I had the loveliest Sunday. I took the drive to Toronto for a hot sweaty yoga class followed by a tasty healthy lunch in the park with a fabulous woman I met this spring while traveling. Once I’d been depleted and refreshed, I opted for a walk down Queen St for some window shopping. As inevitably happens, my shopping shifted from window to actual variety, and eventually I found myself in H&M for no reason (I swear) other than that I hadn’t any sunscreen and needed a rest from the unexpectedly clear sky.
Because there are few hells I’d rather avoid than the fitting room at a discount clothier, I don’t try things on at H&M. This is risky, because their poorly made clothes are unpredictable in fit and cut. For this reason, I’ll purchase there only if the item is of a very familiar style that I feel I can estimate well, or if it’s cheap as hell and I don’t care.
The skirt was (I thought) squarely in both camps. A simple cotton knit that looked like it would hit just at the knee and perhaps hug the figure just a bit. For $10, it was worth the gamble. I upped the ante considerably by packing it to wear to work today, having not tried it on even at home, and being that on Mondays I go to the yoga studio in the morning and go straight to work from there. Go boldly, discount fashionista!
So imagine my surprise when I went to put on this cute little skirt only to realize it had a built in shelf bra and was, in fact, a dress. A very short, very tight dress. Since it was morning and I had exercised, but had not yet eaten, I actually kind of rocked it. Except of course that I’m 36, so I looked like a 19 year old trying to sneak into a club using her mother’s… face.
Some things are just undignified.
The good news is that with my slightly longer top (fortunate pairing!), it’s an adorable skirt, and barely trashy at all.
EXISTENTIAL ANGST, (PITY) PARTY OF ONE:
I am beleaguered by false nostalgia of late – by a feeling of a lost better time that, in point of fact, never happened. Not to me. Not in real life. But something about certain music (music to which I am oddly drawn right now) evokes in me a misplaced remembrance of an amazing experience slipping through my fingertips like a slippery fish in a fast-running stream.
It’s all bullshit, of course. Ennui manifesting as something sweeter. The feeling of loss, fabricated, heavier than my actual real life mild dissatisfaction because this loss is frosted in possibility kept at the back of the pantry long past its expiration date where I, pitiful hoarder, left it, kept it, saved it for the perfect time, which, as with all perfect times, never came. So much potential. So little of it capitalized upon.
But enough of that.
DID I SAY THAT
Remember my New York talk? Remember my quibbling over career paths and … whatever else I’ve been quibbling about? Well something out there heard and believed and aligned. I am socially acquainted with a recruiter, and one email lead to another, blah blah blah, I found myself introduced to a woman in my field. We hit it off, and the next day, today, as it happens, I received a call from said recruiter informing me that said woman in my field intended to create a job for me. A job that would land me in New York half time.
Of course, nothing matters til it takes form (read your L’Engle, kids), but this could be a hell of a career boost. Although I don’t feel quite done with my current job, if opportunity is knocking, I need to answer.
BANAL BUT SO GOOD
Every year I try to buy myself a nice birthday present. The sort of thing my mother would get me if she could afford it. Last year it was a higher-end purse. This year, a sleek new stereo. My previous set up was a graduation gift from my 1999 baccalaureate, so I was overwhelmed by the features available in the current world. My home has been awash in an eclectic mix of interweb music, fueling my inarticulate fits of tap dancing.
And the whole thing needs so little real estate. For some reason, I find it critical that I be able to live in 500 sq ft, despite my flat’s ample 900. If you can’t trust your thoughts, just watch your actions. The subconscious is not all that slick.
BE HERE NOW
Here is with two hellishly cute cats. Now is kitty nap time. So Now it’s time for me to be Here. Under cats. Waiting for sleep to temper the nostalgia and excitement and all the rest of my emotional bouillabaisse. And to all a good night.
I’ve been thinking, re-thinking, and over-thinking my ongoing craving (a full month now!) to upheave my life. I’m still not convinced it’s not a passing fancy (because I’m hard-headed and lazy and this would be against plan and require effort), but I do have a big clue that this could be Real: the Purge. I’m finding myself antsy to get rid of everything. Every possession is now on the potential chopping block – I’ve even begun paring my CD collection (as a music snob, this was once my pride and joy… and I was on college radio in the 90s, so you can see just how cool I think I was).
In successive and increasingly Draconian waves, I’ve been whittling away books, CDs, clothes, and kitchen appliances(!) based on criteria such as “when was the last time you used this?” and “do you even like this?” and “will you ever use this again?” and “does someone else need it more?” You can talk yourself out of almost anything with that last one. Keep it on reserve when you need to talk yourself out of something pricey that you really don’t use.
A REASONABLE PERSON
One of the purging games I play is “a reasonable person would have…” whereby I try to set parameters for what I will keep in my home based on what I think would be a fair guideline for a theoretical Reasonable Person. For instance, were I do say “a reasonable person would have one drawer full of T shirts,” I would then sort, re-sort, rank, and priorize my T shirt collection based on a number of features contributing to overall Keeepiness (the quality that determines an objects keepability) until all of the finalists fit together into one drawer. That closes. Because a resonable person would close their dresser drawers.
Too-small clothes are gone. Too big clothes (enablers!) as well. Also anything that is not flattering (just tell yourself it’s cut wrong, toss it aside and move on). Any article of clothing that you put on and then take right back off after looking at yourself in the mirror. Any weekend casual wear so nasty that you would not leave your burning home before finding a change of clothes (exemptions may be made for your very worst items if you still wear them often).
“BE BRUTAL WITH THE EPHEMERA”
This was how a friend of mine summed up her ability to live a very civilized life in a very small apartment. Get rid of everything you don’t use. Always. No trinkets, no ticket stubs, no memorial T-shirts or commemorative mugs. No gifts you hated. Have a small amount of stuff you need and like and nothing else. I was raised by a poor woman who was raised in a poor family at the end of the Great Depression. There is a generational hangover I’m working to cure here, but the uncluttered life is so much better that I just know it’ll be worth it.
Full disclosure: I’m not there yet. But I have decided that a reasonable person would have one trunk full of memorabilia, so that’s the limit toward which I’m working.
THE SPEAKER TEST
If, like me, you are over 30, you have witnessed, and likely been victimized by, at least one change in music technology in your lifetime. As someone who finally parted ways with dual-deck high speed dubbing cassette player (“someone else needed it more”), I can empathize with any reluctance you may feel in fully committing to digital music. At its peak, my collection was about 300 CDs, but I’m slowly chipping that down toward about 100 (“a reasonable person would have one rack of CDs”).
My criteria for selection are technically two-fold: do I still like this album, and does it sound so good through good speakers that I don’t want to hear it on MP3. Of course, with a decent stereo that second one is harder to hit, so there’s an undocumented third case: (I can’t believe I’m admitting this): is this still part of my ego as a music snob? Yeah. That’s right, Miss Pragmatic here can give up her copy of “Screaming Fields of Sonic Love” that has not been listened to end to end since 2002 because she still thinks she’s cool. And that it’s 1997. And that anyone even LOOKS at her CD library. She’s wrong on all counts.
GROWING UP JUST MEANS PARENTING YOURSELF
Listen. We all have childish urges and habits. You can’t kill them all off with willpower alone. But you can start to observe yourself with a teeny bit of detachment to learn your own patterns and triggers and begin to put speedbumps between yourself and your worst habits. This, I’m convinced, is the secret to the fine art of growing up (also of the fine art of cat ownership, or of managing a fast food restaurant): make it easier to do right than to do wrong.
Sometimes, if you can’t figure out how you feel about something, you can step back and observe yourself as if you were a toddler. For maximum effetiveness, you’ll want the toddler you to be the observed and the adult-aspiring you to be the observer. The reverse has its place, too though, so if this doesn’t work, try switching sides of the one-way glass with your inner child. I’m neither your mom nor your child, so I won’t judge.
So I’ve been watching my inner Honey Boo Boo throw her tantrum and assessing the shape it’s taking. She wants to be free. She’s not running away yet, but she wants everything to be in line to get up and go as soon as the moment is right. She’s not hurting anything, so I’m going to let her keep at it and see if she either makes some progress or gives it a rest. Either one is fine…
I know when I’m really serious, I’ll give up the rest of those CDs.
EVERYTHING OLD IS OLDER STILL
My birthday is coming, and so begins the annual ritual I’ve adhered to faithfully since first embarking on the adventure that would become My 30s. First, in May, I get restless. Maybe it’s the impending new age looming over the horizon. Perhaps it’s just Spring Fever. Either way, it’ll end in either a rash decision or some serious angst. Or an angsty rash decision. Then in early June I begin referring to myself by the new age so that by the time it actually arrives, it’s already a non-event. Then in late June, I’ll age officially, forget about my earlier trick, temporarily increment my age a second time, then roll it back to its actual number with a sigh of cautious relief. For a moment or two, I’ll question whether I even know how old I am, which will make me feel older than ever.
ONE STEP, TWO STEP, OLD STEP, NEW STEP
A couple of months back, a co-worker found a newish dance studio in town with a friendly owner and cheap rates. While I never (ever) would have considered taking tap dancing lessons before this, the idea of missing out on six consecutive Friday post-work sessions with some of my favorite co-workers was too much to risk, so up I signed.
Do something new! Especially if it’s tap dancing!
Dancing is fun. Dancing with fun people in a semi-private class with a laid back teacher is funner. Dancing with fun people with noisy taps on your shoes is funnest. My cats disagree, as may my neighbors, but the cats eat off the floor, and I can’t swear the neighbors don’t too, so their opinions are meaningless.
The teacher is so sweet that I decided to pursue my unfulfilled childhood dream and sign up for adult beginner ballet. I’m 36, so there’s still lots of time to be a star, and I just know I’m gonna make it! And if not, I still have pink shoes and leg warmers, so the haters at Julliard can suck it.
PAGING DOCTOR FREUD
What other unfulfilled childhood dreams do I have yet to indulge? I’m pretty sure I was destined to be a triple threat, so now I just need to find a way to sing and act. I haven’t quit my day job yet, because I make a decent living at this IT thing, and frankly, stopping at triple is weak. (She sings! She acts! She dances! She models… databases!)
THIS TIME, IT’S SERIOUS
So there’s this other thing I always thought I’d do before I turned 36 (or 40. or dead). And that was live somewhere else. I have thought at varying lengths about the following options:
- Europe (because I’m classy and I like small cars and stinky cheeses)
- Toronto (because it’s close enough to my parents in Upstate NY that I could drive home for holidays, and as a bonus, they don’t have passports!)
- Chicago (because my former job tried to relocate me)
- Bangalore (because my former job tried to relocate me, and I was getting divorced so moving to India seemed extremely practical at the time)
- Vancouver (because I would like it to be 62 degrees all of the time)
- Portland (because I like big trees and strong coffee)
- Costa Rica (but not until I retire at, like 40. Or 50. Or whatever age seems distant-but-not-too-old at the moment)
- New York City
Always New York City. I’ve talked myself out of it a million times, and if I don’t go for a while, I can convince myself that I’d never want to live there because of crowds and grime and expense and cockroaches and all the very valid reasons to live anywhere else on this planet. But then I go, and I’m in love every time.
So this May, at the height of Spring Fever, I went to NY to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade. We had a lovely visit and blah blah blah. And I saw Brooklyn for the first time. And I fell in love. I mean, not all of it, but his neighborhood of brownstones and perfect population density. And of course it’s just vacation head compounding my ennui, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s time to move on. If not to NY then to somewhere.
I’ve been in my house for eight years now, and within a mile of it for thirteen. Do I want to live here my whole life? In a small city with few career opportunities? (and wonderful people and great cheap housing and easy commutes and good grocery stores). Do I want to wait to uproot myself until I’m 40-50-60-105? (or never at all, because there are worse things one can grow than roots, and friends are golden). At what age should I admit that I’m no longer preparing for life, and am actually in the middle of life RIGHT NOW? How about RIGHT NOW? It seems like as good a time as any. I am, after all, somewhere in the neighborhood of 36. I think.
OF WHIRLING AND WIND
The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of PT and Graston and massage and yoga and wine – all the things one might associate with an over-managed hamstring rehab. (Woah. I do not like putting “wine” and “rehab” in the same sentence, but it happened, so I’ll let it stand.) For the number of people who’ve touched my thigh in the past month, you’d think I was either a professional athlete or a hooker. At 35, it’s too late to get into either field, so I’ll just ride out this IT thing until the tweens rise up an make me obsolete.
I can’t exactly tell how well it’s going. I’ve gotten a decent range of motion back, as well as some strength, but the remaining intact muscles are clearly compensating for Hammy the Weak, so there’s something missing in the realm of stablity that’s mildly concerning. Like sometimes, I tell the left leg, “Leftie, move in a straight line.” And Lefty is like “Sure, boss!,” but it’s not exactly a straight line, and I know Lefty tried so don’t want to make a big thing about it and hurt Lefty’s self esteem, but between you, me, and the internet, that leg doesn’t move right.
Because it’s mostly pain-free and moves decently and stretches some, I want it to be perfect. I guess my scale doesn’t have a measurement between “gimpy” and “normal.” Patience. It’s not my thing. I like to finish and move on to what’s next.
Speaking of gimpy, here are some things it’s hard to do when your hamstring is in the acute phase of gimpiness those first few days after a tear:
- Bend over.
- Squat down.
Because of this, the floor is off limits to your hands. That doesn’t sound like much of an impediment, but if you’re a clutz or a pet owner, it’s a Big Fucking Deal. I’m both. Remember that: I am a very clumsy cat lady (yet I’m single?! What’s that about?).
When you can’t bend over or squat down, feeding cats goes something like this:
LOLA: MEOWWWWWWW (subtitle: “I haven’t eaten since last night. Step on it, human servile scum.”)
WAHLA: mew (subtitle: “I was on the table last night while you were asleep! It was high up!”)
ME: [airdropping dry food over vicinity of dish, scattering kibble all over corner of kitchen floor] Eat it off the floor, please? I can’t reach the dustbuster.
LOLA: MEOWWWWWWWW (subtitle: “That’s not wet food.”)
WAHLA: mew (subtitle: “Something is happening.”)
ME: [Pouring water all over kitchen floor, leaving several small pools from which the cats may drink, none of which are in the designated bowl]
LOLA: MEOWWWWWWWW (subtitle: “Did your brain explode last night? You want me to walk through water to eat crappy kibble that’s wet and sure to be soggy in T-minus 3 minutes?”)
WAHLA: mew. (subtitle: “I like water. Do you know bathtub? He’s my best friend. We play together all day.”)
ME: [slingshotting wet cat food from waist height, hitting everything except the intended target] Breakfast is served!
LOLA: MEOWWWWWWWW (subtitle: “WTF?”)
WAHLA: mew. (subtitle: “Something is different than usual, and it’s kind of freaking me out. I’ll be hiding behind the bookshelf all day if anyone needs me.”)
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE
About three minutes after a cat eats, it poops approximately 14 times the total volume of food it ate in the previous 24 hours. Like most cat owners, I’ve made a deal with my felines that if they do all this pooping in a designated box on the floor, I’ll keep flinging bits of processed meat scraps around the kitchen every morning.
Cleaning the cat box is a simple but revolting chore. What you do is grab the scoop in your dominant hand, a plastic bag (no holes!) in your non-dominant hand, bend over or squat down, and scoop the poop into the bag. Tie it all up, throw it away, and get on with your life. Dog owners do basically the same thing only in public and without benefit of the scoop. Whether they’re savages or heroes I’ll leave for you to decide.
Anyway, easy peasy, exept for that bend over or squat down part. For the first week or so of my injury, the only way I could do this chore was to gently lift the bum leg and balance on the good one.Do you know what it’s like to balance on one leg bent over with both hands full, having to use those hands in coordination with one another, while the stakes are that high? One false move and you’re face first in feces. It’s the most intense concentraton- the most pure yoga – I have ever known.
And I’m happy to report that we survived the acute phase incident free!
RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
This morning marked my return to the Mysore room after ye old injury. At the studio where I practice, Mysore mostly means just that, but being a predominantly Vinyasa studio, any self-practice is allowed. I was able to cobble together over an hour of practice without discomfort by keeping my forward folds shallow and keeping the lungey/warriory stuff to a minimum. It was so darn good I think I’ll go again tomorrow.
IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE WEEK
Of all the 30 or so meals I eat each week, Sunday brunch is by far my favorite. This week I cooked for a group of friends, and despite the fact that I am no hostess, I think I pulled it off. Frittata, french toast, strawberries, lox, and brie… and mimosas, of course. Without mimosas, it’s just a big, late lunch. We had the perfect amount of food, the playlist was just long enough, the cats poured on the charm and stayed off the furniture. Good, good, good.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT JUST A RIVER IN EGYPT
Lately it has come to my attention that I’ve been putting on weight. Stress eating and sharing an office with a skinny woman with a sweet tooth, I suppose. So over the past few weeks I’ve been logging my food and exercise with the My Fitness Pal app. [Let's pause here for a moment to contemplate that we live in an era in which we can wave our phones at our food and they'll tell us how fat we can expect to become.] Being aware of what I’m eating has been helpful, and my weight has been moving in a more pleasing trajectory.
I was reluctant to tell Phone about brunch, because that Siri can be so judgmental, but accountability is important to self-respect and all that. Besides, denial doesn’t make the waistbands stop hurting. So I fessed up about it, and Phone hinted strongly that I should go for a walk.
GOOD DAY, SUNSHINE
Phone was right about the walk, even though I still owe myself a few hundred calories. Birds in the trees, buds on the flowers, kids on their bikes – all signs point toward Spring, and not a moment too soon.
Which brings me back to Happiness. Spending time with my friends in a relaxed setting makes me happy. Quiet time to myself makes me happy. a clean home and good food make me happy. Being prepared for the week ahead makes me happy. A nice sunny walk makes me happy.
At this point, I’m just some light reading and a little Breaking Bad away from a perfect Sunday.
DUDE. HAVE YOU EVER REALLY LOOKED AT YOUR SHINS?
I was just thinking about my shins, which I recognize is abnormal behavior for most folk. However for an Ashtangi, it’s probably not so odd. Someone who’s practicing primary series the traditional six days a week probably spends almost 100 hours a year with their head in their shins.
Normally, this is distracting. The only thoughts worth thinking about ones shins (unless you have shin splits, in which case there’s little else you can think about) come in the form of unanswerable questions:
- Is that mole new?
- How long has it been since I shaved?
- How could the ability to sweat from their shins have possibly given my ancestors any competitive genetic advantage?
Rarely do I actually take time to appreciate my bony, sweaty, pasty-white appendages. But yesterday, at PT, I did. While bending over, straight-legged, to prove that I couldn’t bend over with this bum hamstring, I inadvertently bent over. And nothing hurt. I couldn’t palm the floor or anything, but I got as far as touching my shins – about an 8″ improvement in the past three days.
Physical Therapist gives the ugly part of my recovery four weeks / eight visits. Fingers, eyes, and broken toes crossed!
A KISS ON THE CHEEK FROM A RAINBOW
Smoothie season is upon us again, partly because the weather is turning, and partly because I’m reading The China Study and freaking out about fruits and vegetables. Spring is in the air! Crazy is there, too!
This morning’s concoction: 1 English cucumber, 2 medium apples, the juice of one lemon, ice, flavored sparkling water that had sort of lost its sparkle (Unsweetened. Mama doesn’t play with aspartame). It’s bright and refreshing like rubbing noses with a fluffy angel kitten.
AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A CAT LADY PARTY
Speaking of kittens… I work long hours, so my home life during the week is limited to my leisurely morning routine – yoga, cat care, breakfast, email, packing of provisions for the workday, showering and ablutions, occasionally some light reading – and my evens time, which will consist of a makeshift meal, more cat care (Kibble and poop, kibble and poop. That’s the sum total of their existence.), and maybe a little Netflix if I get home before 9 or so.
These brief periods of homesteading are regimented by a series of reminders from Phone that it’s time to move on to another stage of the day. I think my diurnal clock is set for a 26 hour day or something, because I am rarely tired until I’ve been up for 18 hours, but I enjoy 8 hours’ sleep. Phone’s job is to tell me to eat or shower or go to bed or get back out of bed.
The other sound that punctuates my day is that of one or both cats vomiting in the distance. This is my call to the hunt. Armed with a paper towel I must find the sick before it sets, creating a landmine of gross for Future Liska. Lola’s bulemia seems to be the result of eating too fast, and as such, typically happens next to or, if I’m lucky, right in her food bowl. Wahla is a party girl and likes to puke off things like every asshole frat guy you ever knew. She would be hilarious if she were someone else’s.
LIKE FINE WINE
I consider it a perk of my current employment that we share an office park with an amazing liquor store. They have a stunning selection for a suburban office park, and reasonable prices too. I recently learned that they will hold cases of select wines for select customers on request. Then, even more recently, I was the benefactor of this most kind customer service. Subsequently, as recently as just now, I enjoyed my favorite Rioja (Marques de Riscal. I’ve never had a bad vintage, but this 2005 is so good I want to have its babies. Then I would drink them, too.)
Hasta la Siri~