November 8, 1999

Making Changes

It's never easy to make a big change in your life, but as chronicled elsewhere, this time it's a change that I have to make.

The sound of Pearl, knocking over Sabs' water glass from last night woke me this morning. I wasn't really thinking about much at all as I went through the morning routine like a zombie. I didn't have time for a shower, so I had to be content with a quick sponge-down, then I couldn't find any clothing, so I went through the clean laundry basket like an automaton. It didn't occur to me to grab sweats and a t-shirt to change into for later on, because in my morning state of mind, I just wasn't thinking clearly at all.

But as I stepped out of the car in front of the cafe, on my way to buying fruit juice and a fruit salad for breakfast, Sabs reminded me: "We're going to the gym tonight, right?"

I nodded and went on my merry way, put my head down at work and fielded some of my colleague's stuff as well, since he was out sick today.

I ate a good lunch, I read my book and enjoyed the brisk autumn air, even though my fingers turned cold and my nose was slightly numbed by the breeze before I went last inside.

The day wound out like any normal day, with a load of work to be done and a graphic that I sliced up no less than 6 times before it finally worked and fit into the table properly.

Then it was time to go, time to face the machines no matter how tired I was.

A brief stop at home to change clothes, resisting the temptation to eat and veg out and we were off, clad in gym clothes and sneakers.

It's been almost two years since we set foot in the gym. The girl behind the counter is the same but the configuration of the space has changed. There are more machines, more people; on the whole the place is much more crowded.

We did our warm up and then launched right into lifting. Sabs did more with free weights, while I got myself reacquainted with the Nautilus machines.

I was surprised at how much I remember about the proper ways to work out. I was careful to stretch before and after each exercise, I avoided pushing myself too hard on the first time out, I paced myself and used cascading sets instead of just doing the same thing over and over again. I spread the work out between upper and lower body as evenly as possible and kept moving in between machines.

The place is still big and open, filled with sweaty people and the machines aren't too pleasant to look out. They're upholstered in this vile aqua leather that is far too reminiscent of bad 50s decorating and the walls of my junior high school.

The people ranged in age from 20/30something men and women, to older guys -- all were very focused on what they were doing, but perfectly polite and friendly when it came to rotating in and out of machines.

In fact, the most disconcerting aspect of the whole thing, had nothing to do with the patrons, but the new cd/tv system that has been installed on almost all of the stationary bikes/stair machines/treadmills. In order to use the system you have to buy a special pair of headphones. These headphones represent different levels of membership in the system, $29.95, $49.95 and $69.95.

I just couldn't believe the gouge that I was seeing, all for the privilege of playing CDs or being able to watch individual channels on the TV while the patron works their buns off.

All the more proof of the commercial establishment that has arisen around keeping Americans healthy in an age of sedentary jobs and overly rich food.

We spent about a half hour pumping iron and then headed home for a light dinner. Sabs played on the computer while I watched Velvet Goldmine a psychedelic trip of a movie, that was strong in some parts, but overall far too high-concept and too packed with odd musical interludes for me. The acting was strong, but I often felt like I was watching a pared down version of Tommy or some other suitably drugged out, glammed up super-rock bonanza.

On the other hand, the film featured Ewan McGregor as a fictionalized version of Iggy Pop baring it all and I mean all on stage, covered with body oil and glitter. The film also features the ever soulful Christian Bale as an ex-glam fan and reporter tracing the story of the film's central character, Brian Slade. Slade, is played by the exquisitely lovely Jonathan Rhys-Meyers but while there's lots of eye-candy, I often found myself wondering what the heck was going on and why.

If the film is supposed to simply be a trip into the mayhem, confusion of the time, then it succeeded and admirably so. I just don't understand why I'm supposed to feel nostalgic about the passing of such terrible fashion faux pas as platform shoes, rainbow eye makeup and blue hair. On the other hand, a lot of those fashion trends are last in much more sedate form today. I like them even less now than when my parents were wearing the watered down versions during my early childhood. The music, however, is for the most part, quite good and that is something worth missing, worth pining over since so much stuff out there today is so bland and uninteresting. Almost as if everything has been driven underground out of fear of the millennium.

Afterwards, Sabs resurfaced and despite sleepiness we watched Revenge of the Musketeers as it's known in this country. I originally saw the film, under its French title: La fille de d'Artagnan in Paris in the fall of 1994, but it's only recently arrived Stateside, since it was put in the New Releases section of the video store.

It's a typical French sword comedy/romp, featuring a feisty heroine in the form of the ever lovely Sophie Marceau as Eloise, the titular daughter of d'Artagnan and his traditional romantic interest, Constance. It's not a deep film and it's not supposed to be. It's pure and simple fun, with great costumes, solid acting and lots of verve panache and all the other necessary virtues of a French comedy.

I still laughed and found it funny, five years down the pike, and Sabs was amused as well, ending the evening on a high note as we stumbled off to bed far too late for comfort again.

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