let’s do this already

Yeah I know.  You don’t need to tell me.  I’ve been gone.  Again.  This time for a LONG time.  Believe me, I have my reasons, none of which we need to get into right now.

Okay I’ll tell you.  For other reasons I shan’t get into, I have moved.  I’m in a pretty small place now.  I was in a pretty small place before, but… well never mind.  The other thing is that I had to get a roommate.

That’s him right there.  His name is Don, and we get along pretty well, I guess.  I found him on Craigslist. I don’t know if we really have anything in common, but sometimes that’s okay for a roommate situation.  From what I’ve heard, it’s better that way.  We move around each other, but we don’t have to worry about busting up a pre-existing friendship, the way some roommate situations tend to do.


Although one of the things that Don is having to deal with is that I’m going through some changes, you know, some job things and kind of a re-education phase, which right now means that I’m enrolled in a heating-and-cooling systems extension program at the U, and I do a lot of contracting work out of my apartment.  So yeah, these are the pipes that I take to the job sites.  I try to keep them out of the way, but….

I’m also aware that it’s kind of a problem for certain people.

Patience is required.

Also a security deposit, which I have yet to receive, and so right now I don’t feel that bad about doing what I need to do in my own space.

Ahem.

Times are lean, man.  You gotta do what you gotta do.  That’s just how it is.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right.  There’s been absolutely no yoga going on.  None.

None.

Let me say that again.  None.

Yeah there’s shame.  Yeah there’s regret.  Whatever.  But yoga?  Nope.  So let’s deal with that, shall we?

Okay, here we go.  Here’s a book by a Vietnamese monk.  Maybe if I just open this up and read a page or two, I’ll feel okay about myself and be able to justify this blog for like, even 30 seconds.  30 seconds of the past five months.  Whatever.  I’m not going to dwell.  Here we go.

Fuh fuh faaaaa, neener neener neener, lubbitylubbitylubbity…okay,  here we go.

“Buddhist practice is based on nonviolence and nondualism.  You don’t have to struggle with your body, or with your hate, or with your anger.  Treat your in-breath and out-breath tenderly, nonviolently, as you would treat a flower.  Later you will be able to do the same thing with your physical body, treating it with gentleness, respect, nonviolence, and tenderness.

When you are dealing with pain, with a moment of irritation, or with a bout of anger, you can learn to treat them in the same way.  Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. … your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it.  The same goes for all your emotions.”

Hmm.

Hmmmmmmm.

In breath out breath in breath out breath.

What do you think, Don?  I guess we’re supposed to just observe that process without judgment and without trying to force it or whatever.

In Out In Out In Out inoutinoutinoutinout

Whew, outbreath.

I know I’m not supposed to judge, but…

What is that?  Did you eat something wild?  Wait, don’t tell me.

I don’t want to know what goes on in here when I’m not here.  I just don’t.

Okay, see you later.  I gotta go to work.

 

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rising from the ashes

Oh, god.

Well, I’ve failed.  Massive fail.  Just kill me now.  No updates for ages. Well excuse me.  I have a tiny brain and there just happens to be a lot going on, although almost none of those things is yoga.

Here comes the avalanche of excuses.  One of them is travel. Here I am, packing my bags.

I’m not very good at culling out what to bring and what not to bring on my trips. So everything goes in.

Here I thought I might be playing tennis.  I also thought I might need a beach towel.  I needed neither.

It’s fun to visit walkable cities.  Here I am wearing my fancy outfit on the streets of New York City.  Okay, Brooklyn, but still.  I like how I can wear my fanciest outfit outside in New York and nobody cares.  Nobody wears pajamas out on the street in New York.  That’s something people do when they get in and out of cars so much that the line between home and public blurs and pretty soon people are putting their bare feet up on a hotel lobby table and talking about their test results on their cell phone in a crowded elevator.  Tacky.  Raise your standards, people.  You’ve got problems if you’re getting outclassed by a chicken.

Anyway I’m totally not doing any yoga these days.  In fact, if I’m being honest I am going to have to change the name of this blog.  Yoga Chicken is just not truthful.  It may change to Mr. Chicken or ChickenWorld or something like that.  Suggestions welcome.

Another thing that happened is spring.  Holy crap, can you believe this?  Totally knocked me out. I feel like I’m on drugs. Well, I AM on drugs but that’s another story.  LOOK AT THIS FLOWER!!!  DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND THE KIND OF WINTER I JUST WENT THROUGH???? DO YOU!!?!?!??!?

I remember.  I almost died.  Seriously, I think I came really close to dying.  Look at this.  This is April or some shit.  I can’t even believe it.  Kill me, I’m saying to myself here, someone just kill me.

But.  I didn’t die, and nobody came over to kill me, which was disappointing for a minute, but then I got over it, mainly because the sun came out.

 

 

 

The sun came out, I got myself some chicken-nip (oh yeah), and the flowers exploded and now the air is thick and perfume-y and what are you supposed to do with that?

What I’d like to do is spend a pile of cabbage and get myself a sweet ride.  Aw, yeah.  Hawt.  Check me out, ladies.  Who wants a ride on the Blue Dagger?

But I can’t.  I’ve got bills.  So I guess I’ll just keep taking the bus.

It’s cool.

I’m good.

For now.

change of seasons

I have been absent.  Sorry about that.

 

 

 

 

It’s just kind of confusing because a few weeks ago, or maybe even 10 days….we had all this snow.  A slush storm.  And I gave up hope.  I took to my bed in my bathrobe and I cannibalized a box of Peeps and I twittered a lot of angst-ridden messages about the arrogant superiority of free-range chickens and about how they’re not there through any effort of their own and how I was going to turn on my oven and make myself into a broiler and then my friend Lee called me and was like “What the hell are you doing?” and then I was like “oh.  whoops.”

That’s what six months of harsh winter will do to you.  You don’t actually want to end it all in mid-January, when it would make sense.  No, that impulse waits until early April when we’re three minutes from spring.  For some reason, this is the time when it feels like spring is never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever going to happen…not in a million years.

So I deleted all those Tweets and we talked for a while and then I just pulled the blinds and turned up the heat and watched a bunch of war movies in the nude.

Who cares?

 

 

 

So that happened.  Anyway guess where I haven’t been lately?

Yoga.

Maybe that’s why I feel weird.

I’ve been doing other things.  More on that later, maybe.

 

 

 

The day after my war movie extravaganza, it was spring.

But it’s the brown phase of  spring.  This is the phase where you’re like, “is this really happening? Can we trust this?” Check it out: it’s not that pretty right now.

But hey.  Nobody said spring has to be pretty.  You think it’s all going to be good smells and lilacs and bunnies and you’re in for some serious disappointment.  Have you ever seen a live birth?  If you don’t have to, you should probably skip it.  If it were a Fringe Festival show I would not review a live birth kindly.  Who wouldn’t prefer just to skip to the baby, all washed up and dried, bundled in a clean blanket?  I don’t even want to see the clamp on the umbilical cord.  Gross.

But sometimes you can’t help see the messy birthing process.  For example: do you know where I saw my first bits of green grass this year?  Do you?

Along a grungy stretch of highway 494 at rush hour.

Seems wrong and unfair, but the truth often is.

Anyway, Lee called, and I took a shower and got dressed and we went out to lunch.

It was tempting to just eat dessert.  Lots of it.

 

 

 

 

But we were good.  We got a salad and some soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess we were hungry.

 

 

 

 

Lee is in an odd situation in that the non-profit arts organization where he works, teaching hoop dance to senior citizens (Silver Spirals)  is a little slow on the uptake, and they only decided this year, after the recession finally started slowing down, that maybe they should fire some people.   So his job is on the block and he’s all stressed out.  I listened to him talk for a while and he blew off some steam and I can totally relate.  He thinks he’s being targeted at work because he’s a chicken and therefore his co-workers perceive him as expendable when in fact….well, never mind.  I won’t get into it.   Lee is a fine hoop instructor.  Top-notch actually.  And he’s a killer performer.  He’s just in an odd field.  I don’t have much advice for Lee other than to hang in there and believe in himself.  And he said how do you believe in yourself when nobody else does?

 

 

 

Anyway I paid for lunch.

 

 

 

 

And I went home.

Or, I almost went home.

 

 

 

 

It was so warm out I didn’t need a jacket.  So I took it off and I climbed this tree and I soaked up some sun.

Man o man.  Sun.  Blue sky.  Is this real?  It feels like I’m waking up from a long nightmare.

I need to go to yoga.  I hear there are some spring detox workshops going on this weekend.

I looked at them online.  They’re having special classes to cleanse your liver chi, which, when blocked, causes irritation and restlessness.  I guess spring is a good time to do this, spring cleaning and all.  I wish someone would have told me about that liver chi thing like six weeks ago, though.  Beer.  We won’t talk about that now.

It’s spring, it’s a new day–or at least it’s trending in that direction.

showing up

One of the things that yoga stresses is the value of showing up–on the mat, and in life.  When you keep coming to the mat, even when you don’t feel like it–especially when you don’t feel like it–that’s when things happen–shifts in consciousness, thought patterns, awareness, the circumference of your butt.

 

 

Sometimes showing up might seem pointless at first.  For example, showing up at a rally.  I’m not usually one for marching in a big crowd of people holding signs.  I usually think doing such a thing is just a show of  powerlessness and adolescent rage.  And that it’s just about as effective.

 

But this time when I got a call to show up for a rally in Madison, protesting the Wisconsin governor’s recent legislative date-rape of state union collective bargaining rights, I thought–you know what, I think I’ll go to that.  I don’t have anything major to contribute, other than my presence and my ability to take pictures–I’m not even IN a union, but heck, I’ll go.  I’ll just show up.

 

 

It turns out that this was a good idea.  Why?  Because it’s good to clarify your intentions and it’s powerful to do that with a bunch of other people who are doing the same thing.  That’s why people often prefer yoga classes to a “home practice” (translation:  doesn’t happen).  Groups keep the energy moving in a good direction, and they hold you accountable.  They’re even good if nothing “technically” happens–like  ramming an unwanted bill down the throats of a resistant public.  Technically that is something that “happened” and the people who did it would like to think that because it “happened,” now it is “over” and we just need to “move on.”

Excuse me, but Fuck That.

 

 

 

 

Does anybody watch Mad Men?  If you are not caught up, Spoiler Alert.  Do Not Read.  Okay, so remember at the end of last season when Don Draper suddenly decided to marry his secretary because she’s pretty and she validates the fakey fake little bullshit story he’s invented for himself about who he is?

 

 

Well that’s what this reminds me of. This bill.  It’s a fakey fake story that someone is selling Wisconsin, and the whole country, about who we are–that we’re all strong and upwardly mobile and independent and better off as a million little islands, a thousand points of light, never mind the recession and the foreclosures and the people taking out loans to pay health insurance costs–pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, we’re all fucking rich and if you’re not yet then you will be soon, if you just give up all your rights and trust that the corporations that will soon be running your schools really do have your best interests in mind, and PS we’re draining the Great Lakes and filling them with Coca Cola and anybody who doesn’t use AngelSoft toilet tissue to do their dirty work will be fined and featured on the crime channel at 8 PM every night. Now everybody go out and shop.

 

 

Who would sell such an obviously implausible story, other than Walt Disney, the guy who wants to be cryogenically preserved so he can come back and make Mount Rushmore into a roller coaster?  It’s this guy.  Governor Walker.  Not that everybody needs to go to college, but guess what:  he didn’t go.  He didn’t go to college and so nobody else should be able to go to college, either.  Private sector workers don’t always have benefits, and so nobody else should, either.  If I can’t have it, nobody will.  This is the psychology of a poorly trained five-year-old who would rather break his toy truck than have someone else touch it.

Excuse me, but Fuck That.

 

 

 

 

Don Draper is a little boy.  So is Scott Walker.  Or maybe they’re actually little girls.

This is a little girl but I have the sense that her friends are very real.  And they’re all super pissed off.  If she has imaginary friends, I bet they’re all super bad-ass.  In fact, there are probably 10 or 12 of them standing around her right now.  They’re part of an imaginary-friend union.  AFU.  They’re not happy.

 

 

 

Our founding fathers were called that for a reason.  They were not called Founding Little Boy-Men. America the Beautiful?  It’s America the Emasculated, and I’m not talking about the man’s men union firefighters and pipefitters and farm-hands who were at the protest.

 

 

I’m talking about the weaselly little rich boys who spent the last few weeks (or years?) scuttling through the rathole tunnel that connects the Wisconsin capitol with, apparently, the fucking parking lot of the M&I bank.  These skinny little men with tails in suits who are so afraid that somebody might come and touch their toy truck that they would rather kill everybody else on the playground than have that happen. Wow.

 

 

Where are their mommies?  Who forgot to teach these boys to be brave, and to share? For that matter, where are their daddies?  Maybe that is more to the point.

 

 

 

Well, enough of that rant.  Point is, I showed up, and I’m glad I did.  Things happened, things shifted, and once in the habit of showing up, you tend to keep showing up, and then more stuff happens.  Hey Wisconsin:  Guess What?

the gift of art

My goodness, would you look at this? A friend made this.  Now, I am not gay.  But I think this is one beautiful painting.  A confident rooster.  Yes, he’s looking over his shoulder, as if running from something, but he’s not running.  Something just made a noise behind him and he’s looking back to check it out.

It was a goat.  No big deal.  Onwards on the path.  Thank you Jenraye Adams!

candle gazing

Sometimes you feel like a king, just being at home with your stuff.

 

 

 

And then other times you get up and you go online to see what’s going on and you find out that others are maybe not as well off as you. They’re not really having a good time.  Oh boy.  This doesn’t look so good.

 

 

Most of the time it’s easier to read about those who are better off than we are. Hence reality show stars.  They look nice, and they seem confident, and if you watch enough of them then you can imagine that there are only two levels of life out there that can happen:  the life that you have, and then the life of the fancies.  With this perspective there is nowhere to go but up.

 

We don’t want to think about these guys, because we don’t want to be one of them.  Yeah, that looks pretty bad.  But if it looks bad to us, imagine how bad it must look to one of the fancies.

 

 

 

Look at the fear in his eyes.  Wow.  You can see it.  This guy is afraid.  He’s got everything to lose.  Or does he? Is there something to be gained by caring?

 

 

These are the eternal questions and sometimes they can only be tackled in the bath.

 

 

 

 

 

Or else by a form of meditation known as candle-gazing.  Here what you do is just soften your focus at a flickering candle and your mind drifts off and eventually you are meditating without even really trying to.  That’s what they tell me.

 

 

 

 

It’s not happening.   It’s not happening.  When is it going to happen when when when when when–

 

 

 

 

 

 

When when when whenwhen–

 

 

 

 

Ow, Jesus it burns!  I burned my head!  Screw you you asshole candle!  It bit me!  Get away from me candle!  You’re dangerous! You’re mean! I hate candles!

 

 

 

 

Forget it, I’m never candle gazing again.  Never ever ever.  Never.

Ever.

……

 

 

 

 

Or maybe if I just gaze from over here.  Way over here.

 

 

 

 

Way way way over here.  Where it can’t get–

 

 

 

 

 

Whoop.  Roller skate.  K I gotta go do some cleaning.

PS cleaning is also a spiritual practice, when you’re not a jerk about it.  More on that later.

the mat: showing up (and falling asleep)

When you go to yoga, you are going to need a mat.  Most yoga studios have their own that you can use, or you can get your own.  I have my own.  It’s nice to have your own.  Then it becomes a sort of home away from home that you can take with you anywhere.   It’s the place where you are going to do your work.  It’s like having your own desk, or going to a school that encourages independent study.  This is your mat where you will do your thing.  This is where you will show up.  Might as well have enough space and know it’s yours and only yours, and that nobody is going to grab it out of your hands or leave foot fungus on it for you.

 

 

Sometimes, however, you can get too comfortable on your own mat.   You go into what is supposed to be meditation, and you fall dead asleep.  This can happen on your own OR a borrowed mat.  Sleep is restful, and so is meditation, but meditation is not supposed to turn into sleep.  Meditation has its own purposes.   But don’t feel bad.  Lots of people fall asleep during meditation.  Usually this means that you just need to get more sleep for real. However:  If you can help it, try not to fall asleep during meditation or you’ll miss the good stuff.

 

 

For example:  She is asleep (obviously).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty relaxed.

 

 

 

Hey wake up!!!! Wake up!!! You’re missing something!  Pssst!  Psssst!!

PSSSSSSSSSSSTTTT!

Well anyway I guess it’s not my job to wake other people up.  It’s hard enough to keep myself awake.  We should all stay on our own mats.

 

 

 

Another place we can practice showing up is by doing the things we have set out to do and reading the things that we have set out to read so that we can learn the things that we have set out to learn.  Somehow, this is easier said than done.

 

 

I tend to get distracted by things and lose focus.  Who knows why this happens?  It just does.

 

 

 

 

 

But the things I want to do don’t go away. They just end up piling up and piling up.   Oh man.  I’ve got all these kinds of books to read.

 

 

 

 

Also these kinds of books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this not getting done?  I am just as bad as that lady on the mat.  I amfalling asleep on the job.  I am missing out.   Get up.  Wake up.  GET UP NOW.

 

 

Maybe this will help.  It is a planner.  You write things down in it and then youlook at them and they make you do the work.  The things you write down will judge you if you do not finish them.  And they will bake you a pie if you do finish them.  Risk/reward. Show up.

 

 

 

Here we go.  Today is March 1.  That means it’s almost spring and everything elseis waking up so why not you?  This can be a mat of sorts.  It’s a place to show up.  Okay cool.  Don’t fall asleep.  Don’t fall asleep.

 

 

Don’t worry, I’m not asleep.  I’m on the mat.  I’m mostly awake and I’m showing up.

Now what?