Así soy

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Body Language 2

The etymology meeting

Biceps: yeah, my etymology is pretty cool. "Biceps" actually means "with the hard bulging strength of dinosaurs", as in biceratops (related to triceratops.)

Quads:  I have a military origin.  Notice the similarity with Squads. (and Squats) (it rhymes) (it is an assonance)

Glutes: We are capable of being brutes!   

Shoulders:  Yeah, right. Isn't your other name "ass"?    We shoulders are related to naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids. Think boulders! We're bold!  We're hot! We smolder!

Glutes: Yeah, you're as flexible as rocks too.  And as for being hot, you sure hang out with ice enough.

Quads: um, cool it, dudes, we're a team here!

belly laughBelly:  Hey, you guys!  I rhyme with Jelly!  Ha-ha! And Telly!  Ha-ha-ha! And Vermicelli!

Rest of Body:
Rest of Body:
Rest of Body:
Rest of Body:

Belly: What?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Lacrosse Ball

So I'm lying on the floor again, with Paul's shoe planted firmly in my upper back (try to explain those footprints to the guy behind you in the Safeway checkout lane) and I'm reaching and twisting, going for upper back mobility and keeping Mr. Twirly Lower Back still.  This stretch I understand since I have that honking boot inching up my spine to make sure I don't cheat.

Super Naiya attempts to fly properly
 I think Paul ordered this "star" stretch (I feel like a 5-point star) as a 5 minute break since I sorta flunked Supermans.

My shoulder was a little stiff today and the left arm wasn't flying too well.  If I were Supergirl I would have been flying in large right-turn circles all day long.

I actually really tried hard because if I couldn't get it right Paul might say

This Lacrosse Ball bites
"ok, let's get on the lacrosse ball!"
which he did.

In all fairness, he really does mean "let's" - he gets a lacrosse ball for himself and works on his own back & neck.  Of course, he enjoys the rolling around, whereas I feverishly sweat with pain.

The exercise is mind-numbingly painful.  In fact, it is painful enough (and mind-numbing enough) that I actually suggested with my own lips that maybe I should go out and push the prowler around instead.

Dance Paws

This took practice
this took practice
Crikey, after years of struggling to achieve a semblance of "pretty feet" in dancing (thank you, Susan,) now I'm having to learn to "gym feet". 
Dance: toes
Gym: heels
Dance: ball of foot
Gym: outside of foot
Dance: roll up to toes, point foot
Gym: launch from heels
Dance: knees slightly curve in
Gym: knees push outward

And just like belly dancing there is the barefoot vs. shoes question.  Which is better for a performance?  The answer depends on whom you ask and also, I believe, on what surface you are about to dance / workout on.
I started out barefoot at the gym.  It is easier to do most lunges barefoot (especially if I have to pivot.)

But I found it is really difficult to keep my feet in the holders on the machines if I don't wear shoes.  Also, the lifting, swinging, dragging, pushing stuff is more comfortable in shoes (think parking lot pavement vs. my feet.)

Plus, when I am wearing shoes, Paul can't see if my toes are occasionally gripping, ha ha!

Ok, that is so a lie!  He CAN tell.  I'm not sure how he can tell (more on superman later,) but he snaps out "off your toes, back on your heels" when half a little toe sneaks in to help push.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Iron Maiden

Auughh! It's the T-Rex ham-string stretch!
Auughh! It's the T-Rex ham-string stretch!
Today I was put on the rack.  Paul decided I needed more range of motion in my shoulders especially the locked up left one.  He announced this after the T-Rex hamstring stretch that never fails to put me in touch with my orbital cavity.

So first I had to get down on the floor which meant there was a 50-50 chance that I would either be focused & stretching (think "relief") or enduring an exercise that results in my eviscerating my lips with my teeth in order to prevent myself from revealing national secrets.

Today it was the latter.  I had to grind a lacrosse ball into the flesh around my scapula and down the side of my spine, 1 (one) slow degree of placement at a time.  I was supposed to move my arm diagonally across my body in order to rotate the shoulder.   Five minutes into the exercise my shoulder could have detonated and blown off my body for all I cared in the face of the volcanic burning in my back and neck.  My arm movement began to resemble that of a beached seal waving desperate flippers.

I wildly tried to think of things that were worse than the flaming muscles under my skin:
  • spiders in the shower
  •  gas station bathrooms
  • French
When I finally came to, Paul chained me to a bunch of wheels for the Egyptian Slave exercise.
You should see the inside
you should see the inside
I set off for the far end of the parking lot, dragging the metal wheels to a distant  pyramid site.
I spent the first part of the journey cheerfully imagining my own personal pyramid and how I would decorate it.

The march back included gruesome drags over uneven pavement and clumps of grass that snapped me out of my Alexandrian day dreams.  With a lot of unsavory language involving fricatives & occlusives, I eventually returned the wheels to the entrance, and carefully coiled the harness and straps.
That was a hell of a thing

Tech Sergeant Chen said it best: "Hmm.That was a hell of a thing."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Field Trip

Ok, so today I navigated to SF Presidio with Paul riding shot gun which just goes to show you that the military really does help you develop nerves of steel, to visit a specialist whom I'll call "Kelly".

I was definitely feeling a little anxious since Paul implied that Kelly was basically going to remove my arms from my sockets, twirl them around and reinsert them.  But this was really going to help my range of motion!
The day seemed so peaceful.
the day seemed so peaceful

The facility is located in a lot across from a field that is probably used by movie producers everywhere: a stunning wide open grassy area over-looking the SF Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge arcing high across the water in the background.
I thought, not a bad view to be enjoying in the last moments while I still have my arms attached.

The facility itself was quite unique (a deluxe Port O'Pot  on site - haven't seen one of those since that 1998 Depeche Mode concert) but of course, very masculine: metal machines, chain link fencing, clanging metal stuff etc.

We had to wait for a few minutes before Kelly was available so I had time to think about how to greet a person I knew was going to hurt me (would looking pleased about this imply odd things about me & pain?)

Kelly appeared to be really nice.  He was cheery, casual, and confident (although I could totally see him smiling while explaining, "ok, now I'll just twist your arm around like so and then angle it up like this... Yes?  That was a scream of relief?")  But actually, his calm and deliberate manner made me feel like a puppy with a friendly veterinarian.

He did point out my crap sleeping habits (bad pillows, sleeping in monkey shapes) and crap head alignment (computer neck) before putting me on my face on the table.  I lay there acting all casual, but I was acutely aware of the remoteness of the location and remembered that Alien quote "In Outer Space No One Can Hear You Scream."

Kelly uses the Vulcan Mind Meld to locate the most painful spot possible in my neck
Kelly uses the Vulcan Mind meld to locate the most painful spot possible in my neck
Kelly skillfully found the most painful spot on my neck.  He masterfully ground into it for twenty minutes while I struggled to keep from gnawing my own lips off (mental note: put Vaseline on lips before going to gym.)

Paul & Kelly chatted away about technique and helpful exercises while Kelly moved my arm around at frightening (but surprisingly not painful) angles.  He was most triumphant when the [technical term for muscle thingy] finally let go, and I was no longer in pain.

He made me pinky swear to come back in two weeks ("So we can work on that shoulder!  I didn't today because I didn't want to scare you off!")  It's possible he noticed my swollen, chewed lips.

At any rate, I can't forswear a pinky vow, so I'll Be Back.

Paul managed to survive the return trip with barely any driving directives for me, which suggests remarkable manly restraint.  Or a drug habit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


So this is a *prowler*

Ok so now I know the table that Paul invites me to shove across the parking lot and back is called a prowler.

I'm not sure why it has this name unless it is because you have to be in a bent over straight-armed position launching yourself from your toes -somewhat reminiscent of a prey animal stalking something small and furry.

Naiya organizing her muscles

Given the quick charge and staggering return patterns I have, I think I probably am more like a drunken border collie chasing ducks.

Today's prowler was bright yellow like a raincoat or like NASCAR or like the sparkling lights in front of my eyes as my heart slam-danced in my chest.

When Paul set it up I thought ok, I just need to survive three of these.  Maybe five.  Paul smiled, Ok, let's do ten today.
Paul: seriously, you can do it.
Me: um, ok (because, after all, the worst that could happen would be my body exploding into small pieces in the back parking lot.)

So the first three went pretty well. The next two proved that the prowler would serve as a fairly good sobriety test as I lost the ability to shove in a straight line (probably making my reps longer.)

During the 6th run, I thought, I am more than halfway.  Then on the spin around to head back it got caught in a small pot hole.  I wrestled it out in one of those incredible Hulk moments purely because I panicked at the thought of losing momentum.  (So call me if you ever need me to lift a bike off of you in an emergency!)

During 7 I thought about the synesthesia exam and the mystery of why I do not have color associations with the numerals 2 or 4 but they do prompt images of snowflakes: Possibly this was a sign of delirium, but at least I no longer cared what my heart was doing.

During number 8 I counted my footsteps and then wondered was it really number 8 or was it 7?

During number 9 I began to mentally chant "8! 8! 8!" in a pathetic attempt to make myself feel better at the end when I would reveal that it was really the 9th run.

Number 10, I cleared my brain completely because I was so determined to finish that I tapped even my neural energy.

I have to admit I felt some serious sense of achievement, especially once my eyes could focus properly again.

Eventually I hope to be occasionally drenched in sweat like the guys working hundreds of pounds and saying Arrrrgghh!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Night sweats

...if I can just stop waking up at 3am in sweaty anxiety about what Paul will ask me to do this morning, and if it will hurt...

I totally lifted the Barbie bar with a couple of weights on it in a new position. I was pretty thrilled I could get my arms under the bar in the right position.  I'm sure that is one of the last things anyone else considers an achievement, but it means my shoulder is letting go - even just a little.  I couldn't do it before.

I know today's effort was more about form rather than heaving a gruesome (but impressive) weight.  But I'm getting the hang of the squat position (of course, this does totally depend on whether you ask me or Paul.) 

Besides the challenge is the Standing Up From the Squat part.   Paul noted that I shouldn't think about going down into the squat.  Instead I should be already thinking about pushing up before I even start the squat.  I think it is supposed to be a bounce. I'll have to try that next time (and hope that my ankles don't implode.)

I am a member of the otter family
I did a lot of other stretchy arm things and lunges.  I like lunges.  There is a deliberation to lunges that makes me feel safer - like I have time to get the form right. I can work on tightening my limber back.
I am obviously not a member of the primate family.
I am clearly a descendant of an otter.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dead Calm

Lift is such a happy inspiring word. In dance lift is channeling your energy at an upward angle. So the idea of a "Dead Lift" seems like a terrible contradiction in terms. In fact, it is an oxymoron.

Loads of prior experience
but *loads* of previous experience
Paul decided today that I should try it. Of course, there is lots of preparation in terms of form. The right way to hold the bar, the hinging at the hips, the straight arms, the hip thrust forward as one lifts... I really tried to focus and understand the necessary coordination, but I was distracted by the large wheels on the metal pole. I smiled (PF) and nodded, thinking to myself "he is absolutely fr***ing crazy" and "this will probably hurt and I'll end up paralyzed."

After a few dry runs with a white PVC pipe (and I still had form issues with that,) Paul gestured at the weights on the ground and said (seriously, I am not making this up,) "It will be easier with the weights." (Is this gym humor?)
a challenge to organize
it's a challenge to organize

I gorilla-squatted mentally running a hundred body checks (which is like rounding up a flock of chickens: as soon as I get one muscle tight and ready, the others take off.) I slowly straightened my legs out of the squat and pushed my hips forward.

Voilá! I was standing and holding the bar!! And it wasn't too heavy!! Before I could savor the moment, Paul said, ok stick your ass back and let the weight go back down, etc etc and lots of other technical directions I should have been following.

I repeated this several times. clearly, I looked too thrilled. Paul said, "I think you can do more weight." I smiled and nodded (PF).
ok, so perhaps this is photoshopped...
possibly photoshopped

He put two more large wheels on the bar. This time it took effort. The picking up wasn't so hard, but trying to get it down properly was a struggle. I would rock onto the balls of my feet, or let my quads suck up the stress. I'm sure my shoulders / neck also were doing something unreliable (if they were people they'd give change for a $9 bill using $3's.)

Anyway, by the third set I stood up with the weights and thought, I do not want to put these down. I feel fine right now right where I am, I can hold this for hours. Paul said, let go. I shook my head. He said, drop them. I shook my head again.

He shouted, *#$*@&%!@#!!  Drop them!
         ---No, I'm totally making that up, he did not swear (seriously) (although he did spell p-o-r-n in front of me.)(at a different time, not right then.) I finally started to put it down (all wrong) and he shouted "Open your hands and let go!  Drop it!"

So I did, with lots of apologies. I didn't know that "let go" means open your hands and let lots of weight crash to the floor. I mean, I do now, but hello, I have spent most of my life trying not to drop stuff!

I think Paul was ready to have an aneurysm. Certainly, his eyes were bulging unevenly. He sent me off to row where I endured another character-building moment by launching myself off the seat -bam- down onto the bar. Dignity, confidence and tail-bone somewhat shaken, I finished rowing and drove home to ice.

My first Dead Lift. I think the name is pretty accurate.


Professional Face:

Most entertainers have professional face.  That's the smiling, relaxed face we force on the front of our skulls no matter what is happening.  Normally, that face is genuine and so the expression shines from our eyes. 

But sometimes we have to think or deal with a situation while performing (the Show Must Go On) and so we lock the professional face in place.  I've used professional face when dealing with intoxicated clients, fending off gropers (more on that later) and most importantly when in pain (glass in foot, big splinter jammed under toenail, fractured thumb, etc.)

The most fierce professional face I have worn to date was during a stage performance. A few minutes into a routine, a sudden bolt of nauseating pain shot through my right shoulder and continued to stab and worsen. I couldn't move my right shoulder at all, but I could bend the elbow and wrist and grip slightly with my hand.  In dizzying pain, I kept going.  With a smile.  And pupils so wide and black I looked like an opium addict.
It was a cane routine. I kept my right hand on the cane and let my left hand do all the moving and lifting.  I changed the choreography on the fly to accommodate my new limits.

This is a photo from that performance.  It was the toughest smile I ever stapled onto my face.

I realize I'm probably using PF at the gym.  I hope they know I am taking the work seriously.  Maybe my smiles and efforts not to show stress is why they think I drink Crystal Light? 

So I cut my finger nails short, scraped my hair into a pony tail and put on t-shirts (no pink.)

And I bought clear electrolyte tablets (just in case.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hollywood must Die Hard

"Hollywood" is an Americanese word, and is loosely translated as miente como un bellaco.

After a brush with Public Relations, I decided being a professional manipulator was not the career for me. I know now that my small contribution to misinformation counts for less than a stale frito chip compared to what is chummed out on a minute-to-minute basis in Hollywood. 

In the name of entertainment, HP (Hollywood Population) spews out more whoppers than the Deepwater Horizon does oil. These lies, [some of my favorites include:
  • it's easy to have deep philosophical discussions with, and reach rational agreements with, 3 year old children (so why can't you?)
  • men enjoy hours long conversations about the "tone" they use when saying stuff (don't yours?)
  • pets are born cuddly, obedient and willing to drag you out of a burning home (so what is wrong with yours?)
  • feeling love solves all problems, like the economy, etc. (so what's wrong with your life?)
  • and so on...]
These fabrications are designed to manipulate consumers by forcing an unfavorable comparison of their lives to an impossible ideal -- all based on the (actually true) axiom that Happy People Don't Shop (more on this later.)

Today I am addressing Hollywood's assertion (based on countless films, TV shows etc.) that if you have to get shot or injured, your shoulder is a safe, painless (and romantic) target since it contains unimportant excess flesh perfect for incidental bullet/sword/spear etc. wounds.

Clearly someone with no concept of the human body came up with this one, and people who have no motivation to actually verify any facts -ever- perpetuate it.

I love Alan Rickman
sexiest voice on the planet
 If you are unfamiliar with shoulder pain, look up excruciating in the dictionary. The shoulder is not only incredibly complex, but when damaged, is pretty much impossible to use. It packs ligaments, blood vessels, bones, cartilage and nerves into an area tighter than my Honda CRX's engine.

Someone with a bullet hole through the shoulder joint isn't going to be able to hang by that arm off the edge of an elevator shaft (as much as I love Die Hard) (mostly because of Alan Rickman) (Galaxy Quest also greatly enhanced by Alan Rickman) (more on Alan Rickman later.)
I love Alan Rickman
seriously, sexiest voice on the planet

Anyway, I guess you can tell I am having a bad shoulder-pain day. I can't lift my tea mug much less an AK-47.

Ice, Ice, baby.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

So, yay!  No big injury to the left shoulder! Yay!
(BTW I now associate Enya with jackhammers due to the plethora (another fave word) (seriously, say it like 4 times, it's fun!) of MRI facilities that use her music during scans. I'd rather just hear the banging. It's sort of like a meth drum solo.)
Anyway, there are some adhesions built up. Amazingly, Paul's work is keeping them at bay.
Dr. M. said, we don't know how or why this happens. But tell yourself it won't happen. Don't let it. You can do this.

"In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle."  -Garth Stein

Wet Work

So I was sweating in the gym.

Not that I don't normally glow. But I haven't flung sweat out of my hair since horseback riding in North Carolina: I'd slide down my horse's side and unhook and peel off my cap, blowing the sweat off my nose, wiping it out of my eyes and futilely swabbing my wet shirt over my equally slimy wet face. My hair looked as though (seriously) I had hosed it down.

But after repeatedly lifting a giant hacky sack from a gorilla squat (technical term), I noticed a few rivulets running down the sides of my face and that my t-shirt was damp. These rivulets increased when I shoved large metal table equipment across the parking lot and rowed 1,000 meters. -BTW I think that there should be some sort of screen to indicate what would be happening were I actually in a boat on water. Are my efforts enough so that my boat would really be moving?

Anyway, this perspiring is pretty good considering I'm in California where the dry air sucks the water out of me before I even finish drinking it. A couple of times I've stood in the rain here (lightweight drizzly stuff,) thinking, holy cow, how is it possible that I can feel no humidity, just dry air, while it is raining??

Compare that to North Carolina where you can actually see the white mist from the humidity entering your car through the AC vents. I didn't drink that much water in NC since breathing alone kept me hydrated.

But I digress.

Anyway, even my sweat muscles are working out now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Body Language

Dance is a language - it is all about communicating and listening.

Working out also is definitely all about communicating (but sometimes I don't listen.) For example, here is a fragment of a typical conversation my body has sometime between 4am (when I wake up) and 7:20 (when I pull into the parking lot at the gym.)

Shoulder: I can only do X amount of rotation today. Mess with me and I'll make you all sorry by keeping you sleep deprived for days.

Quads: Well, look who woke up with an attitude. I'm a little tired of carrying your weight.

Abs: Maybe if the glutes put a little more effort into the workout we could relax a little.

Glutes: Uh, yeah, look who's talking. Why should I anyway? Quads and Knees seem perfectly happy to do the work.

Biceps: Eat a few more fish oil capsules and get that prima donna shoulder working! I'm cramped.

Quads: for God's sake, Shoulder, stop complaining - Paul will make all of the rest of us work out more! It's not fair.

Glutes: I think y'all are doing just fine. Thanks for all the help. Ha, ha, ha!

Low back: You total slug!

Diaphragm: Stop whining and start rowing. By the way, Brain, have you figured out yet what Paul means by "Finish?"



Brain: huh?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Paul: I think therapeutic massage could loosen that area up.

Me : Hmm, I've never had a massage, but ok. Do you have someone can you recommend?

Paul: Yes. It's not exactly massage. It is very painful.

Me :

Me :

Me :

Me : Um, more painful than what you do?

Paul: Unbelievably so. But it is very effective.

Me :

Me :

Me :

Me :

Paul: hello?