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Thankful Things Thursday: Strangers Can Be So Nice

Posted Jun 21 2012 9:31am

Last night I attempted a Pilates class at my gym.

I say “attempted” because I didn’t exactly “do” all the moves. I managed to wobble during every balance, tip over during every side plank and face-plant during the squat-thrust-down-dog-push-up-leg-curl move.

I’m not too familiar with Pilates, but I’m going to venture a guess to say this stuff wasn’t “normal” Pilates. I was kind of hoping I’d get to lay down the whole time and maybe squeeze my abs once or twice and walk out of class with a six-pack…of abs, or maybe Coronas.

But no, this Pilates On Steroids class kicked my weak glutes, and the trouble started within my first 30 seconds in the studio.

The instructor, in her cute little skin-tight Lululemon outfit and her perky ponytail, was like, “Put your hands together, close your eyes, stand with your heels touching and your feet turned out.”

I thought I nailed it. I could do all those things!

Then she goes on: “Now think of three people you are grateful for in your life.”

My brain went nuts! I thought of six people — Mom, Dad, Ryan, Michaela, Brian, Tyler, Tyler, Tyler, OMG I love Tyler — right away.

Three of my favorite dudes: Brother, Nephew, Dad. See you guys TOMORROW! Tyler, I know you are dying to hit a home run, but you will have to wait, because helmets are bigger than your entire body. Give it time.

I was all, “I rock at Pilates. I’m so good at this. I can list 600 people I’m grateful for. This class is easy.”

Then Perky Instructor Girl With The Flat Stomach And Short Shorts continues: “Now, think of three positive affirmations for yourself, all starting with ‘I am’…”

My excited brain went blank.

Suddenly, this “Pilates” class was very difficult for me.

I tried to think of things.

“I am strong.”

That was my first one, because I was thinking about my bike ride that morning, which was cool.

“I am…have a good job.”

That was my second one. A grammatical shit show.

“I am hair.”

I’m not even kidding, the third thing I thought of was “I am hair.” Then in my brain I tried to fix it by quickly changing it to, “I am long hair…I have long hair!”

WTF?

It’s a little pathetic that the best compliment or affirmation I could give myself last night was about my hair, which isn’t even that long and is currently at war with the NYC humidity.

What can we learn from this?

Well, first, it’s that I hate Pilates and it’s too hard. And second, it’s that I’m better at being grateful for others than I am at being pleased with myself. I’ll work on it, but for now let’s channel that “I love you so much and you bring so much to my life” energy and throw it into !

I’m thankful I’m going to New Hampshire tomorrow — “home,” as my mom likes me to call it — for some quality family time. We have plans, including going strawberry picking and going to a BBQ on Saturday. But my main plan is to steal Tyler. Or at least borrow him for a while.

Hey little buddy! Your head is growing!

I asked Ryan if Tyler is excited to see me, but he said something about him being baby constipated. I think that translates to excitement somehow.

I’m thankful Brian gets up early sometimes, too. It makes that 5 AM alarm a whole lot easier when I’m not the only one responding to it.

I’m thankful for macaroons. I like the chocolate ones and the regular coconut ones dipped in chocolate. I also like macarons, the French things, but we can be thankful for those another time. Macaroons are my current dessert of choice.

I’m thankful for fresh summer fruit. I think I was psyched about this last week, too, so at least I’m consistent and you know these are legitimate, non-fleeting thoughts. I can’t get enough watermelon.

Oh it's so good. Once it hits your lips. Also, melon tastes best when prepared with a melon baller.

I want to fill my entire fridge, and then my entire stomach, with watermelon.

I’m thankful for ice packs and ACE bandages. My foot felt weird the other day, and I’m being Paranoid Preventative by icing it every morning and every night. I’m also easing up on the running and favoring cross-training and less impactful activities. The last thing I want is to go into marathon training with things hurting and an injury on the horizon. It’s a good thing I live with a doctor.

Am I capable of icing my foot myself? Yes, I am. But Brian does it better, and when he does it, I don't have to move from my laying down position on the couch. It's a win-win situation, except I'm not sure what he wins. I guess it's a win-lose situation.

And by doctor I mean “CEO of an advertising agency.” They are basically the same thing. Look it up.

I’m thankful for summery cocktails that make me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation when I’m really melting in midtown Manhattan. I had a tasty drink with a cool girl on Tuesday night, and I’m still thinking about it. It was fresh and fruity and it made me drunk. Perfect.

I’m thankful I survived last weekend’s road trip. So I may have mentioned this once or twice: I do not really drive anymore. Since moving to NYC five years ago, I never really need to get behind the wheel of a car. That’s probably a good thing. My parents always said I had a “lead foot,” and the cop(s) who gave me speeding tickets over the years would likely agree. It’s just best that I ride shotgun, where I can play with the radio and sing songs the entire time.

But over the weekend, I needed to drive. Brian was doing this bike ride, and we needed to get the car from the start point to the end point. He seemed to think that driving a car while simultaneously riding a bike was not implausible, which left me to drive and navigate.

This is my hand on the wheel for proof that I did, in fact, squeeze myself into the driver's seat. You will notice that I am going 0 MPH. That's because I was sitting in a parking lot at the Tanger Outlets, wishing they were open.

So I was pretty nervous about driving, and about driving through unfamiliar territory. I’m not always so great with directions.

Also, the “car” was not a car, but rather a beast.

Pimp my ride. Pimp my minivan. Pimp my friend Molly's bike.

Yes, that was our van, and yes, it is the exact same size as my apartment. Excellent.

Also also also, I wasn’t driving alone the whole time. I picked up Brian’s mom, and then drove with her in the car. Was I nervous? F yes I was. But she is one of two of the cutest women alive (Mom, you are the other one!) and she did a great job navigating, and we both made it to the finish line safely and with time to spare. And with my cowbell.

This is Brian's mom. She's tiny and cute and she's a teacher, which automatically makes her a good person in my mind.

I’m thankful for giant chocolate chip cookies from Levain Bakery. I had one after my marathon, and we went to the same location when Brian finished his ride this weekend. It seemed fitting. And I was hungry. No one argued with me.

The cookie weighs something like six pounds and no I will not share with you. I ate mine and half of Brian's mom's. YUM.

I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers. For some reason, strangers have been particularly nice to me lately.

First, there’s my new BFF John. Starting last fall, I noticed that I would see the same guy running in Central Park every morning, without fail. He was always wearing the same thing: black shorts and a white tank top, and he was pretty speedy.

Then the winter rolled around. John was still out there every day, and as I added layers of legwarmers to my short shorts, John circled the park in his uniform black shorts and white tank. I guess Superhuman John doesn’t get cold…ever.

I figured John was around 55 years old, and I was impressed that he was fast, relentless and clearly disciplined.

This is John! Everyone say hi!

We always ran opposite directions, and one day in December I was so excited because we actually smiled at each other. I texted Brian to let him know. I was psyched. A few days after that, we waved. There may have been a passing high five involved as well.

Then, one Saturday morning in January, Brian and I were running together, and we saw John. We all stopped, he introduced himself, we chatted for a while, and I left saying, “See you tomorrow I’m sure!”

But then — dun dun dunnnnn — months went by, and John was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t on the road or the Bridle Path. I took my running hiatus, I moved, and I never saw John again.

Finally, John reappeared last week! He ran up next to me and I was all giddy-excited. My buddy was back! We ran together for a bit and we talked and John is the nicest man of all time. I told him my last name (Mom, you never told me not to talk to strangers. That lesson was lost on me.), and within the hour I had an email from him saying it was nice to chat and run together.

I online stalked my new best friend, and it turns out, John is 68, runs with the Westchester Track Club and is pretty much a badass . Also, we’re neighbors, and I ran into him the other night while I was at Duane Reade in my pajamas and definitely not on my way to get frozen yogurt.

So that’s John. Nice Guy Story #1.

Story #2 is about Unnamed Bike Man.

As you know, I am newly interested in cycling.

THIS IS FUN. I WISH MY SHIRT HAD POCKETS.

However, I’m not quite “good,” at least not yet. But I want to be. I want to be fast and awesome.

On Sunday, Brian was out doing a “hard ride” — the day after a century, per his whacked-out training plan — and although we left our apartment together, we were not exactly riding “together.”

At one point, a nice Man On A Bike rode up next to me.

“You’re a runner, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I said to The Man Who Could Have Been Creepy But Wasn’t.

“I can tell,” he said. “Move your feet back on the pedals.”

I scooted my feet back, so I was pushing the pedals with the arches of my feet instead of my heels.

“Further,” he demanded.

And so I did. I started pedaling using the balls of my feet, and it made the best difference ever.

Then we kept chatting, and he gave me the biggest ego boost of all time (because that’s exactly what I need).

He told me I clearly had “the power in my legs” from running, and that I had “great cadence.” He rode with me for a while, and he gave me tons of helpful advice. Whenever we approached a hill, he encouraged me to keep pushing instead of half-assing it, which is my usual technique. Pretty soon, something magical happened: We caught up to Brian.

Mwahaha.

Before The Man On The Bike With No Name rode off, he yelled to me: “You’re going to be one of the good ones.”

He thinks I have cycling potential. This happened on Sunday and I’m still smiling about it.

Biking!!!!!!!!!

(I rode again this morning, by the way, and managed to squeeze in an extra mile. 25.5 to start the day. Woo! Biking!)

Finally, Story #3, is that there was a man running the “wrong” way around the Reservoir on Tuesday. I was going the right way (of course, you know I hate breaking rules) and each time we passed each other he would shout, “You’re doing great!” or “Keep it up!”

Every single time.

Maybe I’ll do something nice for a stranger today. Probably not, though. I’m pretty busy.

This has gotten long, so I’ll wrap it up with one final, really deep thought:

I’m thankful for summer. Bring on the heat. I can take it.

Complain about the heat all you want. I'll be over here, sweating and being fine with it.

THIS GAME IS FUN, SO YOU SHOULD PLAY, TOO: Tell me what you’re thankful for today! Did a stranger make your day? Did you have a great run today? Did you take tomorrow off so you have a long weekend? Does your company give you Summer Fridays? Did you remember to floss this morning? All great things. Share away!

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