chinese foot massage 101: it'll knock you off your feet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{this article also appears in the Huffington Post}

I must be a glutton for punishment. Not only do I frequent the Korean Spa, I often spring for cheap, sub-par treatments at Chinese Foot Massage places. While I'm lying there suffering, I wonder why I had amnesia concerning the torture I endured the last time around. Probably because they cost 25 bucks.

The place near me offers a sixty minute combo that, along with the foot reflexology, includes a full-body massage. The treatments all take place in a giant, dimmed room lined with rows of La-Z-Boy-style recliners. So you're all in it together (and fully clothed). This is just fine and poses zero issues unless one of the following (likely) disturbances occurs:




-clueless patrons using their outside voices

-massage therapists answering personal cellphones

-your husband giggling uncontrollably at the pan-flute rendition of any Elton John song

-they are simultaneously holding a meet-up for beginning jugglers

It's worth noting that these no-pain-no-gain treatments are strictly choreographed. There is no deviation from the routine. For example, try asking them to go easy on your sacrum and you'll be met with a blank-eyed stare and confused nod. Or try stopping a therapist mid-move ("Ooh! Too hard! That hurts!") and your protest will likely elicit laughter. Followed by firmer pressure.

The start of the session requires you to sit and drape your upper body over two pillows placed in your lap. These pillows look plush and fluffy until you put any pressure on them whatsoever, at which point they offer the support of a tortilla. So essentially, you're laying your belly on two tortillas while your back gets pummeled by a couple of pointy Chinese elbows. While there is massage happening, there is tremendous personal effort being spent to remain upright. And avoid pulling something. This is a real treat for the nervous system. The signature moves used by therapists in this portion of the hour include:

-Twist And Shout

-You Gotta Lotta Nerves

-Spinal Tap

-Digging For Clues


(**The Vulcan Death Grip)

When you do get to finally enjoy the thrill of prostration, they swaddle you in a scratchy towel and proceed to work their way down your body. Starting with your head and face, you'll enjoy:

-Say Goodbye To Your Blowout

-Lice Ain't Nice

-Smell My Fingers

-Human Q-Tip

-You Look Better With Dimples

Next, they traverse the arms and legs where you'll experience such popular moves as:

-Whack-A-Mole (the skin lesion, not the subterranean mammal)

-Thigh-Master And Servant

-Knee-Deep In My Full Body Weight

-One Hand Tied Behind Your Back

-I Work My Fingers To Your Bones

After this routine, your entire head is smothered with a towel, Guantanamo-style, in preparation for the anticipated denouement. About now, you may be wondering why all these establishments have "Foot" in their name and yet the foot-rubbing portion only lasts one-fifth of the hour. Not to worry, you'll only ponder this for mere moments before your tattered nervous system shuts down, rendering you temporarily unconscious. Hence, there is no recorded history of any foot massage being administered to any person at any Foot Massage Place. Ever. Legend has it, this is the time when the therapists practice their juggling.

brown butter banana bread with bourbon and walnuts

Friday, April 11, 2014

Hello Lovelies.

Firstly, a heart-felt thank you for all the support following my last post. I did not expect the giant outpouring of love that I received. It touched me so much. I can't believe how many friends, friends-of-friends, and people I don't even know reached out to share how they're dealing with (or have dealt with) fertility stuff. We all cope in silence to some degree (on all fronts, not just when baby-making) and yet this week reminded me how interconnected we truly are. Here's to remembering that when we need it the most.

This week has been a whirlwind of life: doctor's appointments, errand running, tax preparation, external hard drive set-up, auditions, soup making, quilt making, car washing, wine drinking, dog hugs, coffee with friends, hikes, laughs, Pilates classes, pottery classes, teaching, and as many Game of Thrones episodes I could stay awake for. In the middle of it all, I had a TV appearance that amounted to maybe 7 whole seconds of screen time.

Eight months ago when I shot the thing, I had one of the most fun days I've ever had on set. I played a trashy, horrible girl from Queens who had bad hair, nazi tattoos and fake teeth. I was just in one scene but man, I had a blast. I laughed all day with the cast and crew and desperately tried not to laugh when the scene called for me to remove my fake teeth, take after take. (Trust me, that was very difficult.) So when it aired this week and the entire scene was cut down to 7 seconds (and zero dialogue), it stung. Not only was my ego bruised, but it felt like an insult to my experiencelike it meant less. I wanted to tell everyone how awesome it had been and how I had a whole scene originally and how fulfilling it was to shoot. I wanted it to look as funny and wonderful and special as it felt to me that day. And it didn't. It looked like 7 seconds.

Needless to say, it was (yet another) lesson in letting go of what others think (truth: they're not really thinking about it). I have to let the feeling of my experience be the representation of it. Not some external, diminished version that a million TV executives had their hands in. I can't control any of that, nor is it personal.

Ironically, if I *don't* let it go, I'm diminishing my own life this week by making it only about 7 seconds on TV, instead of all the other blessings and wonderful things that went down. Like dog hugs and belly laughs and couch time with DP. And all the love and support I feel from so many of you. Also: banana bread. Banana bread went down. And nobody puts banana bread in a corner.

Brown Butter Banana Bread With Bourbon and Walnuts
makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose (or gluten free flour + 1/4 t xanthan gum)
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 large (or 4 small) really ripe bananas, smashed
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan. Brown the butter (great tutorial here). Pour into a separate bowl to avoid burning and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk well and then add the brown sugar, whisking again. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the mashed bananas, sour cream, whiskey and vanilla and cooled butter. Mix well. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until everything is just combined and then fold in 3/4 cup of the nuts, being careful not to over mix. Spread into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle the top with remaining 1/4 cup nuts, and (depending on your oven) bake about 45-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the loaf pan for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Bonus points: serve with bourbon-spiked whipped cream!


P.S. Do you guys get these daily Notes From The Universe emails? They are wonderful. Case in point:

Everything in your life right now is awesome. Everything is in its right place, under grace, and whether or not this makes perfect sense yet, one day it will. And the time swiftly approaches when you'll be exceedingly grateful for all that has brought you to this day and contributed to who you've become, because it is exactly that person who is now poised to live as you have always dreamed you would one day live.

Beautiful and apropos, no?

P.P.S. If you like Game of Thrones and also goats ---------------> you'll enjoy this.
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