Friday, March 06, 2009

Pains and waiting for 4:20

10 Push-up and 39 sits ups yesterday = sore muscles today. This is SO not a good sign. As a matter of fact, it’s a very bad sign. I mean, I’m taking my vitamins and EVERYTHING, so I shouldn’t be sore from such a stupidly small amount of actual physical effort, right? I can play racquetball and tennis for an HOUR and not be sore, so why is it that 5 minutes of stupid wuss-ups make it so that I cringe when there’s even a thought of raising my arms above my head?


I did more wuss-ups this morning, just to prove to this body that I’M VERY SERIOUS, which of course might well have something to do with the overall level of ache, but damn. Still. Why can’t the net result of starting a workout program be something more pleasant, like farting rainbows or feeling pleasantly inebriated? This pain thing is rather more of a deterrent to further out-workery than an invitation to do MORE.

However. I am a bull-headed thing when it comes to these matters, and once faced with the REAL AND PAINFUL reminder of how badly off I am in the Phys Ed department, something in my head goes ‘poing!” and that’s all it takes for me to want to beat my body back into shape.

I’ve done this numerous times before. I know how I am.


There’s a woman I work with who has a very curious habit of sniffing me each and every time she sees me. She, apparently, likes my body spray (don’t call it perfume. It’s really meant to de-stink smelly bafrooms, but it’s essential oils and even on the label the manufacturer says it can be used to un-odorize people, so I do), and the variety of smells they convey.

Patchouli is her favorite. As she says, ‘it reminds me of my mara-who-wanna schmoking days.’ It should be noted that my colleague is not a native English speaker, so this is exactly how she pronounced it. Took me a minute to decode…

This sniffing is kind of adorable, I must admit. Certainly it’s nothing threatening, but it does lend an air of interpersonal closeness to a business relationship that I have not heretofore experienced. Being sniffed by an Associate Director while fixing a cup of coffee is one of life’s more unique experiences.


This same patchouli-loving AD also used to work for the same company I did, many moons ago. She was in the U.K. office, I was not. However, she, by dint of the group in which she worked, became very good friends with a woman I knew peripherally. This woman was…noticeable at work because of the manner in which she presented herself.

She’s an artist, you see. As an artist (stuck in a pharmaceutical company – incongruous yes, but one does have to pay the bills somehow), it is incumbent upon you to dress in remarkable ways, such as long velvet dresses with Stevie Nicks hemlines, brick red lipstick, and very long flowing hair. It also helps to smell of Cinnabar and wear something jingly. This was the code of J, who worked that look to within an inch of its life. Everyone, me included, thought she was pretty cool.

I found out just HOW cool, when I gave her some of the Things’ cast-off baby videos in response to an ad she posted on the company intraweb. She wanted some for her daughter (the father of whom was a total mystery to the general populace, but who, as she grew, began to look remarkably like one of the group directors with whom it was known J had had a fling) and because the tapes were just cluttering up my very small home it made sense to turf them to someone who wanted ‘em. I thought that was that – a couple dozen tapes handed over to baby A, and a neater living room – fair deal.

But J wanted to thank us for our generosity, and so offered to take a portrait of the Things at her home. Artist, remember? Who wouldn’t want that done (even though their Dad is a professional photographer, but nevermind)? So on a very hot New England day we trooped down to her charming home, tromped up the steps to her tiny bedroom studio, and sweated our asses off while she adjusted lights and directed shots and such. I don’t remember much about the results of the shoot, but I DO remember that she had decorated her living room with self-portraits.

NUDE self-portraits. Unmistakably self-portraits on an unclothed J, before, during, and after her pregnancy.

Thanks to those pictures, I had a very clear idea of what she looked like under her clothes. This? Made me uncomfortable. Her boobs were perfect as scoops of ice cream, her skin as clear as snow, her glossy hair cascaded over gentle shoulders, framing her face in some shots and caressing her baby daughter’s nursing mouth in others. J was more gorgeous in those photos than she was in person, which was saying a whole hell of a lot. I was instantly horribly jealous of her. I wanted to be her – the mysterious child, the wild outfits, the artist’s circle of friends, the seeming freedom, the pursuit of art even while making a life built on the paycheck of corporate life. In the presence of those pictures I felt blocky, stuffy, large and awkward, clamped tight into a mould I wasn’t made for. Not a good feeling at all.

Years have passed since that ime, and I had pretty much forgotten about J until my new buddy the Sniffer mentioned her as we flipped through a mental catalog of people we might have both known while employed by the Behemoth. It doesn’t surprise me that the Sniffer and J are good friends. They have the same sense of style, some kind of barely-concealed sensuality that leaks out around the edges of the corporate box in which they spend 8 hours a day. Some may scoff at outrageous thigh-high boots worn to the office (scandal!) but I rather like the outliers in this business, the people who keep things interesting by reminding us that we’re not ALL about work and that maybe it’s OK to wear gauze shirts and prayer bells to the quarterly meeting…

Know what else is kind of cool? When the Sniffer and J had a girls weekend last month, my name came up, and J remembered me. Somehow that makes me feel really good. Perhaps I’m not just a taupe soul in a mauve cube after all.

Patchouli for everyone, man, and have an awesome weekend.

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