When Santa Gives You Pole Dancing Lessons…

My mother gave me pole dancing classes and this awesome card for Christmas. My mom is cooler than your mom.
My mother gave me pole dancing classes and this awesome card for Christmas. My mom is cooler than your mom.

“Make it bounce!”

There are a few things I’m used to hearing in a fitness group class. Bounce like you’re riding your favorite man is not necessarily one of them. In comparison, my spin instructor Dave tells me not to fear my best… now crank up that resistance!

Lasha, my pole dance class instructor, told me to slap my ass.

It was a Thursday night at fencing when I casually mentioned that I wanted to take pole dancing classes. My friend Madge was in ear shot.

“I’ve been taking classes at S-Factor,” she chirped. “For 10 years. I’ll take you one day and then when you’re hooked, we’ll have to get you a ‘naughty drawer’!”

It’s amazing what you’ll learn about your friends when you think you know everything.

If you’ve been a long-time reader, or if you’re a real-life friend, then you know my mother and you know she’s not your typical buttoned-up, “now, Kathleen, behave yourself,” kind of mother. On my 21st birthday, she bought me my first legal Gray Goose Cosmopolitan (and my second legal Gray Goose Cosmopolitan). Her recent relationship advice sounds like this: don’t go to his place on the 3rd date… show some restraint! Be a Lady. Wait till your 4th…and then make it worth it.

And for Christmas, she bought me pole dancing classes.

Madge was my designated chaperon, and after a flurry of email exchanges, we had settled on a Sunday afternoon.

I rode down to Chelsea, a neighborhood in the city I had watched transition over the years from shady, to “Gay town,” to “familyville,” to home of the High Line and tourist destination. Ambling down 23rd street, with the S-Factor address in my hand, I wasn’t sure what to look for. I’d made my way down this stretch of block before, but couldn’t recall ever seeing what looked like a pole dancing studio. The address brought me to a banal building entrance, sandwiched between a cupcake shop (YUM!) and a bodega/smoke shop. There was no real directory inside the lobby. Was I lost? Could this be any sketchier? This didn’t scream fitness. It screamed house of ill repute.

A pair of other twenty something with long straightened blonde hair and equally confused expressions slipped into the lobby.

“S-Factor-bound?” I asked.

“Yeap!” they replied, and together we figured out what floor and made our way to the elevator and up to the 3rd floor.

The minute the doors parted, a chorus of happy “hellos!” greeted us… along with a mannequin dressed in a g-string with neon pink fringe and light-up, 5-in stilettos.

This probably wasn’t what I was expecting but it was going to be awesome.

I walked into Studio B with Madge as my guide. It was like no other fitness studio I’d been in — there were no mirrors and the only lighting was a single dim spot light in the center of the room and a handful of lamps, draped with red cloths a la your stereotypical bordello. Three poles extended from ceiling to floor and in each corner was a large leather “lap dance” chair.

Clearly, more than my core was going to get a workout.

The class was one of the most liberating and physically challenging 90 minutes I’ve ever been through. Liberating, not because I was free to “feel my curves” or swirl my hips or “do whatever feels good,” but rather, because I had to trust my body to be strong enough to keep me in the air. Like most women, I have a difficult relationship with my body. There’s nothing more terrifying than wearing a bikini in public or taking off my shirt for the first time with Mr. New. But in the low light, with no glass to reflect back on me, and with an acrobatic task at hand, I had to let go of fears of judgement, of self-consciousness, and throw my feet off the floor, and twirl like the pretty, pretty (seductive) princess I wanted to be when I was 5.

In the lighting, I looked this hot and there was no one and no mirror to tell me otherwise.
In the lighting, I looked this hot and there was no one and no mirror to tell me otherwise.

I looked as hot as Demi Moore in “Striptease,” and there was no person or mirror to tell me otherwise.

The next morning, I ached all over, with bruises on my shins the size of bananas, self-inflicted from overly-aggressive approaches to the pole. Few workouts these days inflict any lingering pain. I was sold.

There are reasons to be skeptical about pole dancing your way to fitness. It’s not for everyone, even though I think every woman should try it at least once. Pole dancing is a “feminine movement” movement, not a feminist movement, per say. Taking to the pole is not about upended any power structure between the gaze and the subject of the gaze. There are no men allowed and no one is going to be stuffing dollar bills in my g-string in the near or distant future (even if the extra disposable income would be welcome… #alternativejobskillz.)  It’s not about learning tricks you can bring home to the boudoir, or even about sculpting better abs — though, those are absolutely excellent perks that makes yoga seem soooo 2005.

It’s about not fearing your best, most beautiful, strongest self. I can’t imagine a better post-workout feeling than that. Now, make it bounce!


My Blog is Wearing a Push-Up Bra

Yesterday, “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” got a Facebook page and a Twitter account. That’s right, loyal readers, your favorite social networks can help keep you abreast of my latest musings on the way we love and are expected to love now.

this is what my blog looks like when it's facebooking/tweeting

I confess that I felt a little guilty as I created the “FindRichHusband” twitter account. I’ve scoffed at such forms of self-promotion in the past. But I realized that syndicating my blog through social networks is a lot like wearing a lacey black push-up bra under a white plunge-neck shirt when you go out on a Friday night. It’s not a style approach I necessarily consider “classy,” but let’s face it — a girl can’t make it in this world on her smarts and charm alone. Sometimes to catch people’s attention, she has to flash a little cleavage. Once someone has bought her a drink, her intellectual talents and penchant for witty exchanges keep him in her corner.

Facebook and Twitter are my blog’s push-up bra: they’re a sneak-peak at the full-monty. They entice you in, and then I work it to put on a good show.

At my family’s Labor Day bbq, my mother asked me what I hoped to gain by creating a facebook profile for They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband. “Aren’t you just sharing it with the people who are already reading it?” she asked. I tried to explain how “liking” something on facebook works, how News Feeds are like mini-ads, how the possibilities of expanded exposure were endless, but I don’t think I convinced her my internet lingerie was a worthwhile effort.

To her, a facebook profile for a blog is the equivalent of wearing my black push-up bra and white shirt on a night in with my brother and first cousins — a whole lot of fuss for no action.

Maybe. Yet in this wireless age where everyone is connected to somebody with real connections, no chance at being discovered should be overlooked.

Then again, maybe I should be wary of all this internet pimping. “I worry that with all this attention you’ll end up having to kill the blog too soon to get a book deal,” a friend of mine said after liking They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband on facebook. He didn’t think I’d be on the dating market for too much longer. I chuckled and calmed his concerns.

Landing a rich husband doesn’t mean the end, it opens the door for a sequel. ‘I Found a Rich Husband. Now What?’ Stay tuned for that facebook page…

In the meantime:

They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband on Facebook

FindRichHusband on Twitter.

Finding a Green Thumb

view from the front porch on a summer day -- everything green was planted by my parents

A year ago, on my alter-ego site Meet Me in the Drawing Room, I wrote about the Underappreicated Dangers of Gardening. At the time, my relationship with gardening was a tenuous one. I tromped to the local nursery begrudgingly and planted impatiens impatiently. Planting and pruning were chores that needed to be done, but I can’t say I was a particular fan of laying down woodchips.

One summer not too long ago, a friend called to ask for advice because they were planting a garden along their driveway. I laughed as I hit redial. Little did they know… gardening was my cod-liver oil.

Two weeks ago, a different friend asked for my help in designing a flowerbed in his backyard. I jumped for joy and started listing a selection of annuals and herbs that would not only look good together, but would also thrive in the yard’s shade/sunlight distribution.

Yes, I am now a gardening fanatic. Give me a pair of hedge trimmers, and call me Edward Sisscorhands. I’ve voluntarily gone to the nursery more times in two weeks than I ever thought possible. I have plans for a rose garden. Today, after my yoga class, I tackled the last un-landscaped corner of front yard. As I stood under the Juliet balcony, daisies in one hand and trowel in the other, my mother stared in disbelief before running to get me a gin & tonic. She was concerned — I mean, only yesterday, I had planted an herb garden and a cluster of dahlias.

I entertain. I do yoga. I have an MRS degree. I decorate. Now, I garden. They didn’t call me Mini-Martha in college for nothing, ya know.

today's lanscaping endeavor

When my parents bought our home, a turn-of-the-century field-stone and wood farmhouse, back in the 1970s, it was smaller, more rural, and in need of landscaping. Mum & Dad were in their mid to late twenties and new to the States with little money to their names. It was their first house and they were determined to make it their home. Armed with pick-axes and spades, they dug-up over-grown rose gardens and planted  hedges, evergreens, and willows. My grandmother smuggled Barberry and maples in from Canada and Rhododendrons were purchased from the nursery.

“I think your father nearly threw the pick-axe at me,” my mother told me when she handed me the gin. I wasn’t surprised.

“We had a fight about where to dig the holes.” Still not surprised.

“I think I won.” I would have been surprised if you hadn’t.

view of our yard post the epic storm of early 2010. trees scattered all over

The winter and early spring of 2010 wrought havoc on our yard. Putting aside the dozens of downed branches, we lost the last apple tree on our property — it used to be an apple orchard — as well as two large pines. There’s a gaping hole at the corner of our fence. I’m determined to plant two more rhododendron there. Or maybe that’s where I’ll plant my rose garden.

Despite my ambition, there is a problem. Roses or rhododendron, there are large holes to dig and I need a partner willing to wield a pick-axe and a spade. Gardening is back-breaking work, and it’s always better to have a buddy breaking their back with you (preferably, one with some muscles who takes direction well… knowing his way around a nursery would be a plus).

I make good iced-tea and will willingly bring it out on a tray with some homebaked cookies.

I promise, I won’t throw a pick-axe at you.

The Further Education of a T.W.i.T (Trophy Wife in Training)

Not so long ago, John Paul told me that to be a proper Trophy Wife I needed to tote around a yoga mat and have a nice ass.

In the last week, I’ve been to 3 yoga classes. Yesterday, I subscribed to Yoga Today on iTunes. Before the end of the Memorial Day weekend, I will have sweated, downward-facing-dogged, and Omed my way through 2 more hatha classes. I have a mat and I carry it to and from class. Thanks to a decade as a competitive fencer, I have a “perfect” Warrior II pose. There is a semblance of legitimacy in my demeanor.

But as for my ass, well, I can’t be a fair judge — in that respect, I’m a typical female who is very good at finding cellulite that may or may not actually be there.

Tight ass or not, the main thing, ladies and gentlemen, is that this T.W.i.T is a girl with a mission: to master the Fire-Fly Pose.

My recent obsession with yoga has little to do with John Paul’s advice or my Trophy Wife “aspirations.” Since January, I’ve been a full-time athlete. The travel, the competitions, and 6-day a week training/cross-training regiment have taken its toll on my joints and well-being. So far, Yoga has done a better job of keeping my knees functional than my physiotherapist.

It seems that I’ve been spending a lot of time in classes these days. 8 weeks ago, I started taking German at NYU. I have two classes left and then I can translate newspapers for you and tell potential employers that in addition to French, I “have” German.

So the yoga classes are supposed to bring me one step closer to both incredible flexibility and a tight ass (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) while the German classes are supposed to help me land a coveted curatorial gig at a mega-NYC museum.

Watch out Stepford — there’ a new girl in town… and she speaks German while holding a picture-perfect Chaturanga Dandasana (sort of).