Musings by Reggie

I’m working on a birthday card for a colleague.  I’m at the stage that I really like: before any ideas are put to paper, before any shapes are cut out or paper embossed.  I’m at the very beginning of creating this card, where all I do is just think about the person.  What would make a good card for him?  What conversations have we had lately?  What have I learned about him?  How can I translate that into a card that says, “happy birthday”?  It’s great because I just get to have plenty of positive and creative thoughts running through my head.

So, one particular scene from one particular movie that I watched many times in my childhood keeps running through my head.  It’s not necessarily a trigger, but I will bust out at random times singing this song.  I really like this movie, even though, sure, it’s a little cheesy.  I’ll give you that.  This particular scene is RIGHT NOW at this very moment evoking thoughts about my colleague, but also of my sister.  I’m thinking about how important her faith is to her, and also how important her faith is to me.  It’s calming and peaceful for my mind to hear her talk about her “walk with God” and what that means to her, and what that means in how she lives her life day-to-day.

No matter what our beliefs are, we’re all walking, and I say, live, rejoice!

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December 2013

I am currently locked in a game of “Assassin” with some friends, and what you won’t see on my list of things that I’ll be doing this month is: Fear for my life, chase away paranoid thoughts when friends contact me to say hi, or plot complicated set ups to win this damn game.  That would be weird.

I am very happy with the way December has shaped up thus far–just the right mix of social gatherings, travel and like most people, I’m well on my way of gaining that 5 extra holiday pounds that I look forward to working off in January.  It’s the traditions of the season that keep up healthy, happy and involved, right?

Dec

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November 2013

Oh my.  Here we are, halfway through November and I’m just posting my November list.  It’s been a fun month to say the least.  Here are some of the events I have / had going on.

November 2013

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Playing Pool Gwendolyn Brooks Style

I have a few poems that I think of often.  They’re not triggers necessarily…just poems I came across in my younger days that now are part of a constant rotation of things that I reference or think about.

Gwendolyn Brook’s wrote “We Real Cool” in 1959, having won the Nobel Prize in Literature 9 years earlier.  I read a small sample of her work for the first time either in high school or in college as part of the brick by brick foundational teachings of American Literature. I adored these foundational courses where students learned about theme, and plot and structure and using many authors as examples along the way.

I remember, when reading “We Real Cool” for the first time, thinking, this poem is so simple and tidy.  That’s what I really liked about it, but the simple words and style also confused me: what necessarily makes this poem a great poem?  As I got older and had the opportunity to take my first class on literary criticism, I  discovered that my confusion about what qualifies as “good” or event “great” poetry was but one small voice within a heated discourse about poetry and what ingredients come together to make “good” or “great” poetry–many people have an opinion, and many believe theirs to be the definitive on what is or is not good poetry.  Ah, I love literary criticism.

I refer to “We Real Cool”, humoring myself when I, as a response to this situation or that, say, “we real cool,” or, more fully, “we real cool, we skipped school.”  I mean, it comes up where I need to respond to things with those phrases.

The simple composition of the poem is comparable to coming across a cute screen printed apron at a gift store, and you say, “I’m not going to buy that, I can make that myself.” You pass on the $40 apron a little incensed by the price, and yet, you never make that apron.  Fast forward many years later, you actually do attempt to make a homemade screen printed apron for your sister for Christmas and your final product looks like crap.  We all have the capacity to make a screen printed apron.  And, sure, many people can make ones that look quite lovely.  Yet, more often than not, our apron doesn’t possess the high-level of skill to create a final product that is so apologetically simple and tidy.

Now, I’m in the camp that people should write–the more we do it…well, the better we get.  The old saying is true.  What I love in particular is that writing unlocks a part of our brain that is creative and when that part of our brain is activated, the benefits in our every day life is literally endless, and I love that.  I’m not trying to be all scientific about the whole thing, but it’s true.

I admit I often don’t know what makes good poetry good all the time.  I love having conversations with friends about this topic, and sometimes I can present a pretty compelling argument.  It’s kinda fun to wax intelligent, devil’s advocate, or brazen about why a particular poem or author is or is not amazing.

In the meantime, Ms. Brooks poem is special to me.  So now  you’ll know what I mean if you happen to get a text from me saying, “hey, what are you guys up to tonight?  Do you want to play pool Gwendolyn Brooks style?”  Here is Ms. Brooks reading “We Real Cool,” and then a second time read a bit over-dramatically by Morgan Freeman.

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On Pistachios

 

nuts

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I want to LIVE!

I want to LIVE! And be beautiful!

flower

I noticed a house on my commute to and from home that has these little rogue flowers popping out where the sidewalk meets the retaining wall–seems hardly enough soil to survive, and yet they seem to thrive.

Yesterday, while walking home I saw this little guy sprouted on the side of the wall, high above his peers who had settled themselves to a life on the ground.

I definitely took note of the resiliency of the flower, and how sweet it looked on the side of the wall.  I kept walking, past the little flower on the wall, and his buddies on the sidewalk.  Though the thought briefly popped into my mind to snap a photo, binary thoughts entered my head at exactly the same time: it was late, I was kinda tired, I wanted to see the pooch.

It’s funny how the brain works.  I’d gone no further than 4 paces, truly, when my mind began to argue with itself, and the guilt trip rang louder than thoughts of going home:

“You’ll regret not taking a photo of this right now.”

“Hey, there’s no one around, you won’t get mugged, just snap a quick photo.”

And within those four paces, my mind was made up.

This kind of devil on my shoulder I don’t mind, I suppose. The “stop and smell the roses devil,” who makes me do artsy fartsy things that increases my quality of life…and increases my chances of looking like a victim…I guess disguised as the patron saint of art, it’s still a devil on your shoulder.

So, I did an about face and took a couple of photos.   As I was walking away, someone on the porch of the flower house cleared his throat a couple times to let me know he was there–a “just sayin'” kind of clearing of the throat, not a “get off  my lawn you crazy kids!”  Hey, thanks for the beautiful moment, neighbor, and I’m glad the devil didn’t make me pick your flower.

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What Happens Without Excuses

Not too long ago, I decided I get specific and pencil in a few workouts on my calendar because they kept falling off my plate for a variety of excuses.  I’d let go fallow my gym membership and I was vacillating about what to do. No, I said to myself, I’m gonna go. I’m gonna go and get my money’s worth of gym amenities. (Annoyingly I read somewhere that gyms profit the most from people like me: I basically give them wads of money each month without asking to use their services in return. That’s pretty dumb. Worse, even knowing that fact didn’t make me change my behavior.)

The next moment I would say, it’s too nice out, I’d rather focus on activities I can enjoy outside. I’m gonna cancel my membership…no, I’m gonna suspend my membership to lock in the rate for when I want to use it again.  (I’d negotiated a pretty reasonable rate* and didn’t want to give up that rate as a point of pride.)

Ultimately, I decided I’d just increase my use of the gym little by little.

I became determined to smack down any excuses to getting my butt in the gym. I was gonna up my workouts–or at least up my visits to the gym. Ever heard of the term “executive shower”?– and stop wasting money.

My first attempt was to go for a run (outside) and use the lockers and shower–use of the shower and nothing else defines an “executive shower,” and I love the concept.  So, there I was, at the gym, changing when I realized I had only ONE sock in my bag.  Really?  One sock?  How does that even happen?**  I stared.  What now? Run and risk a huge blister?  Not run?  I guess technically I could have done a workout that didn’t entail the use of socks, but I was stubborn.  I clearly had but two choices. I stared at the sock in my hand, then to my shoes on the ground.  I decided to go for it.

The second time I went to the gym was for a spinning class to help prepare me for a bike trip from Georgetown to Harper’s Ferry on the C&O Canal.*** There I was, in the locker room, had my shorts on, sports bra, TWO socks and sneakers…and no shirt.  What? Really?  The location of the locker room in relation to the spinning room was up two flights of stairs and basically in the path of…everyone.  I’m not a prude by any stretch but the thought of walking around the gym in only my sports bra wasn’t appealing to me, almost as unappealing as not taking this damn class.  I looked inside of my empty gym bag…confirmed: nothing inside.  I wore a dress to work that day and pondered just wearing that to class.  No…that would look weird…I had my blazer…my blazer! Perfect! Problem solved.  So, I put it on, speed-walked up two flights of stairs in front of every man woman and child in the gym and practically ran into the spinning room.  I adjusted my bike seat, the handlebars, hopped on, readjusted…and took a spinning class like a boss.****

The third time, I made it to an evening barre class.  If you’ve never taken a barre class, I highly recommend it–an amazing workout for beginners to the fittest of the fit.  It’s a challenge–be warned.  So, I used to go to this class weekly.  I was so proud to see my strength increase: more push-ups, more wall work (up, and up, and up, down, and down, and down) without stopping to scream in pain.  It had been months since I’d last been to a class.  And, there I was, on my hands and knees doing some horrible leg lifts when the instructor, a super sweet, very in shape woman, came over to me, leaned down and whispered, “are you okay?”  I just have no words to the many things that went through my mind at that moment. “Are you okay?”…I think only an emoticon can summarize:   :/

I’m just glad I got through this lightening round of gym mishaps…I wish this meant I was past the point of ever having to worry about mishaps again, but for someone like me, every time I pack my gym bag, oh, the possibilities abound.

* The rate would be reasonable if I actually used my membership, and by not using it, I was still giving my gym money each month for no reason.

** At the end of this blog post I confessed my absolute shock about the fact that when I would regularly go to hot yoga classes in Pittsburgh, I almost always forgot a towel to dry my mat while in mid-pose, and that almost never did anyone else forget to bring one.  That I would run out the door with my gym bag containing only one running sock isn’t that big of a surprise to me.

*** As of Oct 1, pending government shutdown as the C&O is a national park…that and pending we can’t find a way on the trail regardless.

**** No one noticed me walking from the locker room to the spinning class, no one noticed me in the spinning class, nor on my walk back to the locker after class.

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