do you remember when i fell off the treadmill at the ymca?
6 min read

do you remember when i fell off the treadmill at the ymca?

picture it. sicily. 1912... err, oops, nope, sorry, eeeeh let's try that again....

picture it. brooklyn. 2012...

two friends and i had just moved to an apartment on a busy block in a polish neighborhood. it was three doors down from the train station, a great bodega, an incredible donut shop and was on a busy street that would eventually be full of hipster bars, restaurants and shops (once we were done gentrifying it...). there was a ymca right around the corner that offered a gym and yoga classes and at ymca prices, i could afford the membership.

i loved the saturday morning yoga class. my friend corrine lived nearby and she and i would usually go together, hungover or not. it was great, especially because we did it together and then hung out all day after. one of our favorite after-yoga activities was to go to the park and sit on a bench watching hipsters run around the track as we smoked cigarettes and ate hot dogs.

obviously, i was not accustomed to most gym-related activities. i was not a sporty spice. i was a music and theater nerd. we sweat, but not because we ran -- the stage lights we were under were really hot.

so, i decide for some-unknown reason to go for a run. at the gym. on the treadmill. those are in a small room of maybe 18-20 machines and it's half full with hipsters, so i get on a treadmill in the first row, get my iphone all setup with my wired headphones (we didn't have wireless at the time) and start walking. it's going great, so i start picking up the pace and i'm feeling really good about myself – i'm actually working out! and look, here i go up to a jogging pace – go me! i've got this! – and then uh oh – my phone drops from in front of me onto the tread so, i've got this -- i'll just bend down and pick it ...


next thing i know, i'm on my ass, looking at the treadmill in front of me and i realize that was NOT the best idea... i had done a sommersault and the treadmill rewarded me by spitting me out, ass first.

i threw my hands straight up in the air and shouted "woohoo!" like i had just come to the end of a roller coaster. then, i got back on the treadmill and walked for a few minutes, trying not to look as mortified as i felt.

and though i continued to pay for the membership, i never went back there again.

last month, i joined a new gym.

my new neighbor told me he was going to a yoga class, so when i asked him where and he said "the gym!" i was not too thrilled. but i was really eager to get to a yoga class now that i'm pretty much healed and getting back to 'normal' life, so i signed up for the trial and went with him.

the yoga classes are great, to my surprise the people at the gym are really nice and welcoming (is it just because they are NOT hipsters? could be...) and i like going there! the best yoga class for me is on thursday nights and i really like the teacher. the gym has other classes and she teaches one just before the yoga class that is called 'strength', which intrigued me because that's one of the reasons i need to go to the gym - to build strength.

since you were on my left side, talula, when they took you out, the muscles on the right side of my body got weaker and i have a little less control over them. it doesn't help that i was laid up for about a year with my treatments and all of my muscles almost atrophied or that i spend most of my sitting in a chair at a computer... the right side weakness is from head to toe and though it's not severe, it's noticable to me. especially on days i do things like walk around the city or play a lot with my nieces. i get tired really fast and then feel bad that i can't keep up. it's what has motivated me to get in better shape (that, and going up sizes from an x-small to a medium...).

i went for physical therapy and learned some ways to strengthen my right side, but it wasn't enough. i don't like the regular weight machines at the gym - i don't know what to really do on them, which ones to do, in what sequence; i don't like waiting for someone else to finish, watch them NOT clean it off and then having to clean it before i go on... so i was curious about this strength class.

i started going two weeks ago and it's been awesome. i thought i just hated working out, but in a class like this - it's different and i don't hate it. i like that there is direction, that she tells us explicitly what to do, how to do it, how to modify it if we can't do it that way; that other people are doing it with me and struggling as much as i am but still pulling through it like me; that there's good motivational music pumping through the room, not just in my headphones and most of all – that i don't need to feel embarrassed about any of it. i don't do everything right, i'm not very coordinated, i go with unshaven legs and pits, i sweat like a beast so i stink to high heaven by the time i get to yoga class, and i don't worry about any of it. i just show up and i do my best.

i'm kind of over feeling embarrassed about things i do.

that treadmill incident at the gym was probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, and i've had my fair share of them. so many that corrine's favorite thing to ask me was "what is wrong with you??"

i sometimes have a hard time hearing what people say, but i also love being quick-witted, so sometimes i mis-hear what someone says and respond so quickly i don't realize that what i've said is completely innappropriate! it's gotten me into trouble, it's gotten me into relationships, it's gotten me laughs, it's been... a thing... that usually leaves me embarrassed when i can see through hind-sight how i went wrong.

while that still happens on the regular, i don't feel so embarrased by it now.

and talula, i know it's because you've brought me a newfound perspective, but i don't know how to describe it or why it makes me immune to embarrassment. is it because you made me confront my own mortality and so the stupid little things don't matter so much anymore? or is it because all that negative energy was what you fed on and now that you're in a tumor bank instead of in my head, i can just let that all go?

i feel this new perspective and outlook on life all around me, almost every day. last weekend, i treated my beloved aunt diane to a concert at lincoln center. we bond over the music we love that no one else we know listens to - depressing female singer-songwriters. one of our favorites, natalie merchant was going on tour with a small orchestra for the first time in years in support of her lovely new album of her first original songs in years, so i got us tickets.

when i lived in brooklyn and wanted to be 'cool', i never would have gone to this show. i was too embarrassed by my love of this music. none of my friends liked this stuff, and some of them even made fun of me for it, so i kept it quiet. on top of that, this music was too much a part of my 'old life' with my first girlfriend in boston, so i was always worried that this would 'out' me.

natalie merchant put on an amazing show.

usually, the songs i love most are the saddest, most heart-wrenching ones an artist has ever written. for natalie that's my skin and beloved wife - songs i love and that remind me of my 'old life.' but this show, the songs that hit me so hard i stood up and sang along with were just the opposite – the most hopeful and soul-warming songs she's written -- life is sweet and narcissus.

oh, they told you life is long
be thankful when it's done
don't ask for more, be grateful

but i tell you life is short
be thankful because  
before you know it it will be over

'cause life if sweet
and life is all so very short
i'm nothing but living, breathing, flesh and blood, alive
can you feel me?
i'm nothing but the clear and empty skies above, i'm light
can you see me?
i'm cursed, repeating words that have no sense, no meaning, lies
can you hear me?

i can't get them out of my head, so i just keep listening to them. and i'm cool with that. i even blast them out of my car windows and sing along so people outside can hear.

and i'm not embarrassed.