Vol 7. - Workout Songs and Natural Wine
Or how to be nice to your body and not obsess over it
For me, the most challenging part about writing is getting out of my own way long enough to find the truth and communicate it with love. Writing about my body is always the hardest because I don't trust myself to say the true thing, and I don't always communicate it with love. Body shaming is part of my internal narrative, but it's a learned behavior. Maybe you speak the same language: "I just need to lose 10 pounds," or "I look like shit today," or "I'm so gross." Would you talk to anyone else that way? It's kinda mean, isn't it?
How we treat ourselves colors how we see and move through the world. I've listened to hundreds of self-help podcasts that all say the same thing, but it's easier said than done. Every day I have to remind myself to be gentle. Imagine a life in which body shame takes up zero percent of your brain space! Imagine how much more time and energy you'd have to do the things you actually like to do, like writing, dancing, and singing!
If I ask you for one thing this week, it's that you do something nice for your body. That could be working out, or it could be sleeping in. It could be drinking less, or it could be sharing good wine with a friend. Only you know what your body wants, and it's probably not an extreme change. It's probably balance, and balance means different things to different people, just like balance tastes different in different coffees.
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A Song - “Slight Variations” by Fujiya & Miyagi
I used to think people who ran for fun were crazy, and those who ran for fun without headphones were full-on psycho. Now, as one of those crazy people, I can kinda sorta see how silent runs could maybe be cathartic. But usually, a bangin' playlist is the only thing that'll get my ass out of bed and in the gym.
A good workout song, for me, must meet the following criteria:
Solid rhythm section. It's gotta drive, it's gotta pulse, it's gotta feel like my feet hitting the pavement at 120BPM or higher.
Upbeat. I love a sad song, but I will not do squats to a sad song. The only exception to this would be super angry music, which sometimes does the trick.
Repetitive. Minimal creativity when it comes to song structure is a plus. No surprises. But not Radiohead's No Surprises, because that is not a good workout song.
Bonus points for dynamics. It's great for interval training!!! Like when it starts soft and then gets really big, back down again, and then quiet.
Lately, I've been getting bored of my same old workout playlists, so I've been shopping around for new songs in the Spotify algorithmic ones. I found Slight Variations on Soirée, a collection of "groovy, dancy, funky stuff" I listened to at ABP last Tuesday.
"Leave space / for the bass" the song starts with an 808-ish, "boots-n-cats-n" beat, supported by a danceable bass line. It's the first track on an album of the same name by Fujiya & Miyagi, a UK-based electronic band that vaguely sounds like LCD Soundsystem but actually British.
The lead singer casually delivers steamy, layered, deadpan lyrics atop a relentless disco beat. "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," he repeats as a lightly wah-ed guitar glistens. Punchy synth bass and a pulsing pad fill out the landscape, alongside the occasional laser beam sound effect, which feels kitschy but not out of place.
"When you live in your head/it's easy to neglect your body" is the line that sold me on first listen. "Yes," I whispered, lifting my knees to my chest to grab the weight plate off my shins. It's so true. How often have I tried to reason my way out of my body? How many times have I attempted to soothe my anxiety with ruminative journaling when all I needed was a walk? Embodied consciousness is so annoying! I want out of the skin bag! I'm kidding, but Fujiya & Miyagi make a strong case with a big bass that reminds me to be grateful for a body that can move.
A Cup - Magic of Ju-Ju Blanc, Bufalina
I know it's not very au fait of me to brag about how incredibly wine drunk I got on a Tuesday afternoon in Dry January, but I thought it'd be a fun change of pace for the newsletter. Apologies in advance to all you sober hotties out there. I don't usually do this. Let me explain.
Alcohol and I haven't really gotten along for the last year or so. It's not so much that I want to quit, but that my body is becoming sensitive to it (sheesh, again, with the physicality of my existence! Can't a girl catch a break?). The hangovers are a little more challenging now than they were in college, but the main problem is I've become a sad drunk. I don't know how or when it happened, but every time I've drank in the last year, I've just gotten super tired and quiet and went home and cried. It's a major bummer. I used to be a fun and flirty gal drinking Miller Lites at the sports bar! Now "I'm good with just water." It is truly a fall from grace.
Luckily I have friends who still pressure me into ordering fancy cocktails and natural wine every now and again. My general rule is if it feels like a celebration and I'm in good company, I'll have one (1) drink. I'm hopeful drinking in such moderation won't completely destroy my health and that the love of my friends will counteract the inevitable depresh. Besides, it's tough to say no to all the sensory opportunities that occupy a 15-page wine list.
On an unseasonably warm day last week, my friend Hannah and I walked from her studio in East Austin to Bufalina, a brick oven pizzeria with the aforementioned wine list and a no-reservations policy. Since the restaurant reopened in November 2022 (and honestly, even before), getting a table without waiting 2+ hours has been impossible. That is unless it's happy hour.
We walked in around 4:30 p.m. and were immediately celebrated. “You look like you’re on vacation in Greece!” the hostess exclaimed. “Mamma Mia, here we go again, who?!”.
We were promptly seated at a table near the door with an excellent view of the white-tiled, dome-shaped pizza oven and the dudes in aprons stoking it with fresh logs. The hostess placed a thick stack of single-stapled printer paper between us. The wine list. The deal was $5 house pours or half-off any bottle of wine under $100. Hannah did some mental math, and we decided the latter was the way to go. But where to begin with such a volume?
We wanted white for the weather, something not so sweet, perhaps something that would pair nicely with the arancini. A server with a gray shag haircut was obviously eavesdropping and made her way toward us. The gorgeous woman, whose name I've since forgotten but was nothing but lovely, recommended to us the Magic of Ju-ju Chenin Blanc.
"It's what the industry people drink," she said, and needn't say more. But she told us that different wines belong to cultural moments in time, like Sauvignon Blanc in the early 2000s, and Chenin is what the "women of natural wine" are into right now. Who is a woman of natural wine? I wondered. I imagined jumpsuits, hand-thrown ceramics, philanthropic causes, and more good shags. It's like lemon zest, but with minerality, like all good wines from the Loire River Valley, she said.
When the bottle arrived, it wore a relatively plain label on green glass, nothing my eyes would've chosen off the shelf. It was an organic wine from Mosse, a vineyard owned by a husband-wife duo in Loire Valley, France. She poured Hannah first, who swirled and sniffed and sipped, then nodded. "That's it," she said. The server filled our glasses, and we cheers'd.
The color was like straw, the smell was like green apples and honey. When I tasted it, I felt it most in the middle of my palate, soft but dense, with a lingering sweetness like a lemon head candy - the residual sugars of natural wine, the server later explained. It was crisp but sweeter than I'd hoped. I tried to find more words to describe it but found my wine vocabulary needed improvement.
I promised myself one glass, secretly hoping that Hannah would cork the bottle and take it back to the studio, but instead, our server kept replenishing our wine glasses like water. I didn't have the heart to stop her, so I let go and kept drinking. We ordered the arancini and a spicy pizza (another great pairing), and eventually, my body softened into the wooden bench. We sunk into the evening, the tables filling quickly around us and a queue of patrons collecting on the sidewalk. When the bottle was empty, we paid the bill, then walked home tipsy in the twilight, the air a little cooler now as the sun fell behind the bungalows on Holly Street. To my surprise I felt like writing instead of crying. I was inspired, not tired. Have I broken the spell, at least this once? Only time will tell.