Friday, December 31, 2010

When copy editors ruled the earth

I love it when a typographical error is perfectly spelled and grammatically correct and precisely contradicts the writer's intended meaning. Like this one from "Tales of the Yoga Studio," by Rain Mitchell: "As causally as she can, Katherine asks, 'Everything okay?'"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow under the stinkwood tree 1

Promises, promises

Argh! I love my yoga teachers each and every one, but a few have an annoying habit of breaking promises:

 "O.K., we're going to hold this [utterly excruciating, exhausting] pose for five breaths."
[TEN breaths later] "O.K., two more breaths now."
[TWENTY breaths later] "O.K., on your next exhalation, go even deeper."
[THIRTY breaths later] "O.K., inhale and move into [an even more excruciating, exhausting iteration of the original pose]."

And so forth.

No wonder people who don't already love yoga sometimes hate it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Narcissistic optimism

The other day I heard an interview with Laurie David, an environmentalist who is also Larry ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") David's ex-wife. "Because I'm an environmentalist, I'm an optimist," she said.

That puzzled me. If you're an environmentalist, I thought, you must be devastated by the awful state of the earth. But this morning I was looking at my narcissuses and marveling that in just a couple of weeks they have sprouted more than a foot (and produced stinky blossoms!)  from dried-up, dead-looking bulbs stuck in a layer of pebbles and doused with water—when I remember. They have thrived so well on so little. And thinking about that has made me feel like an optimist too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jefferson Market Library, shrink-wrapped

I can't remember which came first—Christo's wrapping buildings for art or construction companies wrapping buildings for renovation? 

Some things really do change

Add to the list of things that have vanished along with the once-ubiquitous Andean flute-and-fife quartets: plastic bags in trees. Used to be that plastic bags were common as leaves on New York’s trees. But lately, not so much.

If it's not one thing ...

Stretch tops are the most practical garments for yoga since they cling to your body and don't have wardrobe malfunctions when you're, say, doing a headstand. But I stopped wearing close-fitting clothes after my mastectomy because they highlighted the gouges in my chest. For the past few years I've been wearing T-shirts. I tuck them into my pants and hope for the best when I do inversions. But lately I've been trying to wear breast forms to prevent confusion about my gender. Today I put a pair into a stretchy yoga top and headed off to class, feeling a little self-conscious. A few minutes into the class, I sensed that something wasn't quite right about my clothing. I checked my boobs, and they seemed to be in more or less the right place. But something was off. Oh, right, I put my pants on backward.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No regrets

Today is my 38th anniversary of mating up with Other. No regrets.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Antique reference

Many obituaries of Elizabeth Edwards describe her breast tumor as the size of a half-dollar. I used to get a 50-cent piece every week for my allowance, so the image of that coin is deeply embedded in my memory. But I don't think my kids ever saw a half-dollar, and I'm wondering how many other young people are puzzled by this reference. But then how many young people are reading the obituary of a 62-year-old woman who never performed on Dancing with the Stars or starred in Nip/Tuck? Oops, my youthism is showing!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Poor, dear, old Elizabeth Edwards. She was not perfect. She made some mistakes. But she was a living example of how people don't get just cancer. They get all the shit everyone else gets, PLUS cancer.

A dreary media binge

I've been on another media binge, gorging on 1) the book Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen; 2) HBO's In Treatment; 3) Showtime's This American Life; and 4) HBO's The Comeback. And I have to admit I'm perplexed and saddened.

Is it true, as Freedom and Comeback would lead you to believe, that men are interested exclusively in sex? Is it true, as Treatment suggests, that life is pain and even the best analysis cannot buy happiness? And is it true, as Comeback and one installment of American Life declare, that no one cares what old people think, and in fact they're seriously annoying to everyone around them?

Re the last question: At first I dismissed Comeback as a one-note, funny-only-because-it's-relentlessly-annoying show that wasn't particularly funny. But as I've mulled it over, I realize that Lisa Kudrow's character is ... me at work (and perhaps in other venues as well). The oldest and most senior member of my department, I'm invested in the old ways but struggling to master the new, working hard to keep a smile on my wrinkled, age-spotted old face, sadly aware of younger folks avoiding me in elevators and hallways ("Ach! What if she tries to talk to me?" I can hear them saying to themselves). Is this how life ends—with total irrelevance and humiliation? No wonder people opt for retirement homes. It's just too dispiriting trying to stay in the real world with all the pretty, young people who wish you would disappear.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Downsize 'em!

Mostly, package downsizing is a bad thing: Pay more, get less. But there's one grocery-store item that is ripe for downsizing: cranberries. The turkey's been hashed, souped and sandwiched. The stuffing's long gone. The pies are a distant memory. But the cranberry sauce lingers forever. And there aren't many ways to dish it up as something new. It comes out of the fridge the same as it went in, just a little more congealed than the previous night. Or worse, stays in the fridge until it's discovered months later in its still gelid state or with a thatch of gray fuzz. Even if you make cranberry bread, you never use the whole package, and the berries left in the bag are never quite enough for the next loaf, so you keep on buying and buying and buying and never come out even. Is this a marketing oversight? Or a marketing strategy? And what the hell can I do with this stuff?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Half full or half empty?

I've been feeling a little sad about how much my yoga practice has fallen off over the past couple years. I used to take yoga classes five or six days a week. But changes in my work schedule and class schedules have whittled the frequency. I mentioned this to Other, and as I was saying how much I regretted the diminution to only four a week, maximum, I listened to myself and thought, Gee, if someone told me she was upset because she could get to soccer practice only four days a week, I'd think she was crazy. That's plenty! And so it is. Saturday at Integral Yoga, Sunday with my favorite teacher at Crunch, Monday with an Anusara teacher named Ellen Saltonstall, possibly a Tuesday-night class at Crunch. Good! Not bad!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I know these narcissuses will be beautiful one day ...

... but right now they're kind of gross, don't you think?