Monday, January 8, 2018

The V-Sit Reach Is My Greatest Skill And I Finally Got To Use It

I ended my 2017 by doing something called the downward dog.

It was my first downward dog. It was my first time in a yoga studio. I'd never done yoga before. For months I'd promised myself I'd try it, just once, to see if I would enjoy it. I doubted I would enjoy it, not after my stressful experience with meditation a year before, but I have many friends who swear by the benefits of yoga. They say yoga relaxes them, makes them feel good. I like to relax and feel good, so I signed up for a class.

I wasn't quite prepared for it. For starters, I don't have the proper attire for yoga. I don't own a single pair of yoga pants because, well, I don't regularly do yoga. I don't own a pair of sweatpants, either, because I don't often do things that would make me sweat. 

My wife was kind enough to lend me a pair of sweatpants, and I dug out one of my Mets World Series 2015 T-shirts to complete the ensemble. It felt like one of the rare times when it's appropriate to wear the commemorative T-shirt of a World Series your favorite team didn't win; it doesn't really matter how dirty or sweaty it gets because who cares the Mets lost in five games and they couldn't even hold on to a ninth-inning lead at home in the finale.

For the first half-hour of the yoga class we did poses that were a little uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn't manage. This isn't so bad, I thought. I got this. And then, the downward dog: my arms stretched toward the front of the yoga mat, my legs stretched toward the back of the mat, my rear end high in the air, and my body in the shape of an inverted V.

It hurt. It hurt a lot, to be honest.  It certainly wasn't relaxing. And we had to maintain the position for three minutes. Show me an actual dog that does a downward dog for three minutes. I haven't seen one.

I was warned beforehand by my friends that yoga might be painful, that I'd have to do it several times before I'd start to get used to the poses and feel at ease with them. My general approach to pain is that if I'm doing something that hurts, I stop doing it. Immediately. When I touch a really hot plate that just came out of the microwave, I recoil. I don't touch it again. My strategy isn't to keep touching it until it feels natural.

After three minutes of downward dog, I silently begged for any pose that wouldn't require any type of strenuous stretching, or at least any type of stretching that would give my hands, my legs and my butt a break. It was then that my yoga teacher called for a V-sit reach.

Yes! I was really excited. I'm usually a very humble person, but when it comes to the V-sit reach I need to brag. I'm awesome at it. I can extend both of my hands completely past my feet. I don't think I personally know another man who can do that. I take great pride in that. It's without question my greatest skill. In fact, hold on one second while I update the skills section of my LinkedIn page. 

The only problem is that it's not a talent that I get to show off a lot as an adult. It was much different when I was a kid. I did the V-sit reach every year in gym class as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. It was one of five events, along with pull-ups, sit-ups, the mile run and the shuttle run. I don't know if every school in the country does the shuttle run, but for those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's basically running back and forth in the gym while picking up blackboard erasers. It was actually a medal event in the Olympics until 1932.

Year in and year out I'd score a 20/100 on the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. I never heard from the president but no doubt he was unhappy with my grades. He probably thought about grounding me at some point.

But I didn't care, because I had the V-sit reach. I blew my classmates out of the water with my incredible stretching.

Since graduating high school, though, I've only done the V-sit reach a handful of times. Where would I do it? I mean, do it where others can observe in amazement and express their admiration? I've done it for my wife a few times. I know she's impressed. I'm sure she'd tell you it's one of the reasons she fell for me.

So, yeah, when the yoga teacher asked us to do the V-sit reach, it made the whole thing worthwhile: the sweatpants, the awkward poses, the downward dog. 

In that moment, yoga made me feel good.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Better Than A Subway Pole

I used to hate riding the subway. It wasn't the delays, or the trash, or the rats. All may have bothered me to some degree, but I grew accustomed to them.

It was the pole. The pole on the train. I did not want to hold on to it. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. It was grimy and disgusting and not at all appealing. I tried to stay as far away from it as possible. It's why I was never able to pursue my dream of becoming a professional subway pole dancer.

I didn't care how crowded the train was, I wasn't going to hold on to the pole. I relied on my incredible balance to keep me steady during my ride. I'd spread my feet. I'd spread my arms. I'd bend my knees ever so slightly. I assumed a surfing position, basically. I was surfing on a subway train.

And I was stumbling a lot, too. I must have bumped into hundreds of commuters. Maybe thousands. Accidentally, of course. I'd apologize every time. They understood, every now and then. It was unfortunate and regrettable. I wish it could have been avoidable.

Fortunately, all of that changed two years ago. I haven't had an issue with maintaining my equilibrium on the train in a long while. What happened? I got married.

I love holding my wife, but I especially love holding on to my wife when I'm riding the subway with her. She's the perfect traveling partner.

All of the concerns I have with the subway pole I do not have with my wife. I feel safe when I'm around her, I feel more sanitary when I'm around her. I have absolutely no reservations with holding on to her to keep steady. And she has no reservations about this arrangement, either. At least I don't think she does. I don't know. I've never asked.

I try to remind myself to compliment my wife as often as I can, to tell her things like how talented, smart and beautiful she is. But I don't tell her nearly enough how much I value the time we spend together on the subway. My darling wife, you are so much better than a subway pole.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet My New Companion, Trash Can. He's A Good Trash Can.

I'd like to introduce you to the latest addition to my home: the iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with Odor Control System, Big Lid Opening Sensor Touchless Kitchen Trash Bin. I call him Trash Can, for short.

Trash Can is the friendliest trash bin I've owned. And I've owned many. Dozens. They were all very shy, they preferred to keep to themselves. They sat very quietly in the corner of the room. They were wallflowers, minus the scent of a wallflower.

Trash Can is a different sort of trash can. It is incredibly sociable. It loves to engage me whenever I enter the kitchen. It lifts its lid and makes this noise, kind of like a purr. I can't accurately describe it with words, but it's the sweetest sound you'll ever hear from a 13-gallon, stainless steel trash bin.

I like to give it a little attention, show it a little love. I'll toss it a treat (a banana peel, a wadded napkin, a bread crumb off the countertop) and rub its belly. It likes that.

And the way it gets so excited when I return home from work ... oh, it just melts my heart. Trash Can can sense when I've walked through the door. The entrance is just a few feet away from the kitchen, and I can hear it purr and wag its lid. It has a big lid opening sensor, but it has an even bigger heart.

I didn't know it when I ordered it from Amazon, but Trash Can is so much more than a trash can. It's a loyal companion. Can it get a little messy at times? Yes. Can it get a little smelly at times? Definitely. Is it a little painful when it wants to cuddle on my lap while I'm watching TV on the couch? Of course. But it has so much love to give, and really, who could ask for more from a trash bin?

Who's a good 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with Odor Control System, Big Lid Opening Sensor Touchless Kitchen Trash Bin? This is a good 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with Odor Control System, Big Lid Opening Sensor Touchless Kitchen Trash Bin.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: Spring/Summer 2017

I haven't posted a new "Tiny Bits of Nonsense" in nearly six months. Six months! After an extended hiatus, I've finally made the effort to again compile my favorite tweets/jokes. Here are some of the tiny bits of nonsense you may have missed:

Other bits of nonsense: February/March 2017 |  January 2017 | November/December 2016 | October 2016 | September 2016 | August 2016 | Olympics Edition | June/July 2016 | May 2016 | April 2016 | March 2016 | February 2016 | January 2016 | December 2015 | New Year's Edition | November 2015 | October 2015 | Halloween Edition | September 2015 | August 2015 | July 2015 | June 2015 | May 2015 | "Back to the Future" Edition | April 2015 | March 2015 | February 2015 | Valentine's Day Edition | January 2015 | December 2014 | Holiday Season Edition | November 2014 | Thanksgiving Edition | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014 | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I'm Sorry, Canada

As much as I hate to admit it, I owe Canada an apology. I've struggled with this for the past 24 hours, because I don't want to apologize. Canada and I don't see eye to eye. It hasn't treated me well in recent visits.

This is the same country:

In short, I don't care much for Canada at the moment, even with its dreamboat of a prime minister. A prime minister who I may or may not have called a bozo in a voicemail message yesterday.

I made the call through the app for Global Citizen, the advocacy organization that stages the annual music festival of the same name in Central Park. It awards free tickets to the festival, via a lottery draw, to "global citizens" who earn points by signing petitions, tweeting messages and calling lawmakers to urge them to take action on social issues such as poverty and education. Sixteen points are required to enter the lottery.

As a global citizen who was still several points shy of being eligible for this year's lottery, I placed the call to ask Prime Minister Trudeau to pledge millions of dollars for global education efforts. And, since I'd have his attention, to pledge one Tim Hortons donut to me.

I was a little nervous, as I'd never called a prime minister before, but thankfully Global Citizen provided a script that I could read verbatim. It was very helpful. In the future, I will be sure to consult Global Citizen before leaving voicemails for prime ministers.

Here's where I made a critical mistake: I made the call while walking home from the subway, and so I didn't give it my undivided attention. To be honest, it didn't have any of my attention when I reached the end of a block on Columbus Ave., saw the pedestrian light on the other side of the crosswalk, and realized I had three seconds to cross the street. Puh-lenty of time for a New Yorker.

I was all set to run to the other side of the street when a bicyclist came barreling toward me in the bike lane. He had no intention of slowing down or swerving out of the way because, well, he was on a bike and knew there was nothing I could do about it. I jumped out of his path and, as he sped past me, yelled out to him, "Bozo!" Actually, it was more like, "BOZO!"

Unfortunately, I was still on the phone and was supposed to leave a message at the tone. I didn't hear a tone, but I'm pretty sure there was a tone, right before the bicyclist nearly flattened me. Meaning the voicemail may have recorded the whole incident, including my very loud and aggressive use of the word "BOZO," a word that wasn't part of the Global Citizen script.

So now I feel compelled to set the record straight.  Prime Minister Trudeau, let me be absolutely clear: You are not a bozo, nor would I ever call you a bozo. On the contrary, I think you are a dreamboat, as I mentioned earlier. Please accept my sincerest apologies, both as a global citizen and as someone who made a regrettable mistake. All I wanted was a moment of your time to ask you to pledge aid to global education efforts on behalf of your country.

I'm sorry, Prime Minister Trudeau. I'm sorry, Canada.

It's all that bozo's fault. He's a terrible global citizen.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Everything I Know About Asking Out A Girl I Learned From Orange Julius

This will be the first and only time I write about Orange Julius, in all likelihood. It just doesn't come to mind very often.

I believe I've seen an Orange Julius once in my adult life. It was during a visit to the Mall of America in 2012. I remember my jaw literally dropping as I said, loud enough for others to hear, "Wow, an Orange Julius!" I'm easily excitable.

I've yet to see a stand-alone Orange Julius operation here in New York City. It's been years since I've seen one in the tri-state area. There was a location at the mall near where I grew up on Long Island. That's actually why I'm writing this post. I had an unexpected flashback to that Orange Julius this weekend that I shared with my wife and I figured I'd share with you here.

It happened while my wife and I were at a carnival. I was looking around, admiring the deep-fried Oreos and the three-foot-tall poop emoji dolls, when I saw a boy, 15 or 16, hat backwards, braces shining brightly in the night sky, approach a brunette his age and, without hesitation, start a conversation with her. After a minute or two of introductory chit-chat, he asked her for a date.

It reminded me of the first time I ever saw a boy ask out a girl. The setting was the aforementioned Orange Julius at my local mall. I was 8 years old. I was standing on line, patiently waiting to purchase a frothy OJ with my handful of change, behind a female who must have been a sophomore or junior in high school.

Suddenly, a boy walked up to her and said, and I'm paraphrasing here because this was nearly 30 years ago, "Hi, I was leaving Sam Goody over there and I noticed you and I just had to tell you that you are really beautiful. Would you like to go out sometime?"

I was stunned. I'd never seen this before. A boy asking out a girl. No one had ever instructed me how it works. This was my first exposure to the process. All you have to do is walk up to a girl standing on line at an Orange Julius, give her a compliment and then request a date before she gets her drink and walks away forever? Just like that?

So that's how it's done, I thought to myself. OK.

The girl politely turned him down, but the memory stuck with me. I was too young to date at the time but I filed away the information for future use. When I was older and mature enough to ask out a girl, I would do exactly what I saw the boy, so confident and so bold, do.

Regrettably, the Orange Julius closed a few years later, and I never had the chance to ask out a girl there. I was single all throughout high school. All alone, because there wasn't enough demand for orange juice at the mall.

Obviously, this story has a happy ending because, as you know, I'm married now. I'm married to the perfect wife, and we have the perfect backstory. We met on line at a Jamba Juice.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sprinkles Have Haunted Me For A Year

I was rifling through my wife's purse, as I so often do, last night. I was searching for a tissue, because my nose was runny. I never have a tissue handy when my nose is runny. I need a bag in which I can carry tissues. I need a purse.

I didn't find any tissues in my wife's purse. However, at the bottom of the purse, beyond the tube of lipstick, the sticks of gum, the loose change, I pulled out something very small, very bright, very plastic.

It was a sprinkle. Another sprinkle.

It came from the Museum of Ice Cream, which recently opened in Los Angeles after a successful run here in New York. Tickets sold out quickly after its launch last summer in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. My wife and I lucked out and secured two tickets for a Tuesday morning in July.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Museum of Ice Cream, it's a museum dedicated to ... ice cream. When we entered the museum, we received a sample of ice cream. We were then escorted into a room, where there was a huge sculpture made of ice cream.

There was a lot of ice cream in the museum. Candy, too. It was absolutely delightful. This was Willy Wonka's chocolate factory come to life. I was Charlie Bucket. (I wasn't invited to move in and run the museum, though I did offer.)

The centerpiece of the museum was the sprinkle pool, filled with close to 100 million sprinkles. They weren't the type of sprinkles you'd put on your ice cream cone. They were actually antimicrobial plastics, which you'd never want to put on your ice cream cone.
A post shared by MUSEUM OF ICE CREAM (@museumoficecream) on
I removed my sneakers and jumped right in, because how often am I presented an opportunity to take a dip in a pool of antimicrobial plastics? I waded through the plastics and took selfies for about 10 minutes before heading to the next exhibit.

Later that morning, after I'd left the museum, I was walking the streets when I felt a small object inside my right sneaker. I figured it would be a pebble, but it turned out to be a small, yellow antimicrobial plastic, i.e. a sprinkle. It must have stuck to my sock while I was in the sprinkle pool. I tossed it aside, put my sneaker back on and continued on my way.

The next day I was fishing through my jeans pocket for my keys when I grabbed hold of another sprinkle, a red one. Ha ha. These sprinkles are attached to me, I chuckled to myself.

But they really were attached to me. I found more and more sprinkles in the ensuing months. In my wallet. In my backpack. In my other sneaker. In my kitchen. I don't know how they ended up in any of these places. They just somehow proliferated, like colorful Gremlins. I was experiencing an outbreak of sprinkles.

Just make yourself right at home, sprinkle.

Toward the end of 2016 and into early 2017, I saw fewer and fewer sprinkles. And then, I saw none. I was relieved that they were finally out of my life.

And then I went through my wife's purse last night.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, see you if can score a ticket to the Museum of Ice Cream. It's an incredible amount of fun.

Just know this: The visit will stay with you for a long, long time.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.