A month of flailing my arms and legs around in the pool while trying not to drown is all it took to finally get the hang of this aqua aerobics business. Well, mostly. I still struggle with some of the moves that require my legs and arms to move in crazy ways that would be impossible on land let alone in 8 feet of water that is actively attacking me.
Once my muscles finally got the idea of where they were meant to be, I was able to move them with intent and start to feel the benefit of the activity; it is a good feeling. I cannot actually look at the instructor and her half-hearted demonstrations; instead I stare at the water and picture the moves in my minds eye, which probably means my eyes roll up in my head and I look like I am about to shoot laser beams out of their freaky whiteness.
Eventually, I will explore some other water classes with more capable instructors but for now I will continue to work on my tire run and reverse jumping jacks until my arms and legs can move independently and my eyes do not get so wonky although shooting laser beams would be so cool!
I have also made some progress on the lap swimming front increasing my hourly laps to a consistent 50 up from my previous best of 45. Every session follows the same pattern and no matter how fast I kick my legs, I remain at 50 laps.
My first 5 laps are about warming up and working the kinks out of my body; while I can’t exactly hear them under water, I imagine my joints and muscles are cursing me as they resolve that this workout is actually happening.
In my next 5 laps, I tend to focus on my form, getting everything coordinated and at a reasonable pace to prevent me from sinking to the bottom. Once I hit the 10th lap I wonder how I am going to do that 4 more times but eventually zone out. I think about the day’s task list, what I want to make for lunch, who I want to punch and periodically I hear my inner coach screaming at me to kick my legs harder and move faster reminding me why I am really in the pool.
At lap 25 I get excited knowing I am half way through and note the time to ensure I am on track for goal completion then zone out some more. By lap 40 I begin to tire and my inner coach begins to scream louder, sometimes tossing in profanity, to ensure I end strong.
Depending on my previous progress, I might panic a bit certain I will not make it to 50; I kick my legs harder and start making alternative workout plans to make up for lost laps. Eventually I hit the 50 mark with a bit of time to spare and I casually swim the last lap often doing some spectacular twist or other fancy move to celebrate. I follow everything up with some stretching and a dash to the shower.
Other progress includes little things like remembering towels and under garments and putting on the lotion before I put on the cloths. I have changed up my silver swim cap to a less brain crushing white one so I look like a Q-Tip instead of a pinhead so there is that.
Looking forward to that next aqua-breakthrough as I continue with Operation Suck Less 2014 when I manage to hit 51 laps or when I do those ski mogul things without choking down some water; it should arrive in late summer.
Last week I made my triumphant return to my favorite live music venue, First Avenue, for a rockin’ Blitzen Trapper and Drive-By Truckers concert; I am not sure how long it had been since I had graced those black walls with my presence which means it had been way too long. While no one specifically said so, I could feel the staff, even the building itself, welcoming me as I entered.
I spent the very first night I began living in Minneapolis, oh so many years ago, at First Avenue watching The Mighty Lemon Drops. I had just transported my last batch of belongings and a barfing cat from my hometown, took a second to toss on a passably cool t-shirt, added a fresh coating of hair spray and headed downtown.
Walking in the building I felt transported to musical heaven; I stopped for a moment to take it all in but had to get moving quickly as I was blocking the entering crowd. It was not exactly as presented in that Prince movie and Prince was no where to be found but, as I stood on the balcony overlooking the stage and crowd below, I knew I had made the right choice moving to Minneapolis.
What I want to write about is not what my annoying brain wants to think about.
What I want to eat is not what my annoying fridge is currently stocking.
What I want to listen to, I have not a clue.
I wanted to walk in the sun, but I settled for the grey chill.
So now I will sit in silence, pick at a plate of chicken and veggies, and stare at a blank page until something gives.
A few of the things I am currently crushing on:
1) Whole Me Almond Cluster cereal is so very tasty and crunchy and perfect with yogurt. It can be ordered online: http://www.wholeme.com/
2) Marieke® Gouda Burning Mélange is my new favorite cheese with a yummy blend of herbs; pairs nicely with a variety of fruit. It can be ordered online: https://www.hollandsfamilycheese.com/onlinestore.aspx
I have three distinct ways to flip someone off perfected through years of practice that began one afternoon in the summer before I turned 5.
“The Finger” is my most commonly used method. My middle finger extends, my thumb settles atop my index finger while my pinky and ring fingers bend out of the way. The full measure of my intent is conveyed with my mouth, from a smile for a joke to a sneer for disdain.
“The Upswing” is my most nonchalant method and begins with sweeping hand flourish bringing the middle finger upward and barely extended. It is often pared with an eye roll to emphasize I care so little this is all the effort you deserve.
The final method, “The Eagle,” is by far my favorite and takes a bit more dexterity so I prefer to flip it after my fingers have been warmed up and stretched. Here, my middle finger is completely erect while my other fingers are bent at the knuckle and my thumb is extended. This can be achieved in one smooth motion of straightening the middle finger while simultaneously sliding the other to a bent position and can be combined with “The Upswing” flourish as desired.
I call this “The Eagle” because it is not just flipping any ole bird, but a beautiful majestic bird of prey soaring above all others. I remember the first time I saw my dad perform this variation of a familiar gesture and thinking it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was mesmerized as to how his fingers could move in such a precise and effortless way and I knew I was meant to master this movement.
Nearly all of my favorite songs, and others I don’t even like much, have a specific image imprinted in my brain and when I hear the tune that image immediately flashes. Sometimes it is as simple as a color, other times it is a vivid scene from my past. “Something In Common” always invoked a distinct image of the day in Philadelphia when I first met my ex-boyfriend. It has always been a happy image but now it seems my subconscious is trying to to make me sick of it as this song has been playing in my mind for about 20 hours now. No matter what tune is playing in the outside world, my brain is spinning this. Stupid brain.
I first saw Free Energy live at SXSW in 2010, then later in the fall at the 400 Bar (RIP 400 Bar, your new location at MOA just won’t be the same) and finally a third time that year in Philadelphia, their adopted hometown after members moved from Minneapolis. This video is reminiscent of each time I saw them in these tiny bars. I am hoping if I play it enough today, my brain DJ will finally relent.
When I decided to finally put all of my various writing thingies under one umbrella, I knew there might be a clash or some confusion with the different types of posts included, as in stories verses personal thoughts.
Posts about My Crappy Breakup and Operation Suck Less in 2014 are mostly personal thoughts, a glorified journal really, that for some reason I thought would be a good idea to make public. These thoughts are those things rattling around in my head that are demanding time and attention and require that I spit them out so that other thoughts have some room to breathe. While true and accurate, they are not complete. It would be impossible to be complete. Seriously, impossible.
I finally started playing with Spotify and will be uploading my too many playlist slowly.
“Keeping The Current” Vol 1 is the first of a series of playlists I made right after SXSW 2010 when I could not get enough Spoon, The Hold Steady, Free Energy, Blitzen Trapper and others. This playlist seems relevant again as The Hold Steady has a new album out tomorrow and I will be seeing Blitzen Trapper and Drive-by Truckers live again this week.
The playlist reminds me of being at Stubbs in Austin, TX at the very back of the outdoor venue sitting on a boulder so I could rest my soon-to-be-replaced hip when some random dude came and sat by me and started to talk but then fell over and laid on the ground for a while before his friends finally came to retrieve him. I have a way with the dudes.
A few days ago, my ex-boyfriend and I continued our reconnection with a marathon post-breakup talk; it was overdue but it was a fun conversation and for the most part gave me the sense of relief and comfort I was craving.
The next day, I hammered out a blog post assuming once it was completed I would be able to put the whole ordeal behind me and miraculously find bliss. As I was writing, I became more and more emotional having to stop to compose myself several times. I probably should have paused and just let my feelings settle a bit, but I had set an artificial deadline for myself and was certain once it was met, all would be fine. I should have known better, I probably did know better and was just being hopeful.
Every time I travel to a new city, I make a point of visiting one or more of its museums, so it is somewhat strange how little time I have spent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) when it is within walking distance of where I live. After seeing repeated ads for the Matisse exhibit, and having heard of the artist, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to spend a little quality time at the fabulous local museum.
I am always struck by the architecture of museums and often remember it more vividly than the paintings within. Be it columns, staircases, marble floors, grand entrances or long ornate hallways, each element combines to create a spectacular setting and a tone of noteworthiness. The MIA is no exception to creating a beautiful backdrop to appreciate art, although my favorite entrance is currently under siege of an ice wall worthy of guarding by the Night’s Watch from The Game of Thrones.
As I always do when given the opportunity, I bought the audio tour to help enhance my experience with actual knowledge and stuff beyond just looking at the prettiness; I found the audio for this exhibit to be well done and worth the added cost. The headsets add a layer of isolation making me feel as though I am all alone enjoying the art.
There is something about visiting a museum that makes me feel small. When I think about how long ago a piece was created or how prolific an artist was I am in awe and wonder about their exceptional life and the sacrifices they had to make to create such beauty. With Matisse, he was considered a modern master by the time he was my age and was able to reinvent himself and his art as he continued his career; if I am a modern master of anything it is TV viewing which is much less impressive.
My ability to appreciate art is incredibly primitive; I react on a gut level as to what strikes my fancy but could not articulate any logical reason why one piece appeals to me over another. I listen to the audio, I read the posted description and while I understand that these words are English, when put together to describe the art I practically hear the swoshing sound as they fly over my head. I learned to accept this about myself ages ago and I am sure it is part of my charm.
On this visit I found myself drawn to some lithographs and a painting called “Girl Reading, Vase of Flowers” which I liked for the colors as well as how the girl was sitting as she read.
Normally, I am drawn to sculptures and it takes all of my self-control to not pet them. I liked Matisse’s sculptures but not as much as the other pieces. I did think it was cool that he used sculpting as a way to inspire his painting.
Most of the people milling about the art appeared appreciative and eager to take it all in. There was one couple that seemed to be in my way no matter which direction I turned but, as I was not in any hurry, I was not bothered. I was struck by a lost girl who was casually looking for her people as a museum staff member followed closely behind trying to extract any clue as to their identity. The young girl, maybe 7 or 8, seemed so nonchalant by the occurrence I assumed this was not a first and considering I saw her wondering about on her own later I also assume it will not be her last.
I enjoyed the exhibit and it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I must make a point to get back to the MIA soon and enjoy the permanent collection.