Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, green sunglasses, and blue shorts.
This post might not be a very good one; I’m writing it late at night, unable to sleep, after a day of flying across the country to visit my parents in Illinois. It’s such a long day of travel that always leaves me simultaneously buzzing and completely exhausted. I am not a good flier.
I was coming from Seattle, where Gabe and I were for a few days visiting friends. It was crazy to be in the city again after becoming such country bumpkins over the last year. Okay, Gabe was never really a city person to begin with, but it has been a big change for me, though a surprisingly easy one. It turns out I am a country person; I just never lived in the country before.
But as we drove into Seattle, I felt a sense of anxiety start to build, just looking at all the cars and buildings. I usually feel a little thrill when I get to the city, but not this time.
(Though I was still pretty jazzed to have not one, not two, but three grocery stores within walking distance of the apartment where we were staying [as opposed to having one tiny one that is a 15 minute drive down the highway away]. And I got to visit a fancy coffee shop and get served a great latte by a hipster instead of the hippies that I am used to.)
But my day of travel left my tired as always, even though I was actually able to work on the plane and not just spend the whole time trying to remind myself that thousands of flights happen every day and the pilot is very good at his or her job, etc etc.
It was pretty therapeutic to spend the time writing and planning instead of worrying.
These last few weeks have been really busy and crazy, and I am looking forward to some downtime while I’m with my parents. Here are a couple of things that have gotten me through these busy weeks:
Romeo is my constant. On a particularly stressful day last week, he found our front door and let himself inside. Then he hopped into my bed and made like a rolly-polly.
Can you believe this place is real? Gabe and I stopped on our way to Seattle to visit friends who live on a farm outside Salem, OR. This is in their back yard. It is a lake with a dock with a picnic table on it. It was…perfect.
Oh yes, it’s on. The star of my blog and I are getting full-on married next year. So that is a pretty great thing that has happened in the last few weeks too. 🙂
Today Gabe is wearing…
Well, today Gabe is actually wearing something different than these pictures. But in honor of my Southern California vacation, which starts tomorrow, I’m throwing this week’s photos back to a warmer, sunnier time in Humboldt County. One where Gabe was wearing green sunglasses, a yellow t-shirt, blue shorts, and brown flip flops.
Tomorrow morning I’m flying out of foggy Humboldt and down to sunny Southern California and I can’t wait. I have a full day of work between now and then, but basically all I can do is write packing to-do lists and try to remember things like watering my plants and sending out important mail before I leave.
I’m getting all my anxiety and worry in now, since I’m planning to completely unplug on this vacation. I probably won’t stop checking email because, I mean, I’m just really important and people are always trying to get in touch with me, but I’ve worked really hard this week to make sure there’s no work stuff I have to do next week at all.
Because I’m going to be busy. Being on the beach. Eating great food. And hiking through the sunny, majestic hills of San Diego.
It’s going to be great.
Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, khaki pants, brown boots, and green sunglasses.
“I don’t want to be here anymore.” I shook my head to try to shake this thought out of my mind, since, at the time I was thinking it, I was in an airplane 30,000 feet above Iowa.
I wasn’t always a nervous flyer, but once I started having to do the 3-flight trek between a small town in Washington to a small town in Illinois every holiday season when I was in college, I got the fear. Oooh yes I got the fear.
I started seeing signs in the days before my flight that I was convinced were warning that my plane was going to go down. Once on board, I’d jump at every little noise and bounce, even while the plane was still on the ground. I was really not a good flyer.
Then, a couple of years ago, I got it together. I learned about the trick where you just stare at the flight attendants, and watch how completely bored they are by every aspect of the flight. I started showing up at the airport imagining (seriously) that I was a serious business traveler who just couldn’t be bothered to care about “just another flight”.
Did my palms still sweat during turbulence? Sometimes. But I just forced the fear down, and it went away.
Well, it went away until earlier this week when I had the feeling that people who have *serious* fear of flying describe: the feeling like you absolutely have to get off the plane right now, this second. It was really the worst. I tried to tamp it down, but of course with this kind of thought, once you think it you can’t un-think it.
I was on my second flight of the day, and still had one more to go before I was at my final destination of my Illinois hometown. I was starting to feel like I wouldn’t make it.
So we circled above Chicago and I felt my palms start to sweat. I tried to remember my yoga. “Unclench your shoulders. Breathe a deep sigh. Close your eyes.”
My eyes popped open and my shoulders met my ears as we bumped down through the clouds.
I worried that I wouldn’t be able to do my third and final flight. After 8 hours of travel, I worried I might just cry for the whole 30 minutes of the third flight I had left. I worried I might never be able to leave once I actually made it there, since I have another 3 flights to do in order to get back home to Humboldt.
But on the third flight, I told myself to get it together. I closed my eyes, and turned on a podcast. I held a book in my lap, gripping it lightly with both hands. I focused on every single word the host of the podcast was saying. And if I ever got distracted and felt tempted to peek out the window or think about how amplified turbulence is in a tiny plane (which it happened to be that night) I took a huge, sighing breath and listened harder to the podcast.
And by the time we landed, 30 minutes later, I was over it. I was on the other side.
My mom fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and vegan cookies, and my dad let me rattle on about this new podcast Serial I had been listening to all day. It was good to be home.
A few photos of things enjoyed pre-flight:
Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, blue shorts, brown flip flops, and green sunglasses.
To say that I was disengaged during high school would be an understatement.
And when I say “during high school”, I mean literally the time that I was inside my high school, from 7:55am to the time the final bell rang at 2:25pm. I wasn’t a super sulky teen who just didn’t care — I was an editor on the newspaper, I had friends and boyfriends, and I knew that continuing to be a very good student would mean going to a very good college, which was all I had cared about since I was about 12 — but by the time I was in high school I was so bored during school every day that I checked out mentally for huge blocks of time on an almost daily basis.
I would wander the halls every single day.
I would ask to go to the bathroom in a different class each day and, knowing I had some A-student credibility built up, I would just leave and go take a walk for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. No one ever stopped me and I never got up to any trouble while I was on my walks; I just couldn’t stand to be in class anymore and so I would go take a walk, look at art projects hung on the walls or read student council campaign signs or look at old photos in the trophy cases, and just enjoy a break.
I bring this up because this week, I was re-introduced to my checked-out self — who I haven’t seen in years — and it brought memories of wandering the halls of high school and taking a mental vacation when you’re somewhere you just don’t care to be anymore.
It was Saturday morning, and I wanted to take a yoga class. Gabe was out of town and I was feeling antsy, having given no thought to what I wanted to do with a weekend on my own. This was my first mistake.
I don’t usually take yoga on Saturdays, and so I didn’t know any of the teachers who were teaching that day when I decided I needed to take a yoga class.
The one who happened to be teaching an “all levels” class closest to the time I wanted to go had the kind of “why yes, I AM a yoga teacher” name that tends to give me pause when selecting my teachers. I won’t re-print it here, but suffice to say, people who have self-given touchy feely names tend not to be a good fit for me.
But I decided to be cool and non-judgmental. I mean, I quit using shampoo! I can be very cool and into hippie culture, right?
(As it turns out: no, not in all cases.)
When I got to class everything seemed fine at first. Nice music, good vibes, and poses I could handle. But I noticed she had a very distinct way of talking. And by distinct, I mean impossible.
She would whisper, inaudibly, “now just roll ontoyourback..spreadyourfingers…putyourkneesup..”
“AND RISE!!!!” she would shout.
11 heads pop up, having missed the previously whispered string of instructions, quickly eyeball the pose the teacher is in, and scramble to mimic it.
“Okay. Now…whileonyourback…lift your hips and your arms over your head.”
11 heads pop up, wondering how to get your hips and your arms over your head at the same time.
This, on top of a lot of talk about love and those annoying reversing platitudes that fold in on themselves (“what is inside you is outside you, etc”), and by about 45 minutes in, I was out.
I was not engaged, to the point where I didn’t care if she thought I was doing a good job (which, you should know by now, is generally my only motivator in yoga: pleasing my teacher). I was bored. I wanted to leave.
And so I did something I’ve never done in a yoga class before. I left.
Not for good, but I just stood up, walked to the door, and went for a wander around the halls.
I looked at a clock I’d never noticed before. I got a glass of water. I read the rules for the sauna, which it turns out, have some pretty funny jokes in them.
It was delightful. I stayed out there for maybe 5 minutes, but those 5 minutes made it possible for me to come back to class and actually do some yoga that pleased me — rather than just running out the clock and waiting for it to be over.
And my walk did what my teacher could not — it brought me into the present moment; it relaxed me; it tuned me into the world around me that I see all the time, but fail to notice. I stopped thinking about how bored I was, and found something to appreciate and enjoy.
Gabe doesn’t like going on my daily long walks with me (though he humors me more and more every year by coming along) but I wonder if my need to go walk around, even on the same route every day like I used to do in Seattle, comes from those days back in high school where a little walk was a special, just-for-me time I was completely present during the day, and appreciating a place I normally couldn’t stand to be.
I don’t know.
After yoga, I did a shopping trip to see about making my own homemade deodorant but ended up buying a pre-made hippie version when I couldn’t find one of the key ingredients for my recipe. Sigh.
Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, blue shoes, and probably some kind of shoe. And green sunglasses.
Earlier this week, before my Tuesday yoga class, I had to admit something to myself that was hard for me to admit. I had to acknowledge that the level of sweatiness I achieve during an average yoga class is so significant that I actually needed to purchase a small towel that I could start bringing to class with me to deal with my sweat situation.
It’s something that had been at the back on my mind for a few weeks — most often when I was in class, watching sweat fall of my face like fat, heavy raindrops and pool into treacherous, slippery wet spots on my yoga mat.
When I sweat in yoga class, it is no dewy, yoga-wakes-up-my-senses glow. It is I’m-an-out-of-shape-old-man-doing-yoga-in-a-sauna level sweat.
(And just in case you’re wondering: no, I don’t do hot yoga.)
For the last few weeks, I’ve treated the sweat situation as a weird anomaly. “Oh, remember last class when I was so sweaty? I hope that doesn’t happen again.” (Spoiler alert: it *always* does.) And when my body heat rises and the sweat starts going, I have the same thought process every single time.
First I wonder: do I have some insane level of toxins to get out of my body, and that’s why I’m sweating so much?
Then I wonder: maybe it’s because I drink so much water during the day, that I just have a lot of sweat to give off?
Then I think: Jesus, I wish I knew anything about science, or anything at all.
Then I think: I’ll google this when I get home.
And then I never do.
I spend the bulk of every class looking for opportune times to wipe down my face with the front of my shirt, which by the end of class, is basically just soaking wet.
And so this week, I had to admit to myself that what I was doing wasn’t working. I needed to bring in outside help. I needed to buy a little towel to bring with me to yoga class, because I was not going to be able to will myself to just stop sweating.
You guys! What is the deal?
To be fair, the yoga class I do most of the time is pretty athletic — it’s meant to be a challenge and push your body, which is why I like it. But like, no one else is sweating this much. No one else is constantly (or ever, actually) wiping their faces off to keep sweat from cascading into their eyes or dripping onto their mats, where they might later slip on it, let alone actually spending real cash money on a small towel because even wiping your face on your shirt doesn’t cut it!
I go for runs twice a week and never seem to get this sweaty, even when doing aerobic exercise. Maybe because there’s usually a breeze cooling you off when you’re running, but none in yoga?
Either way, it is very undignified and I am a little ashamed that it’s come to this. But at least I have admitted that I have a problem and am taking the proper steps to live my yoga life. I’m living with embarrassing yoga sweat, not dying from it.
Anyways, I have two urgent cat updates.
Romeo, my printmaking muse, is back in a new print that I did last week that I really like!
The other cat who’s back is my howling neighbor cat, who I haven’t seen in weeks, but who showed up on my doorstep being very civilized and relaxing casually in the sun.
The last time I saw it, I had opened the curtains to the big sliding doors that look out on my back balcony, and as I stared out the big glass window while lying in bed, probably trying to take a nap or think deep thoughts about something depressing, it walked by.
At first it startled me, but as I was lying perfectly still and deep in thought, I just stayed there. And it stayed there. We just stayed there looking at each other until, without warning and without breaking eye contact, it began to howl.
I rolled my eyes.
Then, I didn’t see it for a long time. But out of the blue yesterday, it sauntered up the stairs to my deck, circled a sunny spot, and then silently lay down and curled up to soak up the heat.
I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve turned a peaceful corner.