Monday, November 30, 2009

Going the Distance

Disclaimer: Before you read any further, I feel that I should warn you: this post contains bathroom humor, specifically bathroom humor about pooping. I'm sorry. Wait--fuck that. I make no apologies. I like bathroom humor, okay? It might be considered juvenile and unrefined, but I bust a gut whenever I hear a good poop story or a well-placed fart. My point? If you do not find what goes down in the restroom funny, DO NOT READ THIS POST. You can't say I didn't warn you...

* * *

A couple of weeks ago, I joined a boxing gym. I joined for several reasons: 1) I thought it would be a good stress-reliever after work; 2) hitting things sounded like fun; 3) I wanted to get fit and overall be a healthier person; and 4) I also needed/wanted to lose weight and see results, like, immediately (patience is not my strong suit) and this seemed like the best way to do it. I participate in a class Monday through Wednesday after work every week, where I cheerfully get my ass handed to me by the friendly staff at Punch Boxing for Fitness.

Now sometimes when I participate in an intense workout, my stomach tends to cramp. I asked a girlfriend of mine who teaches spin class if this ever happened to her, which it had, and her advice was to just power through. The last few times I felt my stomach cramp during a workout, I did just that and didn't dwell on it too much, and it went away almost immediately. So when it started cramping during rounds on the heavy bag earlier tonight, I tried not to think too much about it and just power through.

Before I go any further, I should back up to earlier in the day, when I had lunch. My lunch was comprised of a Subway sandwich and an Italian salad a co-worker of mine brought in from her Thanksgiving leftovers. Both were delicious, but the salad didn't sit too well with me, and I was making trips to the bathroom for the rest of the day to, ahem, pass it. As I was getting ready to go to the gym after work, I once again felt the need to, um, go, but I shrugged it off; the urge wasn't that strong, and I figured it could wait until I got home, as I didn't want to be late for class.

Now flash forward to the class, to Round 2 on the heavy bag. My stomach starts to cramp, but I try to ignore it and continue punching, jabbing and concentrating on my footwork. After three minutes, Round 2 is over, and we have a one minute break. The pain intensifies--along with the urge to poop. By the time Round 3 is over, I can no longer ignore the pain or the fact that I'm a butt-clench away from taking a massive dump in my pants. I stare longingly at the bathrooms; I just KNOW that if I were able to relieve myself, the stomach cramping would lessen considerably and I would be able to continue with the class more comfortably. But, alas, that is not an option.

Getting ready to box is somewhat of a process; you have to wrap your hands and put on your gloves, all of which takes about five minutes, and it takes about that same amount of time to de-glove and unwrap. Given that and the fact that the class is small, there is absolutely no way on this sweet earth that I would be able to take my shit off, use the facilities and get my shit back on without the trainer noticing and calling me out. And what would I say when I got called out? There's not a chance in hell I'd 'fess up in the middle of class that I had to use the restroom right then and there because I had to drop a deuce; the only thing I would be able to do is act all cryptic and just insist over and over again that I need to go, which would probably lead the trainer (who is a dude) to believe that it was feminine problems, which is even worse. Bottom line: I'm up shit creek without a paddle. Pun intended.

Round 4 starts, and I'm starting to worry that if the stomach cramping doesn't subside, I could very well poop my pants. I'm concocting up all these worst-case scenarios, thinking that if any of them actually happened, I would never be able to return to that gym with my head held high. There's just no way I could come back from that. I'm a 26 year-old woman in full charge of her faculties. There's no excuse for making number two in my drawers. It would be absolutely mortifying.

So there I am, trying my hardest to concentrate on the workout and not on the nightmares playing out in my head, when suddenly, I know what I have to do. I have no choice really. I have to channel Rocky Balboa and just go the distance: get through class and not, under any circumstances, shit my pants. I have to power through. After all, I'm sure Rocky had to crap at some point during his fight with Apollo Creed, but was he worrying about pooping his pants in front of Mick, Adrian and everybody else? Hell no he wasn't. He had a job to do. A fight to finish. Basic human functions like using the restroom could wait just a fucking minute. And if Rocky could do it while getting pounded on by Apollo, surely I could last through a few more rounds on a measly heavy bag.

And that is exactly what I did. I powered through, and the stomach cramping did eventually subside, along with its brother, the urge to crap. I made it through the class sans any embarrassing incidents. I went the distance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Favorite Bay Area Hang-Outs

Every once in awhile, when I'm bored, I create a mental list of my favorite hang-out spots around the Bay Area, just in case Glamour or Cosmopolitan realizes how cool I am and are just dying to know. (Yes, I realize this makes me delusional, but play along, k?) But now that I have this blog, I thought it would be fun to share the list with you guys (and any Glamour and Cosmopolitan writers who happen to stop by). So without further ado, I present SVB's List of Favorite Bay Area Hangouts (and by Bay Area, I mean the Tampa Bay area, not the San Francisco Bay area):

Nola Cafe
301 W. Platt Street #C
Tampa, FL 33606-2292

Nola Cafe is Tampa's little slice of New Orleans, serving up classic Louisana fare like Po Boy sandwiches and jambalaya. It's a little family-owned joint, cozy, and the perfect spot to bring a favorite book, grab a cup of coffee and relax for an hour or two. While all of the food I've eaten there has been delicious, my favorite things to order are the beignets. Due to a horrifically bad date with a weirdo who plays drums there occasionally, I've avoided the place like the plague. Those beignets are a callin' my name, though, and I have a feeling that my evasion is about to come to an end.

Sally O'Neal's Pizza Hotline
1319 S. Howard Ave.
Tampa, FL 33606-3124

When my friend Ali announced that she was officially too good for The Hut after discovering Sally O'Neal's Pizza, I thought she was just making shit up. I'm sorry, but the name Sally O'Neal sounds fake, so I didn't believe that it was a real pizza joint until we went there--and I experienced for myself the most amazing pizza I've ever put in my mouth. Oh. My. GOD. There is seriously nothing like it! It's freshly-baked, the cheese is all good and melty, the ingredients are fresh--my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I am now, along with Ali, too good for The Hut. And Domino's. And Papa John's. And Hungry Howies.

La Creperia Cafe
1729 E. 7th Ave.
Tampa, FL 33605-3805

My friend John told me about this super-cute cafe, which is located smack dab in the heart of Ybor City (which is neat in and of itself: cigar shops, restaurants, boutiques, bars and night clubs dot Seventh Avenue. Very artsy and historic). If you couldn't tell from its name, La Creperia specializes in, you guessed it, crepes. It has every sort of crepe you could ever dream of, certainly the biggest selection I've ever seen, but what makes it stand out is that there's a Hispanic twist on some of the selections. I visited it for the first time a few weeks ago and fell in love.

L'Eden Restaurant
500 N. Tampa St.
Tampa, FL 33602

This French restaurant in downtown Tampa is one of my favorite places in which to indulge in a leisurely Saturday breakfast. The owners, as well as the staff, are French, and make you feel right at home. Everything, from the crepes to the cappuccino, is delicious.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this is a chain restaurant, but gat-dayum does it make one hell of a burger. If you haven't tried it, a) shame on you and b) do so immediately--it's the single greatest food item you will ever put in your mouth. When it comes to Five Guys, I always swallow. And you will too.

Square One Burgers
3701 Henderson Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609

This is another great little burger joint and somewhat of a juxtaposition: it's casual dining gift-wrapped in a modern, trendy setting. In addition to a string of specialty burgers, you also have the option of making your own creation, but every time I go, I order the same thing: the specialty veggie burger. I'm not a vegetarian, but this is one tasty meat-free patty. It's obvious they're made fresh--you can see the bits of corn and peas. Read: this is not a Boca Burger or anything mass-produced. This is what a Boca Burger wants to be when it grows up.

These are just a few of my favorite haunts in Tampa. If you ever hit one of those places up and I'm there, say hi. If you're that drum-playing weirdo, though, keep on steppin'.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Birthday and Halloween Fun Or That One Time I Got the Plague

For me, October has always been somewhat of a magical month. Growing up, I would be so excited when it finally rolled around: my parents would dust off their Halloween decorations, my friends and I would excitedly talk about and plan our costumes, the air would finally get a little cooler, and everything just seemed to have a little extra sparkle. Halloween was one of those holidays where it seemed like anything could happen, and I always looked forward to the fun and mischief it would bring. Add to that the fact that my birthday is on the 30th (where not just candy but candy and presents were a sure-fire guarantee) and you probably have some idea of just how excited I was.

As an adult, I still look forward to my birthday, Halloween and October in general, but each year it seems like a little more of that magic I felt as a kid gets lost amidst the forty-hour work weeks, bills and other adult responsibilities that take up more and more of my attention. So this year, I decided to do something about it and reclaim the magic. And what better place to do that than at the most magical place on Earth? That's right--I'm talkin' 'bout Walt friggin' Disney World.

The night I saw the commercial about getting free admission to Disney on one's birthday, I just about tripped over my own two feet to get to the computer and register. Since then, I'd been waiting for October 30, 2009 to roll around with child-like anticipation, and when it finally came, my friend Kathy met me at my apartment and we set off together for the Magic Kingdom. I had high expectations. I hadn't been to Disney since my parents took me when I was four, so I was expecting wonder and awe. I was expecting to be transported to a place where fantasies were a reality, where people pooped sparkles and upchucked rainbows because everything was just that magical and marvelous. And it did not disappoint. We saw Pluto, Pinocchio and the Disney Princesses, walked through Cinderella's castle, spun ourselves dizzy on the teacups, and toured the planet on It's a Small World. We had a map and we had a plan, and we weren't leaving until we soaked up as much Disney magic as 11a.m.-9p.m. would allow for. And then somewhere between Tomorrowland and one o' clock that afternoon, the body aches and overall sense of feeling assy hit me--hard. Kathy noticed it when we took a break to eat lunch and she noticed I only ate half of my vegetarian wrap.

"You're not hungry?" she asked.
"I'm not feeling too well, actually," I replied. I then told her about the aches and ended with my resolve to just be a soldier and power through--after all, we were at Disney, and I wasn't planning on wasting my free ticket or her paid-for ticket just because I was feeling less than stellar. I mean, who knows when I'd get to go again? She seemed fine with that, so after lunch we continued on our journey around the park and ended the evening by watching the night parade.

By the time the night parade was over and we started on the trek back to my car, I was pretty much done for--the body aches had intensified, leaving me feeling like an old woman with sore joints, and they were joined by a mild fever and a bit of congestion. All I wanted to do was get home and pass out in bed. Kathy agreed to drive us back, and as soon as we hit the parking lot, I was fantasizing about reclining the seat back as far as it would go and passing out. Unfortunately, my stomach must have been fantasizing about emptying its contents, because, without warning, I projectile vomited--and it was not rainbows. I felt an odd mixture of physical relief, mortification, awkwardness and awe. I was mortified because I was in a public place, and I knew of at least two people who were trying to leave who got a front-row view of the show; awkwardness because I just threw up for the first time in front of Kathy, which brought us to a whole new level in our friendship; and awe because of how much distance my stomach gravy cleared from my mouth to its final resting spot on the asphalt.

Poor Kathy, though. Other than her kids, she doesn't do well when people get sick, and I didn't get enough of a chance to warn her. At the first "throw up" sound I made she exclaimed, "Are you gonna get sick?!" and then scrambled off to find some napkins when I started heaving. At the end she was just about as breathless as I was when she asked, "Are you okay?" her eyes a mixture of fear and bewilderment. She was a sport, though, and a good friend--she tried to drive in the far right lane of the interstate as much as possible on the way back, just in case I had another episode.

Saturday--Halloween--was more of the same, just without the projectile vomiting. I spent the entire day watching TV and movies and trying to move my head and body as little as possible, and added pizza to the routine later on that night. Luckily, I didn't get any trick-or-treaters--if I had, I'm sure they would have run screaming the minute I opened the door.

So that was how my birthday and Halloween went down. I can't say the weekend was a total waste--that Disney night parade was pretty awesome.