Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gustav

My plans to visit New Orleans this weekend have certainly been thrown a curve ball, thank you Gustav.

It always sucks when you anticipate a good time - especially an annual event - with your friends, in an atmosphere that is very creative, whimsical, and often times a little mysterious. It gives me lots of fuel, building my endurance for tolerating life in the rather stuffy environment I call home.

I did, however, get my ears boxed last night by my friend who lives in NOLA. It was done appropriately, and this morning I'm humbled. Worrying about my good time is really ridiculous when not only my friends in New Orleans, but my own family in Mobile, could be facing a serious catastrophe over the weekend. Indeed, even where I live we will certainly be touched by the effects of a hurricane, even though we're 200 miles inland from the coast.

You never want to wish a hurricane on anyone. I have lived through many, and the aftermath is always overwhelming: a true test of the human will to survive. With that said, I do hope the ground zero areas of Katrina are spared a direct hit. The panic in the voice of my friend was very real, and it's only now - with enough time for the direct actions of surviving the Katrina disaster to seep into a story - that the reflection on the experience reveals more horror and heartache than anything remotely positive.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crunch Goes The Teres

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this but, in the spirit of 100% All Access, All The Time, must uphold the revelation of all that is good, bad, and possibly even ugly. Transparency, people, that's what I'm talking about.

So my training rings, let's talk about those. They are awesome, but I believe they should come with a little podcast or something that essentially reminds an overachiever to "Keep it simple, Mr. 37."

After 3-4 days of getting my feet wet with some simple push-ups, row-ups, and straight-ups (love the name of that last one because every time I perform the exercise I start to think it's 1989 and I'm all "Lost, in a dream, I don't know which way to go ...") I decided on Sunday to step it up a notch and positioned my shins on my stability ball, found a plank position for push-ups, then pressed right down on an inhale, shaking like a Chihuahua at a fireworks display, and blew a big exhale as I pushed up, hearing a lovely crunch from the right shoulder but, even moreso, feeling a dull throbbing pain that progressed after, of course, I continued the set.

Within an hour I knew I'd done more harm than good, though admittedly I didn't think I'd experienced an acute injury. I had the massage therapist at the studio last night look at it before I taught pilates, and he could definitely feel a discrepancy in the teres minor on the right side, though I still have full range of motion of the joint with no pain, just a little dullness.

The lesson learned is 1.) don't be a dumbass, 2.) stretch well before attempting any exercise, and 3.) take your Advil!

While my training rings have essentially bucked me off, I say worry not. I will get back up on that horse and make it my own. As soon as the inflammation subsides.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elsewhere In The World ...

Today I have headline grief. I find it so interesting how geography has such relevancy in social mores and cultural outlook. From gay marriage in California to the proposed voter ban on unmarried couple adoption in Arkansas, our opinions, fears, concerns are often shaped by our environment.

It's why traveling outside your world - getting outside your box - is so important and so life-changing. It opens the mind to other possibilities and, the resulting objective thinking lends itself to tolerance and consideration.

I see many problems with this proposed adoption ban. If they're going to ban adoption for unmarried couples - that's for straight folks too, y'all - then how can they justify natural births by unwed mothers? How can you withhold a loving home from a parentless child in the name of personal bias? There are so many children in the foster vortex who want nothing more than to be adopted and I don't see the married couples storming down the door to take them home (unless it's a brand new healthy white baby).

There don't seem to be many adoptive parents clamoring for a crack baby, or a baby born with HIV, or any other physical or emotional deficits. But routinely I read about adoptive gay parents who do step up that way. And in typical gay style - you know us, buying the run-down bungalow with good bones and hidden potential and turning it around - a lotus blooms from the mire in which it was planted.

How, in the name of Jesus, could someone withhold that opportunity from a child, or from a potential parent?

And while I get so worked up over inequity here in America, I'm humbled when stories from my default "Yes it can get worse" space - Darfur - surface. It puts it into a different perspective altogether. I want children to have bright futures so I push back against the laws proposed by zealots. But people in Sudan just want to live, and they cannot even have that comfort because they're being attacked by blood thirsty savages who seek to exterminate them in the name of ethnicity and religion. That is, to me, the definition of horror, and torment. I mentioned Mia Farrow's riveting keynote speech at least year's PRSA International Conference, and am reflooded with the specifics she cited regarding the emotional state of the refugees. It is seriously Hell On Earth for them.

She spoke of a man who'd had his eyes stabbed out by the militia, and lived blind in a small hut. He knew they would one day come for him again, and he was gripped by the fear he wouldn't see them because of the darkness in which he lived. I find that completely unacceptable.

And I wish there was more that I could do. I wish I had the courage and resolve to shuck my day-in/day-out "all about me" life and do something that could really help these people. It is my hope in posting this that readers might understand more about these stories, and not only consider their lives, but also the lives (and rights) of others.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brideshead Revisited, Revisited

Oh snap! Honey, The New York Times will cut you if they ain't like yo' filmz, ok?

I have never seen Brideshead Revisited or read the book (I hear my friend Joe gasp and wonder how he has failed me as a life guide) so I was excited to see the film yesterday, especially since I managed to Just Say No to movie popcorn.

Personally, I loved it. It was a fantastic story, beautiful cinematography, and very English in that it was so easy to read what was below the surface of the characters, though they certainly weren't doing much to verbalize. I have lots of British friends and I don't think any of them would be offended by me recognizing they're masters of the emotional facade. "Just get it sorted and get on with it," I hear them say.

In a sense I am inspired by that, but at the same time I find it disenchanting. Order, structure, and direction are good things when we're taking charge of a situation. But acknowledging the obvious - the human condition - is important as well.

Overall, if you have no preconceived Brideshead notions, I would recommend seeing this film.

It's been forever and a day since I've paid attention to what's in the queue for theatrical releases, and several trailers looked quite compelling. One in particular was Blindness, starring Julianne Moore. I could watch her hang wallpaper and think it was award-worthy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Militia

When we were in Rome last month - Rome, Italy, and not Rome, Georgia, for all you good ol' Southerners - my boy J-Dawg kept talking about an HBO series called, appropriately enough, "Rome." As most people know, I seldom watch television UNLESS it's Project Runway which is quite honestly, the world's best television EVER and if you think Daniel shouldn't have gone 2 weeks ago, you're wrong! I felt that Kelly totally got the shaft prematurely, but that's a different blog post. But if Jon recommends something I typically listen because he has awesome taste in all things celluloid and I've yet to disagree with anything for which he directs props.

I added the entire series to the top of my Netflix immediately upon return and have been watching a DVD here and there. I am glad I was able to visit the city prior to watching as there is much allusion that I'm sure would've gone unnoticed had it not been for the Awesomeness of Sabina. And now I'm feeling all ancient Roman and thinking, "Yes, yes! That's the answer to my problems! I will pledge an allegiance to someone or something but, when the chips are down, I'll betray them by throwing an asp in their bed ... it's perfect, diabolical, madness! MWWWWAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAA!"

OK, not really, but I do recommend the series if you're into dramatic historical interpretation.

I am a little under the weather - thanks Wednesday - with post-nasal drip and onset sinus infection symptoms. Last night, indeed, I was so wretched I had to cancel my pilates classes. My throat be hurting and my nose be stuffy but I have dropped two Mucinex in the past 12 hours and am feeing a lil' better. Here's the thing - I HATE being sick. I also like to pretend like I'm not sick, eternal optimist that I am. And sometimes I have to trick myself by wearing something really cute.

Like my superfly new military capri pants that I totally bought from my supersecret online source. They scream Updated Roman Centurion Meets Post-Modern Gay Pilates Instructor and I am going to wear them everyday through the end of the season.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Major Connections

First things first, I need a good editorial connection (financial) at The Wall Street Journal. If a good editorial connection isn't available, a bad one will do. I just need a starting point for trying to get a story placed. It's a big story with great potential and certainly keeping me on my little PR toes. Help a brother out, y'all, or else I'll have to Slap A Bitch. (Lewd lyrics by Macy Gray, but the song is catchy and hot ... thanks Jon!)

I started getting all post-nasal drippy yesterday and have a sore throat today. This not good. Not good at all. I need to be 100% as I have a lot of shizz on my list to accomplish. I really want to sneak down to MSJ's just to float in her pool this weekend but that's not going to happen as I'm hoping to get Ouisie moved to a permanent low-key retirement home in Hale County on Saturday. We're also possibly getting remnants of Tropical Storm Fay on the weekend so I might be staying in anyway.

Stir crazy cabin fever. Ahhh, good times!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bingy Benji

I have been marveling a little over the news story regarding a large group of small, liberal arts colleges who are pushing to have the legal drinking age moved from 21 to 18.

How do I feel about this?

Firstly, let me quote a gone-too-soon soulster, Aaliyah, by saying "Age ain't nothin' but a number." I believe there are many really responsible 18 year-olds. Conversely, I believe there are many hot messirresponsible 3721 year-olds.

So from my perspective, drinking has nothing to do with age, but a lot more to do with personality and, even more significant, reflecting what's beneath the surface. Admittedly, turning 21 was a sort of non sequitur event for me. I'd already developed my party muscles by that point. I had even personally written letters to my congressman bemoaning the drinking age and, not originally, pointing out the inherent discrepancies compared to other coming-of-age responsibilities like military draft and right-to-vote. Most of this was inspired by a relentless military recruiter who wouldn't stop calling me - to the point that I lied and told him I had been in rehab for a cocaine addiction, which seemed to do the trick in getting him off my back. Hey, if you can ship me off to some abysmal military post I should be able to have a little shot of Jack Daniels every now and again. What's fair is fair, right?

I know many under-21's who I wouldn't worry about as legal drinkers. Unfortunately, they're far outnumbered by those who are ridiculously irreverent in their drinking practices. From my sampling group, however, those who scare me the most are the over-21 crowd who make really impaired decisions in the name of the party. I have certainly made some of those choices in my past. I reflect on them often and am thankful I've not injured anyone, or myself, and routinely vow to stick to the mid-range unless I'm in a contained, safe environment where I still might attempt to raise the roof. In doing so, I've become even more keenly aware of the actions and behaviors people model as their blood alcohol content increases. Be the DD one night, or limit yourself to two light beers, and just watch. It's a powerful, sobering (no pun intended) experience.

I also believe that children model the practices of their role models and influencers, so as adults it's our job to set good examples (not me). When we think of foreign countries where drinking is an ingrained cultural practice - I think of Ireland, England, Germany - the cultural outlook seems to be that drinking is good and more people should do it. In America, we recognize it's a high-stakes risk, with abundant potential for abuse. Historically we've attempted to outlaw drinking, and in many places (my town included), we still place limits on accessibility by denying anyone the opportunity to purchase alcohol on a Sunday.

I wonder if that's because of the high degree of drunk driving injuries in America, where driving is so much more an ingrained way of life? If we all could walk or take mass transit to the corner pub, would we drink more, viewing it less of an event and more as an ingrained way of life?

My experience in the Mediterranean was that wine consumption is par for the course and I don't recall many locals staggering around after too many Purple Hooter Shooters. Is that because everyone is numb buzzed from wine, or is it that they're immune to its effects, or just not programmed to think of drinking alcoholic beverages with an end-goal of getting hammered?

In conclusion I believe many, many college age students routinely get around drinking age limitations, I am inclined to believe that by 21, nearing the graduating age, a person is more of an adult and more prepared to make decisions regarding alcohol consumption. 18 is too young to legally cut your drinking teeth. Suck it up, liberal arts colleges - you hotbeds of white people partying - and don't legally endorse behaviors and practices that run the risk of harming people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Supplemental Me

I'm not really obsessed with personal fitness. OK, really I sorta am. I wish I had more quality, worthwhile content to share here in the ol' blogosphere. A pontification on the state of politics in Georgia, perhaps. Or some political commentary on our presidential race. But instead, I must talk about something on which I'm an expert. Me. And more specifically, me and my obsessions.

Did they begin with that song by Animotion called "Obsession?" Or did I really love that song because even at 14 it was my nature to brood? Now that's a deep thought. See how I did that? One part pop culture reference + innermost thoughts and feelings = a step in the healing direction!

My Elite II Training Rings came via UPS yesterday and of course it took me an hour to install them. I didn't put the webbing through correctly, which I found out when I hopped up on them to try to do Ring Support Position, and sort of slid down to the floor. As is often the case with me, one side worked correctly upon reading the directions (engraved on the metal clasp, God the devil is in the details) but the other side was a little bitch. Of course I persevered and then I was all "Let's try pushups! Let's try pull ups! Let's try dips!"

And I gotta tell you ... sore.

I don't know about you, but I like that whole armpit/side pec area to feel tight because as we all know, Bitch Tits sink ships. I'm going to hopefully get a friend to do some before/after pics of me which I MIGHT share depending on the success of the after. Look for this to happen in the next six weeks.

I have been food/exercise journaling for the past 3 weeks. I do it in a very primitive manner - a pen and little Mead spiral notebook - and I think I've tapped into a process that works. "Just do it," which opposes the vision in my head which is all color-coded and typed out and ultimately complicated to achieve. Journaling helps me stay focused on my exercise, as well as what I'm putting into my body.

I have a goal to lose 8 pounds and 2 inches off my waist by the end of this year. And also to generate some more inspired blog content. Hold me to a "report out" on January 1, 2009!

p.s. I am taking gingko, ginseng, CQ10 and epimedium herbal supplements. I am totally going to cut through my over-production of cortisol if it's the last thing I do!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Interval Training

The good folks over at Men's Health do a fantastic job of helping a brother out when it comes to his personal fitness. Normally I never read the email updates I sign up for, eventually deleting them before I even open them but never actually unsubscribing (because I'm crazy like that), but their little daily messages resonate - at least for now. They're helpful in the sense they make me feel totally inadequate, and I'm a classic middle child so the fastest way to get me to do something is to either tell me I can't, or to point out a deficiency.

Such is the case with intervals. Last week I got a timely note on how doing intervals can actually increase your fat burn and muscular gains with a much smaller investment of time. Like 12 minutes versus an hour of sustained running. I don't have tons of time and I also abhor cardio, so I think interval training might just be the ticket for me.

I tested the waters Thursday night on the treadmill, doing a program called "Minute Man" in which you warm up for 3-5 minutes, then do a minute at max, a minute resting, for 8 sets (16 minutes) before cooling down for 3-5 minutes. Even though I was wearing my headphones, I could tell I sounded like a herd of elephants on the treadmill when I was doing my max work so I opted to try again Saturday morning out on the levee trail.

It was somewhat fun and reminded me a bit of Phoebe's "running" on that episode of "Friends" when she's all spastic and running like she's 8. I haven't run as fast as I can run in a good 25 years - maybe more - but was able to pull off 3 1-minute intervals, each more difficult than the other. I had to laugh, however, and wonder what passersby may've thought when they saw me running like my hair was on fire, or I was being chased by a mad rooster.

I'm also building up my mad jump rope skillz and guess what - you can apply interval practice to rope jumping too! Yeehaw!

There's a little football field that's largely unused by the levee trail, and I may identify a buddy who will go run sprints with me there. Interested parties please apply via email.

Friday, August 15, 2008

E:60



This is gut-wrenching. It's like watching someone you love unravel right before your eyes.

I was standing right beside the fence where Laine Ashker flipped at Kentucky this year. I still cannot watch the footage without getting sick to my stomach. When I first saw it today, I nearly started crying. Definitely PSD.

We have to do something to make this sport safer.

Igor-itis

In these times of Olympic toil and trouble - can we all agree that 2008 is the year of Olympic Hot Mess? - I suspect everyone is feeling all proud and happy for Michael Phelps.

Everyone, that is, except me.

Now, sure, I love that he has a whole chest full of gold medals but I have a few things to say about Phelps.

1.) All of the coverage/stories I've seen seem to dwell on the fact that he's incapable of doing anything other than swimming. I'm all about doing what you do well, well, but come on - swimming and playing Wii and that's your life? What do we think will happen post-Bejiing? Sponsorship deals? Public speaking gigs? What exactly will be his content? I guess that's my rant - I think he lacks any content other than super human athletic prowess.
2.) It would not surprise me to learn that he has some sort of chromosomal mutation. I know, I am the least qualified person on the planet to speculate because what the Hell do I know about it, but I just look at him and I see genetic mutation. It's in his mouth and ears. He has that Igor look. And we all know Igor was just really misunderstood.
3.) He should really add something healthy to his 12,000 calorie-per-day diet. I like to think some green vegetables would be a good place to start but what do I know? I'm still Captain Muffin Top and he's, well, not.

And that concludes Friday's Judgement. I don't know why I feel compelled to judge and now that I have, I might feel a little guilty and sorta want to take it all back. Kind of.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh Hot Damn ...



So my friend Justin introduced me to this song because I've now reached the age in life where I'm way too busy to be able to know exactly who is singing what and who is starring in what and so forth and so on. And for realz, I've also reached a point where I realize they all a hot mess and if they ain't feedin' me, effin' me, or payin' my billz, why I care? I'm'a do my own, OK?

(Seriously, I love will.i.am and if you think that female lyric is being performed by Fergie, you're right. This is an awesome little song for your cardio playlist.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Said The Thorax, "Nevermore"

Before I begin typing at you, I'm going to ask you to make an observation. Where are your shoulders right now? Are your scapula stabilized firmly on your ribcage with the points of your shoulders (at the deltoid) widening away from the midline of your body? Or are they rounding over, increasing the curve through the shoulder? If it's the latter, which is likely, then your thoracic spine is in flexion (curved forward).

In today's pilates lesson, I'd like to remind everyone that a slight curve in the thoracic spine, as illustrated here, is normal, but putting the spine into both flexion AND extension is critical for keeping the spine healthy, and for assisting in our goal toward perfect posture.

Stand relaxed with your shoulders pressing down, feet inner-hips distance apart. Bend your elbows and place your arms beside, you like you're being held-up at gunpoint. Imprint your spine, meaning as you exhale you pull the stomach in and think about decreasing the distance from your lowest rib to your hip bone, to stabilize your lumbar spine - it's not going to move at all - then as you inhale, envision a big hook grabbing you under the sternum and lifting only your chest up toward the ceiling. If you're stable through the lumbar and scapula, you'll feel a stretch in your midback. Do this exercise 2-3x in the morning when you wake up.

I remind myself throughout the day to grow tall through my midback so that I'm not conditioning my body into premature kyphosis (over-rounding of the shoulders). When I do this I have to engage my abdominal muscles which protects my lumbar spine and helps put it in a neutral position, relieving strain on the lowback..

Incorporating a pilates workout as a primary exercise vehicle, or even an accessory to an existing program, is a great way to add flexibility and stabilization to your strength training. As we say in pilates, "If it's long and loose we strengthen, if it's short and tight we lengthen."

A pilates workout will probably not allow you to make muscular gains at the Ferrigno level, but it will help you do things like bend over to tie your own shoes, or sit up straight for an hour. And I ask you, what's more practical in your activities of daily living?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mags Cho

The only thing better than seeing Margaret Cho live is seeing Margaret Cho live up close and personal in a small comedy club venue. Which, in case you've not already guessed, I did on Saturday night with my friend Justin. Why she was booked to play for shows at Birmingham's Stardome - the comedy equivalent of, oh, I don't know, let's say D-list to keep with our comedic theme - I do not know, but we snatched up tickets to the 9:45 p.m. show and never looked back.

I'd seen her live twice - once in Dallas and once again in Little Rock (where her content was heavily focused on politics). This show was flat-out raunch and I LOVED it but I gotta say, I think it fell a little flat on the repressed Alabama crowd. Well, sorta. I mean, you have to have a really open mind when someone starts to jank on Big J.

I always feel so empowered when I see Margaret either live or on DVD/tv, etc., because she's such an advocate for equality and she makes such salient points through her commentary. So when I walked out of the doors of the club (the first one out as Justin had taken a call toward the end of the show and was waiting for me) and overheard this little tobacco spit talking to his friend outside say, "See, they're everywhere, that's all there is here," I was somewhat gobsmacked. Dude, really? Did you not have an idea that Margaret Cho is like Emperial Fag Hag from the SFO and, as such, her legions of loyal fans ARE her audience?

And yeah, we are everywhere. I've been here 37 years, so unless you want my Punky Brewster Puma up your ass as a souvenir, leave the commentary to the professional or, better, listen to it and try to adapt. There's a reason why people make assumptions about Alabama and, honestly, I know why they do. When something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck well, it's usually a duck. And we've got a LONG way to go before we change public opinion about the retarded, backwoods mentality that most use as a label for us.

p.s. MSJ has to return to her horror job today after a summer off. Be strong, sister. Be strong!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Me and Edamame

I have always loved me some edamame. Like, when I go out for sushi, they'd better bring me some STAT or I will full-on bounce, ok? It's like when I go to a wedding, if they don't have champagne for meeveryone at the reception, I'm not staying and I'm taking my gift back. I hate it even more when bride/groom have a champagne toast then offer up non-alcoholic punch to everyone else. Seriously, wtf? If you ask me to cross the bridge and come to your little social tradition the least you can do is meet me halfway and accommodate the customs of my people. And by customs I mean drinkin' habits! Your inevitable divorce is my inevitable disco party. See, it really does take a village!

Now that I've cleared that blockage, let's return to the soy fiber low-cal goodness that is my friend edamame. It's my new snack of choice. I buy it pod-style in the frozen section of my local Winn-Dixie. Last week it was on sale 3 for $5 and that, my friends, is a bargain.

My new goal is to eat only edamame and Tic-Tacs until I lose 10 pounds.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hummingbird Update

It's been established that I love hummingbirds.

I love them because they're effortless and graceful and beautiful but, at the same time, they have great purpose, intensity, drive, and always seem to be in a race against time. While I aspire toward the former, I know I model the latter - it's just that sometimes I have difficulty getting there.

This is why I have placed hummingbird feeders in the dogwood tree outside my office window this summer. I am blessed with a VERY inspirational view where we routinely see our groundhog (sometimes he comes up to the window and sits back on his haunches but the second he detects movement he turns and runs as fast as his little groundhog butt will go), snakes, raccoons, etc.

In the two prior summers I've spent in that office, though, what has been most interesting to me are the hummingbirds. They are attracted to the large crepe myrtles that grow on the hill.

Now, I gotta tell you, I have run the gamut with feeders already. I attempted to use this gorgeous blown glass feeder that a dear friend gave me but no sooner had I gotten into the office than the nectar had drained out of the neck. As I've learned, that's a common problem associated with that type of feeder.

So I bought one at Home Depot - the cylindrical sort that works off a vacuum. That's tricky to make happen and, again, the varying degrees of success were short-lived and, almost overnight, the feeder would be drained of nectar. I think I mostly succeeded in confusing the poor little hummingbird who would fly by and be like, "Dude, wtf? Where's the damn nectar already?"

A co-worker told me about a feeder she'd bought from Wild Birds Unlimited and, after spending last weekend at my cousin's farm in Mississippi where she had at least 12 hummingbirds buzzing her deck all afternoon, I trounced right over and bought a new top-loading, lifetime warranty feeder and installed it after lunch yesterday. I also made my own nectar (1 part sugar to 4 parts water; boil to dissolve then let cool) and within an hour my hummingbird was feeding, perched on the little rail the feeder provides. He came back several times before I left. Ahh, feel good moment.

Next up on my mission: My Solid Glass Window, Your Wall Of Death - Hummingbird Suicide or Tragic Environmental Imposition?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Gymnast Rings

Thanks istockphoto for letting me snag your way artsy image of gymnast rings! I don't know what I'd do without you (even if I don't always pay; let's face it, for demonstration purposes here your little watermark doesn't really offend and, hey, we throw a little branding in the mix and you get a hyperlink and life is good, right?).

At my gym there are these gymnast rings that hang on a really long bar that suspends from the ceiling and that people use for pullups, etc.

I covet the gymnast rings because I always wanted to be a gymnast and, quite honestly, I think I'd have been quite good. Even at 22, after the Barcelona Olympics, I called a gym in my hometown and they were starting a "Gymnastics for Adults" class but I was in college and it was difficult with my schedule and I had to let that one go. Sometimes you just gotta let it go. Cue harmonica prepare for me to start belting out some gospel.

What I see most people doing with the rings are pushups, which really look to challenge core stability and provide additional opposition for completing the exercise. I really want to try them but am afraid I will fall down and bust my teeth on the floor. So after a few monthsweeks of seriously wanting to try, I asked a guy who works there last night if he'd show me. He was happy to oblige and now I'm off to the gym, 5:18 a.m., to see if this is going to work.

If it does, lookout Paul Hamm! I might be 37 but I'm way bendy and flexy and full of isometric goodness.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Up In Smoke ...

I love reading David Sedaris. For one thing, he's an essayist, so it's rather easy to get through each entry and thusly feel like you're reading a book when, in fact, you're reading essays. It's sort of like, oh what's it like?, come to me analogy ... it's like, oh who am I kidding, it's like what it is. A collection of essays.

His new book, "When You Are Engulfed In Flames," has been my reader over the past week and I am positively taken with it. Sedaris has been described in many ways so I won't try to exceed description by offering something new to the mix, but I will say that he's poignant, dry, sarcastic, and deranged. And those qualities come together and resonate in a way that, to me, is totally normal and healthy. I'm not sure I should admit that.

I have a friend who commented on my Facebook yesterday that the audio version of his book is even better and I definitely could see that being true. Sedaris has been an NPR commentator for years so he has a great sense of timing and delivery. If you're planning a road trip, borrow the cd from your local library and see if it lights you up!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rome If You Want To ...



And so it came to pass in those days that the cruise completed and we were deposited in Citavecchia, Italia, which serves as the port to Rome. Our travel agent had organized a transfer/tour combo which was fantastic as we not only got to the city, but we saw the big highlights (Coliseum, and lots of other sites that overloaded my ADHD-riddled brain) and were able to ascertain where we might want to maximize our limited time in the city.

Once we'd checked into our hotel, we hit the cobblestones and hiked the Spanish Steps, then Jon and I branched off and went on a discovery tour that saw us in a flea-market type of area with AMAZING candy that I did, indeed, buy and eat on the street ... after I'd had a gelato because, let's face it, you leave those calories in Italy when you get on the plane! ... and admiring all sorts of architecture, then discovering St. Peter's Basilica, which was breathtaking and of a magnitude that was seriously difficult to comprehend.

We also witnessed something that I don't think either one of us will ever forget. Along the street were all sorts of peddlers selling all sorts of little stuff. As we neared an area where they were setup, we saw one of them grab all of his stuff in the blanket on which it was displayed and in one big motion he was up and running like his hair was on fire. All of the other peddlers followed suit, their exodus mass and almost like vampires running from the first light of dawn.

As we progressed we saw 3 policia walking up the sidewalk. An informer had tipped them off and within 20 seconds it was like they'd not existed there at all. I found that so fascinating, because of course it makes me think, "What really happens in this dimension that we never even recognize?" That's a metaphysical discussion for another day, class. But do think about it. Because it does happen. I have seen it with my own two eyes and if I weren't 37 I might feel like my innocence had been robbed but, oh yeah, I'm 37 and officially old and callous.

After grabbing a nap we went down for dinner and didn't get far - there was a little restaurant right beside our hotel that offered sidewalk seating so we drank way too much chianti and nibbled before heading to an open-air cafe area where competitors full-on dissed their neighbors in an effort to get you seated. We found one that everyone agreed upon and, you guessed it, more caprese salad! And mineral water. I love the water with gas, btw. Always have. Perrier forever!

Despite a hiccup on Monday morning - and by hiccup I mean thank God the phone call from Delta advising of a flight delay came mere seconds before I was out the door of the hotel en route to the airport - I departed Rome at 2 p.m. and arrived in Atlanta around 6:30 p.m. And if you think it was a 4.5 hour flight, you're wrong! Try 10.5. But what matters is I got there, my luggage did, customs was a breeze, and I have a friend in the ATL who offered a weary traveler refuge for the night.

I grabbed 9 good hours of sleep, was out the door at 5 a.m., drove directly to my apartment where I showered and was at my desk at 8:02 a.m. Vacation was over but my memories of it will live on. It was a life-embellishing experience and one I hope everyone can experience.

And now back to my regularly scheduled blogging ... I hope you've enjoyed my travel blog. I'm pleased to've accomplished my goal of documenting the experience in writing.

Viva Europa!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Santorini By Morning ...

Laugh not at the mess of an outfit I have on here. Greece is harsh, y'all, and even though I'd slathered in SERIOUS SPF 50 before taking the little water ferry over to Santorini, while we waited in line to ride the cable car up (yes, Santorini is built atop the island and it's pretty much a straight drop down to the water), my head started frying. This became a common theme throughout the trip. Have I lost more hair? God only knows.

I had to buy something to protect my head and since I was already sort of rocking my whole over-the-top blingy look, I decided to go full-scale with it. And because it's Greece, I got all sorts of props on my look from the local shop owners. Granted, when I go to a swanky Greek Isle I don't expect to have the opportunity to buy a black leatherette jacket emblazoned with "Porsche" the second I hit the streets, so I think my tacky was totally appropriate. Cultural integration, we'll call it. Blending in with the locals.

With that said, Santorini was the elegant Princess Caroline compared to Mykonos' Princess Stephanie. Both places were gorgeous and amazing and authentic, but Santorini was quieter, and provided a stark contrast of small white homes, hotels, and shops atop a volcanic island with the deep blue water of the Aegean directly below. The streets were similar to Mykonos, sans the vehicles (yay for pedestrian only!) and I saw one of the most beautiful pastry shops I've ever seen in my life here. The food/presentation was art of the highest caliber.

We were only ported in Santorini from 8 am - 2 pm and I was sad when we left. It signified the end of the journey, and I sensed the two nights remaining on the ship prior to our arrival in Rome would fly by. Since we cannot hold the hands of time in one place, nor turn it back, I decided to maximize the time and ride it out for all it was worth! Sometimes it's best to deal with a horse who wants to run unbridled by bridging the reins, pressing the hands into the crest, sinking your weight into your heels, and letting him go. Fundamental decompression at its finest!