Friday, March 21, 2008

The Y Chromosome

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.". (Kate Hepburn)

A very wise male friend of mine once told me quoting a prophet, I think, that "if you argue about religion, you're both wrong". Amen to that, folks!
I like this statement so much I wonder if we can use it for other things. And sometimes, I found things where paraphrases would work swimmingly. Some other times, they are doubtful.

Like: can we say the same about the ages old argument between men and women and the way they feel about each other?!

Last night, at Target, while I was shopping for baby clothes and cat litter and scanning the aisles for clearances, this evidently stressed and spread-too-thin lady carrying an overflowing basket of home goods, while walking the aisles half-out of breath and screaming in her cell phone to most likely her significant other crosses my path. It could not have been her kid, because they were talking alcohol. So... Just being presumptive there, but just a wild guess...

And the conversation went something like this: "No, John, she doesn't! No, she... Good Lord, NO! John, don't do THAT!" (rolling her eyes and waiting for the person on the other line to reply while she's putting down the basket and trying to straighten up her sweat blouse, while throwing some Dial soap in the pile and nodding her head). "John, she does NOT and I repeat DOES NOT NEED A BEER! All she needs is a WALK!" - she was screaming these all caps words to be emphatic, while sounding desperate.

She continues: "John, I will NOT give a dog beer! I am telling you: she just needs a walk" - now she's hyperventilating and panting just like a dog, out of breath, rushing to the register, while still not willing to let the phone go: her speech is now precipitated and very emphatic: "John,-- just -- take -- her -- for -- a -- SHORT -- walk. She is fine if you take her out. Please don't give THE DOG beer!"- desperate and begging now, and given up and seemed like her priority has suddenly changed and she needed not the Dial and the Pantene and the ScotchBrite and the cereal, but most importantly, she needed to get home faster so she won't find her dog comatose from alcohol.

Today, I go to lunch with a friend. It's Friday, it's nice out, so we stroll to a sports bar, close to the office. There are maybe 10-12 tv sets hanging on the walls, all flat panels, all bigger than anything I will ever afford. There is a full house, too, everyone watching the basketball game. One game - the same game on all the tv's... These two guys, 20-some-year-olds walk in, sit at the bar, and start scanning the joint for chicks. You can tell, you read body language and watch for stares and secret nods between the two of them...

One of them sits a laptop on the bar. No biggie. Lunch break, the young professional would like to not miss the Stock action, in an economy like ours now, sure, understandable...
Only, they don't go to or They go to ... the same basketball game that's playing on the 12 tv's. Not a different one. The very same one. And they start watching they OWN tv show, while all the other tvs are not dignified with their eye ball stares. And they probably suspect, THAT would be such a chick magnet, too... Just a wild guess, again!

I wonder if I'll ever date again...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breaking yoga rules: a judgmental approach to yoga

“The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whenever it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right”.
(Hannah Whitall Smith)

I hate “preachers”, typically. No, not “that” kind, that’s why I used quotations. I don’t hate the kind that stand up on a podium, or in an Altar at church on a Sunday. I love those. I think they’re an intrinsic part of our way too troubled worlds.

I hate the ad-hoc kind that you run into at the store, or at your work, or even the gym or the yoga studio, for that matter. The ones that know it all, have seen it all, have tried it all, and now they are going to make YOU buy it all or else you’re scum and a low piece of doo-doo if you ain’t buying it or if you’re not subscribing completely to their own system of values, right now, here, this minute. NOW! THAT kind of “preachers”.

Here’s the story:

I go to my yoga class tonight and here’s this woman who’s louder than thunder, or so her voice sounds, telling everyone who can hear without a hearing aid about how she got out of jury duty today. Surely, with a lie. And I am floored, because I didn’t know you can do that. So, I lose respect for whatever comes out of her mouth from then on (she breaks rule number 1 of yoga, I think: do not lie). I try to collect my thoughts at the end of the day, but no, the jury duty story barges right in!


At the beginning of the class she tells the teacher “we’re all tired girls here and take it easy”. Not sure who “all” she was referring to, since she didn’t poll me, and I, for once, was not tired; I didn’t hear the other woman in the class saying anything along the same lines, but … Rule number 2 (be truthful) is out the window (random number here, I know this is not what Patanjali intended).

But that’s not why I started writing this.

She set me off, truly, at the end of the class in the hallway. This other woman asked her about the yoga 300 hour program she (the loud one) had just finished and how it was, and … she (loud one) proceeds to share, quite un-shyly and quite loudly that she is a personal trainer and a “spin” instructor, too, but “now she does mostly yoga, because how can you not?!!!" In the same loud voice, she screams: “yoga is everything. I cannot believe you don’t just DO it after the first class, since it changes your life soooo deeply. Yoga is everything. It encompasses everything, and I just don’t know how not everyone doesn’t just do it, all the time. I am ALL about Yoga now, and I love it. And …“ – and she goes on and on about how yoga changed her life and how ALL the people in the world should let yoga do that for them.

And I am sitting there, tying my shoe and breaking another law of yoga: you should not judge! So I am thinking to myself: “you did at least 300 hours of intensive yoga, woman, and you got nothing, not a damn thing, not the first thing out of it!”

If yoga is about anything at all, it is about being a personal , very individualized path for each and every single one of us. And how we should all explore it, and see if it is for us first and in what shape it fits us, if at all, in a VERY personal, very unique way for each soul. It’s not a “one size fits all” solution to happiness and/or fitness. You gotta let everyone find it for themselves. Not judge if they don’t find it. Not scream to find what YOU found in it. Just be quiet and wait. And let yoga speak for itself to anyone out there who’s trying to listen. And they’ll find … whatever … whenever they choose to be ready for … whatever … they might find in it, if anything.

Her loud voice was overwhelming. You know, that voice that is a couple of decibels louder than you can ignore?! Just enough to be intruding and invading. Just enough to enter by force into everyone’s lives uninvited.

And I didn’t know how to get out of there faster. Because she was … invading my privacy and completely ignoring my presence and thoughts. And the other people’s too.

And that’s when I decided to smile, with pity (I know, I screwed up: with judgment too…): she didn’t get it after all. So, it was her loss, not mine, I thought. “Poor thing”!

But wouldn’t you want to correct that in some way?! Hhmm… I would. Or at least, I hoped through the rest of our silences and rushed steps out of there … she would learn. Hopefully.

One day.

Friday, March 07, 2008

We’re not innocent anymore …

“Old dreams and new dreams all wanting the same thing (…)

Playing the same game again

It’s just being so hard to win. (…)

You’ve gotta give in to see, to love and to grieve,

Wipe that slate clean when the morning comes again …”

(Steep Canyon Rangers – “Old Dreams and New Dreams” - hopefully, accurate quotation)

I used to think of my life as having the most of its history back home, in Romania, where the first 23 years of my life were spent. I kept telling myself, I am only a “baby” in America, with no identity yet, not past, no history, no roots.

And that was just till a day or so ago. When I took a ride around town. When everything seemed to change, in two hours.

I passed the place of my first home, where my marriage once flourished and I knew all-encompassing and desperate and unconditional, I thought, love for maybe the first time in my life.

Then I drove past the lawyer’s office where that marriage came apart, and became two separate ways of two very different people.

I then drove by the agency that first hired me for the first official job, here, a Temp agency. They moved their office, but their name will forever stick with me: they were the first listing in the yellow pages, and my name starts with that letter, so I figured, that’s gotta be a good sign. And it was.

I drove by the movie theater that smells like dead chicken, and I remembered how one of my best friends asked me how in the world do I know what dead chicken smell like. Well, when you have a dad that works in a chicken slaughterhouse for years, and takes you there for field trips, starting when your 6, you just know. And remember.

I drove by my first sushi restaurant and I remembered my friend Charlie, who first “challenged” me to eat sushi. Little did he know that was no challenge at all, just pure love at first sight.

I drove past the street where I lived alone, for 5 years, after my divorce; the years where I truly found out what America has to offer to a single, immigrant woman with 3 cats, a head full of dreams and curly hair, and a crappy pay. And somehow, I survived those 5 years. They’re building a shopping center across the street from my former condo, so I am glad I moved, I thought.

Yet, the history remains; imprinted in my heart and brain like hot iron markings. History of friends, and lovers gone by, parties, and margarita mix spilled on the white carpet, of dad making Romanian (and burning it to make the smoke alarm go off) food and getting everyone drunk on tzuika shots; of good friends cursing the peeling of grass-cloth, but peeling it away anyway. First home projects, all on my own. How empowering! And rewarding!

I then drove past this street with a big two story house on it, where I loved and hoped again, at a time when I thought love and hope were not possible anymore. The place that allowed me to love dogs and decide they’re not evil, after all. The house is sold, the love interest has moved away and moved on, but of course, the memories, of tv watching, good music, nipple on national TV on Super bowl night, NJ subs, Auburn games, the bbq dinners, the love and quarrels will remain. Mostly the love and friendship.

I drove past the park that my “second borrowed dog” loved to walk and where ducks run free and children talk about their dogs and how their dogs “don’t get to see their mommy because she went to work”. The second dog moved to Maryland, and I’ll miss him forever! But the park is there, to look back at me, and remind me where I have been, in the past 10 years.

I went to the pharmacy and they had my address from 10 years ago on file! True, I just moved back in the neighborhood, but that woke me up with a jerk: “Wow! 10 years ago!”.

And then I drove past the hospital where my best friend, that I love so dearly still just died! The hospital in which I locked so much hope, and so much love, and so many white nights. Where I watched the Oscars in 2007. And which made The Oscars nights never be about glamour and happiness ever again for me! The hospital that gave me hope, and a year later gave me desperation too. The hospital that gave my own health condition hope and a deadline, too.

I am not innocent anymore. My history has now extended here, in the States. I cannot tell people anymore, “Oh, well, you know, I speak funny English, because I am not from around here.” Or: “I have no clue who Doctor Seuss, or Big Bird, or Captain Kirk were, because I am not American”. I have a history now. And no excuses.

And that “slate” cannot be “wiped clean” as easily! It’s not a dry eraser board anymore. It’s more like a block of stone that’s been dented by all the passings of time and by what those passigns brought along. Not as easy to “wipe” it as it sounds… The marks of time, the history left a deeper mark than just a scratch. Yeah, you can dust it off. But it’ll be dented – to remind you through what it’s been.

And just like any child that loses her innocence … I feel a tad lost … And off centered …