Friday, July 31, 2009

If yoga weren't a good workout, would you still do it?

When I started yoga, it was a substitute for running and biking, which at the time, didn't feel good to me anymore (probably because I was 15-20 pounds heavier than I had ever been, due to chemo and inactivity). The type of yoga I came for was Bikram. When that got boring, being the same thing day in day out, I went to a class at Jivamukti and was shocked that there was singing (chanting) and lecturing (dharma) about things like "do no harm" (ahimsa) and "eat no meat" (whatever).

I admit it: I got caught up. I sang the Hare Krishna song. And I worshipped Hanuman, sort of. Well, I wouldn't say "worshipped" exactly. But I dug the story. I bought all the must-listen-to music - the Krishna Das, the Donna Delory, the Dum Dum Project, the Drala.

And as I tend to do with anything about which I become passionate for any length of time, I grew disenchanted and began to find flaws, nitpick, get annoyed.

But one thing that I can never say about yoga is that it isn't awesomely good for the body. The stretching mixed with isometric strengthening cannot be beat. If all yoga were were sitting and thinking, or not thinking, as it were, I would be done with it in a heartbeat. But yoga is what got me back in shape and what has kept me in shape ever since.

So, I know the answer to my question. Wondering how others feel.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

People, I would like to introduce you to a self-professed "Intellect":

She calls herself "Owl". Here is a sampling of her literary jewels:

"The Empirical Self of each of us is all that he is tempted to call by the name of me. But it is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves. Our fame, our children, the work of our hands, may be as dear to us as our bodies are, and arouse the same feelings and the same acts of reprisal if attacked. And our bodies themselves, are they simply ours, or are they us?"

One might say that this is incomprehensible drivel. One might go so far as to say that she doesn't know how to write, if writing is about coherently communicating thought. But then, one might say that the Emporer's clothes were his birthday suit. And one wouldn't want to be revealed as "not getting it".

I once knew a guy who stole just under $ 1,000,000 from from some trusting investors. Curious as to how this might have gone down, I did a quick google search and found the answers in the publicly filed litigation papers. He had solicited his marks by faxing them a proposal that communicated no coherent thought at all. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Wow, he was intelligent, way beyond my comprehension," but then it occurred to me: it wasn't that he was intelligent at all; rather, it was that he concocted something that made no sense and sent it to people hoping that they would feel insecure about not being able to understand what he was saying.

He COUNTED on these people believing that "If I can't understand what I am reading, then I must be stupid. And the guy who wrote it must be really really smart."

And the wallets flew open.

People are smarter than they realize they are, except for the few posers out there who pass as "Intellects" by peppering their paragraphs with five-syllable words that don't generally see the light of day outside of the SATs. Those people are far less smart than they seem and a little less smart than they think they are.

Pompously mangling sentence construction does not an "Intellect" make.


UPDATED: yes, I now know that Owl lifted the quoted text from William James, and I note that my failure to comprehend that ALL of her text was attributed to James speaks volumes about (a) Owl's communication skills and (b) her propensity to plagiarize. Indeed, Owl plagiarized me yesterday, specifically the comment made above about "pompous mangling of sentence construction". I described her writing as such, and she proceeded to use my exact words on her own blog, without attribution. Anyway, here is a sample of what I believe to be Owl's own words, although you never know. They could be someone else's:

"In that context, light waves that move exactly like water across tree leaves is sense pleasure. Undulation, beautiful shapes, colors. The senses mix with emotions and thoughts: delight in body and company, plus a knowledge that all this is special in time and place: the experience is historically unique, so I mark it as precious. An aesthetically perfect moment, a collector’s item."

Owl takes herself seriously, of this much I am certain.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The COOLEST thing about having a blog...

is that you can say whatever you want on it.

I'm just saying.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pet Peeves of the Day

People who try to appear "intellectual" by writing in a way that fails to communicate coherent thought. You're not fooling anyone.

People who use Britishisms incessantly. You're not British. If you were, you would know that using "shag" to mean "have sex with" is the British equivalent of an American using "groovy" to mean "cool". You know who you are.

People who are ashamed to be angry. Anger is totally acceptable. Even for a yogi. When you figure that out, you will feel less angry. Ironic.

People who tell you how smart they are. If you're really smart, we'll figure it out. If you were smarter, you would know that.

That's all for now.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Realities of Aging

I do not have the same body I had when I was 15. Or 25 or 35 or 40. Or even 42. In some ways, it's a much better body now. In some ways, worse. Mainly, it's just different. My weight has shifted upwards, away from my hips and legs. My arms have gotten stronger. Sometimes I am amazingly flexible. Sometimes, I am amazingly stiff. Some days, my wrists hold me up effortlessly in backbends. Some days, they can't tolerate the slightest pressure. Some days, I bound around. Some days, I drag ass. It's unpredictable mostly, attributable to phantom factors like diet, sleep and the weather.

If my body is different every day and changing with each passing year (month, week, day), then how can one yoga practice sustain me each and every day of each and every year? Trying to fit my yoga practice into a box, or even my exercise program as a whole, is just a form of denial. Denying my age. Denying my health history. Denying my needs. And that has to lead to suffering: unmet expectations, daily disappointments, physical pain.

Yesterday, it was terribly humid out. When I got on the mat out on my back porch, I felt leaden. My broken hand felt worse than it has been feeling. I couldn't bear to put any pressure on my hand at all. And I couldn't bear to do yoga without vinyasa. I was feeling sorry for myself. But I pulled myself up off the mat, got some hiking clothes on and went off to a 90 minute hike in the cool, tree-canopied woods. It was delightful, no surprise, and when I came home, I came back to the mat and did most of standing, effortlessly just because I wanted to. Then I threw in a couple of Second Series backbends and called it a day.

I look back on the days when I wouldn't have thought of picking and choosing poses, when I wouldn't have thought of running or hiking or otherwise using my legs in a way that might tighten them up for the next day's yoga practice. And it strikes me as a form of masochism. But then I realize, there was a time when it worked for me. Of course, that was then followed by the time when it wasn't working as well, but I tried to pretend otherwise. And then there is now.

The other day, I was talking to an Ashtanga-practicing friend of mine about the possibility of meeting for a practice at Yoga Sutra. She was like, "I thought you were done with Ashtanga." I was like, "Well, I still practice YOGA." Sometimes I do it at home, sometimes I do it at Bikram, sometimes at Jivamukti, and sometimes I go to a Mysore-style practice space.

Why try to define myself? Why try to confine myself with a definition of what I do and what I am? And why base that identity on a workout anyway?

I don't know why.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yoga-Speak Translated

It's been a long time, but I finally got inspired to write another column for the Huffington Post. Here it is, but may hear your own words coming back at you, and if so...well...sorry?


Monday, July 20, 2009


I miss my kids.

They're at camp having the time of their life. Right before we dropped them back at camp after a lovely visiting day, they simultaneously broke into their camp Fight Song. They LOVE it, and it gives them such an amazing opportunity to take part in activities that I could never offer them at home: sailing, archery, tackle football, windsurfing, bonfire-building, color war (yeah, it's an unfortunate name, but no one, not one child believes that color war has ANYTHING to do with actual war).

I'm incredibly lucky to be able to give them this experience, and even more lucky that they blossom in this environment: they aren't homesick, they're well-liked, they stay out of trouble. Brian even won the award for best camper in his age-group after his first summer.

It even makes me understand why some parents might choose to send their kids to boarding school for high school. Not that I'm planning on that.

But it all comes with a price: I have to be willing to let go, or perhaps, to quote a now-cheesey 80's song, to "hold on loosely". I want so much to give an example here, and there is a story behind this thought. But I fear that someone I know might read this and see herself and be offended. Suffice it to say that when we give our kids space to grow, when we allow them to set reasonable boundaries, we give them an incredible gift. And yeah, I am patting myself on the back here. At least I'm not congratulating myself for an impressive yoga pose or a long run, which I have done plenty of over the years. This is the real deal. Helping to mold citizens of our world.

I just hope (and even pray?) that my kids continue along as successfully as they have been. I just finished this book by Anita Shreve: Testimony. In it, one terrible choice by a small group of of teenagers leads to terrible, far-reaching consequences. The plot was riveting, despite that the character development was full of holes. I kept wondering after I finished it, what can I do as a parent to help my kids to make the right choices? How much of it is in my control, versus what is essentially and fundamentally IN them?

I guess all I can do as a parent is to try to provide a safe environment in which my kids can grow, and pay enough attention to them that they don't need to try to "get" my attention by acting out, but not SO much attention that they feel stifled or guilty for growing up, or worse, unable to function fully among other kids. (Again, I am alluding to something I can't really discuss here.) And to keep it to myself when I miss my "babies" as babies, as toddlers who called me "mama", as tiny blueprints of people who saw me as the most important person in their lives.

I guess that's why I have a dog now. He'll always be my baby, utterly dependent on me.

My kids - if I am to be a good parent, I have to let them grow up and discover and enjoy other people who give them what they need.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guru of the day

Since I seem to have dispensed with all of my gurus - religion, ashtanga, shrink - it's comforting to once in a while discover another source of knowledge, a provider of light in darkness. Today, I found a guru. I am no longer naive enough to believe that this guru will remain "MY GURU" for any length of time. But for today, I was riveted. I learned. Light was shed.

Would you like to know where I found my guru (of the day)?

Wife Swap. The television show.

I'm not a big television watcher, and ever since my kids were born, I have shunned daytime television because the commercials are too depressing - diet pills, disability lawyers, those little carts that fat people drive around the mall because they are too lazy to walk and too fat to stop being lazy. But today, a super-bad hangover kept me couch-bound. And there was a Wife Swap mini-marathon. And I was riveted.

What did I learn? That every family could use a little overhaul. That extremes don't work (extreme authority, extreme laxness, extreme order, extreme manners, extreme fun, etc.). That everyone is passionate about the way they run their households, but everyone could use a little perspective. That with a little perspective, even those who insist there is zero reason to change will find something they want to change about their lives.

Rereading what I just wrote, I can see that it's all applicable not just to families either. Good stuff, that Wife Swap.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The action addiction

Yesterday was my first "day off" from physical activity in 15 days. I haven't planned rest days at all this summer on the theory that I am not working any one body part the same way on any two consecutive days, and so, any need to rest will rear its head when it does, without my machinations.

As such, no rest day was planned yesterday. But there were a few things that I had to do, and as I did them, the list only multiplied. Hate that. Namely, my root-canaled tooth has stopped being nice and silent and has instead begun to make me aware of its presence again. A little twang here. A radiating ache to my cheekbone there. It occurred to me sometime over the weekend that I hope to live a long life, and that I don't wish for this tooth to be so "out loud" for the duration.

And so I found myself at Dr. L, my trusty friend and dentist. Alas, there is nothing more that he can do for me, and so he sent me onto see an oral surgeon. Three hours later, I am now one surgery away from a tooth extraction. Dr. L assures me that if it comes to that, he will have an implant at the ready so that I don't have to spend any time walking around looking like I just came to visit from Appalachia.

That was a long afternoon, and stressful. I had some palpitations later that kept me awake. I knew what it was though, which helped it to stop more quickly. I always had such good teeth. This is shocking and horrifying to me that if the next surgery doesn't work, I will have to schedule an extraction.


All of this has led me to mentally run from the reconstruction-revision-revision plans. That, plus the fact that I discovered these fabulous bras that make me look...totally normal. And my beef isn't so much with how I look naked but how I look in clothes and even in underwear. So, my latest verdict on Reconstruction.3 is that I will wait a year - a solid year in which I make it my business to always wear the appropriate foundation - and then see if I am still so unhappy with Reconstruction.2.

I mean, truthfully, Recon.3 could look great in clothing. But naked, I will resemble Frankenstein...sewed up patches of skin making up the whole. If that's the case, then...why? Well, apart from the butt-lift that goes with the whole procedure...yes....this time, the new boobs would be made from flesh under my seat, and then the shark-bites would be hidden by lifting up the whole thing.

Essentially, I would be living the dream, ladies: take some fat off the butt and put it on the chest. And while you're at it, lift me to the butt-shape of a 20-year old.

But while I have never had THIS surgery before, I have had ENOUGH surgeries to know, and have carefully observed enough starlets in the tabloids to know, that no matter WHAT you do, no matter WHO your surgeon is, you never truly end up looking like what you had hoped to look like. There are always scars. There are always signs that this wasn't natural. Maybe it looks better than it did before, but it doesn't have a shot of looking like the natural ideal of beauty which you tried not to but couldn't help but envision.

So, after nine hours of surgery, two micro-vascular surgeons, 10 weeks of recovery, maybe I would have (a) the same butt as I have now, minus the equivalent of two AA-cup breasts, plus a bit of a youthful lift (which no one in their right mind has ever suggested that I need, not even me while standing in a dressing room amid a pile of bikinis), and (b) two size 32 AA "frankenboobs"...patched onto my chest amid hundreds of stitches (read: future scars).

And for what? To see it fail again? To see my breasts flatten if I inadvertently lose three pounds? To see my breasts get dented if some of the tissue transferred dies, which COULD happen?

Who am I trying to convince here?

I really am not up for this. And I am HAPPY to know that it is MY decision, not some asshole doctor who I met with briefly last summer. In fact, the doctor I met with this summer is super-nice and willing to take all the time in the world to let me decide. And he welcomes the opportunity to do the work, unlike the other assface from last year. And he has a well-respected partner, one for each boob. Cool, eh?

So, the plan is to keep it under advisement...wear a good bra...and wait and see. And perhaps next summer I will just have my implants swapped out, scar tissue cleaned up. Or perhaps I will find that the good bras don't solve my issues as I hoped they wood, and that I hate my ass, and it's time for "IGAP Flap Reconstruction", as it is called.

I like that I am willing to wait. I see this as an improvement on previous impulsive behaviors of mine from the past.

As for the title, the action addiction...well, turns out that that wasn't what I was interested in writing about at all. Suffice it to say that resting is difficult for me. It leaves me rest-less. Happy to be back in the swing again today.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Now, and Then

I wish the "Then" pic wasn't twice as large as the "Now", to make up for it, I took another (small) image of the pretty perennials, closer up:


Friday, July 10, 2009


Let's say there's a shrink. Let's call the shrink Marriette, just for the purpose of simplifying this story. Let's say that Mariette is a highly paid Manhattan shrink. And let's say that for a number of years a patient of hers, who I shall refer to here as Zauren, has paid Marriette out of pocket and sought reimbursement from Zauren's insurance company. Let's call that plan, Loxford, just for identification purposes.

OK, now, let's say that Zauren, due to circumstances beyond her control, suddenly has a new insurance company. Let's call the new insurance company, Flemblem.

Zauren was sad that she was no longer on Loxford, but then she began looking into which of her current healthcare providers are Flemblem network providers, she was delighted to discover that Marriette IS a Flemblem network provider! Oh fortuitous delight! Imagine, after all these years of paying Marriette directly, and through the nose, Zauren could finally experience the joy of having her health insurance company pay Marriette directly!

Let's say, then, hypothetically, that the next day, Zauren took the train into Manhattan to see Marriette. But when Zauren walks in, Marriette has a surprise for her, and it isn't a birthday party.

Marriette has a letter in her hand, from Flemblem, telling her that she is Zauren's provider, and per the contract that Marriette signed with Flemblem, Marriette must treat Zauren under the terms of the contract, which say that Marriette is to be paid by Flemblem, with a copay by Lauren.

Marriette is not happy.

Marriette demands to know why Zauren is no longer a member of Loxford.

"Not by choice."

Marriette informs Zauren that Flemblem doesn't pay even close to what Zauren was paying out of pocket.


Marriette tells Zauren that there is no way that Marriette can accept such a pittance for her services.

"I understand. So, why don't you terminate your contract with Flemblem and become an out-of-network provider the way you are with Loxford? Seems simple enough."

Marriette tells Zauren that Marriette cannot go off of Flemblem because Marriette has another patient who is on the Flemblem plan.

"I'm sorry...what? You take what Flemblem gives you for this other patient, but you won't take it for me?"

Marriette offers an obtuse reason for needing to not rock the boat with the other patient. She suggests perhaps Zauren might not mind paying out of pocket and NOT submitting it through Flemblem.


Zauren gets up to leave. Clearly, this is not going to be resolved in this manner, Zauren thinks. Clearly, Marriette is under a legal obligation to take Zauren's insurance, but she is refusing to do so. But just as clearly, Zauren understands that she cannot MAKE Marriette continue to see her as a patient if she does not want to, for any reason, so long as it is not an illegal reason, which this is, but what difference does that really make when one is being told by one's shrink that another patient's needs are more important to said shrink, and that said shrink is willing to make insane and illegal financial demands of her?

Let's say that Marriette encourages Zauren to stay anyway to talk about the hurt and betrayal Zauren feels. Let's say that Zauren stays for 10 more minutes and then leaves and takes a day to think about it, and to call her insurance company to ask if a provider is permitted to pick and choose which patients said provider will see on the plan and to ask her patients to pay out of pocket and not submit it through insurance.

Let's say that Zauren realizes, after a day of moping, that she hasn't got time for the pain. And Zauren summarily terminates her relationship with Marriette over the phone - by leaving a message - and asks Marriette to not call her back because there is nothing more to say.

Then let's say that Marriette disregards Zauren's request and demands a face-to-face meeting. And Marriette bolsters her "case" for a face-to-face meeting by pointing out that Zauren has a history of "executing" relationships summarily, and this is just another example of that sort of pathological behavior.

Finally, let's just say that Zauren just says no to emotional manipulation by one to whom she entrusted her mental health.

Not that any of this happened necessarily.

But let's just say that it did. What do we think of this?


[*edited for Zauren/Flauren disambiguation]

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not my anemia!

I went to a class yesterday with a teacher who I have disliked in the past. She looked completely different, acted completely different. I finally asked her: what is different? She told me she had been ill - severely anemic and Vitamin B deficient. She is literally glowing now. And kind. And not "in your face". I had a delightful practice, and I started to kind of desire being in a group setting again. Not enough to go today. No. Today was either a total rest day, or at the very most, a walk-run in the woods. I did the latter. I feel great now and ready for a more strenuous day tomorrow.

Meanwhile, something unfortunate went down with my shrink yesterday. So, like God and the Torah and Ashtanga as a Cult, she too is now on the "86 List".

Oy. Such a summer.

But pondering what happened all day was not good for me, and when I finally realized that we had reached a wall, I was free. That's when I took my exercise in the woods.

Now, I'm just chillin'.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Someone's got a whole new vibe

And I like it.

Could it all be explained by a simple case of anemia?

Am I being deliberately vague?


More to come, inevitably.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yoga on the side

The first summer my kids were away at sleepaway camp, I moved from the city to my house the day after they left. I went to the city for yoga most mornings and unpacked and worked in the garden most afternoons. I knew no one here and had almost no social life.

The second summer, last summer, I went to see Christopher every morning. Despite having no responsibilities all day long, I awoke at the crack of dawn and took a train in to begin practicing by 8 a.m. Sometimes I had a meal with yoga friends after. Most days, I was shattered by late afternoon, dozing on the back porch, sometimes getting a second wind later on, sometimes not. Yoga was center stage and it ate up almost all my energy.

This summer, with my broken hand, my plans for a yoga-heavy bootcamp-like experience have been sidelined. Instead, I have been seeing friends, going out for meals, going to the theater, taking long walks in the city, going for long runs out here in the country.

I ALSO do yoga.

Today it was Jivamukti. Yesterday Bikram. The day before, I ran six miles. The day before that, I did Ashtanga at home. The day before that, Jivamukti. Also saw Hair on Broadway that same night. I love the variety. I love the balance. I haven't lost any flexibility or strength, but I don't feel overtrained, and I don't feel burnt out. Plus, I don't feel I used to .... to not take long walks, to not make evening plans, to not put yoga first.

I think that it was scary for me before, to have a life not bound by rules. But it turns out to not be so scary at all...


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hair After Jivamukti

Not my hair. HAIR. The musical. Went with a friend to Jivamukti, then to dinner at Nios at the Muse Hotel, then to Hair, my favorite favoritest musical of all time, except for, possibly Rent. (But Hair is a part of my childhood. I memorized the soundtrack as a child. Rent, is the musical my kids memorized during THEIR childhood. I prefer the ending of Rent, but I prefer the music and emotional power of Hair. Maybe I should just let it be a toss-up.)

The Jivamukti class was pretty damn good. The teacher was clearly a newbie. Her chanting was hard to follow despite that it was "Om Asatoma Sat Gamaya", which I happen to know by rote due to Sir's drilling it into our heads during Pranayama and Philosophy class a few years ago. She also went through the Guru chant (Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru etc...), but again, it was so difficult to follow her - she used the exact same chanting tune as she did for Om Asatoma, which I was JUST getting used to as being tied to the Om Asatoma words - that I ended up just shutting up. But no big deal. I don't care much about the chanting, and for the most part, would go out of my way to MISS that part when I used to be a Jiva regular. I would walk in and settle in right about the time the songbooks were being put away.

The Jiva teacher's dharma talk was just a reading of something Sharon Gannon had written a about spiritual paths. It was kind of awkward, as if she was reading it for the first time. Again, who cares? I'm there for the asana. And the asana ROCKED.

I found the sequencing to be nearly perfect for me. I wasn't sure if everyone would like it - we plopped down for Ardha Matsyandrasana right after we did Parsvakonasana not long after we started doing standing poses. But I am happy to do seated poses at this point because of the cast on my hand. Seated poses present fewer challenges for me modifcation-wise. Turns out my friend agreed, albeit for different reasons: she found the sequence so vigorous that she really was "ready" to take a few breaths from a seated pose at that point. Nice! Perhaps this particular possibly newbie teacher has a particular special talent for sequencing.

Indeed. When we got to the floor, for real, she did a hip opening sequence that allowed me to Dwi Pada Sirsasana with seemingly zero effort. My friend commented afterward that she was shocked when she caught me out of the corner of her eye making myself into "a human pretzel".

Ha. If she ever came to a shala...she would be rather unimpressed, I would imagine.

And there's the rub. At Jivamukti, in other yoga studios, there is no agenda. No linear progress. Sure, I could feel stiff on any given Jivamukti practice day, or I could have a shitty practice for one reason or another. But there is never any fear that anyone is going to accuse me of being a...wait for it...CRIMINAL!!! HAHAHAHA. Sounds so ludicrous, but yes, it would be (first two fingers making quotation marks around my face) "CRIMINAL" to modify Compass Pose (if it existed) into Eka Pada Sirsasana in an Ashtanga Class, or to do Eka Pada Sirsasana if I was not first invited to do so by my teacher.

And speaking of teacher again...this teacher saw my broken hand and wanted to give me a full-on-body assist in the Sun Salutations, which I was very carefully modifying on forearms. I dropped down to forearm plank, and the teacher appeared straddled over me. I turned around and waved my cast and shook my head. Instead of backing off, she was like, "I saw that...I was going to help you do it with your cast." I very politely declined. Seriously? What was she THINKING? She was going to hold me up while I pretended to put my hand on the floor? What would be the point. At any rate, I have had that assist many a time in my years at Jiva, and it is quite brutish. No precision at all, which is fine if you don't have...a BROKEN HAND. This was another reason that I imagined that she was a new teacher. A more seasoned teacher would leave a broken limb alone. Dontcha think?

Again though...not that it was bad. It was a delightful class. EXCEPT for one other thing. VERY poor choices in music. Kind of headbanging rock to open the flow portion of class. The first tunes to open a flow class should be of the same ilk as "Alone" (classic Jivamukti class opener), "Jai Hanuman" by Krishna Das, Coldplay's "God Put a Smile on Your face", Enigma's "Principles of Lust" or Zero Seven's "In the Waiting Line", If you MUST have the head banging rock - I like Rush's "Red Barchetta", for example, add it when things are already flowing.

None of this is to say that I did not thoroughly enjoy class. And I thanked the teacher and told her what a lovely hip opening sequence she devised.

What I did not love, what repulsed me, was the changing room. Oh my god. Hot and sticky, dirty shower- with hair on the floor that stuck to my foot at one point, water all over the floor due to an a absense of floor mats, even, for gosh sake, teak floor mats, if we want to be environmentally friendly. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, so I had to get dressed while still totally soaking wet, which is so unpleasant with or without a broken hand and a cast that prevents the use of the opposable thumb.

Next, dinner at Nios, which used to be, I think, District. The food was delicious but the service was downright awkward. I don't feel like explaining it, but suffice it to say that it involved a prixe fixe menu where the waiter demanded to know if you were going to want dessert BEFORE you even had your first drink in front of you. How can you know? Explaining the awkward, he told us that the computer system charges you a la carte if you don't order all the prixe fixe courses.

Dude. We don't want to know about your computer system. We're just trying to have dinner. Not surprisingly, when the bill came, there was more awkward, because the bill did not reflect three prix fixe meals and one a la cart, as it should have. This was because my friend ordered her dessert AFTER her meal. The computer system, which we really should NOT have known about in the first place, could not handle that information in a logical manner and charged her for, I don't know...another dinner? Something odd like that.

Again...don't want to KNOW about your computer system. Just want to be served and pampered a bit and then pay. Smoothly.

Without having it all deconstructed.

Hair was phenomenal. I always fall in love with it, whenever I see it, and I have seen it countless times over the years. I always also fall in love with Claude every time I see it. And then I dissolve into tears when he comes out in his last scene.......(spoiler alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

his emblematic hair shorn, an army uniform on his peacefeul, teenage, clueless body that should never ever ever be allowed anywhere near a gun....if this were an army movie, Claude would be the one who would die during boot camp, and if not then, then he would step on a land mine on the first hike in enemy territory, here one minute, waxing about the beasts in the forest, gone the next second. Having seen Hair numerous times and listened to the soundtrack since the day it came out - thanks Mom and Dad - obsessively memorizing every lyric, I know where this is going. Unlike as in Rent, there is no resurrection when the inevitable happens.

So there I am weeping, bent over my legs crying into my knees, and Claude jumps up for the curtain calls. "Let The Sun Shine" changes to a bit more upbeat version, and everyone around me is getting ready to run up on stage and dance.

Look, I just have a SERIOUS problem with teenagers getting sent off to war, to die for their country. I have an even MORE serious problem with teenagers who neither understand nor believe in the war getting sent off to die for their country. And an even MORE more serious problem with the parents of these same teens, when those parents withhold their love and support, making no effort to understand their own children...the implication seemed to be that had Claude had any parental support, any other possibilities besides living on the streets moment to moment, he might not have had to go at all. Perhaps he would have stayed in school. Perhaps, like my dad he would have gotten married and had a baby.

I think...I am not positive about this...that I am a Vietnam Baby. A shield against the draft. Born in 1965, I seem to have heard murmerings of this sort of thing.

Anyway, Gavin Creel's Claude is MAGIC. That's the only word for him. Will Swenson was so adept at playing Berger as an irritating, obnoxious, cocky and of the moment-ly arrogant late-teenage boy, that it made me consider for the first time in all the times I've seen Hair, how young and unformed these kids were, yet facing such terrible, life-altering choices.

This was also the first Hair production I've seen in which the Jesus/Religion imagery came through so, hmmmm, for lack of a better word, passionately. Claude as Christ. Claude as spiritual leader, compassionate, kind and decent even when treated poorly. Claude as sacrificial. Claude as resurrected in acid trips. It's not a strong connection, but even to a non-Catholic, it somehow adds power to the message. Not sure why. Purely a visceral thing.

It is also the first Hair production I've seen as a mother. And I really felt my age. These kids up there: they are not my peers. Even if I hadn't been busy wiping my tears during the curtain call, I don't think I would have put myself up there to dance on stage. I felt it was for the younger crowd, those who still might hope to dance on a Broadway stage for real someday. Not for me, a middle-aged woman in a sundress and cardigan, living an upper middle class life which would have provided all the exemptions my children ever needed to dodge the draft bullet in the 1960's.

That made me feel my age more than anything else has in my life. I need to work on
feeling okay with that. With my age. With the passage of time.

Meanwhile, I have to go read some online guides to "parents protecting teens on internet social networks", since I discovered yesterday that my 12-year old has a YouTube account, is a sometimes-contributer to discussions on YouTube regarding the band, Green Day, and its lead singer, elfish Billie Joe Armstrong, and has YouTube "friends" with names like "Green Day Girl" who said in a recent message, "Itunes always fucks up the album year". I mean, who the HELL is Green Day Girl?

Oy. I feel uneasy. But I have six more weeks before he is home again, so I have plenty of time to read up on how to keep him safe during these interactions. But I do feel uneasy.

Woooo!!! Is my head spinning or what?


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Delightful quiet

I miss my kids. But I love my quiet, quiet house. And I love the fact that I no longer follow Ze Rules, whereby I spent my seven weeks of quiet last summer waking at dawn and railroading it into the city where I had my arms yanked halfway out of their sockets and my triceps stretched to the point of feeling that same burning, ripping feeling that I felt when I was giving birth to my first child, unmedicated.


This summer, I awaken at Whatever The Fuck Time I Awaken. It's a lovely time to wake up, let me tell you. And I exercise in Whatever The Fuck Way I Wish To, which means running as many as six miles at a time without worrying about the tightness it might bring to my hammies and quads, or taking to the trails at the nearby nature preserve, or taking a Bikram class, or doing whatever portion of the Ashtanga series' that I am able with a broken hand. And at the end of the day, I experience this wonderful thing called "Not Being Ridiculously Tired at a Ridiculously Early Hour", which means that I can do wonderful things like...see friends (for lunch in Bedford, for dinner in the meat packing district)! go to the theater (Hair)! watch a stupidly long movie (Benjamin Button)! stay out til 2 a.m. (after dinner in the meat packing district)! sleep in my friend's townhouse in Manhattan (after staying out til 2 a.m.)! sleep late and meander over to a diner for some scrambled eggs, toast and coffee and the walk five or six miles around the city without worrying about the tightness of my hips or whether the food will make my twists nauseating!

I do admit that abandoning Ze Rules leaves me feeling, at times, a bit adrift. But it's a good kind of adrift. I see friends I hadn't seen in years. I do things I never would have dared to do.

And yet: the world has not cratered.

My jeans still fit, are maybe even a bit looser, perhaps due to more intense cardio and less anaerobic yoga. My heartrate is still in the low 50's. My skin is soft and smooth and clear. My demeanor is calm. I do not feel this intense desire to spend my days strategizing how I will get my toes in Kapotasana and talking about it incessantly.

Sure, I feel a bit like a leper in the Ashtanga world. My former Ashtanga friends no longer call or write. And sometimes I am haunted by then notion of having given so much power to my teachers over my body and my happiness...and by the realization that those who I perceived to have had all of the answers, whose minds I would have paid beaucoup bucks to unlock and understand, were as clueless as I was and as arbitrary and at times capricious as anyone.

But this is what happens when you extricate yourself from a cult.

And it seems worth it to me to be my own master right now.


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

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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.


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