Category Archives: regular

Dance Day 7, You can Ring my Bell

9:19 pm

I did Zumba today in Miami.  There was a studio in Aventura that I always wanted to go to.  Finally, I got a chance to take a class.  The teacher was a small woman in her fifties.  She danced with her back to us, most Zumba teachers do, it’s easier to follow dance moves.  The great thing about this studio was that it had the floor to ceiling mirrors on all sides.  In our Park Slope yoga studio, there are no mirrors so when we are dancing we can’t see our teacher’s face expressions, just her amazing moving butt.

The only disadvantages to the mirrors was that I would think this teacher was in her early twenties if it wasn’t for the mirrors.  I walked in late when the class was already going.  In my busy baby life, I am often late to Zumba classes.  Short Zumba is better than no Zumba.  The teacher was one of those salsa dancing ladies who don’t smile.  She smiled to great me but most of the class her face was serious.  Salsa is serious business, I agree.  She would yell “Salsa” in a commanding voice or clap for us to switch moves.  Even in my first class, I could follow.  She was clear and she was watching us through the mirror.  At one point I was using my left foot instead of my right and she yelled, “Switch feet.”  I liked it, she cared.  In my NY class I could be sleeping behind her back, the teacher would never know.

Out of all the Zumba songs, Ring my Bell by Anita Ward came on in the middle.  Ding, Ding, Ding (literally) a synchronous event letting me know that I am in the right place at the right time!  I was not prepared when leaving NY for my dancethon so I didn’t have appropriate music in my iPod.   Right now it’s mostly filled with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, Lots of baby music, Russian music and random mixes.  Ring my Bell happens to be on my iPod so it’s the song that I’ve been dancing to a lot.  I’ve been working on my moves for that song.  It’s also not a Zumba song.  Zumba music is usually Latin inspired or world music.  Ring my Bell is straight disco.  So not bad, yesterday synchronicity and today.  I am finally doing something right.

One of the things I love about Capitalism is Zumba.  From what I am gathering, Zumba is a franchise.  It seems crazy that you can franchise dancing to music but you can.  And you should if that helps people dance more.  Same thing happened to Bikram.  I am not going to look it up but I am willing to bet that more people have tried Bikram Yoga than regular yoga.  I am totally guessing here.  I have tried Bikram Yoga and I usually hate/love it (sorry Elizabeth and Jamie).  For ME, it takes out everything pure and holy about yoga.  The quiet voice of the teacher, the gentle approach to one’s body, the calming of the mind.  Bikram is a great workout but it’s not a spiritual practice for me.  The only spiritual benefit I get out of it is the sauna effect of sweating out all my impurities.  I get upset that its called Yoga because Yoga means the body and mind connection.  Sorry Bikram.

I only realized it was a franchise from another yoga teacher who was upset about Bikram not following the rules of “real” yoga.  He could not swallow the fact that Bikram is a franchise.  How can you franchise yoga?  I used to agree with that teacher and I am still torn about that topic to be honest.  But the fact that Bikram is spreading like wildfire is amazing!  More people than ever get a chance to experience some form of yoga.  And bad yoga is better than no yoga.

What franchise is selling here is an easy package for the teacher to follow.  They don’t have to create anything from scratch, there is a cake mix.  If they want to teach yoga, they just have to take a course, follow the instructions, get a certificate and voila.  They just plug themselves into an existing system that is already efficient.  If they want to dance Zumba, get a Zumba certificate and teach in every gym in the country.

For the purist in me,  I wish I could find that special dance class or that special yoga class with that teacher who is has invented their own brilliant technique.  For the realist in me, thank god for those franchises that help to make yoga and dance accessible to all.  And all these Zumba teachers who I am meeting are really good in their own way.  You can make a franchise but the fact that people are teaching it makes every class individual.  Maybe if tango was franchised, more people would know how to dance it.

I want to apply these theories to myself.  It’s great to have good ideas but no one will see my ideas unless I have a business backing them.  A way to get out the good ideas into the world.  Sometimes, I make an awesome piece of jewelry.  Really awesome by all human standards, I think 🙂  And then I sell like 3 of pieces of it total, and end up retiring it and giving the sample away to my sister (she can appreciate the true brilliance of my work).  Thank god for good sisters 🙂

I think Buddha and Jesus are some of the earliest franchisees.  They found a way to package their story so that its attainable to other people and then trained people in their craft.  Jesus had 12 disciples.  They were his personal staff.  Buddha taught a very rigid methodology of enlightenment.  These guys didn’t sit alone in their rooms pondering.  They were out on business trips all day long, training people.  The franchises that they created are still with us today.  How nice it would be to learn from them directly the methodology, but once again, bad enlightenment is better than no enlightenment.

10:57 pm

disclaimer:  please don’t take that last line seriously, it only works in the context

Dance Day 6, There is no such thing as free lunch.

(I was introduced to this image by Ray Troll later by my friend Mommy Theorist, it’s perfect, thank you.  If you have a second browse his work online and buy a poster, they are awesome.  I am thinking about the Pink Dolphin one for our house).

8:09 pm

When I was 22, I graduated college, went on a spiritual journey to Israel for the summer, came back and got a job at Salomon Smith Barney.  An investment bank on Wall Street.  I didn’t even know at that time that Wall Street is an abstract term and doesn’t actually mean its on Wall St.  My headquarters were in Tribecca, 380 Greenwich St.  I was hired as an analyst to work in Government Bonds Quantitative Strategy Group.  To this day, I am not sure why and how I got the job.  I didn’t know anything about Government Bonds or Quantitative Strategy.

I had two rounds of interviews.  The first round, I was interviewed by 8 people in 15-30 minute segments.  I could feel that some key players liked me so I wasn’t that surprised when I got called for the second round, even though I bombed some of the questions.  The second round was shorter three interviews that seemed more like introduction to the company by the people I would be working the closest with.  George Cherpelis., Bulent Baygun. and Janet Showers.

The whole thing was so scary.  I didn’t think I was so scared of people until I started working there.  Working there I learned about companies that operate on fear.

My first day, I dressed in my finest of button down collared shirts with a black pant suit.  I looked hideous and I was uncomfortable.  I just came back from Israel where I acted like a Jewish hippie with long skirts and braids in my hair.  In my new getup I was pretending to be an awkward man, all I needed was a tie and a set of balls.  This was proper attire.  I resented blending in.  Inside I was shouting, I am not one of you.  I don’t belong here, can’t you see I am an impostor.

But I was 22 and convinced that this was the way to “make it.”   I was going to make it at all costs and my cost was 55K year starting salary with a bonus which I found out was 10K at the end of the year for a mediocre job.  Maybe it would be more if I was one of those “big swinging dicks” from Liars Poker, but I don’t think anyone would call me a “big swinging dick”.   I felt so lucky that I got this job even up until this first day.

On this day I found out from my “welcoming” committee of cubicle pop ins that I was the only one in my group without a masters or a PhD or a diploma from an Ivy League school.  The first question everyone asked me was what school I am coming from.  I proudly answered, CS major with a business minor from Boston University.  This I could tell was surprising to the “welcoming committee.”  I became a little less proud with my answers.  Maybe being mysterious could be my approach, I thought.

George C. was short, chubby, proudly Greek orthodox  and really cute.  He was in his mid thirties and not married at the time.  He was probably the one most responsible for getting me hired.  He took me in during the first interview.  I would work for him, doing the jobs he didn’t want to do anymore.  Jobs he had been doing for the last five plus years.  He was open and honest.  He told me who is who and what’s where.  All the gossip and stories that I needed to know to feel acclimated.  He talked and talked at me, with me nodding and exclaiming “wow” or “really” at the appropriate breaks in conversation.  I could tell he made a lot of wrong assumptions about me.  He assumed that because I was a Russian immigrant I would be an amazing programmer, a hard worker who spent my nights and weekends at the office and I would be obedient and quiet while doing it.  Unfortunately for him and me, he was wrong on all three accounts.

My first day, the group took me to the most uncomfortable lunch of my life.  I am not exaggerating, I can’t think of a single more uncomfortable lunch.  It was a nice place with starched cloth napkins.  Something about the starch in my napkin made me even more uncomfortable then I already was.  It was so stiff, it was hard to wipe myself with it and I felt even more out of place.  I was stiffer.  This was worse then the eight interviews.  Now they were all around me stronger by their mass, they were not my people as a group, maybe as individuals, but not as a group.

They talked, mostly amongst themselves and I tried to fit in.  I tried jokes but they didn’t get a laugh.  My jokes were stiff and forced.  They were not genuine.  They were about stuff I didn’t care about, but thought that they might care about.  “They” felt like adults.  I felt small and childlike in their presence that day.  After working there for two years, the tables turned.  George mentioned with a grin that Janet Showers couldn’t come to lunch.  They all made sounds and rolled their eyes as if she was too good to go to lunch to “welcome” a lowly analysts.  I tried to roll my eyes too even though I had no idea what they were talking about.  I did know a little bit.  George told me some stories in our interview.  She was the main boss.  The boss of the bosses.  She was the boss of our group in which everyone was my boss.  She was also the boss of the all of Fixed Income Research, which was all of 10th floor and had some real-estate on the trading floor (the only real-estate that really counts).

I met her before.  She was the last person to interview me in the second round.  George warned me that she is super tough before I went into the room.  She was a scary lady he told me in not so many words.  I was frightened in that office.  Her lips were clenched.  I felt like I could barely breath in her presence.  There was no room to even make a nervous joke.  This was a place for short answers without eye contact.  She stared through me.  I was an object and an annoying one at best.  She had no feelings for me.  I was small, miserable, young, inexperienced and probably poor.  I was even too inexperienced to realize who she was and that was probably the most annoying part for her.  I don’t remember that interview, I think she was too busy to listen to the answers to her questions.  So I got the job.

After lunch, George knocked on Janet’s big window office door, “Hey Janet, today is Olga Toporovsky’s first day.  She is the new analyst in our group.  We just took her out for lunch.”  Janet looked up at me as I was trying to peek my face in through the cracked door.  She said,” There is no such thing as free lunch,” and went back to work.  George closed the door and made a smirk at me, sympathizing.

I knew that moment would stay with me for an eternity.  I knew, from the first second I heard her name that Janet Showers would become a teacher in my mind’s eye.  I think of her.  The few encounters I had with her in those two years, she managed to say something that was powerful.  She was powerful.  When she walked into the elevator, everyone stopped breathing.   They exhaled and continued to talk only when she left.  One time we were joking in the bathroom by the mirrors and then Janet Showers walked out of the stall.  It was scary.  I didn’t even know she was human enough to use the bathroom and not just bathroom but the same bathroom I use.

But that first phrase really hit home.  I knew that would be the story of my life at Salomon Smith Barney.  I thought I was getting a deal.  A big starting salary, all the benefits one can want, a ticket to a future of wealth and power.  Luckily Janet warned me on my first day, “There is no such thing as free lunch.”

I think of this now because I am in Miami.  We stayed here last year for five months and we are here now for a week.  Yura’s dad has a condo here that we are free to use when we want to.  I wish I could enjoy it more.  I wish I would not be assaulted by the waste all around me.  I wish I could be like my mom and think this is beautiful.  All the fancy cars.  I wish I can look past the 18 year old boy walking out of his dad’s Bentley with his Gucci shoes inverted so that all the G’s are showing properly.  I wish I could smile at the old over-tanned ladies with too much lipstick, angry that the valet is taking too long to get their car so that they can go to the Aventura mall.  I wish I could enjoy myself on the beach while the oversize, first to be built, six star luxury superplex condos and hotel all in one is going up right behind me, blocking all the view to the “public” beach.  I wish that I can not feel sorry for the towel guys, whose only job all day is to bring the towels to the people who live her.  It is not a hotel.  These people own towels.  I wish that this was my idea of luxury.  I wish I could ignore the mall across the street, known for being the most expensive mall in the country.  I wish I could feel sorry for the the unhappy anorexic faces of the teenage girls and their anorexic moms, clutching their super sized designer bags.  I wish I can look at the thousand dollar lobby flower arrangement that gets tossed before it can even begin to wilt and say “Wow, that’s beautiful.”

When Josh and Jenn came here last year to visit with Wavy, Josh could not help but voice some of these things in my head.  Yura turned to him and said, “Are you happy anywhere?”, Josh thought about it and then said, “No.”  Yura said it to him but he was talking to our own voices that were loudly screaming in our heads.  We can keep them inside but Josh had to go and say it.  Yura wished for us to enjoy the luxury we were getting here.  I would have answered, “Yes.”

My idea of luxury is an unspoiled beach with running water, it doesn’t even have to be hot.  This beach is spoiled and I feel spoiled being on it.

My friends Marina and Elyse came here last year at different times.  They both said to me, “I can’t see you living here, Olia, this place is so not you.”  They were right, they will not see me living here, not even for free.  Thanks to you Janet Showers, I always remember that there is no such thing as free lunch.

For the next six days I will carve out a piece of sand to do my dance routine and some time in the over heated pool for us to enjoy, knowing that its not free.

11:32 pm

Day 48, the Experiment

5:31 pm

Tomorrow I will start a new count.  This will be a series of 40 day experiments because eventually that will be my character in my screen play or show that I will write as one of the 40 day experiments. Today will be a recap day of the first 40 days and tomorrow I will pick a new experiment.


40 Day Writing Experiment Recap

Every experiment needs a Hypothesis.  My Hypothesis was that if I write everyday: It will become a routine, I will become a better writer and I will change myself and therefore the world.  I think that’s what it was.  Now I will set my hypothesis prior to the experiment.

My findings.

The 40 days of writing uprooted feelings, ideas and memories that were buried inside. It was all the unsaid, the unexposed, the shamed, the hidden, the scared, the joyful. All buried. When I started writing it became very clear and very quickly that I need it. Now its a routine. Like brushing my teeth and flossing (I wish), I clean out by writing. Cleaning is not the word it’s more like dancing my soul. Whatever the word is, the feeling is that I have a message, dammit. I want to tell people that message, I don’t care if they hear it or not but I need to tell it.  I am amazed every time someone says they heard it.

During the 40 days, I started with 0 readers and I now I have a nice bunch. I mean it, really nice people are reading my blog. If you are reading it, you are nice. I am told by new people all the time that they are reading, relating and inspiring themselves. My friend Michelle just started Mommy Theorist (inspired by moi), she is a writer and an editor and how cool is the name Mommy Theorist.  I feel so proud that I inspired a writer to write.

This is not a black hole. I saw a paper journal in this trendy boutique that said on it “Fuck your Blog.” I was personally offended.  I felt that it was talking to me.  My first reaction and underline reaction was , why don’t I just privately journal, why the whole show. Then I remembered the boxes during my move. At my parent’s house there is at least two boxes of my unedited, unread and probably never to be read journals, unless I become a famous writer which I am not ruling out of the realm of possibilities.  I like having a large realm.  The pages are thinning and the ink is fading.  I can’t do a word search on them.  There are no tags or categories, there are barely any dates.  In my current house there is also at least two boxes of the same. I won’t use the hard language but “Dang You Paper Journal!” (I am not saying Yours).  If you want to journal privately, fine, it’s better than nothing but don’t curse at my Blog and the Blogs of so many others.  And watch the language, there are kids who come your store.

I’ve been journaling for years and never did anyone say, I love what you wrote in your journal, it inspired me to write in my journal.  No one said, I love what you wrote in your journal about your ex boyfriend, I cried because I had a similar pain and held on to it.  I didn’t start this to help anyone but myself but that’s how help works.  It helps others the most when you help yourself.

My mother-in-law told me two days ago that she has read every blog entry. Thank you, Maria! That makes me feel so loved and not only loved but known.  There is no way that you would get to know me so well unless you read this.  Even if we lived together.  My own mom is getting to know me through this medium.  And I am getting to know me.  We could live a lifetime without really knowing each other.  At least now you know me, now we just have to sign you up on WordPress.

Experiments within the Experiment

I will take one day a week off. Shabbat on Saturday.  My last entry for the week will be on Friday afternoon and then the first one will be on Sunday.  I need to empty the vessel so that I can fill it back up again.  My sister reminded me of this recently and it has been my motto since she said it.

Somewhere in between the above paragraphs, I went to Zumba at JCC with my favorite mother-in-law.  It’s 9:50 pm.

I figured out what my next experiment will be.  40 days of Dance.  Dancing a half an hour a day for 40 days!

40 Day Dance Party!  Hypothesis will be written tomorrow.

10:13 pm

Day 27, Exercising the Demons

11: 58 am

Tumblr is down again.  I think I need to switch.  One main reason to switch is so its easier for me to follow Elizabeth’s blog.  I want to work more with her, she started this blog idea for me, so I think I should go on wordpress.  Tumblr is basically kicking me off.  I tried to post 3 times today and I got an ugly black screen that says “We’ll be back shortly”, only its been too long.  I got too many of those screens to bare it.

Speaking of baring it.  I can’t bare being sick anymore but I guess I have no choice.  Today, I was recovered from my flu only to get hit with some unearthly food poisoning/ stomach virus.  I don’t even know what.  I think the demons are leaving me but they are having a serious way with me on their way out.  I have been throwing up from 8-12.  Not constantly but when it comes, it makes my whole body convulse.  I’ve also had diarrhea since 4 pm.  Sorry to be so crass but its for a reason, I promise.  I thought it was just a passing thing but it didn’t stop.  Everytime I took a bite of something or drank anything it came back stronger and stronger.  I was crawling around the apartment, almost saying the Shema (the most important prayer that you say 3 times a day but also before you die).  I was doing it for the later.  I know I am not going to die, but it felt like it tonight.  Not that I know what death feels like but my whole body was going through something all encompassing, painful, draining of energy and I don’t know how else to describe it.

My first thoughts were of my mom.  This whole summer my mom has been going through a crazy stomach thing.  Everytime she ate, it didn’t agree with her.  It lasted over three months and before that, it came and went frequently.  All those times she told me she was sick it didn’t register.  I felt bad, I felt sad and helpless but it didn’t register the pain that she was going through this whole time.  I underestimated it.  I only had 6 hours of this so far, and already, I am on the floor saying the Shema but my mom barely complained.  We got into an argument the other day and in the argument she used the fact that she barely complained to win her case.  I huffed and puffed and continued to disagree.  Tonight I realize, she barely complained.  I want to complain so much, it hurts.  It really hurts.  I can’t lay down even though I am so tired because when I lay down I feel nauseous and everything starts again.  So I am sitting here typing to get my mind off of the pain.  But my mom went through this everyday, without an end in sight.  By the end she weighed 88 pounds and everyone around her didn’t register what is happening to her.

Now it has registered.  Mom, I know what you needed.  You needed someone to be truly compassionate to you.  To nurture you and to make you feel loved.  To tell you it will pass but not harshly, nicely.  You needed more love, more love then what you got, more love then usual because you were going through something unusual.  I realized that tonight because I need those things right now.  No one is awake to give them to me so I am giving them to myself through this gift of writing it down.

An now I have to go back to the bathroom.

12:22 am

1:41 am
You said you would be back shortly tumblr but you are not back.  I know you are trying.
So many new revelations.  One is, dark magic.  I think I have been under dark magic’s spell this month.  I know that sounds strange but I will address it.  Dark magic unlike white magic has no balance.  Dark magic is powerful and sometimes seems more powerful then white magic but its power is limited and its noticeable.  I met this woman who I trusted and liked.  I met her through my nanny who I think is saintly so I got confused.  How could dark magic be near to someone saintly.  I guess it could.  I don’t think this woman is trying to practice dark magic but I just don’t think that she knows how to control or balance her power.  I pissed her off on Friday.  I know the healer is not right for me when I am able to single-handedly with one sentence piss them off.  In Peru, on a retreat 9 years ago, I said to the archangel channel Robert who was channeling Angel Gabriel at the time, ” I don’t think you are real.  I think that Robert doesn’t think he is good enough as a healer so he has to pretend that he is channeling archangel Gabriel to get his information across.”  To this he said ” You are free to believe as you choose.”

I will never forget those words because they were so calm.  I’ve been brewing with my attack all that day in my hotel room and all he said was ” You are free to believe as you choose”.  I went back to Gabriel, 9 years later for my Birthday few weeks ago and he welcomed me with open arms.  The truth is, my statement did not change anything for him or within him.  He remained archangel Gabriel.

Back to the dark magic.  I met this woman and I instantly liked her but inside I was weary.  I am usually quick to recognize dark energies but this one was tricky.  I also never have let dark energies as close as I’ve been letting them to me.  I guess I thought I had certain amount power to cancel out their effect.  Each time, I find out I don’t, not yet at least.
This is how I knew.  She told me mostly all good things but the few imbalances stuck out to me.

She told me that Yura is a younger soul then I was.  This she said so that I feel strong and powerful, like the crow with a piece of cheese when a fox tells her to sing for him with her beautiful voice.  She wanted me to drop my cheese.  I did.

The day after she left, I had to smoke cigarettes.  I stopped now but it lasted a few weeks.
I didn’t see it coming.  I felt so good but had to smoke.  This is a bad sign that the good is not good.

She told me that my mom was a younger soul and that she has a lot of learning to do.  I agree, my mom does but she is undoubtedly an ancient soul probably a wounded healer from another life.  My mom can see through people unlike anyone I’ve known and definitely better then this woman.  When my mom came downstairs she was very nice to her in her goodbyes but after she left, my mom angrily said that she does not want to work with her.  In retrospect, this was the smartest way of dealing with her.

She worked on Yura even though he didn’t give her permission.  She worked energetically on my mom even though my mom was unaware.  From my reiki days, I should have known instantly.  Red flag. You can never work on someone energetically without their full permission.

All these signs were coming but I was sure that this woman was helping.  I felt more powerful and swift then ever.  The final blow is tonight.  On Friday, I gave her a little “lecture” about business.  I wanted to help her because I could see she was struggling with that side of things, specifically finances.  In my experience, financial imbalance is a clear sign of energetic imbalance so I thought I could advise her.  I must have said something to upset her because I felt that she was angry with me.  She was also angry with Yura because he reluctantly agreed to work with her, but when she started, he refused to return her calls.  I knew she was seething.  Yes seething.  Tonight when I got sick, the first though for me was her name, I dare not say.  I begged Yura in my delirium to call her, apologize for not calling back and nicely finish working with her.  He did it and then I got on the phone.  I could hear bitterness in her voice.  I tried to talk her out of it even though I was so week.  I told her I didn’t mean to upset her.  I told her that she must have misunderstood me.  She told me that she heard one thing, a voice from another woman who hurt her years ago.  Dark power holds on to old hurt.  It is that hurt that throws the balance off.  One has to heal that hurt and only then can then teach people how to heal themselves.  No one can heal you except for yourself.  I know that, why did I think she can?

I have to get this story out.  Few hours later, Yura got the same illness that I did.  He started throwing up violently.  His whole body convulsing.  We came down, I started brewing ginger and everything I know to help us.  I was scared but I decided to tell him what I thought it was.  I told him that I thought it was her black magic.  He looked up and said, “That was my first thought when I got sick.”  You don’t have to believe me but for me it was a full confirmation.  Yura is sensitive to energy, probably more then I am.  He doesn’t admit it as freely even to me sometimes but one of the reasons we are together is because I can tell him these things.  I would go mad if I couldn’t.

We did a short impromptu ceremony for clearing energies.  I did reiki, he led me in a kundalini chant.  I had to stay up and write it while its fresh.  Its unedited so there are words missing, I am sure.
Now I feel like we have exercised the demons and I made that title before I fully recognized what the demon was.  That came out while writing.  Now I hear that Yura has finally fallen asleep and I know I will too.  Thank you for reading.

2:34 am

tomorrow I want to write a letter to Woody Allen.

Day 26, Are people becoming enlightened these days and we just don’t know about it?

why hasn’t it made the news.

Is it because no one is enlightened these days? Or we just don’t find out about it?

The last we know is about Buddah?  Was Ghandi enlightened or just prophetic?  Are all prophets enlightened?  In which case, John Lennon was definitely enlightened.  Bob Marley enlightened.  Bob Dylan, for sure.  Woody Allen?  Woody Allen is enlightened?   What is enlightenment in our times? And where is it?