Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snowclimbing: Proof I'm Not Always Lazy

We had our second snow day in a row, and I worked out yesterday, hard.  First thing in the morning, I created a snow hill in our backyard, out of heavy, wet snow, by stomping my feet a million tiny times in big, heavy boots to bat it down into submission, and then took my son sledding.  (Mommy, I want wheee!  I want wheee, Mommy!)

When he tired of this we made our way out to the front of the house and played in the empty street since the sidewalks weren't clear and no one was driving on our block anyway.  I chased him down the steep hill of our street and around the corner, then carried him back up, only to chase him back down the hill again as soon as his little feet touched the ground.  We repeated this a number of times.  (I want down, Mommy!  Down!  Hehehehe! ..... Uh-oh!  Up, Mommy, up!  I want up!  Whaaahhh!)

Then in the afternoon, while the boy was napping, I decided to take a walk.  My husband was home; the sun was shining and there was a mid-day break in the falling snow, so I went out for an hour walk, and climbed as many steep hills as I came across, which was quite a few; my neighborhood is very hilly.  I also called the hubs on my cell while walking to tell him I had invented a new winter sport: snowclimbing.  When you end up at a park you thought would be plowed, and it isn't plowed, and so you climb up the hill by clomping through knee-deep snow, trying to step into the existing pattern of footprints, and laughing at your own idiocy?  Snowclimbing!  Don't try to steal it.  My husband and sister both seemed unimpressed, but I'm pretty sure that's because they're secretly plotting to steal it.

It was such a relief to be in my body again; winter is hard on the spirit, but I think it's harder because I don't move as often, or as hard, as I need to, and in Central New York we sometimes go weeks without seeing the sun.  I simply can't force myself to do a Jillian Michaels workout regularly, no matter how effective, as a substitute for being outdoors: walking, hiking, or even just playing: moving the way my body was made to move.  The 30 Day Shred is an effective 25 minute fitness routine, but it's no substitute for joy.  Lunging up a hill in hiking boots, toward a panoramic view of the the downtown cityscape, or pulling my toddler in a red sleigh while the sun glints off the wet, white snow and his laughter competes with the cawing of crows: is joyful.  My muscles move, and my heart rate soars, but these aren't the point.  The point is joy.  Three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, one minute of abs, all in the middle of my messy living room?  Not what I'd call joy.  *Ahem*   More like the inner circle of hell.

Movement, though?  Fast enough to steal my breath, hard enough to make my muscles ache under the poetry of the clouds and the seldom seen sun reflecting off the thin layer of ice forming on the top of the pile of snow that gave me two days off in a row?  I need it.  Like air, like fucking water.  Spring, my dear, sweet friend?  How long until you grace us with your presence?  And how many years until my budget can accommodate skis or snowshoes for the whole family?  In the meantime, folks, keep your eyes peeled: snowclimbing!  Wander off in the winter like an uninformed fool; end up with a challenge worthy of the winter Olympics!*  It's the next big thing!* 

*Okay, maybe not.  On both counts.  Hey, man, it's winter!  We're broke!  I don't have a hell of a lot to offer, and you're damn lucky I came up with snowclimbing.  Count your blessings, and chill.  Or try snowclimbing!  What do you have to lose?  (Dignity not included.  Nor are any digits potentially lost to frostbite.  Invitation to snowclimb purely hypothetical; all liability risks assumed by snowclimbee.  Happy snowclimbing!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ooowww, You Guys, My Shooouuulllderrrsss!

I want to complain to you, my little bloglet readers.  In a very whiney voice.  The type of super annoying whiney voice no one in real life wants to hear, and so it can only be shared via the internet where people have the option of that little X at the top of the screen to tell me to shut it without hurting my poor little whiney feelings.  So here's what I'm sayin':  Ooowww, you guys, my shoulders hurt reeeaaalllyyy bad!  Ooowww!  I haaate it! 

Okay, so we've already established that I'm mad lazy, right?  I prefer to chill, sitting and reading, or staring out the window with a nice, steaming mug of caffeinated beverage before attempting arduous physical tasks such as light tidying or returning items to the library drop-box.  The only unpaid workouts I attempt are long neighborhood walks in nice weather, and my paid workouts have been cut down to twice a week yoga with the senior set.  My own mother laughs hysterically at the fact that I even became a fitness instructor.  It doesn't gibe at all with my childhood persona: cute lil' chubby ol' couch potato.

So, seriously, what are the chances that I, of all people, would injure myself while strength training?

And yet, I did.  I tried to copy some move I saw on a fitness video back in the spring of oh-seven, and then suddenly it hurt to lift my arm above my head to wash my hair in the shower.  And because I'm stubborn like that, I kept teaching fitness classes twenty hours a week at one job, and lifting babies twenty hours a week at the other job until I was in such terrible pain on a regular basis that I acquiesed to wearing the embarassing sling my husband brought home from the drugstore and insisted I should sport in public until my shoulder healed.

Only, it didn't heal, at least not on it's own.  Eventually I got health insurance and then physical therapy (conveniently sidestepping that whole "pre-existing condition" thing with deliberate vaguaries about when the injury occurred), and after six months of PT it still hurt sometimes and they told me there was nothing more I could do except live with it, unless I wanted to consult a specialist and consider surgery.  At that point I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and the pain wasn't terrible, and so I lived with it, and over time it mostly went away.  Mostly.

Until this past fall, when the pain came back with a vengeance.  So now I've been to a specialist who offered me a cortisone shot, which I am scheduled to recieve this Friday.  But in the meantime I've been lifting my son (who's most definitely in the running for cute lil' chubby ol' couch potato number two) with my good shoulder, until my good shoulder suddenly rebelled at all the attention my bad shoulder was receiving, jumped ship, and is now in the running for poor lil' owie, owie injured shoulder number two. 

And so:  Ooowww, you guys, my shoulders hurt reeeaaalllyyy bad! Ooowww! I haaate it!

I'll let you know if the cortisone shot does the trick.  I have a terrible feeling that I'm going to have to have to take responsibility for my own stupid body and learn all about the whole stupid shoulder joint and the whole stupid rotator cuff and then be all proactive in the future about preventing further injury and building strength around the joint and all that crap.  Ugh!  My seniors at yoga tell  me all the time:  Getting old sucks.  Don't do it.  I assured them I wouldn't, and now look at me: going back on my word!  So, see, I have to whine!  If my shoulders are acting 65, my attitude needs to be 1 in order to average out to 33, and keep me at my real age.  I'm going to be 34 next month, so expect me to grow out of whining like a 1 year old and into.....well, whining like a 3 year old.  Good times ahead!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Imperfect Balance

I've had a knot in my stomach for the past two days.  I had a work meeting scheduled for this morning, and I was anticipating walking out of that meeting with a list of things-to-do stretching further into the future than my imagination cares to go.  I couldn't sleep on Sunday night until I took half an herbal sleeping pill (it was too late to take a full one after the hours of tossing and turning).  Last night, I didn't even try; I just got the melatonin out of the cupboard when I went to brush my teeth.

I've been daydreaming the past few days about being a stay at home mom.  Most of my life I planned to be a stay at home mom while my children were young, like my mom was.  Then I spent a lot of time in my 20s reading stories, articles, blog posts, experiences of other moms who stayed home full time.  I saw certain common elements that seemed challenging, that would probably challenge me too: lack of adult interaction, regular intellectual stimulation, personal identity outside of motherhood, the feeling after years at home that it was hard to remember what your career was originally about, or how to pick up the pieces and begin again, most likely at the bottom.

But full-time work isn't for me either: the hours away from the baby, the commute, trying to fit family time into evenings and weekends, no time to sit and stare out the window, daydream, make homemade play-dough and wander the neighborhood parks seeking out the best swimming pools and swing-sets.  No time to pursue yoga or pilates, or invent mama-baby fitness routines from scratch.  No lazy days in pajamas or hours to waste on board books and nursery rhymes.  A rhythm too fast for me to move to, a tempo where I just can't catch up. 

So I set my mind on part time work and I waited--years in fact--to find it, and to start a family, and this is perfect for me, but you know what?  It's still not perfect.  There is no perfect.  It's a little hard to pay the bills each month, and the weeks I'm home with my son he kinda drives me up-the-wall-crazy, and then the first Monday back to work after that crazy week I always tear up leaving him with his babysitter (even though she's the best babysitter ever invented, and I think he's better off having both of us than he would be just having me!), and sometimes my job--because it's challenging, and intellectually stimulating, and all the things good careers are supposed to be--keeps me up at night with knots in my stomach, and sometimes I daydream stay-at-home-motherhood and other times I daydream paychecks double what I'm making now, and sometimes I miss living in an apartment with no yard, only a stoop to sit on, and nothing to do on that stoop but sit with a cigarette between my fingers and watch smoke rings dissolve into the air, like all the responsibilities I didn't have back then.

Perfect balance is so subjective.  Even perfect for me is subjective, being that what I want right now may not be what I want tomorrow.  Today I attended a meeting at work and, just as I expected, I walked out the door with a to-do list that will take me through the summer to complete.  But I also carried out an accompanying feeling of relief, because as I composed that to-do list, with the support of two women older and more professionally accomplished than myself, I remembered something important:  I am capable.  I can do this.

And now it's mid-afternoon and I'm at home, blogging, but I'm going to stop, because I have something else I have to do, something very important that can't wait any longer:  I have a new recipe for homemade play-dough to make before my son awakens from his nap.  I've been meaning to find the time to make it for days.  And, now, look:  Here it is!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


If checking items off your to-do list is successful, then this vacation was extremely successful.  If actually being on vacation in some meaningful way, shape or form is required for being a successful vacation, then: EPIC FAIL! 

Seriously though, our dining room looks really good.

And we're so freakin' exhausted we cannot believe we have to go to work tomorrow, and that the world is so unfair!

And we can't decide if we should go Hog Wild: House Style again over April break or take it way easier and accomplish less at a pace that's easier on us as a family.

I know we need to take it slower as I walk through every room in the house.....until I get to the dining room.  And then I see what a huge difference we made by busting ass for a week straight,  and I'm all:  WE TOTALLY NEED TO DO THIS AGAIN!  POUR ME SOME COFFEE!

So I guess we shall see.  But for now: no coffee; for now: sleep.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Little Bit o' Cabin Fever

Who in the frickin' frack decided mid-February would be a good time for a vacation?  Or wait, it would be, if we were actually going on vacation.  But who decided it would be a good time for a staycation?  In cold-ass Upstate New York?  And home repairs?  Is that person crazy?  Painting the dining room, replacing the kitchen faucet, tossing the old garbage disposal, and rearranging the entire kitchen?  Double-you Tee Eff, person?

Wait, me?  That was my idea?  What in the frickin' frack is wrong with me, and, seriously, why would anyone take my advice on home repairs?  I am notoriously naive in these matters, routinely biting off more than I can chew, and then complaining copiously about the details while my wonderful husband bears the brunt of the burden.  Although since bearing the baby, it's probably a toss-up whose job is tougher now.  He may be the home repair realist, but I'm toting a toddler overflowing with energy everywhere I go in the frigid winter weather while half the house is effectively off-limits.

The dining room is coming along nicely, I should let you know.  I picked a lovely silvery grey color.  We bought a pint and did test squares.  It was beautiful.  Husband outlined all four walls, around the doors and windows.  Perfect!  I painted the first two walls.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Then finished the next two.  Whaaa?  Where did this blue color come from?  What's going on here?

Nothing against blue.  It's actually my favorite color.  It's just: white wainscoting with silvery grey: modern, maybe even edgy; it will go perfectly with this black and white photo theme thing I have going on in my mind.  White wainscoting with pale blue?  Nantucket.  Nothing against Nantucket.  It's just not what I was going for.  But once we painted the cream wainscoting bright white, whaddaya know, the blue turned back to grey!  Or mostly, anyway.  Weird.

And no, I haven't spent way too much time sitting in said dining room round the clock watching the color change with the changing shadows and light of the sun, nor have I been rolling the dial of the adjustable overhead lighting back and forth between my fingers while squinting at the color obsessively trying to see how the light affects the color like this is some introductory art class and I'll fail completely if I get this one question wrong, OMG I can't fail, I JUST CAN'T FAIL!!!  Not doing that at all.  Why do you even ask?

In other news, I am a lion.  That's right, a lion who will GRRROAR..... EAT..... YOU..... UP!!!  See, my toddler has a touch o' the cabin fever too, and for some reason isn't nearly as interested as his mother in the effect of light and shadow on paint shades, and so there has been some whining and complaining, and it seems the best way to cope with whining and complaining is to morph into a lion, drop to my knees, growl and roar and chase and tackle and GRRROAR..... EAT..... YOU..... UP!!!

So this week I am a pondering, wandering lion, vacationing in the winter wild of Nantucket, seeking solace in blue grey walls while it is too cold to be out under blue grey skies, and alternately hunting for prey and performing home repairs.

And, yes, I suppose it's entirely possible that winter is making me a little crazy.  Just a little.

Anybody up for pulling an all-nighter where we hotly debate minute differences between shades of blue and grey while adjusting the overhead lighting repeatedly to add nuance and new, important points to our in-depth discussion?


I don't know, I'm pretty sure you guys are the crazy ones here, not me.  How could you pass on an opportunity like this?  Plus, it's really not a good idea to refuse me anything I ask for right now.  You never know, I might just GRRROAR..... EAT..... YOU..... UP!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Personal Collection of Indestructible Coping Mechanisms Forged in the White-Hot Furnace of my Neurosis

Title and concept thanks to The Trephine

Alternate (and entirely more reflective of my own personal coping mechanisms of choice) Title:  Lie, Lie, Lie and Deny or Go with Delusions of Grandeur: The Choice is Yours


It's a good thing I left it there for that lucky migrant worker to find.  Imagine: he always wanted to give his son a bike, and never could afford to do so, despite his years of endless toil.  Oh, his elation upon stumbling across mine, unlocked, so close to Christmas!  A Christmas swiftly approaching, for which he could afford nothing--NOTHING AT ALL!--for his only son.  And now:  Christmas is saved by my stolen bike.  His little boy's face will light up, angels will sing, and the spirit of Christmas will rise from the gutters and shimmer like gossamer in the light of the streetlamp, in the gently falling snow.  And all because I left my bike unlocked.  And it was stolen by that migrant worker, the best damn dad ever driven to desperate thievery in the history of all the world.


I'm like a Catholic saint right now, scrubbing this stranger's shit from the tile behind the toilet.  This isn't gross at all.  It's purifying.  In fact, the very grossness of it enjoins me to all of mankind; do we not all shit, and bleed, and eventually die in puddles of disgusting bodily fluids?  Are we not born in much the same way?  Plus, I bet I'm a way better person than I was just a few minutes ago, when I started this task.  God loves me way more, because I cleaned this disgusting house, which wasn't even my mess, and I didn't complain.  I am so freakin' sanctified, it's not even funny.


I don't even need to worry about this, because I'm going to go in tomorrow, and tell it like it is.  I'll call a meeting, and I'll just put it all out there; tell everyone exactly what I think.  I won't hold back; I'll be cutting and semi-sarcastic, but ultimately so honest and compelling they won't even be able to deny the very truth of what I'm saying.  When I speak, it will be the beginning of the change that's been needed there for the longest time.  I'll just put it all out there, everyone will hear me, and then...everything will change.  You'll see.  Just wait.


[Something] hurts/feels bad.  I shouldn't work out when I feel like this.  No, I should rest, and maybe plan a workout to do in the future.  I could plan out the ultimate, most perfect workout ever.  That way tomorrow, or whenever I start doing it, it will be so effective that I'll see results in no time.  No time at all.  Yes, I should definitely sit (on the couch with a blanket!) and plan.  That makes way more sense than pushing through some inferior workout.  I need to plan the ultimate workout.  Then start doing it next time.  That's what I'll do.  That is exactly what I'll do right now.


Man, I need to work out.  I haven't worked out in a long-ass time.  I've let it go for so long now that I really need to jump in with both feet and do, like, the most ultimate workout ever.  I should plan that.  Yeah, that's what I'll do.  I'll plan it, and then I'll start doing it regularly.  I should definitely plan it soon.  Real soon.


Well, if the funding gets cut, it's an obvious sign I'm meant to move on to some other career phase, right?  I'll start teaching all kinds of exercise classes again, or start my own business, personal training, mind-body, who knows.  I'll be in the best shape of my life.  It will be worth it to be a little bit broke, because my body will be so bangin'.  It'll be a blessing in disguise.  I'll be older, but I will look better than I've ever looked before.  So obviously, if the funding gets cut, it's just a message from the Universe that I'm meant to be hotter than ever.  Right?


Sometimes, when you don't prepare, there's like this...flow...that happens, where everything just works out perfectly, with almost no effort at all.  Maybe this will be one of those times.  Yep, it probably will.


Yo, self!  Remember when you read about, and then subsequently performed that Native American death ritual, where you imagined your own death in specific and terrifying detail, right up through the end, and then the feeling of peace that came over you after you passed over to the other side in your imagination?  If you're going to get all freaked out about death, just do that exercise again, to remember how peaceful death was, once you worked through the terror and the fear, and got to the other side.  No?  That took too long, and was too scary along the way?  Plus it seems like a lot of work, all that imagining?  Fine, then, stop thinking about it and shut the fuck up.

Mmmmmm, pizza.  Pizza sounds sooooo good.  I should totally go get some pizza right now. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Proust Questionnaire Take 2

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sleeping late in my comfy bed cuddled in the softest blankets known to man, or at least the softest blankets available at the discount stores wherein we shop (shout out to the Christmas Tree Shoppe, yo!); my husband's huge, great, goofy grin as he dances like a fool for an audience of one, in the way-early-morning while coffee kicks in, when it's just me and him and the reflection of dawn off the snow outside the kitchen window while we prepare for another workday and savor the silence of the home we're building here; watching my son run in circles on our hardwood floors giggling loon-like in the early evening light between bath and bedtime, looking to his parents for approval, amusement, acknowledgment that he is here, that he is wonderful, that he is; sitting in a classroom where parents bare their hearts and look to me for guidance, google expert and over-educated amateur that I am, admitting my own folly and joining them in the ever-upward climb toward the mountain top of perfect parenting, never to be reached, ever to be aimed for; homemade meals; a family who loves me; the luxury to choose time over money, yet still eat and remain sheltered from the weather; right now; today; this moment; thank you.

What is your greatest extravagence?

I'm just going to be honest here: micro brew beer.  We have been poor as some mofos, but we don't get down with cheap beer.  It's handcrafted and tastes heavenly, or it's nothing at all.  And I would much rather not drink than drink crappy beer.  I never liked beer until I visited Seattle, and tried Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout.  And then it was all or nothing; the best or abstinence.  I don't drink Bud or Coors; I prefer water to cheap beer.  No offense to cheap beer drinkers.  I'll wear an entire wardrobe of hand-me-downs and drive used Hyundai's till the day I die.  I'm just a straight up beer snob, and since we can't afford it all the time, I'll choose to drink it less often and more delicious each and every time.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

I can't even begin to answer this question without waxing rhapsodic about my effing awesome husband.  Yes, I complain that he's a moody bastard; he admits as much himself.  But let me just take this moment to elaborate upon his endless list of attributes: the man is tireless; he works harder than anyone I've ever met; he can whip up an excellent meal out of kitchen scraps; he reads storybooks with the enthusiasm of Doctor Seuss himself; he's equally at home at a formal affair requiring black tie, dinner at my late grandma's house where she smacked him on the ass upon arrival, kitchen talk with generations of women whose work never left the confines of their own home, but who ruled that roost with an iron fist and a legacy to rival any legend, a gathering of professionals brainstorming the building of possibility upon the ruins of a city devastated by a dying economy, or an illegal bonfire in the backyard of some acquaintance from back in the day, introduced to an unfamiliar posse of men in coveralls, offering grunts as greeting and talk of carburetors and rebuilt engines reverberating in the flickering firelight; he's handy with power tools but can landscape a yard with nothing but dollar store devices when the need arises; he's more than willing to wear the secondhand clothes my sister gets for free from the thrift shop where she works, and he makes those clothes look like they belong in a GQ spread; he holds me tight in his strong arms, where I melt when I need to, and he stands at my back, grinning, while I lead the way on other days; we've been sitting, and standing, and lying side-by-side for over a decade, and I can't imagine a man better than the one who's here, with me, every day.  So the quality I most like in a man is apparently this: he is my husband.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Intend to Wake Every Day, and Try

Over a month late, and I'm going with Intentions, rather than resolutions this year.  I like the idea of intending rather than resolving.  Resolving is rigid, and I need to work on real rather than rigid, right now.  Intending leaves room to wander and grow in directions unexpected.  If you resolve to go west, it sounds like you'd better jump on the interstate and drive directly to the coast of California, stat.  If you intend to go west, it's perfectly okay to stop in Kansas and spend a week sleeping in a field of wheat, before renegotiating, ducking down to Mexico for a long weekend of Corona, chips and salsa, then wandering westward via random rivers and valleys, images glimpsed in dreams and meandering paths where footsteps crunch echoes in fallen leaves, sounding patterns like the drumbeat of your own torn, healing, human heart.

I usually make plans like I'm outlining a thesis, a hierarchy of details like white lies on a resume or stitches in a little black dress designed to disguise that belly you earned when your abdomen was sliced open to bare both your organs and the baby that failed to fit through your pelvis for whatever reason on that long-awaited, exhausting day, but never, ever failed to bare, break, and then rebuild your heart into something more whole than it had ever been before.  This year I want to rip my thesis into pieces and declare I have nothing to prove; write a resume of the ugliest truths and then celebrate every sad soul who's been fired in this latest, Great Recession of the American soul, spirit, or fake-Prada pocketbook; bare my cesarean scar in the moonlight and howl like a wolf in heat.  This year I want to work harder than I ever have before, just to sit still.

I intend:

To Be Present
  • in the moment; in the choices I've made in all the years leading to this moment; in the scent of my baby's head and the feel of my husband's scratchy, stubbly cheek in the shadows of early evening; in the chores I perform every day as a promise to our home that it can be beautiful as a catalog with thrift store furniture and wildflowers stolen from a stranger's yard; in the eyes of my students, studying the art of parenting in poverty, as they rip open their hearts, lay them bare on conference room tables, wipe away tears and promise to try to do better tomorrow; the promise to try is lived again and again in each moment; to breathe in and breathe out; to be here, wide eyed, marveling at the moment that is now, that is always; to live like a prayer with four words: please and thank you
To Listen to my Body
  •  when it says sit; and when it says stretch; and when it says I Hate You and I smile, wry and knowing, like the mother of a Terrible Two or a Teen who needs firm limits and flexibility in equal, opposite measures; when it says sleep, and sleep, and sleep; and when it says get up, stand up, and dance like The Dead are still living and you're at the last live show; like Bob Marley has reincarnated in your limbs and you can dance your way out from under the endless white blanket of upstate snow and open your eyes in Jamaica if only you tune in to the drumbeat of your heart, of your feet tapping out the rhythm of ghetto break beats and the open arms of grandmothers raising babies of their babies who have gone missing into the bottom of a bottle, or slipped silently out into dark city streets and who may or may not ever return; when it says eat ice cream until the carton is empty and wear elastic waistbands; when it says take off all your clothes and stare in the mirror at the wrinkles in your skin, open both arms wide, embrace yourself, and smile.
To Consciously Seek to Cultivate Joy
  •  in the morning when the clock beeps high and toneless in my tired ears, when my son chants: MommyMommyMommyMommy like a broken record skipping its way into my soul, like a scat sung by Ella Fitzgerald herself; in the dusky morning peanut butter sandwich making moments and the whistle of the tea kettle on the weekday dawn; in the Friday evening exhaustion of piecing together pizza pies, surrounded by dishes, piled high, too tired to wash and dry by the end of a long winter workweek, too easy to slip into the weekend like an old pair of sweats, fresh not from the laundry, but from the dirty pile on the floor; in the sunlight streaming through bay windows on weekends, sitting on couches, coffee mugs in hand, days dusty with possibilities unrealized, and waiting to open, like a flower bud finally blooming in the long awaited springtime of the universal soul.  I intend to wake every day, and try.  Like a poem that almost rhymes.  Like the perfect, elusive word to complete the piece, waiting to be spoken, right on the tip of my tongue.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Those Who Can Teach, Teach, Motherf*cker; It's a Skill!

So, like always, I totally didn't feel like going to teach my yoga class yesterday.  This is exactly why I keep that job:  I will never feel like going to a class on my own.  I will almost never feel like exercising, although I do enjoy going for a walk whenever the stars align in such a way that conditions are perfect, meaning I'll go for a dozen or so walks in a year, living in the tundra of upstate NY, which is really no kinda fitness plan for life, you see what I mean?  So my ass needs to get paid to work out.  And I do.  Hence, the yoga class I totally didn't feel like going to.  But went to, nonetheless, because paid employment is motivational.

And then I rocked that shit out like I'm Elvis and you're some white chick in the 50s with a secret thing for black dudes that you can never, ever mention to your parents, just waiting for a white dude who seems kinda black to rear his biracial soul, or I'm organic frozen meals and you're trying to hang with the suburban mom crowd, but you hate to cook and have nothing to serve the children at at a lunchtime playdate, or I'm patchouli and you're desperate to cover the pot smell, or you're a toddler and I'm the very essence of DOIN' IT MYSELF, or maybe I'm even God and you've been searching scripture and meditating with monks and giving all your worldly goods to the Salvation Army for so long without spiritual enlightenment that you're beginning to doubt the existence of your owndamnself, and then


That's how my yoga class went.

And then for some reason, on the drive home, I started thinking about that saying:  Those Who Can't, Teach.

And suddenly it chapped my ass, something serious.  Now, I'm no yogi, and I won't claim to be.  (I mean, I guess I'm no Elvis, God, or patchouli incense stick either, but apparently, sometimes I will claim to be.  It goes to show you never can tell.)  But what's with the assumption that it's somehow superior to be a yogi than to be a yoga teacher?

Teaching is a skill, and a gift.  No greater, and no less than any other skill or gift.  Observing, assessing, strategizing, attempting, failing, reassessing, empathizing, imagining, reattempting, connecting, soaring, reflecting, comparing, contrasting, documenting, organizing, preparing, beginning again.  It's an art.

And so, to the notion that those who can't create on their own, choose instead to teach, I say:  Fuck you.  I am not an artist of my own soul;  I am an artist of the collective soul.  You tap into your shit;  I'll tap into mine.  I'm not sittin' here talkin' about how jacked up you tend to be (ahem, cutting off your own ear, Van Gogh!), so feel free to keep it to yourself how inferior you find teaching.

Or we could go ahead and acknowledge the inherent connections and contradictions between creating and maintaining, between self and others, between being, thinking and feeling, truth and narrative, thought and action, between who we are and who we think we are.  But, Jesus, then I can't just up and tell you that you're a fuckwad for failing to recognize that teaching is an art, in and of itself.  And I would so like to tell you that.

But then again, it's not the sort of art that typically inspires one to cut off one's own ear, and here I am with both my ears and my sanity mostly intact, so maybe I'm the one who should STFU, and leave it at: those who are thinking of cutting off their ears, should really seek mental health services.  And consider teaching: the summers off and health benefit packages are super helpful!  I bet you could get your ear sewn back on with almost no copay, and then have all of July and August to rest up.  Assuming you cut your ear off in late June.  Really, that's the only way it's going to work out for you, time-management-wise.  If you'd like to discuss it in more detail, let me know.  I'm an excellent planner.

And also:  I'm open to delving into the art inherent in connecting to the soul of another person, and the practice of seeing the world through one another's eyes.  Or teaching.  Whatever you want to call it.  I like to think of it this way: with teaching, art and health care come together like a juicy steak and a rich red wine.  Why have just one when you could have them both?  Teaching is not only a skill, a gift, an art.  It's a motherfucking full course meal.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When No Means Yes: The Toddler Edition

In the course of my professional training, a number of years ago I stumbled across the amusing revelation that toddlers, madly in love with and drunk off the power of the newly acquired word: NO, will sometimes use it inappropriately.  For example: when they mean yes.  And now I can vouch personally for the accuracy of this factoid.  I think I should get some professional development hours for this.  Can I figure out a way to add them to my timesheet, and earn a little extra cash money for verifying the research?  It seems only fair.

Yesterday, to wit:

My Little Raincloud, newly awakened and on the cusp of a terrible storm:  Whine!  Whiiiiiiinnnnne!!  WHIIIIIINNNNNNNE!!!

Loving Mother:  Are you hungry?  I bet you are.  Is it time for a snack?

LR:  Noooooo!!!  *Shakes head vigorously*  NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

LM:  Here are some crackers.  *Holds them out to child*

LR:  *Shakes head even more vigorously, while waving hands back and forth, palms out, which mother believes might even be the universal sign for the word no, but just in case the message is unclear:*  Nononononononononononono Mommy!  NOOOOO!!!

LM:  Here you go.  *Sets crackers down beside child*

LR:  *Munch, Crunch, Chomp*

And then:

Sudden Ray of Sunshine popping out from behind that Raincloud:  *Big smile*  Tankoo! 

Only moments later:

Repeat entire scene, substituting juice for crackers.


Repeat again, with storybook.  Adamant denial of any desire to hear story persists until midway through page 1, when nonononononononono ceases, and is replaced by sudden, avid interest in every detail, lasting throughout book.

Then he says: GAIN! (short for again, pronounced without the a.)

You want me to read it again?  I ask.

NO!  he cheerfully insists, as he nestles into my lap, turning his attention back to the book.  And so we read it again, and peace prevails in our crazy kingdom.  What a relief to be fluent in toddlerese!  The natives always seem so uncivilized when we don't understand their customs.

Monday, February 1, 2010


February is red and pink, a color combo my sister, the one who's our Roomie now, used to wear in all her childhood pictures, and which we never tire of giggling and teasing her about.

February is the month of love.

It's my third sister's birthday month, the Blondie.  She's traveling to Ireland, to stay the night in a castle on her birthday.  So February can be green and pink this year, which heralds the coming of spring.

February is winter break for teachers in NY; it's a vacation month.  I get a week off this month!

Today is the first day of February and it's sunny out.  The snow is crisp, white and clean today, glimmering in the sunlight.

February is Eighteen Months, and Eighteen Months is fucking hilarious so far!  Eighteen Months seems like it will be a lot of fun; thus, February is Fun.

January is Hell Month at my job (second only to June).  January is over.  I'm back to part-time starting today.  Hello, afternoon at home!  Hello, February!

February is Groundhog's Day, which is wonderful for two reasons:
  • We have groundhogs who live in our yard, one giant Groundhog in particular, in a frightening series of burrows dug throughout the property.  I hate him every other month of the year.  But seriously, in February?  Isn't it awesome to have your very own Groundhog?  It's the one month of the year I can appreciate his annoying ass! 
    • An old, dear friend is expecting a baby, her third, her first boy, any day now, and he has been dubbed The Groundhog since his due date was first announced.  Welcome to the world, little Groundhog!
    Welcome, February.  I'm glad you're here.