Sunday, November 21, 2010

thanks, V.

One of my dear friends came to town this weekend with a belated birthday present.  Knowing just HOW MUCH I love poetry and the art of writing in general (she - having been my roommate for the better four years - has heard me recite my fair share of Robert Frost as I putzed about the apartment), she handed me the collection, “Prayers & Run-on Sentences” by Stuart Kestenbaum.   I was stoked, though I’d never heard of him before today - a shame since he’s a poet from Deer Isle, off the coast of my Maine.  After sitting with this book for the early part of my Sunday eve, I’ve already got a favorite.  I love this one.  Write more later.  Probably about giving thanks.  I have a lot, after all, to be thankful for....and it’s almost Thanksgiving.
if you don’t like or know how to read poetry, there’s really no trick.  no need to pause at the line breaks; just read it as you would one long (run-on) sentence.  and don’t think so hard:)
enjoy, you.

Our problem - may I include you? - is that we
don’t know how to start, how to just close 
our eyes and let something dance between
our hearts and our lips, we don’t know how
to skip across the room only for the joy of the leap.
We walk, we run, but what happened to the skip
and its partner, the gallop, the useless and imaginary
way we could move through space, the horses we
rode before we knew how to saddle up, before we
had opinions about everything and just loved
the wind in our faces and the horizon in our eyes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

little lion man.

thursday night
mumford + sons
clay, claire, kevin, kay.  
a foursome whose names keep hard “C" sounds and make alliteration a job.
king charles
cadillac sky
turns out the opening bands have hard “C” sounds, too.  stars aligned.  i like that saying only because i think of stars in a straight line across a galaxy above our earth but have no real belief that it would effect human behavior.  
kay, claire, kevin, clay, king charles, cadillac sky.  
amazing openers and one of the best shows i’ve seen at the house of blues ever.
I don’t care about bandwagons or how Mumford’s blown up in recent months
how they fill the venues
how people talk
i only wish i’d seen them when they filled small houses because the intimacy that came from 1,000+ humans staring at a stage watching 4 guys who are covered in passion was just as real as if i sat on the edge of my couch and watched them break banjo strings in my living room.
at one point king charles, cadillac sky and mumford were all on stage together. it was the encore.  the banjos found each other, the bass sunk into slow sorrow and the fiddles winked and twinkled as the kick drums pulsed.  harmonies, bearded men bellowing into shared microphones, leaning shoulders and backs into each other as if the sounds escaped between their ribs touching
and we’re beaming under lights and singing, too
all of us and the balcony.
a crowd of consonance 
another hard “c”, more stars form a straight line somewhere in this universe above us
i found myself standing staring in awe at the awesomeness 
how music brings us to each other
we ate burgers at 1am
we lost kevin.
we cabbed home and my head told my heart....
and awake my soul.....
and little lion man.

i couldn't find a good video from boston, so i went with this one from london's apollo taken about a month ago. the energy from the crowd is just as amazing here. singing with the band made for a great night.  fun fun times.

Yoga Love

I’m sitting on my couch with tea and a pile of chocolate callets from Trader Joe’s on my lap.  Peering into my freezer, I was surprised to find just how much dark chocolate I’ve hoarded.  If Trader’s runs out, come find me.  I will hook you up with my Willy Wonkian amounts of cocoa bean goodness.
Anyway, it’s been a while, twelveohsix.  I haven’t told you this yet, but my running shoes are getting a bit of a rest since I’ve started doing yoga.  Yes.  I’ve gone every day for the last week and am loving the way it makes my mind feel.  A whole different kind of work out.  I mean don’t get me wrong;  I still take down the river most mornings, but I needed a supplement, a change of scene.   And that scene looks like the up side of the orange Prana mat that I haven’t unrolled in two years.
I’ve tried my fair share of yoga; Bikram, Baptiste.....and generally after a day or three I’m over it.  Too much pressure to be good at it.  When I think of yoga, i think of really fit humans doing crazy poses with their eyes closed.  I once went on a yoga retreat with my cousins to a place called, Kripalu, in the Berkshires.  Everyone had names that sounded like a long prayer and always ended in a vowel.  I signed up for 5 classes and with the exception of the final class, felt like I was passing the “beginner” test.  I could glide through without being found out.  If the instructor came near me (I watched for feet out of the corner of my eye no matter where my head was supposed to be) and if he was anywhere near me, I’d just hold my breath and gut out whatever pose was supposed to happen, no matter the pain.  See, I was not a real practicer.  I was an ex-athlete with limited range of motion and a real competitive edge; a cocktail for yogic disaster.  The last class at the Kripalu Institute for Bendy People spent a good deal of time honing the dragon breath.  That sounded easy.  But my awesome cousin, Molly,  left after ten minutes, consumed in a fit of giggles due to a classroom full of extremely intense dragon breathing.  She flew out so fast and I was left to fend for myself in a room amongst hardcore yogis with beards and women that looked like they’d taken wheatgrass shots every day of their lives.  I was both jealous, fearful, and on the brink of renaming myself Kayalushana.    This was in 2004.
A week ago, I decided to take up yoga again and on Friday night, found myself in a class called, “Freedom Joy Yoga”. With a name like that, I was a little skeptical.  But I have a two-week pass and was determined to try every class that was offered before my time was up, so that I could decide if it was worth the monthly payments... Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Prana Flow all the other classes had been very awesome and I was actually getting limber and feeling stronger on my runs.  This was one of the only classes I hadn’t tried yet.  But when I read the description, I was even more skeptical: Inspired by Forrest and Vinyasa Yoga, this class will be set to an uplifiting Indie, Dance and House Music playlist. Tap into your potential energy and strength. Ride the waves of breath and rhythm. Let loose and relax your mind. Be prepared to move, sweat, and have fun! All levels are welcome!
Oh man.  This had Kripalu Dragon Breath giggle fit written all over it.  But heck.  Here we go.  People, Peeps, Humans with hearts.  THIS class was awesome.  Awesome.  
So we’re going through flow, only instead of typical chime/gong/waterfall relaxation music, it was all house music was blasting the brick walls and bouncing off 27 pairs of shins as we cobra’d and downward dogged our way to freedom.  I’m sweating my spandexed toosh off.  I’m starting to smile.  This is flippn cool.  Then.  Then Peter Crowley, our inspiring and energetic instructor dims the paper lantern lights until we’re in complete darkness and says, “okay, we have 15 minutes...” 15 minutes of what?  I wonder. He hits a few buttons on his macbook and serious serious house music reverberates off the walls.  “you can move your mats, you can move around the room, but dance, people!  Let it all out.  All your frustrations, your anxiety, your emotions, your work week, your it all out.  Let it GO....”
I stood there, unsure of what exactly let it go meant.  
My eyes adjusted to the dark and I saw the silhouettes of others in front of me starting to pulse and move to the beat of the music, their arms wailing above their heads, their feet jumping and heads bouncing.  Curvy bodies, stick straight bodies, ponytails, bald men, old people, young people short, tall, you name it.  All of them, dancing to a beat they heard outside, but hearing the release the pulse the hum of their own music inside.   My arms started, then my hips and my legs until everything all of me the underside of my feet to to the top of my head buzzed with complete and utter happiness.  I love to dance and so I danced.  I danced and danced and danced and leapt and, as many made their way around the room dancing their own form of freedom, I stepped once or twice off my mat and laughed out loud at the absurdity, the expanse of it all.  My heart swelled.  This was such a foreign feeling; a breach of what i assumed yoga always meant; a serious silent torture that felt good only at the end when you lay on your back for a few silent minutes.
This. Was. Awesome.
Minutes later we slowed to the sounds of Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You”, stepped back onto our mats and continued to practice.  We were one unit now.  We flowed in silence but I caught the smile of the guy next to me, and found myself keeping to the beat of the music.  Peter encouraged us through Warrior Three and I tried a shoulder stand and thought about the hand stand (in due time, Miller).  45 minutes later, we lay on our mats.  I was exhausted and drenched in sweat.  
I guess what I found was that things aren’t always the way they are supposed to be.  And that what they’re “supposed” to be is very often the story we make up in our heads. Maybe because of experience, or because someone told us this was how it was.  And so we live right there in our borders.  But maybe we take a risk.  We use house music instead of waterfalls to stretch to the sky and open our chests....We step off our mat and the dark, with strangers.  And yoga, with all it’s silences and ohms and namastes, becomes more.  Becomes bigger.  This class brought me a little closer to the me.  And I think that’s the goal, after all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

oh! rapid eye movement + running

i’m having a terrible time getting up for my morning runs recently.  first of all, it’s very COLD.  The last four days have been hitting 33ºF at least.  And it’s DARK.  And by dark I mean as dark as the inside of my eyelid dark which i would prefer to experience under my pillowy comforter rather than stepping out into the freezing pre-dawn skylids of 6:15am.  And you know what?  running in the cold dark is LONELY.  Sure, there are runners out on the river.  but during this time of year, much less this time of day, we’re all doing the shoulders-up-shuffle, mouths and hands covered up by dark poly/cotton blends.  we don’t talk.  we squint.  we blow wet into our jackets and get our breath beat up by frosty New England winds.  we watch our lung mist pulse out behind us in helpless trails.  Our cheeks get stung by gusts.  our exposed ankles get bitten by Jack Frost’s nasty Uncle.  You want to know what makes New Englanders tough?  Ask a runner in winter.
I do everything I can to make the transition from R.E.M to RUN that much easier for my morning war.  I set my clothes out: sports bra, shirt, longsleeve, vest, 3/4 pants (i’m a warrior), socks, shoes, gloves, glasses, headband, done.  I set my alarm 15 minutes before I’ll actually get up since I’m very aware that I hit the snooze button at least three times before I swing my legs over the side and plod to the teeth-brushing station.  During these three snooze button hits, my brain tries to wrap my head around why.  And then does some serious recon work.   Why are you going out there now, Kay?  you could just wait until after work.  It will be warmer, and maybe you can leave early or just go do some yoga.  Go take that class.  Don’t work out.  Why run?  
At that point, it’s do or die.  For the sake of this blog, let’s say it’s a day I get up:)  And then it becomes Too Quickly and after about a mile of chugging along my blood starts to warm up and course and thin and pulse and move and my ankles aren’t cold and my skin stings but it’s the good kind and tears bead up in the outer corners of my eyes and I feel my chin getting numb even with the jacket over it.  But I’m good.  I’m fine.  I’m 3 miles out and I can turn around now.  By this time, the sun is cresting the cityscape and I am in full throttle.  keys toggling in my right hand, shoulders down, breath come easy.  I pass a runner.  we smile the same acknowledgement and i realize his morning probably felt a lot like mine  
I come home, throw the coffee on, thank my psoas for healing, thank my heart for beating thank my shoes for holding, thank my heater for working, thank my God for making cold days and warm days and hard days and joy days.  Everything shakes out.  Even under an eyelid sky.
my mizzys in lighter skies.