Where I want to live out my days
When it comes to matters of love, it’s often platonic devotion that proves the most intimate and carries the most weight in one’s life. It’s the love stories of friendship, the decades-spanning, unbreakable connection to someone that stays around as lovers come and go. Yes, romantic love is an all-encompassing illness of the heart, but without a best friend to guide you, life becomes less tolerable. Cinema has long been awash in tales of romantic love, of course, but it’s rare to see a tale of love between two female best friends, especially one that genuinely shows what it is like to have that kind of soul mate, without whom everything else would be askew. But with Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha, we see one woman’s journey of self-discovery, ignited by a fractured friendship.
“Without a best friend to guide you, life becomes less tolerable.” To all my best friends—and you know who you are—let’s go see Frances Ha.
My yoga studio is in the industrial section of SE Portland. It’s not too far from where I live—I could easily ride my bike–but no matter how the cookie crumbles, you have to cross a set of train tracks to get there.
So obviously, on the way to day two of the yoga cure, I got stuck behind a train.
Now. Normally, waiting for a train to pass would send me into a steaming pile of dire frustration. My heart would start beating faster. My chest would start to feel all twisted and tight. But that day, I ignored the blaring beast, and made a conscious choice to breathe through the anxiety. Breathe in. Detach from the past. Breathe out. Detach from the future. Sometimes, the obstruction in your path keeps you in the now.
And the train, like every moment does, passed in due time. I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but I’m getting all afterschool special with this yoga shit! I made the class with minutes to spare and learned a small lesson on the way! Success! Perseverance pays! I’m a YOGI, people! Namaste! Ok, clearly I’m geting ahead of myself, but still.
(Sidebar: Where is Yoda when you need him? Has anyone else noticed how Yoda is the ultimate yogi? Or am I late to this game, like everything else in life? Late, I am. )
That day’s teacher came highly recommended as a strength builder, and she didn’t disappoint. Think holding plank posture while she calmly counts, “Om one. Om two. Om three,” all the way to ten. Three times in a row. (Usually, this quirky counting method would irk me, but I was all up in some focus and I wasn’t going to succumb to petty irritation. This time.) In fact, aside from a small incident that occurred when I was laying on the ground and got a little too over-zealous about stretching my arms overhead and accidentally touched the gross feet of the old man behind me, the class was really working for me. Redemption for the patchouli-packing yoga studio. Or more likely, I was opening my heart a tiny bit.
The best part? The place has no mirrors. No mirrors, no judgement–just me and my body, doing its thing. Balance was happening. Peace was happening. My newfound yogi confidence was at an all-time high.
Until it came time to do a headstand.
Inversions are scary to me. There’s the idea of falling over and snapping your neck, but you don’t die, you’re just paralyzed from your chin down and you have to communicate by typing on a keyboard using a long stick-like apparatus that you grasp in your teeth. Plus, there’s the fact that your ass is over your head, which, in my mind, leads to less control. Of everything. Like, basically, inversions are a roaring invitation to the lower intestines to cut loose. It’s a pubic free-for-all. Everything’s just up there a-flappin in the breeze, and with my questionable lower ab strength, inversions are a recipe for disaster. I live in fear of audibly farting in class.
Did you see that? I live in fear. Cutting the cheese in class is embarrassing, but it’s not life-threatening. My way of dealing with fear is to set it aside, review it, and realize that it’s not going to happen. I make up 99% of my fears. I—me—am responsible for the majority of my internal emotional torture. And even if whatever fear I did have came to light, I will deal with it. Who cares if I float an air biscuit? That would be funny. In all reality, I would totally own that fart.
With the wisdom I’ve gained in my 39.999 years, I’ve found that the easiest way to get over fears is to simply move forward. In this case, I didn’t allow myself to stop and think about ripping a king-sized burrito blast, or breaking my neck in a freak yoga accident. I just dragged my mat over to the wall and started trying to do the headstand.
And I did it.
I did a goddamn headstand, separate from the wall, all by myself, balancing there on my head, for three whole breaths. And I smiled so hard I thought I would cry. I was walking on air, I was floating, I was interconnected, I was empowered by this cosmic notion that everything I need—all knowledge, all strength—could come from within, and as I walked down the stairs, across the street, and to the car, I kept thinking,
“I did a headstand. I did a headstand. I did a headstand.”
It felt good. Really, really good.
So good I didn’t even mind getting stuck behind the train on the way home, too.
hiddendesiresofaprincess asked: Hi ;) I love your (how should i call it?) rant? about yoga lol It's a bit unsettling because i can recognize myself in it... I'm starting a new yoga class on monday... OPENMINDED is my new key, omg what if they are hippie patchouli people?
ha! Stay open-minded…that’s the whole point of yoga, right? But find some other place if the people bug you. Ya gotta be true to yourself.
I actually started my 30-day yoga challenge on Wednesday. I was all pumped because I found this studio with an intro fee of only $30 for thirty days. So I cruised over there, all proud of myself, totally in the I-rule-I-just-found-a-sweet-deal zone, and marched in the door. Fifteen minutes early.
I will repeat: Fifteen minutes early. This is humongous, because I have a strong history of being the A-hole Who is Perpetually At Least Ten Minutes, Or More, Late. Actually, it’s not a history. It’s more like a rule.
So not only have I found a rad deal, but I’m not rushed, either. I was all, inside my head, with more than a little smugness, Dang! This shit is WORKING for me and it hasn’t even started yet! I zipped up to the yoga lady behind the little yoga check-in desk, smiling brightly—I mean, I was a little too excited, which can a little bit unnerving to others, especially when I get a little bug-eyed and don’t blink, which totally happens and I don’t really know I’m doing it—and got ready to pony up my thirty bucks.
And I stood. And smiled, like,”Hi, I’m ready to pay you money, let’s go here.” But the yoga lady just sat and chatted with some older woman about being bendy. And I’m still smiling but really sort of baring my teeth like a chimpanzee at this point, while awkwardly stooping over my mat in order to balance it against my leg with my middle finger.
And I would tell you more about my experience with this yoga lady except there’s no point. I was just smile-waiting for a while, which led me to a deep look inside my soul, where I tapped into my intuition, which was sending me a strong signal that this place was a pile of flaky-ass patchouli hippies. Especially when yoga lady started getting real with her coworker about her astrology chart in a way that sounded really crazy. Eyeballs were strained from trying not to roll them.
I took a deep breath, and made like Atticus, trying to put myself in her shoes:
Be tolerant of her beliefs, she seemed frazzled and uncomfortable, and you weren’t helping. And honestly? I felt better. Yay, empathy! Yay, Atticus! Yay, yoga!
All was well. Until my yoga teacher asked us to go around the room, introducing ourselves, making sure that there was “space” around our names. Seriously? LET’S JUST DO SOME DOWNWARD DOG ALREADY. This time, I definitely let an eye roll fly. Meaning a breath before, and after? What? I don’t want to perform, for chrissakes. Ugh. And I don’t want want to have to talk to people. Gross.
And then the teacher explained, “Because I want you to recognize that this is a community.” And then I realized that I was the a-hole. I spend way too much time alone and inside my head. If anyone needs a community, it’s me. But here’s the thing: I’m not sure this community is right for me.
Except…I tend to be a harsh and quick judge, which only hurts me in the long run. That’s no good. Best to be open, right? This challenge is about grabbing life by the BALLS. And I can’t be doing that if I’m always judging the balls I’m grabbing.
That metaphor is totally nailing it right now.
So yeah. Even if this particular community isn’t right for me, I need to give it a chance, and stop being all judgy-wudgy and relax.
I gotta tell you something.
I got stress. I am, in an all-caps kind of way, STRESSED. For a lot of different reasons, none of which are all that exciting. I’m work for myself, which involves a lot of complicated stuff like “taking care of everything” and “hustling your balls off” and practicing how to “be in the moment” and getting zen about the “uncertainty” of “paychecks.” And I’m planning a big summer trip. Overseas. For six weeks.
Plus, I’m turning forty.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are good things about all of the aforementioned. I work for myself! That’s bad ass! I can wake up when I want, work when I want, from where I want! I’m being bad ass in an effing coffee shop right now! Ok I’m lying. I’m not. But I could. And that big trip? It’s going to be the most mind-blowing adventure of my life thus far—and my life’s been a pretty cool one. For almost forty years. And, eh. Forty. Who cares, really? I’m evolving. Life just keeps getting more beautiful.
But still. High-speed evolution is rough on the nervous system.
I’m not handling it so well. Behold:
1. I’m experiencing issues with anger. I tend to, for example, get angry in coffee shops. It might be the caffeine, but it might be the people. Who gets so fucking dressed up to go to a coffee shop? All this peach-lipstick-to-perfection nonsense is killing me. It’s like everyone in the place woke up in the morning hoping, PRAYING TO THE SWEET LORD, that a street style blog-tographer will catch them looking jaunty yet awkward in their retro Debbie Gibson hat. Then I’ll start to hate them, hard, even if they’re wearing the sweetest $500 boots—which, wait, how do they have the money for $500 boots if they’re hanging at Stumptown on a Tuesday afternoon? It brings up feelings of hatred in me. Right? You hate them too.
But it’s bad for me. I just use up my energy thinking hate thoughts which pool up somewhere inside my body and will most likely come back to bite me in the ass in the form of some mysterious disease like black hairy tongue or something. (Literally so superstitious that it took me about 15 minutes to actually type that last sentence. What if I get black hairy tongue? It’s a mouth vagina, and not in a good way. You guys. That would suck.)
2. I’m experiencing body tension. I’ll be sitting here and all of a sudden I’ll notice my jaw is clenched and my lips are all pursed and in the process of making those gross lip wrinkles and my brow is all furrowed. Lame. Brow-furrowing just leads to botox. And then I’ll realize that I’ve been holding my breath, which sucks.
Self-diagnosis: One (1) scorching case of stress.
Thankfully, my diagnosis has a remedy. To date, my stress reduction plan has been to A. dump salt on everything I see, and eat it and B. drink lots of alcohol. This ultimately creates more stress. Check it out: Another healthier method I enjoy is a soothing bath (wine with bath? sometimes. candles? don’t get ahead of yourself), and I was splashing around in the tub the other day and noticed every single bit of me was just…pink and pudge. I was bobbing around like an easter ham in a kiddie pool. Even my toes were bloated. I should just buy myself one of those horse salt block things because licking one of those is probably more economical than mainlining Juanita’s Tortilla Chips.
And I keep having this repetitive thought, which is an internal comic refrain really, but still not good, which is: “I cannot handle life right now.” That thought will never take me to a good place. Ever.
So anyway. The remedy is Yoga. I’ve flirted with yoga in the past, but now I wanna stalk it and be its girlfriend and marry the shit out of it. Yoga, without fail, makes my mind and body feel good. Happy. Peaceful.
These are all words that are the opposite of stress.
So my official prescription is this: 30 days in a row of yoga. And then here’s where you come in: I’m going to write about it. How it changes my perspective, my state of anxiety and my body. By telling you this, I am now accountable for those thirty days in a row—and I’m hoping you’ll encourage me, cheer me on, send good vibes, send me funny texts, light candles for me, join me on my journey, bow, write me a postcard, smile…do whatever it is that you feel like doing, really. I just hope you listen and read. I promise it’ll be entertaining. And hopefully not this long every time.
Bill Murray on Gilda Radner:
“Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.
So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”
We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.
And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.
It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.”