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Archive for February, 2009

Somedays, I have Workout A.D.D. I’ll go to the gym and spend ten minutes on the treadmill before my eyes go crossed with boredom, ten on the elliptical, 15 on the bike, 15 on stairs…and I’ll leave the gym feeling like I didn’t even work out.  

So I like to mix it up a little by participating in the classes offered. In NYC, I spinned 3 days a week at 6:45 a.m which meant I was up at 5. I’m still not sure how I did that because down here I am absolutely unable to lift my head from the pillow before 6. My eyelids flutter open in mild surprise if the alarm beeps at 5:45 before flapping down like window blinds in an adamant refusal that it’s time to wake up. With the stagnant gym circuit and the inability to get moving in the morning, I knew I needed a shakedown.

Slim suggested I try zumba. She’d been going for awhile with a few friends and said it was a great workout that didn’t actually seem like one….my kind of exercise!

zumba

 Zumba (for those of you who don’t know) is a fusion of Latin and International music that incorporates dance moves with a fast-paced cardio workout. Now…I’ll be the first to admit while I love to dance, I know I’m not the most coordinated person on the dance floor. You’re unlikely to see me bust a move in the middle of the circle; I’m more likely to lead the clapping for whatever brave soul jumps in with their version of the lawnmower.  So, clearly I was skeptical when Slim told me it was a “get low” type of class, but I gave it a try.

Lili is the instructor; she’s a spirited chica who bounces all around the room to her Latin mix of songs. I stood next to Slim in the back while the Latin Mafia* filed into their positions in the front row. They’re all Latin divas who are 40, but look 30 and wear only Zumba tanks and wind-pants. As the music started, we salsa-ed through a warm-up and I quickly realized I was out of my element. These women were shaking parts of their bodies that I didn’t know could move independent of other parts.

A mirror ran the length of the front wall and I watched my awkward “white girl” body struggle to catch the groove and rhythm of the beat. Lili yelled, “Alright ladies, squat down and SHAKE IT,” the “it” being your butt. I tried, really I did…but Slim looked over at me and busted out laughing.

“KT, you’re supposed to shake your ass, not your head.”

Apparently in trying to wiggle my rump, I’d also been bobbing my head and jiggling my arms, but my butt was going nowhere. So I got lower and really concentrated on bouncing it.

But I ended up feeling more  like Homer Simpson in Homer’s Triple Bypass when Dr. Hibbert says,

“Now I’m going to do a fat analysis test.  I’ll start your jiggling and measure how long it takes to stop.

[starts it jiggling]

[jiggles for five seconds]

Homer: Woo hoo!  Look at that blubber fly!

Dr. Hibbert: Yes.  [to intercom] Nurse, cancel my 1:00.

 

than a vogue dancer from some movie like Step Up (yes I saw it and yes I liked it enough to reference it here).

“I don’t get it,” I frowned.

“You just shake….move it around…that’s it.”

Well, that was easy for her to say…she’d been doing the class for awhile. We sashayed across the room….meringue-d and cross-stepped through a few more songs. Then a song came on that caused everyone to groan…I looked around apprehensively.

Groaning is never a good sign.

Lili laughed, looking only slightly sadistic, as she hollered “Trabájelo!”

I recognized the song as Apple Bottom Jeans” only here, instead of bopping my head to the song like I typically do, anytime she hit the floor came on we had to swing down to the floor and do push-ups, pop back to stand then, crunch our abs up eight times. I have come to negatively associate that song with pain 

By the end of the hour, I was drenched, but it was fast, furious, and fun. Slim and I’ve been going to Lili’s for a few months now. She did a Turkey Burn around Thanksgiving and a Holiday Boot Camp at Christmas; both were an hour and a half of high-intensity zumba.

I still have trouble bending and shaking in some of the ways she asks us too, but I’ve managed to at least learn the routines pretty well.  Slim and her other friends in the class joke about taking their moves to the bars. But I think I’ll wait a little longer til I show you what I’m workin’ with…

 

*10 of Lili’s “original” dancers who’ve perfected the booty-jiggle lifestyle with zumba and margaritas on the weekends.

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This is probably the closest I’ll get to the 25 things fad I’ve previously discussed. As mentioned, I’m not likely to ever do it, but do enjoy learning the occasional tid-bit about a friend/acquaintance. The aforementioned “This” is my Ash Wednesday confession. No I’m not Catholic, but…recognizing this day on the religious calendar gives me an excuse to share a little known fact about me.

While not life-altering or jaw-dropping, it would probably surprise some of you who know me. So here goes…

Whenever I go to a pub or pub-like bar, I’m compelled to snatch a pint glass, especially if it’s one I have never seen before. I know I know…who cares? But whew…not many people know this about me and it feels good to get it off my chest. Grant it, I don’t do this every time I step into a bar. It’s only when I see a glass I like that the little voice starts rationalizing…guinness-2

Is my purse big enough to hold the glass?

Should I really take it?

Are the bartenders going to actually miss it or even notice?

How many steps are there to the door?


I lifted my first pint glass in 2006 from a small pub in Oxford when I was a student studying abroad in England, where pints are obviously served in abundance. It was a Guinness glass, traditional and simple. I’m pretty sure I took a couple of coasters with it.

Now…believe me, I had a moment of regret, a quick pang where I thought I should remove the glass from my purse and return it to the empty water-ring on the table. But I didn’t.

And pretty soon, I had a Magners, then Foster’s, then I went on a jaunt to Ireland and came back with a Bulmers pint.  At this point, I did share my propensity towards “borrowing and not returning” barware with an advisor in my program. He actually laughed at my conflicted state and the words of wisdom he shared with me have been the sole reason I still occasionally pinch glasses at pubs.

“KT, how much do you think it costs the Queen to produce those glasses?”

“I dunno,” I replied.

“About 3 pence. That’s it. Don’t worry about it. They make so many that they’re practically begging you to take them. Think about it either you snag ’em or they just end up broken in a bar fight.”

This made perfect sense to me. And so I justified my kleptomanic tendency.

He then additionally advised, “Now that doesn’t mean you should go waving around the glass before you put it in your pocket, but I think you’re safe if you keep it on the down-low.” Yes, he said down-low. He also informed us at our orientation that we shouldn’t walk up to a bartender and say “I’d like some head with my beer.”

So if it only costs manufacturers 5 cents (exchange rates may fluctuate) to make the glass, and bar managers order extra because they expect party-fouls, then obviously they won’t care/notice if little old me takes one teeny glass for her expanding collection. Right?

The dictionary defines kleptomania as “an obsessive impulse to steal regardless of economic need, usually arising from an unconscious symbolic value associated with the stolen item.” How to see if this applies to my situation? Well, I do have an economic need for a glass from which to get my daily allowance of water and other favored beverages. And I guess I do associate that these particular glasses are actually breakable and thus have value as opposed to plastic or paper cups. But I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive….

My latest pilfer was an American Beer glass with an NHL team logo on it. It was 3 weeks ago that I took this glass.

My name is KT and I may have a slight problem.

cartoon

New Yorker Cartoon: Leo Cullum: ID: 122801, Published in The New Yorker September 4, 2006

Anyone have any confessions they’d like to share?…I’m all ears.

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pastries

So today is FAT (yes all caps) Tuesday….

Personally I love the donut any day, but it’s on days like these where I feel it’s especially important to do my part and eat at least 2, possibly 3, and if it’s a stressful day…4. It’s perfectly normal to eat 4 donuts.

On any other day, I would be judged as I’d sit in the dark-windowless confines of my office and munch away, guiltily shoving the powdered delights into my mouth. But today, oh glorious Fastnacht Day, I can do what I want and proudly display the confectionery remnants in the corners of my mouth.

Today is the day before Lent starts. I’ve never been a big follower of fasting during this time. When I was younger, I used to negotiate my way through the fast…and would forgo only things I either knew I could do without or didn’t really like in the first place (often it would be something from the vegetable family or some obscure fruit like kiwi). I think one time I managed to give up soda. And another coffee, but at 15 I didn’t drink it anyway. One year, I tried to give up sugar and made my mom by only sugar free cookies and crackers (this was before the whole “healthy lifestyle fad” so that section in the supermarket was about ½ an aisle long). But I’m pretty sure I didn’t last all 40 days.

Yesterday my friend, Slim* called me from her office (same company, 1 floor down) and announced she was giving up meat for Lent; that she was making her grocery list that second and that her lunches would from now on either be egg salad or avocado based. Then she realized that she’d be having dinner at her parents this weekend and apparently her mom makes a killer roast. So that idea went out the window.

We continued chatting about what she could give up with minimal withdraws. And she finally suggested chocolate only to come to the conclusion she couldn’t possibly do that because she and her boyfriend might be going to the Melting Pot on Friday and the chocolate fondue is clearly the only reason she’d go.  At this point in our conversation, I interjected (as piously as possible),

“Slim, Lent is typically recognized as a time of sacrifice, i.e. giving something up that you really enjoy.”

She scoffed.

Today, she told me she made reservations at the Melting Pot. I asked, “What are you giving up for Lent then?”

“Chocolate. But this is the one and only exception. The rest of Lent, no chocolate, I promise.”

So I’m not quite sure how all this half-sacrifice translates into Jesus’ story of 40 days of complete fasting. What if he’d negotiated his way to be able to eat a couple bugs or maybe a small animal? Would then our whole perception be altered? Probably. But I’m not writing a philosophical analysis of religion or Lent.

I’m just celebrating that today is the one day a year where it’s socially acceptable to be a glutton.

Take that Weight Watchers!

fat-tuesday1

STACY CURTIS, “Freelance”Indiana

*My MD best friend and co-worker who owns her own motorcycle and shares a love of cheesy Reality TV (Biggest Loser, The Bachelor) and salads with dressing on the side.

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On Friday night, I went out to dinner with two friends in DC. Dodge* and Boot** (nicknames, obv.) met me at Etete, an Ethiopian restaurant on U and 9th Street which stands out against other fluorescently lit storefronts on the street.

This was my first experience with Ethiopian culture and cuisine.  I did have a friend in college who was Ethiopian, but he never cooked for me and I don’t think he’s your typical Ethiopian anyway. He’d always make dry comments about growing up eating only rice and running barefoot on dirt roads to the schoolhouse. I’m pretty sure they were sarcastic as he ended up going to a small, private Liberal Arts school in the middle of rural PA. So I doubt he grew up the way most Americans traditionally view the Ethiopian childhood, but one can never be sure. And I digress as all that’s beside the point…the point being, I enjoyed the food. A lot.

If you’ve never been to an Ethiopian restaurant before, you’re in for a bit of a culture shock. You’ve got to throw conventional eating etiquette out and get cozy with the idea that your right hand is your fork and your left, the knife (or vice versa if you’re a lefty-as is my case). After reading through the menu, we asked the advice of our waitress for what she’d recommend to order. She, being a transplant from the country, had a little trouble understanding our questions. But once we overcame the language hiccup, we figured out she wanted to know if we liked our food spicy. The three of us aren’t huge on extremely hot foods (i.e. Thai hot), but we decided we’d get at least one dish a little on the smoking side. Dodge also ordered a glass of tej, their honey wine. Ethiopians believe tej was the wine used for a toast between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. It’s extremely sweet, but is supposed to cut the food’s spicy edge pretty well.

ethiopian-foodOur food came out on a huge round platter. All together we chose 4 entrée’s and all were arranged on this one plate overtop of a special bread, injera. It looks kind of like a bubbled-stretchy crêpe and tastes slightly sour. You are to use it as the primary eating utensil, stretching it over your food and scooping it into your mouth. The sponginess of injera allows all the juices from the stews and meat to be sopped up. We were given an extra basket of the flatbread in which each individual piece was rolled like a napkin.

The waitress also brought out a plate with a whole fish on it (it was part of a veggie combo and only a dollar more!). I’m pretty sure the fish was rubbed with spices and then fried. Our faces were probably priceless as we eyed with calculated wariness how exactly to eat the fish. I broke off the tail and plucked what I think was the spine from the meat and cautiously took a bite. It tasted like fish…not quite sure what I expected it to taste like, but fish it was.

My first bite of one of the stews on our tray burnt my mouth with flavored heat. It stuck in that back niche in my throat. So naturally, I spasmed with suppressed coughs, trying to inconspicuously muffle the tickle out. When that didn’t work, I leaned to the side in favor of a more pleading cough (one that crosses between laughter and embarrassment). My eyes teared and my nose ran until I had slurped a sufficient enough amount of water to dislodge the offending spice from its comfortable nook. People quieted and stared. I reddened. Then the lights went out, literally. And everyone forgot about my hacking. We sat in candlelight for about 10 minutes before power came back on. But the lack of electricity didn’t keep us from munching away. When we finally sat back, we surveyed our progress. Our platter had been suitably demolished.

 Boot commented, “Well, I guess we like Ethiopian.”

 You’ll probably be seeing Dodge and Boots more in future posts. We’ve decided to make dinner nights a common occurrence, and have formed a sort of dinner club to try out different restaurants around DC. You know…so we aren’t like those people who constantly say oh I’ve heard of that place and always wanted to try it.

If you have any recommendations, let us know…also if you have any suggestions for our club name, we’ll take those too! Keep an eye out for their reviews as well…I’m going to let them guest post as we explore the various neighborhoods of DC cuisine. Our next outing is on Thursday for a night of fine Indian flavors and tastes at Rusika. I’ll let you all know how that goes.

Below is a list of what I think we ordered…I was able to find the menu online. Check it out if you’re in the area or mood for something a tad more obscure than Chipotle or The Olive Garden.  

  • Yefem Tibs:: (*Etete’s Special) Charcoal broiled sliced prime tender beef marinated in white wine and rosemary, with a touch of garlic and black pepper
  • Special Etete’s Kitfo:: Minced meat seasoned with herbed butter and hot red pepper, served with special seasoned cottage cheese
  • Fasteing Food:: Combination of veggie dishes with fish
    • The veggie dishes were a mixture of: Yemisir Wat Slit red lintel cooked in Ethiopian red pepper sauce, meten shiro, oil, onion sauteed together; Yeataklit WatFresh green, carrot, potato, green pepper and onion sauteed with garlic, ginger and tomato and Gomen-Fresh green, carrot, potato, green pepper and onion sautéed with garlic, ginger and tomato.

 

*Dodge—so nicknamed because she works for a similar sounding department-of-government acronym and because occasionally…well, she’s just a bit dodge.

 **Boot—she literally walks around with a boot on her foot. You may have seen her on the Metro. Her name may change when doctors say she can finally forgo the boot in favor of a regular shoe.

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“You appear to have caught that bug that’s been going around my waiting room.”  by Mick Stevens

Yeah…I’ve got that.

One thing you should know about me is that I rarely get sick, but when I do, my whole body ceases to function as a coherent unit. My brain takes leave, my ears pop out for a break, my legs race in opposing directions…you get the point.

People notice. “Wow, you don’t look so hot,” becomes their signature greeting. Thank you folks. As if I already didn’t know that it looks like I have two rotting prunes beneath my eyes.

I become sort of manic. I don’t want to be touched, and then want nothing more than to be coddled by my mom. I’m hot, then shivering cold. The sight of food makes me nauseas before starvation (and throat aches) forces me to eat a gallon of ice cream.

I fixate on one thing. Ginger Ale. Sleep. Maury. And I lose the ability to multi-task, thus if I’m watching a marathon about how your man slept with my baby’s daddy, I’m likely not to eat for hours, and so on and so forth.

I descend into insomnia. If I try to lie down to sleep, I start coughing. I cough until I pass out. I wake up because I can’t breathe. I sit up, focused on the fact that I can’t breathe. I worry; wonder when I’ll fall back asleep; wonder what time it is; wonder if Grey’s will be good this week. I get frustrated that I’m thinking about stupid things when I could be sleeping. I have to blow my nose. I blow my nose. And so it goes…

Since I’m normally a healthy 24-year-old, I don’t often take sick days, so I’m usually in the office when various bugs begin to hover outside people’s cubicles. I hate nothing more than listening to other people cough. And I’m not talking about the dry hack; I’m talking about the prolonged “productive” cough, the one that starts in the throat before working its way down to the deep recesses of your lungs where it rattles around trying to get something loose when after some additional rigorous breaths, it finally shoots free and up the esophagus and into your mouth. Yeah. That cough. The Shrek-green-eugh cough.

Well, that’s what I have. I’ve spent the last several nights inhaling vicks and sucking down ricola’s. This cold has sucked the color out of my face and the life from my body. I’m totally drained. It’s not even fun to yodel Ricola anymore.

I’m listless and dirty. Did you ever notice how you don’t really feel clean when you’re sick? Or is that just me? I mean, I’m literally covered with cold remedies. My mouth is thick with cough syrup, drops and phlegm. My hands are dried out from numerous squirts of antibacterial gel. I’m only comfortable in the same ratty sweatshirt and sweatpants that are clearly starting to show vicks, soup, and decongestant stains because I always seem to miss my mouth (I think it’s an equilibrium thing; I swear I’m off-balance when I have a cold).

And this absolute misery lasts for almost 9 days. Three days where I start to think oh I think I’m coming down with something. Three days where I’m saturated with whatever virus has weakened my body. Three days where I’m still sniveling, but am slowly beginning to see the light. But by this point, what does it matter? I’ve been out of commission for over a week. Too much has happened. It’ll be exhausting to catch-up.

And I’ll bet all of this came about because I shook hands with that man in the meeting.

So sickness also apparently makes me paranoid, among the many other neurosis listed above. I can totally sympathize with people who are hypochondriacs. Luckily, I’ll be “well” soon enough and this will have been nothing more than a short-lived feverous rant. But I may or may not keep the antibacterial on my desk permanently.

*Cartoon: ID: 121840, Published in The New Yorker February 6, 2006

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vday-card

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Check out this article by the Washington Post. It may make you smiggle or groan. And it may shock you at how much a person can say about a relationship in six words.

He brought me breakfast in bed.

The string holding my ring–broken.

It’s kind of fun to describe love in six little words.

One call–his clothes through window.

Close my eyes, see just him.

Happy or sad memories compressed. Give it a try with your own six words. You just might be surprised at what you come up with.

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Artomatic V-Day

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of Valentine’s Day, both when in a relationship and when single. Of course I am: I thoroughly enjoy the two main ingredients that go into its construction; candy and men. And yes I realize that both of those things are totally stereotypical and not very original, but I don’t care because both make me happy. I like the little candy hearts, the singing cards, roses. I even like all the spoofs that appear as well (example: Bittersweets). And I will never quite understand from where the animosity for this holiday stems. Every year people inevitably rant about how much they hate Valentine’s Day. They either go off on a tirade about how roses are double the price (they’re not), you have to buy a gift that is the equivalent of Christmas+Birthday (you don’t) or about how V-day is a money making ploy by the Candy,Card,Romantic-Comedy monopolies to suck money out of love-sick, gullible, miserable, sentimental mopes. That rant is by far my favorite; the “corporate commercialism of love”, as if Love is the real victim on Feb. 14.  The ranter spouts that if you (jabbing index finger) go out and by a card for someone, you’re caving to Hallmark’s cult agenda. Bull…shit (as they say in the card game). Maybe when I’m grabbing a bag of Hershey Kisses for myself, I see a card with a funny quip on it that would be perfect for a friend, so I buy it and send it to them with an appropriate love stamp. So what? Why do you care? Find something else to care about. V-day takes the brunt of a lot of people’s anger and bitterness kind of like Howard Stern, and I think it’s unfortunate.

So maybe this year instead of complaining about the cliché that is Valentine’s Day, those folks can step outside the box and do something different. If single, treat it as any other day instead of harping on the fact that this is the one day a year you wish you weren’t alone. Go out and DO something! If you’re a couple…well…I don’t really have any advice because you’re probably one of two types; you either celebrate or you ignore, and I don’t have a problem with either. But one thing I like, whether single or not, is to spice it up…do something unique instead of roses, wine, jewelry, or dinner.

My friend here in DC sent me an invite to this event called Artomatic’s “Luck of the Draw: Valentine’s Weekend 2009.” It sounds like a pretty decent alternative to wooing by candlelight or a protest lock-in with Ben, Jerry, Tom and Meg.

First, it’s free. Second, there will be copious amounts of wine served throughout the evening. Third, there’s going to be dancing without the whole booty-shake, sweaty-grind-down scene you might find at V-day themed parties and clubs.

So here’s the run down: Luck of the Draw is an event that “transforms” select condo units, lounges, courtyards and the parking lots at Velocity Condominium, Axiom at Capitol Yards and Onyx on First residential buildings with photography, sculpture, graffiti artists, live music, DJs and dancing. You can have delicious foodsies, good tunes, and a great atmosphere without reservations or prix fixe menus.

To raise the stakes and make the evening more interesting, you can draw playing cards at each location and then, in true DC pork-barrel-style barter, coerce, and sweet-talk trades for the best five-card poker hand. Combine your Aces and Kings to enter in a raffle for an IPod Nano.

The times run:

  • Friday, Feb. 13: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 14: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 15, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

And even if you have plans for one of the nights to celebrate SAD or act like a DeBeers or Zales  commercial, find some time to check out this unique art and music experience. Also, if you want to wear red because it’s Valentine’s Day, wear it. Paint your fingernails red too. Hand out Indiand Jones or Disney Princess’ Valentine’s because it’s the one day a year where Love is supposed to be the center of attention. So just this once…let It be; don’t do what you normally would do or say what you’d typically say, just sit back, relax, and eat one of those puffy sugar cookies with the hardened pink icing and sprinkles.

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