Things I’ve learned

It’s been a while since my last real blog post.  Even longer since my last “things I learned” post.  I wondered at that.

But only for a nanosecond.

Let’s get to it.  What have I learned?

I learned:

1.  I’ve missed yoga.  Three years ago I took a yoga class to fulfill a college credit requirement.  I registered for the beginning class even though I had previous experience and was probably more transitional intermediate than beginner. I did so out of fear.

A costly miscalculation on my part.  As it happened, the instructor was the Antichrist and seemed woefully unaware the course was entitled “Yoga for Beginners.”   Think wine-soaked ballerina with severe Adult Attention Deficient Disorder.  Who teaches a yoga class set to swinging show tunes?…and sings along…and twirls…oh, so much twirling…She taught the class from her own private padded bubble, offered no modifications, and failed to understand the core principles of yoga.

I have many personality flaws.  Chief on the list:  Type A.   I’m an overachiever. That is especially true if there is something I value at stake.  At the time, it was my GPA.  I wanted an A and it is not in my nature to quit once I’ve committed.

Oh, the clarity of hindsight.

Three years later, I am still suffering the repercussions of that earned A.  My diagnosis: persistent grade 2 hip flexor strain with severe pain and limited ROM. Could be worse. Could be better.  But I’m making progress with the help of some wonderful physical therapists.  Last week, at their badgering urging, I started to practice yoga again.

I’m not going to lie.  The first few dozen sun salutations were rough.  But, at the same time, it was an incredible feeling.  Of course, I needed an extra day of physical therapy to recover, but they assure me it will get easier.  I’m going to choose to believe they are right.

Namaste.

2.  The X-Files is returning to television.  I’m conflicted.  I always loved the X-Files.  It was great television.  But reboots, remakes, and sequels annoy me.  A few years ago, I wrote about it. On the one hand, I am curious to see Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Cancer Man reunited.  They were fascinating characters.  On the other hand, I think it is often better to remember something beloved in its original, unblemished state.  I probably won’t watch.

Of course, for all of my righteous indignation, I am a total hypocrite.  There are two films looming on the horizon – one slated for release later this year, the other next year. Jason Bourne and James Bond.  Both are sequels/remakes/reboots.  Both make me giddy with excitement.

I thought about arguing the merits of these franchises and how they differ from all the unoriginal rubbish out there.  But I don’t need to explain myself to you. Instead, I offer you a peek at the new Bond.

Savor it.

3.  I don’t like cherries.  I’m forty-two.  I’ve spent most of my life believing that I don’t eat cherries because I am allergic to them. Turns out – not true.  I just don’t like them.

Strange.

4.  Spring in Texas:  Bluebonnets and bees.  What else is there to say?

IMG_2578

5.  Miles Davis makes the perfect background for writing.  As a general rule, I don’t listen to music when I write.  It’s distracting.  I do much better with everyday white noise. Well…unless, it’s “screaming toddler Tuesday” or “”where’s the damn coffee in this place’ octogenarian Thursday” at my favorite coffee shop.  The latter is always a special treat.  There’s nothing quite so entertaining as a group of filter-free, half-deaf senior citizens out for their weekly breakfast social.

Last week, I discovered Miles Davis.  I’ve never been much of a jazz fan.  I much prefer old-school soul, sixties R&B, anything touched by the hands of the almighty Sting, and Florence and the Machine.  Jazz always seemed like too much work to fully appreciate. Does that make sense?   Probably not.  Sorry.

Anyway, I was researching Jazz artists/albums in reference to a character development I am doing for my current WIP and happened upon Sketches of Spain, a Miles Davis work conducted by Gil Evans (fun fact:  Gil Evans and Sting recorded a live album, Last Session, in 1987).  I liked the title; the cover art was warm and inviting.  I took a listen.

It was spellbinding; yet, subtle and unobtrusive.

I bought it.

This week on “screaming toddler Tuesday”, I plugged in my headphones, turned up Sketches of Spain, set it to repeat, and just wrote.

Fantastic.

Here.  Have a listen for yourself.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that Donald “Duck” Dunn has died.  You might not recognize his name, but I guarantee you that at some point, you’ve heard his telltale bass line.   He was a member of the studio band at Stax Records in Memphis and played with such artist as The Blues Brothers (he was in the movie), Eric Clapton, Arthur Conley, Neil Young (with whom he extensively toured), CCR, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan (who you all know I loathe), Rod Stewart, Otis Redding – just to name a few.   One of my favorite songs is a little ditty called “Green Onions” by Booker T & the MGs.   He wasn’t the original bassist on the 1962 recording, but I think he does it best.

…that Donna Summer has died at the age of 63.  I often talk about how my father’s love of old school country, early rock & roll, and 60s R&B influenced my taste in music.  However, in all honesty, my mother probably had a greater impact on my personal “musicology.”  She is a lover of all music.  She doesn’t discriminate – from old Dean Martin and Sinatra to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and the Beatles to Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel and everything in between and beyond.  When I was a kid, one of my mother’s favorite things to do was to throw open the windows, cue up a homemade reel to reel tape and crank the volume until music filled the house – and the neighborhood.   Sometimes we listened to oldies, sometimes to folk, sometimes to country, but more often than not, we listened to disco.  What could be better than doing your Saturday morning chores to the infectious beat of ABBA, the Bee Gees, and yes, Donna Summer?   She will be sorely missed in my house.  My friend Kelly said “disco died today.”  Perhaps it did.

…that I have been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by kittyb78.  She’s a fellow writer who just happens to be a Black Dragon Kung Fu instructor.  I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds very cool and makes me want to write her into one of my stories as that bad ass character who…okay I digress.   Many thanks to kittyb78 for bestowing such an honor on me.  I appreciate it very much.

Of course, these things come with rules.  I’m supposed to tell you seven interesting things about myself and then pay the award forward to a few bloggers I think are deserving.

  1. I give good stink-eye, and not always intentionally.  I have an odd face with a heavy brow and a natural frown.  It makes me look angry – even when I’m not.  It serves me well.  People leave me alone.  Usually.
  2. I hate the sound of people eating.  Seriously.  I hate it.
  3. I am cynical by nature, but I try very hard to use humor to stave off the negativity.  It’s made me a happier person.
  4. I am a James Bond fanatic.
  5. I have no natural rhythm and no amount of alcohol can change that.  Ask my BFF how long it took her to teach me the Electric Slide back in the day.
  6. I have an affinity for dates.
  7. I love striped pants.
Now to pay it forward:kreativbloggeraward
Check ’em out.  They are all creative, innovative, and worthy of your time.

…that yoga for a grade is like a bad penny.  It just won’t leave me in peace.  As a memento of our time together, it has left me with a little hip injury.  Nothing too serious, just some tendonitis.  They tell me it will go away – with a little time and four weeks of physical therapy.

…that I am captivated by the train-wreck that is Ancient Aliens.  I spend the entire hour yelling at the television, snorting in disbelief, and cursing their flawed logic, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to change the channel.

…that last, but not least, this weeks awww moment is brought to you by a pair of small woodpeckers who distracted me from my gardening this week.  From their behavior, I can only assume they were a mother and her lazy child who refused to get off his ass and get a job.  I could be wrong, though.

IMG_9004

Things I learned this week

I learned this week..

…that I’ve successfully conquered another semester – with all A’s, thank you very much.  It’s a great feeling, like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and the road to a carefree summer is now within my grasp.  As I drove away from campus yesterday, I was feeling good.  I had the windows down, the wind in my hair, and my new Sting compilation cranked up for the whole world to hear.  I’m not a believer in a lot of intangible things, but sometimes, ever so subtly, the universe speaks to me.  As if on cue, a song with a distinct island vibe began to play.   The hustle of midday traffic faded away and I found myself standing on a beach with velvety sand between my toes, a warm sea breeze caressing my skin, and a frozen rum-filled concoction in my hand.  Swaying in time to the intoxicating rhythm, I danced in slow drunken circles across the sand, feeling blissfully numb, and raised my glass in one final salutation to the sun as it descended into the abyss…

HONK!

Sigh.

Reality bites.

Yes, I realize that this imagery is probably not what Sting intended when he wrote Love is the Seventh Wave.  More likely his intention was to protest Cold War proliferation and all of the evil that went along with it.  I’m going to choose to overlook that (and the ridiculous 80’s video) and focus on the drunken beach vacation aspect of it instead. 

…that yoga for a grade is over.    Of course, as one final insult to the emotional injuries we’ve sustained over the course of the semester, my instructor decided it would be fun to have a party on the day designated for our final exam.  If you will remember from last week, we had our final early.  We were instructed to bring food – preferably something healthy, in order to keep with the spirit of the class.  We all brought store-bought cookies.  It was our little bit of revenge.  Of course, revenge is one of those things in life that tends to come back and bite you in the ass.  In response to our cookie rebellion, she made us watch the video she made of our final.    Oh, the agony of defeat.

…that in all the years I’ve watched the summer Olympics, I have never bothered to sit through any of the Equestrian events.  It’s not that I don’t like horses, I do.  It’s just that I’d much rather watch paint dry than watch a horse and rider navigate through a mindless obstacle course.  This year it will be different.  I don’t usually watch real-time television.  I rely heavily on my DVR.  But the other night I happened to catch Rock Center when I was supposed to be studying for my Sociology exam.  Harry Smith (who I really sort of despise) did a story about a horse and rider who have both been through serious hell and have barely lived to tell about it.  Needless to say, I bawled like a baby and have now committed myself to watching every Equestrian event these two will compete in.  I feel that, as an American, it is my patriot duty.   Check out Harry Smith’s story Horse Power, but grab a box of tissues first.

…that the Blue Jay who visits the feeder in my backyard teases and taunts me.  For weeks, I’ve seen him feeding – nearly every day.  For weeks, I’ve tried to sneak a few photographs of him.  For weeks, he’s alluded me.   No worries, though.  I will prevail…if its’ the last thing I do.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my fat cat, Rollo.  Aptly named, he is enjoying a little nap in the warm afternoon sun.  What a rough life he leads.

IMG_4412

Things I learned this week

This week I learned…

…that sometimes being a responsible adult sucks.  It’s that time of year again when everything converges and there just isn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  There’s certainly no time to do the things I want to do – read, write, sacrifice a few brain cells sitting on my couch wearing holey pjs, eating ding dongs, and watching everything the Bravo channel can throw my way.   It’s just the nature of things, and usually I am very good at accepting that this is the journey I chose to embark upon – you know, that whole personal growth bullshit.  This year, however, my rebellious self seems to be having a little trouble keeping his eye on the prize.  Spring is warm, sunny, and intoxicating, and the allure of it all, is just so damned tempting.   So, what do you do when you have a nagging conformist on one shoulder and a mocking rebel on the other?  You lock the conformist in the closet, and you go out to play.  Duh.  Of course, these little bursts of self-indulgence are not without their consequences.   I’ve spent the last week or so digging out from a stack of homework so deep it surely rivals Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stouts’ garbage pile.

…that after sitting through a lecture on sleep deprivation, I realize that I should probably reevaluate my anti-napping ideology.  My husband will be relieved to hear this, and I’m sure he will take full advantage of it should I decide to change my stance.

…that just when I thought I might actually miss “yoga for a grade”, the instructor goes and does something that makes me want to roll up my mat, go home, and say screw the GPA.  From the onset, this class has been disorganized – and that, I feel, is being generous.  Goals and expectation were never established and we’ve had very little guidance in the actual fundamentals of yoga practice.  All of these shortcomings and failures could be overlooked, indeed forgiven, because for the most part, I enjoyed the physicality of the class.  We did, of course, have that little incident early on with the humiliating quiz – you remember, the one where we had to each perform a single pose at the front of the room for our classmates to guess. Charades for a grade.   Couldn’t get much worse than that, right?  Guess what?  I was wrong.  I should have seen it coming, but alas, I did not.  Two weeks before scheduled final exams, she dropped the ultimate bomb on us.  It was nuclear.   It seemed our final exam would require us to come up with a sequence of yoga poses, combine them into cohesive segments, and then teach them to the class.   But wait, there’s more.   We had just two class periods to get with a partners, choose the poses, arrange the poses, practice the poses, and choose our accompaniment music because she wanted to do our final a week early.  Oh, and by the way, our performances would be videotaped so that we could relive our most humiliating moment at the end of semester party she’d planned.  I’m sure I will see the humor in all this someday – when the scars have healed.

…that there are few things in life more enjoyable than sitting poolside with my BFF, a little drunk on wine, trading child rearing war stories.

…that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died.  There have been a lot of notable deaths of late, but I find his to be one of the saddest.   I can’t say that I am an ardent fan of Beastie Boys’ entire body of work, but their first album brings back fond memories of my favorite summer.  It would be my last carefree summer; not long after, the reality of adulthood reached up and bitch slapped me.

…that the three seat belts in the backseat of my car are deceiving.  It is nearly impossible to fit three passengers back there.  Guess I should have considered that before I volunteered to carpool a Sunday field trip to Boyd.

…that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by my fellow writer Julie over at Word Flows.  It’s always so nice to receive an acknowledgement from one’s peers.  It is doubly nice when it comes from someone you admire and respect.  She, herself, is one inspiring lady.  Go check her out.

…that my work in progress, Retribution, has evolved into something quite different from my original vision.  I blame the outlining.

…that when you add a warm late spring day, a community swimming pool, and a tennis ball together with a group of twelve-year-old boys you will get stupidity to the ninth power.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little creeper who has taken up residence on my back patio for the duration of the season.

IMG_4569

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that inversion poses are where it’s at in yoga, and the handstand is king.  A notch down from the handstand is a head stand.  I can do neither.  However, this week in “yoga for a grade” I learned a pose that serves as a stepping stone toward a true head stand.   Tripod balance pose.   It’s not the most comfortable pose, certainly not the most elegant, and I wasn’t able to hold it for very long, but I did it.  And that’s all that matters to me.

…that sometime when I wasn’t looking, my daughter discovered that she likes my t-shirts.  I’m not sure which I’m more upset about, the fact that she is borrowing my clothes or that they actually fit her.

…that traffic will invariably flow contradictory to my immediate needs.

…that my daughter has been asked to the Spring dance at her middle school – and she’s going to go!  Last time she was asked, she declined because she was going to have to – EGADS – wear a dress.  This time around there is a more relaxed dress code.  Good thing, too.  My daughter’s idea of dressing up is a white button up shirt and low top Converse sneakers.

…that as I age, the fit of a good tennis shoe trumps aesthetic.   Recently, I spent two days scouring athletic shoe stores looking for replacement sneakers.  It was a trying process – it always is.  I can’t just walk into a store and buy the first shoe that strikes my fancy.  There are important factors that must be considered.   Do my prescription orthotics fit?  Are they made from natural material or synthetic?  Are they lightweight?  Breathable?  Cross trainer or walker?  Is the tongue thick?  Does it ride too high?  Too low?  Are they narrow across the bridge?  Do my bunions cry out in agony with every step I take?  These are all valid questions that must be asked before committing to such an important purchase.  After torturing a half a dozen salespeople, I finally settled on a pair of Nikes.  I usually steer clear of that particular brand because of their tendency toward a narrow bridge and a thick tongue, but I found a pair that fits all my requirements.  Of course, they are neon pink, likely glow in the dark, and are perhaps the ugliest things I’ve ever put on my feet, but who gives a shit.  They adequately serve their purpose.

…that I didn’t win the Mega Millions Jackpot.  Bummer.

…that five little words of criticism – “not as complete as usual” – written on an in-class discussion assignment will cause me a great amount of internal suffering – indeed, eat at my very soul.  I will obsess over this negative review until it encapsulates my every thought and I’m left with no alternative but to email the professor in an effort to explain my shortcomings as a student.   Of course, the realization that he likely never gave the note a second thought just adds to my level of frustration and humiliation.  I need to learn to let these things go.

Yeah, right.  Who am I trying to kid?

…that I am becoming a photography junkie.  I want to take pictures of everything.  Here’s one I took a couple of days ago of the Knock Out roses in my backyard.

IMG_2169

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little miniature schnauzer named Bear.  I had the pleasure of spending my Monday with him.  He was rescued from a puppy mill and is up for adoption through a local schnauzer rescue group.  Photograph is courtesy of Efrain Sain, a local photographer, attorney, and musician, who office shares with our law firm.

bear (3)

Things I learned this week…

I learned this week…

…that “yoga for a grade” is the gift that keeps on giving.  I realize that perhaps I am beating a proverbial dead horse with this one, but good grief, in every class something jaw-droppingly fabulous/horrific occurs.  I can’t sit idly by and not write about it.  So, please, bear with me.  The end of the semester will come soon enough.

…that, in keeping with the above theme, my yoga instructor’s idea of a quiz is my worst nightmare.  Last week, she gave us a nifty little handout with elementary drawings of various poses and a listing of their correct names.  We could expect our first quiz the following week [this week].  Okay.  No big deal, after all, this is a “for grade” course.  Grades have to come from somewhere.  So, on quiz day, she comes in five minutes late, disheveled, and lugging a stack of unorganized copy paper.  She proceeds to sit down on the floor, in a graceful position only a seasoned dancer could muster, and pulls out a pair of scissors.  We all sat on our mats staring at her, confused by her odd behavior.  She didn’t keep us in suspense for long.  As she cut a single sheet of paper into thin strips, she leveled the room with a bomb of such magnitude that its reverberation could be felt clear to the Oklahoma state line.  Our quiz, it turns out, would not entail a grouping of pictures and a word bank – as so promised.  It wouldn’t even have anything to do with the handout she provided to us.  No, instead we would be required to demonstrate an assigned pose at the front of the class, with the wall of shame mirrors at our backs.  Holy shit batman, shoot me now.  I count myself as one who came out of this horrifying experience largely unscathed.  While I did receive the dreaded number one slot, I escaped any real humiliation.  My pose was simple – Prayer pose.  However, there were those among us who did not fare so well.   I feel quite certain the girl who was saddled with the dreaded “happy baby” pose is plotting some fantastic revenge.  The glint in her eye at the end of class was downright frightening.

…that today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  I did know this, but I didn’t remember until I stumbled across the headline on my favorite news outlet’s website.  Of course, the headline also asked readers to vote for their top pick of Seuss movies.  This kinda irked me.   Dr. Seuss wrote books.  I think it would be a more interesting poll, and one truer to the memory of Seuss’ legacy, to ask readers to give the name of their favorite book.  So, I ask:  What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?  Mine is And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. 

…that there is a “war on women” brewing in this country.  Though, I can’t help but wonder if it is all just an elaborate smoke screen fabricated to distract voters from the fact that none of this country’s politicians – and I mean none of them – know what the heck they are doing.

…that this week the great State of Texas will celebrate 176 years of independence.   I’m not a native Texan.  I was born in Florida to parents that hail from New England.  My father was in the military so I’ve lived in my share of locations – some of them wildly wonderful, some of them not so much.  Of them all,  Texas is by far the most unique place I’ve ever called home.  I didn’t always feel that way, but once the culture shock wore off, I got a whiff of something in the air – something intangible.  Something that smelled a lot like pride.   There is an independent spirit here that transcends even national patriotism.  Don’t get me wrong, Texans have a deep love for their country, they just love their state a smidgen more.   It’s an infectious thing.   I can’t imagine living anywhere else.   Well…of course, that is unless the American people jump the shark and elect Newt or Rick to the presidency.  If that happens, I’m moving back to Europe.  Texas independent spirit and pride be damned.

…that Davy Jones died.  I’ve long maintained that the 60s produced some of the greatest Rock & Roll music ever attributed to the genre.  I don’t care if you agree with my assessment or not.  I know good music when I hear it.   Now, I will admit that The Monkeys pale in comparison to say…the Beatles, but they are still relevant to the overall cultural phenomenon of the musical era.  Plus, they were just great fun.  Davy Jones will be missed.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable kitty.  Is he stuck?  Is he stalking you?  I don’t know, but I bet if you venture a little closer, you’re sure to find out.

***Big thanks to Bill Chance for providing me with this link:

Source:  http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_ltdqe7UarB1qds2rfo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1330761447&Signature=Y11SR21KH5EFC3SFOnYUiJaqpGo%3D

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

Happy baby…that there is no place for pride in Yoga.  At its core, it embodies a deep spirituality that melds body and soul through the rhythm of breath and meditation.   I’d like to tell you that I’ve connected with Yoga on a level that goes beyond just moving through the poses, but that would be a barefaced lie.  This week, as I sat poised in a slightly modified version of the open-leg seated balance pose, staring at my reflection in the wall of shame mirrors, I was struck by a sense familiarity – perhaps even a bit of deja vu.   At first, I was confused, then like a tsunami, it all came rushing back to me.   I’ve been in a similar position before  – twice actually – during the birth of my children.  Of course, at that time, my enduring degradation was overridden by my overwhelming desire to rectify my condition, and bring the little beings inside of me into the world.   And so, I sat balancing quite impressively, if I do say so myself, feeling ridiculous and very much exposed.  I tried to mentally reassure myself that I was not alone in this, after all I was surrounded by several other students, all spread eagle and I’m sure they felt every bit as vulnerable as I did.  Plus, how much worse could it get – I mean, really?   Oh, silly me.  How naive I can be sometimes.  My Yoga instructor, as if to drive home the fact that we were required to check our egos at the door, had us end class in “happy baby”.  My shame has come full circle.

…that baby tortoises have belly buttons.  Who knew?  Not me.   Check out becomingcliche’s blog entry regarding this little bit of animal kingdom trivia and much more.  Very interesting.

…that it’s quite shocking when a story I haven’t touched in quite a long time – a couple of years, in fact – resurrects itself and begins to speak to me again.  While outlining the relationship between two characters for a new story I am working on, I was suddenly reminded of two characters who I loved dearly, but could never fully reconcile their conflict.  It came to me in a burst of clarity that I can only describe as electrifying.  Looks like Max and Lola are going to get another go at it.  It’s a good thing, too.  It’s always bothered be that I came very close on that one.

…that Retribution has been making some subtle rumblings in my subconscious, as well.  This week I wrote a short filler scene despite the fact that I told myself that this story is not workable and complete and utter garbage.  Perhaps there is hope there, too.

NUP_146666_0548.JPG…that there is no place on earth as cozy as my bed when I’m sick.  I have the most comfortable bed in the world.  The only thing that can make it better is catching a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon on Bravo.   Don’t judge me.   I’m sick.

***Warning Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that I really dislike individuals that find it necessary to tell me how intelligent they are and that everyone they come in contact with loves them.  Okay, I’m all for a positive sense of self-worth, it’s what drives us to do great things, but you have to really wonder about someone who takes it to a whole other level.  Who are they trying to convince?  Me or them?

…and last but not least…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little “Brookesia micra” chameleon perched on a match head.  His species is believed to be among the smallest of chameleons found on Madagascar.  I just wanna hug him and squeeze him…yeah, not really.  I’m a little scared of his tongue action, but still, he’s really darn cute.

science-021512-001-617x416

Source:  http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112475371/mini-reptiles-discovered-in-madagascar/