Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The sayings of Coach M

E's t-ball coach is so great. He's totally commited to the kids and he loves baseball. And he talks and moves non-stop, so in that way he's not unlike a 5 year old himself. In a good way. Today inaugurates the first of what I hope will be a series:
The Sayings of Coach M"

(said to the kids on the bench when they are kicking around in the gravel)
This is baseball not recess!

(said to a kid who, in swinging the bat, followed the swing while it swung him all the way around*)
This is baseball, not ballet!

(said to a kid who is wearing his hat backwards, while taking it off his head and turning it around)
This is baseball, not a rap video!

*This, by the way, is a surprisingly common problem for the tball set. A smaller line of bats is definately in order.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Me and the Yogis

I first studied yoga about 7 years ago, when a professor's yoga instructor visited a seminary class. I found out that Vijay had a studio in his home not far from where I was living, so I dropped in on a class.

I had no idea what I was doing, and really I was then (as I continue to be to this day), a deeply mediocre student of yoga. I shared the classes with my friend Rachel and she is more physically flexible than me, and she took to it with a lot more grace. But, if you study with Vijay, it sort of doesn't matter if you are really good at yoga or not.

Look, if you ever get a chance to be in Seattle in a Thursday morning, here's what you should do.

To get to Vijay's house, you walk to the end of a tree-lined street and open a tall gate. His yard is not huge, but part of the magic of the place is that you feel that you've entered a new little country. You walk the down a winding path and cross the tiny creek. Notice the flowers and the birds. There are lots of them to notice. You may want to rest on your journey through the yard, on one of the benches. Take your time.

The studio is a daylight basement with shelves of books, a fire going in the fireplace and (instead of plastic mats) comfy wool blankets. Put a five dollar bill in the overflowing bowl of money. If you get there half an hour early, you will be in time for the teaching , which is a reading from an ancient Indian book, followed by a conversation which is usually about how you should love everyone.

During the class you will learn a lot about sun salutation, which Vijay reveres. You will sometimes do only variations on sun salutations for more than an hour. Your teacher will occasionally make little sounds of delight, as if he's eating something delicious. "Mmmmm, now THAT feels very good to the body," he will exclaim. This will make you giggle, but he is right, it does feel good to the body.

Savasana at Vijay's studio is done exactly how Jesus would do it. After you lay on your back, in the pose of a corpse, Vijay will gently lay a soft kleenex and then an eye pillow on your eyes. He will ask you if you'd like to be covered with a blanket or two, if you'd like a pillow under your knees. He will do this for everyone - the 8 or so ladies (one of them is older than 80, I think) - who lie in a row in the sun coming in through the windows. Then, he will walk from person to person, placing woodstove-warmed stones in the palms of your hands. The rest you will experience for the next ten minutes will be as rejuvenating as a full night sleep.

You may be reluctant to rise, but when you do, you will sit around the woodstove with the ladies, while Vijay gives you tea he has made, someone will get out cookies they have baked. People will gossip gently, or talk about travels or gardening or children. They will dote on you, if you are younger than they are, and you will almost certainly be younger than they are. Vijay is no spring chicken himself -- he once won a weight lifting competition in the 65-and-up division -- and he draws an older crowd.

It was during one of the post-yoga tea times that I heard the following interchange,
"She cant come to yoga anymore, she had a baby."
"Oh really? I didnt know she was married..."
"Well, she went swimming with this guy at Coleman Pool."

At the time, I thought that was hilarious, an echo of the urban legend that if you went swimming with a guy it could make you pregnant. And also, more seriously and righteously, I thought that nothing would keep me from Vijay's class.

But then I did get pregnant (not from swimming, from the usual way) and all that downward facing dog just really was no good for the nausea. And if you're thinking that what with all the teaching, the yoga itself, the deep rest and the cookies it must have been a long class, you are right. The whole thing took the better part of the morning, and, with a coughy little baby to look after, who has time for that? And a five dollar yoga class is a real good deal, until you're paying someone $35 to babysit for the morning, and then it's a little harder to justify. And then there was work and then we moved across town and I couldn't walk to the magic little studio anymore.

So I stopped going to yoga at Vijay's. But really, yoga IS the best thing for the crampy muscles in my neck and shoulders, so I've kept at it in a sporadic way in other classes, after E went to preschool. I haven't been for a year or so, though, and I've been putting out the word that I'd like to try it again. I heard from someone recently that I would enjoy the yoga class at the rec center from a guy named Simon who, when you meet him, you will discover is opposite of the willowy youthful jock you'd think. So, I've been 4 times.

He says wise things, but also funny ones. He favors warrior pose (my favorite) and so far, we've hardly had to do any downward facing dog (my nemesis). I can do all the poses, and I am pleasantly challenged by some. He talks about being both grounded and floating as we sit and breathe at the beginning, both of which are good things for me to hear, and he doesn't trick us with fancy breathing.

And in class today, I laughed alot since Simon kept gently joking with a few of the more seasoned students. Then I did something I've only done one other time outside of Vijay's class - I wept during the savasana, since I really did have a very difficult week and I could feel the difficulty lifting, could feel how I didn't have to carry it in my body, could feel how I didn't have to be weighed down by it, and sometimes recognizing that makes the tears come.

I mean, no one will ever be Vijay. But I seem to have stumbled into a yoga class taught by another real yogi. And, mmm, that is very good for the body. And the soul, too.

Friday Five

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live
Well, we are grateful everyday for those three-wheel electric wheelchairs, without which we wouldn't have any kind of life.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?
Leaf blower. No question. So noisy. So pointless.
I also mostly dont see the point to cell phones either, although I use mine all the time.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If
so, do you use it (them)?
I have a TAPE PLAYER in my car, although it is actually kind of a new car. I like to listen to my old Kate Wolf tape in there, but the last time I listened to it, it was sounding kind of wobbly. So now, I'm saving it only for when I drive through the mountains. Kate Wolf is the BEST music to which to drive through moutains.

E and I love to listen to books on tape, too. Lately, we're all about Freddy The Pig. If you havent heard of the Freddy books (which I had not until I picked up Freddy Goes to Florida at random since we had just gone there and I thought it would be fun for E), I can so totally recommend them. They are hilarious without being snarky, interesting without being terrifying, of-their-time without being dated.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something
A mix.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain?
I have a food mill, which I dust off from time to time to make applesauce with. It's really very handy and makes awesome applesauce. I feel in touch with the grandmothers every time I use it, that's for sure.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Night

Have I told you about a class on existentialism that I took in high school?

I remember more about it than you think, considering that was a VERY long time ago - we read Man's Search for Meaning; we read the book The Little Prince, and also watched the movie (I was definitely of the disposition in those days to prefer the book, which I considered very profound, and to scorn those who preferred the movie); someone asked me for the first time why I wasn't afraid that I might go to hell (actually, hell had never even occurred to me, let alone frightened me); and I failed the paper on What Is God To Me, which I had not taken at all seriously and which got returned with just a red "no" written across the top.

But what has really stuck with me from the class was The Theory of Sunday Night Ennui. Did anyone else learn this as an actual theory? I cant remember the philosopher who proposes it, but basically the theory goes that Sunday night is the lowest point of the week for modern man. (Language purposely left in the uninclusive style in which I learned this theory). He looks back over the week that has passed and realizes how little he has accomplished. He looks ahead at the week to come and the meaninglessness of the tasks that lie before him. He falls into a state of mingled anxiety and despair. In those days, how I relished a macabre, fatalistic theory like this! And how I LOVED the word ennui, which I said over and over - aaahhhhnnnnnwwweeee. If I'd been a smoker, I would have taken a big drag on a clove cigarrette while I said it.

Now, twenty years later, it's possible we could fall into Sunday Night Ennui, but we are saved each week by standing dinner plans, which we have with our closest friends every Sunday night. We barely had time to get out of the habit of it after the big move from Seattle last summer, because a couple of months later our friends moved here too and we picked up right where we left off.

We try not to schedule other things on Sunday nights - sometimes someone proposes it for a meeting or special service or something and I say, as firmly as a person who has a hard time saying no can, "I really try to save Sunday night for my family." It's usually pretty chaotic, and the food is not fancy, but no matter what there is always a very sweet moment as we all hear or sing a blessing for the food and express gratitude for the Sabbath time.

Sometimes I'm out of sorts - lonely or gloomy or sad or angry- even on a Sunday. But ennui? On a Sunday Night? Never.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why I Look Like a Zombie Again This Week

Just got back from a lovely clergy retreat. And I was going to tell you all about it.

I wanted to tell you about driving through rain and farm country, through snow and mountains and through sun and desert, and two hours later arriving at the right spot. Nothing in my midwestern upbringing prepared me for all this...geography.

And I was going to reminisce about how the retreat was at a resort I'd only been to once before, when I was about 6 weeks pregnant. The halls do not smell nearly as strongly of just-about-everything as I remembered.

And I was going to tell you that if you stop by the side of the road in three inches of falling snow on top of Mt Hood to ask the trucker with Ontario plates if you really need to put chains on your tires, as the signs say, he will look at you like you are crazy. And then he will say no.

And then I was going to tell you of the joy of good conversation, yummy food, sleeping late, soaking in water and walking in the wind. And I was going to ask you to rejoice with me that I have met a colleague who is sort of My Age-ish! And she is very cool!

And I was going to rhapsodize some more about the desert - how the beauty of it is both forboding, and also makes you want to sink into it. And about how wild horses running can still activate my fiery inner 11 year old, especially wild baby horses running.

I was going to say all this. But J has found a way to get BSG, season 4 online. So I guess I will be otherwise occupied for the forseeable future.

See why it's good that we dont have real TV?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Well, thank God THAT'S over

Havent been exercising much, sleeping much, working much, blogging at all, or well, really, anything else since we received BSG, season 3 on DVD last week.

It's 11:14 pm. Just finished it. I guess I can resume my regular life now.

PS: Confidential to Songbird: It IS better than Lost. If by "better" you mean completely, totally, mind-suckingly addictive.