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Five in Five

Butt Hurt: Tuesday, February 28

Gack! Here I’d hauled my cookies downtown and raced breathlessly into the lobby, readying myself for a much-needed yoga class, only to be greeted by a sign on the counter announcing a class cancellation. 

What made it worse was that I’d known the teacher couldn’t find a sub and there would be no class, but I’d totally forgotten — my brain full of Jessie Diggins, what to pack for 57-degree temperatures in Tennessee, grading drafts of research papers, and wondering why the city doesn’t crack down on off-leash dogs. 

Well, as long as I was ready to work out, I figured I might as well get return for effort and head upstairs to the Boot Camp class due to start in ten minutes. 

The Boot Camp class I hadn’t attended in more than a year.

The one that leaves me unable to climb stairs for three days afterwards unless I moan and pound my quads with every trudging step.

That one.

Fortunately, although the legendary teacher, Anna, mixes up the class regularly, I was still able to hang in there with all the stations ALTHOUGH FINE I WILL ADMIT I CHEATED DURING THE PLANK WALK EACH TIME BECAUSE I CAN ONLY INCH FORWARDS ON MY PALMS AND TOES THIRTY-ONE TIMES BEFORE MY LUNGS ARE IN MY THROAT SO THEN I HAVE TO STOP AND PRAY FOR A BIT TO THE GOD OF FLOORBOARDS.

But other than the plank walk and the open-mouthed scream lap around the track when I was yoked to a hyper-fit dude named Alex as he dragged my dead weight behind him at a speed faster than I’ve ever run before, I handled the hour.


Now it’s today.

The day after Boot Camp.

Friends, my ass is yappin’. 

I cannot sit, stand, squat, bend, lunge, or move a fingernail without oooooohhhhmaaaannnn. The only thing worse than the day after Boot Camp, in fact, is two days after Boot Camp, which means the oy-vey is getting worse by the hour. Do not tap me tomorrow, even lightly like a feather’s breath, or I might punch you by mistake. 

My ass hurt when I awoke and sat at the computer to grade student work; it yelped when I poached my morning egg; it hated me when I crouched next to drawers to paw for clothes; it yoiked when I climbed stairs to a classroom at the college where a candidate for a position in our department was about to present his teaching demonstration.

Seriously, it was noon, yet the crook of my rear felt 28 hours in.

But then. You guys. As I sat in the classroom, waiting to absorb the presentation of a guy who really wants a job, my glutes relaxed — perhaps to balance out the wild racing of my mind. See, the candidate, before he started explaining how he would teach the concept of “an essay” to developmental students, came around the room and shook everyone’s hand. When he got to me, I said my name, but even as I spoke, he was nodding and waiting, a comment prepared.

“Oh, I know you, Jocelyn. You were my teacher in 1997 at Riverland Community College; we read Memoirs of a Geisha…” — my Novels class! — “…and I still remember the attendance policy on your syllabus told us we could never miss a class for a Beavis & Butthead marathon, but it would be okay to miss if it was for a Ren & Stimpy marathon.”

How could an ass not go soft in the midst of such an unexpected, strangely delightful moment? How could a butt wallow in pain when an English teacher stood in front of an English teacher and connected their dots? Sitting there, shaking this guy’s hand, feeling life inchworm — tail end squinching up to meet the head — my below cheeks went slack as my facial cheeks flushed red. I wasn’t embarrassed, but something about a forgotten past manifesting into a very real present welled up me in a way that made my face red. Maybe it was because my dean and colleagues witnessed the exchange; maybe it was because I’d seen his name announced as a finalist and had a blip of “Do I know that name? Nah.” Maybe it was because his words took me back to a time when I felt more secure in the classroom than I do now, twenty-one years later when my cage has been rattled enough that its bars are less secure.

At any rate, I blushed fully while my tush became mush.

Ahhh, that felt good. For a full half hour as I listened to this fine young teacher explain himself, from the way he teaches essay writing to his personal disclosures about his father’s death, rebelling against his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, finding salvation in the classroom, my rear reveled. When he randomly interjected a quick quip about the way a colleague’s nephews used to call me “Batgirl,” my brain tripped down twelve different paths. At the same time, my hand wrote feedback about the teaching presentation.

And then it was over.

Buttocks re-tautened, I got in the car, left campus, and took myself out for some air at my favorite place to ski. The temperatures were warm, too warm really, but I wanted to unfurl fully into the lovely gift that is two feet of newly fallen snow. 

 

Getting out of the car taxed my ass, as did every two-inch movement necessary to put on boots, hat, coat, gloves, and skis — repeated again fifteen minutes later when I returned to swap out skis, from waxed to waxless, because this was a very clumpy day in the moods of snow.

I wanted to move my body to help the soreness recede for even an hour. I wanted to move my body so my brain could process the emotions of seeing, out of the blue, someone whose life I had impacted when I was 30 and he was 18, someone whose life had gone on to mimic my own. I wanted to move my body because every last thing on the planet feels better when I do. I wanted to move my body because doing so is a gratitude.

Most importantly, I wanted to move my body because I wanted to follow in the steps of someone who affected me during a formative time, wanted to practice the technique of someone whose abilities moved me, wanted to flex my ass in tribute to someone who showed me a new way of being: Johannes Klaebo, that gold-medal Norwegian who takes hills like he’s out for a run with skis on his feet.

My ass is yappin’.

My mind spirals repetitively through memory.

Somehow, the two are linked.


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Five in Five

Five in Five: Thursday, February 8

On the day Allegra and I eyeballed the various exercise stations filling the usually open expanse of the third floor of the Y, it had been months since I’d last attended the Boot Camp class.

Some of the stations looked familiar. Yup, I’d held the ends of the big ropes in my hands before and pounded them for the timed two minutes. Sure, I knew how to do walking lunges with a body bar on my back. Pushing weights across the floor while doing walking plank? Got it. Hate it, but got it.

However, as we reviewed the rest of challenges that had been set up to help us get sweaty, there were a few spots that were new to me, definitely new to Allegra. Looked like we’d be flipping a huge tire, doing some abs somehow related to the Core Pole, possibly carrying heavy weights around the track during a Farmer Walk. Before we had time to figure out the final new station — a line of blue Bosus — the teacher cranked the music and called everyone out onto the track for a skipping, jumping warm-up before we started tackling the stations. 

Shrugging at each other, Allegra and I knew we’d figure out those Bosus when the time came; all we had to do was not start at that station and then watch the first few rounds of Bosu people to see what they did. 

Except, well, each person did something different on the Bosus. Some jumped from Bosu to Bosu; others pulled out fancy footwork, a dizzying flurry of pounding and whacking. By the time we’d worked through a few stations and landed at the Bosus, we still had no idea how we should pass our two minutes of (hypothetical) high-intensity activity. Fortunately, the teacher was nearby, so I called out, “What are we supposed to be doing here exactly?”

Over her shoulder, as she went to adjust the music, she answered, “Hop up on a Bosu and run in place while you do Heinies!”

Heinies?

All right, then. As we each stepped onto a Bosu, I counseled Allegra, “This must be a glutes exercise; I think we’re trying to work our quads as we whack our ‘heinies’ with our feet — or get as close as we can, anyhow.”

For two minutes, we focused on balancing while doing Heinies, trying our best to kick our rear ends, all to the thumpthumpthump of the music.

Eventually, we’d worked through almost all the stations twice. It was only when I was balancing my feet on a big blue ball, pulling my legs in to do a move called a “jacknife,” that I glanced over at the line of Bosus again. As I watched a sweaty guy working himself hard on top of the bouncy surface, I took stock of his movements. He wasn’t very good at Heinies; he wasn’t getting his feet anywhere near his derriere. 

In fact, he was doing the whole move wrong, lifting his legs to ninety degrees in front of his body as he jumped. Yeah, he totally didn’t get Heinies. Poor dude wasn’t going to reap the benefits of his efforts with that kind of form!

All he was doing — silly sod — was running on the Bosu with

high knees.


Typing: 6 minutes + a big break to go take pictures of pack ice at the beach + 3 minutes + a break to make a pot of mint green tea + 12 minutes

Editing: As long as it took me to add more honey to the tea. Kinda bitter. Byron tells me it’s because I steeped for ten minutes (too long for green tea) and used boiling water (no-no for green tea). Then he assured me he still liked it, but in my head I was wishing he’d go do a bunch of Heinies.

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