Spring and Sashay

I took a one-hour “sweaty express” yoga class two evenings ago in the city, because Bronnie wanted to get her yoga on and have dinner but not get home too late. I’ve taken this teacher’s stretch classes before, and I’ve liked them. I like him. This class, though, was in fast-forward mode, where you couldn’t actually get into a pose before the teacher was yelling at you to get into the next one, and the next. At one point he must have caught me glaring at him (I hated gym), because he said to me, genuinely apologetic, “I’m sorry—this is just a different kind of thing.” This was the sort of thing I’d like to see Robin Williams and Nathan Lane do on film: Nathan Lane would be screaming like a girl and Robin Williams would be braining him with a strap.

Photo from the ferry on the way back from Colleen's studio
Anyway. In contrast, I went out to Colleen’s studio on Saturday morning, where Rodney taught what might have been the best class I’ve ever taken. (There was a pack of teenagers in the class, and that made it particularly fun—teenagers can be such magic.) The subject of Rodney’s class was how there’s a point about twelve fingers above our heads that’s the still point of our bodies, while our pelvises are the part of us that are supposed to rock and bob, spin and sashay. Rodney said that for most of us Americans, our pelvises are locked, and our heads are the thing that’s doing the rocking, bobbing, spinning, and sashaying.

Anyway, teenagers included, we spent the class locating the space between our hips and our legs—making circles with our tailbones in all sorts of poses—looking for lightness there, and also light. It was one of those classes that is so subtle that you feel like you haven’t done a sweaty express class, and yet when you get home you can barely walk.

At the end of class, Rodney told a story about how when he was a kid, he’d put part of his mother’s button collection onto a string, and pull both ends—tight and loose, tight and loose—until the buttons started to spin. He said that’s what we’re like: we’ve got these still points on either end (over our head, and below our tailbones), and in between we’re, as he put it, hurricanes. That’s how it should be, he said—out of control and yet still. Or at least that’s sort of what he said. I was listening with my body.

At some point in class, I looked out the window and saw some fluffy seed pods dancing on the wind against the deep blue spring sky.

Writing It Down to Figure It Out

I wanted to have a little chat with you, after my little tirade the other day. It’s about this blog. It’s been a little dicey sometimes, I know, in the Self-Involved Department, and under the category that Maud labelled, years ago, “Those Are The Thoughts You Keep on the Inside.” (Oh, I love my kid!) That was a category that Julia always found amusing, and thought was particularly important for me, who can be an Infuriatingly Compulsive Communicator, Especially If You’re Not Really Into Communicating. (See this blog.) Anyway.

Just FYI, I got some pretty negative feedback from a friend, last week, about my writing. So I talked to Angela about it—about whether I should stop blogging—and she said two things. One was that the original intent of this blog was not to try to be profound, or to show off my brilliant writing skills. It was, as the tagline says, to write it down to figure it out. You see, I’m pretty blown away most of the time by being a human on this planet, and very often I feel lost and confused and really, really scared. But since I was a little kid, I found that writing it down—whatever it was, even a list—helped me. It helps with the panic about death and the worry that I’m a bad person and my feeling of being, from the beginning, abandoned and alone.

So that’s what this blog is about. Angela tells me that she likes to follow “my process.” I don’t think she comes here hoping to find the blogger equivalent of Chogyam Trungpa or Ernest Hemingway.

So that’s it. I know I get sad and self-involved and sometimes I say thoughts that I should have kept inside. I know that I can be a real downer, and that the old posts, from before the breakup, were much, much, much more fun. They were more fun for me, too. (The whole world was more fun for me back then.) I’m hoping to get back to that place at some point. Right now I’m just writing it down to figure it out. It helps me. I hope it can help you too, in some way, sometimes.

Rainy Day Bird

My car is in the shop again (it’s my fault—I didn’t trust my gut the first time around), and so I took my bike out to do some shopping in Greenport. It started to rain, though, just as I was leaving Salamander’s with some potato, leek, and spinach soup and a very long baguette. Already installed on my bike were asparagus from Sep’s, and two-and-a-half feet of rhubarb.

As I was riding, I heard the birds, safely under cover in the newly bloomed trees, talking. Of course, I don’t understand Bird, but I figured if they were talking about me (which they weren’t—I’m self-involved but not crazy), they’d be saying one of two things: either “Look at that Evil-doer on that silent Machine of Destruction running away with our food,” or, “What an amazing plume of silver feathers that old bird has, with that long bread tail and that multi-headed pink penis topped with tree shade; and look at those red, grey, and blue paddles she’s using to swim through the current! Damn, she still has it going on.”

Maud bought me plaid Vans for Mother’s Day a couple of years ago. She is a particularly beautiful young bird herself, though her dad and I have always called her Moose.


Today I took the ferries out to Sag Harbor and did Colleen’s yoga. When she was describing a kind of seated forward bend, where your back is broad, but your front is a “C” from the top of your forehead to your public bone, she said to think of it like a spinnaker: it’s full, but without wrinkles in either the front or the back. Colleen often uses metaphors from the sea, which makes sense—we are out here surrounded by the most beautiful water.

At the end of class, Colleen read this quote from Albert Einstein:

There are only two ways to live your life:
One is as though nothing is a miracle;
the other is as though everything is a miracle.

When I got home, I took my bike out of the laundry room and rode to the post office, where Chris, the postmaster, told me about his uncle who ran the old Greenport movie theatre for thirty-nine years, and when he retired, sold pizzas out of his back window on Shelter Island. The reason Chris told me this was because I’m applying for a job as a staff writer at the Shelter Island Reporter—circulation 2500—which is sort of ridiculous, but also intriguing. As part of my test, I’m writing a story about the famous Shelter Island 10K that happens every summer. The finish line is by Chris’s uncle’s house, and he always serves lots of pizza.

After visiting the post office, I road my bike to Sep’s and picked up a bag of asparagus from the pile of bags that was lying, unmanned, at the deserted stand. I was afraid to take a dollar out of the honor-system jar as change for my five, but luckily a guy drove up and took it out for me. Most minutes these days seem like learning experiences.

P.S. This is the song Colleen played in sivasana this morning. Today I was one of those people crying at the end of yoga, the tears rolling into my ears and making everything sound like the sea.