Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yoga Loca.

OK, really it's called Yoga Loka. Which I think means "hot yoga". Bikram Yoga. Or as my four-year old refers to it: Sweaty Yoga.

But, in my mind, it's a little bit like Crazy Yoga.

So, I've only done it once, but I think I might need this kind of craziness in my life.

First off, the room is one billion degrees and smells like feet. Everyone is practically naked and you have to drink sixty ounces of water during the ninety-minute session or I am sure you will die. There are 26 poses performed the same way every time and done twice. They are strengthening-hard-core-stretching-your-fingers-back-behind-your-head-and-around-your-ankle-type-of-poses. Because it is so warm, your body is sweating so much that I think your sweat may actually sweat.

As my friend Kim says about Bikram Yoga: "It's not natural for your forearms to sweat. That's just not good."

My forearms, back arms and every other part of my anatomy that's currently carrying an extra ten pounds or so of what I've come to call, Toddler Weight, was definitely perspiring like never before. But, strangely, that and the smelly feet didn't bother me that much. To be honest, I kind of liked it. I liked that the clock in the room had no hands, just a second hand, so you couldn't check to see how much time was left. I liked that the instructor said the same thing over and over and it was something like:

"Just let go. Letting go is the most important thing you will do here."

As a really good holder-on-er, this was a nice change. A nice challenge. Albeit a wet one.

To just focus for ninety minutes on bending my body into various pretzelesque shapes, on getting more in touch with my toes, on not getting email or making phone calls or planning or doing or picking up or putting down or feeding or changing or diapering or laughing or crying. Just being for ninety minutes in my body and seeing what the old gal was capable of was kind of - nice.

Of course, this was all on Tuesday. Today is Thursday and it was time for my next class. The class was at 9 AM this morning and I found 9 AM had come and gone and I had not a sweat bead to show for it. I am however, at eight o'clock at night, still wearing my yoga clothes. I imagine that's good for something, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh, to be four-and-a-half.

My sweet girl, she is all aglow right now.

She, my dear readers, is reading.

That's right, reading, as in:

"LLLLLLeeeeeeeeeeemmmmmmmooooooooooonade. Leeeeeemoooooonaaaaaaaaaade. Lemonade!!"

I can't tell you the look on her face as she realizes she is now capable of reading words, sounding them out, making sense out of letters. She's unlocked the box and she's not going back. Everything is about letters and words, how many and who has what.

Somehow she and my husband, both of them number freaks, something I truly can't relate to, came up with this game where everybody in our family is on a team based on the number of letters in their name.

Finn and I, Geri, are on Team 4. As in four letters.

Reese and Chris are on Team 5.

So that means everything in Reese's world is now catergorized by Team Number. She couldn't believe "milk" was on Finn and my team. She LOVES milk, as does Finn, and she thought is was plain unfair that we got it on our team, four letters or not. She started calling it "milk-e" so it could be on her and Chris' team.

But, since we have only fours and fives in our family, we have to borrow other people to catagorize items that have more or less that four or five letters. For instance, three letter words are on Zoe's team, a friend at school. So we'll be passing by a bus or something that's the color red and she'll shout out from the back seat:

"There goes one for Zoe's team!"

Or, when she figured out that "spaghetti" had nine letters, something I had to count on my hands to confirm, anything in the world with nine letters was now on spaghetti's team.

At the moment, I can only think of "cocktails" and "chocoloate" as Team 9 members.

Oooh, now I so want to be on Team 9.

Anyway, it turns out this whole learning thing is actually more amazing than I realized. As she's sounding out the words or working the figures, I feel like I can actually see the synapses firing off in her brain and boomeranging back and forth between her eyebrows, scrunched and concentrating. When she stumbles upon the word or the answer, it's Christmas and the Fourth of July all in one, there's so much hooting and hollering going on.

Finn, her 20-month old brother is hot on her tail now. He's getting on this learning thing early. He walks around shouting "Blue" and "P" to everything. Regardless if they're either, of course. The other day, the nanny swears he spelled "IT" out of refrigerator magnets and then said the word.

You know what, I believe her.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

38.

That's how old I'll be in two days.

I don't feel 38. As my grandma used to say when I asked her if she felt her age, whatever it happened to be at the time, she'd say:

"Nope. I feel 100."

I feel 100.

At least some days. When I'm chasing my two sprites around in the hot, muggy day and I'm feeling sweaty and out of shape and so, so far from the pictures of those celebs frolicking with their spawn in People magazine. Their hair just casually placed just so, rocking the Juicy Couture or whatever hip threads I wouldn't even know the name of. Even that Marcia Cross with her twins, she's older than me and she's going around and round with that Eden Prairie and Eva Marina, or whatever their names are, and she is just looking so damn JOYFUL.

There are days I am not looking quite so hot. There are days I just look hot.

And probably tired and wrinkly, too.

There are days my intentions are greater than my patience. And that I realize, while I'm probably a better mother than I would have been ten years ago, my knees and my back - not so much.

Some days I just want to call in the butler of my dreams and ask for a tall iced lemonade, and while he's at it, would he mind watching the kids for a few minutes?

But then yesterday happens, where I get on a plane and realize, like everything, age is so incredibly relative.

My seatmate, though I'm no judge of age, was maybe 60 or so, and after not saying much to one another during the flight, we began to chit chat on our landing approach. She asked me what I was reading and I told her: a book of essays by Sloane Cross, freaking hilarious and beautifully written. I mentioned I'm into writing essays myself of late.

She said: "for school, or something?"

Bless her heart.

Nope, I said. I'm a writer, just not near as good of one as Ms. Cross here.

Well, she said. "That takes some life experience, now."

I wonder if she thought I was twenty-five or just a really dense and lonely looking almost thirty-eight year old.

Whichever, it hit me that I'm old until someone's older than me.

I disembarked with a spring in my step, a little youth-ish lilt in my gait.

I have to say, it's looking like a good year.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Only as far as your headlights.

For me, Anne Lamott always says it best.

For her, I guess E.L. Doctorow said it best because she quotes him in "Bird by Bird" which my Dad said was the best book on writing ever and I think I'd have to agree. In fact, it may just be the best book, period.

Anne, on E.L.:

"E.L. Doctorow once said that 'writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard."

Say it, Annie.

I wish, I wish like the dickens, I could take this advice.

I wish for near-sightedness. To only focus only on the next two or three feet. Instead, most days I am three miles down the road, sometimes because that's where I'm comfortable, planning the future, sometimes it's because the two square feet I'm planted in is filled with mud and poop and I'm wearing my good shoes.

Like today for instance.

Like most natural disasters, there was no warning. I came home and picked up a happy-go-lucky young Finn and attempted to put him in the car to go pick up Reese from school. For reasons I'm still not clear on, he was none too happy about my selection of events. Even though he adores Reese. Even though he adores her school. I don't know, maybe he had something against the Volvo, or the fact that the Volvo was ten billion degrees. Whatever it was, the entire neighborhood, perhaps the entire city of Sacramento, could attest to the unhappiness of my son at four this afternoon. The two of us were wrestling in his car seat, me trying to buckle him in, him trying to make me sweat my body weight in record time. The kid is like Ultimate Fighting Baby; I've never known anyone as strong. There he is: back arched, legs straight as arrows, face beet red, tears and snot flying. I was completely outmanned. I tried everything: negotiation, bribery, threats, begging. Nothing worked. Ultimately, it was trickery; I think I may have pointed at a passing car and said something like:

"Look, Elmo!"

And then fastened him, quick as a whistle, into his car seat.

Suffice it to say, we made it to school to pick up Reese and endured yet another fun battle to the death of getting him back in the car and then a debate broke out between the two of them over a small green sand toy that had been sitting in the back seat unnoticed for about two weeks.

Within five minutes of being home both of them were in time out and I was contemplating a run for the border. And I'm not talking Taco Bell.

These are the times I have a hard time living in the present. I wish I could just dig in and have the perspective that this is only temporary. This tantrum, this 100th "noooooooooooo", this "I don't want a bath/ponytail/that snack/this snack/whatever you want me to have" is only the particular two or three feet ahead of me and that leaning into the curve is OK. Instead I just want to fly through this, time traveler style and get to the next phase. Whatever phase that is not this phase. I need to know the destination and I am giving the journey the finger.

Yet I know, even as I'm doing it, that this is a mistake. I know that by taking my eyes off the road, by shooting ahead on the map instead of focusing in on this route, albeit a bumpy one, I'm also missing the thrill of the ride at times.

When I have the ability to see this, I grab my conciousness like a wayward dog and yank it by the scruff of its neck and force it to concentrate on now. And in doing so, I'm back. Just in time to hear my four-year old explain to me, just an hour after her horrific toddler tantrum, where exactly Earth is in the solar system and why Pluto is the coldest planet, 'cause it's the furthest from the sun.