I don’t dance. I Zumba.

I cannot dance. I absolutely cannot dance. As some of you may know, I am a performer, mostly stand-up comedy now but whenever I would be in a play I would always have the fear of God in me if they wanted to end with a dance number. I would tell the director to put me in the back behind the tallest cast-member and pray that nobody would notice that my brain and my feet move at two totally different wavelengths.
So I really do not know what possessed me to try Zumba. I think it is precisely because I cannot dance and this kind of provides an unintimidating way to at least learn some choreography and shed a few kilos while I was at it.
So I walk into Zumba class and for once I am not the largest woman in the room. I see ladies of all shapes and sizes and all ages. I immediately feel encouraged. I begin to think ‘Ok, if Betty White over there can do this, so can I!’
 So the music starts and we begin to warm up. 

The instructor moves to the left.

I immediately go to the right and bump into the classmate next to me. 
The instructor moves her right hand and does this elegant wave thing.
I lift my left foot and kick an invisible football. And the poor classmate next to me.
The instructor does this light, skippity-skip to the side.
I see the poor classmate next to me visibly make a conscience effort to get out of my way.
Instructor wriggles sexily.
Class wriggles sexily.
I wriggle like an overweight caterpillar in a cocoon that’s woven too tightly. And I begin to feel a bit of a pillock. 

The instructor is super encouraging and has so much energy. She shouts out ‘whoop! Whoop!’ in time to the beat and to get the class to let go of the worries of the day. And they all respond with a resounding, joyous ‘WHOOP WHOOP!’
And while the class are clapping and doing a clockwise turn and of course I’m going in the opposite direction, all of a sudden it all falls into place:
Nobody cares. Nobody cares that I am very bad at Zumba. Nobody is observing me. Nobody is out to taunt me or make me feel like shit. Because really and truly, we are all bad at Zumba albeit the very few.

But you know what? It honestly doesn’t matter. We are all there for one common goal: to try and keep fit without killing ourselves. And that’s what I truly love about Zumba: it’s a good workout without crippling you from exhaustion and muscle pain. It is very, very doable because you can calibrate the difficulty level. And there is something very positive about it: a kind of community atmosphere, where we are all crap, we know it and we are celebrating it.

So a big, big yes to Zumba because it’s challenging but entertaining and a really decent workout. 
And I’m so busy concentrating on not maiming anybody that it really is a stress reliever because my mind isn’t giving me an opportunity to think about anything else. And I’ve been stepping on people a whole lot less lately.

    
 

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Death by trampoline.

In my constant battle of the bulge, I must not allow things to get boring. Boredom is the enemy of a consistent workout routine. Boredom and packets of fruitella. And wispa bars. 

So when I saw a trampoline workout, I was really rather intrigued. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was always freakily good at the sack race at school, which basically involved jumping for dear life in a confined space, so I thought ‘hey, this should be right up my alley!’ On the Facebook page it was insinuated that it’s a cool and fun way to work out, so why not?

So as soon as I arrive, a seasoned trampoliner greeted me with ‘oh, are you new? This is great, you will have a lot of fun!’ Then the beautiful blonde instructor shook my hand and said that I just need to bend my knees, small jumps and to relax and also: have fun.

Hmmmm. The ‘f’ word again. Do you remember when you were a child and about to embark on something unpleasant like extra maths lessons or the influenza vaccine, all the adults around you would go on and on about how good it was for you and how great for your spirit doing said unpleasant thing would be? Yeah. 

So as the other members of the class trickled in and got up on their individual trampolines, I got a good look around the room, which was not difficult because we were surrounded by these awful full-length mirrors. And I realised quickly that I was the fattest lady in the room. All the others were size 6 whippets. I noticed their cute little movements as they bounced lightly to warm up. They reminded me of when one sieves powdered sugar to lightly dust mince pies. I, on the other hand, look like a large and ill-constructed dumpling  thrown into a bowl of tepid broth.

Then the music started and the workout began. It’s as strenuous and awful as aerobics but made more awful because you are also constantly jumping on a trampoline. And in my case, trying not to fall off. The burning sensation in my ankles and calves was immediate. Everything was bouncing. Every appendage was bouncing. If I had large breasts I would have ended up with a black eye. Also perhaps not the best exercise routine to perform on one’s period since a buoyant, shedding endometrial lining is not the most comfortable sensation while being on a trampoline. I think my tampon shed a few calories in that hour too.

And of course, those mirrors. In spite of the horror that is this exercise routine, I could not help giggling when catching a glimpse of my puce, moist self bouncing disgracefully next to my most beautiful grasshopper counterparts and feel my dignity descending into hell and having tea and scones with lucifer, discussing how indeed did he conjure up the idea of a trampoline workout. 

This workout is as fun as being poked in the eye with a hedgehog.

But, that being said, it is a great workout. And strangely, I am not sore this morning because the instructor is more than competent and even though I may resemble a steamed oriental snack, I am actually quite physically fit.

So yes, I will go back. I bet it’s one of those things that get easier the more you do it. And maybe the fun factor develops in time. I’m optimistic.

    
 
 

I tried gentle Pilates 

I was never considered one of the athletic girls at school. I was thin, athletic-looking, very strong and very eager, but not quite enough. Not by comparison anyway. I remember this set of identical twin girls who were incredibly sportive, took every game very seriously and were the queens of track and field. They would win multiple gold medals on sports day and were well admired.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t. Even though I do believe that I had serious potential in that avenue, it was never particularly explored. We only had physical education twice a week. For 35 minutes because we needed 5 minutes before and after to change back from our tracksuit to our uniforms. If one wanted more, you would have to do so on your own, privately after school or in the summer holidays. 

In my summer holidays I went to the school of art to perfect my drawing and painting skills. Which was wonderful. It was what I wanted and loved. That being said, it never occurred to me or my parents for that matter to enroll me in a sport. It probably would have done me a world of good and would have exposed me to another world besides the arts.

And there really was potential. Every year for sports day I would take part in what they called a ‘fun race’. I would dawn a potato sack and jump for 60m in it to the finish-line. And I always won. I always got the gold medal for that one. And even though it wasn’t considered a serious race, you need an immense amount of strength to hop your way through 60m and win.

And now to the present. I am 33 years old and I really understand the importance of being active. It is seriously what prevents you from growing old. I go running quite regularly and I have a cross-trainer at home.

But what I really love doing is taking classes. There are so many wonderful and weird fitness classes out there: Zumba, pilloxing, trampoline fitness, pole fitness, Bollywood fitness…you name it and it exists. There is even a class where you are suspended in mid-air from a harness.

So today I tried gentle Pilates. You follow an instructor do an array of stretches and push-ups and weights while keeping your tummy muscles taut with the aid of a massive inflatable ball. You climb over it, balance on it and try not to let it roll away.

Basically, you gracefully dry-hump a rather large beach ball for an hour.

And it is a proper workout. I was sweating and everything. I am sore all over. I know I am going to pay for this tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by the new-agey connotations that come with Pilates…do not think that you are simply going to relax and breathe and inhale a wheatgrass smoothie while gently stretching a tricep here and there. You are going to perspire and have sweat-pools under your breasts and around your crotch. You are going to look stupid with a huge, orange spherical object between your legs which you are desperately trying to balance on and not allow to roll away in equal measures. You are going to sprawl on it too, on your tummy with your butt in the air while you try not to roll forward and break your face on the parquet.

If that was gentle Pilates, I wonder what rough Pilates is like…maybe they line the balls with metal spikes.

And as I type this post in bed, soon about to retire for the evening, I wonder what aching fresh hell awaits me on waking.

  
    
 

Please, do everything you can.

It is often the case that ninety-five year-old, absolutely decrepit and demented elderly people come through accident and emergency and end up in some ward or another.

Generally, this person will absolutely not be in a position to take any comprehensible decisions so the medical staff turns to the relatives, usually in a large group, huddled around said elderly person. And they nod and say benignly ‘Do everything that can be done, poor thing, and then if she/he has to go, at least we know we have tried everything.’

I hear this so often that I cannot help but question ‘tried everything’ for who exactly? Is this to put the relatives’ minds at rest that they did not commit some kind of back-door euthanasia or do they honestly think they are acting in the best interests of the elderly person?

Because I most definitely do not think so. Nowadays we keep elderly people alive who most often would much rather be dead because modern medicine and power of attorney gives us the power to do so.

If you only knew how many times I have seen relatives allow their elderly to be pumped with intravenous antibiotics, fed through naso-gastric tubes and when they do eventually stop breathing, make the nurses perform CPR, compressing this poor person’s chest, only to perhaps find an erratic heartbeat and prolong the suffering by admitting the patient to ITU. All on the insistence of the relatives.

Now I am not some mercy-killing, angel-of-death kind of nurse. But when someone’s time is up, I am most certainly ok with letting go. If you are 98, in a care facility, dependent on someone else for all activities of daily living, often claim how you wish to die and basically have a pretty crap quality of life, it is time to say goodbye. Allow that person to go in peace. I think anything else is just selfish: keeping your loved one alive and suffering just so you can visit them once a week and feel like a good Samaritan, is abhorrent.

I’m not saying that this should happen to everyone of a certain age. But those who are honestly in a bad state with no hope of ever getting at least the basics back, I think we should just let them be. I am not saying actively terminating their lives. But not aggressively saving them either.

I speak like this because I have a trained eye. I can tell when a patient’s life is being prolonged unnaturally with no hope of change. And I am sure that some people are reading this and thinking about how cruel and unfeeling I am. And it is precisely because I am not cruel and unfeeling that I do speak this way.

Each situation is unique and it is never clear cut. But there is a time to say good-bye and I do believe that relatives know it. But due to fear, and perhaps family pressure, they do not dare speak up.

I have yet never been in a situation where such decisions needed to be taken for loved ones, but when it does happen, I hope I make the right decision.

Whatever that may be.

 

Eugh. Supermarkets.

I abhor the supermarket. I hate it with a passion. I am not sure if it brings out the worst in me or if it brings out the worst in other people. The amount of stupidity and selfishness I see displayed in large supermarkets is unlike I have ever experienced anywhere.

What I can’t understand is why. Why is it that in supermarkets it is a like a behavioural free for all where people are permitted to act like animals? Is it the bright lights? The smell of meat from the butcher stall? The unlimited choice of food products? The privilege of being able to push around a supermarket trolley?

I know people who honestly get excited about supermarkets. They examine every shelf and every product. They weigh up the pros and cons of each brand and compare prices.

I am not one of these people. I am a ‘find-what-I-want-and-dash’ kind of person. This is very far from a leisure trip for me. This is not the highlight of my day at all.

Reasons why I hate the supermarket:

  1. People: they stand completely in the way, trollies jutting out, not allowing anyone to go up the aisle. Or they see someone they know and chat, this time two trollies barricading the aisle. The definitely see me trying to make my way through but STILL DON’T MOVE. It makes me want to scream. Or they pretend not to hear me say ‘excuse me’ at the top of my lungs. They just stand there, like cows ruminating. Obstacles in my path of life.
  2. Harassment: I was reaching into a chest freezer to grab some items. I was wearing Bermudas, but I was bent over and searching, bottom in the air. All of a sudden, two stock boys behind me shouted ‘Danger! Danger zone!’ and smirked. How I wish I could fart at will. Then another time, I decided to buy an extra-value pack of toilet paper. It was a rather large 24 roll thing which did not fit in a carrier bag. The packet had a very handy plastic strap on it, so no problem. As I was walking to my car someone shouted ‘Hey lady!! You sure shit a lot!’ to which I shouted ‘At least I don’t do it from my mouth!’
  3. Sexism: I was observing what was on offer at the meat counter when the butcher says that they have fresh rabbit. I love rabbit, but I am not so experienced with cooking it so I politely declined. Then the butcher said ‘So you won’t make rabbit and chips for your husband?? Poor guy, no rabbit for him. These modern girls, they do not cook rabbit for their husbands!’ I guess when I got married they left out that part- in sickness and in health, til rabbit do us part…my poor husband indeed.
  4. Disorientation: I never seem to know where anything is, even if I have been to a particular supermarket a dozen times. Things just seem to move. Or I do not see them because people are standing in front of the shelves ruminating. It’s maddening. It’s like I am running some bizarre relay race where the baton is a loaf of bread or a frozen pizza.
  5. Payment: When I see people in the 15 items or less aisle, I feel like I am at the airport, behind passengers who have over-weight baggage; they scramble to reassemble their belongings in order to follow regulations. It is not rocket science people, its fifteen items or less and no, your 12 yoghurts of the same brand do not count as one item, there are 12 of them with 12 individual barcodes. That’s like having two separate offspring but saying you have only one because they both came from your uterus.
  6. Children: I love children, but not in supermarkets when they are screaming. Although I empathise completely. With the kid that is, not with the parent. I understand. I would love to scream too. I can’t because I’m an adult. So I am jealous. I do not want to be there either, so I write passive aggressive blog posts, but a child gets to scream and make a nuisance of himself so perhaps he will never have to go to a supermarket ever again. I want to scream and make a nuisance of myself so maybe I never have to go to a supermarket ever again. But I can’t. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

The only thing worse than a supermarket on a Saturday morning is a supermarket on Christmas eve. But it is August, so I do not have to worry about that for a while.Eugh. Supermarkets, youths and hipsters. Just go away. Seriously.

The most annoying passenger to be sat next to on a plane ever.

So today I was on a two hour flight to Prague. To my right was a young, hipster student who slept the whole time, God bless her. To my left was another story.

Cue Maltese housewife who I am certain has never been on a flight before. Her husband was in the seat across the aisle from her. 

And it began:

‘Guzi, rod is-salib ghax ha nitilqu!’

‘Ġuzi, torqodx ghax inti torqod ikrah u mintix ta’ quddiem in-nies!’

‘Iva, guzi, hares lejja meta nkellmek!’

And she didn’t stop reprimanding him for two and a half hours.

I brought out my iPad and began a game of monopoly.

‘Guzi! Ara din ta hdejja, x’tilghab il-monopoly! Qed tara, n-nies ghadhom jilghabuha!’

Oh lord. She assumed I could not understand Maltese. Let the games begin.

‘Guzi, qeda skomda! Ara hawn video! Oqghod attent Ġuzi, ghax jekk l-ajruplan jinzel fil-bahar inhallik teghreq! Ara din ta’ hdejja, baqat tilghab il-monopoly! Issa hekk jigri xi haga x’se taghmel din? Jien ma nsalvahiex zgur!’

Then the food cart came. I just asked for the water as I wasn’t too keen on the baguette because plane sickness is a thing, unfortunately.

‘Guzi! Ara kemm hi halja din! Ma haditx il-hobz! Hmmm…insomma, forsi din xi wahda minn dawn tal-‘gluten free’…’

Then she proceeded to lecture anyone who would listen for the rest of the flight on how having a gluten allergy ‘huwa kollhu bullshit’ and ‘fi zmieni ma kellniex ‘gluten’.’

When we finally landed, she brought out a brush to fix her hair which had the attractive-loaf-of-bread style and said ‘min jaf kif dejjaqtha lil din ta hdejja, miskina, lanqas tniffset u jiena nghid saghtejn shah!’

Oh Jesus. Shall I embarrass her royally? Oh the temptation to unleash my inner bitch! 

But I didn’t. I just smiled and disembarked.

By the way, Prague is lovely.

Enraged.

I am a happy person. I smile a lot. I wear brightly coloured, quirky clothes. I say positive things to people and I have a gentle demeanour. I make jokes to put others at ease. I see the bright side of life.

So it took a very long time for me to realise just what an angry person I really am. Deep down I feel bubbling lava of rage which I am either constantly ignoring or controlling. Sometimes I am able to forget it is there. But it never truly goes away. It hides somewhere in the caves of my inner self, in slumber until it gets provoked and awakened.

I am angry all the time. Something somewhere is always disappointing me. I am often very disappointed in myself. And in the world we live in.

I used to call it ‘irritation’. I used to say that no, I am not an angry person, I am just easily irritated. But that’s how it starts. Little things irritating you day after day without relent. Little things that are getting under your skin that you see no sign of changing or getting better in spite of one’s best efforts, one’s skill in diplomacy or trying to simply ‘not let it bother you’. It could be a situation. But mostly it will be another person. And then you start seeing that person as nothing but the thing that irritates you about him or her and you begin to fantasize about all their plans going bust or perhaps public humiliation most deserved after their offensive behaviour.

And BANG. That is what anger is. It is radioactive smog that blurs your vision and changes your sensibilities. It makes you stop seeing anything good in others or in different circumstances. It swells in your chest and consumes you. You stop being you and instead you are just angry. Paradoxically it is like a fuel that exhausts you. When you are taken over by it, you feel energised, strong and almost powerful. But when the outward rage passes and you gain back some rationality, all you really feel is sad and alone and empty. And often very, very misunderstood.

I am a very big fan of Marvel comics and the movies. I think the two angriest characters would have to be most obviously the incredible Hulk and maybe slightly less obviously Loki, the god of mischief from Thor. Loki has a lot of latent anger, being abandoned and adopted, told rather late in life of his true parentage and his brother being the golden boy. And even though he does revel in chaos, sometimes his rage does fuel him to do good things. In the second movie, Thor breaks Loki out of prison and relies on him to save the day and at a point Loki says something like if you can’t trust me, trust my rage. As for the Hulk, when he gets angry, he turns into a violent and destructive green monster and when he finally calms down he is basically spent. The interesting thing is that when the Hulk as Bruce Banner is questioned on what’s his secret, he says that nothing really needs to make him angry to trigger the Hulk because he is angry all the time.

Incompetence makes me angry.

Ignorance.

Deliberate stupidity.

People in power who are not worthy.

Bad people who receive good things.

People who do not think before they speak.

The unfairness of everything.

Cruelty.

Acceptance of mediocrity.

Religious fundamentalism.

Dishonesty.

Corruption.

These are some of the things that make my blood boil. It makes me scream inside. Inside I am constantly screaming. It is piercing and it rings in my ears. Inside I am jumping up and down and throwing things. Inside I am a green monster with purple trousers smashing things.

That being said, my anger at how unfair life is makes me want to be a better person and makes me want to do good things. Because in life it is important to know who you want to be, however it is just as important to know who you don’t want to be. And I do not want to be a surly, angry and unproductive person. So if I have these negative feelings, the least I can do is try to wrangle out a positive outcome.

So yes, I admit that I am an angry person. And I doubt that it will ever just go away. But I can control it and for the most part I do. And I never succumb to it and let it change me. That is one way in which the Hulk and myself differ:

He may smash.

But nothing will smash me.