The Writer’s Workout

Doctor Who inspired me to start running.

If you haven’t seen the show, there’s a lot of running involved. The Doctor and his companion(s) run, all the time, from every kind of monster and creepy crawly and terrifying psychic beast imaginable. I started to think, if the TARDIS  shows up one day outside my door, and The Doctor steps out and offers to show me the ultimate wonders of space and time and bow-ties, I would have to say, you know Doc, I’ve seen your show, and I don’t think I’d last the entire 42 minutes of our first adventure. Sorry mate. I can’t run.

So last summer, I downloaded a Couch to 5K app on my phone, bought a pair of Brooks Adrenaline sneakers, and started running. I was doing well for a little bit- made it through the first 10 weeks of the program- when I hurt myself and took a little break. Somehow that little pause in momentum threw me off completely, and although I’ve been running for six months now, three times a week, I still can’t break one mile without feeling like I have to throw up and die (not necessarily in that order).

So don’t worry, this isn’t a post about the wonders of running. I’m not gonna Murakami you. Running kinda sucks. Maybe it isn’t for me. But I need to find some kind of physical activity to do, because the majority of my time is spent with my butt on a chair (or my bed, or the floor- my butt doesn’t like to fight gravity much), and I hate most forms of exercise.

Also, there have been studies that show that if you have to make several tough decisions in a short span of time, your brain winds up craving sugar. Or naps. Just craving it. And what is writing if not making a series of tough decisions, word by word, under a terrible deadline? I’m practically doomed. [Don’t ask me for citations, it’s Sunday afternoon and this is a blog.]

The brief period in my life when I was actually physically active was from the ages of 16-20, when, on a random impulse that paid off in spades, I joined a Bharatanatyam dance class.

Most Bharatanatyam dancers started dancing when they were 5, or 6, or 7, maybe 10, but rarely 16. However, no one told me outright that I was crazy, so I had nothing to stop me. I was in the beginners class with a bunch of 6 year olds, and felt a little stupid at first, but because my brain was so much bigger than theirs (suck it, pre-pubescents), I quickly advanced through the first few levels until, in less than a year, I was dancing with nine year olds! SUCCESS!

Check out this picture from my very first stage performance, in 2003-

One of these things is not like the others.

One of these things is not like the others.

I still hated the exercise. I remember, very vividly, the feeling of utter terror that would grip my entire body each time I was driven to dance class. I could barely breathe. My heart would be racing in anticipation of the brutal workout I was going to put it through.

But I loved the dancing. I loved Bharatanatyam because I didn’t have to be thin to do it- some of the best dancers in the world are older, even larger women. I loved Bharatanatyam because it was story-telling, and I loved it because I got to go on stage and perform.

And, okay, I liked that I got skinny too.

Two years later, with the same group.

That’s me in the middle, two years later, with the same group.

I haven’t danced consistently since I left India almost six years ago, partly because it’s hard to find an instructor in LA who teaches my particular style of Bharatanatyam, partly because I can’t fit it into my schedule, and partly because classes are way too expensive for me out here. So I’ll get back to it one day, but probably not very soon.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to give running a rest, and start walking instead. I do like walking. I’m never too tired to walk. I have like six hundred podcasts to catch up on. And I do my best writing when I’m relaxed and outside the house. So let’s see how that goes.

But don’t worry. If The Doctor does show up, I’ll have my trusty pair of Brooks ready. Just in case.


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