Friday, April 27, 2007

so God walks into a bar

The Bikram organization has its own sort of active trinity.
Bikram is the brains.
Rajashree, his wife, is the heart.
Emmy Cleaves, their principal teacher, the soul and the conscience.

I can’t imagine this place in the absence of any one of these people and their elements.
It would be incomplete, it would crumble into itself…every one of them sustains, validates, and sometimes excuses the other of them.

Emmy arrived this week and I won’t try to say anything original about her because its all been said. An 81 year old yogi, she’s spellbinding and as fully evolved and preserved a person as I have ever met. I should probably value , primarily, her knowledge and information…she brings an abundance of each of those things…but, oddly, what I most appreciate from her is how she allows us to feel about him, Bikram. In moments where we seriously question his perspective, his intention, and (I have to admit) his sanity…we can see her (in either our literal or figurative periphery) appreciating him and accepting him… and we can trust him by proxy. Through her, we can trust him. She's a bridge, carrying us over the gaps in our collective faith.

And her esteem of the guy is as real as it is unsentimental. She contradicts any number of his opinions, and she doesn’t dilute her own ideas against the backdrop of his. They go head to head sometimes. She even sits by as he launches into yet another celebrity related saga or grandiose proclamation with a slightly detectable “oh we go again…” look on her face. Like the wife who’s heard all the stories five hundred times. And she knows the fish gets slightly bigger each time the tale is retold.

But here’s the thing:
Simply put, she deeply loves and respects him. And simply put, he deeply loves and respects her.
To sit in the presence of such unwavering mutual affection and mutual dignity is a wonderful place to be.
Its a place you hope to inhabit someday yourself...with someone you don't have to agree with to agree with.

She will mention who he was when she met him, decades ago—which, by all accounts, was a very different incarnation than the man we now know. Very modest, very traditional, very…well, Indian. And she will tell you that, from time to time, she still sees that in him. She still sees strains of his youthful purity, virtually undetectable to the naked eye. She sees it beneath the ostentatious gold watch, the shiny gangster outfits, the microphone permanently attached to his mouth.
And maybe its an optical illusion—maybe it’s the mind playing tricks on us--but when she says she sees it, you’re sure you saw it too. Even if just for a minute. You’re certain you saw it too.

This week was the start of anatomy class. I’m in fervent prayer that Dr. Frank Trapani taught every other teacher I know because I desperately need to compare notes when I get back to New York.

Dr.T, as we call him, is a chiropractor and holistic/medical junkie. He’s on a bunch of professional boards, he’s written a few books, and he teaches weekly bible study classes. Much like I had no choice but to love Shelly for once being a street cart vendor in Brooklyn, I have no choice but to unconditionally love Frank Trapani for teaching weekly bible study classes.
He had me at hello…..

We have Dr.T two hours a day and the schedule goes a bit like this:

12:00-12:10—jokes. ( Dr. T likes to open with a bit of comedy. His jokes are archaic, corny, and best suited to church socials or variety shows performed at assisted living facilities. For we, the students, it can be difficult to transition from “funny according to Bikram” to “funny according to Frank Trapani”…Bikram-joke’s tend to start with “so, this woman gets raped, right? You follow me? you know rape? Like she get screwed! The boom boom!…”
Whereas Frank’s jokes are more of the, “so a guy says to God….” variety. One gets moral whiplash going back and forth between the two.

12:10-12:35—basic anatomy and physiology lecture.

12:35-40—one or two more jokes. Clean family jokes. He transitions without pause, ending one sentence with “the nerve innervates at the tibial shaft” and starting the next sentence with “so this guy finds himself in heaven…”
Some of his jokes seem slightly anti-Semitic, but I don’t think Dr. T gets it.
I don’t think Dr. T gets a lot of things. Like say, how to pronounce “erector spinae” or “pubis bones” (which he insists on calling the “pubes”. This makes me insane. Everyone knows the term “pubes” refers to hairs, not bones.)

12:40-1:30—more anatomy. More strange pronunciations.

!:30-2:00—the best part. Hands down. At exactly half past the hour of one, Dr. T embarks on the most alarmist, paranoid speeches I have ever heard about nutrition, Western diets, and how our government is essentially performing assisted suicide on all of us. At least twice this week, he has mournfully broken to us the bad news that about 65% of us are already lost causes…half way in our graves…poisoned by FDA approved toxins and hideous bacterias that will land us six feet under any day now. Really. Any day now. I think he’s slightly surprised none of us keeled off during the time it took him to tell us that. We’re dead men walking, almost all of us. Inevitably, some sad soul will raise their quivering hand and ask what we can do to reverse the damage, to rid ourselves of this evil death sentence.
Frank will shrug, a mere mortal incapable of redeeming a lost world, and look at us sadly while saying, “unfortuneately, nothing.” This happens every day. Every single day.

He’ll usually wrap it up by suggesting we buy his book on nutrition, for sale on the tables outside the room ( its $24.99 but he said, “just give me $25”). One day he went into an uncomfortable and not-just-a-little-bit unsettling speech about how we, the ladies, should be douching with yogurt. He then described in detail how one might do that.
A lot of us had been including yogurt into our daily diet. We don’t anymore. Its hard to look at Yoplait the same way now. I’m sure you understand….

I delight in Frank Trapani.
I delight in his conspiracy theories about ecoli.
And I really want to go to church with him one day.

Week two is almost over. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… This is the best worst place ever.
I do a bit of bitching and moaning…but mostly I do a lot of yoga and a lot of laughing.
No big complaints. Not yet anyway. Hopefully I’ll have a couple of bad weeks. I’m really funny when I’m miserable….

Sunday, April 22, 2007

spiritual fasting

When we first arrived in Honolulu we were given small packets of information regarding businesses/stores in the waikiki area. Grocery stores, drug stores, pharmacies, etc.

At our orientation they went over the list again and made special note of a mall three blocks away. Big mall. They excitedly told us it has a Macy’s and a Sunglass shack! A Body Shop and a Crabtree and Evelyn! Maybe this excited the Japanese (with their generous exchange rate and penchant for fashion) but it made me cringe. I have nothing against shopping, but who wants to go to the mall in Hawaii? I want to buy coral necklaces and sarongs from street vendors. I don’t want to go to the Gap. I sat there appalled. I would have been less offended if asked to demonstrate camel pose nude than I was at the suggestion I go to the mall. I had no idea what the next nine weeks held in store for me, and I was open to just about anything, but I was absolutely certain I would not be going to the mall.

I just got back from the mall.

I’m having one small, but huge, issue here at teacher training. I basically didn’t eat all week. We finish each night upwards of 11:00 pm, everything is closed, I have no kitchen, and finding food is a gigantic and irritating hassle. I have lots of cereal and nuts and fruit in my room—but after eating those things for breakfast and lunch, I do not want them again for dinner. I am not a bird. I am a grown woman finishing four hours of yoga and I want a legitimate meal. I managed to purchase a lone, expired lean cuisine from the quick mart across the street one night, only to get back and realize it was a diet-meal. It was 225 calories. I would burn more calories walking down the hall to the microwave than the meal even contained. I started crying, threw it away, and went to bed hungry. A separate night I bought a sandwich in the hotel’s “gerenal store”. The general store sells Drakkar Noir cologne, condoms, and tacky beach towels. I hoped, but doubted, the food would be edible. When I saw the woman pull out the deli turkey, I knew I’d once again go to sleep with my stomach eating its own lining. The meat was pale grey. The cheese had a texture not found anywhere in nature. I took one bite, tossed it in the garbage, and sat on the floor of my hotel room rocking back and forth like a crazy person. I managed to eat one full dinner last week and that’s only because someone pitied me and cooked me a meal in their kitchen. The only words Bikram Choudhury spoke to me, personally, since i've been here were “are you eating?” I am not making this up.

The hunger induced insanity has snowballed by the day. I woke this morning, my one true day off, with an epiphany that felt borderline spiritual…..FOOD COURT….every mall has a food court! I wanted to drop to my knees and thank God, but that would have cut into my precious eating time so I headed out in the clothes I’d slept in and speed walked in the direction of the mall. By noon I ‘d eaten three slices of Sbarro’s pizza and a waffle cone full of Ben and Jerry’s. I got some Chinese food from Wok around the Clock to stash in my bag and eat once I got back to the Ilikai. I also purchased three giant Mrs. Field’s cookies and a roll from Cinnabon. It would be a little bit chewy and dry by dinner time, but that was fine by me.

I once read an article about some of the Sudanese “lost boys” who’d been adopted by these wonderful American couples and how difficult the initial transition had been for everyone involved. For instance, they boys had taken to stealing food from the kitchen and hiding it under their beds. Which, had it only been, say, a bag of chips…well, okay…but they’d also take raw meat and eggs. It always seemed so extreme to me. Why would anyone be so desperate they’d want meat rotting under their bed?

I totally get it now.

I went to the market last night with two friends I’ve made here. They have a full kitchen with a giant refridgerator. They are wonderful, kind girls. I am welcome to leave food at their place now. After returning from the store, laden with bags of groceries, we started unloading them into the freezer. Once out into the hall and on the way back to my room, I had a panic attack. I didn’t want to leave my food.
What if they ate some of it? What if they ate some of MY food?

I started to hyperventilate and shake. I considered going back to their room and taking all my food with me. I’d just put it under my bed. Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’d do. I'd just hide it under my bed....maybe it would rot, but maybe it wouldn’t. And even if it rotted, at least I wouldn’t starve…

I took a deep breath and got a hold of myself.
I don’t want to be a paranoid freak.
Having said that, I have two remaining giant cookies wrapped in toilet paper and stashed above a lighting fixture. Getting them down requires standing on a chair.
I had to do it. I don’t want my roommate eating my food.

(photo attached is my first sunburn. aaawwwww, so cute......)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

and he sings, too

I’ve given this blog address to a few friends who don’t do Bikram or know anything about the yoga or the controversial man behind it…but most of the readers are kids from my studio and, therefore, practitioners.

The uninitiated might be bored by this post. Be warned.

The big question for anyone at teacher training is this:

What’s he like?

I keep broaching the subject and always give up before I’ve written so much as a word. It is difficult to verbally constipate me, but he has.
There is too much to say and the thoughts create a traffic jam in my throat until nothing gets through. But I want to write something now. Just a small something. Tiny. I want to do it before my opinion of him becomes colored and informed by his opinion of me…which it will…because I’m an incredibly average person and susceptible to exactly that sort of average response, thought, and feeling.

And so, before he screams at me or tells me I’m a lazy idiot (and he will. he really enjoys the word "idiot". ask anyone who's gone through training before me.) I’ll say what I can about him...and I’ll say it the way I say things….

One night, after a challenging practice and during our final savasana, Bikram blasted a song through the speakers of the 7000 square foot studio. He insisted that we must stay on our mats and listen to the music because it was his song off of his new c.d. He loves the personal/possesive pronouns "me" and "mine". He pranced and paraded around with his trademark bravado. Bikram Choudhury loves being Bikram Choudhury.
I’d just done my second two hour class that day, I was hungry and exhausted, and I suddenly found myself hostaged on my mat by NINE EXCRUCIATING MINUTES of music so cheesy I'd have gladly traded it in for an apendectomy. Weird synthetic instrumentals and sappy, syrupy lyrics surrounded me at top volume. I know art is subjective....but still.....

Supine on my mat, I thought, “oh my god. what have I done?”
Of all the traditional strains of yoga, philosophy, practice, evolution…I chose him:

A man who chews cough drops and makes loud crunching sounds into his microphone during class.

A man who says things like “you know who is my best friend?”
“Imelda Marcos is my best friend. I buy with her the shoes. Is true.” Or, “I invented disco. Ask anyone. Is true.”

A man who will devote twenty minutes of lecture time to a corned beef sandwich he ate in Tacoma in 1974.

A man who drives a Bentley and wears powder blue track suits.

A man who loves Richard Nixon.

I thought the song would never end.
I thought I’d never leave that room.

The following night, after a challenging practice and during final savasana, another song floated through the room.
There was no sound coming through the speakers this time. It wasn’t a recording, it was live. He was sitting on the floor, still and small and diminutive, eclipsed beneath the gigantic teacher’s podium. He was singing acapella--his voice lucid, warm, raspy--in Hindi. The melody was delicate and dissonant, the unrecognizable lyrics were melancholy and sublime. It was as sweet and beautiful a sound as I have ever heard in my life.

I hoped the song would never end.
I hoped i'd never leave that room.

In telling those two slivers of stories, I don’t even know what I mean exactly. I only know that I mean it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Like a flower petal blooming

The most literal part of teacher training is learning the scripted dialogue for the 26 asana series. Which doesn’t sound all that taxing but that its fifty some odd pages of text and it must be learned verbatim.
Now, add to that numerous typos and the awkward phrasings inherent when writing something in English-as-a-second- language, and you’ve got a task on your hands. You’d think you’d have license to correct the mistakes.
Not at all.
If it says “raise your arm over one other” then you have to say “raise your arm over one other”…even though you know, KNOW, that its supposed to be “raise your arms over one another.”
See how that works?

I feel, personally, like I could do it more successfully if allowed to use an Indian accent….but I don’t think that would be well received.

Its inexplicable to me why they’d prefer to have hundreds of trainees, season after season, memorize grammatical disasters rather than just do a spell check of the dialogue and xerox some new copies…but the only way to survive this is to ban all thoughts like that from your brain. Those thoughts will only bring grief into your life here. And there is no time for grief with 49 pages of broken English still waiting to be stored in your long term memory.

Once again, the Japanese are wiping the floor with the Western hemisphere students. First of all, they start at the disadvantage of non-fluency and therefore work harder. Second of all, they don’t get hung up on gross misspellings or illogical phrases…because, to them, it all looks the same.
“take full lung, breath hold.”
“I here the bikram love, want transforming”
The world is a very different place when viewed through eyes that don’t seek out prepositions or pronouns.

To top it off, Bikram just plain likes them better. Its true. The guy loves the Japanese. Loves them. He's giddy when one walks up and takes the microphone. Its such untainted adoration that you can’t even begrudge the Asian continent its good fortune… can only envy it from afar. Truth be told, we’re all guilty of over loving those petite little things with the freakishly flexible spines….they’re precious. They carry neon back packs and wear mini skirts to posture clinic. They giggle a lot.

This week was our first stab at delivering one page of fully memorized dialogue.
For the most part we collectively sucked. With few exceptions, we were all awkward and wierd and trying way too hard. Almost everyone fell into one of four groups:

1. THE ROBOTS—characterized by glassy eyes and monotone voices. They stare off into space as though trying to conjure a mental image of the page, and once they manifest that vision, they read it in the most pedantic possible way. The trick to doing this right is to visualize, while speaking, the color grey.

2. THE FAST AND FURIOUS. Respiratory miracles, they say the words at the speed of light, inhaling no oxygen in the process. They are the impulsive kid who stupidly decided to streak naked across the football field on game night—and by the time he realizes what a horrible mistake he’s made, he’s already undressed and there’s no turning back. A decidedly “let’s get this the hell over with” feeling permeates the performance. The whole thing is a blur.

3. THE PERSONALITIES These kids tend to walk up and, before beginning the recitation, throw in something to signify that they have !!personality!! One will start with a “good morning gang!!!”... Another will look at the clock, notice the late hour and improvise some version of, “Welcome to our MIDNIGHT yoga class guys!” Wink Wink. Ha Ha. Get it? Midnight yoga? That's just nuts!!!
Their dialogue is laced with the sort of edgy happiness that generally preceeds short stays at psychiatric hospitals. This group scares me the most. Not as teachers. As people.


I can’t say which group I fall into—I want to say group 4—but I’m pretty sure I was a 2. If I was a 3 I’m going to kill myself, so I’m avoiding asking for any opinions yet. I may well hear I was a 3 if I inquire around. I need to feel good about myself right now and sometimes that means not seeking out the truth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

why are we here?

Today we had to introduce ourselves to the group.
I hate doing this, here or anywhere.

The Japanese are so lucky. The stand up and say, “I am love the bikram and I will transforming” and the crowd accepts this as adequate explanation of their relationship with the yoga and lets them sit down.
English speakers don’t fare so well. We are expected to provide thoughtful, rational, and sometimes even profound reasons as to why we started this practice and now choose to teach it. Basically, why are we here?

I don’t even know how to begin to answer that question. To me, it is akin to asking me why I am in love with someone. I’d be most inclined to point out NOT their attributes/the things I adore, but their flaws/the things I loathe. Because what fascinates me about loving anything or anyone is the compulsion to stick around when its so much easier to leave.
Nothing is all that shiny or perfect. Not even bikram yoga. I can't explain anything about that feeling--the need or want or love of something.
Its just a mysterious force that makes me, time and again, return to the scene of the crime.

For some the answers were simple. The road from rehab to bikram teacher seems to be a straight, if not easy, path. There isn’t any meandering or taking the scenic route. It is clear, direct, and easily articulated. I will now say something that will produce the world’s largest collective cringe:

I find myself envying the addicts.

For better for worse, they know why they’re here. They are ripe with purpose and discipline and passion. And, more enviable still, they are well practiced in the art of standing up in front of groups of strangers, introducing themselves, and revealing the most intimate portraits of their lives.

I’ve been known to eat far too much and I used to smoke like a european, but that stuff is child’s play. After a woman shares a harrowing tale of the crack addiction that almost claimed her life and the heroic strides she took to clean herself up….well, “hi. I’m Christine, I used to smoke cigarettes” just seems a bit dull. It lacks a certain panache.

As the microphone draws nearer and nearer to me….
As I ponder more and more how incapable I am of answering any question beyond “what is your name”….
As I begin to worry more and more that i'm just some silly girl pursuing a trend….
The worst in my character bubbles and boils.

A woman before me tells a story that begins with divorce and chemotherapy and ends with a desire to teach yoga and end world suffering...and all I can think is, “show off.”

It says nothing about these nice people, but speaks volumes about ME, that I actually created some kind of creepy meritocracy about who has the more appropriate reason to be in hawaii. But this is what I do when put in situations where I am intimidated by other people’s candor and nakedness and willingness to be revealing in ways I would never even consider being.
I become critical and judgmental and heady.
I have to alienate myself from the goings on and act as commentator rather than participant. It’s a horrible trait, but--in my defense--if I didn’t silently comment and distance myself from everyone, I’d have to understand how fragile and painful this experience of life is for them. And, in doing so, i'd have to understand how fragile and painful it is for me, too.
That's the catch.
The two are are inseperable.
And therein lies the problem.
i'm cool with the one...but i'm not at all comfortable with the other.

And for anyone feeling sorry for all the sweet gentle souls trapped at yoga camp with the heartless bitch writing this blog.....don't worry...nobody in the world loves the underdog more than i do. Ask anyone. I'll adore every single one of these lunatics before all is said and done. Mark my words. i'll go home with all of their addresses. And i'll write them old fashioned letters and send them in the mail.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the crocodile will not make love to me

today we met bikram. as much as i'd planned to be aloof and above it all, i found myself giddy and punch drunk with anticipation when his impending arrival was announced. i mean, look, i've done this practice for years now, i've heard all the stories (good and bad), and i've seen countless photos of this man superimposed atop a tiger or levitating in front of the taj mahal.
i've even seen his music c.d. on the retail shelf at my studio. i've never seen anyone actually purchase it, but still....

so, despite my best efforts at cool, my shakti shorts were in just as much of a wad as everyone else's.

turns out he's a wee little thing. a dumpling of a man. a caricature of himself almost.
he arrived in alarming amounts of white. shirt, shoes, pants, baseball cap. his thin cotton candy hair floated like a wispy black cloud above his shoulders. within three short hours he had changed into his second ensemble of the day; a metallic silver shorts and shirt set. finally, he made it all the way down to the speedo. during the dinner break, and before class, my new friend, leslie, saw him in the hotel salon getting a blow out. a blow out. i am smiling, ear to ear, as i write that wonderful wonderful sentence.
his wardrobe, like his personality, is equal parts hideous and utterly enchanting.
try to look away. just try....

where raj, his wife, is linear and maternal and clear, bikram is a collision course of ideas and analogies and exclamations.
to drive home his suggestion that we not stray too far from our lodging, he launched into this story about a girl named "kiki".
kiki, it seems, left training one weekend to drive to vegas and visit her incarcerated husband. she had a terrible accident, her car flipped four times, and she ended up hospitalized. he took a long pause before informing us that, because of her coma, she "wasn't able to finish teacher training."
comments weren't welcome at this point, but i felt compelled to point out that kiki (a woman with seven broken bones, a husband in prison, and a totaled car) had far bigger problems than not getting her imaginary degree from yoga college.
i'm just saying.....

he loves, as well, to compare our two month memorization campaign to ivy league universities. at least two or three times he claimed that getting into harvard medical school or yale business school was "nothing" compared to our being accepted into this competitive program of his. and, were he anything other than exactly what he is, you'd seriously want to knock the guy down a notch or two and say, "get over yourself." but, for reasons i don't even understand, you do not want to do that at all. you just want to applaud and laugh and allow the little dumpling with his salon straightened hair his moment of joy.
i realize all too well that he is human and tricky and will absolutely piss me off in weeks to come.
i know this.
but, for today, i find him charming and jubiliant and divine.

after a long afternoon of stories and myths and morals and jokes, bikram began his list of what we can and can not do over the course of this training.
essentially, what we can do is yoga.
what we can not do is everything else one might hope to do on extended vacation....
and i mean everything.
in a moment that will never stop sending chills up my spine, he quieted the room and announced there was to be "no kissy kissy. no f**ky f**ky". these were his actual words.
to be fair, hearing it called that kills any desire one might have had to do it......

to top things off, and in case we hadn't understood the rule, bikram then told me and my 309 new platonic friends that
"the crocodile will not make love to you. he will come to your bedroom and eat your legs."
all makes sense now.
glad we cleared that up.

the lectures were followed by a short break and then our first class...which i might have enjoyed more had i not been one of the nine yogis stuck in elevator #3 for almost an hour and a half while waiting for the ilikai maintenance staff to get us out.
we arrived in class just after triangle pose and just before one girl passed out and three ten foot mirrors came falling down off the walls......
its the best worst place ever.

Monday, April 16, 2007

our marital bed

the lunatics took over the asylum before so much as one class took place. today was official check-in, orientation.
it was pandemonium. the lobby was swarming, SWARMING, with furious yogis suddenly told they'd have no kitchens (after being promised kitchens) and would be three to a room (after being assured it was two to a room).
it got so bad that shelly (training coordinator) had to make public apologies to a few of the irate kids and almost started crying, herself, during orientation. i felt for the gal. she was desperately ill equiped in dealing with the unnerving situation, but she used to work as a push cart street vendor in brooklyn. i love that. all is forgiven.

i knew good and well to expect disappointment, so i wasn't phased until.....i found out i was sharing a room with only one bed. one bed. two people.

this is just not acceptable.

so i go to shelly and i say, "look. i realize you've got hordes of angry people milling around and you must be a bit overwhelmed....and i'm rolling with the kitchen thing....but, seriously, am i suppossed to SHARE A BED with a stranger for nine weeks? isn't that just a bit absurd?"

shelly adjusts her glasses, looks me straight in the eye, and says, "don't worry. i shared that bed with my husband last night and we barely touched each other. you'll be fine."

i don't even know where to begin with that statement.

number one, i've seen shelly and her husband (neither of them slight in size) and, trust me, it is logistically impossible that there was no physical overlap on that bed.
number two, there is no analogy between shelly and a man she legally wed and me and some stranger from the pacific northwest. it is not the same. its just not.

but, since there's a whole line of other people waiting patiently to scream at shelly, i do the considerate-yogi-thing and move on so the next person can have their turn to abuse her. as annoying as i find the totally inexcusable level of professionalism here, i am simply not a demanding person.
its a huge waste of time to wish people weren't who they are and situations weren't what they are.
its nine weeks. i'm not letting nonsense like this get in the way of my good time.

my roomate, as i anticipated, is together, organized, and in contorl. i always end up with that person. it never fails.
i listened to her rational argument about the injustice of the no-kitchen situation (oh, some people got fabulous kitchens. it was totally arbitrary the way the rooms worked out.). as she ranted, she folded her clothing into freakishly neat piles and arranged her toiletries into organized patterns. as she rallied, i was on the other side of our bed smelling each thing i pulled out of my chaotic bag and trying to assess whether i'd even washed that item before packing it. tampons were flying out, lotions spilling, shampoo bottles leaking.
she has no idea the utter mess she's in for, sharing a room with me.

after she repeatedly said to me, "we've got to make a decision about what to do here."
(meaning, she wanted to plan our attack against the powers that be and not take this kitchen thing lying down)
i finally accepted the truth about myself.
I just don't care that much.
i'm not up for a revolt.
i don't want to be angry. i hate being angry.
the whole thing is decidedly unfair. it really is. but, in life as i've known it, the absolute most useless thing you can get stuck on is the notion of fair. a couple of clowns down the hall got an an incredible room with two beds and a kitchen. we didn't.
i got two arms and legs. somewhere, someone else didn't.

i'm sleepy now.

only 24 hours in and already ripe with hilarity.
how great is that?

Sunday, April 15, 2007


this is a picture of my hair. when i arrived, two hours ago, it was straight. that, my friends, is a little something i like to call humidity.

the ilikai, our hotel, is divided into two obvious and distinct goups of people:
1. young, nubile, tanned twenty year olds walking around with yoga mats strapped to their backs and copies of the teacher-dialogue under their arms, like teeny paper surfboards.
2. senior citizens. everywhere. they are old, they are pale and pasty and freckled, and they are wearing blousy shirts and shorts with high waistbands.

i don't think i have to tell you which of these groups i suspect i most belong with.......

i arrived here after spending almost seven hours in flight debacles with my mother-a scorpio control freak-at the dallas airport.
she was barging through crowds and lines as my personal travel advocate, humiliating me, and making me insane. this would be followed by my quietly asking her to relax. that would be followed by her dramatically rolling her eyes, resting a hand on her cocked hip, and dramatically saying to everyone standing around, "oh, i'm just annoying old MOM. can't do ANYTHING RIGHT!!!" the crowds would roar with pleasure. apparently their children are ungrateful too.

i am 34 years old. this oft performed one woman cabaret show based on the true story of an uncut umbilical cord has grown tedious.
i dealt with it by sampling every single food offering on the premises. huge pretzels, m&m's, a breakfast burrito, and four cups of coffee. i arrived in hawaii as dehydrated and distended as i've ever been in my life.

when my mom wasn't edging me closer and closer to suicide...she was, as she is known to be, endlessly helpful to everyone in sight. she checks people's gates for them, she holds babies so young mothers can check their bags, she makes sure the elderly passengers have enough snacks to take on board because she's concerned their blood sugar levels will drop somewhere over the pacific. and its all genuine. totally authentic. she is unspeakably generous and compassionate.
which means, after watching the sixty year old southern angel with shellacked blonde hair assist young and old alike, the
masses exhibit zero sympathy for her companion....the surly girl in her mid thirties who keeps hissing "relax".
i got no love at that sympathy...only the sort of looks one shoots those who hurt puppies or don't appreciate their mothers.

but now i am here.
but now i am here.
but now i am here.

it is just beautiful. the entire island smells of flowers and sunscreen. i have a view of the crystalline water from my balcony tonight and all is well.

i was going to write about why i began bikram yoga today. seemed like an appropriate way to launch these next nine weeks. but i'll save that for tommorrow i will, without question, wake up on mainland time @ 4 a.m.

i can hear the ocean from where i sit right now.

beautiful. beautiful. beautiful. beautiful. beautiful. beautiful.

Monday, April 9, 2007

down to the wire and not ready at all. not even close. went to class tonight to say goodbye and, as usual, suffer a mild heat stroke in Johnny's class. i have said many times that he is like sunshine. i absolutely mean this in the cheery sense of the compliment, but i also mean that being in the studio with him is like, seriously, sitting on the surface of the sun. and i suppose he could refer to the small plastic thermometer to check the temperature, except that it has melted into a gooey pool by the end of first set, half moon, and no longer works. so, basically, he's just going by what feels comfortable to him....which is reallyreallyreally hot. he's like a superhero, John Salvatore. he needs a cape.

that said, it hurts my heart to let superheros down (because, of course, they exist soley for the benefit of humanity and for fighting evildoers) i always try to rally for him despite the fact that my face is melting off and my internal organs are giving off a decidedly singed smell.

i'm really not interested in making this a big feel-good-blog. i'm not a hallmarky sort of girl. i hate r&b, chicken soup for the soul books freak me out, and i get massively fidgety when stuff gets too syrupy. i want it to be funny and entertaining. that's my main goal. my only goal. so, if anything deeper than that appears on these pages, its complete coincidence--a byproduct of a joke. however, before i fully embrace the
entirely non-sentimental tone i aim for.....i have to say this:

the kids and teachers at the new york yoga studio i practice at (bikram yoga lower east side. best studio ever. legendary. put it on the list of places to visit before you die.) have been casting huge votes of confidence in me from the day i decided to go to hawaii. probably bigger votes than i warrant. and it can not be said enough how grateful i have been for the endless stream of generosity that is the day to day practice of these people. they are lovely, in the truest sense of that word.

now, in honor of going to teacher training and drinking the punch.....i'm settling in for some last minute packing and a PBS documentary about jim jones and the massacre in guyana.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

reality. a nice place to visit.

a few days ago i began the burdensome task of packing. it started off as a reasonable endeavor. i folded a few t-shirts, unearthed a swimsuit, thought to include a mesh laundry bag. and then things took a radical departure. i was suddenly knee deep in frothy summer dresses and all my fanciest underwear and perfumes and lotions and lace. it required a pair of pliers and the entire weight of my torso to zip my bag. but, you know, i managed to zip it. all is well. except that, while packing for what i seem to think is going to be a nine week honeymoon, i included not so much as one pair of yoga shorts, not one sports bra. i will take a total of 99 yoga classes in honolulu. to my knowledge, i will not go on one romantic outing.
the math is relatively elementary.

i've always had a somewhat tenuous grasp on reality. but generally speaking, i manage just fine. no reason to fix that which i do not perceive to be broken.
that suitcase is a metaphor that i neither miss nor mind.

however....i will in fact be taking 99 classes. i tend to speed past that part of the agenda and skip ahead to, then linger on, the fresh fish i will eat or the lovely breeze that will float in through the windows, and off the pacific, when i crawl into bed at night.

today i am choosing to acknowledge those 99 classes. which means 99 sets of "balancing stick"--which i quite enjoy.
it also means 99 sets of "standing head to knee" which i never enjoy and barely endure.
i need a motto. i think a motto will help.
i have chosen SIX MINUTES A DAY
that is the amount of time i will spend in two sets, two classes of "standing head to knee" a day.
when viewed as such, it seems entirely manageable and almost kicky.
i can totally handle six minutes a day.
maybe my grasp on reality isn't so much tenuous as it is adjustable. like lighting a photograph.
the subject remains basically the same, but it can be exponentially beautified by casting it under a flattering glow.
i'm not good at standing head to knee, but i'm great at adjusting the lights.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

here we go

this is my first, and probably last, blog. i am a certified computer-phobe and not a likely candidate for something as (to me, at least) outrageously sophisticated as blogging. which, to be fair, is something children apparently do. i don't measure myself by this as children also, evidently, return netflix videos and understand the mechanics of text messaging. i don't compare myself to children anymore. they set impossibly high technical standards and, simultaneously, maintain enviable complexions.

i will be blogging throughout my bikram teacher training--which is, for me, an equally unlikely endeavor. so, the next nine weeks will be wholly dedicated to the unlikely, the improbable, the possibly inadvisable, and the all-in-all-out-of-character.
it is my full intention to devote very little of this to the tedious study of asanas, anatomy, or higher spiritual causes.
i intend to complain about the complete stranger with whom i will be forced to share a hotel room for 56 nights.
i intend to endlessly mock my own sad renderings of certain postures.
i intend to develop a useless crush on someone who doesn't even notice i'm in the room.
i intend to bore you with the tiresome trivialities of how his utter unloving hurts me.
i intend to rant, in righteous crusades, about the financial burdens of the pricey tourist destination in which i stay.
i intend to make fun of everyone....only slighlty less than i make fun of myself.
i intend to describe, in inch by inch detail, the life shortening sunburn i am certain to entertain.

as they say.....its all about intentions.