Still Waking Up Early

Five days to go in my 21-day, wake-up-at-6am-or-earlier challenge, and here I am on our mini vacay, in our rented “romantic artist’s bungalow” in the woods, watching the full moon disappear behind the redwoods and the sun crest over the mountains.

I wavered on this commitment during the drive up – the guilt over not languishing in bed when we have three mornings just to ourselves: no cat jumping on our faces, no dog restless to race outside and check on full-moon craziness, no MIL trying ever so quietly to make her tea and pretend she’s invisible so as not to wake us.

I’m rather enjoying this early morning time alone with my coffee and interwebs. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes.

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After the Prediction Party

Something about being told by eight psychics that I may be adding to my tiny family sparked more of an internal–and then external–dialogue than I’d initially thought. I was so shocked at the notion, and the story of how the information unfolded, that I shared my experience with a few people: my husband first, then a few coworkers, then my best friends, then my mother in law, grandmother and my aunt. Of course I told the story with an incredulous vibe, a “can you believe that?” tone of voice.

Their reactions, in order of their appearance: freaked the fuck out, “wow, that’s crazy,” variations of “I didn’t want to tell you this, but when I was away I had this weird feeling you were going to tell me you were pregnant when I got back,” “I shouldn’t tell you this but for the last 6 months I’ve half-expected you to tell me we needed to make some changes to our living arrangement,” “Great-grandkids? I can buy little things and Christmas will be fun again!” “Baby goats!”

Up until last week, I had two thoughts about having kids: 1) I was pretty sure I wanted them, but not yet, and certainly couldn’t foresee when the right time would be. 2) I didn’t understand this biological clock bullshit and how women all of a sudden needed children. Up until last week, logic trumped biology.

But damn if there isn’t something to group think and talking about the possibility out in the open. All of a sudden, we were “talking about talking about” having a baby. Mother-in-law had a good point; we both have steady jobs and health insurance, something that isn’t guaranteed when we start our own business. The saying, “nobody’s ever really ready to have kids” started to really make sense. The idea became less scary and a little more exciting. People do it all the time, right?! We can’t plan our life to the T, right? At 29 and 33, we have time and yet we’re not getting any younger.

My body responded to these talks in the most freakish way. Apparently my ovaries have ears. And when they heard there was a possibility that what they’ve been working toward every 28 days between them might actually move to the forefront, they went into high gear. Apparently my reproductive organs have gone all Benedict Arnold on me and are plotting to hand over the fort.

But while it started to sound like talking about having a baby might be a sure thing, the schematics started to come into play, the most obvious being the fact that we live with his mother.

The glaring question became, if we add to our little family, how far will it push our venture back? Will we move or continue to live with his mom? Moving to another place just the 3 of us as a holdover until we buy a farm will seem like a consolation and will move the dream that much further.

The conclusion seems to be, why make our (and future) lives any harder than they need to be? If we don’t know where we’ll be in two years (and, I know, in this climate even people who thought they knew where they’d be have found their lives topsy-turvy), why not work toward a little more stability? We’re stable now, but it isn’t the preferred method of sustainability.

So, for now, the talking about talking about having a baby has subsided. And the push to finish the business plan and start our own venture has increased. I can’t help admitting I’m a little disappointed. I’m starting to see that once you wind that biological clock there doesn’t seem to be a snooze button. A two-person front of logic is holding off the ovarian assault today. I hope our fortifications hold.

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It All Started With That Damn Prediction Party

Last week I attended my first-ever Prediction Party. Hosted by our town’s well-respected and highly connected medium/spiritual healer, the evening was a chance for about 15 women to ask her cadre of mediums (media?) what they saw for 2011. As the eight women sat in a quiet circle, channeling, I suppose, before we even began, we were instructed to ask broad questions first, beginning with international situations (for example, the world’s food supply, relations in Pakistan, Haiti, etc.), national queries (politics and the economy, obviously), the state (same as the nation, essentially), county and then our town. THEN, we got what we all were waiting (and paid $20) for, and were allowed to ask the eight media (some seasoned, others recent graduates of the ‘program’) one personal question.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always been eerily skeptical but at the same time enamored with the idea of the other side. I’ve just always wanted to experience it for myself to know whether I really believe in this phenomenon. I felt like I was sitting in on a taping of that long-gone TV show where the guy would stand before a studio audience and answer their questions about loved ones passing or health woes. Some answers seemed obviously gleaned from the right amount of information the person included when they asked the question. Others just seemed like what a well-meaning friend or even Oprah would suggest. Still others were shocking enough to where I thought the curious questioner had been planted. But then it was time to ask my own question.

My question was simple. After planning in fits and starts our own business over the last two years, I wanted to know if these kind ladies saw any progress this year. I didn’t include this in my question, but frankly we’re getting tired of people frequently asking us how the “planning” is going. The line of business we want to start is hard, and multi-faceted, and takes a lot of startup capital. We can work hard, we can multi-task, but the capital is where we fall short, so planning enough to get a loan or investors (and ensure success) is where we are now.

The ladies saw some great things. “Much happiness in this endeavor,” one of them said. “I see your business with fireworks over it, which is really good,” another offered. They saw bits and pieces of things I didn’t mention but are definitely elements of what we want to do. And then. The one woman who had all the right answers that evening, who’d zoned in on one woman’s partner’s dizzy spells, who knew another woman’s granddaughter’s problems revolved around an eating disorder, opened her eyes, turned to look at me, and said, “do you have kids?”

Fuck. “No…” the words escaped my lips as if I was a slowly deflating balloon. “… will I?” My mind immediately went back two nights prior, during which we drank our dinner at a local margarita bar and had unprotected sex (it’s ok! we’re married now!) for the first time in my 15-year humping career. As a product of a strict Catholic upbringing, this clearly meant I’d immediately be with child.

All eight of those women turned to look at me. I mean, fully came out of their channeling trance, some even having to shift in their chairs to look out of their circle, to finally see who this woman with a tiny voice was and why she sounded so paralyzed by the thought of this. The room became deafening with the sound of women fluttering like a gaggle of geese over this news.

“To be honest, I thought that was going to be your question as soon as you started speaking,” said one. “I see it too,” said another with way too much joy in her voice. The one who asked the question just kind of shrugged apologetically. What. The. Fuck. Seriously?!

“Wait!,” one medium whom I’d previously pegged as The Doomsdayer exclaimed. “Kids are baby goats! You want a farm, right?! They’re just baby goats! That’s it!” I pointed at her with a relieved but I’m-onto-you smirk. “Yes,” I said. “Let’s go with that. Kids are baby goats. That’s what you all are seeing.”

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The Gentle Meditation Yoga Class is Neither Gentle nor Meditative. Discuss.

Or, my worst experience with yoga EVER.

My very first yoga class was, I believe, one of those enlightening experiences that may very well be included in my memoirs someday. The day before, when my husband and I decided to try out this 6 AM yoga class at the gym, my mother-in-law said with an all-knowing and proud grin, “yoga comes to you when you need it. I’m so excited for the two of you.” And she was right. It was everything we needed. Calm, meditative and energizing all at the same time, that class is what set my yoga journey in motion. Heaven knows, if my first class was the one I took a month later with another teacher (who, by the way, cares nothing about the flow of breath but everything about how his body looks in the mirror when he’s demonstrating plank pose, all while be-bopping to music that may have very well been included in a soft core production), I don’t think I’d have ever gone back. But even that class pales in comparison to the jarring experience I had with yet another teacher who apparently did not get the memo that she was to be leading a “gentle meditation” class.

It was smack-dab in the middle of the holiday craziness. Work was crazy, the weather was crazier, and I just needed some time on my mat, possibly to get the body moving, but more to just have some time to look inward with a little bit of guidance. What I got instead were lackluster poses, glaring overhead lights, and a teacher who was, well… neither gentle nor meditative. We just… posed. For maybe 3 seconds on each side. No thought. No care. No reminders that when we step onto our mats we let everything go and are just here. Right now. This teacher was bored. And probably reeeeally looking forward to the yoga retreat she was going to soon be spending in Mazatlan or some other exotic-sounding locale where you do sun salutations on ancient ruins while the sun comes up and then go eat some quinoa mango blended wheat germ bullshit.

But back to this ridiculous non-yoga experience. I was uncomfortable. And, quite frankly, a bit jolted for the remainder of the week. I’d be sitting at my desk, catching up on the news, and her loud chants would resonate through my mind: “MY BODY IS NOT A BURDEN, IT IS LIGHT AS A FEATHER,” she’d yell, boot camp style, while we held our lackluster poses for 3 seconds. Then she’d repeat it. Louder, but with less feeling. Then we’d switch sides and do it again.

I tried so hard to accept this experience as something to learn from. I know I don’t always need to write a script, things don’t always need to go as planned, and I can always learn something from any experience. Like when I’m behind a very slow driver and I try to think that maybe they’re there to make me slow down and take my time instead of infuriating me and making me late. But then.

But then, it became partner yoga. And I ended up with the one creepy guy in class. I’m not really a partner yoga kind of gal, I’ve decided. I don’t really need someone else to pull me forward while my legs are extended so that my head falls quite neatly into their crotch area. I think I’ve got the stretch thing covered. I’m a be-sweaty-and-focused-on-your-own yoga kind of girl. Which, I assumed, was what GENTLE MEDITATION yoga was. I spent a lot of my time in class formulating (and then accepting, and then letting go) my complaint for the gym suggestion box, while trying to remind myself that maybe some people really did like this kind of yoga. And I spent the rest of the week recounting my harrowing yoga experience and deciding it just wasn’t right. Just yesterday, I noticed this teacher no longer teaches the gentle meditation class and a new, more serene-looking teacher is in her place. I’m thinking about giving that a try again.

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Two Things I’d Consider Paying for On the Internet

But I’m stoked I don’t have to yet. (And no, porn isn’t one of them.)

I’m normally apprehensive when I’m asked to pay a subscription or fee for something on the Internet. As a pseudo-journalist, I hate to admit that my reading of the New York Times will probably wane once their online subscription goes into effect. But, who knows? I may miss it so much that I at least subscribe to the Sunday edition. I do know that if I had to go back to the free version of Pandora I’d probably end up stuck on my CD collection that hasn’t been updated since 2006, when I quit working for the music magazine (and scoring free CDs to “review”).

One of the greatest free (for now) online inventions of all time, in my humble opinion, is and their weekly dinner menus. No joke, this site compiles ridiculous (taste-, presentation- AND ease-wise), in-season recipes for each day of the workweek, complete with dessert and booze pairings. Fan-fucking-tastic, right? But it gets so much better. They not only give you complete menus for each weeknight, they then break down a shopping list for you. And if that’s not enough, they’ll say, ‘oh, no big whoop, for Wednesday’s side, just use some of that leftover tomatillo-scallion-whatchumacallit you easily whipped up on Monday night.’ Seriously! In 2010, I went from essentially terrified of looking like a complete fool in the kitchen to easy-breezily making all five side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner like a pro (all of which, like you even had to ask, came from Epicurious). I would really hate to have to pay for this brilliance, but have a sneaky suspicion that this is just too good to go on for free forever.

Same with my other “thank god it’s free” gem, Yoga Journal. I began practicing yoga last spring and immediately became…um, addicted is probably the most appropriate word. It was a lot cheaper – and a lot more helpful – than therapy. I get it on so many levels: This old ballet dancer body totally remembers what it’s like to stretch and bend, and yoga’s practices of self-discipline and spirituality are right up my alley. I’ve spent a lot of time on my mat asking really deep questions about my life, my situation, myself. And a lot of times I get some great answers. Other times I need more. And that’s where the Yoga Journal comes in. They have articles written on yogic wisdom and practice, even dietary tips. I don’t read everything, nor do I follow what I do read religiously. But sometimes things resonate with me and I’m glad I have that resource. Plus, yesterday started their 21-day-challenge, where they’re actually providing 21 days of different yoga exercises in video form. Last night’s was fun and challenging; today’s looks nice and refreshing. It feels like a great complement to my own 21-day challenge to get out of bed at a decent hour every day.

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More on Waking Up Early

See? Even Super PR Guru Peter Shankman is on the waking up early tip. Although, his early and my early are two completely different things. 3:30 AM just to run in Central Park by yourself? Crikey.

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On Friendship

When I was growing up, and even not so very long ago, friendships were a complicated thing for me – always mired in the deep-seated belief that nobody really wanted to hear from me, that I was probably last in line of others’ series of really good friends, and therefore didn’t really need to put in a lot of effort in regards to communication or special events. Then, when I missed out on something, it was easy to say, “See? They didn’t really need me around anyway. I just wasn’t cut out to have a lot of friends. I’m too (busy, independent, awkward, quirky) to hang out, anyway.”

But lately, I’d say over the last few years, I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am to have a handful of really GOOD friends whom I treasure. If we don’t talk in more than a week I miss them – and I call them to let them know! I keep up to date on their lives and am genuinely interested/concerned in the latest developments. I have standing weekly Friday-night cocktail hour and daily Instant Messenger chats. Traveling across the country last year for the debut of my friend’s first written play never required a second guess. I have a key to my girlfriend’s house so I can check in on their dog when they leave for the weekends. On rainy Sundays I take coffee and pastry to her house to visit so she doesn’t have to bundle up her new baby (to whom I’m “auntie,” which is just the most heartwarming title in the world). And just the other day, my hairdresser invited me to a girls-only monthly wine tasting get-together.

For some women, this would fall under the category of No Big Whoop. Some women are social animals. Me, well…I thought I wasn’t, but maybe I just needed a little more confidence. And, to be honest, I needed a little less self-absorption. Now, it’s less about trying to be my awesomest and hoping people like me. Truly, the more I care for these amazing people and genuinely need to know about their lives, the less I care about whether they really want to hear from me. Now I just know that they do. And if they’re too busy, it’s nothing personal; it’s life.

I don’t know a whole lot about what caused this shift in my view of myself and my friends, but I’m certain it has a lot to do with my roommate mother-in-law. I’ve experienced first-hand her genuine character, her caring for long-term friends, the mirth with which she tells stories of my husband and his brother growing up on their cul-de-sac with the family-like neighbors with whom she still keeps in contact.

I have transitioned out of the superficial friendship, where small talk (and, subsequently judgment, both of myself and the friend) is required at every encounter. It’s a version of friendship I’d never witnessed before but that I now see myself cultivating among my dearest comrades (a lot of this blog I fear is going to be about examining the not-too-endearing qualities I gleaned from my own mother, from whom I’ve been estranged for a little over two years).

At any rate, I am so very thankful for the dear friendships I have and am apparently still finding. This very grownup feeling of getting more joy out of what I put in than what I take out ain’t so bad, either.

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