Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Job Side Effects

One of the blessing/curses of my new job is that I get to take home produce that we can't sell. This has been coming in the form of scarred zucchini, avocados on the edge of browning, bruised MacIntosh apples, sad looking beets, etc. My rescue and conserve impulses are being stretched to their ends with all the waste that goes on with produce. I made two huge loaves of zucchini bread, put zucchini and leeks in my pasta thing, I have borscht on the stove right now, had two avocados for dinner last night, and spent about a half hour last night just peeling red peppers that I had roasted to save them from becoming garbage. So this definitely isn't sustainable. I can't be a one-woman garbage-to-food conversion operation indefinitely. But the waste! If my tiny organization is making this much waste, I can't even contemplate the chain grocery stores and their garbage. And it's amazing what people won't buy even though it's perfectly fine. And admittedly, I won't buy a zucchini with scars all over it, I'm usually pretty suspicious of it. But the way we get our produce doesn't even resemble what food actually looks like when it comes out of the ground. Someone made a joke about organic oranges at work yesterday, and apparently it was funny because they're so hard to get/make/find. Organic bananas might be an oxymoron, too. We'll see. There's a whole world of produce industry crapola I have to learn about.

But anyway I definitely attach a certain level of morality to waste, ie, it isn't just a shame to throw away stuff, it's wrong. And don't get me started on refrigerators, either - nobody needs a refrigerator as big as we have them. Personally I'm starting to feel that no one needs a freezer, either. So many adaptations we've made to convenience just to become crap-buying garbage-makers who are too good for scarred zucchini, oh lordy I'm getting fired up about this now, better chill out. Anyway it's 6:30 in the morning and I'm going to work to buy produce, that I hope we will sell all out of to people who will eat it and not end up throwing it away. Cheers!

Monday, March 28, 2011

So What Was Law School About?

I was recently talking with a pal, well, a few pals really, about what law school was all about for me. A few things to get out of the way here - I definitely went to law school because by age 27 I felt that still having no idea what the hell to do with myself was a big problem that needed some kind of answer. It's funny to think about in retrospect because right around the same time I was thinking about doing yoga teacher training, but it ended in the fall and law school would start in the fall and it wasn't going to work out in time to do both. Hm. Second, I hated the bureaucracy of the world and felt pretty powerless and broke a lot of the time, and was tired of that; getting one blood test and a prescription for antibiotics from the hospital cost more than my rent and caused a serious panic about How Am I Going to Live at one point. Um, I also got a preposterous scholarship and my vanity was so ridiculously flattered that I was definitely going to get this bargain education even if I didn't really know what the hell I was doing it for. And of course, being a lawyer is sooooo versatile, yes? You do aaaaaanything with a law degree, right? Ha ha, that's funny. Anyway, being a lawyer certainly sounds like something indisputably worthwhile, skill-set wise. "Marketable" is the term we hear tossed around.

Okay so there's that. What did law school do for me? The way I found myself putting it over the phone to one friend is that, well, "I basically have the exact same life I had before I became a lawyer, except now, I really like my life." This sort of sounds like some version of "I punched myself in the face for while, and once I stopped, it was awesome." It's a little different than that, more like, I was filled with doubt about my choices, and having challenged them to the extreme with this five-year adventure, I can feel more confident about my choices. One thing I got out of law school is that I love to learn. I love it. Even though I'm not going to be a lawyer, getting my J.D. was super fun for me. I would go back to school for any number of things if money were no object. Philosophy, Spanish, Botany, Music, you name it, I would love to learn about it. I truly treasure my law school education for the new way of viewing the world that it provided me - I had no idea how the FCC is allowed to exist, I had never considered my "rights" under the Constitution, I had never had to bend my mind around the kind of reasoning that the law uses. It was pretty neat for all those reasons. Another thing I got out of it was finally getting over my own insecurities about my intelligence. Being smart is VERY highly prized by my family and I was always worried about being only sort of smart and how that doomed me to a meaningless life. Grandpa went to Yale, Uncle got a free ride to college because he's so super smart, cousins have perfect SAT scores . . . but I was always hovering well under the exceptional threshold as it's measured by the world - wasn't going to get into a great school, etc. At last, at last, I do not give a crap about that. Education pedigree is a shameful and exclusive and hierarchical measure of human worth that no one should subscribe to. I went to a low/medium crappy college, and I would have had a way better time at a state school meeting actually interesting and diverse students. But anyway. As for my own level of intelligence, I am totally fine with not being a genius. I did great in law school (yes it was not a well regarded school but whatever I'll take it), and I certainly keep that in my pocket as evidence that I am reasonably smart, but it's not just that - it's more like I have enough education and enough of a sprinkle of wisdom now to feel like I can trust my own analysis and intuition, and enough skepticism to be ready to change my mind when something better, clearer, or more persuasive comes along, and I know I will keep trying to learn new things. That's plenty, and I feel great about that.

And here's one more important thing about law school that really broadened my perspective, and it's pretty basic, so if this kind of thing has been obvious to you since birth then pardon this silly revelation. So, a lady adult in my life has been repeating the following anecdote for years to me: this lady adult goes to a job interview, and the interviewer immediately notes her haircut, and says something to the effect of, "I really appreciate a simple, no fuss haircut on a woman, it shows that your sense of practicality is sound." This haircut apparently was highly influential in getting a job. I walked around for a long time with this, and many other similar ideas, in my head - certain decisions we make have very clear messages to people, and one of those is that having a practical haircut means you are practical person. I think I still judge people with elaborate hairdos as having suspicious priorities. So anyway, I think it took me until I was in law school to understand that sets of facts are susceptible to multiple conclusions. This is basically the premise of arguing the law - with any given set of facts, which conclusion is best for you, and can you persuade someone of it? With respect to the haircut thing - why didn't the interviewer conclude that the haircut meant this lady had no concern for attention to detail? Or placed no value on self-care and beautifying herself and was therefore indifferent to pleasing others in a workplace setting? Or gets up really late and is super disorganized and can't handle anything beyond a wash and go haircut? (Most of all, why didn't this lady adult conclude, in spite of the observation coming in the form of a compliment, that the interviewer was inappropriate and superficial?! Seriously, the haircut?!) Feeling liberated from narrow conclusions was huge for me. I didn't know how to see beyond a certain way of thinking until I was forced to squeeze my brain out a lot. Now I feel like I can see unlimited kinds of conclusions in all things, every day, and it makes life so much more interesting, and much less severe, if you see what I mean.

And of course, participating in the corporate world was fascinating, and I could finally decide, based on my own experience, not just my own leftist prejudices, that it wasn't the right place for me. And that does go a long way in terms of my own contentment. So, onward and upward, further in and further up.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Apartment. Job. T.V.

My mind has been spinning a lot lately. A lot to learn at my job, an apartment to find (found! it's pretty great, we'll see how the 'hood and neighbors work out), stuff to prioritize in general. Haven't played guitar in a few weeks, which I feel a little bummed about since I was really on a roll and having some nice insights. It's okay, it's still there. Yoga practice has been going pretty well - my new job is pretty physical, which I looooove, and oh lordy do I need to stretch and zero out my body regularly. Yoga feels awesome right now.

So then let's talk about t.v. First, my friend started a sweet blog tearing up some t.v. shows and it's hilarious: Enjoy. This prompts me to confess some t.v. watching. I have definitely been watching some t.v. and feel like I'm on the edge of another round of creating a Firm Policy for my own good. Here is the stuff I am liking:

1. House. Scruffy, sexy, emotionally addled Dr. Gregory House, genius diagnostician at Princeton teaching hospital, banters indecorously with his colleagues about their personal motivations and brilliantly makes what is basic, like, totally meta, with philosophical loyalty to his one unwavering truth: everyone lies. Underplot of the show: someone is sick, they figure it out, they were wrong, the patient almost dies, they figure it out FOR REAL this time, the patient gets worse, they reassess, more almost fatal emergencies happen, the patient is usually saved and House usually realizes something important or falls deeper into his Lonely Man hole. Ha ha, lonely man hole, nice.

2. The Biggest Loser (just the highlights). I like to skip huge chunks of the "substance" of this show and get straight to the obese people crying into the camera. I love this show. I love the people trying to reclaim their lives from the deep, plush couches of their sloth huts where they consume their bagged food and receive their daily programming from the great shining cyclops screen in their living rooms. While my love of this show is part marvel/disgust, it is mostly rapturous uplift in the triumph of the human spirit and excitement about people rejecting the crappy version of life that they didn't really think they could lead differently. It's pretty amazing.

3. The Office. Yes, I got hooked on this in law school, and watched two and half seasons in about three sittings while in stress recovery on winter vacation. Now I like to see what happens. This show has become mostly the story of how total weirdos find love, not just the attractive and normal people that it's obvious to root for, but the real social lame-os. It's a great premise, full of hilarity. I really appreciated this show as ground-breaking for its cringe-humor approach - with an idiot boss in the office serving as the all-purpose deus ex machina for any number of unbearably awkward situations. I'm sort of over it, though, it may have jumped the shark, but I'm not sure. But I must say that the latest episode with Michael proposing to Holly made me choke up a little. It's on hulu for the next few weeks. Enjoy this, also.

4. Sometimes 30 Rock. Maybe Being Erica. Maybe The Simpsons. Maybe the Saturday Night Live clips on hulu. Anything comedy instant streaming on Netflix, even really bad stuff. Basically anything not-too-stressful or upsetting to take me away for a little bit.

So what is t.v. for? It's fascinating - there's so much happening to get all sociological about, especially reality shows (my friend's blog does a very amusing job of cutting the crap on the happenings of the show to articulate the maggot growth beneath the belly of the programs). Ever see that show "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV? Well, young ladies get really excited to have their super rich and entitled lives put on t.v. while they freak out about a party they want to have complete with BMWs for gifts, celebrity entertainment, and magnificent temper tantrums. They think they are important and cool, while really the point of the show is that their selfish, oblivious greed is a circus, and we are laughing at, not with them. So interesting on several levels.

SIGH. But it's all crap, right? Should a contemporary person participate in t.v. watching? Or something that we are forced into having a "moderate" relationship with? For me, t.v. is still basically cocaine - well, maybe more like booze - if I have a little bit, it takes over my head and my life gets scheduled around t.v. watching. I actually sort of love having time all alone to let all my self-improvement crap go to hell so I can watch terrible t.v. without anyone around to judge me. Lordy lordy, okay, I'll come up with some kind of plan for this. Still working on this particular habit of mine. I get so conflicted about it, in a so bad it's good kind of way. Buh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vacation Eyes

Sometimes when existence is feeling pretty lame-o I try to remember to see things with my "vacation eyes." Apparently Marcel Proust said "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Not that I've read anything of his, but that's a pretty thing to say and golly gosh that Proust seems darn well full of pith/very pithy.

I like to do this with food. Doesn't prettily prepared and plated dining spur a slow and thoughtful savoring? Isn't a hard-boiled egg, in a dining room, with nice lighting, and maybe some paprika, a wonder? Can't I bring my vacation eyes home with me and see the skyline, and my egg, and my neighborhood like a visitor? We have to be more alert in new situations and places, but a little forced alertness can bring some newness of depth to habituated life. It's a yoga thing, too - I've heard a few times that being new to your practice every day is important, by which I mean that practicing like you are doing something for the first time is a deliberate state of mind (and not incompatible with drawing upon your accumulated knowledge of yoga, either). I heard this the other day in yoga when the teacher said something about having to interact with someone she doesn't like, and a friend advised her to treat the person like they were just meeting for the first time. That's a neat little mind bender game to play on yourself. Handy idea.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Snow. Also, Moderation Schmoderation

Hi, it's snowing. I am not super pumped about that. The nice weather was so very nice. I am pretty ready for warmth.

So here's some thoughts about moderation. I have been pretty much not drinking for a few months now, and it's definitely been a big life changer etc. I don't want to be obsessive about the not drinking, so I don't really have an official policy like Never Again, but it wasn't out of the question, of course. So anyway in accord with my Sure Maybe policy on drinking, I had half a dark beer on Saturday night. Just half - I left the other half on the table all alone with itself as we paid the check. I only wanted half, and that was fine.

So this is great in a few ways. One, declining to consume something even though it is right in front of me isn't really my strongest quality, and the ability to do this on Saturday to me means that yoga is awesome. Being all yoga-sensitive to how I feel can be overwhelming sometimes, but it's ultimately the greatest thing ever. Two, feeling good about this also made me rethink how I view moderation, and I'm pretty happy about it.

What is moderation? We usually treat it as vaguely the mid-point between zero and whatever we view socially/culturally as extreme. For example, if you drink beer, you might think that zero beers is abstaining, and that six beers is extreme. We all understand six beers to be pretty drunk and zero beers to be not drunk. Two to three beers is moderate. We can play this game with t.v. watching, too. Or how much you drive your car, or how much garbage you make. Living somewhere below the boundaries of mid-behavior and no behavior is moderate.

So I think the problems with this are manifold. First of all, just because some behavior or habit exists doesn't mean that you have to adopt a moderate relationship with it. Normalcy and happiness are not contingent upon one's adoption of any one particular social behavior, and declining to participate in something doesn't have to mean that you are "abstaining" from it. Just to be extreme about it here, I do not consider myself to be abstaining from smoking crack. I have no relationship with it because I just don't want to (also I wouldn't know how to get crack, but I bet it's pretty easy). But the more common a behavior becomes the more pressure there is to develop some kind of relationship to it, and then the labels on our behaviors starts to sneak in. This is how we started calling people "non-smokers" back in the day. What?! Seems sort of silly, right?

Second, there is a problem with the measure of extremity. Take garbage, for instance. It's bad to make garbage. Plastic bags live forever and kill dolphins and manatees and it's bad to put them in landfills and we all know it. Oh but wait, since most people throw away a bajillion plastic bags, if I throw away three a week it's not a big deal, right? The relativism of what determines moderation is freaking stupid. One to two drinks per week. An hour of television. Exercise three days a week. These don't really have much to do with how an individual is impacted by any one behavior, and that leads me to the next thing.

We have a lot of guidelines, official-type doctor's-office guidelines, for what are acceptable, moderate, behaviors. Eight hours of sleep. Potato chips once a week. Brush your teeth twice or three times a day. Food pyramid. You know why we have all these guidelines for behavior? Because no one knows how they actually feel. We can't tell. We are so out of touch with our bodies that we can't even tell that industrialized meat is nasty, or that t.v. is making us depressed, or whatever. It's completely weird that people need to be told what is good for them. And then if they subscribe to these notions of appropriate behavior, we get a class of rules-followers who then get to judge people for their choices. "Did you know red wine antioxidants are less powerful than raw grape skins? Agave nectar extraction is soooo bad for the environment! Too much sunshine deteriorates your cell walls! Too little sunshine imbalances your vitamin D!" We have all these things because we don't know how we feel, which means we have no idea what feels good and right.

Which then leads me to my ultimate point: yoga is awesome. Paying close attention to how I feel is really valuable for cutting through all the social crap of appropriate, moderate, officially sanctioned behavior, which I view as being complete crapola. Take my new job, for instance. I make literally one SEVENTH of the money I used to make at my "good" job, but now, I move around all day, I don't take my work home, and the expectations are reasonable. My actual experience as a human being is 100% percent better doing something "lesser" than before.

In conclusion, everything you are told is crap. Do not pay attention to it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh My God Working is Like Pretty Annoying Y'all

Dude how do people live their lives AND go to work? I started my new job this week and I only did three days, but I feel like that should be enough for the month. Srsly. Everything I've been working on went out the window for the week, and I'm picking up the pieces of my brain right now to feel like I can keep going with everything. I have to find a place to live, first of all, which is like double varsity annoying to the exxxtreme, but once that's done it'll be great to have a place to live that I can pay for out of my working-girl salary. Kind of reassuring.

But I have to say that starting this job has really underscored the fantasy of yoga teaching as a life - I look forward to my little buddy-brunch yoga trip on Sundays like I don't look forward to anything work related. And of course the full-blown fantasy version is a little on hold right now since I have this job. And just to make the timing all the more frustrating, a three month apprentice-teaching program is happening with one of my favorite teachers right now, and I can't try to get into it because now I have a job. But I'm staying calm about it, the dream isn't disintegrating, it's just that another dream is taking shape right now and I need to turn my attention to this for a while, and I can maintain the thread of my yoga life after business hours, in my future apartment where I eventually will live and have all my books and junk all how I like them around my desk and I can work on my feminist manifesto autobiography.

Speaking of books and autobiographies: I am reading for fun right now Spalding Gray's book Sex and Death to the Age of Fourteen, and it's pretty interesting. He's that monologist whose life consisted of running around doing things and then telling audiences about what he did. This also sounds like an amazing life to me, and the stories are good mostly because he's incredibly neurotic. His story telling is pretty compelling, I admit, and it is definitely the result of his long relationship with improvisational and experimental theater, none of which I have ever done, but still, I think monologuing is an interesting undertaking. Blogging, just out loud, right? That's a thing I would like to try to do, write one monologue about something.

Anyway no one wants to read a blog that never posts, so we'll see how it goes trying to blog regularly and have a job. My entire NYC fan base was alarmed by my wrapping it up, and the fans are the most important thing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ashram Weekend: Residual Cold Issues

So I'm not really "sick" anymore but I have that chest congestion thing that leaves a lingering cough and makes sleeping a little difficult, which is pretty annoying. Our last weekend for yoga training is at an Ashram, and it's a sleepover, and I'm a little worried about coughing in the night and upsetting everyone's sleep and also of making everyone else worried about catching something.

Boo. Not cool. My ears are a little clogged, too. Lame. I do want to punctuate the experience with this weekend event but I don't want to be stupid about it.

Also thinking about calling the blog quits! If it stops now then I wrapped it up with some affirmative feverish love stuff instead of the usual miserable questioning, oh and an embarrassing shout-out, and I'll be a yoga teacher, and I'm moving, and OH YEAH I got a job which starts next week anyway, so this chapter of existence is sort of wrapping itself up, and maybe some other journally thing would be good to do instead.

Yay yoga weekend! Boo cough!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More Fevered Musings

Still sick. Sick blogging might be my equivalent of drunk dialing right now. Not advisable but here we go!!

So I'm supposed to assist a class for my final obligation before certification this weekend, and I get to give a little talk to open up the class, and here are my sentimental and feverish thoughts about it right now:

A yoga teacher this week said, "every stage of a pose is a pose." I loved this. Sometimes we feel like we aren't doing it quite right, and forget to feel the immediacy and beauty of our present version of ourselves. Bent knees in downdog? That's a downdog. Knees down in plank? That's a plank. Wherever you are, you're doing it.

This reminded me of waitressing, which I did for a long time. If I count the summer country club lunch counter and catering in high school, I did it for about 12 years. And then about six years total of full time, adult waitressing. Fun money as a teenager, rent money in college, and life money after college and before law school.

I really liked doing it once I got the hang of it. Clearly I liked it or I would have quit, just like I've quit a million other jobs that weren't right for me. Waitressing always stuck. Because I like it. Also it's the best money for the time. But here's the thing - I never really let myself like it. It was always part of the mythology of my temporary self; it was something I was doing on the way to doing something else, or just to make money while I supported my "real" life. I had some nasty upper middle bourgeois ideology crap in my head that made me think what I was doing could never be treated as adequate for me. I didn't really let myself like it until someone else pointed out to me that I could, legitimately, really like it. A woman came into the restaurant one night, right at year 6 of adult waitressing, and told me how much she liked waitressing when she was younger. She had done it pretty seriously - an American woman server in fancy restaurants in Paris in the 1960s-70s - she was no joke (she was no joke about anything, though - she was also an accomplished mime and attorney at the Department of Justice). Anyway, it really hit home, the fact that she, this super sharp and credible person, said that she liked waitressing - and not in that stupid nostalgic way that forgetful and oblivious people think college and childhood were great, but with a real sense of ownership, she proclaimed unambiguously her love of waitressing. This prompted a pretty astounding revelation for me. Her confidence was all the credibility her life needed. Suddenly I knew that I could give myself permission to love my life just the way it was. I wasn't really ready to actually do it, I mean, I still went to law school and everything, but that's another story. But it was there, this idea that I could own my life joyfully, even though it didn't look like it was supposed to look.

So then, flash forward 5+ years. Every stage of a pose is a pose. There is no need to postpone your life, or think of your real Self as something that will come together "later." Every expectation and feeling of inadequacy and insecurity, once shed, can reveal to you a pose, or life, that you already love, and can relish, and feel the immediacy and import of if you let yourself do it - even if it doesn't look like it's "supposed" to look. Love, love, love, love, love your life, especially when it doesn't look like it's "supposed" to look. It might be that all you have to do is give yourself permission.

A little simplistic, I know, but it's the fever talking. Love!!!

Boatmeal Shout-out to My Favorite Ladies! Also, Sick.

Oh man my ladies are so righteous and rad and awesome and completely hold it down in all kinds of amazing ways I can't even stand it.

My girl Snazzi-G goes back to work today after maternity leave, and all the up-energy I have is sending itself through the atmosphere's most magic thought-particle conduits to arrive large and sparkling at her desk today. Girlfriend inspires with her get-it-done willingness; gotta get it done for the fam', much respect.

My girl Ladypants inspires with her simultaneous work ethic AND prioritizing of her health and happiness and friendships, is passionate about her acting, and totally works hard on herself and is fun to be around too.

My lady Katie bloggin' it out at is breaking hearts and blowing minds with her travels around the world to find new corners of herself and live rad as possible, hello inspiring.

My girl CheetahDress is officially 30 (welcome again, welcome to The 30s, it is better than The 20s, most definitely), and works like a million jobs to live right and still makes the ice cream for her own birthday party and is a good listener, inspired!

My chica Nursey kills it maintaining her own apartment, dog, boyfriend, and her grades at nursing school while still having glamorous eye make-up and the sunniest freakin' disposition anyone ever had, holy inspiring.

My gal DMC continues to write her destiny over and over past 50 yrs of age with her musicianship, and new thoughts and perspectives and study and an incredibly tidy apartment, can I get an inspired?

I could go on and on. Cupcake has three gorgeous kids and runs her own business from home, what? TVGirl produces the 6 o'clock news and breast-feeds. Blue-eyes is a freakin' architect and knows all the fun art and mind-openers in the area, and completely goes to all of them and invites you to do things you would never go to. JJ farms and cans and makes soap and music. SmokeMachine waitresses every day at 6am and is in two bands. 10 Mamacitas in my yoga teacher training are balancing interesting lives and minds with their inner journeys, amazing.

So I'm just sayin'. I'm a little sick, a touch feverish, and it makes me feel a little sensitive and sentimental. I am so impressed every day by the interesting and varied avenues all the women I know and love are taking to live fully. You people are freaking tireless and refuse to settle and I love it.