mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 13th, 2009 07:42 pm)
Journey Home

The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my
voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,
and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,
and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!'

The question and the cry `Oh, where?' melt into tears of a thousand
streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!'

Rabindranath Tagore

I usually see yoga as a sort of metaphor or guidebook for living, but this time I think of it the other way. Going to Guatemala was a big jump for me. I'd never traveled for that long completely alone, and never through somewhat sketchy parts of the world without a guide. In the days before I left, my anticipation felt a lot like an icy lining along my usually warm insides. The more people would tell me I was brave, the more frightened I felt. I could have changed my mind--the deposit and the ticket weren't much. Nobody would have thought differently of me for not going, but I knew that it was important to go--I needed to see that part of the world, needed to improve my Spanish, needed not to sit around the house and mope through another winter. But I was really afraid. What I did was just to set the plans in motion and let them pull me through. Occasionally I'd notice my fear, and try to focus on how it felt in mind and my body, to understand exactly what I feared and how fear carved its delicate sculptures inside me, but I kept going on with the plan.

So tonight it worked well that my yoga teacher used the fear and uncertainty of travel as a theme for a class focused on balance, my real nemesis in so many ways. Standing balances, even simple tree poses, are easy for me at home alone, but for some reason in class become ordeals. I fall out every few seconds. But I remembered my technique--just go on with the plan. I can't say that anyone watching would have been impressed, but I felt much more at ease with the whole situation. And when we moved on to pincha mayurasana, I felt the same way I had when I'd gone out on Lake Atitlan in the flimsy little boat, trusting in the plan. Both were like "coming out on the chariot of the first gleam of light."
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2008 08:51 pm)
I had my final session in my Rolfing series today. I did it in a very long, drawn-out way--I think I started about this time last year, and did three sessions, then started again in the fall. I think I did at least one extra, because I wanted to get a lot of work on my hands and wrists.

If you aren't familiar with Rolfing, it's somewhat related to massage, but is more detailed and specific, and works more on the connective tissue, the fascia, than on the muscles. Along with the therapist's manipulation of your body, she also re-educations you about your posture in very subtle ways.

I fell in love with it the first time I went and she was able to relieve the neck/shoulder pain from repetitive motion in cold weather (my enemy!) Sometimes I couldn't see much effect from the session immeditately afterwards, but then gradually began to notice differences. I started out in pretty good shape but have scoliosis, maybe one leg longer than the other, and also intermittently have problems with tendonitis in my ankles and wrists. Nothing major, but expect that the years from 65-95 may be a little tougher than the first 65, so wanted to give myself every opportunity to have a body that functions with minimal pain as I get older.

12 sessions later, I've learned to walk differently, to sit and stand in a healthier way, and to use my energy instead of blocking it and fighting it. The beginning-to-be-constant pain in my right hip has eased away, and I've learned some exercises to work with it when it returns.

Because my therapist is also a yoga teacher at the studio where I practice, I have the delightful bonus of getting to integrate the Rolfing teachings with Anusara yoga practice, and can reinforce the Rolfing changes in yoga class, and use the Rolfing to make the yoga work better. I noticed this most strongly when I did Urdhva Dhanurasana (backbend or wheel) after the Rolfing session that worked on my hands and arms--for the first time, I didn't feel unbearable strain in my forearms. It's hard to draw the line between Rolfing and yoga, since I've worked on the two so closely together, but I'm definitely doing things I couldn't do last year, and doing them more easily--most important of all to me is being able to access my core and strengthen it, which makes both everyday walking and many asanas much better.

People always ask me if Rolfing is painful--somehow it's gotten that reputation. I found it much less painful than the deep tissue massage I used to get, and usually felt that most of the Rolfing was more intense than painful. But people's bodies are different and so are their experiences of pain, so I'm sure it was painful for people who report that. I also think therapists may vary in the way they handle your body.
[Error: unknown template qotd] I usually don't try things I think I won't be good at (singing is a great example), but yoga--I am too old, too uncoordinated, too hippy (in the physical sense), too weak. Can't do yoga. But I do it anyway, and love it.
Well, the great thing I've experienced this weekend was a John Friend yoga workshop about six blocks from my house! A few of you will know exactly how thrilling this was, and the rest of you will stop reading at this point )

The not so great thing has been trying to visit one of the guys from my Buddhist class in prison--he's in the county hospital, probably dying at this point. I called the teacher before me, who works for a local hospice program, and he was able to get in and visit the prisoner on Thursday. I've had less luck with the guards at the hospital, who've ranged from hostile to respectful, but unanimously intransigent about not letting me in. The sick guy is past recognizing me consciously, but I would like to go say some prayers for/with him, to ease his transition. My hospice friend can probably wangle it through his hospice chaplain, but jeez. Seems like when someone is unconscious and dying, they could relax the rules a little. Just a little.

1% of the population is in prison. Not saying a lot of them haven't done some horrendous stuff, especially the ones I know, but then a lot of them have just possessed substances. Time to think about all this fear and what the point is and how much it costs--a thought that applies to my yoga practice as well.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 11th, 2007 12:32 pm)
Religons and philosophies, however different, tend to look at morality in much the same way--similar lists of "Don't kill, don't lie, love your neighbor" crop up everywhere (and that's certainly good). But one virtue that I've encountered mostly in yoga and other Asian-origin ways of thinking is this one:

"Rejoice in the virtues and accomplishments of others."

At first that seemed odd to me. I'm used to trying (unsuccessfully, quite often) not to covet what others have--but to actually be glad that someone else can do something I can't? I didn't see it.

Gradually, gradually, though I began to notice that I could make a little headway with it. It started with my kids, of course, but it's hard to separate them from yourself. Later I began to actually feel good about the friend who is able to be honest even when it's so much easier to lie, the store clerk who chases me into the rain with a nickel refund, my sister losing twenty-five pouds and still looking half her age, my nephew publishing his writing. Still grit my teeth at some things, though--and usually it's the ones I started with, the people who can do those yoga poses I can't do.

But today in class a woman who's only a few years younger than me, and not in noticeably better shape, managed to do a killer pose, Parsva Bakasana (aka Twisted Crow). I've struggled for a long time with even the non-twisted version, and so has she, I think, from various classes we've shared. Just getting one foot up seemed impossible--and then up she went.

I was surprised to find how delighted I was to see her do it! Almost better than doing it myself.

I guess Old Crows can learn new tricks--or if not the tricks of the body, at least the ones of the heart.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 4th, 2006 09:15 pm)
Today I reconnected with a person I'd known a long time ago, and it was a special day. This woman and I became friends in high school, my senior year. She was so extremely neat to me then because she seemed so mature without being overbearing, so open, so friendly, so without the games all the rest of us were into, back in 1958. And we stayed friends through college, and the year I graduated and started grad school we shared an apartment (my first-I turned 21 that fall, in that apartment). It was tiny! We shared the one bedroom, and when we both pretty quickly hooked up with true, deep, and devastating loves, the funny game was to get back home in time to get the bed--the other couple got the couch. She married her guy, but mine went in the Air Force (the Vietnam clouds were gathering on the horizon), breaking my heart in the process. And then I went to California, and when I came back, even though we both had kids, she'd moved out to an outlying part of town, so we didn't really get back together. We'd see each other occasionally, but sort of be at different places in our lives, and never quite got around to meeting up.

She teaches yoga, mostly at churches and hospitals in her part of town (I'm still in town, she's still out) but recently started taking a yoga class I'm taking. It was Christmas, she had a grandbaby coming any minute, so we promised we'd have lunch once everything settled down. Today we had an all-day workshop (amazing story all its own) and finally got the chance to spend some time together.

The truly amazing thing is that she hasn't changed. She's still beautiful, still funny, still kind and very wise, still a very good person. She still looks very much the same, and still has the same mannerisms, the same way of talking, the same great energy. It was such a delight to be with exactly the same person I met almost fifty years ago. And even more fun that we both can almost do handstands and Hanuman (yoga split) so we were working on similar issues. Fun too at lunch talking yoga together--she's far more advanced than me, but I've done enough to know what she was talking about, and to have tales of my own to share. She's also a very good teacher, and now teaches one class that's not way out, so I can take it once I get free on Tuesdays.

Wow. So nice to have that old and good friendship reborn in the middle of a rich new interest.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 4th, 2006 08:01 pm)
How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Othello (II, iii, 376-377)

A Practice of Patience

Tonight, in my first yoga class of the year, I kicked right up into a headstand and held it for five minutes—not without effort, fear, and the occasional panic that I might emerge with a broken neck—but in fact headstands always leave me feeling wonderful (the reverse of all those fluids, they say). I know for me, it’s partly knowing that I’ve achieved a goal, one I thought I’d never reach. Inversions tie into my fear of heights, so it’s not just a matter of physical strength, but an inner struggle. And it’s interesting that as I gradually learned to accept headstand, I overcame one big part of my lifelong acrophobia—now I can go on the down escalator (great rejoicing on the part of traveling companions who’ve faithfully wandered with me in Czech undergrounds, looking for elevators).

In fact, though, inversions aren’t really the hardest part of yoga for me now, although I’m still struggling with handstand. Now it’s arm balances, which means strength and balance, two things I haven’t got. But what I learned from headstand is that it doesn’t all happen at one time, and it doesn’t happen without falling on your ass, more than once. But after all that, maybe, sometime, it happens.

That’s the part that’s been the hardest to learn, that it happens by degrees, and includes little failures. We all knew it once—otherwise we’d never have been able to walk, but would still be scuttling around on hands and knees. But once we can stand, we get the idea that it should all happen on the first try. Well, no, it doesn’t. We don’t lose weight, we don’t get jobs, we don’t find love, we don’t make marriages work, we don’t get published, etc. Not right away, not the first time. It just takes falling and trying again and again, and learning to recognize each tiny baby step that means the potential for progress is maybe there.

I wish I’d know that when I was younger—somehow I thought then that love came only as some headlong rush, that a truly great dancer rose up on her toes with no effort, that good writing just boiled out of the brilliant brain. Now I understand that you work at it. And the work is the good thing. Every great dish is really chopping onions and watching it all simmer slowly, and every garden is clearing out the dead weeds and planting again, one more time, even after droughts and frosts have killed it all.

And yeah, that little scar on my foot you can hardly see: once that was a horrible burn, but each day the good skin grew and the pain receded.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Nov. 27th, 2005 10:50 am)
My current reason for little posting of late is the time I'm spending writing, so guess that's good. But I am reading what everyone else is doing, at least, and glad you're mostly all well and entertained. For now, a few updates and then a meme.

Updates: The new cat has acquired a name of sorts--not nearly as elegant as she is. Mop. After rejecting Alice, Sita, Shag, and various other possibilities. She does look like a mop, or maybe a dust bunny. I haven't had a cat like her in quite a while. She totally destroys my old theory of the bitchy calico/tortie and the loud Siamese--she clearly has both, but the dominant strain seems to be the sweet longhair. She has a tiny kitten-like mew, not a Waugh! like Orange or a long whine like Fernie. She's Not Interested in going outside--she can see it all perfectly well from a nice window, thank you. She'd not territorial. BC, our feral but cuddly outside cat, occasionally comes in for a brief turn around the living room or kitchen. Mop barely opens her eyes to see the intruder, and doesn't react at all. BC watches her in terror, oddly, since BC is one tough cookie and has beat up some truly warlike cats in her time, and made both my former cats, Fernie and Orange, dance to her tune. But not Mop. Mop also is a faucet drinker, her only difficult trait, and while she's very sweet is not the big-time purrer that my other cats have been. I think I had a longhaired white cat a while back with this same laidback style. Now we have to find a way to teach her to love travel, and she'll be a very serviceable cat.

Alice the book is also behaving well, or at least appearing on demand. For which I'm thankful. And even more thankful for my Faithful Reader(s?)!

My garden has definitely taken a turn for the better. I (with the help of Elmer who works for pay but clearly feels a lot of pride in our accomplishment) have cleared out lots of blackberries and cherry laurel and general junk, and planted many nice things: pyracantha, Chinese fringe tree, some kind of jasmine ground cover, a couple of oak-leaf hydrangeas and one blue regular one, several Indian hawthornes that hopefully will grow up in front of the somewhat leggy boxwoods, and a lovely pink sasanqua. Also some collards and herbs, and moved some wild roses, iris, and day lilies. And put nice pinestraw beds around it all. Elmer likes nice geometrically straight lines, so I don't have the curves that are so in fashion in landscaping these days, but really that's just the pinestraw--I can make curves later if I crave them. I really think he got a kick out of seeing it all finished, and I was glad. Life is hard for him, but somehow he's still surviving and not in bad trouble--a good achievement for an uneducated black man of our generation. When he comes by again, I'm going to try to get him out of trouble with the food stamp people, and possibly even on disability--he's at least 50 and has had one stroke, he says.

I am reading some books on history--Ireland, Vietnam War, SC--but also Son of a Witch which so far is fun, almost as much as Wicked, of which it's the sequel. Started but didn't love City of Falling Angels although I do love Venice. Have not yet seen the new Harry Potter--maybe tomorrow.

Yoga is coming along. I've done quite a few assisted handstands, and still have hopes of achieving my ambition to do one unassisted by the end of the year. And tiny progress on the wheel (backbend): can now get my head a couple of inches off the floor. Tomorrow I'm totally indulging myself in a private lesson to work on both. More later, on that.

And now I can start thinking about Christmas lights on the small tree out front. So beautiful when done, such a pain in the doing.

ETA: Forgot the Five Simple Pleasures Meme, ganked from [ profile] midnightsjane:Name 5 of life's simple pleasures, then pick 5 people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used. Tag 5 people on your list.

1. Chai tea with lots of ginger and pepper and cardamom, and rich whole milk, on a cold afternoon.
2. Waking up on my own with no alarm clock and no rush to get up.
3. A fresh, unstarted NYT crossword puzzle.
4. Hot roasted oysters and a little glass of single-malt Scotch.
5. Reading a short-short story by my nephew, all grown up and writing fantasy

I'm tagging whoever has some pleasures to share.
Back, briefly at least, to my nice happy computer where I can dawdle all day and my lovely fast connection—but soon to leave again, since I’m going to the beach for all of next week. I did get to look in occasionally, but not regularly, so hope I didn’t miss too many important events in the lives of the flist.

Very nice month in Chicago. Many visitors, including babyLydia )

I also went to a very wonderful but incredibly hard yoga workshop )

And I went sailing, for the first time ever! Here’s the Chicago harbor (Belmont) as we return at sunset—just putting the sails down:
sunset from the boat
It was exciting, glorious, scary, exhilarating—the boat heeled over a lot more than I’m used to, and the waves were much bigger than I expected in a lake. But now I want to do much more! The harbor’s close to where we live, and the lessons aren’t too expensive, so I definitely have a plan for next summer.

And we went to an amazing show at the Museum of Science and Industry: “BodyWorlds.” It’s anatomical dissections of real human bodies, that have been plastinated, a technique that replaces the body fluids with plastic. It was fascinating to see the details of muscles, nerves, arteries, bones—but also very beautiful. If you’re not put off by what’s under your skin, you can see some of this at

Of course there were other visitors, plays, dinners, visits to the South Shore, etc.—-and we've been trying to be good users of public transportation since it's available, so I spend more time getting everywhere, but that's fun, in good weather at least--so I didn't get much writing done, sad to say. But have gotten some extremely helpful comments on most recent story and am more than ready to plunge into revisions when I’m back here for a while, so everlasting thanks, you wonderful beta readers, esp. Lynne and Angela. Very insightful and helpful comments. Can’t wait to act on them.

So this is a sort of drive-by, but hope to catch up a little in the next couple of days, and hope everyone is well and happy.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 11th, 2005 11:44 am)
So glad everyone in London is safe, and also glad that all who went to NY are back home safely and obviously enjoyed their time. Thanks for the wonderful posts and pictures.

This may be my post of the month, as I head up to Chicago (through the first of doubtless many hurricanes that will harass me this year)--although the new computer up there is faster, Bill still gets antsy when the phone lines are tied up for too long, and for me to even glance at my flist takes too long for him!

Summer seems to be here in full force. For most of last week, the ocean was a lovely jade green, clear enough in the shallow water to see your feet even when the waves were breaking at shoulder level. Waves muddied it by Saturday, but the days before were heavenly.

Played many many games last week, too, including bocce ball on a very uneven course (we consider our game to be Ultimate Bocce) and dominoes (I'd never played before, but my nephew's girlfriend brought a pretty white set with bright colored dots and taught us Mexican Train). Also a great little electronic Catchword, and something very similar to Cranium, the name of which I can't remember. With all that around, we never did the traditional midnight Scrabble with me falling asleep in mid-word.

And yesterday, to make the trash life complete, watched the entire first season of The 4400. Seemed a lot better than this season, but maybe that's because I watched it all at once and therefore actually had a clue. Before that, I'd spent most of this season saying "Is that guy a 4400 or not?" "Is Jordan a good guy or a bad guy?" and so on.

Also, last week, I discovered that using the power stroke in kayaking built up the right muscles (pecs and triceps) for yoga push-ups (Chaturanga Dandasana)--before, I'd been mostly pulling in order to work on back muscles, but using a push stroke instead finally got me to the point of being able to to the push-ups. Very exciting--I'd once before gotten to this point but lost it when I cut my toe a couple of years ago. But my ego is controlled by the fact that a backbend (Urdhva Dhanurasana) is still out of reach, and I haven't tried a headstand or armstand in a while. But also found oddly that a one-legged version of side plank (Vasisthasana) with the other leg bent as in Tree Pose is easier for me than the usual form, with one leg on top of the other.

Reading these days: mostly mysteries (Deborah Crombie, Michele Spring, Laura Joh Rowland--but waiting to get my hands on the new Laurie King) but also Umberto Eco (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) which so far is wonderful. I still like novels with weird illustrations, and these are wonderful--old comics, matchbooks, etc.

Finally, a very easy salsa made with fresh peaches (will cross-post to [ profile] atpo_cooks):

Peel and chop 2-3 fresh, ripe peaches
Add 1 T (or less, depending on peaches)red wine vinegar and/or lime juice, to taste
Some may want sugar--if peaches are nice and ripe, you won't need it
1/4 tsp ground coriander (also to taste--might want to start with just a pinch)

Serve with grilled pork or salmon

Even if I'm not posting or commenting much--though who knows?--I'll be lurking around and sending good thoughts if nothing else. More sometime!
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 19th, 2005 08:27 pm)
A while back at a retreat there was discussion of how being pleased and happy is as much a hindrance to stability as being sad and failing. There was a time in my life when I would have snickered at that, but now...maybe I'm beginning to get it.

This week in yoga, the focus was intention. And I set mine on dealing with fear, on taking the fear on the journey with me. So of course the challenging poses in both classes were flexibility poses--which happen to be the only ones I can really do well. So no fear, no journey, just loose hamstrings. Not that I object to having at least one ability! But it meant my journey was suddenly one of dealing with ego and pride, and of trying to find a challenge in what seemed easy. A big shift, and not one I'm sure I made well.

I've had that happen in other parts of my life--gotten praise when I expected criticism. (And it's not a bad thing! I'll take it!) But still, my mind is thrown off track, and I'm all caught up in it--in many ways, exactly what happens when I fail and get criticized. Obessing on me. Not getting over myself. The only difference is that this is a kind of racy excited good feeling instead of a dull duh feeling.

But they both seem...unreal. Really unreal. Like when your 8th grade crush smiled at you.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 3rd, 2005 08:13 pm)
Last night's yoga class made me think about fear, not for the first time. Rational and irrational, in the body and in the mind. The fear I really have to work with there is the fear of inversions--headstands, handstands, and others like Pincha Mayurasana or Peacock Feather Pose. Since we're just starting to learn these, we do them against a wall, with another student assisting. I'm trying to analyze, mostly for myself, what I really fear in them. I have fallen, plenty of times, in poses that don't really frighten me, like Ardha Chandrasana or Half-moon Pose. So rationally I know that I can fall and not really even be sore, let alone get a serious injury. And physically I know that I can do a headstand and a shoulder stand, so my body recognizes the feeling of an inversion. And yet the last couple of times I've tried the more advanced poses, I've been able to get up but was overwhelmed by fear and had to come back down. It's not that I don't feel strong enough to hold myself--I just feel panicked at being in the pose, before I ever have trouble with it.

Sometimes fear is rational. I know that I could force myself into a complete split (Hanumanasana) but always stop when the sense of pulling reaches a certain point because I know with my mind and body that I can hurt my body by pushing it too far. That's nothing like the nonrational but nonphysical fear of inversions.

But the other thing is that I feel most dissatisfied with myself when I leave a class feeling that I haven't really tried as hard as I could, that I've pulled back before failure. When I push to my physical limits, even if I can't make the stretch or hold the balance or don't have the strength, if I've really, really tried, I'm fine--I feel good. But not to try, not to take the chance, leaves me feeling as though I've wasted an opportunity that I might not get again.

Of course yoga really doesn't matter in one sense, after the session is over, but it often teaches me something about the rest of my life. I was thinking about how sometimes in writing I also will feel dissatisfied because I haven't taken the risk I could have taken, haven't pushed quite to the limit, but instead have gone with things I feel safe with, but don't learn from. And my writing, right now, is like my yoga, just a way for me to learn. So why pull back?

I also learn about writing from meditation. Sometimes my worst problem in meditation is not that I can't fix my mind on the object, but that I feel so restless without moving, like I want to rush on to something, anything, not just stay in one place. And sometimes that's true with writing, too--I see the movement of the story so clearly, and want to be riding fast down that road, when what I need to do is slow down, even stop, and look at where I am. And stay there for a while.
"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
(Lewis Carroll, of course)

I went back to the intermediate yoga class this morning, and discovered it's gotten a lot more demanding, which is ultimately good. Yoga is definitely one experience that reminds you that your "reach must exceed [your] grasp, or what's a heaven for?" Making progress toward a difficult pose really is more powerful than doing one that's become easy for you.

Yoga stuff )
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 1st, 2004 03:55 pm)
My yoga teacher usually directs us to dedicate our practice--ultimately to the whole world, that all may be content and free of suffering--but also specifically: to someone we respect, to someone in need(see many books on yoga and Buddhism for why this is a thing to do).

I chose at the beginning of class to dedicate my practice to the victims of torture in Iraq. It was a good class--I was really able to concentrate, find a steady core, as well as make progress with difficult (for me) poses. Many good friends in that class make it a really peaceful and joyful time.

By the final meditation, though, I realized I had turned to dedicating the practice to the soldiers who did the torture. They are the ones really in need of light.

Not saying this in the sense of wanting my own spiritual insights recognized--I think I'm still pretty much in the darkness. But just noting what you can learn from the practice itself--whether yoga, meditation, or whatever.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 10th, 2004 10:04 pm)
A morning Yoga class that focused on hip openers, which I can do! I know I need the ones I can't do more, but it's fun to succeed for a change.

My son calls and we have a great long chat about work, movies, houses, and traveling. He's grown to be such a great friend, and it's so nice sitting and talking while I nibble on the toast left from lunch.

A ride in the country, because I can't walk a lot right now, having some kind of foot/ankle tendonitis and want it to heal before I go to Italy for two weeks in June. I had this before when I used to run, years ago, and dropped back to walking. Ugh. But the ride was lovely. Just a few miles north and the wisteria is still fresh and purple, the dogwood and azaleas just opening. We start to visit one of Bill's friends and the new house is so ostentatious and hideous we turn back. Along the road are gentle cottages I'd love to live in, on the lake. At the filling station I see a former student, such a warm, happy person.

Home to a lovely evening. 85 degrees and cooling--my kind of weather. We grill on the deck and sit late into twilight, watching the candles burn down. The trees are full of leaves, the light is late. This is my time, my weather. The candlelight spills throught the spaces in the table, making diamond shapes on our legs and the floor. We talk about the Triplets of Belleville (we loved it), why Bill's friends went for glamor wives and he for me, what we'll do this summer in Chicago, what's wrong with Condoleeza Rice. The bats go in and the stars come out, and still it's warm.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 3rd, 2004 03:34 pm)
The questions in this interview come from [ profile] knullabulla The answers come from me:

1) If a movie was made based on your life, would your character be: the hero, the villain, the side-kick, the henchman, or the comic relief? What genre would your movie be (i.e. sci-fi, comedy, romance, etc.)? Why?

I’d be in a strange independent movie, with long periods of odd people doing incomprehensible things, interspersed with handheld clips of the real me…probably something like American Splendor. But with film clips of 60’s protests and travel footage, so a little more diverse than AS. Probably rated NC-17. I’d be the protagonist of course, but hardly heroic (see comparison to American Splendor). Sort of the anti-heroine, always winding up in some place I didn’t intend to go when I started out. Closer to comic than to tragic…

2) I hear that you practice yoga. How would you encourage a newbie to begin practicing?

“Come to yoga with an empty stomach, bare feet, and an open heart.” That’s my teacher quoting somebody, don’t know who. To me it means that yoga will act on much more than your body, but you need to come without preconceptions. Can’t think of what’s harder to do—sort of like not thinking about a green tiger.

I’m a great believer in going to classes, because it’s really hard to know how to make your body do some of those things without someone to guide you. And I worry that people will hurt themselves by trying to be too extreme. If you can afford classes, then the next thing is shopping around until you find a teacher you like and trust. Sort of like looking for a therapist or a house—you need to find one that really suits you. If you can’t go to a class, you can get videos—Rodney Yee is good. And his book, The Poetry of the Body, is good, too. But doing it from a book seems impossible to me.

3) We all have vices. Which of your vices would you never ever be willing to give up?

Hmm. Well, the ones that hurt other people, I really would like to give up. And some things are so patently bad that you know even when you’re really enjoying them that they need to go—cocaine, adultery, and fossil fuel engines, to name a few. Not hard to let those go.

But some vices seem so innocent. Ironic I should get this question, because I was just realizing last week that one of the major vices of my life, one of the hardest to let go, is reading. I think it’s a vice the way I do it, because I read addictively. Of course it’s fun and mentally challenging and I learn a lot—but it’s definitely a way of numbing myself to the world. And shutting out other people. (But then, come to think of it, that's how I'm reaching you, right?)

Are habaneros and garlic vices?

4) If you could live life through the eyes of one fictional character, who would it be?

It’s always the last one I read, so right now, it’s Sheri Tepper’s Beauty, from book of same name. She had a life! Adventurous, smart, sexy, one committed relationship but lots of interesting friends and possiblities, travelled to very strange worlds, and, like Buffy, saved the world. And was magic.

There are a lot of other books I really like, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be ANY of the characters in them. Like Perfume, for instance.

5) If you didn't have any responsibilities to attend to, and money was no problem, what would you be doing right now?

Always easy for me to answer. I’d be in the ocean. Somewhere warm and sunny, with great rolling waves, and dolphins. Maybe occasionally I’d get out and eat, and go to visit another ocean.

The Rules of the Game

Want to be interviewed yourself? Ask here.

1 - Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 10th, 2004 04:26 pm)
So glad to get back to my yoga class. This morning I moved myself up to the "intermediate" class--that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Some tough-for-me vinyasas, because balance and upper body strength are not my strong suits, but then a lot of hip openers-flexible! That I am. The new studio is warm!!! and beautiful (warm orange walls, painted with Moroccan designs and jewels)!! I am so grateful to have such a great resource. And I met someone who I've seen in class but never sat near in the old class. Turns out we do the same work and have many friends in common, so that was a pleasure. Makes it more sangha-like.

Now I've come home and written fairly diligently for the last couple of hours, and realized that I've done 3 chapters over Christmas. I'm beginning to see the end--it is incredibly exciting to think I'll finish a whole draft of a novel. I've done short stories and poems all my life, but this is a new experience. It basically will never be great, and needs lots of revision, but it does exist.

But so does this empty feeling in my middle--hmm, smoked gouda and pesto? Is that a possible combination? Wonder if that avocado is still in existence.

The last week has really been a lot of stress, so I decided that the dieting would go on hold until the semester gets started. I'm still trying to keep teachers in all the classes, but they keep quitting faster than I can hire. Herding cats? Yes. Underpaid, whiny, brilliant cats.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 17th, 2003 07:22 pm)
Not a good day, although the Chinese visitors were a gift from heaven and yesterday was wonderful, talking to them (more on that later), and even the duck was OK.

But today was the day when all the bad things from the semester really came to a head, all the problems finding their way to my office, and even worse an hour long meeting with some people who were very unhappy about a decision I had made, and I knew I wouldn't change my mind but felt that I had to hear them out--at great length, and with a lot of forbearance on my side for what I perceived as a really self-centered view of the world. And then going to office parties held by people with whom my last interaction was an angry phone call on their part, again in my view not provoked by my actions (but who knows). Again forbearance. And in both cases not wanting forbearance to become hypocrisy, trying to be pleasant but not change where I stood. Not my idea of Christmas.

So to top it off I go to work out at the gym and the woman behind me keeps chatting. Of course there is only so much forbearance to go around, and she was last in line. So I sshhed her, and then spent the rest of the workout feeling selfish and egotistical (aside: this kind of interaction doesn't happen in yoga classes, at least not so far).

Be now not feeling good about anyone else or myself, grumpily stopping in the cold to put gas in the car. You know how there are just certain wires and roofs where pigeons congregate? Well, the cover over the gasoline pumps was one of those places. You may be imagining a final disaster--and a Paris pigeon did that to me once--but these were different. I was standing there watching the $$ mount up and grumping away, and heard a sort of rushing clatter. I looked up to see about fifty pigeons wheeling off the roof just overhead. It was just deep twilight and the sky was a wonderful deep indigo, and the pigeon's white and silver lit from below just glowed. And they kept circling and landing and rising again, until I finally got the message.

Dust of Snow (Robert Frost)

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.


mamculuna: (Default)


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