Sunday Bake Shop

I hit the gym early last week for the first time in 18 months. It felt awful.

It wasn’t the inability to lift any significant weight, the fact that I couldn’t sit without screaming for two days, or the sudden, crushing need to go to bed at 8pm. It wasn’t even the blow to my ego.

For reasons that still elude, I’ve always loved lifting at the gym. The strategic lighting that does the impossible – making invisible muscles suddenly pop and evening out sleepy skin tone without concealer, foundation, whatever – and the music of clanging plates had been a kind of sanctuary. Humming with adrenaline in the power rack, I couldn’t believe I’d left this place for so long, how fearful I’d been to crawl back.

Happy in a way I haven’t been here in Tokyo, I hit legs twice last week. “Noob move,” Josh said after I told him I did squats and deadlifts on my first day back, “I wish you were here so I could punch you in the quads.” He was right. I spent half of yesterday – my second heavy leg day in the same week – sprawled motionless on my bed, sweating and feeling clammy at the same time, tired but restless and nauseous. The stress of a few pathetic deadlifts had also touched an emotional nerve that felt intensely raw. I cried for no reason, then promptly passed out.

Through it all – the overloaded CNS manifested in utter exhaustion and a mini meltdown – I remembered a particular berry crumble cake. I remembered the chewy oats, the soft crumb of a sweet, cinnamon-scented cake contrasted against the tartness of berries, the shortbread-like bottom crust. I couldn’t move, but I would have walked to Sunday Bake Shop again if it had been open.

Open on Sunday and somewhat inexplicably on Wednesday, I’d trekked over there with my sister-in-law last week. An adorable space tucked away in Hatsudai, a long table greets customers, laden with brownies, pound cakes, carrot cupcakes, perfect cheesecakes, and small mountains of scones. The open kitchen in the back lends a view to the entire process, where trays of pastries come out of ovens and on that day, a focaccia was being prepared. Seating is limited, but the espresso machine entices lingering over baked goods with friends.

We headed home with two boxes of deliciousness. The carrot cupcakes disappeared before I got a taste, but I inhaled half of the berry crumble cake later that day. I’m still thinking about it.

“You should have tried that carrot cupcake,” my sister-in-law said a few days ago. I probably should have. Maybe after my next leg day.


Sunday Bake Shop

1-58-7 Honmachi

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-00071

Map and website

treadmills and triathlons

A few years ago - back when I could be found in nothing lower than 2 inch heels, with hair down to the middle of my back - Sex and the City was blowing up on HBO. Lack of a TV in my college dorm room meant that I was never able to follow Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha quite as closely as some of my friends, but that didn't mean I was oblivious to it all. And as that infamous foursome sought love in the Big Apple, people claimed that the show was clear evidence that the "30s were the new 20s."
I naively believed it back then; barely 21 and fully immersed in the self-centered mentality of college, where you're not really expected to think outside the small universe you've built around yourself. I remember being sort of relieved upon hearing that claim, actually; a decade plus of time mentally stretched out before me. Plenty of time to figure out love, life, and everything in between.
But now officially in my late twenties, I can tell you this: your 30s will not, in fact, be anything like your 20s. I don't care how "mentally young" you claim to be, it's not the same, if only for the sheer fact that when you're 30, you probably aren't still partying on your parents's dime. And by that time, it's really not socially acceptable for you to be doing so, either. So that whole bit about your 30s being the new 20s? Huge lie.


Unless, of course, we're talking about treadmills and triathlons. Then, it somehow seems like women in their 30s dominate, and are having as much or more fun than their 20 something counterparts.
Maybe it's the typical social calendar and Friday nights of the recently-post-college set that tends to get in the way of regimented training sessions and yoga classes [and who can really blame them?]. But the typical "fitness chick" tends to be a woman more experienced than those just making their way into the workforce. They eat well, hit the gym nearly daily, and work around their work-outs, all while juggling spouses or boyfriends and possibly children. The image isn't an envious one; fitness chicks are constantly busy, and all they eat are salads and health food. Sure they have amazing bodies, but who really wants to put in that much work to be like them?
Or so the 21-year old me thought. But looking around - at my calendar, the rollers, the yoga mat that has it's permanent place in the center of the floor, and even the contents of my fridge - it seems as if I'm slowly becoming a fitness chick. Granted, I mostly stick to cycling, but I've ventured into Pilates and will sometimes even hit the gym. Five years ago, I hardly knew how to work a treadmill and detested wearing sneakers. Now, I can't live without either. When did that happen?



Last July, on the weekend following my birthday, my sister had cackled as she asked:
"So how does it feel to be in your late twenties?"
As if, at 28, she wasn't already well into her late twenties. I had a bit of an existential crisis for a full minute before heading out the door to my new favorite bike shop. Neatly clipping into my pedals on Second Ave, I didn't feel 26 yet [bicycles tend to have that general effect]. But I knew I was pushing a gear ratio that would have killed both my knees a few years ago.
Dodging pedestrians in Chinatown, I finally had an answer for my sister: it feels great to be in my late twenties. It feels better, in fact, than when I was 21, smoked daily, and could live off bad Chinese food, pizza, and Krispy Kreme. And I'm kind of proud to say that...even if I have my inner budding fitness chick to thank for it.

a cyclist's dilemma

I got rained on yesterday - for the first time this summer.
It wasn't even heavy rain, and lasted a mere 5 minutes. But lacking a front fender, my legs were instantly covered in beads of water, raising goosebumps on my unevenly tanned appendages.
It was the first time, in a while, that I was sort of uncomfortable on my bike. And between dodging puddles and eyeing the overcast sky, I was actually thankful that I had a run scheduled yesterday afternoon, and no ride.
As much as I'd love to move to Seattle, sometimes I wonder how much riding I'd get in if I actually did.


The nicer weather's definitely been spoiling me. Rain shouldn't even be a problem, just sort of messy. There's no ice or snow involved, no layers and layers of clothing to stay warm, no feeling as if I'm pedaling with all my might but not moving. But I'm still trying to dodge the outdoors, and using gyming, errands, and overdue hat orders as excuses to stay inside.
Lame, I know. I mean, I know. The worst part is that gymming is much easier. Running indoors on a treadmill at a gym conveniently located on my way home from work takes no psychological effort. On the other hand, planning a route, making sure I have everything I need [tubes, pump, energy bar, water, etc.] for a ride, then actually throwing down even a so-so number of miles is much more mentally straining. And when it's wet, humid, and rainy out, motivation conveniently slips away and is nowhere to be found.


I'm running again today [the guilt!]. But only because tomorrow morning looks like it's going to be clear. And that means a real bike ride.
Faux-roadie-proseur weekend, here I come!

stretched thin

I haven't seen you in months. And while I never thought it would work out between you and me...well, I'm having doubts.
Because these days, we've been seeing so much more of each other. I've been resisting it, though, and I always tell myself how it might not be a good idea to pay yet another visit. But I do anyway - it's becoming part of a routine by now - convinced that I'm going to leave in tears.
Is it me or have you changed? I'm actually starting to enjoy our time together. You're so different from everything else I'm used to...and I'm starting to feel like that that isn't so bad. And after our sessions together, I come home, lie on the floor and just think about you. Staring up at my ceiling, slightly dazed, trying to absorb what just happened.


That's not to say you don't leave me in some pain. You do. Oh, you do. Some days more than others. Which is why I've avoided you for so long. I couldn't keep up with you physically, so I just gave up and didn't bother trying.
I guess it's better to fail than to never try at all. Or, at least that's what I've been thinking these days. See, you've even gotten me being kind of optimistic! Seriously, sometimes I really question what's been going on. And I'm always questioning "us".
You know I'm careful with that kind of thing, though. And with everything on my plate, I can hardly manage a relationship.


I don't want to scare you away...but...I don't know...I might, just might, be kinda falling for you.
Oh, gym, do you think we can make it work?


Dress up. Dress down.
Change shoes. About three times a day. Another summer working in Boston.
I love shoes, but this is getting to be a little too much. It feels like I consistently have three pairs of shoes on me that I'm actually wearing. Needless to say, my outfits are changing, too, almost a la Britney in "Womanizer." Almost, because I'm keeping most of my clothes on.
It doesn't go so far as "role play" [and it's not nearly as kinky]. It's just what anyone who bikes to work deals with - a change of more professional clothes carefully folded and packed in my bag with gym clothes, running shoes, and the odd energy bar. And when I scoot into the office, I change out the helmet for a ponytail, shorts for a skirt, and Sidis for heels.


The first time I've been in heels in what seems like forever, I've been feeling sort of tall this week. Which, at 5'3", is absurd. Walking around in a skirt and button down shirt added more weird to the whole mix. I might even have looked lawyer-ly, shockingly enough.


And at the end of the day, I switched out the heels for Sidis, and clipped back into my bike only to change into running shoes 15 minutes later.
In the grand scheme of things, running is closer to biking than, say, burying my nose in trial briefs and motions. Or so it would seem. Too bad I'm more comfortable with the latter two activities than the former. Stuck on a treadmill, following a running plan supplied by Jones, I tried not to hate life too much. At least it wasn't that crowded; only a handful of people got to watch a cyclist trying to learn how to run.


Predictably, I couldn't wait to switch out of those shoes for the cleats. At the end of the day, finally taking off my shoes for good, I wiggled my toes as I stretched and sighed. Another relatively physically productive day [at least my legs think so].
Summers mean shoes, shoes, and more switching out of shoes. Hopefully I'm on my way to getting shredded in the process.