Just call it, Friendo

November 30, 2007

Last night I had an odd dream, a dream so real that when I remembered it midafternoon today, I was sure that it hadn’t been a dream at all, except for its oddness, which is what led me to search YouTube for a video that might have been tagged with the terms, “No Country For Old Men Bardem Satire” which terms led to nothing at all. Thus, I am left to wonder why it is, and what it meant, that I dreamt that I was watching a video of a comedian, shot in black and sitting at a desk, like a news desk, recapping the entire plot of the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men by pantomiming Javier Bardem’s entire plotline using just his hands: hands strangling, hands shooting a cattle gun, hands on steering wheel driving, hands shooting, hands driving, more shooting, more shooting still, more driving, shooting, driving, driving, shooting, shooting, the end.

Dreams can be so abstruse.


Oh, the criminality!

November 29, 2007

But whose practice is it anyway?

My most favorite-est teacher

November 28, 2007

At the CT shala, there is one student who lies face down before the photo of Guruji and steeples his hands over his head towards the photo.

There is another student who sits before the altar for a moment before taking a fist-sized rock from the altar, heating it up in the flame of the altar candle and then cupping it in her hand.

There are people who say of the shala, “This is a sacred space”, even though it is, essentially, just a rectangular, sage-green room, carpeted with industrial carpeting, in the middle of a strip mall in the middle of a highway in the middle of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

There are those who stand up whenever the invocation is chanted in the room, even if it is chanted for the next class, even if they chanted it themselves 90 minutes earlier before they practiced.

And when it is time to leave the room, everyone, including me, places hands in prayer and bows to Val. This last one, I do because I assume it makes Val feel good, and in my opinion, she earns that big time.

These are practices that I do not understand. These are practices which leave me feeling alienated and confused. These are among the reasons that I find myself wishing to practice alone in my house at times, for weeks at a time. It’s nothing against the CT shala. I think Val is a wonderful teacher and uniquely supportive and communicative. I think Sir and Lori are wonderful teachers, brilliant and intuitive, as well. It’s not that or them.

Rather, there have been aspects of being a yoga practitioner in general that have confounded me from the very beginning. Chanting the names of Hindu gods, for example. That really has no place in my life. I love the story of Hanuman, Sita and Ram and find aspects of the story to fill me with admiration and awe, but I would no more invoke their names for inspiration, motivation or worship than I would chant the name of Madeleine, of the Ludwig Bemelmans book, who has long inspired me to feel brave even when feeling very very small (“…The smallest one was Madeleine…She was not afraid of mice; she loved winter snow and ice. To the tiger in the zoo, Madeleine just said ‘pooh pooh’….And nobody knew so well, how to frighten Miss Clavell“).

I don’t want to go to a Kirtan because every time I think about going, I realize that what I really need to be doing is singing with my own peeps, the Jews, which is how it came to pass that I joined the choir at my synagogue. I don’t want to see Krishna Das in concert (see Tiff? You’re not the only one), and I don’t want to read the Bhagavad Gita. I want to see Pat Metheny as many times as I can in this life and I want to get through To Kill A Mockingbird, finally, while still having time to read Us and House Beautiful.

I think very highly of all of the teachers who have actually taught me Ashtanga yoga. But I don’t know Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. I have never studied with him. Sure, I have taken his led classes. But he is not my teacher. And frankly, I am not sure that I entirely buy into the system as an efficient gestalt. If I did, there would be no need for yin stretches and prep poses, for which I have always felt the need, or strength training, which many others out there feel is important to their practice. I feel no urge to prostrate to SKPJ’s photo, and I removed the photo of myself bowing at his feet, which used to grace this blog’s sidebar. It felt silly to have it there. I should be boing at the feet of my oncologist, of my children, of my husband for giving me such a comfortable life and such perfect children, of my former nannies, Ella, Norma, Tereza and Sarah, all of whom have taken such incredibly good care of my children and myself.

Until I bow at the feet of the people who matter in my life, I’m not bowing at anyone else’s feet. And if I can’t make the time to pray to my own God, then I sure as hell am not making the time to pray to anyone else’s.

And as much as I love getting a good adjustment in this or that pose, and getting the professional dropbacks from Val, I feel like I need to practice alone for a little bit. Ultimately, I am my most cherished teacher. Ultimately, no one knows my body and what it needs better than I do. And sometimes, I feel this knowledge acutely, as I learn to bind by myself in Pasasana, while balancing with my heels just “thisclose” to the floor, as I learn to bind Supta K with my ankles already crossed, as I touch my own toes in Kapotasana, albeit with my elbows splayed in the wrong direction.

After practicing alone at home for short periods of time, I usually come back to the shala refreshed. And this is where I am at right now. Feeling a bit disconnected, feeling like I need to be teaching myself for now.

I’m just saying.


Incomprehensible ramblings of a tired mom, yogini and DIY-er

November 27, 2007

Couldn’t make it to practice today because….I couldn’t find my car keys. That’s a first for me. I was stranded for like half the day because I couldn’t find my friggin car keys. Not that I mind practicing myself these days. I get that way sometimes. It’s like a cocooning time for me, and usually it seems that when the cocooning time is over, I emerge with some new tricks of some sort. For some, Ashtanga comes easily. For me, it takes doing Pasasana four times on each side several times a week before I will be able to self-bind in it reliably. I’m still scooching around a bit more than I’d like in preparation for Supta K. I figure that someday, I will just wrap myself into it without all the hullaballoo. But not today.

When I practice at home, I often find myself going all the way to Ardha Matsyandrasana. Or at least to Kapotasana. For a sucky backbender, I am finding my hands ever closer to my feet in that one. I wonder if by the time I am “given” Kapo, I will actually be able to do it with assistance. That would be nice. It would take a lot of anxiety out of backbending for me.

My eyes are closing. I have had so little time for blogging lately. So many house projects going on. I got a sewing machine for my birthday, and I’ve been mending and crafting all the things that have been waiting for me all this time – Brian’s quilt, for example, which needed to be folded in half and stitched all the way around in order to create a quilt of half its size. And several pairs of my jeans, of which I had cut the bottoms, leaving frayed edges. Time to smooth out those frayed edges. Then there’s the end table I stripped and am in the process of refinishing. Soon, I will be painting my boys’ rooms. Today, after I finally found my stupid keys, I took the boys to the hardware store in town and picked out some colors and some corresponding paint samples to throw up on the wall to see how they’ll look.

Tomorrow, hopefully, nothing will get in the way of me and Georgetown, Connecticut. Because on Wednesday, I have the dishwasher repairman coming (again, Goddamnit, f-ing Fisher and Paykel dish drawer. NEVER again. NEVER again, I tell you. Next time it will be a Maytag or something like that), and we’re also getting our basketball hoop installed at the edge of the driveway. And then on Friday, I have a class trip to an art museum, which, if Martha Stewart had her way, would no longer be able to call themselves by their name. That’s all I’m sayin’.


The husband and I renewed our vows on Thanksgiving!!

November 23, 2007
Well, not really. But since my parents brought my wedding gown to my house along with the cranberry sauce today, of course I had to try it on. Thank heavens to Betsy for everyone who had to deal with me today that it fit.


Okay, well, there is one problem: the bust is sort of standing out about two inches away from my skin. But whatever. I consider myself lucky to have started life rather voluptuously and then gotten a second chance as a small B.

And here, the requisite backbending photo, because Val caught onto my blowing off dropbacks and just waiting for her to assist me and now I have to do them myself first. I did try to tell her that Laksmi and Cranky told me to stop. But she just looked at me like, wha?

Every chair does not have to face the TV.

November 20, 2007

I just needed to say that.

You know who you are, you who needed to hear it.



These days, by which I mean, since last Monday, each day, I wake up knowing that it will be a struggle between me and me to make myself practice. Some days, I get up, get dressed for practice, and then, after some internal debate decide that I don’t feel like driving to the shala after all. On those days, at some point, if I am very persuasive, I am able o force myself to practice at home. I do hope this mood passes soon. Perhaps it will pass when my body is less sore from the backbending work I’m doing. But this is really when I know that I am engaging in a discipline. I tell myself that I have to practice, even if it sucks, even if I hate it, because it’s just practice. I tell myself that even if it sucks, tomorrow might not suck, and there’s always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, to paraphrase William Faulkner.


Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly to those who have struggled with motivation issues while delving into Second Series, even as my motivation crumbles, my backbends are improving. I mean SERIOUSLY improving. Or at least it seemed that way today. Banner day today, really. Today, two things happened that rocked my backbendng world.

Thing One was that I discovered the internal rotation of my arms in Urdhva Dhanurasana. I know, it’s like, duh, hello, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. But the thing is, I have never been able to connect with any sort of internal arm rotation while pressing up into UD, unless I have a belt strapped around my triceps. But today, as I pressed up, I pretended the belt was there, and I felt my chest lifting higher, and my wrists not crying out in pain. Muscles engaged. Locked and loaded.

Now, to feel my legs. You can no more force yourself to feel your legs when you can’t feel your legs than you can force yourself to relax by saying, “Just relax.” But I know that someday I will feel my legs. I think. I told myself today that I am going to give it at least five years before I get frustrated. Hmmm…..wonder if I can stick to that.

Thing Two was that in assisted dropbacks, Val did not really drop me back or lift me up at all. She merely put her hands on my hipbones and pressed my feet into the floor. It was the WILDEST sensation. Apparently, I need to wear cement shoes in order to drop back and stand up. Or, um….feel my legs maybe?

Maybe I will actully wake up wanting to go to practice, just to get that sensation again of having my feet firmly planted on the ground and using them as an anchor to float back and stand up. Maybe.

Other practices:

That would be choir practice. Yes, I have joined the choir at my place of worship. I’d been thinking about going to kirtan, and then I realized that if I can sing in a community, then I really should sing with the Jews. Because I actuallyam a Jew. Whereas, I am not Hindu or Indian. Shit, I mean, if I chant the invocation on a daily basis, shouldn’t I be able to sing Mi Chamocha once in a while?

I (secretly) refer to the choir as the Mommy Minion, since all of the members of the choir, pretty much, are moms. It’s not like the temple(s) we belonged to in the city, where there was such a wide age range within the congregation. Much of our congregation is under the age of 60, and in fact, much of the congregation is actually under the age of 20. Like my kids, for instance. And everyone else’s sets of two, three and four kids.

Isn’t it ironic, dontcha think, that my first choir performance is for tomorrow night’s Ecumenical Service with the Armonk Methodist Church? We’re singing with their choir. They are not a Mommy Minion. They’re kind of oldish and blue-hairish. But they have lovely soprano voices. My voice, which I have neglected for the past15 or so years, has dropped to a high alto. That’s fine. I don’t mind singing the harmony line.

I think my batteries are about to go, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. I’m on my laptop in bed. And it’s time to turn out the light.



Taking rest

November 15, 2007

By popular demand, by which I mean by the requiest of one reader, I am posting these photos I took this rainy November morning, of the “creepy graveyard” that overlooks the Village Green pictured in yesterday’s post. The oldest grave marker here is from 1700, which means it (probably) holds the remains of someone born in the 1600’s. I find that totally cool, not creepy. But some will find it creepy, and I understand that, especially when you consider that more than half of the stones are tiny tiny tiny, bearing only initials, indicative of those who died in infancy, often without having been named.

Even more creepy: When I tried to take a photo facing the Village Green, my camera turned off. I tried again. And again. Finally, I gave up, assuming my camera’s battery had died. When I got back to my car, my camera was in perfect working order, battery alive and well…….who did not want their photo taken is the question……