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Things That Will Happen the Day After You Wreck Your Back in the Gym*

*During a warm-up set with embarrassingly light weights

— You will convince yourself that lying flat and motionless on your floor is basically like a prolonged audition for playing a corpse on Law & Order. (Casting Agents: CALL ME.)

— When your left leg goes completely numb and you drape it over your right leg, it will feel like you’re spooning with an incapacitated stranger. ROMANCE!

— When your chiropractor works you in without an appointment, you will blurt out that you think he’s People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

— You will dread seeing said chiropractor because you have called him People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

— You will lie motionless and wonder which hot dead guy forced People Magazine to limit their competition to living men. 

— You will start trying to match yourself with sturdy looking guys on Tinder, just because you need someone to pick you up and put you on the sofa.

— You will learn the difficulty of eating Lucky Charms while lying prone on the carpet. It didn’t seem this hard the last time you were hungover.

— You will attempt to drag yourself to your desk to clear your Internet history, just in case you choke to death on a marshmallow rainbow.

— You will lose perspective and get way melodramatic in less than an hour. “Well, now I understand Christina’s World” is a real thing you will say.

— If your role as SVU Corpse is Emmy-nominated, you will promise to take your chiropractor as your date.

— You will start mentally designing a line of ThermaCare based lingerie for the afterparty.

— You will write lists like this.

"air and light and time and space"

"—-you know, I’ve either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light
for the first time in my life I’m going to have a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your
body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

—Charles Bukowski

The Jazz Butcher’s album Fishcotheque was released in 1988. It’s a record that I have owned in three different formats (vinyl, CD and MP3) and one that I’ve played roughly a billion times. Ten minutes ago, I finally realized that the title is a play on lead singer Pat Fish’s name. This makes me feel both super smart and ridiculously, ridiculously stupid.


So the other night I was at the gym, staring at my watch and hoping that in the next twenty seconds I’d be able to remember whether I’d already done four sets or only three. Before my Timex bleeped to tell me that it was time to pick the bar up again, a pair of twentysomething girls came up the stairs and crossed the room. They might’ve been two or three Chuck Taylor-lengths past me when one of them sort of tosses her head in my direction and says “Yeah, I do not want to look like that.” 

To borrow a line from Mike Birbiglia, what I should’ve said was nothing. What I actually said was “I don’t want to look like me either. That’s why I’m here every day.” Both of them stared at me with their oversized anime eyes, their jaws silently dropping past the hems of their capri pants. There wasn’t really anything else to say, so I went back to my now-overdue deadlifts and they scurried off to the corner to start doing something with one of those exercise balls, the kind the copywriter in your office uses as a desk chair.

But when I was walking home with storm clouds gathering in the back of my throat, I thought of all the other things that I wanted to say. You don’t want to look like me? Fine. You’re probably not going to, because I get the feeling that we have totally different goals. And somewhere between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street, I realized that my goals have nothing to do with the way I look, for good or bad. I like being strong, stronger than I’ve been in my entire life. I like feeling capable, I like lifting a little more weight than I did six months ago or six weeks ago or even six days ago. And I like the confidence that comes with that, the kind of confidence that doesn’t always show up if you spend your time measuring your progress against your own reflection. Or against a total stranger who’s sweating through her threadbare Huey Lewis tour shirt. 

I’d also tell her that maybe she should set, like, a more concrete goal. How hard do you have to work to NOT be something? I mean, sure, I’m not exactly sending love letters to either one of my legs but saying “I don’t want them to look like that” isn’t going to get me as far as “I want to squat 100KG by the end of the year.” (Although those of you who’ve seen my squat know that brilliant idea probably won’t get me anything other than a day trip to Disappointment either. BUT STILL!)

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just tired or maybe I’m overanalyzing or maybe it’s an assortment of things. Or maybe I just need a new desk chair.

Action Verbs

I’d just gotten off the J Train and was heading to the boxing gym when the dad and daughter in front of me stopped suddenly. He dropped her hand—she was probably 7 or 8, but I’m terrible at judging these things so she might’ve been 40—turned to face the Greek-lite Chambers Street station and said “Let’s selfie!” 

I’m not gonna lie, his enthusiasm and her willingness to go along with it were both adorable. Being sentimental is rarely my default setting, so I’m always totally surprised by it. I immediately shrugged my backpack higher on my shoulders and walked faster toward the crosswalk, thinking about nothing but ducking and swerving and keeping my elbows tight. 

But I did look back, just once, in time to see him pocket his phone and take her hand again. And that was pretty goddamn cute. 

Knockout Stage

I was just staring—unashamed, wide eyed, open mouthed staring—at an insanely good looking guy, one with a sharp suit, sharper cheekbones and the kind of shoulders that never let his shirtsleeves catch their breath. “This soccer cup just started,” I heard him say to his friend. “And I’m already friggin’ sick of it.”

He doesn’t know it, but we broke up about twenty seconds ago.

A small child just stopped in front of me on the sidewalk, pointed what I’m assuming was her magic wand at me and said “You can’t go to the ball looking like THAT!” 

Brooklyn is HARSH, you guys. And, to make it a billion times worse, I wasn’t even invited to the ball.

A small child just stopped in front of me on the sidewalk, pointed what I’m assuming was her magic wand at me and said “You can’t go to the ball looking like THAT!”

Brooklyn is HARSH, you guys. And, to make it a billion times worse, I wasn’t even invited to the ball.