September 20, 2006

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Check Your Box My job in television production often takes me to the local post office, ours being the Canal Street station. It goes without saying that the post office, in general, can be a harrowing experience. The lines, the terrible service, the often-outrageous costs -- it all adds up to what can feel like a torturous number of hours filled with stationary frustration, as an elderly woman trying to mail one envelope can't seem to strike a proper repartee with the clerk behind the barred window, leaving the mile-long line trailing behind her justifiably irritated. The Canal Street station, however, is particularly trying. With hanging "digital" artwork that hasn't been changed since the late eighties ("THAT'S what the inside of a computerbox looks like???") and a dank, stuffy interior, one surely doesn't feel welcome upon entering. Worse, however, is having to wait on an unmoving line as the especially unfriendly staff pays no mind to a line of customers that grows in equal length and impatience no matter what the hour of day. Not only do they neither notice nor care, but it's almost as if a silent war wages between customer and staff as the rackety old windows are somehow always closed shut the moment you reach the head of the line. Being that this post office station is located in the heart of Chinatown, the majority of the staff is Chinese. Without a clear grasp of the English language [or professionalism], the staff is the last source to whom I would have expected the delegation of creating ad copy to be assigned. But my eyes were not being deceived when I took notice of this sign hanging inside a bulletin board tacked with posters of specialty stamps: As it may be difficult to read here, I've re-posted the text below, word for word, each grammatical mistake left gloriously untouched: "WHY BUY STAMPS? BACK TO SCHOOL? Let all your friends, know where you are. WANT ROMANCE? WRITE A LETTER Build a little tension and anticipation in your relations.(Anthony & Cleopatra) WHERE can anyone buy pieces of Art, Learn about history and have portraits of famous people and even cartoon characters! And send them to folk, just by licking them? Post Office! Finance- get a Post office box! You can always state "I just did not check my box!" I will send payment in a stamped envelope! Secret Clans and Clubs, Masons and The White lotus clan used mail in code to inform their members." So it's fair to say that whomever wrote this "advertisement" is either a child, illiterate, or a foreigner not likely suited to a job in customer service. In this case, I would safely bet money on two out of three. According to said writer, slapping a stamp on a letter may liken your romantic life to a Shakespearean tragedy. There's also the chance for an original Picasso to be shipped directly to your house, unless the artist from the mall kiosque sends the watercolor of The Lockhorns under one-day delivery. Additionally, giving more money to the Post Office will apparently allow you extra time to pay off your credit card bill. (Incidentally, does "I just did not check my box" qualify as a valid dispute against a charge?) Most importantly, however, is knowing that the next time you send out a birthday card to your baby nephew, you can imagine yourself part of an underground clan! And it reads: "Some folk might not like it, but the Ten Commandments, could have been Express Mail to Moses! So, while other companies tell you what they can do and what colors they wear, We at the post office, as you can see have been Around a very long time. Now, our Eagle might be missing some feathers, and one or two bumps on the head! But " We get it done! UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE" That's right: The United States Postal Service is not afraid to throw Bible references into the mix, nor are they afraid to wear their red, white, and blues with pride! Indeed, the eagle (?) might be missing some feathers (??), but... Actually, there's really nowhere to go with this. Is the bruised, naked eagle a symbol of how poorly the USPS functions? Is this an advertisement for or against said establishment? Sometimes, the words don't need to be sized down by a displeased customer such as myself. Because, when it comes down to it, if fucking MOSES could have received Express Mail from my post office, why go anywhere else?
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'Om' Sweet 'Om': The Joys (And Unfortunate Consequences ) Of Yoga I can't do that. I'm built, as my mom so gently phrases it, "like a brick shithouse." Can't get enough of that. I work out a few times per week, although I don't run because I have a bad back (honestly, the magnitude of how little my external age matches my body's functionality is staggering). I like exercising not only because it feels good afterward, but because I can sweat profusely and it's completely appropriate (unlike on the subway in winter or in dressing rooms at H&M). Logically speaking, I should like yoga. It hurts, but in a good way. The intense stretches make me feel like a rubber band, and anything which likens me to an inanimate object is something of which I highly approve. The physical benefits of yoga are invaluable, as well, and the ending meditations add a cathartic balance to sixty minutes of attempting to introduce my inner thighs to my collarbone. But the yoga classes I've taken recently have consistently made me feel as if there exists an invisible force whose only purpose is to keep me from continuing. First of all, am I the only person for whom yoga equates to feeling as if I've just downed seven cans of beans? As someone whose medical knowledge barely extends beyond harboring a fear of Operation as a child (the game, not the surgical treatment...although that, too), I can only imagine that adding pressure to so many different parts of my body forces air pockets to be pushed, thusly providing me with endless moments during which I gather enough will power to retain the humiliating, barely inaudible "ph-weeet" (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about). If I'm not careful, I, myself, will be forced to clean up after the Downward Facing Dog. Ursula, one instructor whose class I mistakenly took recently, was not necessarily at a level "comprehensive" enough for someone like myself. However the question begs to be asked, at what level must anyone be to endure being shrieked at by Ursula, a tiny, lithe Russian woman with a heavy accent bathed in the classic "Elmer Fudd" speech impediment? Mistaking my name - Eliot - for "Aaliyah" (pronounced "Aaw-yeeh-ah"), I proceeded to ignore Ursula throughout much of the class, merely thinking it fun to hold my Baby Cobra pose next to a girl whose parents unknowingly named their daughter after a marginally talented future R&B songstress almost three decades ago. I'm no Kiehl's fanatic, but I find it enjoyable to apply an overpriced, unnecessary cream to my body every now and then. However, like most - I'd assume - I prefer to do so myself. My hands, my body. So, naturally, I was uncomfortably baffled when, during the aforementioned meditation that ends each yoga class, I found myself, eyes closed, back to the floor, at the hands of the instructor, who had taken it upon herself to begin massaging an unknown cream or oil into my forehead, cheeks, neck, and shoulders, all of which were, by now, damp with sweat and the stench of a baby's soiled diaper combined with processed meats (my natural scent). My immediate reaction, of course, was to gasp with fright before digging the hole even deeper with a warbled, "That tickles!" And so, between uncontrollable gas, indecipherable foreign jabber, and the fear of spiritually-invested molestation, I have found solace in an old friend: the step machine. However, the next time I pop a Gas-X, I'll think fondly of the Downward Facing Dog.

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