Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Year of the Horse

Last year's Chinese zodiac year was the Year of the Snake. It should be renamed the Year of the Total Bullshit. Historically, in the last five snake years, the following things occurred:

  • The stock market crash of 1929
  • The bombing of Pearl Harbor
  • 9/11
  • The Russian Revolution
  • Tiananmen Square

And, two days after this article was written, warning about the ridiculous, awful luck of snake years, Dane died.

So please join me in welcoming the Year of the Horse tomorrow,  January 31, 2014. Sicily and I are taking ourselves out for Chinese. We will read our horoscopes for this year (hint: people born in a dog year will have an excellent time of it) and make plans for our trip to a desert island when the Year of the Snake rolls back around.

Gung hay fat choy!

(oh, and enjoy this coupon for free firecracker chicken at Panda Express. They do it every year.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blizzard 2014

It is snowing. Real snow, not "snow for Georgia," which usually consists of 20 flakes and a relentless run on grocery store firewood. About an inch has fallen so far, schools are closing early, and the flakes are still small and steady.
I hope we are "snowed in" for today and tomorrow.
This year has been eye-opening. Everyone should have a year like this one, not necessarily losing a spouse, but a year where you take a step back, reflect, and really pinpoint what you want your life to be like. As a species, humans are so busy living their lives that they don't think about it; everything is overscheduling, reflexive and knee-jerk. Pleasure is almost frantic. A new oxymoron: frantic pleasure.

We have taken 365 days to figure out what we really want life to be like, what matters. I no longer feel like I have to run around to prove how busy I am. I am not competing against other people for the title of Most Busy; the New York Times called this "The Busy Trap," and I agree. I am no longer okay with rushing through my day and having no clear idea of all of the things I have done, or any feeling of accomplishment, just the idea that I will have to get up and do the same thing all over again, collapsing, exhausted, at the end of the day and sleeping fitfully.

Today is an example of the unbusying of my life. I woke up at a civilized hour, of my own accord (8). I checked my freelance job website and submitted clips for a couple jobs, then I got ready for yoga and went to class for an hour and a half. Stopped at the store on the way home to get dog food and chocolate (the only things really needed to weather a snow storm).

When I got home, I put quinoa chicken chili in the crockpot and  Indian Pudding in the oven. It's about one o'clock, and I have just taken some pictures of Sicily playing in the snow with the dogs. For the rest of the afternoon I am planning to write, read, play cards with the kid, and maybe watch "Blizzard 2014" coverage on the news. We may go into the attic for a bit to start sorting out things for the thrift store. Maybe I will paint, go for a walk, or take more pictures.

On this day where my schedule is my own, I have made money, taken care of myself physically and spiritually, taken time to breathe and just watch the world, and made productive steps towards the future. I have indulged in things I find enjoyable, things that give me pleasure. I have not felt rushed or pushed by anyone else's schedule or the frantic need to be "busy."

Our schedule is guided by other people on some days, and some days we are frantically busy, but we pick those activities that make us that way and are thus okay with those times in which our schedule is dictated by the clock.

But in general, I am stepping off the wheel and trying to set things up for us so we have more choices, more time in the day, and less pressure. I am okay with the trade-offs (less money being the main one) because I know I can step back on the wheel if I need to or if I am called to. For now, this suits us; I feel like we are taking this time to gather our strength and shore up our will for big changes headed our way.

Until then, the snow is still falling, my tea is still warm, and the world is hushed. Peaceful.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

From the Mouths of Babes

Sicily and I are two weeks into our yoga blitz. There is a teacher that Sicily doesn't like very much. She says she can't quite put her finger on it, but for some reason she just doesn't click with this teacher as a teacher.

We were talking about it in the car on the way to the studio, and I told her that I wasn't in love with this teacher either, but I figured out why. This teacher asks me to do things that I am seriously uncomfortable with, like handstands in the middle of the room. Hers is the class I almost cried in (well, maybe I did a little) because I felt so deeply the significance of not being able to support myself. When I sit down on the mat, I feel apprehensive because I know she is going to throw things at me that I feel like I am not ready for, then make me hold them until I settle into it, even as my legs tremble and my heart pounds. So it's uncomfortable, disconcerting, and not a little unpleasant during class until I can lose myself in a pose or get my mind to shut the hell up.

Sicily thought about it, shook her head and said, "Nah. I am pretty sure I didn't like her because the past couple mornings I have been mad at you. I liked her better today."


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Eleven Months, Twelve Hours, Nineteen Minutes

As I type this, it is eleven months, twelve hours and nineteen minutes since Dane died.

That means in less than a month it will be one year. Time has never moved so glacially and so quickly at the same time.

I accept it, but I still find it hard to believe. Wonder what stage of grief that is. In some ways, we are probably still in shock. In others, we have no choice but to move forward.

Only fifteen days left of the Year of the Snake. We will celebrate by eating Chinese food until we roll away from the table. We will unfurl our fortune cookies and take the fortune as The Gospel; we will eat the cookie, gluten be damned.

Lots to think about and write about at this moment, but I can't quite gather my thoughts together. In the coming days I will write more, but for now, this is enough.

Eleven months, twelve hours, twenty-four minutes...

Friday, January 10, 2014

On the Mat

Dude. I almost lost it at yoga tonight.

La and I have started a 14-day yoga blitz, trying to jump start a habit and also see if we like the studio. Tonight was day four; we missed class this morning, so we decided to take this evening's "TGIF" class, a mixed level, vigorous practice.

So we were moving from standing poses to handstands towards the end of the 90-minute class. Handstands in the middle of the room, not against a wall.

The teacher walks us through the pose and its modifications for those of us who have never done handstands. Then she starts talking about trusting your ability to support yourself.

My hands are on the mat, wrist creases parallel with the edge of the mat.

My shoulders are on my back and engaged, and I am on my hands and knees. I straighten my legs, walk myself up until I am transferring my weight from the back of my body to my hands, sort of. I stand on the tops of my toes, like a ballerina en pointe. My arms are strong, my gaze is at the floor slightly in front of my hands, and that's as far as I can go.

I can't support myself on my hands; to let go and lift my feet from the floor would be disastrous.

It's a stupid fucking metaphor.

The best I can do at this point is come back to the mat, and support myself on my hands when I can.

And isn't that just the way?


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Part Two: Things I Need to Teach My Daughter + Real Change

Okay, so the months are blurring together, and in just six weeks it will be a year since Dane died. I wrote about some things I would need to teach our daughter since he isn't here to do it, and I am steady adding to the list.

Most recently:

1. You need to know where the water shut off is in your house. And sometimes shutting it off at the street is not a possibility, so you need to know where the valve is in the house. If there isn't a valve in the house, call a plumber and have them install one. It will be $300, approximately, and worth every freaking penny when there is water gushing out of a pipe under your house, in the dark, when it is 20 degrees out.

2. You need to know how to flush a toilet without running water. Good knowledge for boating also.

3. You need to become one with the whore's bath, or as my friend Kerry calls it, the PTA bath. Especially after three hours of yoga in a house without water, and another hour and a half planned before there is water.

You may have guessed that a pipe burst in our house. Last night. In the dark. After hours.

And the best part? Seriously?

My first thought when the pipe burst (after, "Oh, shit.") was thank god I know where the shut off valve is. This may seem trivial, but if Dane was alive I would not have known that. And if I had not known that and Dane was alive but out of town like he frequently was, then I would have been royally screwed.

And then my second thought was that it is a sign of real change that my first thought (after, "Oh, shit.") was one of gratitude. And then I put on the knee pads, grabbed the headlamp, threw on the Carhartt, and dragged myself the length of the house to stop the deluge.

So there's that.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The List

So Sicily is a teenager, and this can be difficult.
Here is my list of things I cannot stand, and beside those, in parentheses, are the most important things that I am trying to focus on when she does those things I cannot stand.
(this is all part of trying to keep the most important thing the most important thing)
  • She is addicted to sugar (She always gives me the first bite if I ask, like her daddy).

  • She is blind to a filthy bathroom (She will clean it if I ask)
  • I ALWAYS have to ask (She will clean it if I ask)
  • She watches dumb crap on YouTube/Tumblr (She has a wide knowledge base on surprising things, like the times she is able to interject with information in conversation, and she is able to hold her own in conversation with pretty much anyone on nearly any topic, and she isn't afraid to say she doesn't know something)
  • She talks back (She talks back. She doesn't take shit. She stands up for herself.)
  • She is a slob (She already knows that an impeccably clean house isn't the most important thing)
  • She leaves her crap lying all around (She will share anything she has with you)
  • She is unmotivated (Well, shit, aren't we all? Let's not walk around all high and mighty like we somehow sprung full-blown motivated from Zeus's thigh. That's bullshit. Any time someone talks badly about adolescents and motivation I want to poke them in the eye. Do you remember 13? Probably not, but there wasn't a whole bunch of popping out of bed and tackling the day at that age for you either. So shut it)
  • She spends money on dumb stuff like endless amounts of makeup (She earns and saves her own money, about twice as much as the allowance she gets monthly, and she told me last night that when she is rich she is going to buy me a car)

  • She doesn't do what I would have her do (She is her own person and is okay with figuring out who that is and following what she wants)
When Sicily was going through a particularly awful time around 18 months, not sleeping, screaming and being generally horrible, and my patience was particularly thin due to exhaustion, I made a list of all of the things she could say and do, and all of the things she liked. Every time we would have little spurts like that, I would go back to the list and read over it and that helped me gain some perspective on the speed bump or whatever was happening. This is sort of like that except there is nothing particularly bad happening, just me watching her grow and finding myself getting impatient at times and being irritable (probably more about me than her) I love her. I have faith in her. I know she is going to be amazing. Never hurts to have a list.