Straight Up Now Tell Me

Is it just me, or do you also tend to get everything in your life (work, personal, family, etc.) crescendo all at once (even when it’s not Mercury in Retrograde)?

That was how this weekend was – I spent the weekend managing a case for work, facing my family’s collective anxiety about my nana’s upcoming surgery, sleeping less than normal, while trying to squeeze in a spin class and take some time for myself to reflect on my own goals/ambitions/life journey (ugh anyone else hate that word? Thanks, The Bachelor for ruining that forever).

Paula Abdul
Check out that amazing 80s/90s hair.

To decompress from last weekend, the intensity that it embodied, I took this morning off (partially to recharge but in all transparency we also had a new addition joining us – a lovely blue couch). As I jumped in a Lyft to head to spin class, Paula Abdul’s Straight Up Now Tell Me came on the radio. Now I’m going to date myself but that album was the first CD (CD! Do they even exist anymore??) that I ever bought. I figured this was the universe telling me that this is where I needed to be today.

I’ve gone a bit into overdrive with exercise since mid-August. I’ve always worked out, but have had a love-hate relationship with it. Growing up, I played soccer to stay in shape. Now? If I’m going to break into a sweat you better trick me into it. Which is what spinning does every time.

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It also has forced me out of my comfort zone which I was pretty stuck in. I had never been to the studio before, know no one, and was fairly out of shape. Depending on the day, I may feel like I’ve mastered the class but more often than not, the class masters me.

What I’ve appreciated about this ritual is that the studio is on the other side of town in Graduate Hospital area. When I leave, I walk home taking in sites and places that I don’t normally get to in my day-to-day. For example, if I walk across South Street, I can duck into Whole Foods and scope out all of the new products (browsing grocery stores is one of my fave past times – so many new things to try).

Sarcone's Bakery

Then I can take a right on 9th Street and head to Sarcone’s. One step into Sarcone’s andI’m in heaven. When we lived in D.C., I never ate bread. There was just something about it that it was never great. The taste, texture, the lack of crusty crunchy outside. I hated that there weren’t bakeries – like real, been there 100+ years bakeries in that city. A few months after we moved to South Philly we threw an open house for our friends & family and I picked up bread from Sarcone’s. I nearly cried – it was everything that DC wasn’t. And it was glorious.

I continue my way down 9th Street, which is still busy but no where near the intensity level that is on the weekends. Half of the fun is the people watching – the other half is feeling like you’re in Europe or anywhere else with outdoor food markets. One of the larger open air fruit and veg markets was within a half mile of my residence in Rome. I never realized how much this shopping experience would transform me – interacting with the locals, teaching me how to count in Italian as I just begged them to take all of my money for due pomodori (two tomatoes).

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Crossing Washington Avenue, the market transforms again as you approach South Philly Barbacoa and the paletas (Mexican popsicles) at 9th and Ellsworth. You can catch a whiff of chocolate or the tres leches cakes and cannoli in Amigos Bakery or the Jamaican jerk mixture before you reach the neon glow of cheesesteak corner.

The last few weeks I’ve been struggling with being in such a dense, urban environment. Mentally, I can tell I need a break from the city and it’s had me wondering if this is the best environment for me to live. And then I take walks like this morning and wonder where else I would find this. It’s a question that doesn’t have to be answered today, but one that I’ll continue to mull over from my new couch.

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