Saturday, September 28, 2013

All About The Free Stuff September Edition

Courtesy of Hershey's S'Mores Sweepstakes
Joined the Pancake Revolution and got a free meal (also got a free birthday coupon, but they both expired on the same day and I couldn't use them both at the same time.  Shucks.
Free sample....good for travel
Also good for playing football
Made from the Monk Fruit--haven't tried it yet
Free samples are even better for expensive stuff    

I also had a Katy Perry perfume sample, but it smelled so bad that I immediately threw it away. It's called Killer Queen. It kills your desire to smell anything.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


This is what happens when a deranged man decides to shoot two people near the mall and drive away in a red mini van.

The local radio station reports that the aforementioned incident has occurred in the morning and that police have closed some of the roads. Logical.

I gather my stuff. I drive to campus. I look at the digitized signs along the way and see that none of the roads I take are closed, but I do hit some minor traffic getting off my exit because it's the next exit that's closed, and that whole strip of the road is closed, so everyone is being diverted my way. I let in some people trying to make their way across three lanes of traffic to get back on course. I am a nice person.

I get onto campus and wait in my car behind my building as I've been doing because people have been leaving around the time I arrive and I get to park right there instead of walking across campus--I do that because my class lets out late and I like to have my car close, though the football team, I found, is practicing while I walk to my car so it's not exactly isolated and scary.

As I wait, I take out my phone to play Seven Little Words. I see that I have a FB update, so I log on. Then I skim through the newsfeed and see one of my colleagues has posted that we are on lockdown. Say what???

So I log onto my email from my phone and see that we got a SUNY alert that we are indeed on lockdown. Everyone needs to be in a building. Huh. So I realized two things:

1. No one is going to come out of the building to free up any spaces.

2. I didn't get an alert texted to me even though I'm subscribed to receive texts and all the times they sent out tests, I got those, but when the real thing happens, I need to log onto my email account.

Seeing that I was not supposed to be walking across campus, I couldn't move my car. There were no spots. So I did the only thing that would guarantee I would not get a ticket. I left a sign in my windshield. Logically.

I go into the building and, wow, everyone's doors are actually closed and everyone is actually following directions. This is unprecedented. No one ever follows directions. I turn on my computer and read the emails again about lockdown and they say to stay where we are, to get inside if we're outside, and to follow lockdown procedures. I like to follow rules so I read the procedures that are posted on my wall and they say to close the lights, lock the door, and shut the blinds. My door was already closed and locked because that's the first thing I did. I closed the blinds in the far room of the office. Then I went to close my blinds.

The day before Lockdown Day, we had a maintenence man breaking a cracked pane of our window out of the frame and putting in a new piece of glass. This was ridiculous as the work was happening without notice while we were trying to do work and talk. Bang! Bang! Crack! Bang! Bang! Shatter! Crackle! Bang! Bang! Kind of like a Cher song remix. With all that work, no one noticed that our blinds needed some TLC as well. Some slats are flipped and twisted. Lowering them requires quite a tug at a very strange angle. I tugged and angled and then the blinds finally came down. And they were not long enough. This was really stupid. They left enough space for anyone to see into the office and see me directly. It was like I was helping out anyone who might want to take a gander in my office through the window, saying: Here--look here--here I am. So I went into Arts and Crafts mode.

Once that was taken care of, I went to work, sending announcements and alerts to my students for my 2 PM class, stating that we may or may not have class. The 12:30 classes were canceled, obviously, because no one could leave where they were. I'd gotten there just in time to not have anyone come to office hours and possibly not be able to teach later on and actually not be able to leave.

Apparently, the 12:30 class cancellation was not as obvious as I thought because a barrage of emails came over the system about students wanting to leave the library to get to their next class. Then people were freaking out because some doors don't lock, and they received responses saying that they should barricade their doors. Others wanted the buildings to be locked and Public Safety wanted them open so that anyone not in a building could get inside a building. Still, people wanted doors locked. People needed to know if classes were actually cancelled.

Then things got interested. We got emails asking if students could get water or go to the bathroom. We got emails stating: If everyone is inside, why are there students sitting out on the plaza right now? People asked for Public Safety officers to come to buildings to prevent intruders. THEN a Public Safety patrol car came around and there was a bullhorn attached and the officer was announcing to the people still walking around: We are on lockdown! Go inside and stay there! We are on lockdown! Go inside and stay there! Now I know what I want for Christmas.

We found out via email that this was not an active shooter lockdown. If it were, then the buildings would be locked. In this case, it was a different kind of lockdown that involved only some locks needing to be locked. Someone responded, suggesting that we should use a word other than lockdown since not everyone was down under a lock.

Then the lockdown was lifted. The same patrol car went around: The lockdown is over! The lockdown is over!

I felt what freedom really felt like when the lockdown was over because I had been alone in my office behind a makeshift shade that was looking pretty pathetic. It probably could have gone more smoothly if everyone just stayed where they were, knew that there was not an active shooter, didn't freak out, and had actual locks on their doors. So that's something to think about in case we ever have another...well...what could we call it?

The takeaway from this whole ordeal is simple: don't let old men in minivans own guns. Gun control!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On The Streets Of The Bronx, Arthur Avenue In Particular

Family trip! I piled my parents into my car so we could all pile into my brother's car so we could all have a tour of Arthur Avenue, aka my mom's old neighborhood.  Lots of the neighborhood has changed, we learned, as my mom pointed at buildings and told us what used to be there.
There were things that were the same, though, like street signs and the church.

Then there were the things that used to be there and are still there but are slightly different.  The market used to be huge and open-air.  Now it's small and enclosed.

And this guy is there.
We did what you do in an Italian neighborhood.  We ate.  When we walked in, I felt transported into some old Italian grandmother's basement.  My mom talked to the owner who told her she did a nice thing by bringing her family back to the neighborhood.  The food was very good (and very salty--I drank maybe two gallons of water when I got home).

Then it was time for dessert.  Cannoli and cappuccino at the little dessert shop.

But where's the dessert?

Already eaten
The best part of the tour was seeing my mom's old house.  Like where she actually lived.

And, of course, the signage.

Is this sign really necessary?

The parting gift was good bread.  Like really good bread.

And the family time.  That was good too.
I suppose we should pretend I'm the piano since I don't actually appear in this picture.

Next stop?  Yorkville.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Super Stretchy Upside Down Huff Puff Pose

I am really bad at yoga.  That information will do nothing for my career as a yoga instructor, but I think it's true.  I usually think I'm really good at yoga and then I go to a yoga class and watch the instructor and realize, that's something I can never ever do.  Even now, I'm evaluating my own yoga practice, comparing myself to others, and using negative talk--all things a good little yogini should not be doing.  Hence, the being really bad at it.  Full circle.

The Olga Class
I was the first to arrive, no surprise, and I started to do my normal stretching.  Arms overhead, linked fingers, lean to one side, lean to the other, lean back, bend forward. All kinds of stretchy. I looked up to see Olga in a world class backbend.  This is her warm-up.  This is how she gears up her body to do other things.  I cannot do her warm-up.

The class filled up and the woman next to me was saying how she was sad Olga was moving to Asia because she's such a great instructor.  I agreed she was a great instructor but was not so sad about the move to Asia because the great instructor was instructing us to get into poses that really stretched me to my limit.  She also did this thing where I sat, tucked my foot in with my knee up, kept my other leg straight, and then reached my foot of the straight leg with my hands.  Then she was like, Just rock forward and stand on the foot of the bent leg.  I figured she was dizzy from all the backbending and had no idea that it was impossible to do so.  Then she did it.  I did not.  BUT when I switched legs, I did it I did it I did it! 

During the headstand portion, I did preparation for headstand, knowing full well that I was preparing for nothing. In the prep position, I watched the woman behind me. She got up into headstand in a really unstable and awkward way, she bounced off the wall next to her with her foot while the other one flailed all over the place, and then she fell forward, kicking the shade lamp catty-corner to my mat.  She landed with a loud thud, which was partially drowned out by her yelling out quite loudly, Shit!

Namaste to you too.

Olga also asked us to breathe like a dog.  I shit you not.  She was like, Breathe quick in and out like dog and then she panted.  Then everyone else in the room panted.  So then I panted.  Fun times.

The Flor Class
Flor has a way of getting my body to do things that I didn't know it could do.  She's the instructor I've had the most, and she keeps me coming back because I'm always amazed at myself.  This is not self-praise.  This is self-surprise.  During this class, we did a lot of balancing.  I can get myself into tree--with one foot pressed to the inner upper thigh of the other leg--with no problem, but I know my hips don't open (they also don't lie! ha! that's comedy), so my knee doesn't go to the side.  Flor, a very hands-on instructor, came over and kept poking at my butt cheek while lengthening my supporting leg.  "Now relax this...relax..."  We both started laughing because, as I responded, "It doesn't want to relax."  My glute was clenched so tight and nothing would make it relax, not even her poking. 

Later on, we were standing on one leg and stretching the other leg forward.  She demonstrated the posture and clearly reached one hand across her body to grab the opposite foot.  No one caught onto this but me because people were flopping all over the place, holding onto the wall, unable to grasp how to balance.  I grabbed my right foot with my left hand and started to twist very slowly to the right with my right arm to the back of the room, and Flor said, Oh look one person got it.  Heh heh heh.  Then she came over to help again, which meant I fell out of the posture because I was leaning on her.  Laughing again...until we got onto the floor.

In an attempt to open up our hips, she told us to kneel with our knees wide and feet together.  Then we walked ourselves down onto the floor and let our feet come up and knees slide out.  Holy tight closed hips.  She walked around helping everyone balance out their hips to get lower.  She told us that her teacher, a 70 something year old man, did this every day and made someone sit on his butt to make sure he got down to the floor.  I'm in my 30s and my hips were nowhere near the floor.  To get out of the posture, we slid our legs straight so that the inner thighs touched the floor.  I don't know how we all didn't simply get stuck there forever because sliding my legs back together didn't feel, hmm, what's the word...oh, yes, it didn't feel good. 

Then she did the whole headstand shoulder stand all things I hate to do segment of the class, but because she's Flor and she can get my body to do things I never dreamed of, I held shoulder stand for a few seconds longer than the nanosecond I usually do AND I got partially up into wheel, the pose that Olga uses as a warmup.  After that, she had us in seated forward bend and she came over and said to me, Yes come from the solar plexus, she touched my back with one finger, and suddenly my face was buried in my shins.  No idea how that happened.

The Joanna Class
Having recovered from my hip psuedo-surgery at the beginning of the week, I was looking forward to a great vinyasa class.  Joanna's teaching tone is much similar to mine as are her detailed instructions as to where everything should be and what everything should feel like.  It's quite soothing and I feel like a rock star because I can do the class without having to take a break.  Only this time, after the eleventh uber stretch, I suddenly felt like my legs were going to fall off and had to take child pose.  Right after that, she opened the door and fanned it back and forth a bit, which is when I realized, wow I'm probably overheated and dehydrated.  I focused on the music, which I was really enjoying (even though in some songs the guy, I'm pretty sure, was talking to God), and I jumped back into the flow, and instead of being Super Rock Star, I stopped doing the postures as if I were six feet tall and moved my legs closer together. 

Since I'd overdone it halfway through, I was waiting for savasana to come.  We began savasana-ish postures while sitting, which was odd in a good way, and then we were told to lie on our backs.  Oh, heaven.  I could have fallen asleep, but there's some sort of ticking in the studio.  There's no clock in sight, but there's the ticking of the clock, so clearing my mind became a challenge since I was thinking about Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."  The ticking!  Oh, the ticking!

I've been wearing a salonpas on and off on my left calf for about two weeks.  When I came home from Joanna's class, I felt like I needed one on my right.  Today, it's my left again.  And the next class is at 5:30.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Imagine there is no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You, you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You, you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Best Birthday This Year

It was my birthday.  It was the best.

To kick things off, Eddie and I went to Sip This for a reading to support one of the poets in the group I run.  The reading was a lot of fun.  Eddie actually took pictures.  It started late, and we were both wondering, What's Dd waiting for? (She's the host).  I was nibbling on Eddie's crescent when Dd started talking about my birthday being the next day.  Then everyone sang happy birthday.  Unexpected, but fun!  Then out from the kitchen came a guy with a waffle.  Oh my.  Really unexpected, but yum!  Later on, Dd told me she'd looked at my blog to see if I'd mentioned what kind of waffles I like, but then simply picked one she thought I'd like after not getting any info.

FFR: I like all waffles.

Open mic

Multitasking...and look at that waffle!

Oreos, vanilla ice cream, Belgian waffle, birthday candle
On the 7th, I awoke at 6 AM.  Eddie moved, which meant he was up (right?), so I pounced: It's my birthday!  He said, Yeay it's your birthday I'm asleep sleeping time now.  So I went to shower while he slept.  When I was out of the shower, I tidied up the kitchen while softly singing about how it was my birthday.   Eddie appeared at 6:57. I asked, Why are you awake so early?  He answered, It's your birthday!  Then he surprised me with these:

At 8 AM, we were in the car, on the road to the city.  I wanted to see Lightness Of Being, the Public Art Fund exhibit in City Hall Park.  The only trepidation arose from the knowledge that there might be a clown on a bench sleeping.  It's one of those out-there human art pieces, you know, like Tilda Swinton in a box or something.

FYI: Brooklyn Bridge is closed.  Take the Williamsburg.

A wide variety of aesthetic:

Now that's a pretty big banana

And then we did some experimenting with Eddie's camera functions:

Then we grew up and took some more pictures like this:

In our defense, he could be art. Maybe he was subbing for the scary clown.

This was the coolest by far:

And now, a montage:

After coming home from seeing all the art, we headed to the mall to collect two of my birthday freebies.  I got mascara from Sephora (the cashier's mom's birthday was the same as mine!) and a sample fragrance from Bath & Body, though that was a Facebook freebie that happened to fall on my birthday and not an actual birthday freebie, but it was free so who cares.

We came home and I began my MOOC on Coursera about Modern Poetry.  In my introduction, I told everyone it was my birthday because I'm a 12 year old.  The instructor wrote back, welcoming me to the course and wishing me a happy birthday.

Then it was time for dinner!  Eddie and I grabbed my brother and headed to Lumix to meet SMM, AF, AK, and J.  We were seated at a hibachi table.  I haven't had hibachi since I was in like 7th grade.  The chef was the most entertaining guy around. Fire in the hole--BAM--he set the grill on fire.  Then he made a volcano out of onions, made the onions steam and move while blowing a train whistle, had a doll of a boy squirt water at us, and then he flipped zucchini at us so we could catch it in our mouths.  Eddie was first up and missed every time, but that was good because he doesn't like anything green and would have spit it out.  I missed every time and one got caught in my hair.  My brother missed and one landed on AK's plate.  She missed every time and they were all over the floor.  J? Caught one!  AF caught one!  SMM caught one on the first try.  They had the advantage of seeing all of us go first, I'm pretty sure.

The food?  Delish.  I ate the soup and the salad and the two shrimp that come with the meal and Eddie's two shrimp that comes with his, and then my rice and my veggies and some of Eddie's veggies and one of my brother's shrimp and my chicken.  Ummm, the plate was a square foot jammed with food, and I ate almost all of it.  My brother even said, I don't think I've ever seen you eat that much.

Then some sort of odd hip hop techno music started booming through the restaurant.  I thought to myself, that doesn't go with their decor....but then I saw the train of servers heading to our table and a candle and then we all realized the odd hip hop techno music was a birthday song.  Eddie had mentioned briefly to the chef that it was my birthday, and from that came a free fried iced cream.  It was the size of a softball, had two blueberries next to it, a side of finely sliced apple, whipped cream, and then underneath, some orange something or other.  Omigod, I was in heaven and somehow made some room to eat half.

I rolled myself out of the restaurant and we headed to the house where T, N, AEF, C, D, and F met up with us.  We told them about our feast.  I offered them to try their hips at hula hooping because Eddie got me a set of three for my birthday.

FYI: Hula hoops come in different sizes.  Eddie and I were using one from the set, and I was really upset because I couldn't do it.  Then I realized that they were different sizes.  I picked up the small one and I went for a minute straight and he was crying from laughing because I kept screaming the whole time LOOOOK I'M DOING IT I'M DOING IT I CAN STILL DO IT OMIGOD LOOOK AT MEEEEEEEE!

No one tried to hula hoop.

Then my parents appeared.  They always make an appearance at a party.  Eddie brought out a cake with candles and people sang and I blew out the candles and cut the cake awkwardly because the cake cutter I have has the serrated edge on the wrong side.  The candles were crammed into the cake and some wax had spilled over but everyone said it was edible still, so I stopped picking it out.  Some of the spillage was due to the candles breaking when Eddie put them in the cake.  He admitted, I just shoved them down in it.  It was still pretty.


I didn't have any cake because I was still rolling around from dinner.  Everyone said it was yummy.  I'll take their word for it.

As far as birthdays go, this one was pretty much fantastic.  In fact, I feel younger.  Yup, that's right.  Younger.  Except for feeling like I weight 478 pounds from all the food I ate in the past few days.  Aside from that, I'm like, what 22, 23ish?  Sounds about right.

A big thank you to everyone who made my day wonderful.