My Bazooka of Peace - Part 1

Based on recent events (and by “recent events” I mean unbearable back pain and my doctor telling me my neck muscles look like that of an “old man”) I have started doing yoga.

Some of you may remember I tried yoga on the beach in Miami with what might be called no success. Unless you define success by sweating profusely, tipping over and falling into the sand so that I looked like a gangly sugared pastry, in which case I was the most successful person in Miami.

I made a commitment to do yoga back in January. So naturally, I bought my own yoga mat in April.

I bought my own mat because the idea of lying on the floor.... on a thin piece of foam.... that hundreds of other people have done whatever on, really, really grosses me out.
Plus I have a friend who got ringworm on her arm from the equipment at her gym and she showed it to me and it was gross. And once you’ve had/seen ringworm it’s reason enough to never ever touch anything ever again.

Plus I figured if I bought a mat, I would be more committed to doing yoga instead of always saying “ohh I don’t have a mat.”

So I got a mat, unwrapped it (It’s blue!) and placed it in the fancy yoga mat holder I purchased for it.

I then moved it out of the way and put it in the corner of my living room. And that is where it has been sitting for the last two months.

It’s not that I don’t want to go to yoga. I really, really do! I am extremely worried that my body will continue to atrophy until I walk around town at a 90-degree angle and start talking to dogs because they are the only things I can make eye contact with.

The main challenge is I don't have very much time in my schedule (what the hell takes up all my time I couldn't tell you) to go and do yoga. And also it’s expensive. I know there are super duper cheap places, but the places in my neighborhood are between 10 and 20 dollars a class.

Weekends are usually pretty full with projects I have invented for myself or I am too lazy or too busy eating two bagels at a time to get my life together enough to go sit in a room with a hunch of strangers and bend my body into a bunch of positions that could instantly snap my bones like a pile of stale churros.

And weeknights are tough because I try to use those nights to write, podcast or if I am lucky enough... see my friends.

Mornings are out of the questions because... well... because its early dude! And while I have a lot of energy early in the day, having the energy for a physical activity is different.

Sometimes I will see somebody at work with a yoga mat and say to them:

Hey are you doing yoga after work?
No, I went before work.

And then I instantly feel the need to put down the box of munchkins I am holding to tell them every healthy aspect of my life that is healthy and natural and good.

But the pain from sitting at a desk is really starting to get to me. I slouch like I’m melting into the floor. I try sitting up straight, but that is usually if I have a wedgie I can’t discreetly get rid of. I don’t try to slouch, it’s just I end up sliding down into my chair which is just more comfortable for me, but then I end up in more pain because the comfortable chair position is killing me slowly.

I tried getting one of those ergonomic chair attachment thingies that slide over the chair and give your back a natural arch. But I think it’s too severe and I can’t help but feel like it is trying to force me to try and type with my pelvis.

I tried different iterations of it, moving it up, moving it down, and turning it upside down. I can’t get the damn thing to feel good.

Since that thing is not really working, and since my doctor made me realize my body is turning into something decrepit I realized it was time to make time to get into shape.

It just so happened that my doctor visit coincided with availability of a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga at a third of the normal prize. Before I even bought the frigging thing I was telling everybody I was going to do it. After I had told about 7 people I realized I hadn’t actually done anything yet, so I quickly bought the Groupon.

Really it was perfect timing, serendipitous even. The gods of discounts knew that I was both thrifty and out of shape. All I had to do was buy this Groupon and I could quickly become one of those people who swears by yoga, and tells everybody how amazing it is and what it does for them.

I wanted to be one of those people.

So on the day of yoga, I grabbed my mat, slung across my back and walked out the door. Immediately I felt different. I felt like I was important or something. I felt like people must be looking at me thinking, oh yea, he's bendy, he does yoga.

When in reality nobody probably gave a crap about me. I did feel kind of strangely powerful, like a was carrying a cannon on my back. Except, a cannon that made people feel better and more at ease. My bazooka of peace.

And my bazooka of peace and I went to our first class where I would quickly feel better about myself.

But as I would quickly find out, it was not going to be that easy.

Miami Bound Machine - Part 2

So after settling on a collection of (questionably) stylish pieces to wear to Miami I am faced with another decision to make.

Do I want to get in shape before I go?

Now I wouldn’t say I’m in bad shape but the words used by other to describe me (lanky, gangly) don’t exactly bring to mind the image of an Adonis. And this is Miami! Nobody looks crappy in Miami.

Now that I think of it that could be the catch phrase for Miami. Ya know,

Virginia is for Lovers
Georgia on My Mind
Nobody Looks Crappy in Miami.

Some of you may know that I had an unfortunate falling out with my gym last spring. I haven’t gone back to that, or any gym, since..

This is not to say I haven’t been working out. No sir, I work out, like a healthy champion. I have gone through several iterations of a workout plan with varying levels of success.

First I started working out in the park near my apartment. This was going well for a decent part of last summer. I would get home from work, change clothes, and then go do whatever routine I had cobbled together for myself. Sometimes doing pull ups on the monkey bars or step ups in the playhouse.

But then I worked out on a Saturday, and the park was full of kids and their families. I didn’t think much of it until I realized jumping around sleeveless and sweaty with a bunch of 8 year olds is a great way to live your life if you are a camp counselor.

Otherwise, it’s just a great way to end up on the news.

So I quickly put an end to my park workouts.

I decided I could just rollerblade instead. But there is a funny thing about rollerblading that you don’t notice until you are actually doing it.

And that fact is, NOBODY ROLLERBLADES.

I mean practically nobody. Apparently the year that rollerblading started getting cool was the same year it stopped being cool. And I certainly don’t look cool doing it. (Remember, gangly and lanky)

While I am blessed with a certain degree of athletic faculty, if I hit a bump while I am skating, my limbs spring out from my body like 3 different Jack in the Boxes. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many people around to see it happen.

Add into the equation that dogs don’t like rollerbladers. I mean if they don’t like a biker, that biker can just ride away no problems, no worries.

But on Rollerblades, a getaway is not as easy.

Dogs don’t instantly bark, they just stare intently at you as you approach. You can see them thinking…

Herehecomes herehecomes herehecomes “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!”

As they launch forward yanking their leash and owners arm nearly out of the socket. I usually try and laugh it off but I really can’t hear or focus on anything anyway because the adrenaline influx I just experienced is enough to bring a Mastodon back from the dead.

Plus there is a rather large hill on the way to the park. And while it is a bitch to get up, it is practically a suicide attempt to go down. I mean I am OK at stopping but there really is no OK at stopping when you are on Rollerblades. You can either stop, or you can’t.

And the hill ends at a rather busy intersection where I have to make a sharp right turn to get to the park. So I would either have to jump OVER the traffic like I’m Evil Kinevil, or just smack straight into it like… well, Evil Kinevil.

The last time I attempted this hill I was going down the hill so fast I had to jump off the side walk and jog onto the grass (in my rollerblades) to stop.

This near death experience quickly changed my view on using Rollerblading as my primary workout activity. Seeing as one of my requirements for my workout regimen is that I live through it. And as much as I’d like to be in good shape, I do not consider “dead” to be good shape.

So I’ve started working out in my apartment. I even bought one of those pull-up bars that you attach to your door frame. I bought it in Bed Bath and Beyond if you can believe it.

It seemed like an awesome way to do pull ups without ending up on To Catch a Predator.

I opened it and there were a lot of pieces. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical that the whole apparatus could be put together using the exact same tool I used to put my erector sets together when I was a kid.

But it worked and I have been using quite frequently. Granted it has been more out of guilt than anything else. Like this weekend where I eat 2 cupcakes at midnight, have a bacon omelet for breakfast and then do 20 pull ups like that is going to negate that refuse my body is now trying to process.

I tried doing pushups in my living room but every time I do pushups, the following morning my wrist gets sore and a bone starts to protrude out of it like I’m a crappy fetal Wolverine.

Again, a description I try to avoid at all costs.

I thought about joining a gym just for a month until I left for Miami but then I remembered the conversation I had with Neil, one of the prized idiot salesmen I met when I first joined my gym back home.

I was there with my buddy and the salesman says to me,

“Hey so here’s the deal, you guys like hot girls? Cuz we got a ton of them here.”

Wow Neil, nice. Very profound. In fact you could probably write slogans. How bout this one.

Miami: If you like hot girls, we got a ton of them here.

But seeing as there are now less than 2 weeks left to go before Miami and I have made nearly 0 noticeable progress, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my body will remain more or less in the non Adonis phase as opposed to, well, you get the picture.

I have even convinced myself that taking the stairs up to my apartment can wipe out eating three chocolate croissants a day.

Desperate people come up with interesting theories.

But I have something else even more serious to concentrate on. On this trip there will be beach time involved and that means going shirtless, and that is something Miami is really not ready for.

To Be Concluded…

Death by Taxes

I’m going to jail.

Well maybe not jail, but I’m definitely going to get audited.

There is almost no doubt in my mind that 2009 will not only be the first year I did my taxes by myself, but also, the last.

If I think about my life since college, I pinpoint one major benefit of not having to go to class. And that is not having to do homework.

Not that I was any sort of prolific homework doer in college. But when it needed to get done, I done did it. Even if it was an easy homework, the stress and foreboding of this lurking cloud of obligation that must be done every night or every week, really cramped my style.

This is a perk I enjoy as an adult. Aside from the occasional trip to Bed Bath and Beyond or the Dry Cleaners, there really isn’t too much in the way of homework dragging me down these days.

But I moved into my very own apartment last year and since I am living on my own, working full time, and on my way into my late 20s, it is time for me to not just tell people I am a grown up, but to pretend I am one as well.

I have been given my first homework assignment as an adult, to do my taxes. And this, my friends, is why it is almost a guarantee, that I will be audited.

I would like to clear the air by first saying that I am great at counting. I can count from 1 to 10 no problem. Hell, I can even do it 3 languages. Where I struggle the most is with calculating.

That would probably explain why I couldn’t pass calculus in college. Calculus seems to be the root of calculating.

The first time I failed calculus I really didn’t have a chance. I was consistently the first one to finish tests. It wasn’t because I was brilliant; it was because I had run out of questions I could make up an answer for.

That mentality carried over to my adult homework of doing my taxes. In addition to being borderline incompetent I am also extremely lazy. So I downloaded Turbo Tax, the software met all the requirements I had for tax software.

Speedy Adjective in the title – Check
The title mentions “tax” – Check

I started doing my taxes and realized I did not have the attention span for this. The program does all of the math for you, but it asks you look at forms and pull numbers and get the information from your 1098 and 1099 forms.

What the hell happened to the first 1,097 forms? Shouldn’t I have to fill those out?

That’s like going to an empty airport but still having to fly out of Gate 27. What is wrong with all these other gates?

What kind of society do we live in that the government had to make 1097 versions of something before they got it right?

So I commenced using the software and filled in numbers, consulted my forms, and answered Turbo Tax’s questions about things that might be deductible.

Things like, Was I hit by a natural disaster in 2008?

Like did my house blow away? If so I think I shouldn’t have to be doing taxes thank you very much. It even gives you a drop down list to choose from states that were affected by government approved natural disasters.

I still clicked on the drop down menu.

I was curious.

New York wasn’t even listed. As it turns out Turbo Tax wouldn’t even let me pretend I was hit by a natural disaster in 2008. Maybe I wouldn’t be going to jail after all.

I even did my tax homework the way I did the rest of my homework in college

I tried to do it by myself for about 9 minutes while watching Seinfeld, then gave up and called my friend who had already done his tax homework to ask for help.

All the while hoping that my five million questions would get so annoying he would just give up and tell me to copy it before class…I mean work , the next morning.

The only real difference I have been able to delineate so far between college homework and this tax homework is that college homework I never really got any reward for. They’d give me a grade.

Oh a grade. Whoopee.

However tax homework, if I do it right, I get like… hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars. So I might be a bit more motivated.

But on the flipside, I never had the risk of going to jail if I didn’t do my college homework.

So I finally finished my taxes, or Turbo Tax finished them for me. Of course I gave it to my best friend who is an account to look at. He did and faxed it back to me at my office.

Though when he faxed it back to me, by the time I got to the copy machine the only thing there of the 24 page document was the cover sheet. The rest of my taxes were missing.

My taxes which contain my personal information, social security number, my bank accounts, my salary, and more.

This means that not only am I about to be audited and go to jail, but my identity will be stolen while I’m in there.


Screw this. Next year, I’m not paying taxes

Snow Day

I think often about my childhood. I think about the things I did and no longer do, or the things I had and can no longer have. And whenever winter storms blow in, I think about snow days.

As a child there was no greater lottery than getting a snow day. The sheer chance that school would be closed because there was too much awesomeness outside seemed almost unfathomable.

We had a bunch of snow last week in New York and I got something that is as rare as the white whale, an adult snow day. My company has a rule that we must close when New York City schools close. Last Monday my work was closed due to snow.

What follows is a step by step recount of how a typical snow day went as a child and how it did for me last week as an “adult.”

Child: Wake up at 6 am and run to the window to see the snow. Run to the TV to find out if schools are closed. Wait in anxious anticipation. Turn on radio and listen to school closings while watching the ticker on the bottom of the news. Witness my district on the TV as one that’s closing. Jump for joy and celebrate by running around the house and gathering up all snow gear for day of playing in the snow.

Adult: Wake up normal time. See text message announcing work is closed. Text back, “really?” Celebrate by immediately closing eyes and going back to sleep.

Child: Spend 45 minutes putting on long johns, shirts, sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, jacket, gloves, scarf, and hat. Zip everything up closed and tight. Get ready to spend several hours jumping and frolicking in the snow. Realize I have to pee.

Adult: Spend 45 minutes trying to go back to sleep but curse the irony that on my day off I can’t fall back to sleep like I do every other working day. Walk around apartment in boxers and lay down on the couch. Get comfortable and ready to spend several hours not moving. Realize I have to pee.

Child: Run outside and start shoveling the walk into a huge pile on the lawn. Eat entire handfuls of fresh snow. Finish shoveling and immediately jump head first into the pile of snow. Lay there for 20 minutes making snow angels.

Adult: Excited to eat breakfast but too lazy to make something; lay on couch eating entire handfuls of dry cheerios. Go back to bed and dive headfirst into my pillow. Lay there for 20 minutes making bed angels.

Child: Build a snowman. Throw snowballs at trees. Build a fort. Throw more snowballs. Tackle snowman. Build a better snowman. Completely destroy all snow in front yard.

Adult: Wake up 2 hours later. Go back and sit on the couch. Do nothing.

Child: Come inside around noon because I am hungry and have to pee. Strip off 7 layers of snow clothing and realize under it all I am drenched in sweat. Go pee. Sit at the kitchen table where mom has prepared me a most delicious hearty meal of hot soup and grilled cheese.

Adult: Realize I have to pee. Sniff self and realize I stink. Contemplate eating. Think about the simplest possible meal I can make. Pour pre-made soup into bowl and microwave. Put cheese between 2 slices of bread and fry. Eat while lying on the couch.

Child: Redress in snow clothing, boots, coat, jacket, hat, gloves, socks, scarf, zip, zip, zip. Go outside with sled. Walk like a yeti to the park to join all the other kids sledding down the big hill.

Adult: Lay on couch. Watch progressively worse television. Do nothing.

Child: Sled down the hill, run up the hill, sled down the hill, run up the hill. Try to stand on sled while going down the hill. Fall on head. Pretend not to be hurt. Walk around dizzy for 10 minutes.

Adult: Lay on couch. Do nothing.

Child: Trek home from sledding around sunset. Put all clothes in dryer. Have cookies and milk. Run into the living room and plop down on the couch exhausted. Watch afternoon cartoons and finish your day.

Adult: Stuff half a Toblerone bar in my face. Chew while horizontal. Contemplate the meaning of the words “Saturated fat.” Look outside and notice it is getting dark. Decide to shower. Turn off TV and start my day.