Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Things to do in Steamboat When You're Stranded

1. Go dogsledding in the frozen Colorado tundra in the middle of a powder storm.

Enjoy friendlying up the sweet-natured husky-mixes as they are hooked up in their halters. Watch as said doggies become crazy-excited in anticipation of getting to pull a sled, barking and yapping and jumping for joy.

Talk to professional mushers about the ride ahead, discuss their experiences participating in the Iditarod, wish you could ask the dogs what it was like for them. Hope and assume it was as good for them as it was for the humans.

Have husbands go skiing while moms and kids dogsled, both to cut the weight of the sleds and to avoid resentment from disinterested dads (okay, okay, I know you said you were into it, but come on, we get it, we do). It was blizzarding, after all. Cut a deal with own husband such that he would hang with kids after dogsledding, allowing a private excursion into the virgin powder.

Note: smiling husband. Priceless.

2. Prepare for, and execute, two totally unplanned days of powder skiing. As in serious, champagne powder, as the locals call it, and believe it, they know of what they speak. Laugh when you can't get your skis to move on the flatter terrain. Laugh some more when immediately after yelling out, "Check it out! Untouched powder!", you feel your skis come to a screeching halt while you contine to careen forward. It's called a "face plant" for a reason.

Be happy that you have really flexible achilles tendons and hamstrings, and continue on your way.

Since the extra ski days were icing on the ice cream cake, enjoy the first ever opportunity to sleep late on a ski vacation, eat a protein-rich, late breakfast and still get a heft portion of quality skiing in without ever having to break for lunch. Study trail maps in order to hit all trails that were begging to be skiied but would not have been skiied but for a serendipitous extended stay.

Be happy that the sun seems to always come out in the afternoon after the sky is done dumping two feet of powder. Be happy also for the fact that lift tickets go two-for-one at exactly 12 noon. Be happy not to be a morning person.

Be excited for your husband and friends' safe return from that double black diamond run that requires a hike up a long, steep snow-covered trail because there's no lift to take them there. Acknowledge their bravery.

Laugh good heartedly over the photos of them sliding down the steeps on their butts. That's what butts are for.

3. Take kids to hot tub. Again.

Not that it is exactly a hardship. Be happy when you realize that no matter what time you start skiing, the lifts always close at 4 (some earlier, depending on how high up), and there is always time for a dip. Wonder, what is it about skiing and hot tubs? Why do they always seem to go together, especially outdoor hot tubs? Then ask why ask why.

Regarding the little ones and the outdoor tub: recognize that in order to provide the busy little hands with something to do other than throw snowballs into the hot water, provide plenty of empty water, soda and gatorade bottles for creative play.

4. Take that group portrait you had been meaning to take but hadn't gotten around to.

(but try to get someone outside of the group to do it, or someone will get left out, like in this case, the husband)

That family portrait is a must as well.

Who knew there would be time for such things?

Oh, and don't forget to get one of all the kids.

5. Enter (and win a gold medal in) the NASTAR (National Association of something or other having to do with skiing and racing) ski race.

6. Visit Steamboat's downtown.

Wonder how it was that you didn't have time to make it downtown the whole week you were there, and only found the time when you were given an extra two days, thanks to airline incompetence and extreme weather.

Eat Chinese food served by a midwesterner, drink hot sake without worrying about the high altitude hangover because tomorrow, you can sleep late and STILL get some "icing on the cake" skiing in.

7. Go back downtown the next day to take a dip in the Steamboat Hot Springs.

8. Practice your flute while getting a break from the sun and the wind. The folks back home don't quite understand a goggle tan.


Ego Trumping Vanity

Yeah, it's not pretty to see the bare, untanned legs of a 40-something shrimp squashing down over her shoulders, hands splayed, feet flexed, dark roots showing beneath her braids, lighting so flat that any semblance of muscularity is obscured. And yet. I am so pleased with my progress in getting to a chest-down, chin-forward, flat-out Kurmasana, that I can't help but show it off here.

Ego over vanity.

The pic was taken during one of our Ashtanga practice sessions during our 11-day Colorado excursion. Getting your flight cancelled is way underrated. The key is accepting the inconvenience and making it into a boondoggle.

More later.


Sunday, February 25, 2007



Well, so much for the best laid plans. All flights out of steamboat have been cancelled due to inclement weather, which means we have to fly out of denver. Trouble is, we can't get a flight until tuesday. Sigh.

At least we get another day or two of fresh powder (it snowed two feet last night and this morning). This morning we went dog-sledding while it snowed. Then Brian and I spent the afternoon skiing together. He introduced me to the vestibularly stimulating terrain park experience. And I prodded him to love the deep powder. Strangely enough, he prefers it packed.



Well, it's sunday mornings, and we would have been on our flight home right now but for the flight cancellation. One would think we would take advantage of our rotten luck and spend another day skiing. If it were up to me, we would. Unfortunately, we are instead looking for a flight out of steamboat so that we don't have to drive four hours to denver in order to get a flight home. So far, the entire day has been one long "please hold for the next available agent".

Oh, and we have to pay for two more nights at our condo, which everyone is bummed about. The kids are all chaotic, asking us to take them to a movie, to the candy store, to the hot springs. I say make the best of it. But no one else is really on board with that until we find a flight that doesn't entail a four hour drive southeast to Denver.

And so it goes.



Well, so much for the best laid plans. All flights out of steamboat have been cancelled due to inclement weather, which means we have to fly out of denver. Trouble is, we can't get a flight until tuesday. Sigh.

At least we get another day or two of fresh powder (it snowed two feet last night and this morning). This morning we went dog-sledding while it snowed. Then Brian and I spent the afternoon skiing together. He introduced me to the vestibularly stimulating terrain park experience. And I prodded him to love the deep powder. Strangely enough, he prefers it packed.


Well, it's sunday mornings, and we would have been on our flight home right now but for the flight cancellation. One would think we would take advantage of our rotten luck and spend another day skiing. If it were up to me, we would. Unfortunately, we are instead looking for a flight out of steamboat so that we don't have to drive four hours to denver in order to get a flight home. So far, the entire day has been one long "please hold for the next available agent".

Oh, and we have to pay for two more nights at our condo, which everyone is bummed about. The kids are all chaotic, asking us to take them to a movie, to the candy store, to the hot springs. I say make the best of it. But no one else is really on board with that until we find a flight that doesn't entail a four hour drive southeast to Denver.

And so it goes.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oh, and a bit of news, HOT off the presses

Greg will be teaching the 10-12 noon Mysore at Yoga Sutra starting a week from Monday.

So, all you can still have morning practice with Greg (just not as early).


Howdy from Steamboat Springs, Colorado

I sent a post by Blackberry, and wouldn't ya know it, it didn't post. That was a few days ago, and the general gist then was that the skiing was awesomely fine. I was tackling any black diamond I wanted to. The snow was soft and forgiving, so it didn't much matter how steep we got since the bump runs provided a pinball-machine-like cushioning and the smooth runs were just, well, smooth.

Then it got sunny out, which seems nice at first, but it has the effect of melting the snow, which then refreezes at night, rendering soft powdery snow into hard, heavy chunks, at best, and slick sheets of ice, at worst. So, today, it's like skiing in Vermont. I came in early with Adam because he really couldn't stand the conditions, and he claims to have hurt his elbow, which I am sure is true, but mostly, I think he thought it sucked out there, which it did, which was why I was happy to come in early today.

Nevertheless, as the day goes on, the icey snow melts again, so we are going to be going back out again in about a half hour. It's only two o'clock here, Mountain Time and all.

We're here with another family, sharing a large condo, which is totally fun, since I love the family we're with (old friends from nearly 20 years ago, and more for Eric and JB, the husband in the other family...they go back to childhood), but challenging for my essential hermit-like nature. That also made the long ski down from the top of the mountain to the ski patrol at the base, where I picked up Adam, kind of nice....totally solitary. Just me, the trees and the sound of my skis.

I have MISSED blogging BADLY. I am becoming a bit of a wreck without a place to put it all down. I don't even dare try to take pen to paper at this point. I only know how to type it out. I've been practicing Ashtanga every day, and some days even leading our friends and their kids (there are five kids altogether, including mine, from ages 12 down to 6). But the blogging is important too.

And no, it has not escaped my notice that Britney Spears shaved her head, that the judge in the Anna Nicole Smith case bawled as he read his verdict (dude!! some professional decorum, please!), that the latest Lost episode once again rocked the house. My house, at least. I don't much care about the fact that Jack had a thing with Bai Ling or that she tattooed him up, or that one of his tattoos says that he "walks among them but is not one of them" because, well, duh. That's not exactly a revelation. But there's cool chemistry between him and Juliet, and it's pretty obvious that the series is finally (!!!) playing out like a long, long, long well-maintained story-arc, as opposed to a rambling Twin-Peaks-like mess.

Well, off I go. Photos will be posted when I get back.

Have a nice week, ya'all!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentines Day Revisited

Today I received an unexpected email from someone who had read my blog. It was from the mom of the boy I mentioned who bought me a pink carnation, just because he knew I wanted one, the boy who never had the chance to get someone a pink carnation for real, at least not as an adult. It was from Eric Probolsky's mom (and dad). "I was flooded with emotions when I read your article," she wrote to me, "To think almost 25 years after Eric died that another of his friends was still as much emotionally & spiritually aware of him is mind blowing."

I feel good about this. As a mom of two boys, myself, it is nearly impossible for me to get my arms around what it must be like to outlive a child who is still a child. I can't even go there. But if I brought her a moment of happiness or relief, in knowing that the circuits out there still light up with thoughts of her son, then I feel alright.

On a lighter note, it seems that my older son, Brian, is quite savvy when it comes to things social. Far more savvy than I could ever have imagined. When we were talking about who gave out valentines in his class, he said, "I think that some people give out valentines just because they really wanted to give out a valentine to one particular person." It was a statement that was so sophisticated and layered that at first I couldn't believe that he meant it in the way that I would have meant it, had I said it. But when I replied that "when I was a kid, that is exactly how it worked for me...I gave out valentines to everyone in the class, but it was really about me giving valentines to the boys I had crushes on," he nodded and said, "that's what I'm saying."

I then asked him if he had a crush on anyone.

He then asked me if he had given out any valentines. Like, duh.

But what he doesn't realize is that if he ever DOES decide to give valentines out to the class, well, I will KNOW that something is up.

And now, I must get my beauty sleep. You never know who you might run into at the airport.


High Fiving Myself

You know that sweet, sweet high that you get from doing what you promised yourself you would do, from accomplishing what you thought would be difficult to accomplish? Well, I got that high. I made it through the past two weeks of practice without a day off, not even for a Saturday (I practiced Bikram on the Saturday of this week), and in the past week, I not only did my Mysore practice, but I also spent roughly seven and a half hours learning the Standing Series, breath for breath.

I also went to the Russian and Turkish Baths today, by myself. I challenged myself to do it, and I did it. And it was wonderful. It was so quiet there. Only about 20 people there in total. About 17 of them were men. Lots of chatter, most people talking about why they were there, the overwhelming majority doing it for "stress relief". In the Radiant Heat Russian Sauna, which is hotter than hell, literally (well, actually, I can only guess), I tried to stay calm for as long as I could despite feeling like my eyeballs were on fire and my nose hairs had burned to a crisp. At any rate, I stayed in way longer than I had the first time I went.

Tomorrow I am Steamboat bound! After all those standing poses and double practices, I should be all set for skiing. Now, if only it weren't 10,000 feet above sea level. I LIKE sea level. This is always a slight problem for me. But maybe this will be the year that I don't feel like throwing up the first time I walk up a flight of stairs.


Practice Yoga, with me

Starting in March, twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:45), I'll be teaching a Level 2/3 class at Practice Yoga on West 14th Street. I've been subbing there, and the students seem to groove on a really vigorous practice, so the "Level 2/3" will be more about raising the heart rate and working intensely than about bending into a pretzel or piking up into handstand away from the wall. There was some talk about calling it Cardio Yoga, but in the end, I think that just sounds kind of dumbed down. Or maybe just redundant. Because vinyasa yoga IS cardiovascular. Unfortunately, not enough people realize that. But we here at Yoga Chickie are dedicated to changing that.

So right now, my teaching repertoire is fit and fitter. Seems that this is how my teaching is "manifesting" (there! I finally used that word!). Not that I don't love to teach my Pink Lotus (Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors). But somehow, this is where the path has seemed to have led, at least for now.

So, for those who have been looking for me (you know, all one or two of you!)...well, this is where you can find me starting in the spring.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Mother of Invention

Today, I bailed on the morning Mysore and waited until after the Standing Series Workshop to do my own practice. That meant no assist in Supta K. And so, necessity gave way to creativity: I put a block at the front of my mat, put my feet on top and got into the posture. No, I couldn't, didn't even try, to bind my hands, but with my feet higher than my head, my arms were FREE!!! Had someone been there to help me, I think it would have been a cinch today. Of course, we'll never know.

But even more importantly than the Supta K obsession (which has been duly noted by my Standing Series classmates, to my amusement and consternation), I just friggin LOVE learning. I am in heaven for the entire duration of the workshop each day because it's a chance to flex my intellect along with my muscles.

Like today, we had a long discussion of the breaths involved in the long set of vinyasas from the last breath in Ardha Badha Padmotannasana all the way to the jump-through-to sit.

Sounds obsessive right? I mean, who really thinks of such mundane things? Well, I do. And it's kind of bothered me for the past two years that from Utkatasana to Chatturanga, there is no "Inhale and look to the third eye", but there HAS to be SOME inhale between the last EXHALE of the "state of the pose" and the EXHALE that is Chatturanga. A similar issue arises in the Virabadrasana sequence. Next time you practice (um, tomorrow), see if you know what I mean.

So...the philosophical question: do you cheat yourself out of the last exhale of the state of the pose? Or do you ADD an inhale right after that fifth exhale. In theory, that's the question, at least. In practice, pun intended, it takes many people a lot more than one exhale to get from Utka to Chattaranga. So, for the moment, the definitive (for me) solution, from the Samasthiti after Ardha Badha:

INHALE the arms up
EXHALE uttanasana
INHALE look to the third eye
EXHALE chatturanga
INHALE jump to Utkatasana
(EXHALE and THEN breathe five times, including the last exhale)
INHALE stay there
EXHALE fold over BENT knees
INHALE lift the feet off the floor with hands flat on the floor (or attempt to)
EXHALE chatturanga
INHALE updog
EXHALE downdog
(EXHALE and THEN breathe five times, including the last exhale)
INHALE turn to the other side with arms still up and driste still up
EXHALE fully into Vira A on the other side
(Breathe five times, including last exhale)
INHALE open up the arms and hips to Vira B
(EXHALE and THEN breathe five times, including the last exhale)
INHALE to switch sides
EXHALE into Vira B on the other side
(Breathe five times, including last exhale)
EXHALE hands to the floor
INHALE lift up into a version of flying crow
EXHALE jump back
INHALE up dog
EXHALE down dog
INHALE jump through to sit!


Other discoveries:

  • My hip flexors are TIGHT. Lori noticed it in Parsvakonasana and mentioned that she noticed it in my backbends outside of the workshop. It's not really news to me. I know I need to be working on flexing my hamstrings and softening my quads in backbends. I just have absolutely no idea how. She suggested, what else, Anjanasana (lunges with the shin down), which I teach in almost every vinyasa class, but which I have almost completely stopped practicing. Time to start again.
  • I've been working on the wrong thing in Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana. or more specifically, the Parsva version of it (where the leg is to the side, and the driste is to the other side). I have been trying ot get my leg higher and higher. What I really need to be doing is creating space and softness between my hippoints. Again, the hip flexors, and that snakey psoas. I am looking forward to being given the Supta version of UHP because then I will have gravity to help me keep my opposing butt cheek down as the leg sweeps out to the side.
  • The non-binding hand comes to the hip on the "INHALE to come up" in Ardha Badha. SO much better than letting it fly free. I was always like, what am I supposed to DO with this thing, this appendage? It makes so much sense because the hands ALWAYS come to the hips to come up when they are not bound in the standing forward bends.

I am so glad that I went back to basics this week. Sadly, tomorrow is the last day. There is some chance that I will rejoin for more modules when I come back from Steamboat. Lori is generously trying to work that out. But there is always the Husband to deal with whenever the wallet must be pillaged....we shall see....


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's Valentines Day?

Oh. Okay.

Look, I'm married 13 years now. Right or wrong, we're way past the point of Valentines. If the Husband gets me a card, well, that's nice. But it doesn't tell me anything I didn't know before. If there is no card, well, I wasn't expecting one. I see Valentines Day as geared more towards people who are on the brink of something romantic. Will he or won't he? Does she or doesn't she? It's a day for secret admirers going public. In my opinion, at least.

Notice that I didn't say, "if the Husband gets me a trinket..." I'll leave it at that.

When you're just starting to date someone, VD can be exciting. Oftentimes, however, it's a letdown. The first Valentines Day we were dating, I received a teddy bear from the Husband. That's what I mean by a letdown. What does a teddy bear say? He loves me as a child?

Speaking of which, I would have to say that I got the most out of Valentines Day when I actually WAS a child. In those days, everyone in the class gave everyone in the class a valentine. There were no surprises. And yet, for me it was exciting because I could express what I felt in my own way, and no one had to know, and in those days, when I was 8 or 9, that was a good thing.

Take Fourth Grade, for example, when everyone in Mrs. Alpert's class decorated paper bags to hold our valentines. I used an Amish hex sign as inspiration - two doves and a big heart in the middle (see above), and to me that was as romantic as it got. Any valentine that landed there would be charmed and special. Now, everyone was required to bring in a card for every other kid in the class, which had the potential to render it all fairly meaningless...except....except that I would take extra special care with the way I wrote "Love, Lauren" on the cards I would give to Joe Katz and Billy Capko, my perpetual crushes from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. And I could take extra special care with my lettering on the "Dear Joe" or the "To Billy". And that was all that I needed to make it a really exciting day.

In Junior High School, the Student Council sold carnations that would be delivered on VD. The price was a dollar per flower. Red was for "true love". White meant "just friends". And then there was the pink, which meant "Secret Admirer", and it's the only one I ever wanted. Except that I never got one...until ninth grade, that is. That year, I had a crush on, at any given time, Whitney Tantleff, Otto Gonzalez and Robbie Simon. We all worked on the school newspaper together, and I cheered for Otto and Robbie in soccer games. Whitney was a track guy, and we ended up going to the prom together.

But I digress.

That year, in ninth grade, I let it be known to anyone who would listen, that I wanted that pink flower, and I wanted it bad. Silly, eh? "I want a secret admirer. Now be mine." But lo and behold, on Valentines Day, I got that brass ring of flowers, that pink carnation, with an unsigned card, of course. I later found out that it came from neither Whit, Otto or Robbie. It came instead from the chubby boy who was beloved for his wry sense of humor and his knack for being a really good friend to girls. When he told me, I asked him why he would send me a Secret Admirer Flower when he wasn't admiring me, secretly or otherwise.

"Because you said you wanted one," he replied.

His name was Eric Probolsky. And he died two years later, when he was 16, in a car crash in Texas. That has nothing whatsoever to do with Valentines Day, but I thought it would be a glaring omission not to mention it. I have no doubt that Eric Probolsky would have grown up to be the model boyfriend/husband.

"Because you said you wanted one," he said, which said it all.

I guess at my age, with 13 years of marriage in the bank, where the surprises are few and far between, the best kind of gift anyone could give me would be something given for no reason other than because I wanted it.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm an astrologer now

Did you know that?

I looked at the stars and I saw something very clearly. Of course, it already happened. But still, I saw it.

As for future predictions, signs point to Tiff either laughing or being quite peeved at me for writing this (assuming she's reading this, and Tiff, I think you are)....



Now the blogging never has to stop, even when I go to colorado next week sans laptop...which is back in for repairs yet again....I do believe that this repair entitles me to a new one under the warranty is much harder to write coherently with my thumbs though...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, February 12, 2007

Standing Series is HARD

when you do it after your regular Mysore practice, when you cram THAT into 45 minutes, including backbends and finishing poses. Not a stellar way to practice for me, that. Not bad physically at all. Just not a good way to practice in general.

For time's sake, I stopped at Bujapidasana. But also, something occurred to me that allowed me to blow off Kurmasana and Supta K (given how rushed I was): I can practice up to Garba Pindasana, legally now! No matter how bad my Supta K is on any given day, I can still practice up to Garba!!! How is it that this really just dawned on me now?


Standing Series is HARD

when you do it after your regular Mysore practice, when you cram THAT into 45 minutes, including backbends and finishing poses. Not a stellar way to practice for me, that. Not bad physically at all. Just not a good way to practice in general.

For time's sake, I stopped at Bujapidasana. But also, something occurred to me that allowed me to blow off Kurmasana and Supta K (given how rushed I was): I can practice up to Garba Pindasana, legally now! No matter how bad my Supta K is on any given day, I can still practice up to Garba!!! How is it that this really just dawned on me now?


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way...

I did my first self-practice today since I began YoChiYoPraMo, or whatever I'm calling it, you know, the thing where I have to go to practice no matter what. But it was not slothfulness or eating too much meat last night or anything criminal like that. It was that I decided, kind of last minute, to take part in one of the modules of the Ashtanga Intensive at Ashtanga Yoga Shala: Fundamentals of Ashtanga - The Standing Series. Anyway, the module started today in the midafternoon. While I woke up fully intending to head downtown to practice, head uptown to pick up my kids from Hebrew School and then head back downtown to the Intensive later on when it occurred to me - perhaps this is a bit overkill?

So, I called the shala and asked if there was going to be any sort of Mysore style practice after the Standing Series, and Sir told me that even though it was just the standing poses, it would be a "practice" and that it would be "work". Basically he let me off the hook. Except that I never really let myself off the hook...hence, I practiced at home today after dropping the kids off at Hebrew School, at the same time, thereby also being the good Wife, allowing the Husband to sleep in for once.

My home practice was basically interchangeable with my shala practice, I am pleased to report. NO extraneous poses. NO prep. No R&D. Just me and the Ashtanga (except that I did Badha Konasana after Garba Pindasana, because, well, the criminal in me always has to add "the next pose" to my home practice...I guess it's the burning desire to always be just one step ahead). It was lovely! I felt so proud of myself for doing it "the right way" even though no one was watching. I finished everything up to Backbends in under 45 minutes.

I was really looking forward to the Standing Series Today. I've been yearning lately to go back to the beginning and figure out exactly where I am supposed to inhale versus exhale, where my hands are supposed to be on my waist, what to do with my arms when I come forward into Uttanasana from Samasthiti, what to do with my hands when I go from Samasthiti into know, stuff like that. And it was everything I hoped it would be. Lori was teaching, and she is really an accomplished teacher - incredibly articulate and precise. And I really enjoy being taught verbally sometimes.

And I am really excited about what it means to be learning from Lori at this point (and Guy as well) - they just returned from Mysore, which means that they are able to teach exactly as Guruji is teaching right now. And some things have changed. I am too tired and sore right now to get into the details, but suffice it to say that some of the vinyasas in the Standing Series have changed in such a way that they resemble the vinyasa structure of Ardha Badha Padmotannasana (you know how when you're done with the asana, itself, you inhale halfway up and then exhale there without doing anything? well, that's how Padangusthasana, Padahastasana, and two of the Prasaritas - A and D - are structured now). It's a lot more consistent and intuitive.

Did I mention I am sore as all hell?

I am so excited to spend the rest of the week working on the Standing Series. First regular Mysore practice with Sir and then an hour of Standing with Lori. I feel a teeny bit envious of the boys in the class who have never ever done yoga before. What a wonderful way to be introduced to yoga - by learning Ashtanga from the very beginning. Of course, my journey to Ashtanga has been interesting and lovely. It's just that because of the Jivamukti and the Om, I am still banishing habits that have no place in the system (duh).


It's my birthday too, Lucy...

I have a confession to make: I am the true mother of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. I know that there's been and may even continue to be a boatload of men who are claiming to have fathered the child. After all, she does stand to inherit a silly, silly amount of money. But the reality is that that poor child needs to be with her true mom now. And that mom is me.

Yeah, I know, I don't have ovaries anymore. But at one time I did. And you know how women can donate eggs? Well, yada yada yada. It's a long story. Blahblittidyblahblittyblah. And I'd rather not get into it here. But suffice it to say, the girl is mine. And she tragically lost her birth mom. And now she needs a mom. And that's me. I'm stepping up.

Now, where do I get in line to claim that inheritance?


Saturday, February 10, 2007

The cynic's guide to social niceties

"No offense, but...."

Translation: "In about one second, I am going to totally, intentionally offend you."
"None taken."

Translation: "Offense TOTALLY taken."
"Hey, how are you?"

Translation: "Just say fine, just say fine, just say fine...."
"I'm fine, thanks."

Translation: "No worries, personal details will not be shared at this time."

"No worries."

Translation: "You suck."
"Why are you getting so defensive?"

Translation: "I derive pleasure out of fucking with you."
"With all due respect..."

Translation: "With absolute disdain..."
Feel free to add on.

YC .

Friday, February 09, 2007

Not in Portland - best best best Lost Episode EVER

I'm not going to do a synopsis here because there's already a pretty good one on the Lost Wiki on the ABC site (hell, I wrote it, I should know). But I will point out one incredibly delicious tidbits that make me yearn for more (as if it could be any other way):

I am pretty sure that Lost is going to have its first gay character. And it will be...none other than big ole Tom, a/k/a Mr. Friendly, a/k/a Zeke. A gay character on Lost!!! It's brilliant! Daring! So rare on network television.

But why do I think so? It's not one thing, but a combination of factors.

See, Tom hasn't been shown to be involved with any woman thus far, and almost every Other we've gotten to know has had a pretty fiery heterosexual entanglement of some sort. They're quite the randy bunch, it seems, which might have something to do with the whole fertility angle that the plotline seems to be taking. So, perhaps the writers are waiting to bring out Tom's boyfriend. When you put that together with the fact that he essentially laughed in Kate's face when she implied that he might be interested in watching her shower back when she woke up in the locker room to see him standing there with, what else other than...products, a fluffy towel and a really cute sundress, and the fact that he said to Kate, "Sorry but you're not my type", which is absurd because Kate is EVERYONE'S type...Hell, she's even MY type....well, it all starts to make sense, kind of.....


Bad morning, good practice

I walked into the shala today, fully expecting an awful practice as a result of a terrible morning getting the kids off to school. Brian couldn't find one of his papers, and he was beside himself, tears streaming out of his huge blue eyes. The "Where Is" game is not, of course, anything novel for Brian. We go through some version of it nearly every day. But usually, it resolves fairly quickly. But the big picture is the true problem: Brian, who is intellectually gifted and talented in sports, art, music and the art of mimicry, cannot get himself organized, or rather, WILL not get himself organized. I have tried and tried and tried to help him. I bought him one of those expandable accordian file holders and a bunch of redweld files to use to hold his numerous school projects and self-directed home-based projects (he draws maps of cities, states, countries, the subway; he makes up pretend statistics for pretend sports teams, he figures out real statistics for real sports teams, he writes lists of stories he wants to write during story-writing time in school). But he just throws his papers into the files and the files into the file holders, randomly, will-nilly. He leaves his flute and his recorder out on top of piles of music, on top of piles of papers. His flute was recently in need of repairs as a result of his not keeping it safely in its case.

I don't get "angry", per se, when the "Where Is" festivities begin. I feel sad and frustrated, and I blame myself for not supervising him more carefully. Which makes me defensive. And it comes out as the game plays itself out. Like today, my first response was, "I saw that paper on the floor of the play room last night, and I was wondering why it was there. But I would never have touched it. Don't LOOK for it, rather THINK about where you might have left it."

"I don't know," he mumbles.

"No, that's not thinking. Think," I cajole him. "THINK!"

"I don't know," he mumbles as the tears spill over and he aimlessly picks up papers on his desk, looking under them, crawls under his desk, his bed, the futon in the playroom.

I get exasperated. It's really just my anxiety over feeling like perhaps I am not being a good enough mother.

"Okay, you need to make a choice: look for it and be late, or go to school without it."

"I don't know," he weeps.

By now, my heart is sinking. I'm anxious. And then I'm angry.


"I don't know"

"CHOOSE. It's your choice. You're making your brother late for school. You're making me late for yoga. Make your choice."

"I'll look for five more minutes, and then I'll leave for school. But how will I tell Kimberly [his teacher] that I don't have it?"

"If you can't find it here, it's probably in your backpack, and if not, you'll just have to say that you're really really sorry, but you can't find it."

We didn't find it. And my kids were 10 minutes late for school. Which meant that I was 10 minutes later to the shala than I usually am, but I'll get back to that later.

As I got the kids into the car [no time to walk today, which meant that Lewis got shafted and had to wait for his walk until after I got back from practice], I knew where I had made a fatal error. I should not have given Brian the choice to stay and look. He should have had to leave the house without the paper, on time, so that no one else would have been effected by his passive-aggressive-disorganization antics.

I told him that next time, he won't have a chance to look. It's either put the stuff in the backpack at night, or pay the consequences if the stuff is lost in the morning.

Nevertheless, I had a bad emotional hangover as I made my way down the FDR Drive, and as the traffic was moving slowly, I had enough time to consider that perhaps, I ought to just skip practice today. Or do it at home. And then I remembered a promise to myself, that no matter how bad I feel emotionally, no matter how stiff, unless I have a fever or am out of town, I am going to be at the shala. Period.

And to the shala I went. I envisioned myself unrolling my mat, saying the invocation, doing a sun salutation or two and then collapsing into a teary-eyed Savasana. I was wrong.

With a mere 35 minutes to get to Supta K, I dove in and gave myself my own private led class. Not one extraneous breath. Okay, maybe one or two to get into Ardha Badha Padmotannasana and the Marichyasanas. But for the most part, it was inhale, exhale into the Asana.

I kept my turtleneck on until Marichyasana A, which I actually think is great for me, the way it's great for a baseball player to swing two bats before stepping up to the plate. It built up confidence. It also built up heat.

Highlights included:

  • Touching the GROUND -yes, the FRIGGIN GROUND - in the SECOND version (palms facing outward, thumbs facing upward) of Prasarita Padotannasana C (with Sir's help). But I was SHOCKED. I had no idea I was even close. This was awesomely cool. Ever notice, by the way, that PPC has the SAME upper body dynamic as Supta Kurmasana? Arms reaching around the back as you place your head between your feet and attempt to lengthen your spine....? Hmmmm.
  • Jumping into and out of every seated posture all the way through my entire practice.
  • Sir teaching me Garba Pindasana and me realizing that every pose from Supta Kurmasana onward which I thought was "easy" is going to have unique and interesting challenges when I am actually "taught" them by my teacher. Yay!
  • The realization that my teacher really understands exactly what my body needs in order for me to get into Supta Kurmasana. Today, he gave me ample time and even some assistance in wriggling my shoulders under my knees before bringing my arms around to bind. I really appreciate that. It is the REASON to have a teacher long-term.
  • Three pain-free backbends (after three knotty ones).
  • Lotused up my legs, hands free, except for a teeny little readjustment of my right foot, in Shoulderstand.
  • Lotused up my legs, COMPLETELY HANDS FREE, in Sirsasana. Is this criminal? I don't know. It gives me something to look forward to in Sirsasana now, since I am HATING standing on my head, as it causes my nose to swell terribly. I even had to have a shot of steroids on Tuesday to alleviate the swelling.
  • The realization that today I finished six days in a row of my full practice, all done in the morning, at the shala, and I am not even feeling that TGIPD feeling.

I might be blogging a bit less going forward. Famous last words. I still LOVE blogging. But I never seem to have enough time for all of the things I want to do, and I think that blogging is taking up quite a bit of my time (although less time than you might think, since I am a FAST writer and an even faster typer). So, from here on in, I am only going to write when I have something to say. Last night's entry on the Bath Houses was pure misery, I have to admit. I don't know if it shows in the writing. But it felt completely obligatory, as if I was writing it for an assignment at work. Except I don't get paid to do this. So, feh to that.

In short, I'm going to write for the love of it only, and not just to put words down, and not just because I happened to have done something really cool during the day that I feel obligated to memorialize, and not just to keep my readers interested. If you love me, you'll wait for the good writing, the writing that comes solely out of a love for writing.

Whew. I feel much better now. THIS entry truly was a labor of love, if you couldn't tell and worth every delicious moment I gave to it.


Garba Pindasana

Today I was given it. And I am grateful for that. It is an interesting posture, and done correctly, much more difficult than when done as I had been doing it - just as a way of relieving my back after Supta K. Sir stayed a few extra minutes with me to give me the new pose, which is also something I am grateful for.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

I can't believe Anna Nicole Smith is dead.

I don't know why this bothers me so much. But it does. Her poor daughter. Motherless, brotherless, fatherless.


What health clubs were before health clubs were gyms

Two weeks ago, I went to the Tenement Museum and saw what life was like for downtown New Yorkers back around the Turn of the Century (by which I mean, the late 1800's to the early 1900's). The next day, it was the more-than-100-year old Katz's Deli. Yesterday, I paid a visit to the Russian & Turkish Baths at 268 East 10th Street. They opened in 1892 and haven't been renovated since. And that's just fine.

I must confess that until earlier this week, I was not even aware that such things still existed in this day and age. But on Monday, following practice, a few of us went to B Cup (a.k.a. East Village Cafe) for a little chai and sympathy regarding the bitter, biting cold biting cold spell to which we have been subjected of late, and there, the idea was tossed about that perhaps a trip to the baths would be good for dispelling all that "vata" that's been building up in our bodies. (if you don't know what vata is, then for these purposes, just think about how your body feels when you are continuously subjected to brutal, bitter cold: your joints stiffen, your muscles feel rigid, your skin feels dry, you feel dehydrated, depleted, less vibrant, less energized)

Most days, the baths are co-ed (and most definitely not naked). Two days of the week are reserved for men's only and ladies' only. Sunday's is for men only. Wednesday is reserved for the ladies. I can't tell you what goes on on Sundays, but I can tell you that on Wednesdays, it's a big ole droopy boob fest. And that is just fine. More on that later.

So, for the uninitiated, what exactly ARE the baths? Well, traditionally, the baths were a place where people who didn't have showers and bathtubs in their tenement apartments could go and get good and clean: sweat, rinse, repeat. But in this day and age, I would have to say that the baths are a place to sweat without working out. So first, you have what I like to call "Hot". Hot is what is referred to as the "Swedish Steam Room", except that it more closely resembles a modern sauna: wood paneled, electric heat, not terribly hot. Then there's what I can only call "Hotter". By "Hotter", I am referring to what the Bath House calls the "Turkish Steam Room", which again, more resembles a modern sauna than a modern steam room. Although the walls are tiled, the benches are made of wood. So, unlike a fully-tiled modern steam room, you can lie down comfortably and enjoy the scent of eucalyptus mingled with the clean semi-dry heat. Although the heat is intense, it's bearable, and even moreso after a quick dousing under the cold shower, which you operate by pulling a string.

And then there's the Oven. Well, that's what I call it. The Bath House calls it the "Russian Sauna". But seriously, it really is like a giant pizza oven - cavelike, wall to wall, floor to ceiling stone, and with heat so intense that as I walked in the door, it felt as if my corneas were burning, and I hadn't even taken my hand off the door. Across the room, women were filling up white buckets with ice cold water they poured from faucets built into the walls. It's not a large room, but it felt like 100 miles stood between me and those faucets, and from the second I walked into that room, my only task at hand was getting myself to those faucets so I could fill up a bucket, douse my towel and wrap it around me, like a turkey, to keep my skin from browning too quickly.

The "ladies" that I came with had been to the Baths before. They showed me how you go from room to room, and in between, you sit by the ice-cold dunking pool and cool off. No one was in the dunking pool, although I did dip my feet and slather some of the water on my wrists and neck.

Just to be clear, nothing at the Bath House looked like this:

And you know that Sex and the City episode where the girls take a sauna together, and Charlotte is embarassed to remove her towel because she doesn't like her body? Well, it wasn't anything like that either.

The vast majority of bodies around me were gloriously imperfect. And naked as a jay bird. Except for me and my two shala mates, that is. We three were the only women who covered our bits in bikinis. Well, there was the one young woman whom I met in the Oven who wore a bikini bottom.

Most of the women were much older than me. Most had breasts that drooped towards their waists, their nipples pointing downward towards the floor. But I didn't see a single mastectomy scar. Not a one. Nor did I see anyone who didn't even HAVE nipples. I wondered if I could bear to be fully naked in a room where nakedness is not a big deal but not having nipples still might be (I still plan on getting nipples one of these days, but I haven't gotten around to it yet). It's a terrifying thought - me being the only woman, in a room full of naked imperfection, who might be seen as freakish by the others.

But enough about that, let's talk about the bikini line. Most of the women sported, shall we say, the full bush. I can't remember the last time I've seen a full bush. But there you have it, alongside the landing strips, the soul patch, the Brazilian. Every variation of bikini wax or not. And then there were me and my shala mates - dressed for the beach. I can't see that changing. But then, I've been known to be wrong.

I should mention that at the Baths, you get a bathrobe, flipflops, unlimited towels and a locker. Now, don't go thinking that the bathrobe is by Frette, the flipflops are terrycloth, the towels are soft, fluffy and white and the locker is, well, anything like what you think of as a locker. Instead, the bathrobes are like the kind you get at the hairdresser, the flipflops are rubber, the towels are brown and scratchy and the lockers are wooden, with faux-parquet floors. Not that I'm complaining. If it weren't this way, it would be Exhale. Or Ajune. Or the Sports Club/LA. And, well, been there done that. Luxury is nice. But the Baths are somehow a more visceral pleasure.

And then there's the deli counter. That's right. The deli counter. Well, actually, it's called "Anna's Restaurant". But all I remember from the display case were the Snickers and the Twix bars and some big-ass vats of what looked like lemon and raspberry ices. I believe they also sell traditional Russian foods like blini, borscht and stew. But I guess I'm just a bit too "modern" in my tastes to even imagine eating a big, steaming bowl of borscht after a trip through the Oven.

Ah...just found this photo of Anna's. And there are the big vats of juice or ice or whatever it was. No Snicker or Twix. But I can assure you, they were yours for the asking.

The delightful epilogue to the whole experience was that the next day - today - I felt like a million bucks in practice. And a pimple forming on my left cheek is now completely gone.

I think a repeat visit is in order.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Still biting my nails, stil not playing violin,

still haven't written a poem since 1987, still writing it all down, but practice was better today. Got the hands together in Supta K, and of course, the feet, since the feet go first now. Have I mentioned that concession that's been made by my teacher? I am very grateful.

It's still bitter cold here in NYC. But that didn't stop the True Yogis from coming to my class today. And by True Yogis, I mean the personal trainers of Focus Integrated Fitness. These kids ROCK yoga, and I don't think they even realize it. And I'm not talking about what they can do physically, which happens to be quite astonishing. What I'm talking about is the fact that nothing rattles them - not even when the practice room gets moved from the Vinyasa room to the Ashtanga room one week, the Ashtanga room to the Iyengar room the next. Not even when they have to wait fifteen minutes for class to begin because the Iyengar class went over its time slot. They just go with it. It's awesome.


Monday, February 05, 2007

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

  1. I bite my nails. I always have (except for very short periods of time where I managed to stop) and I probably always will because the truth is, I really LIKE biting my nails. I just bit my left thumbnail, and I quite enjoyed it.
  2. I won Honorable Mention for two poems I wrote in 1987, from the Academy of American Poets. I never wrote another poem again (except for silly limericks and haikus).
  3. I have been maintaining a journal consistently for the past 33 years. I'm 41. So, that means, I have been writing stuff like this since I was 8 years old. I never wrote "Dear Diary", and for a while, I called my journal, "Elisa", as in "Dear Elisa". I guess I liked that name when I was a child.
  4. I was a cheerleader from the time I was in 8th grade until I was a senior in high school. I was captain of the squad that last year.
  5. I learned to read music when I was three. My mom taught me by teaching me the piano. At seven, I was given a violin and told that that would be my instrument of choice. I hated it for something like six years, at which point my parents let me stop.
  6. As a child, I wanted to be a ballerina and to take tap dance classes. My parents insisted that I take modern dance instead. I hated it.
  7. I was terrible at dodge ball, kickball and especially volley ball. I was the smallest and youngest kid in the class (I started kindergarten at four years old), and I never developed any decent eye-hand coordination. I dreaded gym class all through elementary school.
  8. I smoked a cigarette in the ladies room at M. Epstein in Livingston Mall with my friend Amy when we were 15 years old. I threw the lit match into the garbage can, and it went up in flames. This was an accident. I was never a pyromaniac and still am not. I never smoked again from the time I was 20 years old until I was diagnosed with breast cancer, at which point I decided that it didn't really matter if I smoked or not. After a couple of months of being a complete idiot, I never picked up a cigarette again and never will.
  9. I was not Bat Mitvahed. I never attended Hebrew School. Everything I know about the Jewish religion is from self-directed study.
  10. I never wanted to have a daughter. I was praying for sons all along. I never would have admitted that during pregnancy when everyone expects you to say, "I don't care what I have as long as it's healthy", and I never would have admitted it, period, if I had had a daughter.


P.S. Thanks Sara for the idea!!

An awesomely bad practice

And by "awesomely", I mean that, hey, at least I practiced, despite the biting sub-zero-farenheit-with-the-wind-chill-factor-temperature, and at least I didn't melt into a puddle of shame and disappointment when my fingertips weren't even in the same zip code during my half-assed attempt at Supta Kurmasana ("Right hand, I would like to introduce you to someone I think you might like...left hand. Left hand, meet right hand. Yes, you two should get to know each other sometime over a nice Supta Kurmasana..."). My biggest achievement in today's practice is that I achieved nothing, and it was okay. Course, I had to make sure it was okay with Sir. Obviously, I have a ways to go with the non-attachment to the practice thing.

It was very challenging today, I must admit, to not add the little twitches, ticks and quirks that I have heretore been adding to the sequence, sometimes without even being aware of it. For a dyed-in-the-wool red-headed Pitta, I am pretty uncomfortable practicing in the bitter cold. I came into the shala wearing three pairs of pants (capri yoga pants, a pair of roomier, full-length yoga pants and a pair of nylon track pants) and three tops (a tank top, a technologically advanced thermal ski top with a turtleneck and a hood, and a giant, thigh-length cable-knit wool cardigan). Not to mention a coat, hat and gloves and thick, heavy winter socks. I walked into the practice room wearing the socks, all three layers of tops and having shed only the track pants. I quickly removed the socks and the cardigan, folding them up next to me for later, when I would need them in Savasana. I began my practice in two tops and two pairs of pants. I didn't "strip" down to my tank top and capri-length yoga pants until the seated poses. And now I kind of wish that I hadn't stripped down at all because as soon as the top layer went, so did my heat. And what started out as a nice practice, quickly turned crunchy, crackly and well, seeing as I am fresh out of adjectives, let's just say, it was the opposite of flowing.

Ah well. It was just a day, just a practice. Practice for more practice. It doesn't matter at all as long as I do it. And again, I made sure that this conclusion was correct by asking Sir, who, I think, thought I might have been kidding. I obviously have a lot to learn about what I'm even supposed to be doing on the mat, apart from bending. But that's why I keep pushing that rock up the hill. The difference between me and Sisyphus is that it's my choice to keep pushing that rock uphill, day in day out.




Lewis Progress Report #2 - from the Animal Behaviorist's Blog

Friday night, we had another session with the Animal Behaviorist, Lee Kelley. He brought along a colleague, one of his trainees/disciples/teachers in his own right. The session went well, despite that Lewis pooped on the floor in the middle of it. Lee wrote about the session here on his blog. I'm pretty proud of Lewis's progress, and even more proud that Kelley is down with the idea of Adam's being a "real life dog whisperer".


Sunday, February 04, 2007


So, what is it, we finally crack the freezing point here in the vast, snowless island of concrete, and everyone decides it's an auspicious day to practice sleeping in?


For me, I've decided that it is officially YoChiYoPraMo, which translates as "Yoga Chickie Yoga Practice Month", which means that whether rain or shine, whether happy or grumpy (or any of the other seven dwarves), whether I want to or I don't, whether dinner the night before was five handfuls of Dal or Porterhouse for Two, I practice. It's actually the definition of a practice. It's what makes it a practice, as opposed to a hobby (Note to V: you were right about it not being a hobby exactly). And so I practice, and I do so at the shala, unless circumstance render that absolutely impossible.

To kick off YoChiYoPraMo, I set the alarm to 7 a.m., woke to the musical stylings of AM Disney (it's about all I can tolerate first thing in the morning), kicked off the arctic weight duvet and hauled ass into Shala X, where I enjoyed a remarkably dismal practice. Much as I love "winter, snow and ice", it works better for me when I'm wearing several layers of clothing and not trying to bend into a pretzel. Sure, my muscles get pretty com-pliant after a few Surya Namaskaras. However, my joints have other ideas about the cold. They scream and beg and whimper for insulation, and what do I do? I mock them with my tank top and skimpy yoga pants. And they exact their revenge by refusing to crack, refusing to release, forcing me to rely upon the more pliable muscles and tendons to get me into postures and to bear my body weight in my chatturangas. With only half of the team working for me, the more bendy postures merely scratched the surface today. Although I was able to get into everything (even Supta K), getting deep was not happening. And I literally cried out in pain when twisting my arms into reverse namaskar for Parsvotanasana. Had Sir let go of my hands in Supta K, the pose would have evaporated entirely. And now, my triceps are angry and inflamed. If they could talk, they'd be all, "Nice to let us do all the work today. Where were those rotator cuffs when we needed them?"

But it's just another day here in YoChiYoPraMo, so I can't take it too hard. In fact, I'd say that all in all, it was quite a GOOD practice in that after I lay down for Savasana, I fell into quite the trance. I don't remember falling asleep, and I don't know if I did or didn't. All I know is that at some point I realized that I was the only one left in the room, at which point, I packed up and left.

Later on, I went to Gap Kids to purchase new sweat pants for my kids. And while I was there, I re-discovered something that I used to know but have chosen to forget over the years: I am the size and shape of an average American 14-year-old boy. Back in those days of yore discussed yesterday, when I used to wear a blazer with my jeans and call it barwear, the jeans of choice, of my choice, that is, were Levi's 501's, Student Size 26. They were perfect for me. They hugged my hips without gaping at the waist, and they fell right below my navel.

Then along came Seven for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Hudsons, True Religions, all of them lower in the rise than the next. All of them cut to hug the theoretical curve of the hips with a bit of lycra woven into the denim, all of them intended to land far below the natural waist in order to create the look of a lovely long torso. But most importantly, I believe, was that the advent of the low-rise stretch jean meant that girls who had previously needed to have all of their jeans taken in at the waist to accomodate the lovely curve of their hips no longer had to do so. The "new" jeans fell far below the natural waistline, the top of the pants gently hugging the hips at a point just slightly beyond their widest point so that everything above the beltline of the pants began to taper in. Well, for some girls anyway. But not for me. For girls like me, with a rather non-descript waist to hip ratio, well, it's how the "Muffin Top" got its name.

Today, as I was looking around in the boys section of Gap Kids, I noticed a really great pair of dark-blue denim carpenter pants displayed on the wall. They looked casual, relaxed, comfy and cool. Below it was a huge selection of sizes and a size chart, which upon reading, I was startled to realize that I am nearly a perfect Size 14 Boy. I hungrily grabbed at a pair of 14's and hurried to the dressing room where I pulled on the pants and stared at myself in the mirror in disbelief. It was as if these jeans were designed with me as the fit model. The beltline landed right at my waist, and yet there was nothing "mom jeans" about them because from the beltline to the cuffs, the fit was completely flat, not a pleat or tuck or bulge anywhere.

Of course, if I were an actual 14-year old boy, I would not want my jeans to land at my natural waistline - I would expect them to land slightly below. So, I can only surmise that a 14-year old boy would likely have a slightly longer waist and slightly shorter legs than me. But for a female, it's a perfect fit. And MUCH less expensive than adult-size jeans.

Can I persuade anyone else to join me in shunning the muffin top? In banning the butt crack? In embracing your inner teenage boy? Anyone? Don't make me do this alone....


Friday, February 02, 2007

Pret a Porter?

It all started with a single invitation to a Bar Mitzvah.

For the uninitiated, a Bar Mitzvah is the Jewish celebration of a boy turning 13. He gets called to the Bimah (the Jewish version of the Christian altar) and reads from the Torah (the Jewish book of biblical stories and rules for living). But for those of us whose children are not being called to read from the Torah, it's all about the "what to wear". Well, for me, at least, it is.

Ah, what to wear, what to wear. It's a nighttime event, but not black tie. This makes it soooo much harder. With a black tie event, the "what to wear" is blessedly simple and formulaic, again, at least for me: long and/or sparkly dress, strappy heels, updo, done. But with a non-black-tie event, well....what to wear? This is the point where I start fantasizing about having a stylist. Which leads to fantasizing about having my own personal assistant. And a sewing room. And a closet the size of my bedroom because then I might actually be able to see the clothes that I already have, which might actually resolve the whole "what to wear" thing...

Except for the fact that it wouldn't. Because the truth is, somehow, somewhere along the line, I've been conditioned to expect that an invitation to a party is an invitation to shop, that the simple act of opening up a large, calligraphied envelope will, nay, must, lead to the acquisition of a new outfit. This knee-jerk compulsion may be intensified by the fact that my day-to-day lifestyle leaves me with hardly any chance to wear anything but yoga pants and a wrap-sweater. No matter how much I wish that I could pop home from yoga practice each morning, shimmy into a pair of skinny jeans paired with a pair of platform pumps (it's New York City, so all you ever really see in the winter is the outerwear and the shoes) and pop out the door to walk my dog, run my errands, pick up my kids and walk them to wherever it is that they need to go that day, well, how realistic is that? Skinny jeans, okay. I can do that, and sometimes I do. But platform pumps? I remember a girl who used to walk around pushing her baby carriage in a pair of high-heeled pumps; whenever I saw her, she was wearing the pumps. Other moms in the neighborhood, including myself, took to calling her "Pumps". When we learned that her name was Cheryl, she became "Cheryl Pumps". I haven't seen Cheryl Pumps in many years. I think she moved out of the city. My point is: I don't want to be the second coming of Cheryl Pumps. I'm just not gonna be that girl.

But in theory, I really, really like to dress up. And I really, really like to be "fabulous" once in a while.

(Okay, before I continue, I think that I need to issue a warning: hard-core yogis who find it distasteful to witness unbridled vanity, please look away now.)

And, shhhhhhhhhh......sometimes, every once in a while, I really, really like to imagine, if only for one crazy, shameful moment, that I am not only fabulous, but the MOST fabulous woman in the room. This is especially true when we are talking about a room filled with friends whose knowledge of me dates back to the late 80's, when I was younger and sillier and growing out a perm (think Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles). These are friends who were with me when I was learning to ski, wearing a pair of stretchy black stirrup pants and a shiny purple cropped jacket (picture Mariah Carey, circa this year). Friends who were with me on the "wedding circuit" circa thirteen years ago, when we all looked fabulous just because we were twenty-something, and who doesn't look fabulous at twenty-something? Friends who were with me when when I was pregnant and as gigantic as a Volkswagen turned over on its side and friends who saw me at a party a month after I finished chemo and was twenty pounds heavier than everyone remembered and missing my eyebrows and most of my eyelashes.

It's never been the men I've wanted to dress up for. It's always been the friends. And most of my friends would say the same thing. We want to look good for each other and we want to tell each other how good we look, and then, the most important thing, we want to hear how good we look.

So, what to wear when you realize that your closet has become a museum of once-worshipped-now-abandoned apparel and that your actual wardrobe fits, by and large, into a single drawer in your dresser?

Back in the days of yore, a suit would have been an excellent call for any non-black-tie party. All throughout the 90's, my non-work "uniform" was a pair of jeans or black slacks paired with a blazer. My blazers were, of course, pilfered from my work suits. As such, the only suits I would ever consider buying were fashionable enough so that I wouldn't mind borrowing the jackets for my non-work "outfits". For me, the first requirement for "fashionable enough" was that it had to be capable of standing alone. In other words, it had to be cut so that I didn't need to wear a blouse underneath. Wearing a blouse under a button-down ANYTHING was and remains an absolute non-starter for me. I can't stand the feeling of fabric bunching under fabric. (If I were a celeb, I assume that sooner or later, I too would be photographed without my panties.)

I still have a few suits hanging around in my closet from my days of having a day job. Whenever I see them hanging there, I feel kind of guilty, as if they're lonely, waiting to be worn again, disappointed that they're never chosen. Eventually, I couldn't tolerate the longing looks coming from the poor neglected suits a moment longer. I wanted to free them to be worn by someone else. I wanted them to have a more loving home. And so, kept just three, and I chose those three only because I occasionally wore them or parts of them, and I occasionally wore them or parts of them only because I still considered them to be relatively edgy and cool.

There was the chocolate-brown, stretch nylon, form-fitting Cynthia Steffe belted skirt suit, the jacket deconstructed with burnt-orange thread outlining two front pockets at the hips. And there were the TeenFlos, two of them, each barely on the border of edgy even back in the day. But I kept them because TeenFlo is (or was) such an awesomely cool designer, and I was proud to even be able to FIT into TeenFlo, built as it is (or was - I have no idea if TeenFlo still exists) for the teen set. And the clincher: the jacket of each suit was incredibly, awesomely, exaggeratedly long. One of the TeenFlos - a stretch-nylon (see a pattern here?) black shift dress with a matching loooooong, almost militaristically buttoned up jacket - has gotten quite a bit of play in the post-lawyer years. But mainly it's the jacket that gets the wear. The dress, not so much. The other - an ivory stretch-nylon skirt suit that actually DOES require at least a tank top (in the days of yore, a "shell") under the jacket - has been relegated to, well, I guess I never really wear it anymore, and soon I should just face it and send it off to Dress For Success or some such charity (I knew I should never have relaxed my "stand alone" rule).

But I digress. The point is that these were very cool outfits....a very long time ago. Somewhere in the intervening years, the "suit" as anything but staid officewear has apparently disappeared from the fashion landscape. I know! It sounds like crazy talk. Or at least it does to me. But imagine my surprise when I checked out the online fashion and shopping websites that I occasionally peruse and found nary a suit in sight. Even my beloved has removed "suits" from its categories, altogether. Which is to say that I no longer have any desire to wear the Cynthia Steffe or the TeenFlos. No matter how much I liked them in the past. Right now, they make me feel old and "out of it". Apparently, I've been asleep for 15 years or so. Like Rip Van Winkle, I woke up and found myself clueless.

And so, with all of my justifications and rationalizations nailed down, I set out to find a cocktail dress for the Bar Mitzvah. And for me, that meant, not hitting the stores, but hitting the keys. Of my computer. Something that you probably don't know about me unless you've known me in person over the years is that I actually despise in-person shopping. About 10 years ago, I discovered Bluefly, and I have been ordering my clothing online ever since. Why do I do this? Because it is much more satisfying for me to see a dress, a shirt or a pair of jeans on a model or a mannequin than it is to see it on a hanger. Perhaps I am simply lacking in imagination, but I can't get excited about a piece of clothing that's just hanging there. Although I have never attended a "trunk shows (the ready-to-wear version of a fashion show, where models parade about, showing you what the clothing looks like ON), I totally understand why some women go to. Why make yourself dizzy going through racks of clothing upon racks of clothing, in store upon store, when you can sit on your butt and watch the dresses modeled for you, albeit virtually, in my case.

And if you don't like what you get? You pop it back in the box and send it back on its way. Sure, you pay for the shipping sometimes (depends on the online merchant), but if it weren't the shipping, it would be the taxi, or the gasoline, or the parking ticket. It's quite indulgent really, without actually indulging: with Bluefly, you can keep the clothes for 90 days while you decide if you're on board with your purchase.

In this case, it took one try. I'm quite adept at knowing my size and what might look good on me. I chose a dress from Elie Tahari in a gorgeous wine-colored silk satin, with a wrapped front and a forgiving waistline:

Unfortunately, the beautiful little cranberry dress begged the question: what shoes? I must have somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pairs of shoes in my closet/dogpound of doomed clothing, the vast majority being black or brown, the vast majority of those being shoes I used to wear at the office when I worked as a lawyer, and the rest being big clunky shoes that I feel comfortable walking around the city in, in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. In other words, what shoes? Nothing that I owned quite "made sense" with the little dress. And I wasn't about to return the dress.

And so I searched for the perfect pair of shoes. This particular search was not so easy. I didn't want anything wine or cranberry or maroon: too bridesmaid-matchy-matchy. I wasn't about to buy a pair of black shoes: to much of a letdown to buy another version of something I of which I aleady own so many versions. I wanted high heels, but I wanted to be able to walk around. In other words, no stilettos. I wanted something that matched the luxury of a silk, sleeveless dress. But I didn't want something that brought the level up to anything approaching black tie.

My online search proved fruitless, although I was determined to keep trying. Nevertheless, I ended up finding the shoes in a neighborhood boutique. I was just walking by, and there they were in the window, designated "NEW! Resort 2007!": metallic gold, peep toe sandals on a platform with a four-inch medium-thick heel. I tried them on, loved them, paid for them. I can't even find a photo of them because they're so new that even the designer doesn't have a photo of them on his site. But they're kind of like this (except they've got a sling back, and they're a pale gold, as opposed to the bronze pictured here):

Now I find out that later the same month, I have a daytime Bar Mitzvah.

What does one wear to THAT?


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lewis Progress Report - from the Animal Behaviorist's Blog

I checked in with my Animal Behaviorist's blog because from what I have seen, it seems always to be good with a training tip or some insight into doggie behaviror, and lo and behold, there was a post about Lewis!

"I had two new clients this weekend, both dogs have leash aggression. The process I usually go through with these kinds of doggies is based on the fundamental principles of social attraction and social resistance. A dog with leash aggression usually wants very badly to make social contact with the other dog, but he doesn't know how to. And he usually has a lot of pent-up play energy that needs some form of release -- hence the barking and lunging.

Both dogs, Louis [sic], a beagle/bassett mix, and Hector, an Airedale/Lab/hound mix, are social butterflies at the dog run, but won't play outdoors with their owners. So that's the second thing I recommended for both dogs. (The first is to always stop scolding and punishing the dog--you should praise him because he's actually trying to make social contact, he just doesn't know how to.)

Louis has some separation issues, so we spent some time on how to deal with that. You have to start with not ever letting him out of his crate until he's totally calm, both physically and emotionally, which I already described several times, and in more detail in my posts about Trevor. We also worked on Louis on the "Trick-or-Treat".

Initial feedback is that he's loving the changes in his routine."

I have to say though, some days have been better than others. Today was particularly encouraging. We went to the dog run, where I finally convinced Lewis to play tug o' war with me for about 10 seconds, which is better than usual. At the dog run, he played with a Boxer, despite that Boxers terrify Lewis, as a general rule (he must LOVE Boxers, deep down inside, if you believe in the approach/avoidance theory of dog-dog aggerssion). He allowed me to feed him in the dog run without becoming food-aggressive towards the other dogs. And on the way home, he passed about five other dogs with nary a scuffle. I was thrilled. I am thrilled.

Also, Lewis is able to focus and hold the "stay" command even with a piece of food on the floor next to him, as long as I keep encouraging him by saying, "Good doggie, nice doggie" and occasionally allowing him to take a treat from the palm of my hand. This is BIG BIG BIG news because up until now, it had seemed to us that Lewis had Doggie ADD. He had never learned the "down" command, let alone, "lie down" and "stay". So this is quite encouraging.

On the other hand, he had peed and pooped on the carpet TWICE yesterday. And right now, he is crying for me to let him off his leash, which is tied to the chair I am sitting on (I have to keep him tied to me, or else keep him in his crate, or I am just asking for another pee and poop stain to clean up later). It's a process. Like yoga. The AB told me it would take months to get things right with Lewis.

It's only been six days....


"8 O'Clock Must Be Your Time"

So sayeth Sir.

I had just held Supta Kurmasana ALL BY MYSELF for I what must have been at least five breaths.

I surrendered, as Sir suggested. I pretended I was a rag doll, as my shala friend, M suggested. More than anything else, due to the fact that I had two parties to attend at the boys' elementary school starting at 8:45 a.m., I woke up at 5, bathed at 6, and got started practicing at 7:10 a.m., and as a result, I was simply too tired to (a) think, (b) fear, (c) resist, (d) fight and (e) all of the above.

It was a rockin' good feeling.

Believe it or not, I don't care about the next pose or the next or the next or the next series or anything else along the Ashtanga contiuum I really just wanted to get my body into this wonderful, insanely pretzelly pose that actually feels GOOD when it comes right down to it. It took me the better part of a year, and I am sure I have the better part of year or two ahead to work through it still and more before beginning to focus on anything else even half as challenging. And that is just FINE with me.

I just wanted to climb that mountain. But that doesn't mean that it was yoga. Now I have the opportunity to include Supta Kurmasana into my yoga.


Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

My photo
Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


Ashtanga Blogs

Thanks for reading Yoga Chickie!