Monday, August 01, 2005

Well, I've taken some ibuprofen and some decongestant, sat in the sauna and the hot tubs for awhile and eaten some breakfast. This is the best I'm going feel all day, so I figured I should get a post out while I can. I have some sort of flu, with a drippy nose, sore throat and achy muscles. Actually, I seem to be moving through stages fairly quickly and the sore throat is gone.

Last week Jeff's mom and dad and his oldest niece were in town. It was nice to have people from home and I've always loved Phyllis and Dave. I did have one minor little freak-out on Thursday morning. Phyllis had invited me over to their cabin for lunch and then out to throw a pot with her and Jessica at one of the local pottery places. Phyllis was fantastic about inviting me to join them for everything. In her shoes, I might get tired of sharing my time with my son with "the girlfriend" even if I had known her almost from birth. Not Phyllis, though. She's obviously much nicer and more generous than I am. It made me feel really good. However, I think it was hard for me because seeing the Ludwigs made me think a lot about home and my own parents. When she asked me over for sandwiches with Jeff, I couldn't stand the thought of eating someone else's mom's sandwiches. You know how your own mom's sandwiches have a particular palette of tastes because of the brands and types of condiments that she uses and the technique with which she spreads the condiments and the type of bread and meat that she prefers? Phyllis's sandwiches are very good (she was a Home Ec teacher, after all) but I just knew they wouldn't be like my mom's sandwiches and that was too much for me. I miss my family. So, I freaked out for a little while but once I recognized the issue, I asked Jeff to gracefully decline for me and spent the day by myself making paper bowls, wrapping quotes and baking cookies for the BBQ that night. The rhythm of baking always soothes me. Plus, I get to taste throughout and nothing is as good for the soul as butter and sugar.

Yesterday, I had a crappy day. However, as I looked back on it, I felt positive because it was a normal crappy day that anyone would have. It had nothing to do with any of my transitional life issues. Woohoo!

The day started with a crappy yoga class. My normal teacher, Sarah, wasn't there and a silver-haired, white lady in her mid-50's was there instead. Now, Sarah's a silver-haired, white lady in her mid-40's so the difference wasn't so huge, but the lady yesterday was named Sukima and there's just no way that she was named that at birth and the fact that she changed her name at some point to something so goofy is representative of her outlook on life and that outlook bugged me.

Sukima was like a cross between a kindergarten teacher and Tom Jones. She talked in baby talk, spoke out loud what we should be thinking as we shifted our bodies around, (Now tuck your pelvis in, Oooh, interesting!) and made huge, exaggerated facial expressions. That was the kindergarten part. The Tom Jones part was that nearly every instruction or just general sentence was follwed by an ecstatic noise that generated from deep in her diaphragm. Listen to a live Tom Jones album and you'll hear exactly what I mean. Then, transpose it to a high register and add a baby-talk accent and you'll know what I was living through for an hour and a half. The fact that she spoke with the same British accent as TJ didn't make things any easier.

These weird personality quirks wouldn't necessarily be enough to put me off the class, though, probably. I've had some odd odd teachers that were still worth listening to because they were so knowledgable and passionate about their subjects. Ask me about Gordon Horwitz sometime as an example. But I quickly began to resent Sukima because wasn't clear enough with her instructions. She had begun the class by asking everyone to go around in a circle and introduce themselves and to give a summary of their injuries. We were to be rubbing our feet in self-massage to take the edge off of hearing the gruesome stories. She did not, however, ask us how much experience we had with yoga. Most teachers that I've had get both those bits of information by speaking with people privately and somewhat clinically while everyone is milling around before class. No, we started with a group therapy session. On the whole, we spent the class being very gentle with ourselves.

However, my desire to learn was willing to overlook all this to have a new experience. I know that my desire to learn was present in full form because I quickly got frustrated because she either assumed a lot of previous knowledge or she didn't care how exact we were with our poses. She would name the pose (cobra, downward dog, mountain) but would give only the basics of how to get into that pose. She never circulated in the room to correct stances or to challenge us to go deeper into a pose. So, I would end up substituing poses that I did know that were close to what she was describing but I was constantly feeling that because I wasn't doing whatt she intended, I wasn't getting the most out of the class. She is a teacher, after all. She must have some reason for instructing those particular things. It's very hard to lose oneself in concentration, when one is always trying to figure out what is going on. It's a little like going to a new church and being unable to worship because you have to figure out which book to find the liturgy in or when you're supposed to stand up, sit down or kneel.

The most interesting thing about this annoying experience was that I did find myself arguing internally to keep my mind open through the class. I have this nagging sense that every experience is worthwhile because everyone has something to teach. So I spent a lot of time not concentrating on my breathing but trying to figure out what I was supposed to learn. I kept explaining to myself that I was just sullen because I had been expecting Sarah and the fantastic experience I have in her class once a week. The antagonistic outlook that I had toward Sukima was probably generated from my disappointment. I was maybe holding a grudge that Sukima wasn't Sarah. Let's face it, Tom Jones teaching yoga to a class kindergarteners (It's not a tumor! Oooh!) could be pretty funny as an outside observer.

In additional to trying to keep myself open to what I could learn, I also found myself trying to challenge myself to go deeper into the poses and fix the things myself that my teacher usually directs me to fix, like planting the entire palms of my hands and pulling my hips back in downward dog. It's a little like learning to edit your own rough drafts. It's easy to be lazy and let someone else find your mistakes, but once you start finding them yourself, you actually learn not to make them in the first place. My favorite literary character, Alanna, disguised herself as a boy to learn to be a knight and I always remember that she would be embarassed when a new teacher would catch her forgetting to do something she already knew how to do, like keeping her stomach tight in combat training. So, I tried to be like Alanna and push myself.

Still, I left class pretty unsatisfied. We had done quite a lot of self-massage and not a lot of stretching. She went on and on about this gift of the flying eagle that she gave to us and how exhilirating it was as a pose, but it hadn't done anything for me. She ended the session with an invitation that if anyone would like to stay and talk about what they'd experienced, heard, felt or SAW, she'd be happy to stay. Blech. However, she also ended by saying, "Namaste," and as I replied, "Namaste" by rote, I had to grudgingly remind myself that there is, in fact, divinity in Sukima to be recognized and honored, just like there is divinity in me that seeks to be recognized and honored. That being said, though, I booked a hasty retreat when my fellow classmembers began to sigh about how relaxed they felt. Of course they felt relaxed, they hadn't really done anything!

So, the day got worse from there. As I was driving back into town, the car in front of me (who had to have known I was behind him because I had been there so long) stopped in front of a driveway that was located just beyond a hairpin downhill curve, so that I had to slam on the brakes and stopped within inches since I couldn't have known that he was slowing down to stop. Why didn't he just pull inot the driveway to let the town drunk out?

I had to work at the Exchange to cover for a girl on vacation and Sundays always suck because there are just too many people trying to unload their stuff before we're closed for the next two days. It was all grumpy, old bachelors working and all of the drop-offs were clothes, so they sat and leaned against the counter while I sorted and hung clothes because they refuse to do that kind of work. I was starting to feel sick at that point, but had to drive back out to Doe Bay to work a shift. Even though I was told I could leave early, the other girl working is not at all good at waiting tables, so I had to stay an extra hour or everything would have fallen down around her ears.

So, pretty much a martyr day but a normal-person martyr day, which feels good, even if I don't.

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