Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hey, Home Depot! Yeah, It's Me Again.

An open letter to Home Depot as sent through their Contact Us email system on their website after they haven't responded to a previous email sent the same way and also didn't respond to a different email address I was told to use after still  not sending me the right replacement part and I've had a half-put-together media console/fireplace in my living room for about a month.

Hi, this is the second time I'm emailing through this site. I never received an answer with my first email, nor did I received an answer when I emailed as directed by your Twitter account. I have been having problems with my order (W473238940) from March 26 for Home Decorators Rinehart 59 inch Media Console with a fireplace in Medium Brown (Model WSFP59ECHD-1). The product had two broken pieces when it arrived. The bottom piece was cracked, but only superficially on the back, so we dealt with it. The other piece, H, is cracked, broken, and unusable. In putting the unit together, we realized it is much darker than the product photo shows (I have a side-by-side photo if needed). Seeing that we could not send a half-put-together unit back, we decided to deal with that, too.

On 4/11, I spoke to Isaiah who efficiently took down my information, contacted the warehouse, and promised to have a replacement piece sent in 3-5 business days. I double checked that it would be medium brown. He confirmed. I received the piece in 5 business days (7 days total over a weekend). The piece was even darker than the unit I have.

On 4/18, I spoke to a different customer service rep. She put me on hold for a long time as she tried to contact the warehouse. She said no one was answering, but she would place the order for a new part, indicating that someone mixed up the colors. She said she would put a rush on delivery for me, and someone would call me in two days to let me know the order was placed. No one called.

I called on 4/20 and was on hold for 30 minutes without anyone answering, so I hung up.

I called on 4/22 and spoke to Koya, who apologized that no one called, but said my order was put through on 4/18. She said the new part would take 5 - 10 days to arrive. I asked about the rush delivery the previous rep offered. She said that was not in the system, but I should receive the piece by Tuesday 4/26.

It is now 4/27. I do not have the part. I  have a partially put-together console in the wrong color in my living room and the top part of it in my bedroom. This is completely unacceptable, and I am incredibly disappointed that no one is helping me.

At this point, I want to simply send it back and get a refund. I would need packing materials and boxes sent to me, and a pick up. I expect that the return will be free of charge after this unprofessional experience. How can I go about doing that? I hope that I receive an answer this time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Years of Seinfeld Watching Put To Good Use

Different pipes go to different places.

Elaine and Suzy...Suzy and Elaine.

Get out!

I'm a sucker for a good Elaine catch-phrase. I'm also a sucker for trivia. Sip This hosted Seinfeld trivia, so I did what I do best--I put the team together. In this case, I was also able to contribute. Kind of.

I used to watch Seinfeld every day, a few episodes at a time, first in the early evening and then late at night. It's always on. I haven't watched like that in quite some time, but my brother has. And so has his friend. So that was the team: me and the two experts. See? I have a gift for team building.

With the very first question, my brother's friend was already writing an answer before the question was finished. With every answer, I was laughing hysterically. Seinfeld is probably the most cleverly-written show, and trivia was like reliving it.

Unlike trivia nights of the past, this night flew by. It was so quick and everyone was so into it and there was not a lot of, hey wait a minute that's wrong because bloop bleep blop dee blurp. Instead, it was more like an episode of Seinfeld--lots of people knowing a lot of things about nothing that really matters. In other words, it was awesome.

The part the tripped us up the most was the Name That Date portion. Not date as in month, day, year, but date as in the person one of the four main characters dated. Side note: there was a question about an exact date--the last time Jerry threw up--and my brother knew it. He also knew Jerry's exact address. Anyway, you know what I studied the most? The names of all the girlfriends and boyfriends. YET we still had trouble because there were even more of them that I didn't know about. Some were there, though--Todd Gack (what a fantastic name!), Jake Jarmel!!!, Rachel (of the Schindler's List/shrinkage episodes).

Yes, I had a study sheet. Let's move on.

So with my brother knowing all those minute details and his friend knowing every single plot, I was there for backup, knowing the general and obvious things anyone who watches should know, and for knowing that Jerry compared breaking up to trying to push over a vending machine. Yeah, that's right.

And....we tied for second! Which really was third because there was also a tie for first. Plus, we think we earned (in our hearts) a half point for saying Sex with Puddy instead of Puddy's Move when Elaine described something like a big budget movie that goes nowhere. See? Half point!

We still wouldn't have been first. We got very close though. Very very close. Between the almost winning and the jasmine green tea, trivia is becoming my favorite part of the month. It can stay that way by making me win. Or I can just take over trivia altogether. If I'm in charge, I can't win, but I also can't lose, which makes it a win-win situation in some sort of weird way. Aha! Victory!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #16

This week was much like other weeks--reading, writing, seeing, doing.

Also, I taught a workshop on Monday that was for children and then was opened up to adults. A grand affirmation that I chose the right career in teaching college and not the younger crowd. I mean, they were nice and all, but I just don't get them. Them meaning kids.

On Tuesday, I participated in a reading in honor of a library trustee at the Bryant Library. The night was filled with poetry and music. Very sweet.

Thursday was all about Connecticut. I drove up with my artist-workshop-friend to participate in Confluencia along with three other features. It was the best reading I've ever done. The other poets and I had a vibe like I've never had with other writers before, and we had just met. Truly a magical experience.

The end of the week up until now has been overtaken by adult-onset-appendicitis. Who gets appendicitis without classic symptoms well past the age of when people usually get appendicitis? My mom. And so, I've been really focusing on that, which is why this is so quick. Sabbatical is a good thing for many reasons. Not having to find people to sub for classes eliminated what would have been a huge added burden.

I'm guessing next week will be similar with the reading and writing but not with the varied events. National Poetry Month has been exhilarating and exhausting, and now I have a bigger reason to stay closer to home.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fireplace Dreams Dashed

Fireplaces cause higher home owner's insurance. I never knew this until we got home owner's insurance and they asked if our new home had a fireplace. That makes sense, though. A fireplace offers a higher risk of burning your own house down. However, an electric fireplace does not (well, I suppose there could be an electrical fire, but that's not where I'm going with this).

I got a little obsessed with getting a media stand that includes a fireplace. Our living room tends to get chilly and our tv currently rests on a hope chest that I can't use for storage because, as aforementioned, the television stands on top of it. With one unit, I could have it all.

We found one at the Home Depot, the Home Decorator's Collection. It comes in two colors: medium brown and espresso. The espresso was available. The medium brown was not. I wanted the medium brown. So I put my email on the list that would alert me if it ever came back into stock.

I waited.

A few weeks later, I got an alert. It was in stock. I ordered it on the spot. I jumped for joy.

A little over a week later, I opened the side door to my house to find a huge box standing in front of it. It had tape around it that said Caution: Over 70 Lbs.

"Hon, there's a box, it's large....."
I texted Eddie to ask for advice--how do I get the very heavy box into the house? I tipped it over and got it stuck on the door saddle so I couldn't push it. His answer: A hammer. The two of us would make a stellar home improvement show. The hammer worked; I was able to use the claw to drag it over the hump. I pushed it into the house. Our fireplace had arrived!

We hemmed and hawed about putting it together. Would we be able to? Our putting-things-together skills are not at the expert level. I've put lots of things together, but nothing that had this many parts. We read the instructions and one step called for wood glue. We don't own wood glue. We got wood glue. Then we found that it comes with wood glue. After finding the glue, we figured we could put it together.

We took out all the pieces, putting them across the living room on blankets and sheets. There was Styrofoam everywhere. Styrofoam sheds. I vacuumed all the pieces. In vacuuming, we found that the bottom piece had a crack in the surface.
There was no way we were going to be able to get that back in the box to send it back. I realized the crack was superficial and in the back. We could live with it. Super!

We went through the rest of the pieces. We found a broken and cracked piece. This was not superficial. It was a piece that attaches the top shelf where the tv sits to the rest of the unit on one side. We would definitely need this piece. BUT we could put the rest together right then and I could call the next day and tell them about the broken piece.

Then I realized something. In pieces, I didn't notice. However, as I started to see it growing as a whole unit, I noticed. The color. This was medium brown? Umm, no. It was not. It was dark brown. It did not match.
Darker than the original picture
Not convinced? How about a side-by-side?
Light on the left. Dark on the right.
Seeing that there was again no way we could get the parts back in the boxes, we continued with my being dismayed. I figured I could stain the bookshelf in the living room to match this dark brown so that we would have only two shades of wood in the room. Ugh.

We put the unit together up to the broken piece. Then we put the top shelf pieces together. So we have the large unit and the back pieces pushed up against one side of the living room in front of a cabinet, and we have the top pieces on the floor in the bedroom. Maybe we should do a home design show instead.

I tweeted the above picture at Home Depot asking if the colors matched. They responded:
Figuring they were giving me helpful instructions, I did so immediately. I have yet to hear back from them.

I called the number on the assembly manual the next day. The customer service rep was fantastic. He took all the info--the model number, my contact info, when I'd ordered it, everything else he needed. He called the warehouse for me. He told me it was shipping out that day and that I'd have it in 3 to 5 business days. That meant in 3-5 business days, I'd have my fireplace. Yeay! Back on track.

I asked him if I had to send the broken piece back. No, he said, I could throw it out. I then double-checked--the unit comes in two colors and the color I have (supposedly) is the medium brown. He said that the color coincides with the model number I'd given him. Then to reassure me, he read back the number and the entire name of the product: Rinehart 59 inch Media Console Infrared Electric Fireplace in Medium Brown. Yes, that's it.

The piece arrived in five business days, which meant seven total days because there was the weekend. Happy to hear the FedEx guy at the door, I jumped up, grabbed the box, and tore it open.

If I had a working fireplace, like a real one, I would've thrown the piece directly into the fire because it was the wrong color. Seeing that I don't even have my electric fireplace up and running, I stomped my feet and pouted for a minute instead. Then I went a little nutty, turning on and off lights, opening and closing curtains, wondering if I was simply seeing things. But no, this piece was even darker than the unit I'd put together. It wasn't the medium brown in the original photo online. It wasn't the fake medium brown that matches the unit. It was almost black.

I called the number on the manual again. The service rep asked if I had a case number. No, I wasn't given one. She took my information. I explained that not only was the piece the incorrect color, but the entire unit was incorrect, so I was completely puzzled as to how the warehouse would ever send me the correct color considering their color selection seems to be whatever-seems-close-enough. She said that while she couldn't do anything about the overall color of the unit, she could certainly get me a piece that matches. She then said that she would put a rush on it since I'd been waiting for a while now. I thanked her for that as she went to contact the warehouse.

Five minutes later, she came back on the line to tell me that no one in the warehouse was picking up. It looked like they had sent the wrong color because of the model number.

The first rep I'd spoken to had the right number and even repeated back it was supposed to be medium brown. So this made no sense. I said this to her. She said that someone mixed up the numbers somewhere along the way.

Then she said she'd continue to follow up and that either she or the first rep would call me back by Wednesday to let me know when the piece would arrive.

Today is Thursday. I gave them until five-ish last night to call me. They didn't. I called the number on the manual again. I was on hold for over twenty minutes. Then I hung up.

At this point, I would like for someone from Home Depot/Home Decorators Collection to do one of the following:

A) Come to my house, take the unit apart, pack it up in boxes, and take it away, refunding me my money.

B) Send me boxes to pack it up after I take it apart myself and then pick it up, refunding me my money.

C) Come to my house, take this unit away, and replace it with a full unit with no broken parts in the RIGHT  COLOR.

Those are the only options. I'm pretty sure that they will have a different option like, I'll send you the right part by October because who really needs a fireplace this time of year anyway? I'll tell you who, Home Depot. I do. That's right. Me.

Say it with me, everyone: FOR SHAME, HOME DEPOT! FOR SHAME.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Whitney Walking

Fun Fact: The Whitney Museum moved since the last time I visited.

Fun Fact: There's rarely parking at the train station during the day.

And so, I walked to the train station from my house. This took about 25 minutes. I encountered an off-leash dog wearing a sweater along the way. I got to the train station as the second early train I thought I'd make was pulling away.

Quiz Time!

True or False: I was one big sweat ball when I got to the train station.

If you answered False, you don't know me at all, do you?

The next train was direct to Penn, so I was able to settle into a seat at the station to wait while reading my book. Then I was able to settle into a seat on the train while reading my book. Or so I thought. Mobs of people appeared, and for most of the train ride, I was sitting with a family who talked to each other in spurts. When people disembarked at Jamaica, I disembarked from the family and found an empty row of seats. There, I took off my jacket to take off my sweater so I could stuff it in my bag and put my jacket back on. Cause, you know, the sweating.

I got downtown pretty quickly. No one breathed on me too badly. Then I walked. And walked. And walked some more. Not only had the Whitney relocated, but it kind of put itself in Witness Protection or something because it was far from basically everything. Okay, it's probably not really that far, but the day turned windy--which is my least favorite kind of weather--and here I was walking again and there was a lot of construction going on and then there were cobblestones. At least the neighborhood was groovy.

I'd gone to see two things. One was an installment of Open Plan with Michael Heizer. I'm not sure exactly why I needed to see floor-to-ceiling photo projections of standing in a hole, but I really really wanted to. So I did. I got myself up to the floor by taking the stairs--more walking--instead of waiting for the elevator because museum elevators have the worst wait. Then I walked into the exhibit, which is the entire floor of the museum. It's very dark. There are couches. Basically, it took about 20 seconds to see the installment. Yet, I'd taken a little under two hours to get there. I sat on a couch, and in the dark, I wrote these notes from the description, which made the experience last longer:
M. Heizer. Actual size. Munich Rotary. Lose track of horizon as the the depression were endless. "There is no beginning. There is no edge . . . It was evanescent." 18,200 square feet [something scribbled out] Land art. Art so large, scared to approach it. up close it gets fuzzy. It moves.
Then I made my way out of the darkness.

Next up was Laura Poitras's Astro Noise. So I have this full poetry collection called Liberating The Astronauts, and it's gotten me kind of magnetized to anything that sounds spacey or space-adjacent. Astro Noise is about war, not space, but it sounds like it's about space because of the Astro part, so that was next on the list. It took more than a few seconds to see. Some of it was neat, like making art out of the screen images from radar and drones. Some of it was disturbing, like slo-mo videos of people witnessing horrible war-things. I walked right by that stuff. Then I came upon a dark room. Very dark. When my eyes adjusted, I saw people lying down on a platform. I noticed a screen on the ceiling. So I got on the platform and on my back and I was transported back to my grammar school planetarium trip for a moment. I stayed there until the film started to repeat. My trip was now worth the sweat and time and 22 dollars. I was looking at the sky around the world and into space. See? It's about space after all.
On the way out of this exhibit, there were walls with holes in them. If you looked in the hole, you could read things. Here's my view of one such hole:
Short People Problems
Then it gets creepy. Really seriously creepy.
Hello Big Brother
 Then I ran through the rest of the museum, dodging school groups and tourists, taking in the rest of what the Whitney had to offer. I enjoyed the outdoor galleries and sculptures.
I enjoyed getting to be in this picture because of the mirror. I think that's exactly why the mirror is there. Or not.
See me?
And of course I enjoyed this.
I took the stairs on the way out because I'm apparently training for a marathon. All the walking and climbing meant that not only was I getting my culture on, but I was also killin' it at Project Pants Fit.
Artsy look at the stairs

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #15

National Poetry Month has kept me busy, especially this past week. 

It all started with an afternoon poetry reading on Sunday. My workshop friend gave her final public musical performance, so I went along to listen. There were some main featured poets who read and also an open mic. There was also an interpretive dance to "Eye of the Tiger." Whole song. Start to finish. Yep, that happened. It was pretty amazing.

Monday night I hosted the Poets In Nassau reading Writers Raise A Glass at Turn of the Corkscrew. It's usually a cross-genre reading, but since April is poetry month, I slotted five poets and had an open mic. I asked all the poets and open mic readers to read at least one poem by someone else. I loved how it went, so I'm making that a thing for open mic moving forward. Everyone has to read a little something by someone else. We get to see other people's reading  habits. I've been posted Suggested Poems For Today on the Poets In Nassau group page on FB, and I'm going to keep doing it because I like it and others seem to like it, too.

Wednesday morning was workshop day where I gushed to my friend about her performance. We then did some poetry workshopping, which led me to revise a bunch of poems, and write some more. Then that night, I participated in a Beat Voices reading. I read a poem by Diane DiPrima and a poem by Anne Waldman. Then I read two of my own "beat" poems that I wrote probably sixteen years ago when I thought I was beat. They were okay. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. Still, that's the only beat stuff I have, so it worked. I found out at that reading that the music stand I'd donated to Sip This is kinda broken. Actually, thinking about it now, it might not have been the stand I donated. Perhaps someone took the one I donated and replaced it with this one because this one was wobbly and moved on its own. Whatever the case, it was a fun night of Beatific poetry, even though the host's camera died. I took moody pics, though, and shared with him to commemorate the event.
Moody selfie. So beat.
 Thursday I found myself and Eddie at Tribeca Film Festival. Okay, this has nothing to do with poetry month, but April is also TFF month. We went to see a group of shorts they call New York Then, which included his cousin's film Mulberry. I enjoyed all of them for the most part. The thing I miss most about going to TFF every year and seeing five films is being inspired. The buzz around the festival motivates me to write. Coming in closely at second of all the things I miss is the low-price tickets. They aren't so cheap anymore, which is why I haven't been going.

The event-going ended on Saturday where I participated on a panel for Reading Poetry Aloud. There were three of us on the panel. There were three people in the audience. So we wound up having an informal chat about readings and hosting and how to navigate the local scene and how groups can support each other. I got an awesome sticky-note pad for my participation, and given that I love office supplies, I was elated. Eddie also loves office supplies, but this is mine, all mine.

In the interim of going out, I did some necessary staying-in work. I finished reading a non-fiction essay collection, and began both a novel and a poetry collection. Then I read through some old and new selections in  Flapperhouse, Electric Literature, The Toast, Booth, Okey-Panky, McSweeney's and Queen Mob's Tea House. I listened to one more episode This Podcast Will Change Your Life, and then decided it's not quite what I want to listen to. The early episodes are difficult to hear, and I'm not sure if the quality gets better, but I don't want to be challenged to listen to something, especially when I'm driving, which is when I do most of my listening. I also listened to Catapult and PoemTalk, both of which had new episodes.

The most blogging I did was writing this. Instead, I worked more on my website, which is now fully functional. Save the blogging. Obviously, I'm still here to blog. Giving it a few more weeks. Or months. Change is bad!

I wrote a lot this week. I usually write during readings. It's not rude. I encourage everyone to do it. I revised a lot, too. Then I exchanged feedback with my online poetry workshop. That led to some submitting, both my full manuscript and individual poems.

On the business side, I updated my submission tracking sheets and my email list. I continued to plan a few readings and got myself invited to another reading someone else runs.

All this activity means I'm killin' it sabbatical-wise. I'm also very tired, but it's the good kind of tire. It's the poetic kind of tired. It's the freelance writer kind of tired. Plus with all this running around, Project Pants Fit should see some benefits. I'm using today to unwind a bit, maybe read a little, because this upcoming week is just as eventful. I figure I'll be going out a lot until the end of April when we poets all get to take a collective breath.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #14

I went outside into the world twice this week. Like I mean out out.

1. I read for First Tuesdays as the feature at Terraza 7 Cafe in Queens. That's right. Crossed the county line and everything. It was a great gig for a really supportive and fun crowd.

2. I went to the Whitney Museum to see two exhibits. The new location necessitates lots of walking, which is beneficial for Project Pants Fit. Also beneficial was taking the stairs throughout the museum instead of waiting for the elevator. Waiting for a museum elevator is like waiting for Godot, except that, well, I have no idea what Waiting For Godot is about, so really, I wrote it because it sounds like it's probably true. (Sidenote: I fuzzily remember S reading it for a college class when I visited her in Boston. I could be making this up.)

So far, I have no signs of having picked up any kind of illness from any kind of germy tissue-carrying man on the subway. Hooray.

Another out was workshopping with my artist friend. I got some good ideas for reworking some of the newer poems I wrote. I wrote and revised a bunch of poems this week both before and after workshop. I also submitted to a bunch of journals and updated my tracking spreadsheet for submissions and places to read.

After months of back and forth emails and planning, I finally finalized the first phase of setting up a reading for some Dancing Girl Press poets. I also kept planning some Poets In Nassau events. More on all of those as they develop.

Between getting out, I read. I finished a novel, began a non-fiction collection, and checked out Blunderbuss, Flapperhouse, Electric Literature, The Toast, and Fence. Then I listened to a podcast I found that's new for me but has been around for years called This Podcast Will Change Your Life. I also listened to Serial and I realized that listening to Serial really is part of my sabbatical because it really shows how to put together a stellar podcast in addition to how to tell a story from different points of view in different ways without it feeling scattered or getting confusing. So there. Sabbaticalled!

I blogged a bit--I Am Blogging Now--and then updated most of the pages of this blog to redirect to my new website. I'm almost there with the new site. I've added a bunch of pages, and once I get the podcast going (oh, yeah, I should keep working on that and not think it will create itself), I'll be able to link that there, too. I need to make the jump from here to there for blogging eventually. Right now, ooh, blogger, it's my home and I can't move right now.

A lot of the work I completed this week took place at my new desk.

As part of Project Pants Fit, I want to stand more. So instead of purchasing a desk that can go up and down electronically with the option of a treadmill below it, Eddie made me a desk out of a cardboard box. I stand at it and dance to the radio as I type. It's an excellent addition to Project Pants Fit as well as my home office decor, even if it's not exactly in my office and is in my kitchen.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Ignore "Boot Camp" When The Class Is Called Cardio Boot Camp

Focusing on the word Cardio and not actually reading the words Boot Camp, I accompanied S to the gym to take an early afternoon class. I figured it would be something different, it would help with the pants situation, and because she had guest passes, it would be FREE. After sitting in traffic for over an hour, walking to the gym was a luxury. We signed in, found a locker and figured out how to lock it without much effort, and then walked around the gym until we found the right room.

We saw a few people in the room. The woman at the door was like, You're here for class? And I was like, Cardio? And she was like, Yes. Then as soon as we'd entered, she told everyone, Grab a step. I looked at S like, This is step aerobics? We both decided to use one set of bracelets (I don't know if that's what they're actually called, but that's what I've always called them. They are the thingies you put under a step to make it a level higher). S was like, these looked like the ones from gym class. I was like, They totally are. She was like, There's only one step? I was like, Only one like this.

Flashback: we took step aerobics in gym class in high school. It was the only time I ever enjoyed gym class. All the other times, you know, like, playing volleyball and taking the Presidential Physical Fitness test during which I couldn't hold myself in a chin up position for more than a second, those times--not fun.

So the music came on and the instructor was like, Just tap your feet on the step. Then two people were outside the door she'd locked, so she told us to keep going as she let them in. One of them stood in the front, and the other set up her step back to the left of me, which was a bit too close. Then she left. She came back a few minutes later with a tissue. Of course she did.

Then we went from tapping the step to basically jumping up and down over and off of it. There was a lot of jumping, running on top, running around, hopping, kicking, jumping over and around, jacking and straddling, and of course, stepping up and down. There wasn't a dance component as this was not step aerobics. This was, indeed, a boot camp. S was bright red and I looked like I had never worked out a day in my life. The room was also very hot, as was the rest of the gym, so I stopped a few times, a few seconds each time, for water and to make sure I wasn't going to pass out. This is becoming a trend with me working out in public places.

During the class, the woman who had come in late and put her step too close to me was making it her own whenever she was actually moving. However, she spent a good amount of time blowing her nose. She also spend some time sitting on the step and then positioning herself in a way that I can describe only as napping. The instructor kept telling us to go at our own pace. When the instructor was close to the Napping/NoseBlowing woman behind me, I heard the woman say something to her, and then the instructor responded, Then you shouldn't be doing that at all. I don't know what she told the instructor or what the "that" is, but I can make a really good guess that the "that" was Working Out.

The instructor told us at one point to grab a heavy weight. My heavy weight was five pounds. Other women grabbed eight and ten. Nope. No thank you. We did a series of moves that involved arms and steps and turning and lifting and it was a whole lot of weight stuff that was toning and cardio all in one. 

The instructor made her way around the room a few times. S described her instruction style as the Billy Blanks version: doing the move once or twice, and then not doing the rest of the reps. I suppose you can't do Boot Camp every day all day as an instructor, but I looked at the schedule and she'd had some sort of Chair Fitness class right before ours. She could have worked! (Okay, I don't know her life. Maybe she was on her way to marathon training afterwards).

Towards the end, there were mat exercises like push-ups, walking planks, and then a series of ab movements that also involved leg lifting and lots of reaching. Then we had to use a lighter weight to do some of the moves. I used my five pound heavy weight as the lighter weight, too.

I looked at the clock during one of the transitions and S caught me and laughed, saying that it made her feel better that I was looking to see if it was all over yet. I was like, Yes, I'm dying, and I'm apparently not a fit person.

That's not to say that other people weren't struggling. Some were struggling more than others. Like the woman behind me who had left at least once more and continued to nap and blow her nose.

We all clapped when the class was done. Then S and I went to find a place to sit. She suggested that maybe this class as a first class had been too ambitious. Why? Because it's friggin Boot Camp. Still, we got through it. AND we walked back to her place afterwards. That's where I devoured an apple and some turkey slices and then headed home to sit for a while. Sitting is good sometimes, too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Who Knows Harry Potter?

I don't know Harry Potter. Trivia this month was all about Harry Potter, and I haven't read or seen a movie in more than a few years. I did what I do best concerning all kinds of trivia: I put the team together. This month's team was SD and B, my officemates. We didn't do so hot during movie trivia, but in not coming in last, we had a glimmer of hope here. Also, SD has listened to the books several times during long car rides, so this was all her wheelhouse.

The night before trivia, I went onto Goodreads and took all the Harry Potter quizzes I could find. I earned 2 out of 10 and 7 out of 20. Things were not looking too swell for me, so I did what any teacher nerd would do: I took notes. Then, because I'm really a teacher nerd, I made a study guide from my notes.

I went to trivia early the next night to get in some studying time. B was already there, studying from her own notes that she took while re-watching the movies. That meant SD had books covered, B had movies, and I had random notes that I couldn't remember. Sweet. SD showed up soon after and we were all ready, really psyched about our chances. Until two teams walked in dressed in Harry Potter attire. Then I pointed out that the rest of the teams were quite a bit younger than we are, meaning they probably had more Harry Potter in their lives during more impressionable times. As trivia began and we were called upon to show our answers rather quickly, I suggested that perhaps our team should get more time because we were older, and therefore, we have more stuff in our brains to sift through to get to the answer. That did not happen mostly because I didn't suggest it to anyone other than my teammates, who by the way concurred.

There was a written portion, again, and something about being able to write answers down for a lot of questions all at once speaks to me more than answering one at a time. Not that I knew any of the answers. I tried, though, by doing things like pointing at a quote and saying things like, That sounds like something Dumbledore would say. See? Helpful.

There were two questions that related directly to things I had written down and discussed with my team right before starting. So all that study guide making had come in handy for two solid points.

And in the end, we did not come in second to last. We did not come in last. We tied for 6th place. 6th! Things are looking up.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Four Dollar Zumba

In an effort to get out of the house, fit into pants, meet new people, and have more fun, I joined Zumba. I own a Zumba PS3 game that I'm pretty good at. I wear a special belt that holds the PS3 Move, and I Zumba in front of the PS3 Eye, and I get all sorts of points for shaking my hips. Occasionally, the on screen instructor will remind me, "Don't forget to drink your water!" and other times she'll call out, "Doing great!" I don't usually leave the house for things that I can do in my living room, but the local Zumba is only four dollars. That's right, an hour-long workout class for $4. I can get behind 4-dollar-Zumba.

Here's why Four Dollar Zumba is even better than it already sounds. You go in and they punch your card. If you get ten punches, you get a free class, which means FREE Zumba. AND for every class you go to, you fill out a raffle ticket, and at the end of the month, they draw a raffle ticket and you get Zumba stuff, which means FREE stuff. Two opportunities for FREE. Usually, I say that if you have to pay for something, like shipping, then technically, it's not free. Here, it's different. Because it's Four Dollar Zumba.

During the first class, I looked at the clock after the "warm up" and saw that only eight minutes had gone by. I work out six days a week, and I felt like I was going to keel over. Apparently, at home PS3 Zumba doesn't push as hard as in-your-face Four Dollar Zumba. I kept up, though, and most of the other people in the class did, too, making every move their own. (That's a code that S and I came up with when we did Line Dancing. It means moving but not doing the right move. Which is fine because moving is the point of Zumba and line dancing. Not getting it right, but doing something.)

Everyone in the class is older than me except for two people, a brother and sister, who seem to be in their 20s. They are going to Zumba to lose some weight. I know this because the brother told me after one of the classes. This is how I make friends. People come up to me and reveal things that seem personal but I suppose aren't. Like he said to me, That last stretch hurt. This was the first thing he said to me. I was like, Then I think you should do the stretches that don't. Then I asked if it was his first time there, and he said that he comes all the time with his sister to lose weight. His sister and I waved at each other from across the room. Then the guy who punches the tickets and takes the money and moves tables around came up behind me and was like, Yeah he's a pro by now. Then the brother left and the ticket puncher guy asked if I liked Zumba. I was like, Yeah it's fun. Then he moved a table.  See? We're all friends now.

The other friend I made is a man who wears neon yellow shirts. I was stretching and he came over and told me he wishes he could stretch like me. I was like, It's years of doing yoga, and I'm not even the most flexible person I know. He was like, The sports I played probably made me not as flexible. He played soccer. I told him to stretch every day and he'd eventually get at least a little more flexible. Then he walked away, agreeing. Best friends.

One of the instructors told me that every time she looked at me, I was smiling. I noticed that myself. I don't usually smile through my at-home workout, but something about the class makes me so happy that I smile like a goofball most of the time. The rest of the time, I'm huffing and puffing, trying to stay upright.

Four-Dollar-Zumba turns into Four-Dollar-Zumba-Sentao on Thursdays. It's Zumba-ing with a chair. We use metal folding chairs that, at first, scared me. I thought the chair would collapse the whole time I used it. Then I kept telling myself, if people can sit on it, then you can lean on it. I kept up with most of the moves, but there were some that I simply physically could not do. Those moves involved squatting over the chair. I was pretty much sitting over the chair because my legs are not that long. I kept bouncing right along, though. It's not my favorite type of class, but it was still fun. As a bonus, the backs of the chairs have stickers on them that say things like, Get Sweaxy. You know, like sweaty and sexy all at the same time. Okay, bad example because I can't remember exactly what they said, but they were cute. Come to Zumba Sentao and find out for yourself.

What I don't get is why the classes are small. Well, for Sentao, I get it because it's a weird type of class. However, for regular Zumba that's only four bucks, I figured the class would be packed. But it's not. It's maybe 20 people. I like it that way. I have room to move around and not worry about accidentally running into someone. I think it's best for all of us to have that kind of room. It's much more room than in my living room with the PS3, so I think I'll stick with it for as long as they offer it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #13

Every time I write one of these posts, I cringe a little. The number keeps going up, which means my sabbatical is dwindling down. I've started to get a little burned out, a little restless, because of all the sitting. My pants fit differently. The positive side of teaching where I teach is that four days a week, I'm walking across campus several times a day, and then standing and walking and sitting and standing and walking as I teach, so there's a lot more movement. In exchange for movement, I've read more books than ever and I'm writing more poetry than I ever thought I could after graduating my MFA program. An even exchange, sure, but I'd like to fit into my pants.

The first day and a half of my week was dedicated to a freelance gig for reviewing materials about literature. Totally in my element. Lots of proofreading. Lots of editing. Lots of suggestions for analysis. Lots of nerdy reading and writing. This kind of writing was a nice break from the creative stuff. It really cleared my head.

Also within the first day and a half of my week, I went to Harry Potter Trivia. Also very literary. My team tied for 6th place. This is what sabbatical is for.

This was in the library parking lot. For convenience, I suppose.
read a poetry collection this week that I thought would be about gnomes but it wasn't really about gnomes. I also read Blunderbuss, Flapperhouse, Electric Literature, Booth, The Toast, McSweeney’s, and The Paris Review. Then I listened to the most recent episode of The Catapult (and man! Corinne Manning! amazing!). I went to the library and picked up two novels and a non-fiction book, and I have a stack of poetry collections one of my friends gave to me to read and then give away. Lots of reading coming up soon.

More writing: some poems (and then organizing notes to write future poems) and blog posts for here and for Poetry Has Value's March edition (coming soon). I also wrote some samples to apply for a freelance gig that entails writing about books. I mean, come on! I also started doodling down some ideas for this podcast I have in mind. I have a Soundcloud account and an email account for it. So far, so good. Now the actual planning and writing of it needs to happen.

Some journal submissions--one to a journal that I'd submitted to a while back that I found out never got my submission in the first place, and then I found out another journal also never got my submission, so I'm left wondering how many submissions are not landing anywhere to be read--and a MS submission to a press.

I got some poems accepted to some journals--yeay!--which is how I found out that some other journals have no record of my submissions. I wrote to them to withdraw the simultaneously submitted poems, and they were like, Who are you and what are you talking about?, in a nicer way.

Heehee--sidenote--that totally reminds me of the time my mother called me and was like, Your bike is here. And I was like, What? And she was like, Your BIKE. Is HERE! And I was like, I have no idea of what you're talking about right now. (I'm aware that maybe three people aside from myself will find this Hil. Air. Eee. Us. and I'm okay with that).

The new website is coming along. It's live, so you can go see it. Feel free to email me suggestions. I'm slowly bringing everything over there. But my blog? Do I blog there? Oooh, decisions!

For the rest of today and the weekend, I'll be reading and submitting and writing in between Ranger games and errands and time with Eddie and the fam. And working out hard core. I really don't want to buy new pants.