Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now It's About Feet

The other day, while Pilates training, I thought I was going to seriously throw up. Each foot that walked into the studio was more disgusting than the last. One client draped her grimy hoofs on the foot bar of the reformer, as tiny pieces of skin literally dropped onto the bar. It was like foot dandruff or she was molting like an f’in reptile.

Here I am again talking about what grosses me out about Pilates. Now I think it’s becoming a work hazard. In the last couple of weeks I have had my share of, bunions (nothing says old Jew like a bunion) claw toes, hammer toes, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, corns, warts, calluses, cracked skin, and chipped toenail polish. At what point am I allowed to refuse service? Food establishments have their, “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” policy. Maybe I should have business cards saying, “Foot Fungus? Funky toes? Flaking Heels? FORGET IT!” I refuse to believe that I’m the only one feeling this way. I can’t be that alone in the world.

I’m truly at a loss. Am I missing something? Did I not read the small print in the job description? Perhaps I glossed over the part where it said that unwashed and unkempt feet were a part of the job. So now I have to suck it up? Terrif. This Pilates culture makes me feel like Lisa Ling uncovering a lost city on National Geographic Explorer. Who knew?

If I wanted to be this close to feet and their disorders, I would’ve become a podiatrist. Don’t get me wrong, I love well manicured feet with perfectly aligned phalanges. Maybe I have this aversion to horrid feet because I grew up around aesthetically pleasing ones. Not only are my feet near perfect specimens, if I do say so myself, but my father has some of the nicest tootsies this side of the Mississippi. I naively assumed that most people had feet like ours. Oh, how wrong I was.

The last time this foot obsession reared it’s ugly heel, was a few years ago when I moved to Prague to teach English as a foreign language (because that’s what a 38 year old woman does, after almost 20 years in the entertainment business). I was truly in the midst of a different culture, and that culture too had bad feet. I remember reading an article in the Prague Post that said that the Czech Republic was trying to change their image. I thought this was a smart idea since many of the people I met acted as if no one told them that the curtain had come down, and it was okay to smile. The article went on to say that the Czech Republic wanted to be more “modern, developed and sophisticated.” They wanted to change the image that the world had of them as people with “weather beaten faces.” And if I may, I'd like to add weathered beaten feet to that image.

I had never seen uglier, dirtier, and more mangled feet, as I had in Praha. Why? Why so ugly, dirty and mangled? I could understand if it was bad genes. Maybe it was the decades of toiling in the fields and the mines. That would only explain part of the picture. What's with the dirt? Even if I didn't shower for two or seven days, I don’t think that my toes would look like I just trampled through a mud pile, laced with petrol. I saw more Band-aids on ankles in Prague than runners post marathon.

Then one day, out of nowhere, I saw the most exquisite manicured feet of a woman on the Metro. Her toenails were filed down to equal lengths, not like a jagged pocket knife. The nail polish was a fresh and sassy ballet slipper hue, and there wasn’t a dry cuticle in sight. I knelt down and kissed every polished toe. At that moment my faith in humanity was restored. Now I have to hope for same in the Pilates studio.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

To Shave Or Not To Shave

I know I talked about unshaven legs and armpits in a past entry (see: On the road again... geographically & professionally) but apparently I’m not finished.

I was shooting the shit with a fellow instructor at the Pilates studio today. “I just think the women should shave their legs before coming to see me. It’s irresponsible. I have to touch them. Would it be so horrible if at the very least they wore long work out pants?”

Her eyes bugged out. “Are you serious?” She said this with great disbelief. I thought she was kidding, so I reiterated.

“Yeah, I’m serious. Are you serious? I’ve got to feel that shit.” I think she was genuinely appalled at my seemingly intolerant attitude.

“I don’t think it’s such a big deal.” At which point I glanced down at her feet, only to see several hairs, the length of yard sticks, coming out of each of her big toes. Of course she didn’t think it was a big deal. I curled my lip.

“All I’m saying is, I think it’s socially unacceptable and in bad form.” I didn’t really feel this strongly and militant about it, but I had her hooked and wanted to see how far I could go.

She looked at me like I wanted kids who wore glasses to be rounded up and hauled off to some remote facility in Jersey. “I’m just a little shocked.”

I was confused. “You’re shocked that I’d be anti leg dreadlocks and armpit nests? Why? Because I believe in saving the planet, a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage, so you think I'd believe in letting it all hang out? You can't lump me in with the, my body hair is au natural and therefore beautiful, line of thinking people. I am not that girl. C’mon. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to think about your trainer and ask yourself whether they want to get their hands all tangled up in that mess.” And with that my fellow trainer smiled and walked away. Ah, agreeing to disagree.

I’m all for letting your freak flag fly but there’s a time and a place. And if I’m busting my ass helping you to obtain your optimum lengthened and most ideal posture (which I’m happy to do) then please, clean it up, because it’s not the time nor the place.

What kind of society would be if we thought it was acceptable for women to go to their gynecologists for their pap smears without showering beforehand just because it went against their daily hygienic beliefs and they wanted to save water? I’m not a huge fan of the shower. I’ve gone a day (or seven) without bathing, but I would never forego washing and shaving before a pap, especially since my doctor’s going to be up close and personal with my hoo hoo. Have some compassion. It’s the same thing with Pilates. I want my clients to think of me as their Pilatecologist.

I understand the whole, free to be you and me feminist angle. Wait, no, I take that back. I don’t understand it, nor have I ever really thought about it. I only recently read about the Second wave feminists and I still don’t understand what the big hullabaloo is about. Do what moves you, speaks to you and resonates with you, but I implore you to leave the leg and armpit vines at home. Yes, I’ve heard that for some it’s a cultural and social mores issue. Great, social more all you want, at home, not in the Pilates studio.

I get it. Shaving is a personal preference, not unlike foregoing red meat, or choosing a standard versus an automatic vehicle. However, when it affects another person, i.e. me, get that friggin razor out and start mowing. I never thought of shaving as a social or man conceived idea either.

And I know that certain Mediterranean cultures don’t consider it essential for a woman to shave her legs. My parents were hippies in the 60’s. I know that the whole unshaved legs became a natural thing to do during the “hippy” movement. Okay, fine, but if you’re going to train with me, and you’re unshaven, you better have been playing in the mud at Woodstock or recently moved here from Greece.

Fuck it. I’m liberated and I shave. What does that mean? Jesus Christ, must everything we do or don’t do, be analyzed, and given some deeper meaning, label, or attributed to some flaw in ourselves or society? Hairiness is unrestrained animal sexuality. Shaving keeps women in a state of innocence. Shaving denies a woman’s visceral self. Huh? Long hair and beards are for dirty hippies. Dirty foreigner v. Clean American. Someone has a lot of time on their hands, thinking about all of this. And now I’m beginning to think her name is Dani.

I just reread the above. “Wow, why the rage?” For one, because I do think that people need to have regard for others. My other truth goes deeper. Not too deep, perhaps just beneath the surface. When I look at my current situation and what I’m doing now; training to be a Pilates instructor after 20 years in the entertainment business (hanging with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Courtney Love-and others named Love) touching hirsute women, I wonder, with a mix of sadness and disappointment, “How the hell did I get here?”

When I was kicking it with studio executives and performing stand up comedy at the World Famous Improv, I never thought I’d move back to New York and become a Pilates instructor. The questions of how and why force me to retrace my steps (and missteps) and mull over every decision I made, every opportunity I lost, and every fear I let cripple me. I think I’m still mourning a life that would never be (that of a 19 year-old rock star/playing Streisand during the Main Event years in the movie of her life/Vegas Showgirl) and perhaps I still have more work to do accepting what is. I’m no genius but maybe this has something to do with my less than tolerant attitude.

I apologize hirsute women, but I’m coming from Hollywood; pioneers in anal bleaching and vaginal rejuvenation. You’ll have to be patient with me. A couple of hours after my confrontation with my fellow instructor, I looked over at her client laying on the mat, and saw the woman’s armpit. Oh, dear lord, I wish I hadn’t. That woman could’ve been a man. This acceptance thing may take a while.

Pass the Beano

The owner of the Pilates studio, Janice, asked me to train a friend of hers last week and I was flattered that she thought of me. When I saw her, I said, “Hey, thanks for the referral. I’m training Scott tomorrow. He had to change his original time because of an audition.” Yes, I said this with sarcasm, a bit of disdain, and some minor eye rolling. I don’t know what my motive was, other than I felt like doing a bit of performing and to have some fun. I'm beginning to think that it is that difficult to simply answer a fucking question or have a conversation with someone, sans the dramatics?

Janice smiled, “Well, he’s a very successful commercial actor.” Uh, oh, here we go.
“Oh, who isn’t? I did commercials.” Janice seemed interested and engaged.
“You would be great in commercials.”
“If I had a dollar every time someone told me that. I did the commercial thing. I used to audition all the time for a couple of years and then, well, it started getting stupid. The auditions got more inane. I’d go in and have to frown in front of the camera, or crawl on the floor like a mouse looking for cheese. And then my dignity kicked in and I stopped.”

Janice was laughing and hanging on my every animated word, which for me, as a comedienne, was like shoving a coke whore’s face into a pile of white dust. It made me want to work harder and longer to sustain the high. “One of my last auditions was for Beano. I was so over it by then and didn’t care anymore so I had some fun.

I had to stand with my pretend friend, holding a cafeteria tray, commenting on the food that we passed while in line. The director yelled, “action”, and I made a fake fart sound.” (insert actual fart sound) It wasn’t the cliched, and childish lip and cheek fart sound. Mine was more sophisticated and deeper, almost baritone sounding, and more convincing. I thought Janice was going to fall of the Trapeze Table she was sitting on. “What? It was for Beano. I thought it was totally appropriate.”

I’m not proud of it but my story promptly started a five minute conversation, with other trainers weighing in, about why people think farting sounds are funny and the farting games available online. I extricated myself from the high brow confab that I’d started and slithered away. My job here is done.

A Tall Drink of Water

Having lived most of my life on stage, where I was told I belonged (I think it had something to do with my loud speaking voice) whether it be an actual stage, in a writer’s room, or doing my best Sonny & Cher impersonation (playing both parts) in front of my parent’s friends in our living room, stepping ‘off the stage’ has never been easy for me, and it’s now become troublesome and sometimes embarrassing in light of my new career as a Pilates instructor.

There’s not a great need for voice projection when you’re in your client’s face, or crotch, cueing positions and movements, or busting out a rendition of All That Jazz, while giving someone a hamstring stretch. And yet, this doesn’t seem to stop me. The Pilates studio is not a stage, I know this, but old habits die hard.

I was at the studio the other day, talking to another trainer about belly scooping and postural alignment, or some such thing, when the owner of the studio, Janice, called me over to the front desk, where she was standing with a few other people. “Dani. Dani, can you come over here?” She smiled and with a bit of fun sarcasm in her voice said, “Do you have any availabilities to train a new client? It says in the computer that we have to contact you.” I looked over. Any normal person would simply walk to the desk, nothing more, nothing less. But because the world, which now includes the Pilates studio, is my stage, and normal has never been my forte, I started talking before I got to the desk.

“Available? I don’t know. You know how booked I am. I’m very popular you know. I’ll have to check.” And then I decided to play on the contact reference and made that assinine, I point to my eyes with two-fingers and then point to Janice’s eyes, as if to say, “I’m watching you, you’re watching me.” What? Janice took the bait and mirrored me with her two-fingers, which only encouraged me to continue my stage work. This wasn’t going to end well.

A very tall woman, who I had never seen before, was standing at the front desk. She must’ve been 6 feet tall. I’m 5’3 and three quarters (I totally grew half an inch since I started Pilates) I was in socks, and could’ve walked right between her legs without ducking. Janice looked at me, “Dani, this is Thalia. She wants to schedule a private session.”
I looked up at Thalia and with the confidence of Shecky Green in his heyday, I shouted, “Weeeeelllll, aren’t you a tall glass of water!” In the middle of the ‘Weeeeelllll’, I regretted ever learning how to talk. I've never ever used that phrased in my life. And if I'm correct, it's usually reserved for men. I couldn’t look at Thalia. I was too mortified to see her reaction. I did, however, look over at the manager behind the desk and Janice, who both smiled but quickly pressed on with scheduling and pricing.

Suffice it to say that I won’t be training Thalia. Although nothing was said out loud, I think everyone thought it best that she go with another trainer. One who can hold their tongue and not see every goddam moment as an opportunity to grab the microphone.

30 Minutes in New York

One thing goes wrong, and then everything that follows will just suck.

Take my Saturday morning for example. I went down to the parking garage in my apartment building to retrieve my car and it was nowhere to be found. Not only did I call the night before, but I marked down the time I needed it on a ginormous dry erase board set up in the garage, and yet, there I was, waiting. Normally, I wouldn’t care because, let’s face it, where am I going in such a hurry? But on this particular Saturday I had to get to Brooklyn for an eight hour training session, and now my car was buried four deep.

Fifteen minutes later, I hopped in and couldn’t find the keys. Usually they’re on the front tire, driver’s seat or on the floor. Not today. I reiterate, if I wasn’t in a hurry, I would have laughed as I played hide and seek with my car keys, but now I was going to be late and I hate being late. The parking attendant walked towards me. I looked at him helplessly and might’ve shown a little ‘pissed off-ness’. And then my eyes lowered to the front panel above the radio and there was the key. Why? Why play hide and seek with my car key to begin with? Is it too much to ask to be consistent with the key placement? Am I asking for the moon?

I’d planned on a car wash on my way to Brooklyn because when I can’t see out the back window, even I know that it’s time to de-grime. Let’s see; the first warm day in New York in over three months, tourists, the Intrepid and The Circle Line. That just screams crowds, traffic and playing chicken with out-of-towners who feel the need to cross the street whenever the spirit moves them. Traffic lights be damned.

It took another 15 minutes to get to the entrance of the car wash, and when I did, a police officer raced (well, waddled really) across the street, yelling and waving his hands wildly. It seems that all of us dirty car people were blocking an entire lane thus causing a terrific traffic jam. I didn’t know, I couldn’t see out the back of my car.

I pulled into the car wash, where four very eager washing attendants grabbed their vacuum hoses and practically dragged me from the car. I got my ticket and walked inside to the register but not before I found myself behind the slowest walking man on the planet. It’s not like he was aged or anything, he just wanted to do a little window shopping along the row of car accessories. Oh, my god, he was killing me with his sauntering. I had to get out from behind him. He slowed (even more) in front of the Chamois and Little Tree Air Freshener, so I passed him on the right, and sprinted to the cash register.

I got into my clean car, made a U-turn and headed south down to Brooklyn. As I said, it was a gorgeous day and I had to put the top down. At the first red light, the top began its smooth 14 second descent. And then a warning light came on, accompanied by an ear piercing sound, alerting me that the top was unable to complete its descent. I turned around only to see the back glass window cockeyed, and frozen in mid air. Fuck.

Ever since my parent’s bought a bright orange Fiat Spider when I was a kid, I’ve loved convertibles. There’s something about a convertible that makes me feel so very cool and oh, so special. Maybe it’s because you’re out there in the open, blowing in the wind, for all to see. It’s an attention getter, as am I. So when the J walking tourists and stream of cars pointed and snickered at my cockeyed glass, I was hit in the face with a sack of humility, which made me feel incredibly uncool and Special ed like.

I quickly reversed the direction of the top. Oh, great, I broke the car. I pulled off the West side highway into the NY Waterway parking lot on 39th Street to check the damage.

I got out of the car, walked around to the trunk and opened it. There it was. The culprit. An extra large red funnel. I bought it so I could replenish my windshield wiper fluid. There’s a certain amount of pleasure, an instant gratification if you will, pouring the fluid down that funnel, and watching the thingy under the hood fill up. In any case, the funnel was laying where it wasn’t supposed to be. I tossed it aside and I was ready to go, again. I got back in the car and the top was down 14 seconds later.

The only problem now was how to get out of the parking lot. I had parked in the TAXI ONLY lane and was surrounded by cabs. I tried to back up and go around them but the parking lot backs up to the bike path and every time I inched backwards, cyclists and rollerbladers shot me looks that I could feel in my ass. I didn’t see any way out, so I laid on my horn, hoping that a cabbie might take pity on me, and let me out. One did and I was back on the West side highway, but not before running a red light (didn’t see it Officer) and cutting off a Waterway bus in the process.

Several miles later, I was in line at the Battery Tunnel. Lane closed? Are you kidding me? Why is it so difficult to get to Brooklyn this morning? I backed up, avoiding oncoming traffic and passed through an open toll lane. A few hundred feet past the toll plaza, I was stopped at a light underneath the highway overpass. This was a very popular place for those adorable and clean New York City pigeons to perch. As I looked up, eyeing the birds’ underbellies, I was convinced that it was just a matter of time before pigeon poo rained down on my head, and my spanking clean car, or both. I begged for the light to turn green. “Now. Now. Go. Go. C’mon. Now. Go.” The more I begged, the longer it seemed to take the light to change. Finally, green light, no crap, and off I went.

I was about two miles away from my destination and I thought I was home free. Uh, oh, why does the sky look so dark? Are those storm clouds? Oh, fuck it. At the next red light, the top was up and I was back in my metal bubble. Well, that was a relaxing morning. Here’s to the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading is Fundamental

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I was up early this morning to meet my 9am Pilates client on the upper east side (96th and Lexington to be exact). I hopped on the 6 train and just for the record, getting on the subway during the morning rush hour is like the running of the bulls. You can easily get gorged in the ass if you’re not careful. I sat down across from a boy who must’ve been 11 or 12 years old. He was reading,
The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon, a twisting plot of a worldwide government conspiracy that could lead to the end of the world. I thought it was an odd reading choice for an eleven year old. Not that I know what your average, less than average or above average, eleven year old is reading these days, because I don’t.
What I do know is that Mr. Sheldon created the television masterpieces, Hart to Hart (1979–84) and I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) The way I see it, Christina Aguilera owes Sidney big time (I’m a Genie in a Bottle-1999) Like she thought of that by herself. Sidney didn’t start writing books until after he turned 50. Whew, I still have several years to crank one out. Okay, so now I’m comparing myself to Sidney Sheldon?!
I couldn’t imagine how an eleven year old boy found his way to Sidney Sheldon, but I admired this pint sized rebel. It reminded me of myself. I stepped out of my fifth grade reading curriculum by studying and memorizing Judy Blume’s, Forever (thanks to my neighbor and Yonkers street gang member, Stacy Dominguez). Forever was the story of Katherine and Michael’s first time having sex. That book was my sex education. God knows my parent’s never sat me down and explained anything. Either they were in denial or hung over. That’s what the World Book Encyclopedia was for.
I underlined the dirty parts in Forever, or what I thought were the dirty parts, and I brought the book to school to share with my friends, because I’m a giver and a sharer. My friends and I gathered on the black top at recess, and being the public speaker that I was (read: attention monger) I read the dirty parts out loud with the confidence of a prepubescent Tracy Lords.
“Then he was on top of me and I felt Ralph, hard, against my thigh.”
In the book, the Michael character named his penis Ralph and ever since then, whenever I hear the name Ralph, I think cock. Ralph Lauren, Cock Lauren. Cock Machio. Cock Waldo Emerson.
“Just when I thought, Oh God…we’re really and truly going to do it, Michael groaned and said, “Oh, no…no…I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.”
“What’s wrong?”
“I came.”
That Judy knew her stuff. My friend Jennifer, okay, that’s a lie. I don’t have a friend Jennifer. I was trying to protect the innocent but it makes me feel like I’m making this shit up. My friend Leslie (sorry Leslie) wanted to borrow the book. The following day in school I was called into the nurse’s office. Leslie, Leslie’s mom, my mom, and the school nurse were all staring at me, as if I’d started a fire in the library. Leslie’s mom was so pissed. She was appalled that her daughter was reading a book about sex. Clearly she hadn’t had a sit down with Leslie either. I was such a smart ass at the time, and thought the whole incident was funny. I’m sure the expression on my face said, “Bite me.”
The nurse looked at me and said, “Forever is inappropriate reading for someone your age.”
I looked at her. “Inappropriate? My parents roll joints before family car trips, and my dad wears Speedos, and carries a man bag. I think we have different definitions of inappropriate.”
They all looked at my mom, waiting for her to say something parental. All she could say was, “I’m just glad she can read.”
After reading Forever I did wonder what my first sexual experience would be like. And when I was two months shy of my 16th birthday, I found out. Scott and I met on a teen tour the summer after sophomore year in high school. The tour was like high school; only we traveled from coast-to-coast in a deluxe bus for 40 days, all under the watchful eyes of a few 18- and 19-year-old counselors. Scott and I fell in love in the back of an ultra-modern, air-conditioned, restroom equipped motor coach.
As soon as we got off the road, and back to our separate high school lives, Scott and I made plans to meet in New York City. We met at Pier 84 to see The Clash and The English Beat in concert. I’ll always be grateful to Scott for introducing me to punk rock. At the time my musical tastes consisted of Broadway musicals and Cher. Who am I kidding. Nothing’s changed. During the song, London Calling, a thunderstorm blew in. I’d just bought a pair of cream colored leather boots (with fringe) a week earlier and they weren’t the least bit broken in, or water proof. Ow.
We strolled (I limped) to Penn Station, and took a train back to Scott’s house on Long Island. I’m pretty sure I knew where this train was headed (wink wink) and I was excited. And where the hell did I tell my parents I was going? As liberal and lax as they were, I don’t think they would’ve been down with my going to my boyfriends’ parents house to get laid for the first time. My ankles were killing me but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want my new love to think that I whined, even though the pain warranted a whine or four. It definitely warranted a cab.
When we got to his house, we immediately went up to his bedroom (and where the hell were his parents) I took off my boots, and not only were my ankles bleeding (from the hardened leather rubbing against them of course) but my ankle blood had penetrated the leather, and stained the outside of the boot. Classy. And yet, I still kept quiet. I wish I could say that I would never walk in bloody boots again to look good for a man, but I can’t.
I timidly asked for a couple of Band-aids. It’s a miracle I was able to do that much. I didn’t want to cause a fuss, but I thought it would be more humiliating if I’d left a mark on his sheets. When he handed me the Band-aids, he looked at my bleeding ankles concerned.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
I was mortified. “I guess it was from the boots.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
Why? If I knew that...
Then I panicked. I wondered if he’d be turned off by my bloody ankles and wouldn’t want to have sex. That was adorable of me.
We climbed under the black polyester blanket of his twin bed and started making out. All I remember is that it started slow and tender, and then before I knew what was happening, it was over. Seriously, Judy knew her shit. The thing is, I didn’t care. We loved each other, and I knew we’d be doing it again.
I went into the bathroom afterwards to check things out; you know to see if I looked any different, and to see if a Mariachi Band was playing in my vagina. C’mon, I read that first timers can have very dramatic responses and feelings. And yes, I usually believe everything I read. There wasn’t a band but I did find the condom still inside of me. Ah! I wasn’t so sure that that wasn’t supposed to happen because, as I said, my sex education consisted of Judy Blume books. Judy never wrote about this sort of thing happening, so I was at a loss. The only naked body I’d seen up to that point was the redheaded naked girl holding an airplane on the cover of my parent’s Blind Faith album. I still cringe when I see redheaded naked girls.
I didn’t know what to do with the condom. Do I flush it? What if it backs up the toilet? I was so responsible even then. Do I throw it in the trash? What if his mom finds it? I was too embarrassed to ask Scott, so I pulled it out, tied it off, brought it home and hung it upside down in my closet to dry. Then I pressed it in my scrapbook next to my autographed photo of Doug Henning. But because I’m into telling the truth, I left it in the corner of the bathtub and never said a word about it.
I went home the following morning and later that day Scott called. We decided to be mature, de-virginized adults and avoid the elephant in the room. Instead we planned our next rendezvous. Why can’t innocence like that last forever.

On the road again... geographically & professionally

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I was a white girl in a white jacket on the E train to Queens. I was going to catch the Air Train to JFK. Just once I’d like to get on the subway and not see a hot steamy pile of throw up on the floor, and have to shuffle off to Buffalo to avoid stepping in it. Now I’m on the plane headed to Oakland, California to visit my friend. I’m flying JetBlue and I’m about to start my fourth hour of
Law & Order: SVU. Life is good.

A few weeks ago I started teaching Pilates... It’s crazy because I don’t know what I’m doing. I started training in October, and I hear myself explaining and instructing but I have no idea if I’m making it up or not. Why do people assume that I know more than I do? I don’t. Trust me. I’m teaching both at a studio in Brooklyn as well as a gym on the upper east side.

I gave one client a private session in her upper west side apartment last week because she said she had her own reformer (Pilates piece of equipment). The reformer was from 1994, and she bought it off of the TV. It looked like a Medieval torture machine; metal against metal, frayed and knotted ropes and a foot bar that was a steel pipe. Oh, goody. When she pulled it out, the look on my face said it all. It was a piece of shit and I didn’t want to work on it.

When she asked me what I thought. I said that her reformer was like the Bronx and the ones that I work on in the studio are like Aruba. What? It just came out. I didn’t even know this woman and here I am talking to her like she was my best friend. She said, “Well, the Bronx isn’t so bad.” I choked on the foot that was lodged in my throat. “Oh, no, yeah, right. I know. My family is from the Bronx.” What a great first impression. I see a bright future ahead.
And the insults continue.

I called another client a load, indirectly of course, while she was laying down on the reformer. I was explaining the springs on the machine, in relation to their resistance, and said, “This is a load.” I was referring to the machine not her. Of course she HAD to be a wee overweight. As it was coming out of my mouth I knew I was going to have to tap dance my way out of it. But the more I talked, the more I sounded like an idiot. I eventually dropped it.

During the session, I said something (one sentence max) in a British accent, just for fun. Sometimes I forget where I am or what I’m doing and act too familiar too soon. We chatted after the session and she said, “You know what it’s like to be creative, being an actress and all.” Huh? How the hell did she know? For a split second I felt like a celebrity. I was sure, or rather hoped, that she’d seen my short film online or my 30 seconds of air time on the Sci-Fi pilot, UFO Hunters. “How did you know that I was a ‘performer’. I still can’t own the title Actor. She said,”Because you did a British accent.” Not for nothing but can’t everyone do a British accent? Whatev.

Another client was a sweet 71 year old woman. I am in no position to work on an overweight, (larger than the load lady) 71 year old. Who the hell do I think I am. I was scared. I stood by the reformer and held my breath as I watched her crawl onto the machine. I didn’t know if she would fit. I kept thinking, what am I going to say if she doesn’t fit and her thighs and waist are hanging off of the sides of the machine? This wasn’t covered in my classes. But she did fit and every time I gave her words of encouragement, she’d say, “God bless you.” Meanwhile, anytime I did something like drop a strap or miscalculate the amount of springs to use, I was all, “Oh, dear lord”, or “Oh, my God.” It’s not quite taking the lord’s name in vain, like if I’d said, “Jesus fucking Christ”, which I sadly enough I often do, but I still felt like I was dissing her religious beliefs.

I knew it was bound to happen but no one can really prepare you for it. And it’s not something that’s covered in class either. One of my client’s had some kind of hoo-hoo odor going on. The thing is, Pilates includes a lot of laying down, and for some movements, legs are spread eagle. It was a first, and I’m hoping it’ll be the last. Clients are also either barefoot, or wearing socks. I’m seeing some of the gnarliest feet this side of the Mississippi. And ladies, please, if you wear work out pants that show your legs, have some compassion and shave. Save the nature girl routine or the European shit for someone else. I saw a woman in one of the group classes at the studio and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. She had the longest, darkest and fullest armpit hair I had ever seen... and that includes the chimps in the zoo. And while we’re on the subject. I’d prefer it if women spot check before they come see me and pluck that one stray black chin hair... or put it in a scrunchy. I don’t need to be training Foo Man Chu. How can you not see that?

Not only do I have a fear of hurting someone but what happens if I train a male client and they get hard? I’m not tooting my own horn, it’s just that I touch when I work with a client, and, well, what do I do? Do I ignore the hard on? Do I look at the hard on and chuckle knowingly? Or do I run screaming from the room?

Switching gears... good time for a bathroom break.
It’s almost been a year since I’ve cut my hair. I want to see how long it gets but right now the ends feel like the Scarecrow’s ass. I sit at my desk and cut the split ends when I’m supposed to be writing, or studying and space out. I’m thinking that if I keep it up, I’ll eventually give myself a haircut.

I saw a woman in the subway the other day that was dressed to the nine’s. It was an odd visual. If you can afford a Louis Vuitton bag, a Burberry coat and scarf, Chanel ballet flats, bling bling on your fingers and in your ears, and you’re pregnant, why in the name of all things good and holy, are you taking the subway? I have to, but you. I find it hard to believe that you take the subway because you can’t get enough of the march of the city rats and the sweet aroma of eau de ass.

I went to a party at a restaurant Saturday night and met a couple of women writers. One of the women is a sometime dancer/performer and freelance journalist. How come she gets to have both? Hate her. She’s also a published author. Hate her even more. She wrote a book about relationships. I dislike those advice books. Most of the time the women who write them are either in dysfunctional relationships or not in any relationship at all, and I’m supposed to take their advice? The fact is, nobody knows anything about relationships, the opposite sex or what movies will be a hit at the box office. I told one of the women writers that I was working on a nonfiction humor memoir and she asked me what the title was.

“Right now it’s called, An American Broad, Abroad.” She said she liked it, shaking her bobble head approvingly. Another party guest joined us and the topic of book titles came up and bobble head took it upon herself to blurt out my title as, “A Broad Abroad.”
To which I replied, “No, that’s not it. It’s An American Broad Abroad.
She continued, “Oh, but A Broad Abroad is so much snappier and catchier.”
I sneered at her.
“Okay, whatever. That one works too.”
Who the fuck asked you. Then I made the mistake of asking her if she’d ever been in a book club. I’m always interested to hear how other writer’s work. She literally turned her nose up and rolled her eyes.
“Wow, you didn’t have to turn your nose up.”
“Really, I didn’t think I turned my nose up.”
“Well, when you’re head tilts back and I can see your brain through your nostrils, I’m kind of thinking that your nose is turned up.”
The conversation, if you can call it that, ended with an annoying giggle. Hers, not mine.
Six straight hours of SVU. Not a record but respectable.

Another actor sighting, another asinine encounter averted

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A dear friend of mine told me that by blogging, I had found my forum. If I had a dollar every time I heard that one. She said this to me after reading my first installment, where I attend a party and embarrassment quickly ensues. I whined back, “Oh, great, now I have to leave my apartment to have something to write about.” To which she replied, “Not necessarily.” 

I thought about it and tried to come up with something that I could write about that didn’t entail having to leave my apartment (I don’t need that kind of pressure) or rather, not going to an event, or partaking in some grand activity.

A few minutes later, I wrote her back. “Oh, you mean I could write about how I've spent the last three hours (and two hours last night) scheduling my new Pilates clients into three different calendars, and two different address books?! Can you say OC-fucking D! Or maybe you're referring to the hissy fit that I almost pitched at Chase Bank today because I wasn't getting my way, so I kicked the door like a fucking two year old on my way out. You mean that kind of stuff?”

That being said, I had to leave my apartment yesterday, and I ran into yet another actor while waiting for the Q train, bound for Brooklyn, where I’m currently teacher training for Pilates certification. This is coming off the heels of my embarrassing encounter with the SVU actor. 

Tony Plana, from Ugly Betty, was pacing the subway platform. I was this close to walking up to him, introducing myself, and what? Regaling him with my adorable tale of how I know him? Well, yes, because this sort of thing puffs me up and gently strokes my ego. Hey, look at me, I know famous people?

Instead, I showed restraint and let him pass me by. Just for shits and giggles, let’s pretend I did accost Tony Plana. This is how I imagine the exchange would’ve gone down.

I walked up to Tony Plana and asked him if he was Tony Plana (knowing full well that he was) but I think this approach is less ‘stalky-like’. He said that he was Tony, and I was off. I told him that almost 15 years ago, I worked for a manager in Los Angeles, at an agency that represented him. He asked me who the manager was and when I told him, he smiled knowingly. But before he could say anything, I continued my introduction by telling him that four years ago, I worked for the same manager, at a different company, that currently represents him. I told him it was the last job I had in Los Angeles, before I moved. 

“I know. I couldn’t believe it either. After 20 years in the business, I was answering phones again. I spoke to you and your wife many times.”

He didn’t seem to remember but smiled nonetheless. I continued.
“Yeah, you’d think I would’ve climbed a little farther up the food chain in all of those years, but instead I was calling you with audition times and emailing you your sides. Oh, and sometimes I replenished your headshots in the files, after stapling them to your resumes of course.”

His face took on a, “That’s pathetic” grimace. Of course I could’ve been imagining it. “That job, well, let’s just say that a monkey from one of the shows on The Animal Planet could’ve done it. Blindfolded. But what are you going to do? I was between jobs and Robert offered me the position, so I really had no choice. Oh, and don’t get me started on the pittance that they paid me. I rollerbladed or biked to work, to save on gas money.”

Tony shuffled his feet, trying to end the conversation. I think I was making him nervous.

“Well, I just wanted to say hi and to congratulate you on the success of the show. It’s fun to see people from the old days making it. Hey, you know I grew up with one of your co-stars, Vanessa Williams. Is she down here with you? I’d love to say hello.”

Perfectly Reasonable

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here’s some backstory so the following tale will make sense. Hopefully.

I moved back to New York three years ago from L.A., via Prague (whole other story-stay tuned) moved into a building along the Hudson River, befriended a guy who I met in the elevator on my first night in the building, who then promptly set me up with his friend a month later. 

I dated his friend, who I will now refer to as the man, for over a year and a half. It then took us another 10 months to officially break up. I was (and still might be) in love with the man. Ours was a passionate, loving and in the end, highly charged and loaded relationship. I had never felt this way about anyone. Tragic. Oh, so terribly tragic.

(The why’s and the how’s will follow in the coming months) Since we stopped seeing one another, he has never left my mind nor my heart. And even though, according to family and friends, I should be over him, I’m clearly not.
See below.

I emailed my friend last night (the one from above backstory) about having a Match.com session at his place. This consists of sitting in front of his computer with a bottle of wine, searching for someone that we BOTH like for him to date. And when we do find someone, I help him write funny-ass emails; the likes of which are Nobel worthy, if I do say so myself. It’s a lot easier to take chances when you don’t care if the person responds or not. They’re sarcastic, off the cuff, and pretty out there. I’m not sure if my friend shares my philosophy but he keeps letting me browse with him. 

These days, sadly enough, Match.com, is my prized entertainment. The emails usually illicit crazy, gutturul fits of laughter, that either has me running to the bathroom so I don’t pee my pants or an abdominal work out that rivals any at the gym. Or both.

But on this particular night, my friend couldn't play in the reindeer games because he was going out with the boys. I know the boys could mean any number of boys but I was convinced that one of the boys had to be the man. Oh, crap. Does this mean he’s in the building? In my presence, figuratively speaking. I reeled for a moment or two and in that moment.

I visited jealousy. Was he going to talk to strange women when the boys went out? Was he going to get someone’s number? Envy. I wish I had ‘girls’ to go out with. How come I don’t know enough girls to have a girls night out? And a whole host of other, borderline pyschotic, feelings. So what do I, the supposed grown up, do? I did what any self respecting grown-up woman would do.

I got dressed (it was nine o’clock and I was already in my jammies) and went looking for the boys. I put on lipstick, and gloss, and decided that now was a perfect time to go to the corner drugstore (what am I in Mayberry) to pick up the rest of my meds (shocking I take meds) I’m such a cliche. Meds are so 2001 but whatever. 

I was hoping, of course, that I'd run into the man and yet, I was petrified of the idea. Did I really want to run into him? After all this time, I still don’t think I’d know what to say. Even in my pretend encounters I have with him in my head, I get tongue tied. There was definitely a push-pull thing happening. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but my body was victorious and it pushed me out the door. Oh, and I also put on my super cute jeans and slutty boots, because if I did run into the man, I didn’t want to be in sneakers. They’re too daytime and casual and I wanted to look like I was going ‘out’ and all sexy like. The boots look better with the jeans anyway.

From the time I stepped into the elevator, to the time I reached CVS, my eyes were in constant motion. Looking, seeking, darting, roving. Nothing. I walked into CVS and the pharmacy was closed. Am I in New York or podunk bumfunk?! What’s the point in living in the city that never sleeps if the pharmacy sleeps. Great. Thanks a lot CVS.

I wasn’t ready to go back home, because it was early and there was still a chance that I’d run into the boys. I decided that it was imperative that I go to the food store, a block away from CVS, to get my desperately needed bag of organic raw sugar (I forgot to pick it up when I was at Fairway yesterday) I knew putting it on my list was futile because I'd actually have to look at the list and I never do.

Food Emporium, the dirty hell hole that it is, didn't have my brand. I left dirty little Food Emporium, dejected and well, feeling dirty. I swear, there’s something about that store that makes you want to shower and shed a layer of skin.

On my walk back home, twice my heart nearly leapt into my throat when I thought I saw the man. It’s a good thing I’m over the man eh. I walked slowly, lingering really, thinking that maybe... I didn’t want to look like I was just strolling aimlessly on a Tuesday night (like I was looking for them) just in case I did run into them, so I played with my cell phone, appearing to be engrossed in a very important task. 

While I was at CVS, Verizon was kind enough to text me that I was at 80% capacity in my text inbox. Ironic, no? Perfect. As I walked, I deleted. Now I looked busy and with purpose.

When I got back to the building, I took stock at my behavior and well, I’d like to say that I was embarrassed and went right upstairs. But I can’t. I made a pit stop in the mailroom. What was I expecting to find? What? If the boys were in fact in the building, my friend is going to say to the man, “Hey, dude, I know it’s 9:30p and the bars and women are waiting, but can I get my mail first?” I went into the mailroom and got my mail anyway.

I thought about it, and I was this close to doing it, but I stopped short at going down to the garage to see if I saw the man’s car. That's progress, isn’t it? And then, and only then, did I make my way back upstairs to my apartment, where I took off my slutty boots, super cute jeans, put my jammies back on and did Sudoku before falling asleep.

Another night, Another Embarrassing Moment

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I went to the Woman's Day, Red Dress Awards last night. An award show thingy to celebrate the people behind women's heart health and the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. And yes, Mr. King was there. So was his brother. It also kicked off fashion week. Whatev. A friend of mine produced the show and invited me, thinking that it would be fun. I brought my friend Joelle. And no, I didn't have a red dress to wear, like the majority of the women attending. Why? Because I refuse to go shopping. Refuse to spend money. And prefer to live in my jeans and work out clothes only to curse the day, myself, and my mother (just cuz) every time I have to actually 'get dressed' and don't have a good goddam thing to wear, which ultimately leaves me feeling like a failure, loser and naked.
Okay, so after listening to Robin Thicke, who someone in the biz called, “the soul-fullest white man in music”, Joan Osbourne and Solnage Knowles (Beyonce's little sister try to sing, and let me just say that at 22 years old, that girl should not have bags under eyes the size of Cleveland, Joelle and I hit the after party reception.
I had a couple of glasses of a champagne and rasberry cocktail and scarfed down a couple of cute, and heart healthy, mini turkey burgers. It had been a while since I ate anything substantial and those mini buns weren't going to soak up anything but the extra saliva in my mouth, so the cocktails went straight to my head. That's when it happened.
I saw an actor, that no one would've recognized but me, from an episode of Law& Order SVU, heading for the cupcake table where I happened to be standing. And then, without thinking, but knowing that the next few minutes were going to end up in a story, I went in. The following is the 5 minute or less exchange.
(literally grabbing his arm) Did you do an episode of SVU?
Dani hates playing the dumb blond. Of course she knows he was on the episode. Why else would she now be making an ass of herself?
ACTOR (smiling)
You were so good in that episode.
Thank you.
It's my favorite show. And that episode was particularly great. I’ve seen them all, so I know.
Champagne really kicking in, accompanied by the all too embarrassing red cheeks.
Thank you. What's your name?
I’m Jack. Nice to meet you.
Nice meeting you. Have you done another SVU?
Again, Dani knows for a fact that he hasn’t, and she presses on.
ME (cont’d)
I love how they keep rotating all of the same actors from the Law and Orders. It's like a theater repertory company.
Yeah, it's like the triumvirate. I've done the...
Dani spaces out because she can't believe that she's acting like a deranged Jonas Brothers fan.
I don't even watch the other ones. Only SVU. I'm a purist.
It's been two years, so I'm due for another one.
Do you want me to make a phone call? Who should I call?
Jack smiles nervously.
Yeah, well, it's such a great show. She's great. He's great.
And the writing's so good.
Jack nods.
And I love when they put some funny in.
Jack nods a little less enthusiastically.
(laughing to herself)
Yeah, I have this whole thing with Christopher Meloni.
We have so many connections, a two degree thing... we know a lot of the same people (trailing off).. Oh, my god, I sound like a stalker.
Well, thank you so much.
Yeah, no problem. Again, you're really good.
Oh, boy do I wish I could black that out. I know. You don't have to say it. I should be locked up and the key melted!
It could've been a lot worse. I could've approached the actress, Linda Dano (who I'm sure no one recognized but me) from the soap opera Another World, who was also in attendance, and told her that I met her when I was an intern at the show, in Brooklyn, in 1987. God knows where that conversation would've gone.