REPS Opening New Fitness Studio

REPS new studio

(This article originally appeared in Beacon Hill Patch on May 2, 2019, and in Beacon Hill Times on May 3, 2019.)

In 2011, when Renvil Doman opened his first fitness studio in Beacon Hill, he sensed that it was the start of something big. The local entrepreneur and personal trainer aimed to expand his business and motivate clients to stay in shape while having fun.

Eight years later, the owner of REPS Fitness Studio and Beacon Hill Yoga, continues to realize his original vision for a community workout hub and fitness empire. On May 4, Doman will open the newest branch, located at 319 Cambridge Street. The other locations are 57 Phillips Street in Beacon Hill and 781 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

Renvil Doman

“Being a part of this community is important to me, and I love helping people through fitness,” he says, pumping his fists and flashing a megawatt smile. “At REPS we are all about getting people from different walks of life to improve their health and well-being.”

The 2600-square-foot space, located above Harvard Gardens restaurant, is considerably larger than the other three locations but bears a striking resemblance to them. It boasts the recognizable REPS logo and orange, gray and white color scheme. Visitors will also find the same workout gear—including stationary bikes, kettlebells and medicine balls—and similar upbeat music playlists during workouts.

This boutique studio has additional amenities to match its updated style. Designed with more of a night-club vibe in mind, it includes several speakers, subwoofers, strobe lights and a fog machine. For the more competitive bikers and those who choose to opt in, Doman has lined the front wall with leaderboards to help track progress, distance and speed. He has also maximized the extra space and installed lockers for patron use.

“I want people to feel like they can come here and spend a good hour getting the best workout,” says Doman. “And I want them to enjoy themselves while pushing their limits.”

REPS studio treadmills

REPS offers pre-package sale options for classes and personal training. Drop-in rates are also available for last-minute exercisers attending fitness classes.

The grand-opening party will be held at the studio Saturday, May 4, 8am-3:30pm; and Sunday, May 5, 9am-3:30pm. The celebration is open to the public and will include refreshments and free REPSCYCLE and KORECYCLE classes. The classes are available to everyone, but spots are limited and online registration is required.

For more information, visit www.reps57.com

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Horse Thieves Tavern Opens in Dedham

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(This article was originally published in Dedham Patch on March 30, 2019.)

After months of nail-biting anticipation, Horse Thieves Tavern has opened its doors to the public. Laurence Wintersteen and Chris Lutes, the co-owners of Dedham Square’s newest establishment, announced that the restaurant opened last week. Located at 585 High St., Horse Thieves Tavern is in the space that was formerly Wardle’s Pharmacy.

HTT daytime

Wintersteen and Lutes wanted to take a modern approach to the traditional New England tavern. The space has a rustic atmosphere with an open-hearth fireplace, bench seating and several communal tables. There is a full bar, and the food menu includes several regional items, such as baked cod, succotash and skillet cornbread.

HTT menu

The name is a nod to the The Society in Dedham for the Apprehension of Horse Thieves, founded in Dedham in 1810. It is the oldest social club of its kind in the United States, and continues to this day. The group’s members, who have included former presidents and popes, meet for an annual celebration in town. With this in mind, the owners thought it was appropriate for the horse thieves to have a place to call their own.

“This is intended to be a fun gathering spot for locals and newcomers alike, even if they aren’t horse thieves,” says Lutes. “It’s another piece, and the next logical step, in the redevelopment and revitalization of Dedham Square.”

Horse Thieves

The duo are veteran restaurateurs, childhood friends from Maine and longtime residents of the Boston area. Lutes also owns Miracle of ScienceMiddlesex Lounge and Cambridge,1. — all located in Cambridge. Wintersteen is the former owner of Pressed, The Carving Station and the Kenmore Square location of Amsterdam Falafel.

The general manager is Michelle Kousidis, who formerly managed Mocha Java at The Blue Bunny Bookstore.

The project, which has taken over two years to complete, required substantial improvements to the base building. The building work as well as the restaurant construction was done by the Cambridge-based company Sincere Construction. The project architect is Dedham-based Moran + Associates.

HTT bar

Horse Thieves Tavern is open for drinks and dinner seven nights per week, starting at 5 p.m. Daily lunch will also be available by the end of April. Reservations can be made for parties of eight or more.

For more information, visit www.horsethievestavern.com.

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Into the Wild Blue Yonder

 

Michael Terrien

(This article was originally published in The Boston Globe on March 20, 2019.)

A new wine is popping up around Boston and it contains an unexpected ingredient: blueberries.

Don’t expect a syrupy Boones Farm throwback to the 1980s, though. This colorful libation, called Bluet (pronounced blü-it), is a dry sparkling wine made entirely from wild Maine blueberries and it bears little resemblance to its sugary predecessors.

According to Bluet’s co-creator Michael Terrien, “Local or regional fruit wine is generally going to be sweet, and this defies that.”

The drink subverts expectations with one sip, especially for those anticipating the taste of blueberry pie. Terrien explains that this is because fermentation differs from baking, and the result is the essence of blueberry—a potent berry flavor without the sweet taste of sugar. This does not always go over well with tasters anticipating a flavor resembling their morning smoothie or favorite berry cobbler.

“A glass of pinot noir doesn’t taste like the pinot noir grape,” he says. “No one has had a pinot noir grape, and they don’t know what it tastes like, but millions of people had blueberries for breakfast this morning.”

The name is a nod to Thoreau, who called wild blueberries “bluets” and wrote of their “innocent ambrosial taste, as if made of the ether itself.” Each bottle contains about two pounds of the antioxidant-rich superfood, transformed through fermentation into a bubbly beverage. It has a naturally low-alcohol content (8 percent ABV) and no added sugar.

Bluet is not intended to emulate traditional grape wine, but rather it is forging a unique identity and providing a fresh experience for wine drinkers. Although this tart beverage is currently considered a regional delicacy, that may change as it expands beyond its Maine roots.

Terrien points out that Burgundy, which started as a local wine made in the eastern region of France, has garnered international acclaim over the centuries and now demands premium prices halfway around the globe.

“Burgundy got a thousand-year head start and sells for crazy money in Hong Kong,” he says. “We’re not going to catch up anytime soon, but wild blueberries do really make a nice wine.”

A seasoned winemaker based in Napa, Terrien collaborated with Eric Martin, his business partner and childhood friend now living in North Carolina, to make Bluet. They both grew up in Maine and met 40 years ago at Waynflete School in Portland. The duo maintained a lifelong friendship and created a reason to spend more time together in their native state.

“This started as a labor of love,” says Martin. “Love of Maine, love of blueberries, love of our time there together growing up, our history there.”

They began experimenting with wild blueberries using méthode champenoise, or Champagne method, which requires a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The result is a creamy texture and complex flavor. This version of Bluet, which retails at $30 per bottle, hit the market in 2015, sells out quickly every year, and is currently only available in Maine.

The Charmat method, made in the same style as Prosecco, has a brighter and more vivid berry aroma. The winemakers released their first batch of Charmat in 2018 and sell it across the country at a slightly more modest $20 per bottle.

These days they travel to their production facility, based in Scarborough, Maine, on a monthly basis. From winnowing to fermenting and aging, Terrien and Martin constantly improve upon their process and refine their product.

“It’s still growing, and the story is evolving so rapidly,” Martin says. “The world has moved so quickly in expanding people’s palates.”

In recent months, another motivating factor to expand Bluet’s reach has emerged. The gradual rise in the wine’s production dovetails with the slump of the Maine blueberry industry.

In ten years, from 2007 to 2017, the price of wild Maine blueberries dropped seventy-five percent, from $1.07 to 26 cents per pound. Terrien and Martin aim to help boost regional blueberry sales with their product. The steep price drop has developed into a crisis and the winemakers believe that adding value could help in the long run if more wineries jump in and develop a market.

“It’s a situation of friends wanting to do something good together, [and] it just feels right,” Terrien says.

The naturally low-sugar beverage makes for a refreshing aperitif, a complementary pairing with lobster or charcuterie, or as an effervescent addition to a sweeter concoction. The winemakers recommend all three options, but acknowledge that colorful cocktails tend to be the most common use of the indigo elixir.

Kristie Ghee, the manager of The Boathouse in Kennebunkport, Maine, added Bluet to the menu last spring. She serves it by the glass (or Champagne flute) as well as in a popular drink called Night Moves—a fresh take on the gin and Champagne classic French 75. The striking hue makes Bluet a conversation starter and head turner at The Boathouse bar.

“It moves through the dining room and catches people’s eye,” Ghee says. “It’s so colorful.”

She recalls her skepticism when first trying Bluet, anticipating a cloying experience. “It’s totally different from what people expect. It’s a serious wine,” Ghee says. “I was shocked it was so good.”

As the weather warms up, look for Bluet appearances around Boston, including on the menus at Gaslight, Catalyst and Beacon Hill Bistro.

Alyssa Champagne, a mixologist at Gaslight, served a cocktail with Bluet on an unseasonably warm February afternoon. While revelers celebrated on Gaslight’s patio during the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory parade, Champagne featured a drink appropriately called the Lombardi #6.

“Who knows if that name will stick, but we hope to serve more of that cocktail as the weather warms up,” she says.

Joe McHale, the bar manager at Beacon Hill Bistro, is creating his own concoctions with creative monikers like Black and Bluet and Tangled up in Bluet.

This spring, Café Gratitude, a California restaurant group specializing in natural, plant-based gourmet foods and beverages, will also introduce Bluet to its drink menu.

 

The Lombardi #6
1.5 ounces gin
½ ounce elderflower liqueur
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Bluet

Combine all still ingredients (everything but the Bluet) in a cocktail shaker.
Shake and strain over fresh ice.
Top with Bluet.

Black and Bluet
6 ounces Bluet
Two blackberries
Mint leaf
Mint simple syrup
Basil sugar

Muddle the blackberries, a mint leaf and mint simple syrup (sugar) in a shaker.
Drop a pinch of basil sugar into a flute glass.
Pour the Bluet into your shaker.
Gently pour all contents into your flute glass.
Garnish with a mint leaf sprig.

Tangled up in Bluet
1 ounce Peychauds liqueur
3 ounces Putnam rye
½ ounce orange simple syrup
2 ounces Bluet

Add ice to a rocks glass tumbler.
Layer the Peychauds liqueur and the Putnam Rye over the ice.
Drizzle the orange simple syrup over the ice.
Pour the Bluet as a float on top.
Garnish with fresh blueberries.

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(Not So) Mellow Yellow

(This post originally appeared as a blog post for Heidi Pribell Interiors.)

photo of yellow light bulb

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.  ~Vincent Van Gogh

Yellow is the lightest and brightest color on the spectrum, and it may possibly be the happiest. In the Western world, this primary color is linked to joy, warmth, and optimism. Although it has various meanings within different cultures, yellow is universally associated with vitality and life-giving sunlight.

shallow focus photography of yellow sunflower field under sunny sky

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

Depending on the shade and the individual viewing it, though, it isn’t entirely a positive hue. Symbolic of cowardice and jealously as well as friendship and cheer, yellow can invoke an array of emotional responses––not all of them pleasant.

Detected by some people who are visually impaired, this light color is often used for ambulances, emergency vehicles, and cautionary signs. It doubles as both a helpful reminder and a warning of danger.

sign slippery wet caution

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Stronger, louder versions can annoy and overpower, particularly if used in larger doses. A little yellow can go a long way. This is particularly true while decorating a home or office space. It’s best to use bright and vibrant shades sparingly––as trim, an accent wall, or a well-placed decorative object.

Also, areas that tend to be dark and dim––hallways, basements, windowless rooms––could benefit from an uplifting splash of yellow. It’s best to use varieties that inspire and resonate with you.

closeup photo of turned on pendant light

New parents often decorate baby nurseries in yellow, rather than more traditional gender-specific pink or blue. However, if the room is too bright or lacks a balanced color scheme, the atmosphere can feel aggressive and create irritability. In yellow rooms, babies tend to cry more and adults often lose their temper more easily.

close up photo of yellow surface

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A client of mine wanted to change the feel of her living room on a limited budget and with minimal hassle. The dark maroon walls made the communal family space feel like a cave, so that was an easy starting point. I suggested keeping the color warm, but lightening it to a shade of orange or yellow. After several test colors, she opted for a cheerful, sunny yellow, which went well with the creamy white trim and neutral furniture.

With a lighter, more modern rug, and warmer artwork to adorn the walls, the entire feel of the room changed. The most drastic element, though, was the yellow paint, which created a more open, cheerful, and inviting space. Every member of the family prefers the yellow update!

 

geometric decoration

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

TIP: Use yellow to brighten up small, dark spaces, but be careful not to overdo it. If you decide to paint entire walls, choose a calmer shade that resonates with you and your family members. Otherwise, liven up spaces with small splashes of color with accents, accessories, and pop-up objects.

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Just Another Scandalous day in Harvard Square

 

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Kerry Washington took time out of her busy schedule playing the best-dressed, Châteauneuf-du-Pape-sipping, popcorn-munching D.C. fixer on television—Olivia Pope in Scandal, of course—to play with some Harvard undergrads in the midst of a frigid New England winter.

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals (HPT) comedy troupe chose Washington as their 2016 Woman of the Year. The oldest theater company in the nation, HPT is operated by Harvard students and associated with notable alumni including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jack Lemmon, and Rashida Jones (not to mention several U.S. presidents).

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The 66th woman honored with the prestigious Pudding Pot award, Washington now shares the privilege with an illustrious group of women including Katherine Hepburn (1958), Meryl Streep (1980), Whoopi Goldberg (1993), and Helen Mirren (2014).

With that in mind, earning the unconventional award is no small feat, as Washington proved on stage January 28.

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(Mike Lawrie photo)

Following the annual parade––sequined, wigged, fabulous cross-dressing HPT cast members escorting the Woman of the Year down Massachusetts Avenue in a Bentley––was the traditional, sometimes humorous roast of Washington on stage at Farkas Hall.

It started with an innocuous introduction, peppered with a few playful jabs from the roast hosts, HPT President Bobby Fitzpatrick (’16) and HPT168 Producer Kennedy Edmonds (’17):

  • Washington made the Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential people of 2014 list…along with North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un. (Well played, HPT.)
  • She turned down admission to Yale, which her roasters claimed was her only redeeming quality. (I beg to differ.)
  • Instead, she attended George Washington University, prompting the punchline, “Sounds like nepotism.” (HAH!)

 

The Pudding Pot dedication was interrupted by an audience “heckler”–a cast member dressed as Monica Lewinsky, in what else but a blue dress and black beret. (HPT relies heavily on stereotypes and caricatures, and this proved no exception.)

Lewinsky claimed that Washington was “playing seductive all wrong” (referring to the latter’s onscreen illicit romance with fictional U.S. President Fitzgerald Grant), and challenged the guest of honor to earn her award.

Lewinsky’s parting words: “As I always say, ‘Watch out for Hillary!'”

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Thus commenced Washington’s Herculean tasks:

Since her character Olivia Pope plays a D.C. political fixer, the HPT cast claimed that she first must “break shit” as she participated in a game show called “Smash That Thing!”.

Her first target was a piñata, which she teased represented “the jokes that hurt me deeply.”

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The second was a bouquet of balloons with her face, which the cast instructed her to pop. Without missing a beat, Washington joked, “That’s, like, against my Neutrogena contract.”

Then, the “Smash That Thing” host told her she must destroy a 12-inch Lenovo laptop. Washington balked. “Only at Harvard…” she said, followed by, “This is crazy! Somebody needs this!”

She agreed to take a hammer to the laptop if HPT donated a functioning one to someone in need. They acquiesced, at least in the moment. (I’ve yet to follow up on that agreement.)

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Before obliterating the screen, Washington yelled, “Take that, Monica!”

When the host informed her that there was yet one more smash task, Washington replied, “Is there a Bentley?”

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(Keith Bedford photo)

The remaining endeavors included egg cracking (on the host’s bouffant hairdo), a pseudo-Neutrogena ad involving a Harvard “pimple boy,” a popcorn-eating contest with “Fat Elephant,” an altercation with Donald Trump‘s Harvard doppelgänger, and serenading a personified “bitch baby” (another Scandal reference) to sleep.

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(Elise Amendola photo)

In the star-studded performance rife with nods to pop culture and current events, the highlights were Washington’s impromptu musical numbers. She and an HPT Ray Charles sang a lullaby duet  (Washington played Charles’ wife in the 2004 film Ray), and she belted out a captivating rendition of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do With It.”

Needless to say, Washington handily earned her 2016 Woman of the Year Pudding Pot. She claimed, “This is the best worst day ever,” and said the HPT cast got her to do things that she had been avoiding for years.

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Washington graciously accepted the honor with some parting words:

“I’m joining the ranks of esteemed women who have made asses of themselves.”

Toying with her roasters, she called out HPT for their exclusion of women, saying that they “make really ugly drag queens.” Washington’s dig prompted the fake Lewinsky to flash a blue-pantied crotch in an unscripted response.

In response, Washington praised the real Lewinsky for her anti-bullying activism. Then, she asked the cast and the audience to stand and make pledge:

“Repeat after me: I, state your name, followed by the appropriate Roman numeral,” she started, underscoring the WASPy privilege associated with Harvard.

After implying that the members might try acting for a few years, then give up to run their dad’s hedge fund, Washington struck a more serious note and reminded everyone that equal pay, diversity, and making room for others at the table are essential responsibilities, particularly among the Ivy League elite.

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“Please don’t stop stepping into other people’s shoes,” she said. “They don’t have to be pumps.”

Almost as an afterthought, Washington casually reminded everyone to tune into the February 11 midseason premiere of Scandal.

You can watch HPT’s 168th performance, That 1770s Show, at Farkas Hall through March 6. The cast takes the show on the road to NYC’s Kaye Playhouse Theater March 11-12, and then to Bermuda’s Hamilton City Hall March 16-18.

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Watching the Watchdogs

(This op-ed was originally published in The Politico Magazine in August 2013.)

While enjoying dinner in Cambridge recently I noticed two police cars parked in front of the restaurant. Two officers bent a man over a squad car, and cuffed his hands behind his back. The man did not resist and the police did not seem to use excessive force. It was also public. If the cops wanted to hide something, they would have difficulty doing it in that spot with daylight to spare. Dozens of patrons witnessed what I did, and several of them began to whisper and buzz about the excitement outside.

As my boyfriend and I exited, I used my iPhone as as camera to take three shots of the scene, which we had to pass to leave the building. While I didn’t flaunt the gesture, I didn’t attempt to hide it, either. No one seemed bothered by this mundane action (and it was far less obnoxious than a selfie)––except one of the police officers.

He confronted me and asked if I had taken a photo. I confirmed that I had. He demanded that I hand over my phone. I politely declined. Then he grew more aggressive and claimed that it was ‘evidence’ in his crime scene. Again, he insisted I relinquish the contraband. Again, I declined, knowing that his claim was a lie. He said that I didn’t have a right to take photos of the cops. I replied that, actually, I did.

As I tried to pass him to reach my car, the officer moved his body to block my path. Then he tried to take my phone from my hand. I leapt back, a knee-jerk reaction more than a deliberate decision. I told him that his actions were illegal as I slipped my phone into my back pocket. He lunged for the phone, trying to grab it from my jeans. I dodged his effort, restraining myself from kicking him in the crotch (which is what I would have done to any other man harassing me in such a way).

He eventually backed down, realizing that I was more aware of my rights than he had anticipated. I went to my car, shaking, with a rapid heart beat, but with my phone triumphantly still in hand.

This situation is hardly an isolated one. American citizens face arrest, or the threat of it, on a regular basis for keeping an eye on the very people hired, trained, and paid (with taxpayers’ money) to “protect and serve” them. The list seems to grow exponentially every day.

There was the high-profile incident on Leon Rosby, who was arrested in Hawthorne, California, on June 30 for the crime of “obstruction” of police as he recorded video of their cars parked outside of a house in the neighborhood. After agitating Rosby’s dog with the illegal arrest, the officers fatally shot his pet four times.

The evidence? Another citizen taking a video of all of this with his own phone camera. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mum5iJMlyk)

Also, more recently, Dominic Holden of “The Stranger,” a Seattle, Washington-based publication, wrote about a similar experience. In the July 31 issue, Holden published “Police Threatened to Arrest Me for Taking Their Photo Last Night,” in which he describes interactions with Seattle cops threatening him for taking their photo while they questioned a man who was not under arrest. (http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/07/31/police-threatened-to-arrest-me-for-taking-their-photo-last-night)

When Holden followed up with the police department, the response he received was this: “King County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Sergeant Cindi West explains, ‘It’s a free country, and as long as you have a legal right to be there, you can take a picture.’ She elaborated in an e-mail that ‘in general a person cannot be ordered to stop photographing or to leave property if they have a legal right to be there.’ ”

Holden writes, “What happened to me was minor. But I’m writing about it because it’s minor. Officers went out of their way to threaten a civilian with arrest and workplace harassment for essentially no reason. Because they could. Because they didn’t like being watched.”

That’s right, civil servants––whether they are politicians, TSA agents, or police officers––don’t like to be watched. That is what they are, by the way: servants of the people. They are here to help protect and provide services to its citizens. We pay their salaries, after all. So, when did “servants” become “leaders” and “authorities”? People must arm themselves with knowledge of their rights and take back their power.

These self-proclaimed leaders and authorities insist on forcing naked screening images at airports of people simply trying to visit their in-laws in Chicago or fly to Orlando for a trip to Disney World. They justify widespread National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of all phone calls and emails exchanged by law-abiding citizens who used to be (and presumably still are) protected by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And they insist on violating personal space and civil liberties with such intrusive and humiliating tactics as “stop and frisk.”

The response to resistance or even simple questioning of these policies is, “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.”

Yet, when free, law-abiding members of the populace do something as simple, harmless, and legal as take photos of officers arresting someone in public or standing around eating donuts, they face harassment and threats of arrest, not the transparency they seek and deserve.

Voyeurism is a two-way street. So is surveillance. And we, the people, should take advantage of that, utilizing our rights to watch the watchdogs. Because, according to Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

If these people in power have nothing to hide, why do they worry so much about an iPhone and curious citizenry armed with knowledge of their rights and basic video technology?

(To avoid arrest or further harassment from the local law enforcement, I am not including the original photos taken of this incident.)

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Please Hold

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Things I did while waiting to speak with a representative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital this morning (in no particular order):

  • Kegel exercises
  • Thought of funny, nonsensical lyrics to match the smooth, jazzy instrumental hold music
  • Realized that the background music may have in fact been a diluted easy-listening version of a Beastie Boys song
  • Imagined the name of the representative who may or may not eventually interrupt the hypnotic Kenny G rendition of ‘Brass Monkey
  • Facercises (for real, this is a thing)
  • Started to read a pocket version of The Constitution of the United States (it’s shorter than you may think), courtesy of the ACLU
  • Pilates, which required a little physical maneuvering, contorting, and speakerphone (idea inspired by Amy Schumer)
  • Forgot the issue I was originally calling to discuss with a B&W rep

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