Posted in ...for real people, Humor, This is real life.

If my brain live-blogged Zumba after a 1.5 year hiatus

For a number of reasons (one of which was definitely laziness), I decided to take a half-year hiatus with my Zumba classes a year and a half ago. Yes, there’s a distinct difference. For those who may not know me incredibly well, I like to tell people that I “don’t sport,” which is a gross understatement. The good news for you, readers, is that I get extra-sassy/snarky when I’m trying to do anything that could be considered “athletic.”

Here’s an uncensored (fair warning) version of every thought I can remember between 4:21pm when I arrived at the elementary school gym to 5:38pm when I left. Times are rough and approximate, because like, I only remember precisely the beginning, dead center, and close to the end. You’ll see.

4:21 Ok, good, only like 6 people here, I’ll get a good spot. Lemme sign in.

4:22 Yeah, they definitely need this waiver from me because I’m the clumsiest damn person who ever thought about taking Zumba. It’s only a matter of time until I break a bone. Maybe today – who knows?

4:24 Okay, I can see the instructor and my purse from this angle. Second row, middle-ish. Everyone’s going to see me fuck up, but at least I’ll be able to see her well enough to know what I’m not doing right.

4:25 There’s technically-perfect girl who’s been coming for longer than I’ve been teaching, I hope she stands in front of me, because we’re equally white and I can just see what she’s doing when I don’t understand what to do with my butt.

4:26 Hey! There’s my friend that used to work with me! I hope she says hi.

4:27 God, she gives the best hugs. I miss her. Wait – is that pregnant girl? Aw, I bet her kid’s like walking and stuff now. Yikes. At least now I won’t be intimidated by the fact that an 8-and-a-half-month pregnant lady is better at Zumba than I am.

4:28 WAIT. Is pregnant girl pregnant again? Yes! Yes she is! That woman totally just touched the bump and she didn’t yell at her! Well, there goes that silver lining.

4:30 It’s nice that she remembers me, less nice that she pointed out it’s been a while for “some of us.” That’s me, folks, the girl with the tattoos all over her thighs. You were already judging me for that so….bring it, bitches

4:32 Warm up time! Yes! Hey muscles I don’t use on a regular basis! Nice to feel you again! I hope new girl has a good time and comes back. Like, I almost didn’t for the each time for the first month or so, but it got a lot better. I can’t believe I stopped, I’m so stupid.

4:34 Okay, okay, I remember these steppy things, I’m okay, I’m okay. I still hate Despacito, but it’s okay.

4:36 That was fun. I like the ones with grapevine steps. It took me so long to get good at them, but apparently they’re like riding a bike, except not for me because I can’t ride a bike anymore because of the tailbone issue, so like, maybe I’ll start referring to things that are easy as “it’s like doing a grapevine step.” People think I’m weird anyway, so it’ll be fine.

4:37 Yaaaas, lots of simple steps in this one. And the hip bump! I’m so good at the hip bump!

still 4:37 OMG, I can’t believe I can still do that whole clap-under-the-knee thing that quick, I totally thought I was going to fall on my ass when I tried that, but I am still on two feet. Yes. Success. I am amazing.

4:38 Why are these people not picking their feet up? You’re supposed to like, bounce then hop then kick, not drag then step and flail, come on, fam, get into it!

4:39 Okay, okay, this song is a little longer than I anticipated. My legs aren’t going as high anymore.

still 4:39 Maybe if I just like, stop being so bouncy, I’ll still be able to do the leg-clappy-thing.

still still 4:39 Oh GOD I’m going downhill so fast – why was I so energetic at the beginning of this song? Zumba is not a goddamned sprint, Erin, what were you thinking?

4:40 I made it. I made it. I made it.

4:41 Yep, actually drinking water now. While walking. Why is everyone else just standing while they drink their water and talk about how out of shape they are? Did no one listen to her? Like, I’m dying, but I’m still going to keep my feet moving to keep my heart rate up! Rookie move, folks.

4:42 Okay, let’s go. I hope this one is mostly upper body.

4:43 THIGHS? You can’t make us do the jumpy-clap thing and then just be like, “Oh, hey, now we’re going to go squat-jumpy-things.” That’s not okay! That’s NOT okay.

4:44 I swear to God, thighs, if you survive this, you don’t have to do anything for the rest of the week. I won’t wear boots with heels, I’ll take the elevator, just…do this for me.

4:45 My thigh muscles are to me what my students’ language skills are to them. 

4:46 Like, I could feel bad for thinking that, but I’m not going to. Hurtful? Truthful. Christ. It’s like my thigh muscles literally don’t even know how to move, which is what I hear they were designed for, because science.

4:48 Yes, yes, yes. Skinny-twisty-hippy thing. Has to be. It’s in Spanish.

4:50 I know they said the air was off, but it wasn’t really a big deal to me until now…

4:51 Ooooo, that does not feel great. This whole shimmy thing might be a bad idea for me at this particular juncture.

4:53 Okay, okay, okay, self. Let’s just…move from side to side for a minute. You’ll be okay. Just keep your feet moving and for the love of all things holy, do not pass out in this gym.

4:54 Oh God, definitely DO NOT THROW UP IN FRONT OF THESE ADULTS. Get it the fuck together, Erin.

4:55 Okay, feel better. New song, new start. And besides, maybe part of the unsettling thing is embarrassment that you had to stop and like, everyone can see you. NBD, look at the bright side – you probably made new girl feel better she was getting so upset when everyone was doing the spinny stuff and she was out of sync and then everyone saw, so she totally needed that schadenfraude.

4:56 I bet the cast of Avenue Q didn’t have to work out. I could be a puppeteer.

4:57 Oh fuck me, we’re not even halfway through yet. Dear sweet baby Jesus.

4:58 Why did I come to this? I’m so stupid. I love my fat and not being in shape. I don’t need muscles. What I need to do is lower my standards and settle for someone moderately annoying but who can reach things and lift things and do things for me and I can keep being soft and slow and he’ll love me anyway even if he’s a massive loser that I have to support and apologize for. Like, the emotional and mental strain I know how to deal with, so at this point, it might be worth it. We could just have separate bedrooms and maybe I could get a job where I travel a lot.

4:59 Oh goddamn it, if I travel a lot, then I still need to be in shape because my loser, settled-for husband won’t be there to pick things up for me. Shit shit shit.

5:01 Over the halfway mark, so I only have to….do this all over again. I might cry.

5:03 Okay, I am so lost on this one. It’s all footwork. Remember when I was good at footwork when I was like 5 and my dad was my soccer coach? That was a nice time.

5:04 At least I don’t feel like fainting again.

5:05 How unfair is it that I get 0% of either of my parents’ coordination? My dad was a gymnast and my mom likes to dance and here I am, like, “Hi, I’m Erin and I can sometimes stand still without injuring myself.” Sometimes. I’ll just…move my feet in the correct directions and not hop so people don’t realize just how off I am.

5:06 I know everyone knows how off I am. I don’t even care.

5:08 Oh, oh we’re going to use EVERY muscle in our bodies on this next one? Oh good. That will feel awesome. What do you MEAN our fingertip muscles? Those aren’t a thing. They’re like, tendons and squishy flesh. And even if there are muscles, they’re little, and they need to stay little. No one’s impressed by muscular fingers.

5:09 Open a window? There aren’t any windows to open in here. Nice imagery, but like, no one even has functional shutters like that in the United States. Maybe Greece. Are you taking us to Greece? Because then this exercise might be worth it. But to live in the US? Nah. We have to pull the windows up, so why do these muscles need to be in shape?

5:10 I better be able to manually open an elevator after this because my arms are going to punish me all day tomorrow. Are the kids using the Chromebooks? God, I hope so.

5:11 No, no, we’re not doing technology tomorrow, we’re reading the book and writing in our notebooks with me modeling under the Elmo, fuuuuuuuuuuuck. At least A Long Walk to Water is really small, but it’ll probably feel like it’s 25 pounds. Maybe I can put it on a table with like, paperweights. Do I have two paperweights? I have at least one, and like, a shit-ton of stationery implements.

5:12 I CANNOT OPEN A WINDOW SLOWER. No one opens windows slowly. In Disney movies, the princesses like, fling windows open so their fucking bird friends can fly in and help them with their chores. Where are my friends to help me? Nowhere. I have three dogs and a stray possum that refuses to be trapped, and all they do is make more problems for me. Like, I might let rats hang out if they did some chores.

5:14 All the windows are open now. Good. Let’s take it down a notch.

5:15 You did not just say more squats.

5:16 Okay, look, if you really think you want me to lunge-squat-lunge-squat and repeat, then it really has been a while since you had me in class, but okay. I signed that waiver.

5:17 I’m doing it! Hey! Just a little slippery. I’ve got this.

5:18 My thighs do NOT have this. Like, I could do straight squats but that’s the easy way out. I can do this. I can do this.

5:19 Yes, I’m fine. I’m fine. Yes, I’ll just do regular squats. Oh, NOW you remember that I’m the clumsy one? I mean, if you didn’t after watching me fall on my ass (sorry sad tailbone), then you have a shit memory, but whatever.

5:21 Thanks for that reassuring pat on the back, stranger. Like, I actually appreciate that you didn’t pretend you missed seeing the sprawl because you’re right behind me. Real. Honest. I can respect that. But we’re both really gross and sweaty, so could you actually not? Thanks.

5:22 Start out slow and speed up? Mainly upper body? Things I can do. Yes. Will survive. Can continue.

5:23 I hate this song. It’s so over played. And I can’t help singing along, at least in my head…

5:24 …now they always say congratulations…work so hard and now I die at Zumba….

5:26 My dragon is mad. My Wumps are mad. They didn’t sign up for this when they got tattooed on my thigh in January. It was winter and I’d been out of Zumba for like a year, so they thought they’d have this cush, lazy-ass life. Sucks to suck, friends.

5:28 Okay, okay, you survived, it’s time for cool down. Yes, fam, just one more. I am on board.

5:28 & 15 seconds THIS IS NOT A COOL DOWN. WHAT ARE YOU ASKING ME TO DO RIGHT NOW? THERE’S ONLY 2 MINUTES LEFT, I WAS DONE!

5:29 Look, lily-white girls like me don’t know how to move like that. And like, I see that you’re just sticking your ass out, but teacher, what do we do if we don’t have an ass to stick out? #firstworldwhitegirlproblems

5:30 I’m just going to revert to “woman who’s still moving in the correct direction but that’s about all we can say for her” and hold on.

5:32 This next song had better be the cool down or I am going to start crying in the middle of this gym and my friend left at 5:15.

5:33 Oh, praise Beelzebub it’s a cool down.

5:34 Okay, I’m all for female empowerment, but it’s not super-believable that we’re beautiful flowers that are also strong when I feel like I just got ripped from the ground, thrown in the street and run over several times. Perhaps also drawn and quartered if I had enough leaves and off-shoot stems.

5:35 I feel so tired but also accomplished. And she really is a good instructor, like, she’s so encouraging, even when you’re screwing everything up.

5:38 I need to make sure to take my workout clothes to work Thursday so I can just leave from there and there’s less concern.

 

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Posted in ...for real people, Life Musings, Soapbox Special, This is real life.

Why I Voted for Her.

In past years, I’ve had a political blog (or two) about my candidate of choice. But this year, I couldn’t rally enough love for any of the candidates to write a single post. I’m a woman. This doesn’t mean I support Hillary. But it sure as hell means I’m against Trump. So here we are, election season going strong, and I have found the need to say…something. Anything. Here goes.

Today, when early voting opened in my home state, I made damn sure that I made it before they closed to vote for Hillary Clinton.

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I don’t like her. Like, at all. I have theories about how she’s a soulless robot or has teeth where you shouldn’t…but those are ridiculous and neither here nor there.

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I much prefer Jill Stein, to be honest. However, I chose to compromise my own personal preference to vote in a way that might matter just a little more – because while every vote counts, I learned long ago that voting for a third-party candidate is a road to heartbreak (college-Erin was very psyched about Kinky Friedman running for governor).

Still, I voted for Hillary because I know how very hurtful a leader like Donald Trump would be to our future, particularly the future of minorities and women. And I need to do more than just complain about how there are no good, electable candidates.

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For those of you, regardless of gender, who say that Trump’s comments are not as large a concern for you as other issues, I respectfully disagree with that ranking for a number of reasons – but most of all, I disagree with it because if he’s willing to go against social norms that began to be established around the late-19th century, what else is he willing to throw out the window? Is this really a man we want in charge when we’re facing a real racial tension problem across our nation? Is he the person who’s going to continue to help us move forward as a society rather than backward?

I personally think he’s the worst one for the job.

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To those of you who say that his words are normal, that they’re not a concern at all…I would ask you to consider what that says about you.

I would ask you to realize that you are the people who hurt people like me the most.

I’ve had a lot of experiences with guys in my life, both positive and negative. I have never been seriously sexually assaulted or raped, and I’m thankful for this. But sexual harassment and gender discrimination have shaped my daily interactions with not just men, but women as well, my entire life.

Take, for example, the coworker who thought it was okay to “compliment” me in a coworker’s room by telling me how good I looked after losing 70 pounds…and then take it further by rubbing my criss-crossed thighs and saying, “You’re flexible, too, that’s hot.”

Funnily enough, that coworker’s actions bother me more than the guy I was interviewing, on trial for rape, who asked me, “Hey girl, how you feelin? You happy to be assigned to my case? You know I like women who have more curves to love.” (He was guilty, just FYI.)

An instance I actually like to laugh about is a blind date I was set up on by a friend. During those first getting-to-know-you back and forth, I discovered that apparently, a woman owning a house (or probably property in general) was a deal-breaker for my date. He wanted a wife who would move into his house that he owned, change nothing, and essentially just fill the role that his maid, take out, and (I conjecture)porn filled in his single life. When I called my friend from the bathroom, his answer was, “Yeah, I hoped that he wouldn’t be so misogynistic on the first date, sorry…”

Or the time that I, as a teacher, was sexually harassed by a student and when another came to my defense (though I have to admit, he chose an inappropriate avenue to pursue), the defending student got in trouble and my harasser became a victim to be pitied.

But really – here’s the truth: I, like many other women, judge a man not only by how he treats me, but how he allows others to treat me.

And if I’ve already decided that I care about you, that you’re a good person, and you matter to me…and then you let “locker room talk” or “bros before hos” be a reason you won’t stand up for me.

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So while I was of course upset at the freshman stupidly grinding all over me in the hallway when I was the on-call PA my junior year of college, despite my orders (and eventually pleas) for him to stop, he wasn’t the reason that I cried when I got back to my room. Yeah, he was a complete dick (though from looking at his Facebook profile now, he seems to be a respectable human being), but I could write him off as an idiot who I didn’t care about. 

I couldn’t do that with the two male coworkers who laughed at his antics and not only didn’t help, but encouraged it. The ones who, when I asked them to help me and back me up on this, went along with his jokes, telling me if any of us touched him, he could file charges against us (we all knew he couldn’t). Because apparently, rubbing yourself on a woman when she’s telling you to stop is hilarious. Just a giant joke. It took a third male coworker showing up and immediately inserting himself between us to protect me to end that show. 

You know, what hurts me most when these things happen isn’t the asshole perpetrators – it’s the thoughtless actions, non actions, and comments from those I respect.

What really hurt was my friends finding nothing wrong with the situation, which told me that I had no right to feel uncomfortable, or maybe even that I wasn’t worth protecting. That I didn’t have value to them.

What really hurt was that a teenager could harass me and get away with it because he, too, had something bad happen to him, and while violence should be punished (I agree), talking to your female teachers like they’re pieces of meat put in the classroom for you to lust after isn’t (I don’t agree).

What really hurt on that blind date was my friend knowing that the guy he set me up with was a misogynist, and thinking that it would be okay to offer me as a potential romantic pursuit.

What really hurt was needing to continue to cover that story, somehow unbiased, because his idiotic comments had given me a window in with his lawyer if I didn’t publish them. My harassment became a positive tool in the eyes of journalists (me included), and it took years for me to see what was wrong with that.

What really hurt was the fact that I didn’t even realize that I had been sexually harassed by my coworker because I’m so used to that kind of treatment, and then feeling even more ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up in the first place.

What will hurt the most is if you disregard my rights, fears, and needs as a woman in this society and vote Trump, a man who sees women not as equal to men, but as pieces of meat – at best, as animals. Voting for Trump shows me that you don’t care about me or any other woman you know.

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Posted in ...for real people, Life Musings, This is real life.

The Six Stages of Baths

Sometimes, I make my dogs unhappy by giving them what I call baths and what they call a brush with a hot, watery death.

They all go through the same six stages, similar to but not quite the exact same as the stages of grief. Dorrie’s are the most visible because she has such an expressive little face.

Stage One: Denial No, surely you couldn’t have said the word “bath,” you probably said something different, like “bed” or “wrath” or “snuggle time” and I just misheard you.

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Stage Two: Bargaining  I’m not that dirty. Besides, the sticky sap from those weeds you just got rid of makes my hair stick up adorably, like a puppy-Einstein, but it won’t do that if you wash it all out…just….turn the water off, okay?

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Stage Three: Blind Hatred Fine. This is how it’s going to be? Fine. I don’t care. I hate you anyway. I’ve always hated you. You’re the worst Mom ever, and I’m not going to make this easy for you.

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Stage Four: Depression I’ll never be dry again. This is how I’m going to die. Wet and soapy and miserable in this white torture tub. I’ll never have popcorn again.

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Stage Five: Acceptance tempered with Lingering Bitterness Alright, I’m clean. You’ve shampooed and conditioned me and now everything smells like delicious coconut, and the oatmeal actually felt good against my skin, but I’m not happy about that. It didn’t last long enough to make it worth it to me. I’m still never forgiving you.

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Stage Six: Unadulterated Bliss OH MY GOD, I’M SO CLEAN! I wish I was this clean every day! This was the best idea ever.

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Posted in ...for real people, Life Musings, This is real life.

Thanksgiving…for real people.

This year, I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post.

There are a few reasons for that, most importantly because I was too busy hopping from one Thanksgiving to the next, in New York City. However, there’s one more reason that I just wasn’t having it about Thanksgiving going on the blog this year. And that’s because I didn’t want to fake it.

You know, there are those years when you feel absolutely thankless because so much has gone wrong in your life. You just can’t seem to rally too much up.

Then there are other years when everything is so amazing, you feel like listing all the things that you’re thankful for would be too much like bragging.

For me, this year is neither of those types of years. It’s an in-the-middle year. A meh year. I’m not angry at the world, nor do I particularly want to celebrate it. It’s a regular year.

It has reminded me, in fact, multiple times, of a specific scene in one of my favorite love-to-hate movies.

Nicholson goes on to say that what makes it so, so very bad. The full quote, all explained, reads something like this:

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You see, I understand that quote. I’m not going to explain it to you, because I feel like if you’re going to get it, like really and truly get it, then you will. And if you don’t get it, well, it’s because you don’t want to, most likely.

The truth is, I have both kinds of stories. As Helen Hunt says, I have the stories that everyone has, that we all have to get over. And, in addition, I’m lucky enough to also have good times and noodle salad -type of stories.

And this week, I’m thankful for the opportunity to make more of the latter. Even if, by Wednesday, I’ll be heading away from the people who help me make my best stories. That whole leaving part? That’s what shows us that life is real.

It’s not all perfect, and it’s not all bad. It’s just…life.

And I think, ladies and gents, that this is what we forget occasionally. That life is life. It’s not a movie (despite the many movie scenes that for some reason play out in my life), it’s not a TV sitcom, and it’s definitely not a fairy tale.

The sooner we accept this, and accept what the future holds, the better we’ll be able to appreciate those good times with noodle salad and the easier it will be to deal with those other stories. Because I know that if I had the choice between having both good and bad stories or no stories at all, I’d pick good and bad every time.