Tag Archives | yoga

Monday Listicles: Anxious, anxious, anxious

Today is the beginning of the new semester, which means it’s time to crank up the teaching machine, dust off the notes, realize that these notes are too dusty to use yet again, re-write the syllabus, and generally panic about what the hell I’m going to say for fourteen weeks.  Because it’s the beginning of term, I’m not going to write a “bucket list” of ten things I hope to see happen before I die, which was one Listicle option we were given by Ally, one of two normal moms.

In any case, my list of what I’d like to see happen before I die would be your basic lefty media-elite wish for clean politics, clean air, clean food, clean water–and for there to be a veritable blizzard of invitations swamping the post office as gay couples all over the world decide to get (legally) married.  Oh, and I’d like teachers to get annual salaries that are even a fraction of what Newt and Mitt declared on their taxes (eighty gazillion and 3.1 million, respectively).

Yeah. That’s what I thought you’d say. Dream on.  So the other option for the listicle today was things that make you anxious.

Did I say it was the beginning of the term? At this time of year, me and anxious are like besties. We’re tight. We’re IM’ing each other and DM’ing each other and generally just inseparable.

1. The opening day of the term. I’ve been teaching for years and years but still that first day, walking into the classroom…Anxious. I’m always sure I’ve forgotten my notes, forgotten where the classroom is, forgotten how to work the computer for powerpoint.

2. Anxiety #1 links to the fear that it will be this term when I am unmasked as a fraud. That someone will storm into my office or stand up in class and say “Lady, you’re just nuts and this stuff doesn’t make any sense and where you’d get your graduate degree anyway, back-of-the-matchbook university?” (Confession: Husband and I were married by my uncle, who was licensed as a minister by…yep, the church of the back of the matchbook.)

3. Anxiety #1 and #2 combine to create the recurring nightmare that all teachers have, in some version or another: you suddenly realize that you were supposed to be teaching an entire other course in addition to the one you’re teaching and you’ve never set foot in the classroom; or you’re being observed by your supervising teacher or your tenure committee and realize that you’re naked; or you’re standing in front of the podium and the wrong notes are in your hand, you have no idea where you are, and no idea what you’re supposed to do.

4. Unrelated to teaching: bugs. Cookie’s Chronicles gave us a lovely upclose picture of an earwig and I’d like to return the favor: Giant water bugs. Or as I like to call them chichihuahua bugs (with apologies to small dogs everywhere). They’re huge. They move way the fuck too fast; they crunch when you get someone else to step on them. I can’t actually post the picture here because then I’d scream and knock the computer on the floor and that would be bad.  I will say that as I write about these horror beetles, my toes are all curled up and I’m scanning the floor, wondering if something is about to come waving its antennae out of the drain.

5. That my children’s fears about me ruining their lives by moving us all the way to hell and gone are right. Well, okay, I don’t think that’s going to happen, or at least, not because I moved them here. They’re not teen-agers yet. I’m saving the big guns of life-ruining for a few years down the road. The life-ruining hasn’t even started, kids.

6. That my parents’ comment (repeated over and over again when I was in grade school and middle school…and hell, in high school too): that I’m not living up to my potential, is going to come true. Of course, given how close I am to fifty, I wonder how long a person has to have “potential.” Is there a statute of limitations on that concept?  I mean, can I still be searching for the fulfillment of “potential” at fifty-five? At sixty?

7. What if I’m attacked by giant water bugs and never finish my novel? What if I’m not attacked by giant water bugs and then I don’t have an excuse for not finishing my novel?

8. What if I can’t finish my novel?And in the meantime, what if writing blog posts and fiction have so thoroughly insinuated themselves into my brain that I can’t go back and write professorial prose when I need to (see earlier on FRAUD).

9. What if these yoga pants (purchased on sale at Marshalls in NJ with my beloved sister during the winter holiday. God I loves me a big-box store. Not enough of them out here in Petro-dollar land, unless you count the mammoth Chanel emporia scattered throughout the various malls)–what if the fact that I’ve worn these pants so constantly for the past ten days means they’re never going to come off?

10. What if I don’t wring every drop out of this opportunity to live in another world for a while? What if I get back to the States and think “why didn’t I….?”

So there you have it folks.  I’m riddled with anxiety and the only thing preventing me from dissolving into a puddle are my Marshalls’ yoga pants. Omigod. Why didn’t I buy a second pair? What am I going to do when these fall apart?

Continue Reading · on January 24, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Monday Listicle

chair pose. don’t leave home without it.

Chair pose:


squat toilet:

Imagine that squat toilet being your only option on a five-hour train ride.  Imagine the train car slinging and bouncing along the track. Imagine the water with which previous passengers have been sloshing out the squatter, sort of puddling and pooling along the bathroom floor. Imagine clutching your little ziploc bag of toilet paper (SUCH A WESTERN SISSY!) with one hand, holding your trousers off the floor with the other hand (WHY DIDN’T I WEAR A SKIRT?).  Where is that third hand with which to balance yourself against the wall?  Exactly. There you are in Indian train’s squat toilet without a third hand, dammit.

But hey, you’ve been doing yoga for a while, so you can just slide into that chair pose and hold it, hold it, hold it (WHOA  GOING AROUND A CURVE).  Finish your bidness and find a way to wipe off the bits and parts, and stand up without letting the trousers drop into the sloshy stuff. Find yourself deeply regretting the decision to wear birkenstocks instead of, say hip-waders or steel-toed boots, find yourself wishing briefly that you were a man with a man’s stand-up apparatus, and then make your way back to your seat. Realize you are having minor cramping in your quadriceps, but it’s a small price to pay for not falling down. Or in.

Namaste, my friends, namaste.

picture of chair pose from thedownwardfacingblog and the picture of the luverly squat toilet, in Thailand, is from Stop Having  Boring Life

Continue Reading · on November 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, exercise, Travel, yoga

shampoo and profoundity: trying to write about india

We survived our trip to India: nine days, two kids, four people, one hotel room, three long train rides, many ruins, one safari, a smattering of elephants and crocodiles (but no tigers), a snake charmer, and the requisite souvenirs: scarves, bangles, carved Ganeshas (Caleb’s patron saint, we’ve decided), and a small but exquisite rug (which I’m sure I got for a great price because the salesman told me so: “for you, madam, very good price, the best price”).

I understand now why people go to India and never come back.  They’ve been hypnotized by the whiplash of extremes, seduced by the flash of a hot-pink sari sliding through the crowds at a train station.  The scent of Delhi’s polluted air—a combination of wood-smoke and chemicals—wafted out of our suitcase when we got back and today, three days later, when I found the sweatshirt that Liam had been wearing on our last day in India wadded into a ball under his bed, the smell was still there. It clings, gets under your skin, into the cracks.

We didn’t do anything extreme on this trip, which was eight days in the “Golden Triangle:” Delhi, then a side-trip to Ranthambore National Park for a tiger-spotting safari (hide-and-seek with tigers, tigers won), then Jaipur, Agra, and back to Delhi.  There were tour buses rumbling through each city and idling outside every monument (I guess they figure the air is already polluted, so what’s a few more particulates) but even with this clear evidence of an entire culture being packaged into little postcard-sized niblets, I think we gave ourselves a tiny taste of “real” India (train travel contributes mightily to this sense of authenticity, I have to say).  This taste-of-India trip felt like it was “ours,” but it seems impossible to write about any of it without falling into a deep crevasse of ridiculous cliché.

I’m writing this post while my cleaning lady, a lovely woman from Sri Lanka cleans my apartment and with the haze of Delhi still in my head, I can’t help but wonder what F. thinks of the abundance with which we surround ourselves. Lining the edge of my shower, for example, are three kinds of shampoo (one belongs to Husband), a body soap, an almost empty jar of conditioner, a new container of conditioner, a tub of “hair masque,” two razors, face soap, and a tube of exfoliating  stuff that I got for free when I bought my face cream.  The counter is littered with shaving cream, face lotions, body lotions, and assorted other tubes and tubs and vials.  And that’s just my bathroom.  There’s also the kids’ bathroom and all their cleaning products; and don’t even get me started on the tech in our lives, on the clutter of cords and ipads and ipods and laptops and desktops and television-related boxes and cables and plugs.

But even this observation is a cliché: to return from India aghast at the over-abundance of Western lives.  I suppose to completely fulfill the cliché, I should be giving away all but the barest essentials, but I’m not. I loves me my Frederic Fekkai shampoo, dammit, and his conditioner, and given the desalinated water that comes out of the pipes here, the tub of deep conditioner is a necessity, not an option.  So it’s not like I’m going to go all ashram-austerity here, but still. The abundance of my life means that I should never, ever complain about anything, pretty much ever again. (I can hear my husband cracking up at this last line and saying something about “then what the else will you talk about,” but I’m going to ignore that in favor of higher order thinking.) Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on November 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, environment, expat, Travel

Grace in Small Things #2

Am in need of grace this evening.  It’s been, as they say, one of those days. Although actually if I am really precise, it’s only been one of those days since 3:45, when my children got off the bus and all hell broke loose. But we’ll ignore that explosion for now, other than for me to pose the question: does it make me a bad mother that when my kids are having meltdowns, a tiny part of me thinks blog fodder!

But I am not writing about meltdowns this evening. I’m going glass half-full tonight, instead of glass shattered-on-the-floor-with-orange-juice-on-the-rug (metaphorically, that is. No one broke a glass, no one had to be rushed to the hospital gushing blood).

1. Spicy almonds from Lebanese Roastery,which has an entire wall filled with what looks like small file cabinets. Each drawer contains different flavors of nuts: lemon pistachios, spicy pistachios, walnuts, weird black knobby things with Arabic names that I can’t read. The drawers are warmed, so that when you get your bag of nuts, they are fragrant, warm, crunchy.

2. I found a vegetable market within walking distance of my apartment! It’s not the Union Square Farmer’s Market, but the produce is relatively local (versus, for instance, the irony of going to one of the grocery stores around here and seeing that all the grapes were from California).  Also unlike Union Square, most of the guys working in the market are barefoot. Also? You can buy fresh coconut:

3. Delivery trucks with decorative paneling. Many of the white trucks that rattle around have detailing: cut-out tin hearts, flowers, butterflies. They make me smile.

4.  Bad translations. Probably I shouldn’t laugh at mis-translations (especially because at the rate I’m (not) learning Arabic, I will never even know how to say my own name in another language, much less translate anything).  But then again, I’m the mother who thinks her kids’ miseries will create blog content, so what the hell. Somebody’s bad English gave me a giggle:

5. Yoga on the beach. Actually, yoga on the beach is a BIG grace note. I confess that I’m not a true yogi: if I were, I would’ve been “on the mat” for our entire summer travels and for the weeks after we got here. I even went so far as to put yoga classes on  podcasts in my ipod but you know what? I got distracted, would do a little bit and then decide I needed to do something more important. Fold the laundry, check my email, eat cookies.  So when I found out that The Yoga Juice was starting up their evening yoga on the beach classes, I got myself there: in an open-sided pavilion facing the water, doing vinyasa during the long Arabian sunset. More than grace. Bliss.

Continue Reading · on October 16, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, exercise, expat, grace in small things, UAE, yoga

In a word: hats

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It’s also Lou Reed’s birthday. And, for that matter, Tom Wolfe’s birthday. (Thanks, Grace, for that last).  Somehow these guys all go together, don’t they? Word play, refusing to play by the rules, the dapper ensembles and occasional cross-dressing (at least in Lou’s youth).

I was thinking about Dr Seuss yesterday, actually, when I confronted my “to do” list for the day: bathroom cleaning, grocery shopping, dinner pondering.  Writing a blog post, working on my novel. Student papers read, lecture notes prepared. Emails about various volunteer projects at both boys’ schools. Yoga class.

When I type it out now, it doesn’t seem like that bad a list, right? But of course any of these things could conceivably take up the entire day, more or less–when “entire day” ends at 2:40, when boy #1 has to get picked up from school.

A long time ago, in the early childhood of this blog, I wrote a post about twinned patron saints of parenthood: Sisyphus and Wile E. Coyote.  When I look at my list from yesterday, what comes to mind is Bartholomew Cubbins and his five hundred hats.  Remember that story? How he was supposed to take his hat off in front of the king but every time he took off a hat, there was another one underneath?  That’s how I felt yesterday: wear the chef hat doing the shopping; then slap on the writer hat for a while and try to regain the momentum from last Tuesday; then toss the writer’s hat aside to put on the volunteer hat and figure out the auction project, the field trip chaperones, the yearbook; flip that hat across the room and put on the scullery maid hat to swab down the bathtub, the toilets, and the sinks, which are sort of en croute with toothpaste. (Is it wrong that I aspire to having someone else clean my bathrooms?)

All hats off, I consider the clock: is there time to dash across Union Square for a type-A yoga class, an hour of BE CALM RIGHT NOW? I figure I can make it, zoom into the class, GET CALM, zoom to pick up child #1, and then home.

I guess I should be grateful that I was channeling Bartholomew and his hats rather than the oobleck (although perhaps that is what’s crusted over on the bathroom sink).

How many hats do you wear?

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Continue Reading · on March 2, 2011 in Books, family, NaBloPoMo, Parenting

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