Monday, February 18, 2008

Getting It Out of My System

After 12 hours of abusing myself yesterday, I decided it was time to take care of myself today.


Even though I hate to wake up to the alarm, I set it for 11:30 this morning so I could make it to the restorative yoga class on 56th St. I didn't even really eat breakfast (or, er, shower) because I was so looking forward to lying on the floor in the dark, but when I got there, I realized I was in for something very different. My teacher, first off, was about 75 years old. Her teaching style was reminiscent of teaching circus performers how to execute gymnastic tricks, encouraging us to flail our arms wildly and flop our heads around - totally antithetical to what's supposed to happen in a yoga or pilates class. Clearly not restorative but not really of any other yoga practice either, it was like taking a sitcom version of yoga, watching her vocalize weird sounds and twist her body unrhythmically.


I decided to go with it instead of walking out (like I normally would) since I know enough about yoga to adjust her instructions and actually execute some proper poses like tree and warrior 1. But overall the class was distracting and not restorative at all, especially when the elderly teacher's joints kept cracking like bubble wrap every time she demonstrated a move.


Still, I felt like I accomplished something, and I got all limbered up for the lymphatic drainage massage I'd scheduled for later in the afternoon. I'd been wanting to drain my lymph system ever since my massage in Minneapolis in October pinpointed pain behind my knees, so when I read about it in this week's Time Out, I was excited to try it. I went to the Dorit Baxter spa on 57th St, which I expected to be a lush Midtown hideaway but instead was kind of ghetto and stressful. When I actually got into the massage room, though, I was immediately relaxed, and excited for the light touch that LDM is known for (which often frustrates people who like a deep tissue attack when they get massaged). I kept expecting to have an emergency-level urge to pee like the article said, but instead my stomach kept gurgling to an embarrassing extent. And a couple moves made me a little lightheaded. I guess I'm just not used to having my armpits massaged.


Overall it felt good and my sneakers felt a little looser afterwards, but my bloat is so severe that I think it's going to take more than one massage to fix it. My ring won't fit at all today. And my legs don't feel like my own. I'm supposed to drink a lot of water and elevate my feet today, which I should probably do everyday, so that might help.


I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to this stuff and, as Edith says, I'm the kind of person who takes action when I want to do something. So expect more dispatches from the world of holistic practices, homeopathic remedies, and naturopathic medicine. And weird infomercial products.


Or maybe I'll just take an epsom salt bath tonight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day of Rest

Normally I shut down on Sundays. I get really stressed about going back to work on Monday, and I've never been able to shake my Catholic upbringing that trained me to tense up on Sunday. But when Sunday falls before a Monday off...well, that's another story.

I took a little extra time off this weekend so I really wanted to feel like I was on vacation, and make it count. I suggested we meet up in Brooklyn this Sunday afternoon, something I would normally be too tired or too stressed to do, but today was more than happy to hop on the G train to Greenpoint Ave. and check out some of the new establishments that have popped up near my first apartment in NYC circa 1997.

We settled on Black Rabbit to start, a beautifully-restored bar across from the live poultry slaughterhouse that serves a great selection of beer and some German- and English-friendly nibbles like Welsh rarebit fondue. Boy do I wish something like that existed when I lived on the block.


We then moved over to the Radegast Hall, the elusive Williamsburg-based beer garden that took forever to open but certainly delivers. Between the full kitchen and the quick-serve grill, the place emanates a delicious smell and has pretty reasonably-priced (and authentically-curated) German and Belgian beers. We marvelled at the size of the place and the Hungarian-borne appliances. I'm afraid to tell you how good the kielbasa was, especially washed down with some Spaten Oktoberfest and Hofbrauhaus Dunkel.


Across the street we stopped into The Levee where we binged on cheese balls and a beer/tequila combo called The Texas Two-Step which involved a bottle of Lone Star and a shot. But we were really only avoiding the inevitable: our maiden voyage to the Zombie Hut, a mere car service ride away in Carroll Gardens, ish.


flaming Tiki Torch shots


We managed to drink a frozen zombie cocktail in a big bowl built for four AND order a round of Tiki Torch shots (which involve setting the bar on fire and roasting marshmallows) before going across the street to the Cubana Cafe for dinner and then going BACK to the Zombie Hut for more. As far as tiki bars go, this one is pretty good, but I have to say I was most entertained by winning several games of Connect Four, something not Polynesian but intoxicating nevertheless.


After twelve hours of drinking in Brooklyn I was lucky enough to catch a cab home to Manhattan for only $20, with an intense feeling of satisfaction for the day I've had. Good friends, lots of laughs, delicious food, and an excursion that really felt like an event. I love long weekends!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will I Be My Valentine?

All narcissism aside, I am the best date I've ever had. I always take myself out to a place I want to go, I always pay for me, and I always get lucky at the end of the night. What could be better?


After my recent brief dating debacle, I was actually really glad to be alone on Valentine's Day this year. Other years have sucked, particularly last year, when right about now I was just getting out of work. But this year I took off early, having lunch with Edith at Uno's and then getting my hair did at Wonderland - which, combined with my recent grooming, pedicure and teeth whitening, made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I then took my bad self out for drinks and dinner to Gramery Tavern, a Danny Meyer dream for someone like me who's already obsessed with Blue Smoke and Shake Shack.


sweet and saltyAfter an orgasmic stuffed meatball and bacon-chocolate tart, I met up with Michelle for cocktails at Flatiron Lounge, a place where I would not find cute boys but which always feels like a special occasion.


I tried to go to George's bar for some mayhem, but without George there, it just didn't seem worth it. And after considering a late-night stop at Rodeo Bar, I just decided to go home, satisfied with myself and in not finding Prince Charming tonight. I've never found him any other Valentine's Day, might as well go home and watch LOST instead.


I did get one flower today, a rose from our mailroom assistant who distributed them to every female in our office. It didn't make me feel special, but it did give me a bit of a tingle I wouldn't have otherwise had.


Happy Valentine's Day indeed. In a terrifying turn of events, I'm content being alone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Adventure At Full Throttle

The smell of gasoline is still in my nose. Or maybe it's the pile of petrol-stink clothes on my floor.


But I'm OK extending the experience of my day, a great day of snowmobiling in the Poconos.


I've been on the Adventure Society mailing list for a while now, but their only event I've actually attended so far has been their very strange holiday party. By the looks of their newsletter, they have great excursions that tap into the thrill-seeking side of adults with enough disposable income to feed it. Hangliding, skydiving, horseback riding, sensual massage...whatever tickles your...fancy.


Today's snowmobiling trip was paired with a brewery visit which just sounded like heaven, but for a while it looked like it wasn't going to happen. It hasn't been the snowiest winter - thanks to global warming - and they warned us that there wouldn't be enough snow and we'd probably have to do ATVing instead. But on the drive across 80W into Pennsylvania, I kept pointing out all the mounds of snow in driveways and fields and on lakes, wondering why they just couldn't import some in.


When we finally got to Long Pond Rentals after a two-hour drive, we were greeted by...snowmobiles! And just enough of a white dusting.


Much like skydiving, they don't really tell you anything before you get on. And lucky for me, I had one of the old rickety snowmobiles that doesn't go in reverse and really stinks the air and my hair up with the smell of gasoline. On top of that, my snowmobile had a really hard time steering left, something I discovered conveniently right before I crashed into what turned out to be a small creek covered in snow. I had to hitch a ride back to the office and get two burly guys to lift it out for me. That was within the first five minutes. At least I didn't wrap it around a tree. (Don't worry, Edith is fine. Pictures forthcoming.)


I had a really good time though it was totally a foreign experience. I haven't ridden a bicycle even in probably fifteen years. And I've only ridden the back of a motorcycle once. Never jet-skied. And with little instruction, they allowed me all by myself on that thing.


At first I explored the wooded trails a bit, very leisurely while I got a handle on the operation of the machinery, but once I crashed and started to avoid the really narrow passageways, I decided to go out the wide open and break in the virgin snow in the middle of a big field. A combination of driving around in big circles and doing a bit of off-roading on some bouncy territory with gas fumes pumping into my lungs made me a little nauseous, especially when I kept squeezing the throttle over every big bump. I think I only used the brake once. And that wasn't even when I crashed.


You're not doing much, but the adrenaline rush and the tense navigation is tiring, so we had a full day out of an hour and a half of snowmobiling. Then our trip leader drove the van back into New Jersey for a late lunch at Long Valley Pub and Brewery, where of course I had to order the seven-beer sampler paddle. The Long Valley's Best Bitter was great, as was the seasonal pale ale and the food too. We heard they have a big Oktoberfest celebration so I suspect we might find our way back there at some point.


There are a million reasons to go back to the Poconos, and not just the proximity to so many Arby's, Friendy's, Perkins and Cracker Barrel. There's the Caesar's with the champagne glass hot tubs, the Great Wolf Lodge, the Stock Car Racing Experience and so many historic brown signs!


I'm really glad my takeaways of the day were a wet butt, some gassy clothes and a full belly rather than the mudbath I would have gotten four-wheeling. But now that I think of it, I kind of want to do that now too.