Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring To Life

Alabama is waking up. Yesterday I had the opportunity to drive down to Aliceville (holla!) to our Lodge there and decided to stop thinking, "What a great picture that would be," when I see something that moves me - especially when I have a camera sitting in the passenger seat - and stopped to capture this blooming tree. I have no idea what it is and honestly didn't spend a lot of time standing around because a.) I had to get back to work and b.) I've seen "Dead Man Walking" and the area had this whole dump-a-body vibe to it.

Last Sunday whilst getting my Oscars on, I started seeds in a peat moss pellet tray. These things are really neat and I could spend hours just pouring water on them and watching them expand. So I was shocked when, by Tuesday morning, things were beginning to sprout. In these 72 plugs I have planted: tomatoes, chives, dill, fennel, sweet basil, lime basil, cilantro, oregano, and lavender. I have a smaller tray of just 12 pellets I started 3 weeks ago which contains rosemary and more lavender. I'm not too optimistic on the lavender as it's not sprouting at all, so might just have to buy a plant already started.

I know many people think I just unfold from my upside down hanging sleeping position each day, spread my wings with a big snapping flap and immediately begin my mission of sharing White Hot Mess with the world, but in truth I am pretty inspired by raw material, beginnings, and potential. I like bringing life to ideas and things.

Do I really intend to maintain all of these herbs? Heck no. I am giving some to special people and hoping we'll all enjoy the rewards over the season.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PC Hate

My laptop and I are at a really critical relationship juncture and I'm not even kidding ... if it were a horse we'd possibly be looking at the pink shot; if it were a person we'd be full-on getting to couples counseling; and if it were a job I would be whoring myself out on CareerBuilder.

I'm sensing a system restore/reformat in our VERY. NEAR. FUTURE.

More tomorrow, I promise. I have some political hate riled up in me. OMG, that's totally a pun. If you scan the Alabama headlines maybe you'll get it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Promises Promises

When Spring arrives early, I get a pang of anxiety for the blooming flowers, because I know Winter still has the upper hand; it saddens me that the brave invaders fall victim to the snare of a weakening regime. I say to them, "No, go back, wait two weeks," but they cannot hear me and I know it does not matter. They have seen the Light and responded to it, and even though they suffer a cruel fate they remind me that each day the Light increases and there is much promise in the coming months.

Their blooms may wither from a short freeze, but seldom is their sustainability at risk. They've evolved to withstand such strife. It gives me great inspiration and helps me build momentum. Despite the temporary setbacks, I am reminded to take every opportunity I can to shine, and to share that Light with the rest of the world.

(Cue a young Tina Turner in the film version of her autobiography right about now. "This little light of mine ...")

Photo: Forsythia outside my apartment snapped last night - a warm day of 78 degrees - about 10 minutes prior to hail-producing thunderstorms and the onset of freezing winter weather.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pilates Hate Face

I have to laugh because as a STOTT PILATES instructor, teaching in the studio for over a year now, I am beginning to notice certain patterns and phenomena intrinsic to the work and how people respond to it.

For a long time, I was a hater when it came to certain exercises because, let's face it, they were/are hard and they make me work. I just want to be the star, right? I didn't really want to have to work that hard. And so I would get mad at my instructor but in as nice of a mad way as possible. So I termed it "Hundred Mad," because that would typically be the point on the reformer when I would want to smack her - especially if we went to 110. Yes, I'm also a counter. That means if we commit to doing 100, I don't want to do 150. But as an instructor, I think I'm probably guilty of doing 150 because there's just so much I want to say!

I have a client who is fun and precious and doing fantastic in her development, but she has moments where she has to lay on the hate and it's so funny because it's such a stark contrast to her jovial personality. Last night she was particularly ornery so I gave the face a name - it's the Pilates Hate Face. Now when I see it, I know I need to adjust, or throw out a different bone in terms of cue-ing.

And while this photograph isn't pilates, I thought it was hysterical and fairly representative.

I have been to spin class 2 mornings this week, rising at 4:30 a.m. for the 5:30 class, and home by 6:30. It's not a huge effort to get there as I'm typically an early riser, but it's so worth the effort as I feel so charged and invigorated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Linda Ronstadt

(Note: if you read my blog via "Notes" on Facebook, and no video shows, please visit www.robbyjohnson.com. This will complete your Robby Johnson Experience.)



My friend Joe and I love us some obscure music. Once he took me to catch the train in Slidell and we listened to this really spiritual old school black gospel (it's not called jujube is it? did I just make that word up? why did I type that word? OMG, I just Googled and that's actually candy - doh! - but it's something like that) and about a year ago I think I brought this song up via text or email and he was like, "I was just singing that!" See, that's what happens when you're witchy. You start vibing and suddenly they be magic up in there.

My parents came up over the weekend and we went to see a fabulous bluegrass group called Hurricane Creek at the Bama Theater. We were talking about singers over dinner afterward, and I said I continue to marvel at the quality of Linda Ronstadt's vocals. So I found this little live ditty of Linda and her obviously groovin' (I love the backup lady I call Clappy McHappyhands) entourage and thought I'd share.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Welcome To The Week

Clearly I've been awakened by my inner-masochist (lovez him) as this morning I opted for a 5:30 a.m. spin/core class. There are times when I can love me some spin, and times when I want to beat the shit out of it. Today was a love fest but this spin class was just 45 minutes + 15 minutes of "core."

As you might know, I'm a STOTT PILATES certified instructor (in case you didn't see the 1-page ad in the NY and LA Times) so I always am interested in what people are doing for core exercises. The instructor today is a great lady; I've done her spin classes many times, and once last year got the big idea I would do body pump and nearly died for 72 hours afterward. If I had one thing to say about her it would be that she's a bit generous on repetition.

I don't believe in numbers. I believe in properly recruiting the muscles and exercising the correctly. When you reach a point where muscles have fatigued and are failing, and keep pressing on to reach a magic number, you risk compromising and over-developing your tight/strong areas.

I liked the exercises she had us do, but I totally quit when I reached my point and do I feel guilty for it? Oh hell nah. Will I do it again Wednesday morning? You betcha! I feel so great and exhilirated now. Monday is mine!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Believe In You

There are times in a man's life when he must submit to the stereotype(s):
  1. I do NOT need to stop for directions, dammit. It is my birthright to navigate. Epic poems have been written about the wanderlust of man. Deal with it.
  2. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Yeah yeah yeah - we all have feelings and, sure, we should talk about things collectively before we make decisions that affect everyone. But it can't always be an episode of Eight Is Enough. You'll survive. I promise.
  3. Dancefloor Divas. That's right. DANCEFLOOR DIVAS. Lay on the judgment if you must, but when you see me rockin' my treadmill and I have that little shit-eatin' grin on my face and you wonder, "Girl why he so happy?" as you're down on the floor cracking your body, you'd better know the answer is Kylie Effing Minogue, OK?
Check out the latest, "Boombox," which is a collection of new-century dance remixes. My former co-worker and current awesome friend - one Miss Neika Dawn - know what I'm talkin' 'bout. When I first joined the company we were discussing music and we started talking about Kylie. Without thinking - I was still trying to be professional bossy-boss (the hardest thing for me to portray) - I let slip, as I brought up the "Slow" Chemical Brothers remix ... "OMG, you must download, it will put you on a pole!"

We laughed through the awkwardness of the moment and the next day she came in and said, "Remember what you had said when we was talkin' 'bout Kylie? You true! You know you true!"

Now if that's not a great reference, I don't know what is. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Electric - Boogie Woogie Woogie Woogie

When I went to the dentist in January for my 6-month cleaning and checkup, I wasn't intending to leave with a super-deluxe Braun Oral B Professional Care electric toothbrush cleaning system. I am, after all, the King of ADD and a control freak, so having to count 2 seconds on each tooth (inside, outside, and surfaces ... that's over 2 minutes!) while I just stand there letting it do the work is usually more than I can bear.

But the truth was the new year had just begun so that meant Flex Spending Dollars had kicked in and I am, at my root, also the Ruler Of Impulse Shopping. Plus I once saw a paparazzi picture of Matthew McConaughey in his driveway using one of these and in my head that means that if I use it, I too can be Matthew McConaughey. Except I don't really want to be.

After the purchase I saw something that Martha Stewart wrote and it may've been a list of things you should do. And she included using an electric toothbrush. Begrudgingly I felt affirmed and validated because she is, in fact, Martha Stewart. But I also think Martha Stewart is a complete and total douche and yeah, she can suck it.

But when I do commit to using it (about 70% of the time), I do think it's pretty awesome. The package I bought from my dentist actually included 2 toothbrushes and this really neat travel case so I'm all set for fly-guy teeth even when I'm jet setting.

My recommendation? Yes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shubutta

My little baby cousin, the youngest, at 18, of 22 grandchildren, moved to Tuscaloosa to attend college late last summer. In the beginning we were like, "OMG, we will see each other ALL of the time." And the sad reality is that we've seen each other, in Ttown, exactly 2 times. But I see her all the time when I go to Mobile. Crazy right?

We drove down together, for the first time, last weekend as we attended a Mardi Gras festivity. And fulfilled our commitment to hanging out more by promptly going out for sushi and a movie on Monday night when we returned.

Occassionally we'll take the road to Meridian, Mississippi, then come into Tuscaloosa from the west (y'all get yer maps out now, ya' hear?). When we do that, we see a sign for a little town called Shubutta, off Highway 45. Lindsay initially thought it was pronounced, "Shoe Butta," like it was from Queens or something, but it's really "shu-BOOTa."

And so now she's officially nicknamed Shubutta, but we have shortened it to Shubooboo. Shubooboo and I share birthdars (not a typo, that's how we say it) 10 days apart; we're both raging Cancers. I had just turned 19 when she was born, though I was away for the summer working as a camp counselor in North Carolina. My family had rented a beach house when I returned and I will never forget seeing her for the first time. She was the sweetest baby - so much so that I would drive all the way out to the country in between college classes just to hold her - and has maintained that fabulous trait as she reaches adulthood.

This year on our birthdays I'll be exactly twice her age (God how did that happen?). It's funny because I still feel like I'm such a seeker - that something big is going to eventually happen - and Shubooboo has a dream that many discourage her from pursuing. As I've climbed this tree called Life, it brings me such joy and honor to look down the trunk and say, "Put your foot there, reach for that branch - it's stronger" without over-directing.

Maybe I am fulfilled because I sense purpose and that's something I can lack as a single person without any dependents. I have been contemplating a new puppy, but for now I think I'll just stick with Shubooboo. She's already house-trained AND she is very hip to cool bands and music. That's just something a Jack Russell Terrier cannot bring to the table.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I have been eager to see the film "Slumdog Millionaire" for many weeks. I am very drawn to India and its culture, and have been since I was very young. Seriously, if it weren't yoga Tuesday at work, I would so call my friend Tonya and beg her to meet me at our lunch spot, Maharaja of India, that's how much I feel it.

My mother worked with a physician from Bangladesh (which I guess technically isn't India) when I was in high school and he had a daughter who was my age. She was a lovely girl and I used to see her around town and always found her cultural diversity so fascinating. I think that's why I love the reiteration of that feeling in the books I've read by Jhumpa Lahiri.

In typical Robby fashion I also signed right up for an art history class when I was a sophomore in college with zero research or preconceived notion. Hey, I'm artsy, I like creative things, what's to fear? "History of Indian and Southeast Asian Art" sounded exotic enough and sure, the class consisted of nothing but a barrage of slides and lecture on the intricacies of periods and styles (I remember the "gupta" period but the rest has sorta gone hazy - please no quizzes) and we of course were tested using slides. It was hard for many people, and yet I made one of the few A's because it was so engrossing.

I think the biggest theme I take away from my impression of India is that it is beautiful, brilliant, and routinely challenged to maintain its existence by invading marauders who seek to dampen the flame. And yet the omniscience of its people seems to always rise above, and I find that really cleansing.

The film could not have been any better, or illustrated this thought more vividly. There was so much beauty that emerged from the many complex layers of the story. The accuracy of the portrayal combined with the fantasy of the plot and the overall theme that love conquers brought a few tears down my cheeks and put a big smile on my heart.

Go see it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Order Of Myths

In light of my departure to the Old Port City for a weekend of Carnivale revelry, I thought I'd share a link to this documentary. My friend Kate told me about it the other night and I just moved it to the top of my Netflix queue.

There is something magic about Mardi Gras, and I've often reflected on how the celebration is so ingrained in people who hail from the Gulf Coast, but at the same time quite divisive as the structural organization isn't known for its welcoming practices.

I think that might be the gist of this documentary. God I'm brilliant.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Go Arkansas!

Maddie - seen here getting her roll on at Big Creek Lake in Mobile - is an Arkansas native. When we lived there, we helped on a very worthwhile project for 3 years which benefited the Humane Society of Pulaski County. It was the only Humane Society that did equine rescue in the entire state, and sadly there never seemed to be a lack of bad news when it came to animal cruelty.

When I still lived there this bill came onto the ballot but was defeated, or didn't make it through legislation (I cannot recall the exact details - my life in Arkansas sometimes seems like I read about it or watched it on TV).

I am excited to see this headline and read the story, because it reminds me of a lot of amazing people in a state many overlook. Even though it's the same state that begat Mike Huckabee, and denies children access to potentially amazing parents based solely on marital status, there is a lot of "good balance" in this success.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Accidental Text-ist

"A long long time ago, I can still remember, how that phone call used to make me cringe. And I knew that if I had to talk, it would slow my focus down, and maybe I'd not get as much stuff done ..."

In the beginning, when I had a "car phone," and by car phone I mean seriously, that sucker was installed up on the column of my Toyota Celica (I miss that car so much) with a cord and all sorts of hoodie-hoo that allowed me to stay in touch with my homeys while I was getting my roll on. And by homeys I mean my BFF Toshi who would call with critical breaking news like, "OMG, do you have the radio on 107.3 because they're playing that Garbage song you LOVE," or "Do you think I should wear the thigh-high hose with this mini-dress and denim jacket?" (sidenote: the answer to that is always Hell Yes). Eventually I had to realize those calls were costing me $.45 per minute. And of course they were worth every red cent.

But one day oh about 2002 or so, I decided to push past my comfort zone when I got a new little Nokia telephone and I sent a text message. And immediately my life changed. No longer did I have to feign a conversation for 3 minutes to be able to say, "Buy milk," or "Going to ride my horse," or "Does my fat make me look fat?" I don't love a text message for a conversation so much - I'd still rather do that live, preferably over coffee - but it's bombdiggity for the short-order directive or observation. And let's not even talk about how texting vastly improved going out to clubs with your homeys. Who cares if it's 3 a.m. and there are 200 people smashed on a dancefloor under laser lights getting their Rhianna remix on? With texting, a few pushes of a button and we can accomplish many things like, "Your turn ... I'll have another SF Red Bull and Mandarin Absolut," or "This place is tired, let's bounce, be at car in 10 minutes."

Ever gotten a wrong number on your mobile phone? It happens, and has become increasingly more common since mobile phones have become so mandatory. But I've not really gotten an accidental text message.

Until yesterday.

And it wasn't just an accidental text. It was the mother of accidental texts. Initially I thought it was someone I know, even though it was just a telephone number and I have a strict policy that you must be "in" my contacts before I will answer. I replied with a "Who is this?" but never got an answer, so I had a co-worker call the number and she corroborated it's authenticity after the person answered.

Here's what it said [sic]:

"I know u got my washing powder i aint gonna worry about it cuz u did that shit being lodown and hateful i hope it eat yall skin off cuz u didnt have to bother shit of mines i didn't bother yours u should have left it"

There's a little piece of me that wants to post the phone number and then text back and say, "You really should be nicer and not wish caustic reactions upon other people's flesh. It's washing powder, for God's sake, not your life savings or world peace." But I will just relish in the awesomeness of the message and share it with the world through my blog.

Moral of story: get your phone number right before you fire off a text and be ready for anything.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Slave To The Vibe



I hope I don't go to Hell for this.

My friend Jon and I have a rule. Actually, we have many rules, but one of them is that you should always have the motion picture soundtrack to the 1993 Sharon Stone movie "Sliver." It is fire in a bom-chicka-bom-bom way with a perfect balance of urban groove and light ambient music that makes me want to drink really good tequila on a rainy afternoon. The truth is I haven't listened to it in over a year, and that's within the normal 5-year cycle, but this morning I awakened singing this song, "Slave To The Vibe" by Audiosearch. As a CD fav it's a toss-up between this one and Neneh Cherry's "Move With Me."

So I hit up the YouTubez thinking there would be an obscure video or audio track I might share with the world. I wasn't expecting Star Search: Nebraska Cornfields 1996, complete with mannish girl dancing the man role. But when I found it, I knew I had no other choice but to share.

Enjoy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Primal Attraction

I don't know why I felt the need to buy black athletic shoes. There was something inside me that just responded to them and now I await my Zappos.com order to arrive. I have never had black shoes. I hope they will live up to all of my expectations. And by expectations I mean crazy abs and glutes.

My weekend was chock full of accomplishments and never dulled, thanks to body-clipping two horses, riding my friend Bryan's horse twice, getting my gardening chores on (I got all crafty with pressure treated lumber, rubber strapping, and eye hooks, and started seeds indoors because I can't wait to make pesto with lime basil), and attending a birthday celebration with my celebrity assistant Laura Catherine.

I always switch into observation mode (and by observation I mean Judgy Judgy even though I'm a Myers Briggs Perceiver) when I'm in settings that are very foreign to me. Mexican restaurant setting? Not so foreign. Mid-20 somethings waxing philosophical about their futures and then GETTING ENGAGED? OK, foreign. One minute I'm knocking back Corona Light, the next minute the texts start going off like mad, Blackberries start ringing, and a collective squeal around a table of about 25 begins ... "They got engaged!"

And then this working dialogue emerged which told the story of the ring, where they went, how LC, being the good witch she is, encouraged her friend to wear a dress to dinner since she had a hunch he might pop the question (5 year anniversary), etc. There was a little piece of me that thought it was the second coming of Charles and Diana what with all of the fuss that was going on, but then I realized I'm quite detached from that marrying environment and the pomp and circumstance that accompanies it.

When the newly-engaged arrived later - sorta upstaging birthday girl even though she didn't seem to mind - I did, in fact, perceive happiness. I can't say my crystal ball saw a castle and a happily ever after but, hey, "Now is the moment. The moment is now. Time begins now. Time ends now."

And I have a life with black Asics I need to start planning.