Thursday, August 9, 2007

Midday Muse

I took a walk through part of SOMA today. The image above shows my route. With the sun out, my spirits were higher than they have been lately, even as I sweated under my wool turtleneck sweater. I enjoyed seeing new views of the city, and finding narrow alleys lined with humble, squat, brick buildings hidden in the shadows of the modern, glass-encrusted high-rises. Looking up into the second floor windows of these tiny, antiquated commercial blocks, I saw architecture studios, art studios, and secret galleries. I was transported to the alleys of SoHo and the far West Village, to Old San Juan, and Industrial Los Angeles.

I would love to have an art studio in a squat, ivy-lined, brick building someday. A private work space outside of my house, in a city – a quaint little cubby in which to create my art. But for now, I end my lunch break where I started: in the marketing department of an advertising agency.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Walk Home

After work today, I walked straight to the train station half a block away, but then realized I’d left my wallet in my gym bag at home. After digging through my bag, I was only able to scrounge up two quarters. A MUNI ticket is $1.50. I thought I’d call the husband and swing by his office to borrow the buck fifty from him, but then I discovered I’d also left my cell phone in my gym bag. I didn’t want to show up at his office unannounced because he’s on the 10th floor, behind a locked door. It would just cause too much confusion for me to go up there and ring the bell. If they weren’t expecting anybody, they might not even answer. So I decided to walk home.

A jaunt of any length through San Francisco inevitably offers a study on homelessness, but a walk of the length I took yesterday offers a study of greater depth. On every block along Market Street, I passed people who have made the streets their home. They were napping, pushing shopping carts, harassing shoppers, staggering, screaming or playing cards. Every open public space such as a park, a fountain, or a plaza was completely overtaken by the homeless. I was beginning to feel tired as I walked past the main library. I’d just spent one of my quarters on a nectarine at the UN Plaza farmer’s market; I thought it would be nice to sit on one of the concrete benches that line the library and enjoy my fruit. Once there, though, I noticed that the only available spots would have me flanked on both sides by vagrants, and what seemed to be the rowdy type. I kept walking.

In all, I walked 2.72 miles, a typical New York stroll. With these hills, though, it feels longer.

Despite the multitude of homeless, I quite enjoyed the walk. I haven’t worked my legs like that in a long time. There is something so exhilarating about long walks like that. It somehow feels constructive, like you’re really accomplishing something as you move forward, watching your surroundings change along the way.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hot Yoga is Bad for the Planet

A friend bestowed upon me a 30 day free pass to Bikram Yoga. I didn't know whether to say "thank you" or "damn you", because I knew I'd use the pass, as I like working out and I'm too poor to pay for classes, but I also knew I'd hate it.

Bikram Yoga is torture, yet it's good for you. I always feel great afterwards, but for the ninety minute duration of the class I feel lightheaded, nauseous, and dizzy. The instructors say it's because I don't drink enough water throughout the day, and though that may be true, I have to wonder, "Don't you think it might be the 120 degree heat?"

Aside from the nausea, my strongest observation about Bikram Yoga is the unsustainable material impact. Simply put, it's bad for the environment. A single class requires the following materials:

  • shorts
  • tank top
  • two towels (one for laying on the floor under my mat, because the floor is so sopping and stinky that I want as little of my mat to touch it as possible, and one for on top, to absorb the sweat.)

After each class, my outfit is soaked (as in dripping), as is the top towel. The bottom towel reeks of old carpet bacteria and the sweat-of-many-strangers. Therefore, all of these items go straight into the washing machine after each and every class. What is that - fifteen gallons of water per 'small load' cycle?

Also, the locker rooms are stocked with small plastic sacks - like the kind you get in the produce department - to put your sopping clothes in so that the interior of your gym bag doesn't get wet.

The impact:
  • 15 gallons of water
  • 1/4 cup laundry detergent
  • 1 yard of plastic

Finally, the studio I'm doing this in has horrendous fluorescent lighting. I have to wonder about the energy being used to light the studio, as well as to keep the heaters running.

All this in the name of detoxing our bodies.