Windy Thursday morning.
We're hunkered down for what promises to be the second of three major winter storm systems due to hit the Bay Area in the course of the weekend. "Three major winter storm systems" out here means something a helluva lot softer than what it would've meant growing up on the prairie, but still. Water, wet, wind. We're braced for a formidable slap across the face from the Universe.
Don't mind it. I'm digging the quiet, the turning in, the yin everything of this winter season.
Also digging the kindling in the woodburning stove currently getting its burn on to my left.
Speaking of the prairie — we've been trying (and failing) to watch the new Ken Burns documentary on The Dust Bowl which is streaming on PBS through the 4th of December. We've started it a few times and then given up when a few minutes into it the damn thing is buffering so often we can't watch it. (First-world problems. Also known as: holler out to not having a TV, whoop!). But I'm committed to seeing the whole thing; I can't believe how tight in the chest I feel on seeing the vistas and the sweeping grasses and remembering that scrappy populist farmer spirit that my grandparents modeled when they lived through the devastation of the 1930s on the farm. Am convinced that shit is powerful, and life-changing. And I trust that as a kid I learned a lot from just knowing what they'd been through.
(Funny how regionality informs your understanding of the world. The mister, who grew up on the East Coast, was stunned to see images of the Dust Bowl. He hadn't heard much about it growing up. Well, of course not. And of course I had, growing up as I did smack in the middle of all that action.)
We have a Christmas tree. Sweet Chris G. gifted us with one fresh-smelling little guy (speaking of scrappy) from the seasonal stash over at Toby's. And it's perfect. Snuggled in right there next to Hanuman and the Buddha. And lovingly wrapped with silver ribbon and white lights. Documentation herein.
I've been driving a lot this week back and forth to San Francisco, which means I've been up to my ears in new (enriching, thought-provoking, humbling, world-rocking, energizing, motivating) podcasts. Highly recommend anything from Sounds True (check out Tami Simon's interviews with Richard Freeman and Jim Finley, with big props to my old girl Sarah for turning me on to these), as well as the rich resource that is iHanuman.com (head directly to this fabulous podcast from Prahaladan Mandelkorn on the Bhagavad Gita).
I listened to Prahaladan not once, but twice as I drove to and fro, and couldn't believe the lightness, the laughter, the ease, the wisdom, the sense of play in his teaching. At alternate times in his talk, dude whips out his guitar and sings, dude references the Oscars, dude lapses into a kind of grounded, wise knowing in which the listener can simply rest. Maybe it's his warm Santa Claus voice, but there's something about this teacher that really moved me.
I am convinced that, as Taoism and so many other traditions remind us, one of the most telling symptoms of enlightenment is this very childlike sense of play. We often subscribe to some silly idea that Really Wise People are very sober and serious and earnest and devoted. And sure, I suppose some are. But I believe, and I see around me, that the folks around who appear to be most wholly living their practice are the ones who are really damn light. The ones for whom laughter comes easily. And for whom a sense of this divine play ("leela") is evident in everything they say and do.
[Blog time out to rearrange the tree. After slapping some ribbons on a few nights ago and calling it good, babe walked in this morning with new white lights to adorn it. And, being the perfectionist that he is, after putting them on an hour or so ago, he stood back, took a hard look, and proclaimed it mishigas. So, I hauled my ass off the couch, stood (aspiringly-)patiently trying to unravel the tinsel, and then we proceeded to take everything off the tree and put it back on again so that the white lights look perfeck. Points to the mister for being adorably detail-oriented. I thought I was clean and tidy until I met this one. And now I'm getting schooled.]
Where was I? Oh, yes. Two more calendar-type things this morning:
1. Saturday morning I'm teaching a gentle flow at Yoga Toes Studio here in Point Reyes. Do join me. I can't believe how much I'm loving the mellow flows these days. After grounding my practice in ass-kicking amazingly aggro-asana for years, it's kind of sweet to take things down a notch and really dig deep. 8:30am, Dec. 1st, kids.
2.. Please do join us, too, ladies, for our second chicks' gathering at OMpower this Sunday. We're talking shiatsu massages, restorative yoga with hot stones courtesy of Peter Wong, chai and cookies (baked by Yours Truly), a Yoga Ninja trunk show, and a few tools for keeping it real (and staying sane) this holiday season. Sign up here, or just roll up Sunday at 1.
We're seeing Sean Hayes this weekend at the Independent. Do you know his stuff? Fab local musician. Really worth listening to. Can't wait to hear his openers, too — Birds of Chicago. Seriously crushing on these two songbirds. Give 'em a listen.
And while you're on the music trail, check out Ben Leinbach and Prajna Vieira's newest, Amrita. Favorite new album. You know these two from many of my class playlists. Gorgeous melodies, more Bay Area indie musicians, and seriously bhakti-full intentions.
On a less-musical note: do you live without irony?
And did you see this little piece on the daily routines of famous writers? It makes me want to be Joan Didion and Simone de Beauvoir all over again. (How can you look at that photo of Joan and not want to be her?). Annie Dillard, too. Virginia Woolf, too.
(Sigh. There is so much I want to do and be and not enough time in the world. Do you feel this, too? Last March in Costa Rica I resolved to be singing in a jazz trio and playing my trumpet again by the end of the year while wearing a sparkly red vintage gown — that red gown part is key, along with the red lipstick, although the trumpet might challenge that a bit — and here we are staring down December with no jazz trio in sight and a lip that's horribly not yet in shape. Anybody know of a combo that needs a brunette in a red dress with dusty trumpet skillz?)
I think the lesson is just to be here, in this moment, over and over. It's so easy to get lost in analysis of the past (damn, why didn't I buy a Powerball ticket?) and fantasies about the future (tomorrow I will finish the last chapter of that manuscript and send it to agents and promptly make a gazillion dollars so all I have to do every day is practice yoga and blow my horn and listen to charming old men with Santa Claus voices lecturing about the Gita), and thoroughly fail to be in this present moment, which right now looks like
a fire in the stove next to me heating up the room for my soon-to-unfold morning asana practice
a dreamy babe wearing a newsboy cap working at his desk in the next room
a windy winter morning reminiscent of the prairie
new books to read
a fascinating article on former lululemon CEO Chip Wilson that makes me want to wear stretched-out Target sweatpants and ratty old sports bras to practice in from now on, just to be contrary
Blue Bottle coffee and soy creamer in the mug at right
a dear old friend's birthday today
cookie cutters due to arrive in the mail from New Jersey where the fabulous Yummi Yogi lives
a reminder that the world is small
fresh honeycomb and quickly drying-up gluten-free cornbread on the countertop that are begging to be eaten
the onset of horizontal monsoon-level rain
coffee with my girl E this afternoon
a reminder that all things pass
so you sure as hell better be in it
while you've got it.
Yessirree, I'll take it.
That. That very fire below right. Waiting for me to bust into a few sun salutations to the accompaniment of the rain.
I've cooked dinner a few times this week. This is strange, for three clear reasons.
- I don't particularly like cooking.
- I don't particularly like dinner.
- I don't particularly like doing things that make me feel like a bourgeois suburban wifey, or a middle-aged lady, or my mother.
("But you love to bake, Rachel," the masses counter. "What's the deal?")
Dude. Cooking is a wholly different beast from baking. When I bake, it feels more like an art project than a process-of-creating-something-to-consume. When I bake, it's more about making something that can be an offering to someone else. It's a moving meditation that usually doesn't involve juggling six different pots and 12 different ingredients, all of which need to be delivered hot and steaming to the plate for consumption exactly at the same time. Cooking, not so much.
The mister isn't a huge cook, either. Most evenings, I'm teaching, so we navigate simple bites on our own. And when I'm not, we dig a nice dinner out. With wine and quiet and breath and hot food and no clean-up.
But I'm trying. As my most-fab friend and colleague Andrea Maltzer says, we're changing our story. So last night we rocked some delicious roasted potatoes and quinoa and steamed vegetables and brussels sprouts and the aforementioned quickly-drying-out cornbread. And it was fine. Delightful, perhaps.
But I'm not quite ready to dive into that territory. I read that link above about the daily routines of famous writers and I think to myself, Joan Didion definitely did not spend her early thirties stirring broccoli and simmering quinoa and trying not to burn the potatoes. She was sipping a martini at her typewriter and hammering out something brilliant.
So we'll see. This domesticity thing is for some. And not for others. And manuscripts aren't gonna see any progress if I'm spending rare evenings at home in the kitchen.
But I know there's a teacher somewhere in this, too. We're reminded, of course, that Guru Vishnu is in the day-to-day, the boring, unsexy, daily-grind type routines of our lives. So what am I supposed to learn from taking on this new, oft-dreaded, unfamiliar beacon of bourgeois domesticity? Do I cook in the nude wearing nothing but punk boots and a glittery apron while swilling vodka to prevent the whole act from becoming one more lapse into heteronormativity? Or do you say: hey, I'm gonna queer this whole thing so it's rad and smart and life-giving and not some throwback to something I don't wanna become? And at what point do you decide you're just not a dinner person and let go and order take-out?
Props to all of y'all who love it. We'll be over at 7 tonight. Set two extra place settings.