Deep Breath In…now hold it until you find sensible workout clothes!


Early yesterday morning I was extolling the virtues of yoga for back care to a friend, and the conversation goosed me to do what I’ve been putting off for a year, buying new workout clothes.  Should be easy, no? Everywhere you look are women wearing yoga pants and capris, with oh so cute little bondage straps–err, sports bras.

I’m picky.  Yoga gear should be form fitting enough that you can easily check your alignment, and not have everything rolling up, rolling down, and twisting under you.  You should be able to move freely in whatever you’re wearing.   I had looked online last week.  Good grief, $100 for a pair of yoga pants?  By the time $60 began to look reasonable, I knew it was time to step away from the laptop.  And so I went to the local discount sporting goods store, where I was sucked into the vortex of fluorescent pink sports bras with perfectly coordinated checkered capris.  A mere $75 for an outfit.  No. Went home, went back online, found some things that were more reasonably priced, and purchased nothing.  Better prices aren’t really better if I can’t tell exactly how something is going to fit, if it will actually be comfortable to move in but discreet enough to throw a long t-shirt on top and run the girl to school.

Yeah, I’ve seen some of those inexpensive pieces in person, and they’re barely opaque enough to qualify as tights.  And the rest–including some of the very priciest ones–seem to be manufactured and promoted by the same sadists who came up with Spanx.  How the fuck am I supposed to execute a smooth downward facing dog if I’m busy trying to force air into my lungs?  Now I’m sure the idea is to hold in and hide all the rumply bits you’re trying to smooth away with exercise, but they seem to have forgotten one thing.  That excess of skin/cellulite/*gasp*/flab?  It doesn’t actually disappear with the bondage gear, just gets pushed up over the waistband and down under the rib band.  Thanks, I feel so attractive.

And ah, the sports bras. I get it, if your workout is high impact, you might want something with more hold. But for yoga?  With the way most of these things are structured, I expect mammogram results to pop out when I take them off.  And why is the choice that either they come with pads thick and durable enough to walk by themselves or no room in the design for nipples, let alone breasts?

When, exactly, did workout clothes become yet another haute couture arena?  This may be sacrilegious to say in 2016, but as long as it’s reasonable enough to get on and off the subway in, I don’t care what this stuff looks like.  I don’t care if the sports bra matches the t-shirt matches the shorts.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I worked out in a gym, or a class, and was being seen by others.  Actually, this likely contributes to why I prefer to stick to the privacy of my living room.  If you’re headed to an appointment, or date, or work, after you work out, go ahead and live a little by getting dressed in real clothes.  They don’t have to be fancy, just yanno, clean–something you haven’t spent an hour sweating in.

So yes, I went shopping in one of the basic discount stores yesterday, determined to be successful.  If I don’t care about the fashion statement, how hard could it be? First off, I thought it was the perfect time of year to replace my workout shorts (I like to wear shorts for yoga in the hot weather, sue me).  There were indeed two racks of shorts in the clearance racks of the “athleisure” department.  Are you freaking kidding me? Lycra microshorts.  Just right for the woman who wants her already sagging butt cheeks to fall out during child’s pose.  Fine, forget the shorts.  I grabbed every sports bra, yoga pant, and capri that I could find that looked like it might fit, didn’t feel like it was made from that magical duck tape/spandex blend, was under $20 and headed to the dressing room.

I could have skipped the early morning yoga session, because just trying all this crap on certainly counted as a workout.  Mrs Fringe is not a large woman.  That said, as a woman-of-a-certain-age, I’m not as small as I used to be.  These things are obviously all designed for the prepubescent among us.  In real clothes, I wear a size 6 or 4, depending on the cut and the “designer,” usually need a petite (except in pants, my legs are oddly long for a short woman), and I needed– needed–mediums in this stuff.  What the fuck?  What about women who are truly curvy?  Or, god forbid, a bit more than full figured?  Are they banished to the dismal plus-sized rack at the back because they wear a size 12 (which doesn’t necessarily mean more than full figured)? When I came home I saw the brouhaha online about a well endowed teacher in a dress that covered her completely but was, ahem, form fitting.  I wouldn’t wear it, but I like things that are roomy.  Not sack cloth and ashes, but what I consider breathable. Appropriate for work? I don’t know, but I know for sure that is a woman who would be hard pressed to find something off the rack that fit her without being either tight or tent like.

Wikipedia tells me the goal of yoga is moksha–liberation.  Looking at the western yogi-gear offerings, I suspect something has been lost in translation.  If you’re wondering, I did wear my new gear this morning and got on the train wearing my new (see above photo) slightly baggy olive-green capris, crayola-box purple sports bra, and big ocean-blue long sleeved t-shirt. I left the falsies behind.

Halloween decor?

Halloween decor?

I Bow to You

Beginning yoga, take #432--feel free to chant along.

Beginning yoga, take #432–feel free to chant along.

I first learned about yoga when I was 11 or 12 years old.  It was a book I found in the school library, small and yellowed, shoved to the back of one of the shelves.  I don’t know what I was supposed to be searching for but I’m sure that wasn’t it. Still, being the pretentious little shit that I was, I had to borrow it once I saw the distaste on the school librarian’s face.  Or maybe it had nothing to do with the librarian or pretentiousness, maybe it was the fact that in the middle of these pages filled with sketches of purposefully twisted bodies, I saw an unveiled reference to masturbation.  C’mon, it was junior high during the year of the flood–certainly this was a book that would take me out of the armpit of Brooklyn.

My parents were no more pleased to see me with this book than the librarian had been.  They were certain it would lead straight to a love-in loving cult, tabs of acid (LSD) jumping from the pages to my tongue. Strict in so many ways, but monitoring my reading material wasn’t one of them.  Naturally this prompted in depth study and practice, and several renewals. I’ll tell you the truth, I loved it.  The meditation, mindful breathing, the light in me recognizes the light in you, mention of the “Divine Spark,” all of this with the magnificent ways I could contort my body, I found… something.  Thinking about it, I felt a similar this-is-right-for-me connection when I began blogging.

The first night of trying different poses in my room I saw a page illustrating the crow pose, and I was determined.  Umm, you’re upside down, like you’re going to do a handstand, only you balance your knees on your elbows.  Sort of, it’s been a long time, so don’t take my word as directions.  My room was tiny, and just typing the words makes my knees and elbows chafe with the imprint of the royal blue shag rug, forehead thwoked into the wooden edge of my cot-sized captain’s bed. The first time I saw a yoga mat I thought the angels were singing.  Freaking brilliant!  Took me three days, but then I did it, the crow pose. Surely this meant I had attained enlightenment.  Really, what I wish is that I had known people could train and become paid yoga teachers. Of course there were already yoga centers in the US, but not in the land of Saturday Night Fever, and I didn’t know about them.

I can’t say I stuck with it, but I have always returned to it. Never considered myself a yogi, and never had the budget or the confidence to take an official class.  All at home, just me and the sketches/videos/dvds/youtube.  Assorted dogs and babies climbing on me while I practiced through quite a few of those years, and a few years worth of beautiful mornings with Man Child doing it with me. The last several years though, different. Increasing problems with my back have limited the poses and how I do them.

Strap and block, felt like defeat.

Strap and block, felt like defeat.

And then last year I really gave up.  I’ve been in better or worse shape at different times of my life, but I had never been this limited in my movements.  If you can’t get yourself into a decent downward facing dog, what’s the point?  More than the point was the embarrassment of what I could no longer do.  Does it make sense to be embarrassed in the privacy of my living room when everyone else is asleep? Of course not, but there you have it, Fringeland. Along comes this winter, and my smack down from icy city streets resulting in assorted fractures.  And then PT.  I’m lucky, I was assigned the nicest, most supportive physical therapist I can imagine.  Until this past few weeks, the exercises were all so small I felt like there was something wrong with the whole scenario.  Despite these little baby exercises I was mocking myself for, it was hard.  Surprise, Mrs Fringe, a pelvis with multiple fractures fucks you up.

Even though they felt hard, and I hadn’t worked out in a year, none of those initial exercises actually got me stretched to where I felt muscles stretching.  Second surprise, those little make fun of myself for doing them exercises?  They weren’t nothing. They made a difference, and my body wants more.  Yoga sense memory, maybe. By the end of last week it finally clicked.  I can go back to yoga.  Not just my body, my head wants it.  Maybe not all the same sequences I practiced a few years ago, but sticking to the small workouts assigned by the PT has allowed me to regain strength and some of the flexibility I thought was permanently lost.  OK, it’s unlikely I’ll ever do a pigeon pose again, but we all know how much I hate pigeons anyway.

So, along with my new ankle weights and resistance bands, I’ve broken out the strap and block I bought over a year ago.  I even broke down and bought a thicker yoga mat, which is making a huge difference.  I was right, when I brought that book home eleventy thousand years ago, and chanted my very first om. I found something, and I can still find it.

Never got the hang of sequencing to appropriate yoga music with soothing water sounds and inspirational flutes, but old school rock takes me right there.


Think I can trademark the name and be the new Jane Fonda? Jillian Michaels? No?  How about Richard Simmons?

The point being I am still unable (will never be able?) to go back to my old yoga routine, or walk the same distances I was–until recently–able to walk.  Oh, my back, she is old.  But I needed to do something to get myself moving.  I wouldn’t mind the weight gain if it hadn’t cut my wardrobe down from small to pitiful.  And I still wouldn’t mind so much if it weren’t for my head.  You know, the old advice about exercise releasing endorphins and being good for mood.  For me it’s true, and I really, really needed to do something to work off some of the pissy factor.  I found a yoga DVD specifically for back care.  The workout is short, the poses are gentle, and they aren’t held for the usual amount of time.  Bonus, it’s led by Rodney Yee, and I find his voice soothing.

Did I mention the chair?

Did I mention the chair?

Yes, it uses props, which I’ve never used before.  A chair and a strap.  Part of me feels like I’m cheating, and part of me is just grateful to have found a way to get back to a regular yoga routine.  I don’t think this is doing a damn thing to whittle down the thickened waistline, but it is helping my head.  This and some additional meditation exercises, I’ll be singing in no time (sorry, world).  Pissercize, for the bitchy among us.

It’s helping enough so I went for my annual haircut this morning.  Not only got my hair cut, but made the appointment in advance, so I was able to see the hairstylist who works magic with my mop, no easy feat.

Thank you, Frank!

Thank you, Frank!


An added plus–he’s fun, my age group, and very politely didn’t mention that the top of my skirt doesn’t actually close anymore.  Maybe he didn’t notice, I kept my shirt untucked and over the waistband.  It’s possible.

Still trying to figure out getting the work done on the new apartment.  The price quotes we’ve received so far are literally exorbitant. The work that needs to be done on the walls is more than I can do, but I swear we’re talking about some plaster work to repair cracks/holes, and painting.  No structural renovations.  Thinking about the discussion re Brooklyn roots and Barbra Streisand’s new album as my hair was tamed, I’ve come to the realization that what/who I need is Dolly.  As in, Hello.



Rough Waters

Waterfall near Eyvindarmul

Waterfall near Eyvindarmul (Photo credit: martin_vmorris)

Wow.  This has been a great stretch for Flower Child, which is awesome.  Unfortunately, not a great stretch for me.  Truly, if it’s not one thing it’s another.

I was doing well, working that yoga routine every day.  But exercise is a funny thing, kind of addictive.  The more you do, the more you want to do.  So I added some aerobics to the yoga.  A little step, a little boxing.  I love the boxing,  you really feel the work out, and it makes me feel powerful.  Just in case you’re starting to be impressed, don’t be.  This is all done with the Wii Fit, no real gyms, yogis, or boxing gloves involved.

Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo França...

Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo Français : Gants de boxe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First day, second day, third day, great.  Oh, that fourth day, the one where you’re feeling cocky, “I can do this, I will do this, I am what-the-heck-was-that!” Ok, pulled something in my back.  Not good, but not terrible, take a couple of days off from the yoga and aerobics, no problem.  And it was going that way.  By early yesterday I was feeling improvement.  But.  Then I did something.  Like stood up.  Or turned.  Or breathed.

And triggered an unwanted acquaintance. This isn’t a pulled, sore muscle, this is fire and ice nerve pain that runs from my neck to my foot, it hurts to sit, stand, or lie down.  Walking is a lot of fun.  Every so often I’ll step down to feel like someone just plugged me into a wet socket. Whee!  This morning, I actually called a physiatrist I’ve seen in the past.  In keeping with the frozen white waters I’ve been skidding along, she had a personal emergency, no appointments until next Monday.

This morning I was limping behind the beasts when a car stopped at a light right next to us.  A perfectly respectable looking woman discreetly made up and salon perfect hair dye, I’m guessing in her mid fifties, sitting in her silver Volvo.  With Tom Petty blasting through the cracked back passenger window.  Yes.  A perfect moment, perfect song while I tried to figure out how to balance myself so I didn’t fall over while picking up the poop.

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You Talkin’ To Me?

Put up yer dukes!

Put up yer dukes! (Photo credit: sirenbrian)

It seems like most everyone I know and see is either on edge, depressed, or downright cranky.  Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the beginning of Lent and people are adjusting to the lack of whatever they’ve given up, maybe it’s just me, like channeling like and all that.

For all the bad rap New York has had over the years, it’s a pretty civil town.  I rarely see fights or arguments among the over 16 crowd–excluding drunken slurs.

Yesterday I saw three.  One on my way to the subway, after dropping off Flower Child.  One man was standing with his kiddo, yelling and cursing at a woman trying to catch a cab with her kiddo.  Then, as I was getting on the train, another woman getting off the train was loudly berating a man standing by the doors for not getting out of the way quickly enough.  Then in the afternoon, two men were all in each other’s faces.  These weren’t young men or kids, these were two grown-ass men on a block filled with multi-million dollar brownstones, standing in front of a fancy juice bar getting up in arms about who pushed into who as they rushed down the street.

Is it something in the air?

Smog Over Louisville And Ohio River, September...

Smog Over Louisville And Ohio River, September 1972 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

I went about my day, yoga, grocery shopping, picked up a bottle of wine and cooked.  Husband got home early, Fatigue came over for Friday Night Madness, and we had dinner.  Afterwards, Fatigue and I went out for coffee, chatted about budgets, dreams, and blues, and then each went home to walk our respective beasts.

On my way back into the building with the dogs, I noticed a guy a little bit behind me, also seemed to be on his way in.  I held the door, and then he lagged, so I let go.  Sometimes people don’t like to be that close to the dogs, sometimes someone wants to finish a conversation on their cell before entering the building, sometimes they aren’t actually coming inside at all, just waiting to meet someone.  Whatever.

Now I’m waiting for the elevator, the same guy walks over, maybe 8 feet away from me, and he’s talking.  I assume he’s talking on the phone.  I give a half nod, turn back to watching the elevator numbers decrease.  Then I realize he’s (now? the whole time?) talking to me.

“Don’t pretend to hold the door, lady.  If you don’t want to hold it, fine, but if you’re holding it, hold it, don’t pretend.  I don’t need that shit.”  His tone is completely conversational.  And then he keeps rambling.


For the record, we’re talking about a very flimsy door, one of those little plastic and aluminum things that are put up in front of buildings and stores in NY in the winter to block some wind, try to save on heating costs.  This is a healthy looking guy, certainly younger than me.  I might even go so far as to think of him as a strapping young man.  Ooookay.  But I know not all disabilities are visible, who knows what story someone has?

At this point I’m not even annoyed, just mildly amused at finding myself in this bizarro moment. I’m not looking for a fight, I recognize his face as someone I run into every so often, not a big deal.  I say something mildly neutral and conciliatory along the lines of, “hey, sorry, thought you were behind me.”

I expect this to end there.  Nope.  He keeps going, and is getting louder.  Now it’s taking more to hold my beasts, because Big Senile Dog is still alert enough to get testy if he perceives a threat.  My patience, and my sense of humor, are finished.

I’d like to tell you I was calm and mature to the end.  When he started cursing me, I had enough.  One clear “fuck you” from the frayed tips of my Brooklyn roots.  Calm but not mature.  Maybe this means the yoga is starting to have an effect.

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