9/18/12

September

It’s September, the month I turn a year older, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the pace of things. Let me explain.

1. It’s been three months since Matt and I moved, and I still haven’t found a yoga class on this side of town that’s reminiscent of the kind of class I’m used to. Each one I’ve tried feels a little too slow and too basic. When the teacher tells us to go to child’s pose, I’m resistant. I want to keep going. I’m hardly warmed up, let alone ready to rest.

2. At the same time, I have found a teacher I like, so I keep going to her class even though I leave sometimes without having broken a sweat. One day, I heard this teacher explain to another student who must have been feeling the same, as he continued to do sit-ups throughout savasana—the pose where you essentially just lay on your back and do nothing at the end of class—how doing that is anathema to the practice; that, in fact, savasana is the practice, and how rest and/or knowing when to rest is a discipline itself. Disciplined rest? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

3. During the past few weeks, between puppy rearing, hosting lovely visitors, my day job, revising my book proposal, and having fun with Bon Appé-Tips, I was left feeling a bit frayed at the ends. It’s like I was doing a lot of things, but it didn’t feel like I was accomplishing much.
4. And then Mavis had a big double-vaccination day. The day after, she was sore and I had a migraine headache. When I came home from running errands, instead of jumping into my arms, she exhibited what appeared to be a full-body sulk. Her ears lay flat to her head, her chin sank into her shoulders, and her little tail wrapped tightly and un-waggingly around her body. She didn’t want to be picked up let alone played with. I stood there in the kitchen for a long moment staring at her, feeling achy and tired myself, but going through all of the other things I had left to do on my day off. Then, something clicked.
I (very carefully) picked her up, and the two of us went to bed, at one o’clock in the afternoon. I’d just bought the book Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, and I took that with me too. And for the rest of the afternoon, Mavis and I lay in bed, respectively reading and snoozing—every once in a while, making eye contact with each other in order to confirm we were still on the same page. (We were.)

5. If you’re familiar with the book Are You My Mother? you’ll understand what I mean by the following crescendo-ing exclamation: talk about an oxymoron! It’s the most cerebral, most meta, most I-barely-understood-that-sentence comic book you’ll ever read.

It’s hard to talk about Are You My Mother? without mentioning Bechdel’s previous book, Fun Home, which is one of my favorites of all time. And while I can’t say this second book topped her first effort, I can say that I still very much enjoyed it. I appreciated her daringness to go there, and by there, I mean a place that’s just about as personal as it gets. But mostly, I appreciated the book being there for me during my lazy afternoon with my recovering puppy.
6. In fact, to take another cue from someone near and dear me—this time a human—the author of Sut Nam Bonsai, I’ll quote my journal from that afternoon: “The sun is beating down outside, but we’re [Mavis and I] nice and comfortable in here, relaxing and just being. What’s Winnicott call it? Going–on-being?” See, Bechdel’s book is just as much memoir as it is a study of psychotherapy. She spends a lot of time discussing the work of the famous pediatrician / psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. Paraphrasing one of his ideas, she writes: “All the infant wants—indeed, all anyone wants—is to go-on-being, without disruption.”

7. Via Winnicott’s Wikipedia page: The 'capacity to "be", to feel alive...the baby's lifeline, what Winnicott calls its "going on being"' was essential if a person was not to be 'caught up in a false self and a compulsive cycle of "doing" to conceal the absence of "being"'.[21]  

8. My aforementioned friend Kara has mentioned a few times recently how this summer’s heat has killed her productivity. “Summer crushed me this year,” she wrote to me in a recent letter. But if I know Kara she hasn’t been wasting her time. In fact, one of her recent posts proves that she hasn’t. She writes:

“Last night, I walked down to the Poudre River in town and sat on its noisy banks. The moon will be full on Friday, and it cast its soft, pre-dark light over the cooling prairies and gargantuan trees, reminding me of ancient landscape paintings, the light soft and lush…

I sat listening to the water bubble over the rocks and thought: this is here all the time.  When I am at home, bored and overheated, when I am squabbling with my ideas for the future, when I am watching a movie inside on the couch—this water is here burbling over the rocky bottom of its bed, rushing forward, whispering and singing like this.”  
9. Right before we moved, I was reaching my breaking point with this ongoing shooting pain in my lower back. It first appeared (and often reappeared) in my old yoga class—the one that is fast-paced enough for me. I assumed it would just fade away, but after a couple of months, I realized I was going to have to do something about it. Before we left for a trip to a friend’s wedding in Philadelphia in July, I booked a massage. (I couldn't have my injury impeding my finely-tuned Electric Slide on the dance floor.)

10. Last year, I turned 30 in a state of hopeful defeat. I would turn 30, fine, but not because I was ready to. This year, I’m in a better place. This year, everything feels a little less panicked, a little less dire. Do I still want the same things, goals and ambition-wise? Of course. But, I also realize that I can only—physically and mentally—do so much.

It’s been two months since the massage, two months since I’ve gone to a yoga class that pushed me to the brink, and two months since I’ve felt that electric (not the sweet slide variety) pain down my back.

11. What I’m trying to say is: hurray for the doing and the being; for the teachers and friends (and animals) who have pushed me to work harder and for those who have given me permission to slow down; for this space on the Internet where I can go on and on un-food-relatedly and also where I can deliver, in some weird caricature of myself, useless and only mildly-food-related tips, which upon seeing, my mother can declare: “You always did have a sense of humor.” Hurray, in short, for growing up.
Print Friendly and PDF

35 comments:

  1. I love this post. Also, two waves later? Rogue.

    ReplyDelete
  2. happy birthmonth amelia! your posts just get better and better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also love this post. Not just because you quoted me (although come on, that feels nice) but because it reveals that you smuggled a lamp post back from Paris and planted it in your yard!

    Who is this sit-up maniac?? He's giving LA cliches a run for their money...

    But seriously, when I learned that Svasana is the whole point of my yoga practice, it changed things for me. Okay, not a lot because, let's be honest, I've always liked laying around on the ground. But still - it the place where all effort's effort sinks in, and your cells rearrange, absorb the work, and begin the sweet rest of unwinding/integration. As you and Mavis so aptly displayed, it is the best.

    Addicted to all the blue in your pics, really glad that you got your priorities straight and healed for the dance floor,
    xoxo
    K

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOu're so quotable!!

      Secondly: is that how you are supposed to spell Svasana?

      Thirdly: the sit-up maniac really was a maniac, even for LA standards! (He was also giggling at times.)

      Finally, thanks, Kara!!

      Delete
    2. No thank you!!

      Sit up maniac sounds...unsettled...

      Svasana spelling = accidental mistake. I really thought that's how to spell it until this moment now.

      Standing corrected!!
      K

      Delete
  4. You and Mavis are too cute! Enjoy the change of pace with September and happiest of birthdays.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am also searching for the perfect yoga class. I can totally identify. Also, it would be nice if it wasn't incredibly spendy and wasn't too far from home and was offered at a time that perfectly fit my schedule. Right? Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This reminds me of the conversation we had in your back yard about the way we get things done, and our husbands laughing at us doing a million other things just to get to what we were supposed to be doing... it seems like they know when to work, and when to rest. I, for example, spend most of my time in a half state of both, neither getting shit done nor taking time off. Nervous system overdrive for no reason other than spinning in circles. I had a similar thought as I lay in bed yesterday, flu-ridden and achy, that this is the first time I've ACTUALLY rested in fuck knows how long. And it's taken a high fever to do it. I'm glad you went to bed. I'm sorry you had a migraine. I'm trying to figure out a different way to exist in the world that doesn't involve stress and a meter of productivity on my days. I'm really liking your writing lately.

    ps. If you want a super intense yoga class again at some point in the future, check out Noah's ashtanga class at Studio A dance on Hyperion. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rebecca and thanks for reminding me of this conversation... You're totally right, but how can we possibly rest and/or finish the task we started when there are SO many things we need to be doing!! ;) Sighhhh, we'll figure it out eventually, i just know it.

      Delete
  7. have you been yoga vibe is los feliz? i felt the same way about finding an amazing yoga studio that was going to challenge me, maybe even kick my ass a little. it's all vinyasa, and of course i have my favorite teachers and the ones that i avoid. but it's a good spot. : )

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joanna!! I have NOT been to Vibe and am going to google it... NOW.

      Delete
  8. I think it's September. If it doesn't make one stronger, it will just drive one mad!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am really happy that you snuggled with your dog for an afternoon and took care of him. Yay, you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have been feeling freakishly similar lately. It's so nice when the timing is right for the blogs I read. It makes me feel human, and less alone in a life that feels surrounded with people every day. I love your blog so much! (And that pup is pretty darn cute too!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU, Hailey!! So glad you could find some solace here. And if you need some more, definitely check out Fun Home... it's an amazing (and amazingly quick) read!!

      Delete
  11. That blue is a great *great* colour on you. And Mavis is an equally wonderful accessory.

    Life is long. Never you worry. x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful post. We love it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love love love Fun Home and had no idea she had another book out. Just put on hold at the library, so thanks. Also, this post is lovely as are the waves and the sentiments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Jeannette! And would love to hear your thoughts once you've read the book!

      Delete
  14. Ashtanga LA on Sunset in Echo Park is insanely awesome...sweating will happen for sure!

    http://www.ashtangayogala.org/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hurray for you and for growing up, and for ALWAYS inspiring me and motivating me. Our Hangout yesterday left me energized as well. You're the best! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  16. There's something about September -- whether you move or start something new or are just doing exactly the same things -- that always feels so epic, like we *must* be doing big things. But I think you're right, as we get older (and more mature?), maybe what we need to work on is just being and becoming at this time of year.

    I wish us all luck.

    ReplyDelete
  17. i like your non-food writing just as much, so keep on! i'm feeling the high intensity of busyness these days, too. i've recently concluded i have been holding down 3 jobs - my day job, mom to 2 toddlers, project manager/designer/buyer for our new house, which included extensive remodels. the point is, like a previous reader said, it's "nice" to hear you talk about taking some time out. i hope i can do that soon! but my time out might actually include cooking something fun in our new kitchen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rachel! Your life sounds exhausting (and awesome)!! And cooking something fun in a brand new kitchen is totally lovely... hope it happens for you soon!! xo

      Delete
  18. Amelia, I'm so grateful for your writing, this blog, and this post. I don't want this to sound too much like a blurb on a self help book but reading this just helped me to make a decision that involves making peace with time. I'm so excited to see what this year holds for you. I'm so grateful too, for all of this pictures of Mavis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh no... I wrote this instead of these. I hope that if Wendy is reading this she forgives the mistake.

      Delete
    2. I'm so grateful for you, Corinne!! Let's make peace with time together!!

      And while we're doing that, Wendy can try and make peace with your typo!! xoxo

      Delete
  19. What part of town are you in? East side I gather... Yoga House in Pasadena & Mission Street Yoga in SoPas are both very nice studios, & you will sweat :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love reading your blog. I haven't for some time and for that I am sorry! Svasana oy! Always a struggle for me... Hopefully I will see you one day soon!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just needed to say that I found your blog via Google and I am glad I did.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What I appreciate about this blog (which is just a silly name for a place of self expression) is that it's filled with LIFE and a hunger for connection through food, through people, through humor and by way of being vulnerable and essentially HUMAN. It is filled with little things, just like our lives are collections of little things. A meal. A silly video. A beautiful picture. I feel happy when I come here. Connecting with someone I do not know over things I care deeply about. When I imagine blogging, my only hope would be for someone to feel about my space on the internet exactly the way I feel when I come here. Have I gone too far?? haha...
    Keep it up.
    I appreciate you sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  23. @Searching for Home Wow, thank you for finding the blog to be everything I've ever wanted it to be!! Sometimes I feel strange about the wide range of things I've shared here--from the Robyn video to this post--but then I get a comment like this and I don't feel strange anymore! (At least for a few fleeing moments...)

    Point being, thank you so so so much for writing.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you guys. Thanks!