This past Saturday, I attended Brooklyn Skillshare, an annual event based around individual artists, performers, and other creative people sharing their knowledge with others in the community… for FREE! From their website:
The Brooklyn Skillshare is a communal, hands-on, learning experience that aims to serve as a jumping-off point in the construction of an autonomous, nonexclusive, reciprocal learning community.
It took place at the Gowanus Ballroom… a little off the beaten path, even for someone familiar with the surrounding areas. Without the sidewalk chalked, line-drawn arrows pointing me in the right direction every 15 feet or so, I would have gotten lost. But I liked this element to the Skillshare: the sense that it was a grassroots (sidewalk chalk signs), clandestine event which at the same time, was welcoming to newcomers—as long as you took the effort of seeking it out.
The first workshop was on Japanese Stitch Bookbinding, and it was taught by two women from Alaska House. I loved the fact that the class was hands-on. We got to choose colored papers for the front and back covers of our mini notebooks, and used 10 sheets of blank white paper for the inside pages. Using needles, string, and a special bookbinder’s needle, we were taught how to stitch the binding of the book. I love the cover that I chose… it says: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.—Ralph Waldo Emerson”
I then went to a class on Fermentation, or, How to Make Sauerkraut. This was more of a history lesson and talk, with a demonstration of the process for how to make sauerkraut. It was led by a woman named Angela Davis. I learned that making fermented foods is actually quite easy, and the process of preserving foods by fermentation allows the food to keep its nutrients such as Vitamin C and “good” bacteria. Whereas another preservation method, canning (making canned foods), can actually be very dangerous if not done correctly, fermentation has never been documented to have killed anyone. My friend and I were giddy at the prospect of making pink sauerkraut by mixing green and red cabbage.
In the afternoon, I attended a class on Single Sheet, Pamphlet Style Book Making, taught by a guy from Haven Press. The idea was that from a single sheet of 18x24 paper, you could make a bunch of folds and cuts, and end up with one “signature” or a small book. (Before digital printing, printers would have huge plates that would print multiple pages onto 1 single sheet of paper, which would save time and energy vs. printing each page separately.) This reminded me of my days (er, years) working in publishing and my visit to Offset Paperback Manufacturers… way back when I first started working, and before companies started tightening the reins on “non-essential travel.” It’s pretty amazing to think back to that trip, and how all those publishers sent us—young assistants or coordinators in our early to mid-20’s—on a 2 or 3 day (can’t remember now) overnight trip to Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of educating ourselves on book production.
And finally, in the last workshop I attended, I learned about how to do Xerox print transfers. The woman leading the workshop showed us how to use solvents such as acetone or Citra-Sol (a floor cleaner) to lift the toner off of a xerox and make a print onto another piece of paper. The quality and clarity of the print had to do with the type of toner the xerox was made from (black is easier to lift than color), the amount of solvent you use (too much can make an image blurry), and how you rub the back of the xerox with a coin to release the toner. I ended up making 3 postcards: one of an astronaut (which I gave to RC), and the 2 below.
What a great Saturday.
Sick and tired
I have become incredibly lazy and immobile in the face of this (common) cold. I had a small potato & leek soup today for lunch, along with a snack sized bag of Pirates Booty. I didn’t really feel like soup, but the thought of chewing a sandwich or a salad made me tired.
I know it’s bad when even chewing food seems like too much effort.
Almost every day, I go immediately home after work, and I stay in. It’s such a strange feeling. I haven’t done any physical activity in over a week. I feel like a sloth, but at the same time I can’t imagine putting myself through anything strenuous. I am so used to being “on the go” that I feel like an incredible bore doing nothing after work. And I wish I didn’t have to go to work, but there are actually quite a few things I need to do before the year is over.
I just want things to get back to normal. I don’t have the time or energy to be sick. Must. Get. Better. Now.
A few things that I’m thankful for:
- My parents, because despite how they frustrate and irritate me sometimes, I know they only mean well… and they’ve always stood by me in the end.
- My friends, both near and far, both close confidantes and occasional Facebook interacters… each of them brings something unique/wonderful to my life.
- My breakfast-cooking, inter-borough biking, amazingly accommodating bf… because while we have fun on our adventures together, we also have fun doing absolutely nothing together.
- My job, because while I have my complaints and frustrations every now and then, overall I am happy to be working with such decent, good people.
- My apartment, because even though it’s small in square footage, it is a really nicely appointed (and beautiful) apartment [see #1].
- My health, because you can never take good health for granted.
- My life in the city, because there really is no end to the possibilities and the things you have access to see and do.
- Heat, hot water, electricity, and all of the things we consider basic necessities—that others in our own city are still struggling to get.
And on a lighter note:
- Cooking Light magazine, for giving me so many good recipes to impress people with.
- My Macbook, for sticking with me for the past 6 years, only succumbing to one major problem—the hard drive dying—that I was able to recover with the help of the Best Buy Geek Squad.
- All of the people I’ve ever trained with at NYJJ, for not injuring me (at least not majorly) for the past 8 years!
I’m sure there are many more things, but I will cover them by just saying, “I’m thankful for… my life and everything in it.”
$24, 30 days, 7 classes, and 5 locations later… my NYSC guest membership has come to an end. Though I wish I had gone a couple more times within this time period—and I can blame part of this on Hurricane Sandy—I’m satisfied that I got my money’s worth. It basically worked out to $3.43 per class. Not too shabby.
My thoughts on the following classes I’ve tried:
- Spin: A good lower body workout, and definitely sweat-inducing. I didn’t particularly enjoy it (probably because of my self-diagnosed knee problems), but despite the knee pain I would do it again, simply because it was a good workout. After about 15-20 minutes, I was looking at the clock and waiting for it to be over.
- Zumba: I did not enjoy this much, mostly because I realize I prefer hitting things to dancing. It is hard for me to mimic someone else’s dance moves, especially when they don’t explain what they are doing. I spent most of the class somewhat stressed, 1) trying to decipher the moves and 2) being vigilant about when the routine would shift from one move to the next. I only worked up a minimal sweat, and my conclusion is that zumba is for people who want the benefits of exercise without actually feeling like they are working out. The dim lighting, energetic music, and disco (?) lights made it seem like a party… kind of.
- UXF Burn: A good circuit-training/cross-training class that was manageable for people of any fitness or skill level. After a quick cardio warm-up, there were 7 different exercises we did as part of the circuit. Most of these exercises involved weights, such as bicep curls, lunges, and squats. We also did some ab exercises (the bicycle), and some burpees. We repeated the circuit 5 times. I definitely got a good workout from this and it was very sweat-inducing.
- Cardio Kickboxing: Because I’ve experienced real, actual kickboxing, I found this class to be mostly a waste of time. At first, I found it somewhat laughable that we were punching and kicking the air to a fast “routine” where it was almost like synchronized dance-boxing. The focus was more on cardio and doing everything quickly, rather than doing the punches and kicks correctly. I could always use more cardio, I guess it was a decent workout if you just wanted to sweat a bit. However, I feel almost bad for the girls who are taking this class and then telling people that they’re doing “kickboxing.”
- Ultimate Conditioning: Probably the most difficult NYSC I took. The class was run by a personal trainer, who motivated us through a series of conditioning exercises. We used light weights, heavy weights, a barbell, a step on risers, and a mat. A lot of the exercises were pretty hard on my knees… but it was a good workout that really worked a lot of different muscle groups. I took this class on a Wednesday and I was sore and had muscle pain though Saturday.
- Kickboxing: Agood class that started with some conditioning drills, then had us punching and kicking the heavy bags that hung from the ceiling. We finished by punching and kicking pads that the instructor held for us. There was definitely a “boot camp” element of the class, such as when the instructor told us all to sit against the back wall (but not actually sit, just hold yourself up against the wall as if you were sitting in a chair) while he went down the line and asked us to hit the pads. He said that if anyone broke the position we’d all have to do push ups. I was pretty satisfied with this class, thought I felt like the kickboxing classes I’ve taken at the TKD school in Astoria were much more intense. I also took some amount of pleasure in the fact that the NYSC class was mostly guys, and I performed just as well—if not better—than most of them, in terms of doing the conditioning exercises and even in pad work.
I’m glad I got the chance to try out these different classes, so now I know what all the hype is about when it comes to Spin and Zumba. Neither are really for me… but at least I can say I’ve tried them.
Next week I’ll return to my trusty kickboxing classes.