Monday, February 8, 2021

The Don't Fall Apart Workout

My stress is high, my motivation is low, and my chances of a panic attack or serious ergonomic injury and developing a serious spare tire are high if I do nothing. So in the interest of doing something, here is what I am giving a go this month, a workout that any writer (or office worker) for that matter can easily manage to fit in. Many of these brief exercises were suggested by Antartic Winter-Over Expeditioners that I know (they can't go outside and live and work in a confined environment for a year). I hope lots of folks will try it with me, as psychologically, I know other's giving me crap about if I did it today helps me stay social connected (and I mean that in the sweetest tone of supportive sarcasm possible). Seriously though, the research is overwhelmingly convincing. Even pushing ourselves to do a little exercise in very small bursts by our desks boosts our physical and mental fitness in times of extreme say a Pandemic. It doesn't have to be epic. It just has to be. Done.

Nine times a day, I will take one to five minutes an hour to do these simple things (you heard me say it so you can pester me to it or join in and tell me how much more awesome you are at each): 

A little more detail follows below for anyone who needs or wants it.

1. 9AM: Yoga Sun Salutation (one iteration takes about 3 minutes). I like the one demonstrated in the first three minutes of this video:

2. 10 AM: 10 Jumping Jacks 

3. 11AM: 10 Push Ups

4. 12PM: 5 Flights of Stairs or 50 leg raises (25 each side). Standing is usually easiest in an office and helps your tailbone too. This cute Aussie shows you how to do so well in this one minute video.

5. 1PM: Walk around one city block or 500 steps (indoors)

6. 2PM: Dance to 1 song of choice. I am a fan of this Bollywood Basic Steps video as it can be done right in front of your desk if necessary and doesn't take a good dancer to enjoy it.

7. 3PM: 10 Squats. I use my right hip anatomy, so I suggest you do too if you want to try this one. Squat University can help you figure that out in this short video.

8. 4PM: 10 in place or reverse Lunges. Again, it pays to do these safely and this video has a great quick explanation of how to learn that.

9. 5PM Five minutes of Tai Chi. I like this easy sequence of Tai Chi: 

A mental-physical fitness cheat sheet
A Saveable/ Printable Summary 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Peak of the Plague Playlist

In uncertain order of their ability to help you coaster over the peak with sanity intact here are 12 perky song/ music video nominations from a crazy writer you obviously bother to follow...

WARNING: from multiple genres

Doctor Doctor Help Me Please (but maybe not at the disco just right now) 

Tidal (because Imogene is a musical genius and also "Do it for love, Do it for us, Just do it for goodness sake" and wear the damn mask already, unless you're alone, then, "do it just how you like") 

Bootleg Turn (because we're all in need of a drink with a boogie beat) 

Hard Candy Christmas (if Dolly can't help then you're already dead...besides it is "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas") 

If We Make It Through December (this may be the new national anthem? At any rate, it's fun to sing along in bad accents on Zoom with family you haven't seen in too long) 

St. James Infirmary Blues (because the White Stripes version comes with cartoons!) 

I Don't Care Anymore (deep words of wisdom from the Houston Kid) 

Survivin' (crawling out these sheets to see another day) 

Put Your Head Down (it might keep you alive and AJ and friends in harmony will make you feel fine) 

Add It Up (we know why we can't just one kiss...same song but a whole new conspiracy) 

The Hearse is Backed Up to the Door (take some fun with your comfort)

Hearse (let's just keep the wolves at the door as Ani leaves us with this "dopey love song." Hold someone close because if you can and let it be enough) 

That's twelve days of what I'm listening to...

The Imperative

Flick the brains and dust off your boots and focus your senses on the forest again, the noises in the distance, like the birds singing again. If the birds are singing again, then you are safe to stay in shock for another minute or so. Still, it would be best to get some feeling back in your face and hands. Don’t look at the bodies. You are alive and still standing. Slap your cheeks. Shuffle your feet. Don’t pant. Slow your breath to four seconds of inhaling, holding onto it for four seconds, then let it out for four seconds. You don’t have to succeed one hundred percent every four seconds. Just try. Notice that the sky is still blue. Smell the pine and dirt and blood and cold. Feel how dirty and gritty your hands are from hiding on the ground. Listen to your hungry stomach growl. Hunger is good. It means you are alive. Don’t look down. Look east through the trees. Do you hear gunfire and engines to the east, or only the north and west? If the east sounds silent walk that way. Don’t look down. You are not bleeding. You cannot stop your sister’s bleeding. She is dead. You remember. Walk east through the trees. There is nothing you can do to disguise your genetic heritage. The wrong people will recognize you by sight anyway but stop a second still and swipe up some of that goopy mud. Smear it on your yellow star. Camouflage it. They can’t yell at you for ripping it off that way, but the flash of yellow won’t give you away in the bushes. Walk on. Keep going east. There is a river bed that way, you vaguely remember from that walk with Papa last year, before Jews were shot in the head on the street or put in trains to never return. You know there was a cave. There will not be food, but you will have all the water you can drink and you need to drink. You are still alive. Do not look at your boots. You can wash them in the river later. Look at the ground directly in front of you. Glance up, to the right, to the left. Make sure no one is near. Look for signs of the river and the cave. You were so scared of that cave last year and it’s great dank maw above the burbling water slapping rocks. Anything could be hidden in its thick carpet of decaying twigs and leaves. You could be hidden. You know the cave is an imperative security blanket now. 


You’ve stepped on a twig. There is shuffling nearby. Loud. Bigger than a squirrel. Is it to your left? Can you outrun it? Probably not. Climb that tree, the pine with too many limbs. You are small enough to be hidden in it even if you can’t get more than halfway to the top. Yes, the limbs are sticky with sap and wet. Keep going. Quietly. The shuffling is close now. Definitely human. Make your breathing silent, lower than a mouse’s, just as Papa showed you before he put your hand in your sister’s and told you to go hide under the woodpile. In and out, breathe under your hand with your fingers spread so that the puff of air looks no different from the steam of the tree’s great bushy needles tickling all around you. Watch below. There you see, shuffling into sight, a woman with a muddy yellow star. Make a decision, can you afford to ask her for help or offer her your help to find the cave? What is survival worth? It is a difficult question. You are only ten years old, but there is no more time to grow up first. How do you survive? In company or alone? You decide.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


A cup of Ire. A cup of Mirth. Half a cup of each for most. Cupping the crown of a baby’s head or the round of a lover’s breast. Cupping all you still possess in your arms after a fire. Cupping the last of your warmth in your hands and blowing on them in hope of more.

You can borrow a cup or a cup of sugar. There is precedent. There is a rumor the Holy Grail is a wooden cup. Valhalla welcomes all with an endless cup. No need to borrow again, as all heroes share with abandon and glee. When someone is drunk, we still say they are lost in their cups. Sometimes I feel lost in my cups without drinking a drop though. Thoughts are nectar that can be both toxic and intoxicating. If time really is a river, then I suspect we should measure it in cups.

Some pups fit in a cup. Teakettle ChuaChuas, Toy Poodles. All kittens fit in a cup. Rats fit five to a cup, but rarely come bearing a cup. Biergarten servers come bearing many cups, with the goal of making everyone lost in their cups enough to sing. Even if you don’t speak the language. Stille Nacht. Alles Schlaft. Except on the Night of Broken Glass. So fragile the peace that humanity tried to pour into that cup of time. Kristallnacht. Brittle even. A shattered cup that cannot be repaired. But glass can be recycled. It has to be crushed, purified and cleaned of contaminates first. It becomes cullet that must be remelted and cast. Completely new shapes of cups can result. The cup acquires a new nature and life by being ground into dust and reformed, but using this dust requires less energy/ heat than forging a glass cup from scratch would. This makes recycling glass cups economical. What about human cups? Does it take less energy to grind out souls to the essence and recast? Sometimes it takes less energy to grind my beliefs to dust and recast. How many cups of time do I have left after all? The limit is unspecified. Glass cups can be recycled endlessly, and they are brittle. Are we any less resilient than glass?

What is at the bottom of our cup of time and soul? Are there tea leaves we can read to forecast the future of time without us now?

If you take away the C you’re left with up, but you can only fill a cup up not pour it up. Not even in space without gravity will a cup pour up, but it can still be filled up. In space, your cup will not runneth over. Molecules stick together in a bubble that just expands beyond your cup...all you can do is shatter the bubble into smaller bubbles and push them out of the cup. These bubbles endlessly exist until someone vacuums them up, or consumes them...cups them again. I start most days with a cup of coffee or tea. Sometimes I have a “good cuppa” with a friend. Is love consuming a cup together? Or pouring a cup for? Or refilling an empty cup? Or smashing a cup together to celebrate your vows? Is love one or all of the cups we can measure in the river of time?

I have a cupful of questions.

The Writer's Cup

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Solemn Man

Dear Solomon,

For just one man, you were so clever that we forget the moral of the story was not about how to be so clever. You gave us a parable of satisfactory conflict resolution by unsavory methods. By proposing to cleaver the child, you exposed the truth. The most righteous will compromise. Good will yield and kneel before bad, allowing their own family to suffer grievous injustice in order to avoid greater harm. You made it evident that the will to win at all cost is a disease and pride is a necrotic rot to be exposed to the public for cleaning. But what if the public had refused to look? What if the public proposed alternative facts? What if the public had supported handing the baby over to the wrong mother, and the real mother had been forced to watch it watch someone else raise her baby so that her baby might live? What if your solo-man ruling had been denied final authority? What if crowd apathy allowed the most righteous mother to be wronged? Solomon, I know you were a solemn man, but how did you know the crowd would honor your sincerity?


A Modern Moralist

My sketch of a baby that I love this year

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