Archive | August, 2015

Learning To Love Yoga

13 Aug

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I first signed up for a beginner’s yoga course about seven years ago.  I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when it was, but I can’t.  I know I was living in South Jordan, Utah and going to Lifetime Fitness.  I know I paid for a yoga starter pack.

The beginning yoga classes didn’t do much for me.  I don’t know if it was the instructors or the pace, or if I just wasn’t ready for yoga, but I got so antsy in class.  Breathing and relaxing and holding poses stressed me out.  If I was working out I wanted to be WORKING OUT.

And so I quit.

I did a class here and there over the years, one particularly painful hour next to a professional dancer friend, and every time I finished I concluded again: yoga is not for me.

I am not for yoga.

Early this year I decided to try out all of the group fitness classes at Pepperdine.  It happened naturally, my desire to be more active, and I’ve let myself approach this new lifestyle slowly and with lots of queso.  I’m never giving up queso.

I tried each class–a pilates class, a nightmare of a cardio kickboxing hour.  I attempted zumba, something I will never, ever do again in my life. I went to a half-baked barre class. None of these spoke to me.  None of these meant anything.

And then I went to yoga.

I was finally ready for yoga this year.  I was finally ready to be calm and to learn how to breathe.

I am a naturally very manic person.  I have a billion thoughts going at all times, a lot of energy and a lot of worry. I have a friend with a similar tempermanent and she has found her exercise home in fighting classes.  As I type this I realize I don’t even know what type of exercise she’s doing other than she’s bruised when she’s done and she physically fights other humans.

This is her outlet.  She can channel her anger and her energy into something intense.

I have found I need the opposite.  I need to channel my anger and my energy into something calming.

I need to learn how to breathe and breathe and breathe again.

I forget to breathe a lot in yoga.  It’s interesting that that’s a skill we learn.  Everyone breathes, it’s how we stay alive, but the idea of a structured, practiced breathing has changed a lot of things for me.  There’s a metaphor in there, somewhere.  About how you can get through life without practicing it, but it’s better when you do, when you’re present and active.

I forget to breathe in yoga and I continually remind myself.

I’m not that good.  At anything, really.

I’ve only been doing yoga consistently for about 8 months.  Headstands are terrible.  Every time we do a balancing pose I fall, seconds in.  Half moons are a no.  But I improve every week.

My heels don’t touch the ground on downward dog, but I improve every week.

There are girls in my yoga classes that started as dancers. They don’t even have to tell us, we just know.  The teacher helps them when they are hyper-stretching.  Then the teacher reminds us not to look at our neighbor, but to look at ourselves.

I like that with yoga too.  I am no dancer. My mother tells the story of my short-lived dancing career and how for the first time she saw her little girl do something athletic and…well…suck at it.  I’m a terrible dancer.  My dancing neighbors, ones who have never even attempted yoga before, all slide into poses much easier than my trying-for-eight-months body.

And yet it’s not about my neighbors.  It’s about me.

When I take naps, my goal is always to get to sleep.  I don’t take 4 hour naps, I take 15 minute naps.  The act of falling asleep, of allowing myself to relax enough to reach a state where I release that tension, that’s all I need.  My roommate jokes I sleep for minutes, wake up and say, “I legitimately fell asleep!” all happy like.  But it’s true.  I need help learning how to relax.

Yoga is about that.

It’s about learning to breathe, about relaxing, about calming myself.

I wasn’t ready for that seven years ago.  I was right in the middle of my most impatient, manic time.  I’m still impatient and still manic, but now I’m ready to combat it a little.  I’m ready to try, for a few hours a week, to learn how to calm myself.

I’m ready for yoga.

I Miss Pepperdine

10 Aug

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I miss Pepperdine something fierce.  Something right in the gut that creeps out and punches me every once in a while just because it knows that it hurts.  It knows where the bruise is.

I miss Pepperdine even though at this very moment I’m sitting in the Pepperdine library typing away.

I love Pepperdine.  Much like I love Malibu and I love Caitlin, I love Pepperdine because it came to me at a time when I felt particularly low, a time when I needed it most.

I love this library I’m sitting in.  I love the hot chocolate machine that I can never get to work.  I love the cubicles, with wood and scattered plugs you have to search for.  I love to write here, knowing that I am protected from noise and other people, but I can also see the ocean if I turn my head just so.

I love the shelves and shelves of books.  I keep collecting books for my future library, against all principles of zen and the art of tidying up and I’m OK with that.

Pepperdine is OK with that too.

I’m assuming.

I miss Pepperdine in the fall, with all the new freshmen and all the new energy.  I miss being a TA with my best friends, spending the afternoon in a booked study room wasting our time, talking dreams.

I miss Katie showing up late with a gold parking token, Starbucks in hand.

I miss the Chipotle runs, the Duke’s runs.

I miss getting snickerdoodles and oatmeal chocolate cookies from Malibu Kitchen during break.

I miss the pointless lectures and the group chats.  I miss that feeling that we are right in the thick of it, that we need to sign up for that writing conference Right Now!

I miss writing.

I still write, obviously.  In some ways more than I did then.  But I miss writing for an audience.  The anxiety before your work is read in class.  The thrill of watching yourself improve, of getting caught up in a story.

I miss playing pretend for four hours a night and calling it school.

I miss class.  I miss tea breaks from class.

I miss the popcorn trees in spring and the ever-changing rock.

I miss the pasta bar and chocolate milk machine.

I miss, I miss, I miss.

I finished my coursework in two years, the quickest you could do so in my program.  That was silly, looking back on it.  That was silly, but I was eager to make money and get in the workforce.  I don’t remember why, exactly.   Student loans, I think.

That extra year, the third year, was the year people really started to improve.  People found their voices and niche and ideas.

I have two great sitcom ideas, so so much better than the sitcom idea I pitched last year.

And here I am.

I didn’t have a good undergrad experience.  One day, if I choose to write about it, it will be like the book of Job–calamity after freaking calamity, this time with no moral at the end.

I’ve often wondered about this.  Had I gone to a different school would things have been different?  What about a liberal arts college back East studying creative writing?  What about an all-women’s college?

What if I had applied to schools abroad?

The conclusion is always the same: I can’t change it now.  I made the decisions I made when I made them for a reason.  I was 17.  I wanted to be near friends and family.

But further, I was 17 and had to pay for college.

I made the decisions I made for a reason.

I am here now for a reason.

Not for a reason like “Everything happens for a reason,” but for a reason like “I actively made these choices.”

Pepperdine got to be the college experience I never had.  Not in the traditional sense, maybe, because my version of college has never included many of the traditional college things.

Pepperdine got to be a place I could pursue the thing I love most, with my best friends around me.

I never made any friends in undergrad.  Well, one.  (Hi Laura again!)  I felt like I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing.

Here I am today and my best friends are all people I met in this program.  The boy I love is someone from this program.

I miss Pepperdine.

I’ll always have it, of course.  I’ll always have Pepperdine.  The memories, but also the present.

I still come to campus often.  I run on the track.  I go to yoga twice a week.

I swim in the pool.  I buy those overpriced gluten-free chocolate animal cookies from the shop. I check for eggplant soup in the cafeteria more than I care to admit.

I miss it and I have it and it’s fleeting.

There’s a thing when you’re in a moment that you don’t fully grasp it.  I remember when Caitlin and I stopped being roommates there was this feeling–that was it.  That little patch of time where our lives intertwined perfectly with Grey’s Anatomy reruns and Rice Krispie treats, that time was gone.

We talked halfheartedly of being roommates again post college, maybe in San Francisco, but I think we both knew it was over.  That time came and was wonderful and it would never happen again.

We are different now, Cait and I, from when we started Pepperdine.  We grew up.  Together and separately.

I am different now, from when I started Pepperdine.

I grew up.

I miss it like mad.

Back On The Cape

5 Aug

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I’m sitting in a big, white fluffy bed on the top floor of Rob’s Cape house.  I am tempted to call it the attic, but I don’t think that’s accurate.  It’s a floor–small, with slanted ceilings, big closets and Cape appropriate wallpaper.  It’s perfect.

I’ve loved Rob’s Cape home from the moment I stepped foot in it, two summers ago.  His mother has outfitted it perfectly.  Lots of whites and cool blues, everything cozy and oversized, shells and heart-shaped rocks, a clock showing the tide.

The tide is so important here.  There are clocks and charts.  We planned the dates we came based on when the tide would be in and at what times.  The tide, you see, determines how warm the bay is. And how warm the bay is determines most everything.

I had a lobster roll for dinner.  Clam chowder and sushi for lunch and a lobster roll and onion straws for dinner and I’m not feeling well.  Rob told me I needed to drink more water, because in my pain I was asking a lot of quesitons about America’s Got Talent and he was not interested in answering them.

He doesn’t know the answers.

I don’t like lobster.  I want to like lobster.  Being really into lobster rolls seems like the type of thing I could get really into, but alas.  It’s like oysters.  You outfit those things up with lemon and sauces and they can taste OK but you can’t get rid of the texture.

Seafood is mild tasting and has odd textures.  I want my food spicy and dynamic and SOMETHING.

This I accept about myself amen.

There are bugs here.  They seem to love me.  Rob is walking around, limping from bug bites and I haven’t had a single bite.  Is it possible I’m not allergic to their bites?  Is this a thing?

Speaking of design, Rob’s mom put up patriotic decorations on the way to their beach. Aren’t they dreamy?

Today we went to a stationary store.  I bought three packs of thank you cards and one pearly white journal that just really stood out.  As I bought it, the store owner informed me that it was a wedding book.  That explains the hefty price tag.  And the beading.

I shall use it for my non-important thoughts, I shall.

I love that about the Cape.  There are stores devoted simply to stationery.  How can this be?  I wonder.  How can they stay afloat financially?  And yet they do.

Stationery and art galleries.  Ice cream shop after ice cream shop.

Independent bookstores!  They live on here as they should live on everywhere.  We went to one where the books are piled like  a labrinyth, where the checkout counter has bins of penny candy, where the store owner comes through and says, “I’m sorry, have you seen our cat?”

All good bookshops should have a lost cat and bins of penny candy.  All good bookshops should feel cozy.  Get away pristine bookshops where I don’t want to touch the books.  Get far, far away.

Wellfleet, MA is my dream place.  It’s the coziest town, a mix between Capeside and Stars Hollow.  The houses are all like this.

They don’t make houses like that outside of New England.

I don’t think.

The hydrangeas are thick and puffy, the daisies overgrown.  You ocan walk everywhere and maybe one day I can learn to like oysters because the oysters there are famous.  Also there’s a protest corner.

Rob’s grandma bought me Truman Capote’s short stories at the Wellfleet bookstore.  Capote was a character.  I don’t want to talk about Nelle right now.

I do want to talk about the vintage croquet set that’s haunting my dreams from the flea market.

And the flea market.

And the fact that the flea market is held at the drive-in movie theater, because of course Wellfleet would have a drive-in movie theater.

Of course.

Tomorrow I’m going to go to the store and buy baby carrots.  That’s what I need.  Carrots.  I think they are missing from my diet.

I love it here.

That’s all.

Amen.

The Prestigious Job

3 Aug

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It was karaoke night, a very promising start to any story.

Hilary and I were just warming up, wanting to choose easy songs to get ourselves in the groove.  “What about ‘Dear Marie?’” I said.

“Yes!” she said.  “We could sing that in our sleep.”

We sat back as the opening chords of John Mayer at his most angsty began to play.

Dear Marie, we sang.

Tell me what it was I used to be.

My voice caught in my throat.

Oh dear Marie, I began again.

Tell me what it was I used to be.

And if you’re further up the road can you show me what I still can’t see?

The lump grew.

Remember me?

Hilary’s voice cracked.

I’m the boy you used to love when you were 15

I squeaked.

Soon we were both in tears, half crying half laughing as we stumbled through the song.

“I don’t know what to do,” my friend said as Hilary and I clutched each other for support.

There wasn’t much to do, really.  Just let us get it out.

Last summer Hilary and I were both working Very Bad Jobs.  The kind of jobs that suck your soul out one useless hour at a time.  The kind of jobs that mean you spend $27 at lunch every day just because you know of no other way to make yourself happy than to eat an expensive, sit-down meal midday to numb some of the pain.

The kind of jobs that require a phone charger at work, because by 10:00 AM you’ve already sent 455 hopeless text messages into the void.

Those kind of Very Bad Jobs.

During this time, Hilary and I listened to a lot of music.  We sent each other songs that we were really feeling, songs that we thought the other might like.  Together we built a very sad, very emotional Very Bad Job playlist.

Dear Marie was the number one song on this list.

I listened to it over and over every day, tears streaming down my face in my cubicle.

I listened to it in the cafeteria where I ate soup in record breaking temperatures, tears streaming down my face at my table.

From time to time I’ll go looking for your photograph online

From time to time I’ll go looking for your photograph online

But some county judge in Ohio is all I ever find

Hilary once said “Dear Marie” is made of the stuff of her teenage diary, the kind of words you inform your sister to burn upon your death.  The kind of secrets you don’t want the world to know.

It’s an emotional song.

Hilary and I didn’t collapse in karaoke due to its lyrics, though.  We collapsed because those words, those faint guitar chords, they brought us back to last summer.

Back to our Very Bad Jobs.

I’ve been thinking about Very Bad Jobs lately.

One of my friends is in the midst of her own Very Bad Job complete with loss of free time, decline of emotional and physical health and the feeling of desperation/crying at every corner.

I get it.

This job was supposed to be a dream for her, supposed to be the start down a prestigious career path.  It’s the sort of job that sounds really good to other people, especially parents.

She is utterly miserable.

My Very Bad Job took place at a Very Good Company.  A very prestigious company, the sort of job that if you had told me in high school, “In your 20s you work in Downtown LA for X Company as a writer,” well I would have died.  I would have known all my dreams had come true.

The reality of these dreams, though, was fairly awful.  Further, the awfulness wasn’t getting me anywhere I wanted to go–professionally or personally.

No amount of prestige could make up for that.

This year I am a nanny.  To say this isn’t a prestigious job doesn’t really do it justice. When people find out I nanny there are all sorts of condescending responses, especially when they find out I have a master’s degree.

And yet.

I am so much happier this year than I was last year.

And yet.

Maybe it doesn’t come down to the job.

My friend’s high school classmate just landed a Very Cool Job at a Very Cool Company in San Francisco and my friend had a moment of panic.  ”What am I doing with my life?” she asked me.

I reminded her that she was eating two types of queso for dinner with me, because that was true.  That’s what we had done that night.  I reminded her that she was pursuing something she loved.  I reminded her of how a job doesn’t say all that much about a person’s life or happiness or state of being.

My life sounded very cool as a social worker in London and I watched every available season of The Bachelor in the span of a week.

My job sounded very cool as a copywriter in LA and I cried every day I came home from work.

I currently wash dishes for a living and I smile a lot.

Maybe it’s not about the job.