Crappy hostess

I’m never going to win any Martha Stewart awards. I’m just not cut out for this hostess business. Perhaps I am in a rut? It’s all about practice and reading and simple everyday things for me. My idea of a great evening is something to the effect of: early dinner, a little relaxing, early bedtime. Just call me Grandma 😉

Irishseoul came along to led class on Friday and Saturday. Actually, we got up at 4:30 and headed over to Mysore practice on Friday, but when we got there, the doors were locked. Uh oh, apparently there was a change to the schedule due to the holiday. Fine. We just went back for the special post-holiday led class at 9 AM.

Not too many participants on Friday, and even fewer on Saturday. Suzie Columbus, participant on the infamous ezBoard, was in attendance. Sanskrit Scholar pointed her out to me and I went to say hi. It’s a riot meeting people you “know” from cyberspace. And then to practice with her in the same room just underscores the fact that the sangha is bigger than any individual roomful of people practicing together.

I picked up a book yesterday (bookstore visits count as good hostessing, don’t they?): Hardcore Zen, by Brad Warner. A pop-culture post-punk reading of Zen. I wasn’t sure who I was getting it for: me? The Cop? My Gift? I’m finishing it up so I can send it back to northern Arizona with My Gift when she drives back to school today.

Here’s a little quote about emptiness:

Emptiness is the single most misunderstood word in all of Buddhism. The original Sanskrit word for this is shunyata, which ultimately points to the as-it-is-ness of things, the state of things being as they are without being colored by our views and ideas.

Emptiness is not a nihilistic concept of voidness. Emptiness is not meaninglessness. Emptiness is that condition which is free from our conceptions and our perceptions. It’s the world as it is before we come along and start complaining about the stuff we don’t like.

Warner goes on to give examples, using David Cronenberg’s movie The Fly as a frame of reference. All this in his essay on the Heart Sutra. Also included: quotes from Gene Simmons, Isaac Asimov, and Eric Cartman of South Park. I am amused.

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Thanks

Irishseoul and I got up at 6 AM and made our way through practice. It’s funny–we spent many hours together in gyms in California, and now here we are, years later, practicing Ashtanga together in Arizona. We are good workout partners and good yoga partners: she is self-motivated and focused. As she was when we spent our time lifting weights and running on treadmills.

Meanwhile, My Gift and Maneki Neko went out with friends for sushi last night. They are sleeping in this morning, after a very late evening. The Cop worked until 3 AM, so he’s sleeping, too.

Lovely to sit with Irishseoul and have tea and talk. I have very fond memories of tea with her over the years. About time for us to do a little cooking now, so enough blogging.

I am thankful for The Cop, My Gift, my friends and family. I don’t have a huge circle of friends or a huge number of things, but those that I do have are dear to me, and I am very, very lucky.

Om shanti and Happy Thanksgiving.

Off and running

Global conference call at 5 AM. Therefore, no Mysore. My Gift has a rheumatologist appointment this afternoon, therefore no led class. So, at the end of the con call, I squeezed in a practice. The beauty part about being a fast breather is that I can roll through a practice in right about an hour. Was it meditative? No, not really. But I’m more grounded and the shoulder tweak is relieved. Not such a beautiful practice, but a practice nonetheless.

It rocks to have My Gift around for a few days, and Irishseoul and Maneki Neko are on the way. Looking forward to the holiday!

More fiction

In a recent comment, Tim mentioned how much he’s been affected by fiction. I’m in the same boat, which is why my current disillusionment is rather surprising and a bit disturbing. I’ve been a reader all my life, with a particular taste for fiction. I absolutely believe that my moral compass was deeply affected by my reading (as well as John Lennon’s music, but that’s another story). Books like Tess of the D’Urbervilles, An American Tragedy, Madame Bovary, The Awakening, Nightwood, Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, Mrs. Dalloway, and of course, my true love, Ulysses, taught me about the aesthetics of writing, but more importantly, about the emotional lives of human beings. How else would I have known, growing up in the suburbs with stoical first generation parents hellbent on assimilation, about the inner lives of other people?

During and after college, I worked at bookstores for almost ten years (at a terrific independent bookstore in Harvard Square for a good number of those) and spent all my hours away from work reading and writing. Then off to grad school in New York, where I wrote and read some more. Honestly, I truly thought that the only thing more meaningful than life itself was a life devoted to reading and writing–to art. That was a core principle for me, a way I understood myself and the world.

So now, all of a sudden, there’s this sense of ennui. Of just not wanting to indulge. Almost like I’ve eaten too much. Except for Haruki Murakami. I am always eager to get my hands on his new books. But what’s the dealio? Not only am I off novels, I am feeling discombobulated politically. Yesterday on NPR, The Cop and I heard an interview with Ralph Reed, Andrew Sullivan and Dick Armey. I’ve always liked Andrew Sullivan and abhored Ralph Reed, but for goodness sake, there I was, AGREEING with Dick Armey’s assessment of the current political situation. Huh?!?

Perhaps too much meditation and sloughing off of the ego? Is that what’s making me seem less and less recognizable to myself? LOL! I say that kind of as a joke, but um, Dick Armey? He and Newt Gingrich are on the same side, for crying out loud! What is happening to me?!?!

Maybe it was the combination of indulgent liberals in the novel and a sensible-sounding Republican on the radio that threw me. Maybe it is some secret inner self revealing itself as my musculoskeletal system realigns. Or my ego dissolving. Who the heck knows? I have this panicky feeling like I need to hang on to what I recognize as the things I value, but then again…why bother?

Some Kiss We Want

There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of

spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At

night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its

face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and

open the love window. The moon
won’t use the door, only the window.

-Rumi

PasOWsana & No Martha Stewart

I have a crink in my shoulder. Hmmmm. “Crink” or “krink”? Actually, Merriam Webster says it’s “crick” or “kink.” Either way, something’s going on in the right shoulder, under the shoulderblade. I’m thinking it’s from The Cop’s adjustment in pasasana. Upside of the adjustment: I had my fingers bound (however slightly) and my feet flat on the ground. Of course I was a bunched-up ball of flesh–no elegance whatsoever. But hey, I saw that the bind was possible, which is a great first step.

So there’s work today and tomorrow (yes, I’m at work and blogging, so you can see how relaxing today is!) and then four days off. My Gift is driving home even as I write. And my best friend from California, from here on known as “Irishseoul,” will drive down on Wednesday. Her daughter, who we will call Maneki Neko, will also visit. Maneki Neko and My Gift became fast friends as little children, while they languished in the childcare area of the gym Irishseoul and I attended. They were the instigators of my relationship with Irishseoul. As it turns out, Irishseoul and I spent many an afternoon lifting weights and doing cardio, and the girls became connoisseurs of the kids area of gyms. The best was Gold’s in Santa Clara, with one of those bouncy slides and the tubes they could climb through.

Yay! A holiday! I am totally psyched. Holidays at my house mean a pre-holiday visit to our favorite sushi restaurant (that’s tonight!). Holidays also mean not too much fancy cooking stuff (as in, not ANY!), but I do have a special recipe to try this year: jello shots. I know, I know, I should make a pie or some side dishes or something. But why, when what I really want is pineapple jello with Malibu rum? Actually, this morning one of the people on my team (who I will call “Partay Gal”) told me about spodis. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it. I’m so behind the times. I think, though, that she’s given me my special Christmas recipe.

Stranger than fiction

Early blogging today. I’m waiting for The Cop to finish his coffee before we begin practice. Going over a few emails from work. The holiday schedule thing is happening at work: too many meetings, too few hours. I have an 8 AM meeting this morning, and tomorrow is a global conference call, which means those of us in Arizona call in at 5 AM. Hence, no Mysore practice. Blech. I’ll just have to block off my schedule so I can get to Volleyball Guy’s 4 PM led class later in the day.

Yesterday, Tim left a comment about the book I was reading (and which I finished last night). I am having strange and confusing thoughts about fiction these days. As I was reading On Beauty, I started to wonder why, exactly, I was involving myself in this story. It is well-written, and has a compelling-enough plot, but…well, why? Why would I get tangled up in the drama of these pretend people? Set in a university setting in the Northeast, with the usual professor/student dramas, and liberal versus conservative political issues, etc., etc. I think I used to remember I didn’t care for fiction with a university setting, but I wanted to give it another go. Um, maybe I shouldn’t have. The characters, and ultimately the novel, seemed rather indulgent and overwrought. And I kept wondering, “Why am I doing this to my psyche?” After all, my emotions/body don’t know that this is all pretend; my mind does, of course, but the emotional hangover of fiction is real.

These are distressingly blasphemous thoughts from a gal who usually relishes blasphemy (when applied to religion–but goodness, NOT when applied to fiction! 😉 I guess I’ll try another novel and see how that goes. Maybe, though, I’ll need to switch to non-fiction or something.

Better late than never

Below is a post from yesterday. We’re just back from the mountains.

***

Sunday noon and I am in a cabin in Lakeside, a little town 3 hours northeast of Scottsdale. All I’ve done so far today is read, eat a muffin and drink a really too sweet mocha The Cop tracked down in town this morning. I will make this entry and mail it to myself to post later, because my Blackberry does not accept cookies, and apparently that is necessary in order to log on to Blogger.

It was The Cop’s idea that we get out into the wilderness for a few days. We don’t talk about work very much or in any detail, since we both prefer to keep work at work, but obviously he knew I was rather stressed lately. So here we are, away from it all, and it feels great. The only downside to lying around and relaxing is that I feel how SORE I am! Yikes! That said, I got a world class adjustment from Volleyball Guy at Saturday led. Attendance was quite low, likely due to holiday travel, I’d imagine. So there was plenty of room for Volleyball Guy to work the room. I was psyched when he came over at baddha konasana. We did a 15 count baddha k, where you can choose to do A, B, and C for five counts each, or any combo of them that you like.

So I took my opportunity to have my head on the floor for all 15 counts. I am not sure why it is so easy for me to do the pose with an assist, but so difficult without. Obviously, it will come with time, but still it is curious. I suspect this particular pose requires a certain kind of gracious surrender that is not my strong suit. Anyhow, yeah, I just need to let it play out over time.

Okay, enough of this. Time to get back to my book (On Beauty, by Zadie Smith) and the hot tub!