Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Road Trip Stop #1: Zion

"The fact that they had to put chains on Angel's Landing (and that a woman fell off in April) intimidates me a bit," I replied when my friend Buck suggested hiking this trail in Zion.

"And in other news, someone died walking around New York earlier this year too," he countered.

Fair enough.

And so it was that on Day 2 of our road trip, Kate and I set out to tackle Angel's Landing bright and early. We were well rested since we all but passed out soon after arriving at Zion the night before. We filled our tummies with a light breakfast of cereal and each of our bags with 2 bottles of water, a banana, a granola bar, baguette and hummus (park authorities recommend bringing a gallon of water but that weighs almost as much as I do so I went with 14 fluid ounces). We hopped on the free shuttle at the visitor's center, which would take us to The Grotto, where the trailhead to the West Rim trail and Angel's Landing begins. We started off on the path, which starts out gently sloping and then steadily increases in steepness. A large part of this leg was mercifully in the shade since we set out before 9; by the time we headed down at noon, the path was baking in full sun and quite torturous.
A wonderfully cool reprieve came when we reached Refrigerator Canyon, so called because of the low temperatures afforded in this gap between Cathedral Mountain and Angel's Landing. Here you get a chance to enjoy the verdant green of the plantlife and the rich oranges of the canyon walls as you soak in the cool air. It's a good way to recharge for the next portion of the hike: Walter's Wiggles.
These steep switchbacks will take your breath away in more ways than one. The series of 21 zigzagging paths is an impressive engineering feat, considering it was cut out of canyon rock back in 1926. It will leave you huffing and puffing from gaining 250 feet in elevation quite rapidly, when you're already at an altitude of 4290 feet above sea level. Once you get to the end of the switchbacks and see the gorgeous view that awaits, however, it's easy to forget the effort just expended.

"Is this it? Have we made it to Angel's Landing?" I asked excitedly as we walked out on the clearing and stared out at the white capped canyons. My excitement gave way to a churning in my stomach when I saw the answer to my question rising up in front of me ...
The slender fin that is Angel's Landing is an intimidating sight. From Scout's Lookout, you can see people scaling what seems like an impossibly thin piece of rock with nothing but air surrounding it. It's a 1200-foot drop on one side and an 800-foot drop on the other. It's at this point that you see most hikers turning back, preferring to rest their tushes safely on Scout's Landing instead.

"I don't know if I can climb that," I said to Kate.

"Let's do it," Kate said. Thankfully, it seems my hiking impulses are a lot like my drinking impulses: you just have to ask me once and I'll say yes, no arm twisting required. We went on to tackle Angel's Landing trail, clinging to the chains bolted to the sides of the cliff and clambering over boulders.

The hike is made a little less stressful by the hikers you meet along the way, who are incredibly polite (since no one's in a rush) and quite funny (since you have to keep your sanity somehow when you're doing something quite nuts). "I should warn you," said a man ahead of me while we were clambering up a particularly tricky section. "You're wearing a Yankees hat while hiking behind a Red Sox fan. These are very steep cliffs, you know."
For most of the hike, I concentrated on the task at hand, only thinking about where to put my foot next and trying not to dwell on the height of the drop. It can get to you if you let it; there are sections when all you can do is hang on to the chain while you cross a significant gap between rocks. And then there are portions where there simply is no chain, just planes of rock that seem quite easy to slip from (naturally, such portions are usually accompanied by sheer drops on both sides). It made my heart skip a beat at times, but we kept on trucking on and finally we found ourselves on that landing that the explorer Frederick Fisher first gazed at in 1916 and declared, "Only an angel could land on it."
(This is me not-so-subtly implying that I am *ahem* in fact an angel)
We walked on to the end of the landing and stared at the marvelous view before settling under a tree to have a few snacks. My banana was completely battered and our granola bars had melted into sticky blobs, but one can't be picky whilst 1200 feet away from the ground.

After eating and snapping more photos, we negotiated our way down the trail carefully, as gravity was now pulling on us, making a misstep all the more dangerous. Once we were off Angel's Landing's fin, the hike was easy peasy. The heat, however, became extremely punishing. We decided to conserve our energy for the rest of the trip and spent the rest of the day lounging at our campsite, having Modelo Negras, veggie burgers and fire-roasted corn topped with cheese and chili flakes, as Watchman stood guard.
A great use of a day on the road, I would say.

#11: Go on a classic American road trip—CHECK!

Days on the Road: 7
Miles traveled: 1158
States visited: 3
Parks seen: 6
Hikes done: 3
Campsites used: 4
Fires lit: 4
Showers taken: 3
Injuries noted: 1 stubbed toe, 2 windburned faces, 4 car scratches, 1 drowned hummus, 1 drowned chili, 1 broken tent pole

It was a trip fraught with mishaps in the beginning. From Kate's wallet getting stolen (and with it her UK driver's license) to me getting unceremoniously flunked by my examiner in my quest to get a driver's license, we feared our road trip was doomed ... But I'm glad to report that Kate and I made it back to New York today, safe and sound, without anyone getting deported or arrested, with minds and camera memory cards filled to the brim with some amazing experiences.

Kate skillfully drove us through some of the most jawdropping sights in the United States in the past week, while I tried not to get us lost and kept her awake with music and dried apricot snacks. America did it's part by delivering some amazing sights ...

It was totally worth the risk of falling off Zion's sheer cliffs for a glimpse of this:

At Bryce we were astounded by these:

We got caught up in numerous dust storms at Monument Valley to get photo ops like this:

And put ourselves through grueling hikes in the Grand Canyon for views like this:

More detailed posts coming on the amazing sights and all the fun Kate and I had, but for now I need a nap! Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hitting the Road

My backpack's packed and I'm on the 7:30AM flight out to Vegas for a weeklong road trip through Nevada, Utah and Arizona with Kate. We'll be driving around the Wild West, hiking through the canyons and sleeping under the stars. I am still looking at my bursting-at-the-seams backpack with a bit of disbelief. I never would've thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be going on this kind of adventure a year ago. And yet here I am ...

I'll have my Blackberry on the road so I will attempt some sporadic posting, though Twitter might be a more convenient means of communicating. If you'd like to follow us along on our journey, you can start following me on Twitter here.

¡Hasta la vista chicas! 

Image via Swissvoice

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Run Like Gogo Yubari

Newbie runners say the darndest things—well, okay fine, let's not involve everyone, it's probably just me. Last Saturday, while warming up for the Bronx Half, I eyed a bunch or runners in knee-high socks quizically.

Me: Why do they run in knee-high socks? Is that, like, a look?
Mike: They're compression socks, Cel.
Me: Oh ...
Mike: You thought they were doing that for style?
Me: Um, yeah ... ?

You'll have to excuse me. My background is in fashion and I would be the type of person who'd wear knee high socks as a style decision, so I thought this was either a throwback to the 70s or a nod to Gogo Yubari. If you don't know who I am talking about, she's my favorite Kill Bill character, who I intend to dress up as for Halloween (see image on the right).

Because I actually think running in knee-highs looks cute and would willingly do so for no reason other than that, I thought I might as well look into the actual benefits of wearing knee-high compression socks. It seems there are quite a few! According to this article, compression socks "encourage increased blood flow, allowing legs to recover quicker by removing excess post-run lactic acid. By encasing and supporting the muscles, the socks reduce risk of injury. They are intended to be worn post-run as well, to continue aiding in muscle recovery." The author claims they made her long run feel much better and kept her legs ache free until after the run. A seductive thought after spending the hours succeeding the Bronx half limping and whimpering.

A lot of elite runners swear by compression socks, including my personal hero, Paula Radcliffe. Here she is at the 2007 New York marathon wearing flesh toned compression socks, trailed by another runner also wearing a pair.
The jury's still out on whether there's any real benefit to wearing them during a run, though it seems unanimous that wearing compression socks (or tights) after a run aids recovery significantly. I'll probably get a couple of pairs for the coming long runs and slowly sinking temperatures. If they don't work, at least I'll have one part of my Halloween costume all ready!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"You'll never look at those subway poles the same way again."

An instructor told us that on my very first pole dancing class, and it's kind of true. Though I didn't really need an intro class at S Factor for that. I just had to watch this video of a bunch of girls pole dancing on the N train. It is hysterical and also pretty impressive.
My favorite people in this video are definitely hose two guys who said, "We missed our stop about six stops ago. We stayed on just to watch that." Least favorite: girl making faces. There are much worse things that could happen on the N train than, god forbid, having four cute girls do pole dancing tricks.

Today was supposed to be a rest day from the half marathon but I just couldn't sit still so I booked a climb & spin class. I'm glad I did because I actually got to do some nice stretching and fun upper body work. I was hesitant about donning the stilettos a day after running 13.1 miles, but it was actually pretty okay. I'm halfway through my 10-class package, and I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere! My climbs are no longer as excruciating as they used to be, and I'm feeling pretty comfy doing fan kicks and booty pops in my Lucite heels. Today I actually managed to do a level two climb, release my legs into an aerial straddle, and then go into a descent of pure arched back hotness (Well, the move's hot at least. I can't guarantee that it looked hot on me. I might have looked like a tarsier clinging to tree branch a few times, not gonna lie). The fact that I was actually able to hold my body in straddles and such with just the strength of my core and arms still astounds me. Seriously, me? The girl born with the wimpiest arms in the world! Hoorah!

This will be a heavy pole dancing week for me since I've got several trips lined up and I have to use up my package before September 3. I'm excited to see what three pole dancing sessions in one week will do for me! For tonight though, that one pole dancing class will just be giving me sweet, sweet dreams ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bronx Half Marathon—DONE!

The crew after the Bronx Half Marathon. We made it!

It could've been the result of cooler temperatures, cloud cover, six inches less hair, or the liberating feeling of running in a sports bra ... but I'd like to think that it's due to good old fashioned hard work that I shaved four minutes off my Queens half marathon time to finish the 13.1-mile crazy hilly Bronx course in 2:18 today.
I was so shocked at seeing the time as I hit mile 13 that I went into a full sprint to the finish line. At around mile 5, I was convinced I'd blown the race by going out too fast in the beginning and not taking the walk breaks I'm used to early enough. I was over-confident from finishing a half marathon three weeks ago and excited to tackle the hills after my difficult yet rewarding hill workout with the Adobo Running Club last Tuesday. So I powered up the hills, all the while repeating in my head, "Run on your toes! Run on your toes!" Then I gleefully sped down the hills basking in the cool breezes. And then ... I got tired. Crap. If I had an inner cheerleader giving me peptalks during the last race, this time I had a world class bitch telling me off, "Oh so you thought you were Speedy Gonzales huh? Look who everyone's passing now! Yeah, I'm talking to you." I felt dejected for a little while and then suddenly just thought, you know what, it really doesn't matter that I messed up earlier. I can still keep putting one foot in front of the other. All that matters is that I hold this pace and keep on trucking on.

So I did. And somehow, before I knew it, I was passing the mile 11 marker. I'm not gonna lie and say that mile 12 and 13 came in a flash soon after that because that's completely untrue. In my very limited experience, nothing feels as excruciatingly long as those last two miles. Heck even 400 meters feels like an eternity when you're nearing the end. But somehow, I managed to finish in good time, without having to crawl towards the finish line.

Since I'm exhausted and my capacity to write a post with structure is now overcome with a desperate need for some ZZZs, I'll finish with a bunch of random bulleted thoughts:
  • When I run in a sports bra, men who pass me tend to pass and then look back for a frontal view. This never happens when I run with my shirt on. I wonder if other women have noticed this phenomenon. I also wonder if there's something in a man's genetic makeup that causes this.
  • In relation to above bullet point, I'm gonna keep pinning my number to my shorts during warm weather races. It's great to have the option to remove the shirt when I want to.
  • Petroleum jelly is a great running buddy. Buh-bye, chafing, buh-bye.
  • If I'm gonna keep joining half marathons with the goal of using it as a long run, I'm gonna have to consciously keep myself from trying to race. Long runs are supposed to be done slower than race pace and not in a quest to achieve a new PR. Hear that, Celine? Repeat.
  • In relation to above bullet point, if I want to use a half marathon as a long run, I'm better off tacking on the miles before the race. The pull of the post-race bagel and banana table is much too strong for me to resist.
  • I am starting to feel something funky in my left knee every time I run downhill (and thereafter, when I try to walk down stairs). I'll have to rest that and invest in an icepack (or maybe a bag of frozen peas).
  • The most wonderful reward after all that running is a classic Filipino breakfast of tapsilog with turon for dessert. Having someone run in front of me with a picture of tapsilog on his back could be the key to my completing the New York Marathon in November.
Aaaaand that's all she wrote. Good night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I might have to give up running

This was the desperate thought in my head as I suffered through watching the New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy game today sans beer. With the Bronx Half Marathon less than 24 hours away, I was not allowed to have a drink—not because one beer could wreck the entire race for me, but because I have never, in all these years of drinking, ever been able to have just one drink. It's not just a slippery slope but a freakin' freefall between one beer and six for me.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is not to have a sip of beer when the sun is shining, the weather is perfect, the smell of grass is wafting in the air, strapping men are running around with vigor in front of you, and you're surrounded by happy people swigging ice cold brewskies?

It is freakin' TORTURE.
It is extremely unnatural to be in a sports event without being the slightest bit inebriated, in my humble opinion. I did my best to get into the spirit and joined the crowd every time it lustily yelled "You suck, asshole!" as the opposing team's goalie went in for a kick.
But I was wracked with guilt every time I yelled those words. This is why alcohol is absolutely necessary when spectating. Fans have a responsibility to heckle the other team and should be able to do so gleefully without guilt, dammit!

I am the type of person who starts doing an inventory of the beer available in a stadium on the way to her seat (I noted that there was Hoegaarden, Stella and PBR to save me from having to drink Budweiser, in the event of an emergency). By the time we got to the top of the first half, I had to be talked down by Zoe, who was determined to help me stick to the program. But I seriously felt like I was going through withdrawal. Haunted by the smell of beer on their breaths, I started hatching plans in my head ... what if I tell Zoe I'm just going to the bathroom but actually grab a beer, chug it down, then come back to my seat holding a Vitamin Water? No one will be the wiser. I just need one little drink ...

Thank goodness the soccer gods decided to send me some much needed distraction before I could jump over our friend Moses and make a run for the beer stand.
Hello Mike Petke. YOU are my MVP. You stretch those glutes ... or whatever it is you're trying to stretch.
Not even the game itself, which was still ongoing, could distract us from what I personally feel was the main event. To make it clearer, Zoe's gonna point it out for you.
In the end, LA Galaxy triumphed over the Red Bulls, 1-0. I never did get to drink any beer but I did get a good show from the hotties, with the bonus of three teenage boys who leapt over the barrier four rows from us, took off their shirts, and ran all the way over to the other end of the field before getting caught by security. I like to think that this was their way of protesting against the "no taking off of shirts after making a goal" rule, which I personally feel is the most idiotic move marketing-wise ever made in soccer. That's like banning thongs and push-up bras from Victoria's Secret fashion shows.

So now that I'm sufficiently hydrated and I've had my fill of ogling hot soccer players, I am calling it a night. Six hours and counting to the Bronx Half Marathon! Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reliving my Vegetarian Days at Dirt Candy

It wasn't too long ago that I decided I would go cold turkey (pun unintended) on all forms of meat. It was a special blend of heaven and hell to go meatless for an entire month. Heaven because going vegetarian, coupled with daily Bikram yoga sessions, left me feeling light and clean, as if my blood was just smoothly flowing through every vein all the time. Hell because as anyone who knows me can attest, I devour meat as if I had a vendetta against it. I got reacquainted with my vegetarian self on Wednesday night, when I treated my friend Amanda to a long overdue birthday dinner at Dirt Candy. Amanda helped me through one of the most challenging months I've ever had by suggesting recipes and pointing me towards great vegetarian spots in the city. Dirt Candy, I have to say, is the best place vegetarian place I've been to. In fact let me rephrase that ... it's not just a great vegetarian restaurant but a great restaurant, period.

During my brief fling with vegetarianism, I would stare at menus sadly, settling for whatever vegetarian option seemed the least heinous. At Dirt Candy though, I found myself staring at the menu for ages in utter indecision because everything looked so good. Thankfully, Amanda helped me focus. She said that the jalapeno hush puppies ($6) were a must and she was right on the money
These fluffy little jalapeno-spiked puffs were served with the most heavenly whipped maple butter that I just wanted to take home, introduce to my parents, and grow old with. The butter melted into the still warm hush puppies, making each little puffball a sweet and zingy little snack. The waitress knew full well what effect this maple butter has because she left the little tub on the table after clearing the empty plate. That's called knowing your customer!
Next we shared the steamed barbeque carrot buns with cucumber and sesame ginger salad. The filling was nice and flavorful, and made you forget you were getting in a dose of vitamin C. I could have totally used these carrot buns that time we visited Ippudo, when I was left longingly watching my friends gobble up sweet white buns stuffed with unctuous slices of pork belly. While I still would not pick these carrot buns over an Ippudo pork bun, I might actually trade the pork for a massive serving of that cucumber salad. The refreshing flavors and contrasting textures of the julienned cucumber and its addictive, crunchy sesame halvah topping is something that I could eat for days. Such a great summer treat.
I had a tough time picking an entree with all the intriguing choices. I was so curious about the fried green tomatoes with toasted coconut, yellow tomato sauce and tomato spaetzle, which on hindsight I should've gone with since tomatoes are best eaten during the summer when they're in season. But since my mind's in carbo loading mode for the Bronx half marathon on Sunday, I went with the hearty corn entree—stone ground grits, corn cream, pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche and tempura poached egg. We were particularly mystified with the tempura poached egg. How does one tempura something so delicate as a poached egg? I later learned that Dirt Candy's chef Amanda Cohen does this using a deep fryer. Her philosophy is that vegetarian food can also be indulgent, and that definitely shows in this dish. I surely felt indulgent when I broke into that beautiful tempura poached egg and had a piece with the creamy corn and grits. Since I didn't grow up in the South or in the US, for that matter, grits remain a foreign concept to me and I haven't had a lot of memorable versions—until this dish. It's so hearty, flavorful and definitely incredibly filling. I could not even come close to finishing it, which is amazing since I have no problems putting away a 24-ounce steak. This definitely disproves the notion that eating at a vegetarian restaurant would leave one hungry. My only qualm with this dish is that I don't know how I feel about the huitlacoche, yet. It's a delicacy that chefs will give names like "Mexican truffle", but it's basically a fungus that grows on corn ears when they've been subjected to too much moisture. It has a strong and earthy flavor, and I think it's bit of an acquired taste ... and I clearly have not acquired it yet! 
I would definitely come back to have the dish that Amanda ordered: the zucchini—mint and tarragon pasta, squash blossom relish, yogurt & saffron sauce. I felt bad for not using the flash on this picture when I realized how amazing the colors of the dish were from the chef's blog post on it. But Dirt Candy is such a tiny and intimate restaurant that it seemed obnoxious to use flash. In any case, with the red-hued lighting, this actually was how the dish appeared to us. The creamy sauce is made of labneh, a tangy yogurt that almost tastes citrusy—a flavor that paired well with the zucchini noodles and shredded fresh zucchini. The chef threw in pickled squash blossoms in keeping with her philosophy that every part of the vegetable should be used. And since pasta and meatballs are a classic pairing, she threw in some small falafel "meatballs"—such a clever little touch. I recommend reading chef Amanda's post on this dish because it really makes you appreciate all the thought that she put into creating it.
A lot of people (myself included) ask what I got out of that one month of vegetarianism, and I think the answer is that it allowed me to look at food in a new dimension. I learned to looked at food as fuel and see it for what it does to the body. But it also opened my mind up to trying new things. God knows I would never have gone to Dirt Candy if I hadn't had that fling with vegetarianism, and that would've been sad. Dirt Candy's food showed me how inventive and indulgent vegetables can be in the right hands. I have to say, I'm glad to finally have a place to bring my vegetarian friends that I'll also actually look forward to revisiting.

Dirt Candy is located at 430 East 9th Street, New York, New York 10009. Tel. (212) 228-7732. Reservations are absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Dionne: Hello? There was a stop sign.
Cher: I totally paused.

To my mortification, Cher Horowitz seemed to have taken over my body during my driving test Tuesday morning, with the same result. I was gunning for the opportunity to channel Alicia Silverstone in the Aerosmith video Crazy for my upcoming road trip with Kate, but I guess I got my signals crossed and channeled Alicia in a whole other role instead. I should've realized it when, upon waking up that morning, I found myself more preoccupied with whether my Tod's Degas driving shoes would indeed be the best footwear for a driving test rather than the mechanics of parallel parking (similarly, Cher was fixated on a particular Fred Segal shirt for her test). Add to that the fact that it is apparently incredibly difficult to erase seven years of terrible Third World driving habits with two practice sessions. Turning one's head before moving to the left or right is not a habit most Filipino drivers have due to constant bumper-to-bumper traffic in Metro Manila. If you turned your head every time you moved, you would get in one fender bender after another. And signaling? Good luck with that. We signal when making turns of course, but when it comes to changing lanes, forget it. In Manila's ruthless traffic-choked streets, signaling to change lanes would only cause the car behind you to speed up (most Filipinos interpret changing lanes as you cutting into their hard-won position on the street).

I'm not entirely delusional; I know that the failure was largely my doing (I forgot to signal just pulling out of the line, for godsakes). But on the most crucial mistake I had made on this test, I am still admittedly confused. During my practice session before the test, my instructor told me that when I see a STOP sign on the street and there are two white lines on the pavement, I am supposed to stop twice: once on the first line for pedestrians and then again on the second line for vehicles. I had never heard of this concept in my life. I know that I'm supposed to stop at the sign before the first line and count to 2, and if there are no pedestrians and cars then I'm free to move on. I looked through the DMV manual just now for clarification and saw nothing about making two stops either. I still don't know if this is right or not. But I made a conscious effort during the test to do as I was taught when I approached a STOP sign, and it was precisely this that drove the nail into the coffin within 30 seconds of my driving test. I did the first stop for pedestrians and seeing how there were none, moved to the second line. I fully intended to stop before the second line, as I had been taught, but the examiner thought I was suicidal and was attempting to drive in front of a coming truck. So he slammed on his brake and I knew I was done. Of course, he started reaming me at that point, and as much as I wanted to explain, I realized the futility of it and just mumbled an "I'm sorry." 

At that point, I could do no right in his eyes. My right turn was too wide and too fast. I didn't exercise enough caution driving in a merging lane. Bam, bam, bam. Done. I became another "fail" statistic in Staten Island's close to 50/50 pass/fail rate. According to The New York Times' Frank Bruni, who took the test in the same location and seemingly with the exact same examiner as I did, Staten Island recorded 19,000 passes and a whopping 16,000 fails in driving tests last year. This only seems reasonable in comparison with Queens' jawdropping 36,300 (pass) and 36,800 (fail) rate.

So now I have to wait until September to get another try, and in the meantime am just praying for a miracle. An additional bit of drama to add to Kate's and my already eventful road trip. Wishing that my luck will turn soon ...

Monday, August 02, 2010

#28: Learn the Art of Aerial Silks—CHECK!

A few months ago, I set out to learn the art of aerial silks and boy did I learn. What I've learned in particular about the art of aerial silks is ... it is freakin' difficult. It turns out that there's a reason why it's an act in Cirque du Soleil. Another thing I learned is that if I really want to become good at it, it's going to take a lot of time and money because lessons cost a nice chunk of change, and I need to take them regularly to develop the strength to clamber up pieces of silk, wrap myself into knots, spin around and descend ever so gracefully. With the marathon less than 15 weeks away, pole dancing taking up my "cross-training" days, plus a road trip and two weeks in Ibiza and Portugal coming up, I neither have cash or time to spare. Add to that the fact that my partner-in-crime Kate is soon trading the Big Apple for the Big Smoke. So Kate and I decided that last Saturday would be our last aerial silks class. My dreams of becoming part of Pink's cast of acrobats will have to be sidelined for now ...

We hadn't gone to an aerial silks class since May but I found that I was considerably stronger this time after all my pole sessions. The simple act of climbing the silks used to be near impossible for me, but yesterday I found myself moseying up using both the left and right side with a lot less difficulty than before. I actually got off the ground quite a bit, woohoo! I find that I prefer climbing the silks to pulling myself up that darn pole, which always leaves me more bruised up than fruit that's taken a tumble down a grocery aisle. I guess I am inching ever so slowly to developing upper body strength after all.

My core still needs a lot of work though. Kate manages to invert herself and just hang out there without much trouble, but I need a massive push from the teacher to get anywhere. I mean think about it. A pull up in and of itself is difficult enough, right? Imagine doing a pull up, flipping yourself upside down, lowering your legs to a pike position, raising them back up so that your body's inverted in a perfect straight line, and repeating the last two steps about two more times. I think that for people who are not Alvin Ailey apprentices or former child gymnasts, this would be quite a feat to accomplish. Bravo Kate!

I felt most accomplished when we did Man in the Moon. This is one trick we did during all four lessons and I still remember how confounding I thought it was the first time. While I still struggle with swinging myself around on the silks, I can at least get through the whole thing without having the teacher say and repeat each step twice as I hang precariously off the silks. I may have actually retained something! Or maybe my system was just a lot less inundated with alcohol this time.

I definitely think this is a fun activity to try, but there's a certain level of strength, flexibility and coordination required even for beginners. I feel like pole dancing workouts, in comparison, are a lot more forgiving and able to deal with people of varying abilities. But it will forever be a dream of mine to do a full aerial silks performance someday. So this isn't good-bye aerial silks ... just a check and see you later!

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