Sunday, November 22, 2009

Colleen Baranich: God's hacky sack

I stole that title from a line I once heard on the Drew Carey Show. So now I have given credit where it's due. In the interest of asteya (non-stealing), one of the many yamas my yoga teacher training is shedding light upon, I feel it necessary to give credit where it's due. Even if asteya was last week's yama.

This week's yama is brahmacarya, or chastity. Whoa. That's a big one, right? And there are some hardcore yogic texts out there that take it to mean what it means. Chastity. Totally and completely. Lucky for me, I am not being instructed by Pattabhi Jois. Beth and Lisa, my lovely and wonderful instructors, have decided that for our purposes it means not engaging in any interaction that is sexual in nature (now this can be anything from flirting to doing the deed) that is not mutually uplifting. Word. I am so down with that. And being as I am kind of operating under a universe-imposed brahmacarya anyways, I didn't think I'd have to give this one much thought. But I forgot that the universe will kick you when you're down just for the fuck of it. The universe can be a bitch like that. So. I was wrong.

Here's my brahmacarya situation. I met a dude at a snuggy pub crawl with whom I have been spending some time over the past couple of weeks. There's mutual flirtation and it's been mutually uplifting, and being that I'm spread thinner than parchment paper with all my other commitments right now, that has totally been enough for me at the moment. So. Check it. I had a reading coming up today at the Big Blue Marble. Pub Crawl Guy (as he will henceforth be known) lives in Philly and is into literature and such, so I shot him a text on Friday night and told him about the reading and asked him if he would like to go. I also said if he wasn't into it, it was totally cool. About ten minutes later I get a text back saying "of course I'll go!!!!!" and then another one asking if we could hang out before or after the reading. So this had me pretty stoked cuz it's not too often I find hot guys in my age bracket (yes, PCG is hot) who are into the same shit as I am.

Saturday morning rolls around, and I wake up sick as all hell and find that the cold with which I have been sparring all week has hit me where I live and absconded with my voice. This sucks an unheard of amount of ass for two reasons: 1) I have yoga teacher training all day on Saturdays, and it often involves talking and 2) I have the reading coming up at Big Blue Marble. But, as yoga has taught me, none of us are unique in our suffering, and I decide I am gonna solider through this. I go to yoga class and make it through teacher training, and all the wonderful souls in my teacher training class do not even give me dirty looks or try to inch their mats away when I am coughing my head off like I should have been in a TB ward. One of them is even kind enough to stay and help me clean up the 16 ounces of scalding hot tea I spill all over the Wawa check out counter during a break from class, instead of running away in embarassment because half the population of Collingswood is staring at me trying to use paper towels to sop up the dripping remnants of Lemon Lift from the impulse buy racks of candy and gum. Serves them right for putting that shit there to tempt people in the first place and props to Katie for not leaving me alone in that situation.

Fast forward to the end of my yoga training day and I'm feeling physically like hell but mentally and emotionally buoyed, and I get home and call PCG to finalize plans for the next day. I tell him I'm sick but still gonna make a go of it and that at this point it sounds worse than it is and he says my barely there voice sounds kinda sexy and I joke that I sound like Kathleen Turner. And when he doesn't laugh at that joke, I figure maybe the three years my junior that he is really are like dog years and he doesn't know who Kathleen Turner is. Oh well. Knowledge of Kathleen Turner is not a requirement to date me. And I am still feeling pretty stoked. Until I go into the bathroom mirror and see that my eyes are totally hangover bloodshot and oozing and I realize that I now have pink eye on top of the cold that has infiltrated my chest, cochlea, and sinus cavity and robbed me of my precious pipes. I go to sleep and wake up several times throughout the night due to either lack of adequate oxygen intake or unbearable eye burning or both.

When this morning rolls around, I decide to say eff you pink eye, and eff you sinus infection, and eff you what I think is now a left ear infection, and eff you green stuff that I am now coughing up, cuz I have a reading and plans with PCG, and I will not be defeated. I shower and make myself as presentable as I can possibly make myself without the option of a) wearing eye make-up and b) using a white marker to color in my eyes and make me look like I haven't been on a 10 day bender or a crazy crying jag or both. In the midst of all this, I realize that my usually corpse cold skin is weirdly hot yet I am shaking with the chills and upon taking my temperature, I realize I am now also running a low grade fever (which, because I am normally so corpse cold, consists of actually having a body temperature of 98.6). I consider for a moment calling the editor at Philadelphia Stories and PCG and just canceling the whole thing. But then I think, "Goddammit, if it weren't for the fact that I get called out on the mat every time I take a sick day at work, I would have been able to stay in bed on Friday and get the rest that I needed to fight this thing off, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let it ruin my weekend now." I decided to mount up and make the trek to Mt Airy. I figure my germs will not be a threat to PCG or the other peeps at the bookstore as long as I don't rub my eyes and touch anything.

I am halfway across the Tac-Pal Bridge and proud as hell of myself for taking my probable ebola virus like a champ when my phone rings. I dig it out of my purse and see that it is PCG. I figure he needs directions. When I pick up, he asks if I am on my way and I say that I am and then he says, "Would you hate me forever if I backed out?" Those are nine little words that no self respecting sick, single girl who just dragged her sick, single ass out of bed to fulfill a commitment cares to hear. But I keep an open mind and tell him it depends on the reason, to which I receive this reply, "I was drinking with my buddies last night and we ended up tailgating, and I didn't get in until almost four in the morning, and I just wouldn't be much fun." Fail.

There was a time when I was so self destructive and self hating that I would have let him off the hook. There was a time when I would have made excuses for him and accepted his offer to come and see me read in New Jersey next week instead. There was a time. That time is not now. Now, I know about brahmacarya, and I know that this relationship -- using the term loosely -- just became not uplifting for me. So here I am on the bridge and bleary eyed and spiking a fever and I tell PCG that had I known he was gonna bail, perhaps I wouldn't have dragged my sick ass out to fulfill my obligation of meeting up with him. To which he replied that if I sounded terrible and maybe it was for the best, at which point I told him that maybe more than 20 minutes notice to cancel plans he's known about for two days would have been nice. My tone was icy. My demeanor was impenetrable. And I am sure that when I told him I was going to get off the phone because I was driving, he knew he fucked up. Whether he cared or not is something I can't know, but he knew he fucked up.

That scenario marks PCG's exit from the stage of my life. It's not like we were hot and heavy and shopping for china patterns, but I figure when a grown dude can't give me the courtesy of being responsible enough not to get shit faced with his buddies and blow off plans with me because of the resultant hangover, it's time to kick him to the curb. I'm proud that I love myself enough to do that.

Here's the part I'm not so proud of: I am still hurt. In fact, I was so hurt, that I pulled into the Rite Aid parking lot and cried for ten minutes. Here's what a lot of people don't realize: it's not too easy to be single, and take care of yourself, and be the one responsible for everything, and be sick, and be fairly sure the infection in your left ear is now affecting your ability to hear out of it, and look like a leper secondary to oozing eyeballs, and be fairly certain you can actually hear your polycystic ovaries dying at night, and be stood up. It is a bit much. Enough, in fact, to make you forget everything you are learning in yoga teacher training about everyone being united in their experiences of sukha and duhkha and start to think that you really are just fucking alone.

The truth is, no matter how independent we are and no matter how self-sufficient we are, I think deep down, there is no one who doesn't ultimately want someone to look into their eyes and tell them that they are worth caring about. That they are worth sacrifice. That they are loved. Even if those eyes happen to look like this:

Brahmacarya is a hell of a lot easier to abide by when you aren't dealing with the hell that is being single in America in the new millenium.
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor-Ma Amritam Gamaya
(Lead me from the unreal to the Real
From darkness to Light
From mortality to Immortality)
Oozing brahmacarya (among other more unpleasant things),

Sunday, November 8, 2009

checking in with 33Y

It's been awhile since I posted. The running, sorry to say, has fallen by the wayside. I think my body is not built for it. Maybe it's the fibromyalgia -- not sure -- but it was causing me some pretty significant pain -- and not the good kind. I can run for a long time on a treadmill, but the pavement is not a friend to my joints. But at least it got me conscious of the fact that I need to do more cardio.

So I haven't blogged in awhile partly because I've been pretty busy with yoga teacher training at Yogawood in Collingswood, NJ. (Yogawood RULES, by the way, and they have a second location coming in Riverton, NJ, which is oh-so-close to me! Check it out: Obtaining my yoga instructor certification was one of the things on my 33Y list, so I got to thinking that now might be a good time to check in with progress, especially considering that we are only four months from my 32nd birthday (gulp). Without further ado, I give you 33Y: Progress Thus Far:

1) I will write every day, for at least a half an hour. Wow, how much I have NOT been doing this?????????? I don't know why, having been published a few times now, I still will not give myself license to devote time to this. I need to work harder!

2) I will submit work for publication at least 1-2x per month. Partial progress has been made here. I have submitted work. But not at the rate that I said I wanted to. Have to work harder at this one, too.

3) I will sleep in my bed instead of falling asleep on the sofa with the television on. FAIL. What is my aversion to sleeping in my bed?????????? I think it has to do with that lonely feeling of going to bed alone night after night. I need to get past that. My bed is seriously the most comfortable bed on the planet! And I'd probably be less crabby if I actually got a good night's sleep.

4) I will turn the television OFF. This I actually have accomplished. I've been pretty good about not turning on the television unless there is something on that I specifically want to watch. I could be even better about it, but it's a process. Music is definitely a better option for background noise. For sure.

5) I will earn my yoga instructor's certification. In progress. Hopefully to be completed by May. :-)

6) I will move to (or at least begin the process of moving to) a place with culture (i.e. I will no longer be a constant slave to my car, and I will be able to do things OUTSIDE instead of being stuck in my balcony-less apartment that overlooks a parking lot, and I will be surrounded by more than strip malls and divided highways, which I am convinced are polluting my soul.) I have been investigating places of interest. Northern Liberties ranks pretty high. I've also been going through drawers and closets and getting rid of as much stuff as possible so that a potential move will be less stressful. Of course, this new Yogawood opening near my place is making me reconsider wanting to move to the city. I need to pay close attention to what the universe is trying to tell me here.

7) I will organize my life and become more disciplined.
a) I will pay bills on time. With the exception of the Comcast bill, I have been doing this. And let's face it. Comcast sucks. It has to be said.
b) I will put shit away. Things have been finding their proper places with more promptness than usual around my place. Weeding out unused, un-needed "stuff" will help to further accomplish this goal. There is still a ton of stuff that doesn't have a "place."
c) I will stop letting laundry pile up. I have seen the bottom of my hamper on more than one occasion. :-)
d) I will exercise at least 4x per week, with at least 2 of those times being yoga. Well, the yoga part has been accomplished. Still need to get more cardio.
e) I will meditate every day, preferably twice a day. I have been SHAMEFULLY lax in even ATTEMPTING this! Why are human beings so reluctant to be still?

8) I will allow myself to be human, i.e. I will no longer mentally kick the shit out of myself for every mistake that I make, but instead understand that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn. I'm working on it. Ahimsa. That is a yoga concept that embodies this goal. There will probably be more on ahimsa in upcoming posts.

9) I will stop holding on to useless anger. Wow. How difficult is THIS? What am I afraid will happen if I allow myself to not be angry anymore?

10) I will be the change I want to see in the world. You know, yesterday morning I woke up freshly back from a fabulous vacation only to find that my car wouldn't start, which was going to make me late for yoga teacher training and a class that I couldn't make up. I'm not gonna lie. I got frustrated and annoyed and I definitely had that "why me" attitude for a bit. But after making some calls and summoning AAA (which is probably the best thing EVER..."Sooner or later, you'll break down and call Triple A"), I took stock of what I had. I had a dead car battery, which AAA was able to change for me on the spot so I could avoid a tow. I had my friend Sharon, who offered me use of her car for the day (which made me want to add "learn to drive stick" to my 33Y list). I had my friend Kiersten who offered to come over to NJ to drive me to teacher training. I had my parents' friends Jim and Mary who recommended a good local mechanic should I need it. I had my dad who called the STS near me to find out if they had weekend hours. I even had an ex-boyfriend who texted me options for places to take my car if I needed a tow. And I had a new friend at Yogawood who lives near me and offered to pick me up if that ever happened again.

Pre 33Y, I would have chosen to see that car not starting obstacle as a chance to dwell on all the negatives: having to pay money I don't have for a new battery, not having a husband or boyfriend to depend on, being late for class...we can always find a way to make things negative, can't we? I choose now to view it as a opportunity to have my eyes opened to all the blessings I take for granted every day, because here's the goods: we are not special. Yoga teacher training has taught me that we are all one, and that our experiences are everyone's experiences. My car not starting doesn't make me special. It doesn't make me singled out by the universe. My sucky morning is everyone's sucky morning. And if we choose to stop identify with our small individual selves and instead accept ourselves as part of one great Self, the suffering (the duhkha) becomes no greater than the happiness (the sukha), because they are one and the same. They both eventually end, and we are left with nothing but the Self.

Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
Shan'ti Shan'ti Shan'ti

(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may our thoughts, words, and actions somehow contribute to that happiness and freedom. Peace, peace, perfect peace.)

(Not me, you.)