You may remember that last summer I made some bold, some might say snarky, statements about water bottles. I vaguely ridiculed Clean Canteens (er, Klean Kanteens) and extolled the virtues of plastic. Well, I’d like to, for the official record, take back what I said. That plastic bottle ended up kind of freaking me out. It’s impossible to clean and gets this weird musty smell pretty quickly. It’s bulky and, even though the top is relatively wide, I still managed to spill it on myself like 40% of the time (this might be a user issue). So, I caved. I shelled out the $18.99 for the silver fox pictured above. Apparently KK has made the mouths wider, which means my nose fits all the way in, and I’m hoping prevents constant spillage. I’ll let you know.
Being too busy to go to at least two yoga classes a week, nevermind four, is, frankly, starting to piss me off. The only solution in this immediate moment is a home practice. I got home from four hours of Family Dynamics class today and, as you might imagine, really needed some yoga.
One of the beautiful things about a home practice is you get to do all your favorite poses. I got to do parighasana and hanumanasana, but balancing poses? Pretty much skipped ’em altogether. I can hang in uttanasana with my palms under my feet for like five minutes and no one’s going to move me along. And let me tell you, when you have the sensation that your muscles and tendons and nerves and bones are all getting glumped together from lack of use (am I the only person this happens to?), nothing loosens things up like bharadvajasana (which is being demonstrated by Mr. Iyengar above). It’s a twist, it’s a bind, it’s a hip opener, it’s a bit of a heart opener, it’s a neck stretch. If you do it in half lotus, you can feel it work digestion. It’s magic.
The thing is, the postures really are magic. My teacher Dana Flynn calls them “sacred shapes,” which makes so much sense to me. I went on a glorious hike yesterday with a dear friend, and we got on the topic of spirituality. She asked how I experience it. The answer is parighasana. I mean, it’s “gate pose.” What better pose to help access higher levels of consciousness than one that’s named gate? There is something that happens moving through yoga poses that seems to automatically connect me to something larger than my own body and mind. The strands of energy that connect us to each other, those threads of spirit, vinyasa, come alive and I can tune into it, even if it’s just for a moment. Some poses have more power for me than others. (I could stay in trikonasana forever. Handstand? Not so much.) But when I’m paying attention, a relatively small number of postures, done in an intentional and mindful way that’s connected to movement of breath, bring me to another realm—closer to my true self and farther from my anxious, cluttered self. It’s humbling and expansive all at once. Magic.
Well, since I don’t have time to go to happy hours anymore and actually have a regular job now (see previous post), I figured I’d incorporate some regular restaurant commentary into the blog, since, good god, I still eat out a lot.
One my dearest dining friends made a reservation for us at Skool last week. It’s a fish restaurant. (Get it? Oh good, making sure.) The place is snuggled in what I think must be evolving into San Francisco’s design center (because it’s right next to, um, the San Francisco Design Center). Sort of between Potrero Hill and the Mission and SoMa, it’s the most stylish microhood in town. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? Does it have a name yet? It could be like the Design Ghetto or PoMiSo or something. Anyway, if you’re wandering around there, check out the windows of Coup D’Etat, an antiques store that reminded me of the lobby of the W Hotel in Santiago, Chile, which was the most fashion-forward interior I’ve ever seen (steam punk meets library geek chic meets mid-century modernism meets typewriters. Or something).
I digress. Back to the fish place. Skool, great big patio and a full bar. So maybe just go there on a nice day and order a cocktail. But maybe not one of the fancy cocktails on the list because they were, well, not that good. Mine had vodka and acai and some lemony-ish fruit thing that’s big in Japan, plus some kind of chile pepper, which all added up to a tart spicy alcohol bomb. Not delicious.
We ordered a variety of dishes and split them and I’m not even sure where to start about that because really one had nothing to do with the other. I was extremely excited for the uni flan—because I love uni. LOVE it—and yet, I would have been happier with just a pile of uni, on its own. Maybe with a little shiso and some rice. And then there were deep fried mushrooms. One might have expected a tempura batter, given the Japanese theme, but it was actually cornmeal. Odd. Oh! But the squid ink pasta in broth was absolutely exquisite. So, maybe go on a sunny day, sit on the patio, order a very simple cocktail, and get the squid ink pasta. Done.
This full-time psychology grad student just got herself a pretty swank part-time copywriting job at a very neat little start-up called DesignStory (this is where you go and sign up—it’s free—and then come back and read the rest of this post). It’s a great gig, with great people, doing creative work, 20-25 hours a week. So great. Plus, I’m in class nine hours a week. Sure, that’s no problem. Add, say, ten hours of homework (which is generous) and we’re looking at just one single full-time job’s worth of commitment. Right?
Wrong. Someone please explain this to me. Why is this adding up to so much more than that? Sure, you have to allow time for the necessary, uh, humanist-oriented psychology graduate school processing—which, between the group work and individual therapy, is taking up a fair amount of time (and positively blowing my mind). But still. I worked full time for years. Why is this different?
I know some of you work for yourselves or are students. Can you tell me? Can you tell me how to find time to do yoga?
AUX IN! For a grand total of $150 and a trip to the East Bay, my ’91 Accord (aka, “the Little Honda”) is now equipped with a stereo with an AUX in. “Aux in” is fun to say and it totally fucking rocks. Because from it I can plug in my iPhone or other digital music device and turn it up really loud and listen to the National or Beach House or the New Pornographers or the XX or…or…you get the idea. No longer restricted to FM radio, I don’t have to listen to that goddamn Black Keys song again. I don’t have to wonder if Social Distortion is anyone’s like absolute favorite band…and who is that person? My heart doesn’t have to skip a beat with joy once every three months because Spoon happens to come on KFOG.
The entire reason I bought an iPod back in, what? 2001?, was so I could stop recording CDs to cassette tapes to listen to in the car. That sounds archaic just saying it. But soon enough the tape deck broke. And, really, who fixes a tape deck? In a car worth about 1,000 bucks? So since 2003 I’ve had to be satisfied with good old crappy FM radio. But no more. I will now rock.
I believe this dilemma to be representative of our time—music technology turns over faster than cars do. I’ve had at least three people say to me, “oh, I want to do that.” And you can. For like 200 bucks and possibly a trip to the East Bay.
Part of being on break from school is I get to read some fiction. I’m about three-quarters of the way through this book, A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. She’s an incredibly talented writer. This might not be the peppiest quote, but given this weird recent news, the fact we’re deep in winter, and how bitingly brilliant it is, I thought I’d share it. It’s the first paragraph of the book and I reread it like 40 times. I also love the word “modicum.” And em dashes.
“The cold came late that fall and the songbirds were caught off guard. By the time the snow and wind began in earnest, too many had been suckered into staying, and instead of flying south, instead of having already flown south, they were huddled in people’s yards, their feathers puffed for some modicum of warmth. I was looking for a job. I was a student and needed babysitting work, and so I would walk from interview to interview in these attractive but wintry neighborhoods, the eerie multitudes of robins pecking at the frozen ground, dun-gray and stricken—though what bird in the best of circumstances does not look a little stricken—until at last, late in my search, at the end of a week, startlingly, the birds had disappeared. I did not want to think about what happened to them. Or rather, that is an expression—of politeness, a false promise of delicacy—for in fact I wondered about them all the time: imagining them dead, in stunning heaps in some killing cornfield outside of town, or dropped from the sky in twos and threes for miles down along the Illinois state line.”
Graduate school in psychology is not the same as working in a corporate office and any of us that have done both is well aware that. In fact, while the former can teach you much about the latter, they’re two utterly different worlds. Grateful for the full-time freelance gig between semesters, I’m also having difficulty navigating this in-between space. Three weeks into being downtown almost every day under florescent lights and I’ve practically forgotten to even think about unfinished Gestalts or transpersonal processing. And I have no doubt that come January 18, I’ll be again immersed in group dynamics and Jungian psychology and forget whether it’s a chaise lounge or a chaise longue.
I’m not the only one in this perpetual liminal state though—the whole company is. A year ago, when I quit, Design Within Reach had hit a bit of a rough patch. The building was half empty from lay-offs and boxes were packed in preparation for a move down the street. The detritus from a once-mighty modernist furniture retailer lay everywhere: computer monitors piled next to forgotten staplers atop desks with Tolomeo desk lamp parts and four Aeron chairs just pushed to the side. Fast forward a year and DWR has had a complete turn around—but in Connecticut. This is wonderful news, it’s a really a unique company that deserves its rightful place in the market. But we few folks left in the San Francisco office are back in the same space we were a year ago. Under blinding florescent lights, sitting in $1,000 task chairs, there’s, frankly, crap piled everywhere. Old computer equipment interspersed with, oddly, like five bright red Egg Chairs. Where did these Egg Chairs come from, I wonder. And where are they going? But we’re just sitting there, making catalogs, unconcerned with our personal myth or emotional focusing or existential psychotherapy. Just making catalogs, writing copy, discussing lunch options. Only one more week of this for me—great news for my hip flexors (sitting all day, even in fancy task chairs, takes its toll), middling news for my bank account.
I have a shiny gold manicure and my hair is still curlier than usual from my once-yearly experiments with a curling iron. I slept until 2pm today because at the age of 35, I can’t drink sparkling wine until 4am like I used to. I got a book by David Mitchell, a pink heart-shaped mylar balloon, decadent sushi dinner, and lip stuff that can only be found on the East Coast, all for my birthday. The newest and oldest of my San Francisco friends showed up for me on New Year’s Eve. And all this just happened in the last 48 hours.
A year ago this minute, I was in Chile with one of the aforementioned oldest San Francisco friends. Anticipating 2010, from that sunny clime where avocados were going 16 for a dollar, he declared it the year of the rebirth. Dramatic, yes. But so many people I know underwent so many changes this year, some incredibly heartbreaking and demoralizing, some revolutionary. I haven’t heard anyone declare 2011 yet. Got any ideas?
I’m not one for resolutions, but, inspired by another of my oldest friends in San Francisco and her return to blogdom, I decided to start updating my blog again. Stay tuned. And happy, happy new year.
And I don’t post nearly enough.
There’s been a lot of input lately and very little output. Two weeks into a semester that is totally rocking my psycho-spiritual inner landscape hasn’t left me with much time muse about things like how powerful it is to use “and” instead of “but,” and how that works in almost every situation. Or why new indie rock is so mediocre and why everyone should go see Crooked Fingers if he comes through your town (the answer there is: I am old). Or, speaking of which, when exactly I started being flattered that people often think I’m ten years younger than I am, whereas I used be tickled when they thought I was ten years older. Or why Burning Man creates a magical energy vortex and yet I still don’t really want to go back.
Maybe these topics—and more—will be addressed very soon so I hope you don’t abandon my funny little blog altogether. Thank you for reading.
What started off as a full-throttle month of new hobbies has turned into a complete disaster. Hobby-wise. I had a break before the fall semester started, combined with some compelling familial reasons to stay in San Francisco for the month, and this resulted in a flurry of ambitious goals. I was learning guitar! Buying a bicycle! Filling my home with gorgeous and lush house plants! And then there were the non-hobby goals: cleaning out the closet, reading John Bowlby and the Ramayana, meditating for a half hour every day. Blogging five days a week.
Classes start again tomorrow and literally none of the aforementioned items happened. Not a single one. I took one guitar lesson, practiced maybe four times. (It really hurt my finger. Like a lot.) Took the SF Bike Coalition bicycle safety class. It was awesome. But I still don’t own a bike. House plants? Well I managed not to kill the two I have. So there’s that.
For some reason I thought I’d be a different person in my 30s than I was in my 20s. All those “shoulds” would just happen automatically. Suddenly I’d turn into one of those people whose numerous and varied interests lead them to whip up elaborate dinners and effortlessly maintain healthy house plants. I thought I’d be biking around the city without sweating, reading world-renowned classics of the humanities for fun, growing my own produce (I’m still sorry about community garden plot, Erica). Turns out I’m still just as happy lying around my messy house doing the Times puzzle, eating avocado chunks with salt as I was back when I was constantly recovering (from an exhausting day job or too much fun on the weekend).
Eh, whatever. Between school, a couple big freelance jobs, and all this yoga, I won’t have time to think about this again for a while…