

But what was included was the big schedule and rundown for the Annual Meeting which is being held in New Orleans December 11-14 and guess whose name was included in the roster? Yours truly, that's who. I'm doing a presentation on pilates and specifically addressing posture and how it affects the equestrian. I find this really fascinating. I haven't done any hardcore research or laboratory studies because I don't even know where to begin with that, so am preparing my presentation for a more general assessment and "ease of implementation." I'm excited about it.

But what matters to me most, of course, and not surprisingly to anyone I'm sure, is what I'm going to wear. I'm just going to address the simple honest truth here. My default concern is always the Robby In My Head who must be up there walking the talk. And bitch need to look fresh!

I'm obviously not going to wear what Joseph H. Pilates is wearing in this pic (but don't think for a second if I didn't have my little Ethiopia belly I wouldn't) so I need to get cracking on the ensemble. I have a few ideas percolating, but am all over the board with it. I need to edit and, quite frankly, how hard is it to slap on some workout shorts/pants a tank top and a zip-up hoodie? Not hard. But they have to be the RIGHT workout shorts/pants, tank top, and zip-up hoodie. This of course says American Apparel to me. Although I really want something from Prana. But Prana is s'spensive and I ain't sayin' I'm a gold digga, I'm just sayin' I'm a broke wigga.

I am, of course, open to suggestions. Pimp me out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wild Birds Y'all

I like to watch birds. And fish in an aquarium. In fact, I could do it for hours. There, I said it. In fact, if there were ants on the other side of something glass, I'd probably watch them too.

Which is why I finally took down my hummingbird feeders at the office yesterday (I had a few stragglers after migration but the feeders had been empty awhile and they'd hum in, look at me after attempting to feed, and say, "Thanks a lot, asshole!") and paid my friends at the local Wild Birds Unlimited a visit. $32 later I have a squirrel-proof seed feeder hanging from my office window dogwood tree.

The viewing reward on a seed feeder is pretty instant. Within an hour I had all sorts of little finches and sparrows getting their fight on over the black oil sunflower seed mix. This of course provided my ADD a major outlet, so I engaged it and just watched them for 5 minutes. Activity behind a glass. Lovez it.

If anyone reading this happened to be looking for an appropriate gift for a certain writer and couldn't find a.) a quaint Middleburg farm or b.) laser liposuction in a discrete South American location or c.) a year of training at Stott Pilates mothership in Toronto, I did hear he might enjoy an Audubon birding guide. Even a used one.

So the bird I am featuring here is a cedar waxwing. I remember once, as a kid, we had a flock migrate through and attack our pear tree. My father was all aflutter getting his encyclopedia out because he'd never seen such beautiful birds. And then we probably returned to a random dirt road project like changing a tire or oil or something. Ahh, my life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Slow News Week

So we have lots to talk about in the news following the election of a new president, right? I mean, why do we need to know the code names the Secret Service has given the Obama family? Isn't that supposed to be a secret? Murder over football game win? Conecuh County, Alabama, has you covered there. And let's not forget Jennifer Aniston's heartache nearly 4 years later. Hey, Jen, I feel for you sister. 2005 was a sucky year for me too. Here's the thing ... if you want everyone to believe how great you are doing, quit talking about how much it sucked. That's so white of you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Start The Day Fresh

Even though it sometimes isn't fun, I'm a stickler for making my bed before I leave in the morning. And sometimes I may or may not sing Paula Abdul's "Promise Of A New Day," except I substitute "day" with "bed," get it? It's those little things that allow me to just burst with creativity, folks. I'll let you have that one for free.

No, for serious, here's a link on how to get your bed did. My room doesn't look like this, unfortunately, because I'm rather sure I'd never get out of bed.

But I do have me some hospital corners and when I sink in at night, I'm snoozing before the light's even off.

Ahh, sueno!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spread Eagle

Don't even think this exercise isn't called Spread Eagle because it so is. And thankfully my IT is holding my feet here because otherwise they might just slide right out of the fuzzy hanging straps.

I am now officially trained through Intermediate level to teach the work on the Cadillac. I had amazing classmates and yet another fantastic weekend in Memphis. There's lots of good work to do to continue exercising both my body as well as my clients' bodies into more neutral alignment.

I also got to do ballet stretches with the trapeze and even did an arabesque, which solidified my notion that I should have a reality show in which I attempt to become a ballet dancer at age 37.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Namesake

I finished this book on Thursday night, and it was one of those reading experiences where I find myself a bit weepy (but not really) when the back cover is closed. "I am better because I read this," was precisely what I said to myself before I fell out comatose.

As a budding writer, I often read in an observation mode. By this I mean I find myself analyzing style and method while concurrently processing the story. Does that dilute the message? I'm not sure. Many times I'll proclaim the beauty of a book and someone will acknowledge reading it as well and mention a critical part of the plot or storyline and I'm like, "Eh? I don't remember that at all."

But I can always reference why I liked it based on how it was written. That tends to be my default: the story can be anything but the architecture of the words and the manner in which they hold up the visual component is what truly fascinates me. Not surprisingly, this is where I find great reward in my employment as a public relations and marketing professional. The final format - the executable or tactical component - doesn't engage me as much as the strategy and planning dimension does.

To me there is so much range in the visual and written spectrum, but if you don't craft the message to appeal to the audience, you're missing the opportunity to connect. I think this is the fine line we must balance in commercial writing to avoid becoming a "sellout!" (Hello, Anne Rice. Did I just type that out loud?)

And that's a real challenge when you set out to write a novel. What is the strategy? I think it's noble to write for yourself. It's certainly what compels me to continue slaving away at this story I'm attempting to extract, but at the same time I really do contemplate the end result and how it might be perceived and how it might affect someone else.

I think the reason I really respond to Jhumpa Lahiri is that she writes from a very realistic perspective. There is an intimacy created through the context and reinforces in me the insignificance of self-imposed boundaries and judgment.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Port de Bras

I'm off to Memphis again tomorrow morning to finish the Intermediate Cadillac repertoire training. One of my favorite exercises is port de bras, which evolved from Pilates' time spent training ballet dancers. I like it because it provides a really nice stretch as you roll down through rotation which, of course, works to strengthen the obliques.

I have a little bidness idea I'm beginning to research in earnest which excites me. Let's just say it involves a tricked out trailer and 5 months at Winter Equestrian Festival. And yes, NOLA JOEY, you can come with.

(Thanks Dolores Park Pilates for letting me snag your photo!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Changes

I think it's really normal to be fearful when change is introduced. It's what we do, after all. But one of my favorite little sayings is "The only thing constant is change," so I feel we must make decisions and model behaviors that allow for smooth adaptation.

Clearly I'm very excited about the next four years, and my hope is for a redirection of our country from hate-harboring and calculated discrimination to progressive, authentic practices which earn America a spot at the global table not because of the power we possess, but because of the responsible way in which we harness and share it.

Each day we awaken in this country we should remember that even in our most fearful of times we've never seen the likes of genocide in Sudan or the Congo, or the atrocities that occur daily in countries like North Korea. We are blessed to exercise the right to vote and, regardless of political candidate preferences, we owe it to ourselves as a country to work collectively to make our world better.

Remember, sitting by idly and waiting for someone else to make the decisions and do the work isn't going to move the needle. Capture your passion and direct it in such a way that it can make a change at any level. These efforts add strength and definition to our person, and energy to the Light.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Little Pony Update(s)

So it's been a rather crazy 4 days for me. The horses have been on suicide strike.

Fortunately the news seems to be promising as they get into outpatient rehab/support groups for their pent-up internal issues.

Rhodes had colic surgery not once but twice last week at LSU. I don't even own him anymore but still feel like he's mine. His owner has taken great care of him and he was actually in the hospital for four days before they did the first surgery, which repaired a hole in the supporting membrane anatomy around the intestine. He recovered and was doing great but had to be taken back in on Saturday as he had developed an impaction in his cecum. So far, so good is the status from Baton Rouge. Keep your fingers crossed.

Then Friday, Ouisie and her herdmate Ellie put on their Girls Gone Wild show for the foxhunters when they arrived at the farm in Faunsdale for opening hunt weekend. After their show Ouisie stood in the same place for about 15 minutes so the farm owner went to check on her and she was 3-legged lame, non-weight bearing with a goose-egg on the inside of her hock.

We started her on Bute and I went down Saturday morning to check and she seemed OK. Sore, for sure, but I wasn't concerned that she'd be in trouble UNTIL Sunday when it was much worse despite meds and some hosing. I was very concerned that there was a fracture and while she lives in horsey heaven, the big drawback is lack of modern veterinary resources. Fortunately I have been blessed with great friends and while I began yesterday morning preparing for a worst case scenario, the day ended on a positive note when x-rays revealed no fracture and an inflammation of the hock joint.

CAGP, my friend, is taking care of her at her farm in Montgomery, and I think I'll commemorate her kindness by, I don't know, casting a bronze statue or something to be prominently displayed at the entryway to the Alabama Cattleman's Stockyard or something. Or maybe I'll buy her her own Fisher Price My First X-Ray Machine so she can have it on hand when the cow vet shows up in cucaracha spurs to diagnose a snake bite.

Either way, I'm getting off the horse drama bandwagon.

I think Wiffle and I are about to embark on our new lives as foxhunters and I'm really excited about it! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Clear Lenses ...

It's hard out there for a pimp.

If I had to give this week some metaphorical lift, I'd say it's been a half-dolla pimp trying to sell some twenty-five cent ho's.

And I hate it when that happens.

The good news is:

  1. The Cadillac. It's like this exercise salvation for me and I love it - really - in ways that probably aren't healthy.
  2. My friend Marcia organized the cutest Canine Costume party Monday night at the park pavilion down on the river. It was so much fun. Maddie wore her Barbour-esque coat as it was quite cold and while it wasn't so much a costume, my friend Katherine quickly labeled her Camilla Parker Bowles.
  3. I have tickets to the game tomorrow. Whee!
  4. My cousin Lindsay (MCL) started my week off on a hysterical note. So she's 18 and has just moved up here to Tuscany to get her education on. She lives in a small apartment and at 6:45 a.m. my phone rang so, worrier that I am, I tackled it and this little sad traumatized voice started explaining that a mouse had run over her foot while she was drying off from showering. She was trapped on her sofa and freaking out. Unfortunately I had an early morning at la oficina so I had to do a rational talk down and, fortunately, she has survived the week without any additional mouse attacks. She still has eyes in the back of her head, though.
The bad news:

  1. I attempted to transfer some important files to a CD at work and instead wound up deleting them. Who does that anymore? I mean, that's such a lame, newbie thing to do. And, yet, I did it. Goodbye comprehensive pilates study guide all beautifully formatted in InDesign. I shall recreate you. I shall rebuild you.
  2. I am still in major mourning over a loss of critical skillsets but, more important, am concerned for my friends who need to find avenues for expressing them. I'm doing what I can to help. We will persevere!
  3. I am gut wrenched that my former horse had colic surgery last night at LSU. He's apparently fine but, still, it was a dagger through the heart.
And that's it. This week in review. I'm hoping November ushers in some change. Remember to vote on Tuesday, and have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remembering Ann Pressly

When I initially read this story last week, when Ann was still alive, I was sick to my stomach. While I didn't know Ann very well, we did meet on a few occasions regarding a project which benefited the Humane Society of Pulaski County I worked on with my friends while I lived in Little Rock. Ann was a huge supporter and gave us great time on Good Morning Arkansas, and genuinely had interest in the project.

My impression of her was no different than everyone else's. She was so full of life, warmth, and energy the room simply ignited when she was in it. She was talented. Not only was she stunning on the surface, she was exceptional as a broadcaster and savvy as a journalist. She knew what stories were relevant and she went after them with zest, and ing them with such precision it amazed me when I realized just how young she was.

This is a horrible, senseless tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with Ann's family.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Absolutely ...

Asking me to determine my favorite Absolutely Fabulous episode is like asking me to name my favorite Madonna song. And if you think that wasn't 2008's most honest stereotypical confession, you're wrong. But in these times of struggle, one must retain perspective where creative and artistic influence are concerned. There's an episode of AbFab wherein Edina and Saffy are awakened in the middle of the night with their house on fire. It's very panicky and Edina insists on changing amidst the mayhem and as she's flicking through her closet says, disgustedly, "God I hate all of my clothes."

I do this from time to time as well. It's like one day I just look in the closet and think, "I have to adapt!" Granted, I have limited dolores these days for a serious wardrobe update because, like most intelligent people facing economic recession I've put my thousands of saved retirement dollars in a Swiss Bank Account opted to educate myself as a pilates instructor. And you know, this isn't such a bad gig because what do you wear to work everyday? Workout clothing! Hoorah!

But because my full-time job helps me pay my bills, helps me pay my telephone bill, helps me pay my automobile, because it does so baby we can chill - OK, sorry, I listened to my Destiny's Child #1's CD yesterday somewhere between Tupelo and West Point, Mississippi, and stop judging because it was awesome - I need some enhanced work apparel.

Who's up for a sniff around The Summit?

On another note ... the Cadillac RULES in all things pilates and I've decided to marry the one at our studio. I've lived just long enough to realize you don't need a million dollars, you don't need some scrub (male or female) sweating you, trying to suck the life out ... you just need pilates. End of story.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Things That Go Bump In The Night

I'm not even kidding, at like 2:46 a.m. something fell or crashed or broke in my apartment. It was a bone chilling shatter that woke me from a dead sleep.

I got up to investigate and, like you do at 2:46 a.m., didn't really think strategically. Instead, I stood at my door and asked, aloud, "What was that?"

I don't know if I expected it to answer, "Oh it was just me, the window, shattering as a result of that Molotov cocktail that just got tossed in," or if I thought Maddie would answer with a, "Don't worry, it was probably nothing."

So I did the next logical thing which was turned around and climbed back in bed.

And as it turns out, it was a chrome wire hook on suction cups that had fallen in the tub.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Pictures

Yesterday morning I slept until 7 because the power had gone off and of course I didn't know. EEK! I had to rush around, miss coffee (a REALLY big deal for me), and didn't make my bed. I abhor this sort of thing but damn it felt good to sleep.

And I think that's why I was able to deliver on a few critical things yesterday at work: maximizing priorities and making informed decisions, regardless of perceived reactions, continues to be my focus.

As a strategist, I struggle sometimes with tactical execution. My strength is seeing a big picture and understanding what needs to happen, then identifying and delegating to the appropriate resources. Fortunately I have significant competencies in my network and together we make great things happen, so Hilary was right - it really does take a village.

That's not to say I don't have some tactical skill. I do, in fact, have a little bit of experience in many things. But as the orchestra conductor or 6-team carriage driver, I must pick and choose carefully when to practice because if I'm gone too long the music gets off tune and the horses start running blindly.

With that said, I love me some fonts.

For some crazy reason, I can see a picture in my head and know exactly how I want it to appear in a final stage, but having lacked technical skill in design/desktop publishing, felt a bit trapped by not being able to create it. As an artist it's a little bit easier, right? Just brush, paint, and canvas, and you're on your way. Mouse clicks meeting a lexicon of design language that one might sort of comprehend but not maintain fluency is daunting.

But when I get all of the elements together - the tools, the bones, the structure - I am able to move from that static state to more of a vertical path. It's like getting on a ladder at the bottom rung and climbing toward the top. Each step gets you closer. And suddenly the story you've captured goes from standard black and white word processing to formatted and embodied with a look and feel that supports the message and creates an identity.

It may sound simple, but to me it's always been complex. Developing a more practiced approach has been empowering but with that said, I'm not looking to become a typesetter by any means!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Accepted!

I passed my Level I matwork/reformer certification exam with Stott Pilates. I received a mark of 90 on the practical component and an 82 on the written component, for a collective score of 86%. The written was hard and of course I wanted to make 100 on both. Oh well, it's done. And now I'm off to conquer the Cadillac!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend at Roland's



I was really fortunate on the weekend to've headed down to the country. The weather (and I don't mean that in a "How's the weather?" way) was spectacular and made me happy to be alive. I stopped in Faunsdale with two tubes of dewormer for the girls. They were fresh and sassy and gave us a little gallop demonstration before trotting up to the gator for carrots and pets.

I gave Ouisie her dose first, then as I stood there scratching her withers, got the big idea that it would be fun to sit on her bareback. Susan was putting the finishing touches on catching Ellie, and didn't discourage me from it, so I hopped up on her from the ground and she stood like a rock. I found this really admirable since I'm pretty sure Ouisie hasn't been ridden in at least 3 years! Susan had never sat on her mare bareback so within a minute we were both hacking in just halters over the huge hayfield, with a shockingly blue sky overhead. Life doesn't get much better.

There was a questionable moment when Maddie tried to flush something cheeping from the brush. I am pretty sure it was baby quail though thank God the mother wasn't there. That's always alarming when you're astride, even on your properly tacked and conditioned campaigner.

We pressed on from Faunsdale to Camden where I met my parents, who have their camper trailer at Roland Cooper State Park through the end of the month. Interestingly enough, that's MSJ and her family in the photograph probably 4 years back, holla! I love getting to visit my parents and family, even if all we do is sit in chairs around a fire, contemplating what we're going to eat next.

My mother and I took Maddie for a walk around the park yesterday morning and here are some images I took. So relaxing and exactly what the doctor ordered. Here's to a good week!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vanity Y'all

All I really want is for my mother f*cking domain name - www.robbyjohnson.com - which, can I just say I've owned for 6 years and never done anything with - to point to this blog. That's it. Not complicated limb reattachment surgery. Not Paul McCartney's divorce. Not peace in Sudan. Just point the DNS from one place to the next and get on with my bidness.

I took a big step earlier this week when I actually setup a blog for one of my boss' daughter at Wordpress. And it was easy. Oh so easy. Like mother f*cking Sunday morning easy. So that inspired and encouraged me to break out of the fear mold with www.robbyjohnson.com. Why? I don't know. Oprah aspirations maybe? Who can say?

(An aside: When I'm done with something or someone, I cannot apologize for the mother f*cking f-bombs I spew AK-47 style. Sorry if it offends.)

I've done support with Network Solutions. I found this resource which seems oh-so-helpful. But in typical Robby style I needed multiple options, so while I was on the phone with Bopsie in India (Bopsie? Really? Where do they get these names? Sometimes when I call customer service and it defaults to foreign country call centers I laugh at the name selections. "Hi, I'm Sparkles!") who was making my changes, I was making my changes, and now Blogger is like, "Girl someone else already blogging at this domain."

And I'm like, "Yeah, I know jackass, it's me." So anywho, I just took the whole thing down and will try again over the weekend. There's apparently a propagation period of 24-36 hours so maybe by Monday we'll be able to come directly to my blog via my personal domain name. An aside - do I need to be hosting this anywhere? Because Network Solutions wouldn't let me define a CNAME without transfering the hosting. Crazy.

This is important because Step 3 is the rollout of something really REALLY awesome that is a collaborative effort between me and some really neat people. I really am inspired and want it to go sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guess Who's Back?

First off: KORTO WAS ROBBED! There, I said it.

I got my little Banzai back on Tuesday and that means life is good. He cannot be waxed for 60 days but he can be washed as much as needed. Interesting to me was the fact that "Needs 2 new doors" really meant "2 door panels," so they actually didn't replace the entire door, just that black part. Make sense? Everything works and all is good.

Last night I taught a new group on the mat (love it!) and I have some really fabulous new clients. One of them was doubtful of her abilities (she was great!) but did say at the end that while she felt like she wasn't doing it correctly, she was "vibrating" inside her abdomen. I'm not sure I've ever made anyone vibrate but honestly I took this as a huge compliment. "Obliques" will do it to you everytime.

Normally I don't add those until the second session but I've learned to give a first-timer something to remember. People are masochistic as a general rule, and they like their exercise to bitchslap them the next day. The more evolved I've become throughout this method the more I eschew that mentality - and I do reference it in training - but I also know I like the way my body feels after it's been thoroughly engaged for an hour.

Which is why I cannot wait to learn to teach on the Cadillac. My buddy Justin has agreed to be my Cadillac test-dummy and my goal is to make him look like Sharon Stone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Into The Nightlife

I think I just want to hang out with Cyndi Lauper full-time. Bitch knows how to have fun.

It's so weird because I'm reconnecting with a bunch of my friends from high school and college and it's like, 20 years later, so much has changed for them: kids, homes, adult things. And my life is still pretty much centered around me and the things I like to do. Which may or may not include going out dancing until the wee hours of the morning every chance I get on occasion.

Sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mary J. Blige

Yesterday morning I seriously had to force myself out of bed at 7:00 a.m., which is very unlike me as I'm normally making an effort to get moving by 5. I went to bed at 10 on Sunday night so am not really sure what the dilly-yo was but all I can say is that it felt Just Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine OOOH!

Which is probably why, last night, I dreamt that Mary J. Blige and I were walking in some sort of walk-a-thon by the Little Rock Zoo, and she was wearing a pink dress, and we both had to yell at a little kid who was littering. Because that's what I do when I dream - I connect with R&B divas. I also wonder if this some foreshadowing for Korto on this week's season finale of Project Runway? It must. That's the only logical explanation.

"Use your paranormal powers for good, Robby! Who cares about cracking the Powerball matrix via the subconcious? What really matters is that you embody and translate the post-modern oppression and artistic expression of your black sisters."

I have been working more on my book and I'm past a hurdle. Not exactly flowing like a burst dam, but definitely more than a stream struggling to trickle in a drought. It can be difficult to describe it as a storyline because it's still very close to me. It's easier to communicate the visual elements and inspiration I see in my head when I think of the story. There's a lot of palmetto scrub, tar papered exteriors, stark faces, and dust in the background. The present setting is 24-hours post-Katrina in New Orleans.

Maybe when the entire story comes together my ability/need to plug into "the soul" will make more sense.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Me And My ESP

If you think I did not dream about sharks, and SHARK BABIES, last night, you're wrong.

Of course, my shark babies were trying to talk to me while they were gnawing on my arms and legs with little bitty teeth and I kept saying, "What? What is it you want from me? Damn! Get the Hell off of my arm."

Clearly I need to make some changes in my life.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Shameless Self-Pity

Anyone who knows me knows I love attention. In fact, my name is Sir Robby Johnson and I'm the King of Attentionia.

So of course nothing bothers me more than busting it either at work, or for someone else, and not being recognized for the effort.

This totally contradicts my personal belief that we should be selfless and do things for people because we have the ability to do them - not because we expect to gain from it.

By the way, my army just conquered Contradictia and I'm now the King there too. God I rule.

At any rate, I feel better just typing this. I recognize a few successes and if no one else does, that's OK. I know I've contributed and that's really what should drive, compel and propel me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cadillac Blackjack ...

Did I not just mention how I'm going to scale back? Yeah, here's the thing - not scaling back.

I am about 90% sure I'm going to pursue Level 1 training on the Cadillac over the next month. This means two trips to Memphis (yay!) which I always love because I get to see my soulmate cousin who fills my heart with positivity.

When I get to practice pilates, my very favorite apparatus is the Cadillac. I've had two really excellent instructors who've made my body feel like it didn't even belong to me, and I would love to be able to share that experience with someone else.

My head's in a really different place now that I've tested (still waiting for written results - crosses fingers) and I have a higher level of confidence and almost a "hunger" for learning more about the work. I may as well train now while I'm in this mindset.

MSJ and I have a plan to bring pilates to the country. Yeehaw y'all!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Self-Responsibility

So yesterday I took my car to the repair shop. Not surprisingly the process was full of screw-ups pretty much from the outset:

Can't find my file? Check.
No rental car RSVP? Check.
Insurance agency (not mine) and attorney for accused failing to connect and thusly holding me, the "victim," hostage without a rental car while they finalize their negotiations? Check.

I knew when this whole fiasco started that I would have to take responsibility for ensuring all the responsible parties honored their commitments. I'm glad I had that foresight. Because had I not hammered and pushed yesterday, I'd have been walking home.

Insurance is a racket.
Parents who think they can just write a check are contributing to the general irresponsibility of young people.
People as a general rule don't "hear" you unless you speak really directly.

So, as a sweeping statement, thanks Douchebag FuckNugget for hitting my car and trying to flee. I'm glad your ass got caught and guess what, I'll see you in court on October 28. I don't care if your mama and daddy are fixing it with their money. I want you to stand up and apologize and take responsibility for your actions. Man-up!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Happy Goes The Mares

Since Ouisie arrived in Alabama in January, she's sort of been on Alabama: My Adventure, and it's really put a lot of strain on my gut. I must say, I like for my horses to be stationary, with a degree of permanence to their living scenarios.

Though I haven't had the Ouister's girly bidness poked and prodded by veterinary experts (yet), she has gone to live with a friend's mare at their farm about 1:15 south of town. It's a beautiful area I traverse when I drive to Mobile, and I've always thought, "Wow, this would be such an incredible area to have horses."

The girls got off the trailer, walked into their 42 acre pasture (freshly mown and about to be rolled) and were napping within the hour. I wanted to stay and just stretch out in the grass with them but I'd left Maddie in her crate in Tuscaloosa. I'm planning to stop by the farm to deworm the girls on the weekend of the 19th, when I meet my parents down in Camden for a camping trip.

In other horsey news, HRH Wiffle is already yaktastic. Now that I've got more of my head about me post-pilates certification exam, and now that they weather is better (which he loves because let me just say, he doesn't love it hot) I've vowed to get him on a regular riding schedule - at least 3-4x per week. So we kicked it off yesterday and if you think he didn't try to get jiggy/leapy/possibly bucking when we cantered, you're wrong. I had to laugh and I think he did too. He's such a neat horse. Who will, let me just say, be getting clipped. Robby doesn't ride furry horses!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Things You Have For Dinner WhenYou're Single

Judge me not, for I am human.

Sometimes I feel like a Labrador retriever bitch who's just whelped 14 puppies and, oh yeah, let me also adopt 3 orphaned cheetahs to nurse too.

After navigating Thursday, and by navigating what I mean is "Girl I cut him," I taught my two pilates classes (both Reformer and, can I just say, I thought I was particularly on last night? We got through nearly the entire repertoire and did elephant AND stomach massage in both classes and I don't always teach those even though they're both fabulous exercises) then came home eager to watch the debate.

Because I'm masochistic like that. I live for moments where I can shriek at the television and reflect on the horrors of our modern culture, where double-speak and average is lauded. And let me just say that goes for both parties. Girl I cut them.

And for that reason I sliced 4 pieces of Havarti, then followed it up with 2 bowls of yellow cake batter. That was not a good anorexia meal, but it was REALLY good.

Today? I think I'll just eat broccoli.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

1000 Beautiful Things ...

I have awakened feeling soulful. And I'm thankful for that. Because this week I've been vexed by the mounting gloom and despair which seems to grow each day as our economy and financial stability spirals toward failure.

I like to plan for worst-case scenarios, even though by nature I'm an optimist. So my contingency plan is to keep my car full of gas and, in the event of onset Depression, I'll grab my little cousin and we'll flee to the coast where we'll reconnect with our family and try to live off the land. People likely won't have money for pilates, or pr, so I'll just teach and practice it for free.

Because, really, what's money?

When I get an email from an organization like Project Lazarus, and I visit their website, I'm reminded there are many people who aren't focused on financial gains, windfalls, investments, etc. There are people who do things because it's the right thing to do, and it makes me happy. It humbles me, it inspires me, and it reminds me of a bible verse which has served as something of a guiding principle for me for many years:

Revelation 21:6 - And He said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of Life.

Selfless acts with no expectation of a return ... that's what I'm talking about. If you have it in you to give, then give it. You may not be remunerated, but you'll be freed in your heart and soul. And that's priceless.

And now we turn to Annie, who's going to bring it home for us.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Something Everyone Should Have

In a divorce, or a terrorist attack (there's not much difference, is there?), one should always grab their good kitchen tools before rapidly fleeing.

For me, that includes my really awesome kitchen knives - serving double duty for my ginsu ninja skillz ... watch me filet your heart out then thinly slice a vidalia onion - and my German garlic press.

$42 is a spend-up when it comes to a garlic press but the lady in Las Vegas who sold this to me at Sur La Table (where I really want to work because I love it so much) wasn't kidding. She was Italian and said her sons had seriously asked her to will her press to them.

What's so awesome is that you put the entire pod of garlic in the press, unpeeled, and press through, then flip the chamber up and dump the husk. It's amazing, even if you press garlic just once a year.

I always sautee garlic and onion before I make a pot of beans, which I'm doing today. Black beans served with whole grain, gluten-free, brown rice. And just to get a little crazy, we'll have steamed broccoli on the side. And by we I mean me. Even Maddie is like, "Girl I think you need to diversify!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Might Be From Thailand

(Note: I love this picture.)

So last night I did what I hate doing: grocery shopping. I'm not sure why it's such a bitch because when I go to Whole Foods (which is seldom, if not ever) I love it. I mean, just this weekend I learned from my cousin that you can MAKE YOUR OWN PEANUT BUTTER at the Whole Foods in Memphis. I'm tempted to go back just for that experience and who cares if it costs $8?

Compare that to the Winn Dixie in Northport and my despair might be a bit more apparent.

This morning as I'm glancing around my freshly stocked kitchen I notice a pineapple, kiwi fruit, red onion, and for some reason, 4 cans of boiled peanuts.

This convinces me I am from Thailand.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Testing 1-2-3, Testing, 1, 2

STOTT PILATES® photography © Merrithew Corporation

OK, I did it. I took myself to the river. I dipped myself in the water.

And I'm glad I did. I passed the practical portion of my Level One Stott Pilates certification for matwork and reformer (covering the essential and intermediate repertoires for both) and feel pretty good about the written component as well. I won't know on the test for at least four weeks but if all goes well, I'll have achieved a big goal I set for myself last year and have been sort of fretting over since the first day I started training. It goes without saying the sense of relief is great.

As is often the case, fear of the unknown can a barrier. My hindsight observation is that I left my examination thinking, "Oooh, I could've taught her Hip Lifts and Hip Rolls because, let's face it, I love those exercises!" which told me I was properly prepared. I had really excellent instruction last year and earlier this year when I was trained, and have had the support of so many people - my family, my friends, my coworkers (whom I view as family and friends!), and especially my fellow pilates educators.

I also find it really interesting that I left my examination thinking, "Wow, this is just the beginning." I'm such an amoeba as an instructor and have so much to learn. My confidence level has been multiplied by at least 10, though, so I'm eager to continue on this path. There is so much available across this Method, and as part of certification, I'll be required to achieve CEU's each year, expanding my depth of knowledge. It's so exciting.

Cross your fingers that I didn't totally flub the written component. And thanks again to everyone for the support. I really couldn't have done it without many people in my corner, available for panicked phone calls ranging from questions like, "Why is the scapular stabilization so important again?" to "I am searching high-and-low through my flash cards and there is no card for a muscle called 'iliopsoas!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lifelong Learning

Whew.

I feel like I've been positively pummeled by, like, the education fairy. Bruised and battered, I'm nothing if not surrendered and compliant - "mentally available" as my former horse trainer used to say - and desperate for affirmation.

Life takes really abrupt turns. In March, 2007, I began flirting with the idea I could become a pilates instructor. Not because I was driven to teach, but because someone acknowledged I might be good at it. This is Typical Robby. Give me attention, prop me up, and I'm yours forever.

Recognizing, however, this is not a good way to make a decision, I thought about it for six months. I see this as progress. Normally I'm already driving down the highway at 70 mph before I say, "Wow, it's the first time I've ever been to the UK and I've never driven on the opposite side of the road - what should I be doing?"

When I began my training in September, 2007, it was focused exclusively on teaching the essential and intermediate repertoire on the Reformer. Upon conclusion, and further reflection, I recognized the need to be trained on the matwork so as to have a different perspective, additional depth and range, and overall body of knowledge, so I pursued that training in February of 2008. It was fun. I went to Memphis and New Orleans twice and got to meet some really amazing people.

This is an advantage. This is what it's about. Right now I'm somewhat tortured by the burden of passing my certification exam this weekend, but I have to remind myself that even if the outcome isn't favorable I a.) can and will continue to study and take it again and b.) have added an additional chapter to my "content."

Opening a door, seeking an answer regardless of how simple the question seems, continues to reward me. Not in a financial sense of course, but in the sense that I've driven myself to a different place and I've learned from it. I'm learning the value of osmosis. I'm learning to pursue things (and people) not expecting to confirm my preconceived notions or perceptions, but to allow their actions to influence and shape the big picture.

I didn't go into pilates training expecting to be a student. I went in expecting to be a conqueror and achiever. The process hasn't deflated me at all, don't get me wrong, but it's really changed the way I view learning and for that I'm very, very grateful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hey Jupiter



I love Tori Amos. I don't know why I woke up singing this song, but I did. So I YouTube'd it and, voila,! a version I've never heard and a video I've never seen. I remember being in Los Angeles in 1996, the year this album was released, and eating at that Denny's on Sunset (I think it's Sunset, it might be on Hollywood) and seeing an old El Camino parked in the lot with the words "Hey Jupiter" painted over the fender.

There's something really somber yet equally cleansing about this song. It has the same effect as the blues, just not as apparent on the front end.

And speaking of blues, guess who's going to Memphis this weekend? Yup, me! I'm taking my Stott Pilates certification exam (mat and reformer) and meeting up with my boys for a birthday party. I cannot wait. I'm ready to turn the page on this chapter of my life!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sucka MC

The very last thing I need to deal with this weekever is a wrecked vehicle.

Saturday night while MSJ and I, along with our cousins and an aunt, were eating sushi, someone backed down the side of Banzai in the parking lot, then proceeded to flee the scene. Fortunately someone witnessed it and he was apprehended, but now my door won't open, and I have to press charges and go to court.

So this morning, in addition to the myriad regularly-scheduled responsibilities, I'll have to go by my insurance agent, go by the assessment place, and figure out how the plan on how to proceed.

Yes, in case you're wondering, I'm now a proponent of public floggings.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Don't Mess With (East) Texas

Wow.

I'm going to be purposely obtuse here as I don't talk about my job on my blog, but I must tell you this story, sent to me by a friend, did not surprise me.

Managing deer leases isn't for the faint of heart. My friend used to do it, and faced death threats over deer leases more than once.

You know what deer hunting needs, don't you?

Bon Qui Qui. That's right, she will CUT you!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Planning Planning Planning, Keep Those People Planning

Don't act all surprised when I mention 2009 will mark 20 years since I've graduated high school. The appropriate response is "20 years? My God, I'd have thought 10 but 20? Seriously? Wow, you look amazing." Rehearse it. Own it. Deliver it. I'm talking conviction, people. Because any old jokes and baby I'm a rooster in an igloo ... I'll cold-cock you!

It would appear I'm getting myself heavily involved in the planning process. Why? Why am I? My goal is to lighten my load, clear my plate, relax a little, do some more pilates, ride my big fabulous horse more. It's just so Robby-like, though. I mean, events are a common tactic in my profession, so I sort of owe it to my classmates to invest myself in that regard.

And modern technology is making it so much easier! I've started a group on Facebook, reached out to some awesome classmates to serve on a planning committee, developed an initial survey which has been posted on the group and will also propagate via email, and will let those responses guide the direction of the event.

As soon as my pilates certification test is over, and some initial results have been gathered, I'll write a more comprehensive plan to share with my fellow planners, then we'll identify committee needs, and solicit volunteers to perform the duties.

It's all so Tracy Flick "Election," right? Well, except for no hunky teacher to torture. Damn.

If you went to Baker High School ("Hornets, are super-bad super-bad super-bad ... hey!") in Mobile, Alabama, and graduated in 1989 - and you know you had some big hair and ripped Guess jeans - please email me. I'll share the survey links with you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ...

I am, if anything, a rule follower. Shocking, I know. Because, out of the other side of my mouth, I'm also an envelope-pusher. Is it possible to be both? Yes, I'm living proof. I follow the rules even if I don't agree with them, but take full advantage of my First Amendment rights to bitch loudly!

And such was the case yesterday when I was informed period-space-space wasn't correct for publications. Say what? Sure, I'd seen a reference here and there over the past few years, and scanned just enough to know it had something to do with the innanetz vs. print publications. But to be called out on a style issue? It's like throwing water on the witch!

You see, academically I don't have a ton of things to be really proud of. B-student for the most part. Except for news editing, where my rules-i-ness was allowed to flourish. And where I ruled the rules. (That means I made a nearly perfect grade in college editing and layout class.) So I went trucking immediately over to www.apstylebook.com because, like Billboard's "It's not Number 1 until it's Number 1 on Billboard" tagline, I don't consider it an official adaptation mandate until the Associated Press tells me to.

And lo and behold, there it was. "One space after a period."

My informer asserted it had been style for at least 15 years and while I'm not proud of this in most regards, I must say 15 years ago I was a junior/senior in college, and guess what was happening during that time? Editing and layout class. 98 percent A. I am positive I'd have known the rule had it been AP Style then.

But, with that said, it's the rule now so I am all about adaptation. I did quite a bit of Googling, so of course the reasoning with modern true typeface makes perfect sense. Having never actually typeset anything, I did not know the double space wasn't part of the normal printing style.

In my Googling efforts, however, I could not find the actual date the AP added the rule. It appeared to be answered in their "Editor Q&A" section but wasn't searchable and I didn't have 3 hours to scroll down the volume of entries.

Old dog. New tricks. Embrace the change. Let's go!