Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Other Portland - Nia in Maine

I set my navigation to take the back roads from Nashua to Portland; it was exactly the same number of miles and it only added about five minutes of driving time.

Going through New Hampshire I was dismayed by the support for Donald as evidenced by many "make America great again" yard signs. It nearly put me in a bad mood to think of how much support he is getting. I see him as not only entirely unqualified to run the country, as he has zero political experience, but also extremely dangerous as he has shown he has no tact. I can imagine him pissing off political leaders from other countries and really damaging our international relations, as well as attempting to make changes that favor our countries few billionaire businessmen, further driving a wedge between the haves and have-nots. Not that I think Hillary is any great shakes, I do think she's far better and the only wise choice. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see folks who live along the back roads of rural New Hampshire making unintelligent, fear based choices. I want to know when these people think America was greater than it is now. Especially in the past 50 years or so, we've made great strides in becoming the country of equality and opportunity we set out to be and wrote about in our U.S. Constitution. If there's any place we are needing improvement it's in the class disparity I just mentioned.

Anyway, didn't want to write a political post. Just sharing what my drive was like. Each time I saw another sign, I imagined myself having this conversation again.

At some point yesterday, I pulled a little muscle in my back. It was either while sneezing or coughing. It exacerbated the 2008 shoulder injury which is by now an old familiar yoke. It isn't excruciating, but is quite uncomfortable and made me squirm the whole drive out as I tried to 'work it out'.

Portland, Maine is the easternmost point on my trip this whole year. The difference, as soon as I crossed over the state line from NH to ME was immediately apparent. Maine feels like a place that has a sense of humor and appreciates quirkiness and kitch. I felt right at home there. I happened to be wearing my "Pot o Gold" shorts with the leprechauns and rainbows and I've never gotten so many compliments on them in one town.

My appetite came back in full force. Both River and I needed food. River would have to wait, but I needed some BEFORE I stepped in to teach a three hour workshop. The time was tight, though, so I had to choose my stop wisely. About a block from the church I was scheduled to be in, I found a little stand on the corner that sold coffee, soup salad and sandwiches. Soup, I thought, sounded perfect!

Alas, they were out of soup, so I got a chicken and beet salad. I arrived at the church to find Erin, my host, also eating a chicken salad. haha.  So we ate our salads as we set up the room and waited for the students.

The playshop was my Nuts and Bolts of FreeDancing Playshop. It was one of the smaller groups I have had for this work, but that doesn't bother me, as I've said before. I like the opportunities for deeper intimacy in the smaller groups. The first step of my playshop is to ask them to dance and see what I have to work with. They impressed me by displaying several minutes of very creative movement. I knew I had my work cut out for me with this group, so I took the reigns from where they were. By the end of the three hours, the group was helping me to develop new facets to my work. They tell me they got a lot out of the experience and so did I. That's the best!


After the three hours flew by, Erin took me to the pet store to get some food for River and then she took me to a local burger place called B Good and bought me dinner. I wasn't sure how well I'd do with such rich food so close to being sick, so I kept it modest. I go into more detail about it here.

We chatted about Nia and stuff as we ate and River seemed to be extra nervous. Maybe he was anxious after being in the crate for a three hour stretch as we danced. There was one moment, while we all played like children on the playground, one of the dancers mimed rolling a ball, as in bowling. She randomly rolled it in the direction of River's cage and apparently was convincing enough to freak him out. I'd never seen this before, but he jumped! Inside his cage! It looked almost as though he was trying to avoid the impending sphere. I had to reassure him he was OK and cover his cage before he'd calm down again. During our dinner, he kept lunging at people walking by us. By this time in our relationship, I know enough about River to never sit down in public without making sure his leash is well secured on my person and that he doesn't have enough slack to reach anyone, so everyone was safe and OK, but after the third time, I had had enough of it, so I put him in the car for the latter part of our meal.

I fed River in the parking lot of the burger place while Erin went to our second location to prepare it for the Nia class.

When River and I arrived at the space, I stood there in horror as I heard Erin explaining about River to the owner. This was a pristine yoga studio and when I realized that the presence of my dog hadn't been given prior approval, I suspected I was in for some drama. I explained how River coming into the room with me was a non-negotiable point. I explained how he doesn't leave his crate and that I could lay blankets down to protect the floor under the cage. (Although this cage has plastic feet on it and it doesn't scratch wood floors, it is easier to lay down the blanket than to convince a studio owner of this.) She reluctantly relented, but further requested that I don't let him walk on the floor, but instead carry him from the car to the cage and back again. That was no problem. So we went ahead with class.

The owner was concerned with humidity levels in the room, so she asked that we don't open the windows. There was no A/C, but there were ceiling fans and a dehumidifier. I had already pressed my luck so I didn't want to pursue it, but I knew that we were going to steam that room up and that if we kept the windows closed, our body heat would create more humidity than anything coming from outside. But I dutifully followed directions and we did the Orchestra routine in the tropical yoga room.

I'm usually into working out in the warmth. As a wrestler in high school, I got accustomed to the hardest exercise of my life in a poorly ventilated room so full of heat and humidity that it was hard to breathe without stepping outside. To this day, when I practice in my home studio, I prefer to keep the doors and windows shut, filling my studio with body heat and carbon dioxide. So I was used to the conditions, but the students obviously were not. One of them left midway through. She had recently been diagnosed with lupus and was on her second month of recovery from being flat on her back. So it was completely understandable that she didn't want to put herself through the whole hour. I was drenched in sweat and leaving puddles anywhere I stood still. I think it was good for my recovery, but even I, with my love of and experience with tropical, low-oxygen exercise environments, felt like it was extreme.


After class, it took a while for us to get out of the space. We were all a bit spent. After everyone left, I took River out on his long leash and let him run around the parking lot for a little bit before hitting the back roads again for our night time drive back to Nashua.

I wasn't sure if all of the activity was 'too soon' for me and I would wake up the next day relapsed. But it wasn't and I didn't. I felt fine the next day and actually ready for more.

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