Try something new: Soul Cycle

I’m writing this post before the sweat has even dried from my body so you get as accurate a recall of this class as possible.

A few weeks ago, my friend Sabine reached out to me because she had semi-recently become an instructor at SoulCycle.

I had only ever taken one SC class before, and, it has to be said, I wasn’t that impressed with it. But I’m a firm believer in second chances, so when Sabine offered me a free class in exchange for an honest review on my blog, I told her to sign me up.

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The Gym
Space: If you’ve never been to SC, the aesthetic is actually really similar to Drybar. If you’ve never been to Drybar…it’s modern and uses a lot of white and yellow. Shoes are included in the cost, and water is $2 extra. One of the biggest pros to SC is its locker room. Y’all know I love amenities, and these locker rooms are fully equipped with fancy soaps, good hair dryers, hair accessories, and the various toiletry and product accoutrements you need post-workout. (Basically, FREE STUFF!) The spin studio itself isn’t remarkably different from any other spin studio. The bikes are arranged in a semi-circle around the instructor’s stage. Throughout the class, the instructor has control of the lights and music.
Cleanliness: The locker room was a little messy, probably because it was the end of the day. Everything was wiped down and sterilized though, just a little cluttered.
Attitude: Before I attended spinning classes regularly, I think I would have been a little intimidated by SC classes. Most of the people there have been going for a while, and, in general, they go hard. If you have a few classes under your belt, though, you’ll feel right at home.

The Workout
Difficulty (Out of 10, 1 being “could do it in my sleep” and 10 being “omg I can’t walk”): 9. As I said before, I didn’t really care for the last SC class I went to mostly because I didn’t feel like I got a really solid workout. Sabine’s class was entirely different. Girl makes you work. Between continuously harder “climbs” and sprint intervals that had me literally dripping sweat, not to mention a tough arm circuit in between, I had a little trouble walking down the stairs to the subway after.
Experience: Sabine did a great job keeping the energy level up, even though class was on a Friday night. Classes like this are really all about the instructor, and I liked her style of providing cues and how smoothly each interval flowed into the next. One thing I don’t always love about SC classes is that you do a lot of arm work while you’re riding, including tricep dips and pushups on the handle bars. For me, it interrupts the flow of riding a bit, but I do like ending the class feeling like I’ve worked out more than just my legs. I think this is something I would probably get used to as time went one — even this time around, it was easier. Speaking of arms, there’s a portion of the class where you slow the bikes and do an arm circuit with light weights (at least, they feel light in the beginning). Sabine will be happy to know that my biceps and shoulders were burning (in a good way) by the end of that portion. Plus, she actually played music I hadn’t heard a thousand times at every other spin class, which is a big bonus.
Afterburn: I was already feeling wiped when I left the class, and I have a feeling my shoulders will be sore tomorrow morning. Definitely tough one.

Final grade: A! I’m not sure if I can afford regular SC classes, but if I go, at least I know Sabine’s classes are worth the cost.

And, for the record, I’m not just saying all this because Sabine is my friend. If I hadn’t liked the workout, I would say something like, “It’s really great for beginners!” This was tough in the best way possible.

Thanks again for having me, Sabine!

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What we talk about while our dogs sniff each others’ butts

When you tell people you are thinking about getting a dog, there are a lot of things they will warn you about.

It’s a lot of work. They will inevitably destroy your stuff. (Remind me to tell you about the new ink stain on our couch, courtesy of a certain fuzzy-faced culprit.) They have expensive medical bills. They need training. They bark. They pee on things.

The list goes on.

One thing no one warns you about? You’re going to have to get over any social anxiety you have about chatting up strangers.

Because, here’s the thing: My dog? My dog may not always love new people, but he loves new dogs.

Bogey thinks every other four-legged thing is his best friend. He tries to play with other dogs, but also cats and even squirrels. The only animal he shows an ounce of aggression toward is birds. (Seriously, he seems convinced he could catch one if I would just let him try.)

This is great because I don’t have to worry about him inflicting harm on another living thing (unless it tweets). This is sometimes annoying because we have to stop and meet every. Single. Other. Dog.

In the month we’ve had the Bogster, Joey and I have spoken to more people in our neighborhood than we had in the entire first year we lived here. Sometimes (and I’m doing the momma humblebrag thing here) it’s just people telling me how cute he is. Seriously. He’s that adorable.

"Oh, hi. Just sitting here. Being the cutest freaking thing you've ever seen."
“Oh, hi. Just sitting here. Being the cutest freaking thing you’ve ever seen.”

The rest of the time, though, they also have a dog and Bogey wants to be their best friend.

I mean, it’s fine. These encounters rarely last more than a few minutes. There’s always some awkwardness as the dogs immediately start to tangle their leashes. And the conversations are usually some (slight) variation of this:

{Bogey spots a dog and immediately starts straining toward them}
Me: Oh! Is he friendly? (indicating the other dog)
Them: He’s friendly!
{dogs sniff noses and then IMMEDIATELY butts}
Me: They’re so shy, right?
Them: (polite laughter) I know!
{pause for sniffing}
Them: What kind of dog is he?
Me: Cavalier/cocker spaniel mix.
Them: Oh, I love his coloring. (ed note: This is not me bragging. Literally everyone says this.)(Okay, bragging just a little.)
Me: What’s yours?
Them: [insert breed]. How old is he?
Me: Eight months.
Them: Oh, he’s a baby!
Me: Yeah…how old is yours?
Them: [insert age]
Me: Oh, that’s great. (ed note: What, Justine? Why is that great? Shut up.)
{more leash shuffling and sniffing, possible dog tussling}
Me: Oooookay, Boges, let’s go. (Literally DRAG Bogey away from his new soul mate like the heartless wench I am. But, dude, life must go on. Especially if I’m holding a bag full of your poo and just want to get to the nearest trash can without interruption.)

Hand to God, I have had that exact conversation no fewer than 12 times since we got the dog. Bogey always acts mildly traumatized when it’s time to say good-bye, but it’s nothing compared to when he meets an unfriendly dog. He’ll do his usual choking-himself-with-the-leash-to-get-to-the-other-dog-quicker routine, and then if the dog snaps at him or barks aggressively, he immediately regrets his life choices and backs up until he’s sitting on my shoe. He’ll glace up at me with this incredibly concerned look like, “What the heck, Mom?”

But he’s young. Eventually he’ll learn the world is not full of best friends like he thinks it is.

Honestly, I don’t mind having 2-minute conversations with fellow dog owners. It’s cute when Bogey and another pup bond immediately. It’s the people who use the dogs as an opener for an actual chat that I get testy with.  (Which is probably the most cynical, New Yorker-esque thing I’ve ever said. But what do you expect? I’ve been here half a decade now.) Or the people who want you to continue to chat like nothing is happening while you juggle leash handles and try not to act nervous about their 50-pound dog who “isn’t mean, he’s just playing when he barks and growls like that!” Riiiiight.

There will probably come a day when I don’t feel at all weird chatting someone up while our dogs stick their faces in each others’ rear ends, but I’m not quite there yet. The point is, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, prepare to make a lot of friends. A LOT. Like, all the friends.

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“Let’s go find some pals.”

Five Years in New York

Today is the fifth anniversary of my move to New York.

First NY apartment
First NY apartment

When I used to talk about moving here, I would always add that the official plan was to move here for ten years, and then probably head west to California.

Now that I’ve made it halfway through that timeline, I’m less confident in my ability to stick it out the full ten years (it’s hard living here, yo), but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

My sister and I on one of my first trips to the city.

New York is the city where I met, dated, and married my husband. It’s the first place I lived entirely separate from my family. It’s where I’ve made some of my dearest friendships. It’s where I had my first (and second, third, fourth, and fifth) real, grown-up jobs. It’s where we started our life with the Boges.

ahhh the dating days
ahhh the dating days

New York City is a city like no other in the world. Where “only in New York!” moments happen literally every day. I mean, yesterday during work, there were Broadway show previews happening in the alley behind my building. Just because they can.

In this place, I’ve almost been hit by a car, encountered traumatizing wildlife, and survived a hurricane. I’ve eaten amazing food and celebrated anniversaries and gotten to do things I couldn’t done have pretty much anywhere else.

In short, as much as I rag on the NYC, this city has been pretty good to me.

And whether I’m here for another five years or not, it’s safe to say a part of me will always heart New York.

Spring Simplification Update, 2

As much as I love a major overhaul, in general, it’s not possible. (Thanks, budgets.)

Rather than mope at the fact that I’m not a millionaire (forever), I try to embrace the tweak. You may remember this was the basis of my Spring Simplification List.

Well, lucky for you (okay, mostly lucky for me), I’ve crossed a few more things off the list. Here’s the latest update (new crossed off things in purple):

BEDROOM
Move bed back
Hooks for hats and bags
Move trunk into bedroom
Hang curtains
Fix pictures over drawers

LIVING ROOM
New coffee table or TV dinner trays
Clean up corners
Map for over couch
Organize desk area
Create more organized entryway

CLOSETS
Straighten linen closet
Clean out front closet
Reorganize crawl space

KITCHEN
Get Norden IKEA table
Sell dinner table (added to Craigslist)
Clean out pantry

The new map over the couch is probably my favorite update.

living-room-map

It’s quite nice not staring at a blank, empty wall. Even Bogey likes it!

The especially obsessive readers will also notice that I added (and then promptly crossed off) a new item on the list: organizing the entryway. Now that we have the Boges and his various accoutrements, we needed a better way to store leashes, keys, wallets, etc. (Okay, so Bogey is only responsible for one of those things. STILL.) Our old front door rug also needed to be replaced because it would slide way too easily under a rambunctious pup, meaning I had to fix it about three times a day.

keys

keys-close

A new key hook, a bin for bulkier items, and a new front rug with a grippy bottom (for when games of fetch get out of hand) makes for a much more streamlined entryway.

I also finally added some more organization in the bedroom with a few hooks.

hats-hooks

By taking those things out of my wardrobe, I have more room inside for things that aren’t as pretty to display. (Looking at you, pile of jeans.)

As for the kitchen table, I haven’t sold it yet, but I added it to Craigslist, so hopefully soon.

The next things on the list I’m prioritizing are cleaning out the crawl space (so I can finally finish organizing the bedroom), updating the art above our dresser drawers, and an IKEA run to get the kitchen table replacement.

Right now, I’m on the hunt for something inexpensive to do above the drawers. I have three small frames, but I’m not sure if they stand alone very well. I kind of want to do some kind of horizontal poster or painting because I need another gallery wall like I need a hole in the head. So…stay tuned.

What home tweaks have y’all been making. And any tips for what to put above my dresser? Here’s what it looks like now for reference:

IMG_7583

Help me end the blank wall epidemic in my home for good.

3 Things I’m Really Bad At

If we’re friends on Facebook, yes the idea for this post did come from my status yesterday. Apologies for what could arguably be called leftovers.

Yesterday, I was thinking about strengths and weaknesses in a joke-y sort of way. (I’m such a card.) Like, what if the next time a job interviewer asked you what your weaknesses were, you were really honest?

Not like, “I check Facebook a lot during work and get hammered every weekend” honest. Like, what are you actually kind of terrible at?

I’ll start. Here are my three biggest real life weaknesses.

1. Making spontaneous dinner plans.
You guys. I am so annoying to make plans with. Turns out the biggest downside to being SUPER organized and having a very up-to-date calendar is that I get very stressed out if I don’t have things planned out in advance. Sometimes this means my calendar is booked up for up to two months at a time.

THIS IS NOT ME HUMBLEBRAGGING THAT I’M POPULAR. I’m not. Not even close. I just get plans with my little circle of friends down in the books tout de suite rather than wait to see what the weekend holds.

I’m pretty sure this has something to do with a particular scarring Saturday in middle school when literally EVERYONE had plans except me and I spent the afternoon holding back tears and eating string cheese while watching a marathon of Even Stevens. It was a dark time.

The point is, I am a master plan-maker. Which is helpful if you want the next two months booked solid at a time. Not so much if you just wanted to see if anyone was free to try the new sushi place in the east village? Hmm? Anyone?

Spoiler alert: Rarely me. I am rarely free. If I have a free night, it’s because I did it on purpose so I could hang curtains and clean my kitchen. Sorry for asking if you have August 23rd open instead.

2. Parallel parking.
YES, I know I can’t really be an adult if I can’t do this. And, yes, it is hard living in Queens if you can’t do this. And, actually, I’m only really bad at this 95 percent of the time. (The other 5? I nail it, you guys. It’s like a driver’s ed video example of how to correctly parallel park.)

The problem is that other 95 percent, also known as most of the time.

You guys. I have literally attempted to parallel park, then messed it up SO badly I just drove away because I was so embarrassed. I’ve abandoned spots, the cardinal sin of city living. But if people start honking and staring and piling up behind me, I can’t deal with it and bail out.

I am being totally sincere when I tell you that if I take the car out, I will double-park in front of the building and wait for Joey to come out and park the car.

To answer the question on your mind, yes, it is embarrassing and pathetic. AND YET HERE WE ARE.

3. Judging character.
I sometimes fool myself into thinking that I am a great judge of character. I definitely pick up on people’s vibes right away.

But you know what? There have been at least five times in my life when I was convinced that someone was just the coolest for months at a time, when suddenly something happened that their true colors reared their ugly heads and I was dealt a very rude awakening that I had been totally wrong.

And I’m just sitting there like, how did I not see that? At all? Not even an inkling!

So, I’m throwing in the “good judge of character” card. Because the times I was off I was that far off. Apparently I can’t trust anyone, least of all my own judgment.

Ok, now YOU go. What are your three biggest real life weaknesses?

Random thoughts I couldn’t flesh out into full posts

– As I’ve mentioned before, we recently hired a dog walker to give Bogey a break around lunch time. And, you guys? I can’t say enough good things about the company. They are prompt, responsive, and incredibly nice. Whenever our usual walker (Emily) has to miss a day, she always arranges for someone else to come take care of our boy. Plus, getting a text every afternoon about how he’s doing is the best. I especially like when she includes a photo.

This week’s Bogey adventure? We’re attempting to let him hang out in the living room during the day instead of the bathroom. There’s more space for him to move about, and it’s cooler now that the weather is getting warm. The downside is that there’s also more for him to get into, but we’ve been leaving him out for an hour or so at a time with success, so hopefully he continues to just chew his toys and not our stuff.

– My hair is FAMOUS.

– I don’t have any good updates for my Spring Simplification List, but I do have updates on the meal planning!

For the last week and a half, Joey has been a dinner machine, and the results have been pretty great so far. He feels more organized because he doesn’t have to think of things to make every night and already has shopping lists pre-written, and I feel better because I’m helping and lists are involved. Win-win!

So far, the best dinners he has made have been the Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza (which he made on tortillas) and the Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta. You guys. That pasta. If I ever had any doubts about marrying Joey, that dinner wiped them all away. So. Good.

Up this week is a stovetop avocado mac and cheese we’re both pretty excited about. I’ll let you know how it goes. (And if you have any good simple/healthy-ish dinner recipes to share, we’re all ears! Leave a comment below.)

That’s all she wrote, folks. What’s going on with you?

Pretty uncomfortable.

Today, while walking back to work from lunch, a man on the street tried to stop me to talk to me. He was one of those guys hawking bus tours around the city. His attempt was simple. He basically got in my way while shouting, “Hi, pretty! Excuse me, pretty! Excuse me, pretty!”

I swerved around him as I said, “No thank you” because I assumed he was trying to sell me a bus tour.

This is normally enough of a maneuver to get someone to stop trying to talk to me on the street.

Undeterred, the man continued to follow me shouting, “Excuse me, pretty! One minute, pretty!” I replied forcefully, “I live here.” But he didn’t stop. A bit unnerved, I ducked into the next deli and he finally went away.

Here’s the thing: I live in New York City. People are constantly talking to you in the streets, whether they’re selling you something or just asking you to take a picture of them (“with the building in the background!”). But for some reason, this encounter made me uncomfortable.

There’s no way to say this without sounding like a douche bag, but I struggle sometimes with how to respond to stranger compliments. On one hand, sure, some people are probably genuinely just trying to be nice. But on the other, I kind of just want to walk to work without being appraised. I especially want to walk to work without being accosted.

Calling me “pretty” does not give you the right to otherwise treat me however you please. Compliments do not make it okay for you to make me feel uncomfortable or ignore my polite request to keep moving.

These thoughts were all coursing around in my head as I sat back at my desk, and then I saw this article. The author articulately captured the frustration of being a female (fat, thin, whatever –simply being some kind of woman opens you up to these kinds of annoyances and threats) and simply trying to get around.

I think the most frustrating part is that there’s nothing we womenfolk can do to make this go away completely on our own. We can start the conversations, we can bring the problem to light, but we need the people shouting at us from cars and whistling from outside of bodegas to get on board. The people cat-calling need to decide they don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable before it will ever stop.

Because, as the author of that article points out, sticking up for ourselves can often put us in worse danger.

I like to give some people the benefit of the doubt. I know men who call women “sweetie” because they genuinely view it as a term of endearment. I’ve had men comment on my appearance in a way that I know they weren’t trying to pressure me into reacting any particular way or to make me feel uncomfortable. When it comes to defining harassment, sometimes I don’t even know if I can accurately point out where the line is.

But it’s there. And the more and more we talk about it, the better I think we’ll get at defining it.