Thursday, December 27, 2012

cheating corpse

Tonight I did my last evening beach side evening yoga class. It's a beautiful place, the Yoga Temple, ocean on one side, jungle on the other, images of Buddha, and a fountain with a small stream of water. I decided instead of lying down in the traditional Savasana (corpse pose), that I would remain in Siddhasana, or seated meditation pose, and, being the rebel that I am, that I would keep my eyes open. All the lights were off, and surprisingly I found it easier to be completely present when I could see the upright silhouette of our yoga teacher, the beach and ocean beyond him, and the full moon rising over the water, when I could hear the tide and the breathing of those around me. I caught glimpses of bats, and heard the sound of countless jungle insects and animals.
In yoga I try to be the best, I work very hard to get everything exactly right. My downward dog is a thing of beauty, I can do tree with my eyes closed (very briefly, I'm working on it, alright?) and with hands in reverse prayer (not bragging, just saying), I can do crow without falling on my face, and on a good day, headstand. I'm not bad, above average depending on the group I'm with, so my sitting posture was naturally, flawless. I was perfectly in, on and around the moment, I was the damn moment, you get what I'm saying here? I was doing everything exactly right. 
In front of me an elderly couple from NYC lay in Savasana. They had struggled through the class, the man especially; we won't even mention his Warrior 2, and I never got a look at his downward dog, because I was too busy admiring mine from behind in the mirrors at the rear of the room, but they were both in good spirits throughout class, despite not being able to do most of the poses. While I sat, flawlessly, taking in the beautiful evening and congratulating myself for my excellent pose, I watched the man's hand reach toward his wife, and her hand reach toward him. They held hands for the final minutes of Savasana, their imperfect yoga finishing perfectly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

No tengo hombre. Necesito el chocolate

Today, bag over squared shoulders, worn, slightly moist map in hand, I went on a quest. A charged by God with a most sacred and holy quest. A quest for chocolate (no, I was not banging two coconuts together, but I could have, they were everywhere). I'm a woman of few vices, (yes, I typed that with a straight face) only coffee and chocolate really, and a certain weakness for men with particular accents, and I am rather fond of butter tarts, but that's not really a vice because butter tarts are Canadian and therefore it is patriotic to love them.

but I digress.

I was told that a smile would usually be enough to get me around here, which is good because I can tilt my head, flip my hair and smile, and also good because my knowledge of Spanish is muy muy poco.

Aside: Chocolate is the same in Spanish, English and French (not precisely, but close enough). Perhaps love or music are not the universal language, perhaps all you need is chocolate? Think about it people.

an here we see how 'just a smile' looks
After wandering around aimlessly for at least five minutes, I found a tiny old man with a large rifle across his lap. I'm used to the rifles now, but I did not take his picture, cute as he was. Smiling, I said "hola, hablas Inglés?" Hola is a great word, you say it to everybody and smile and then they forgive your horrifying Spanish. He replied "yes, I speak English". Thirty seconds later I realized we had both used up almost our entire vocabulary in the other's language. Fortunately someone else came along who wanted to help, unfortunately she knew less English than my friend with the gun. I did understand "¿dónde está tu hombre?",  "No tengo hombre". Sigh.

We managed with smiles, pointing at the map and road, and me doing some really impressive charades (really, really could-make-a-living-busking-on-the-streets impressive charades) to get me through the streets, between the rápido motorcycles, cars, buses, taxis and the odd rooster, and to the shop with chocolate, and there I blended in perfectly, in my own mind.

Back in my room, I eat an entire package of chocolate cream cookies, and all is right with the world again (there is more chocolate for tomorrow, which I am Going. To. Leave. In. The. Cupboard tonight)

 My new Spanish expressions today? Estoy perdido. Lo siento (I'm lost, sorry) and Estoy en busca para chocolate (I am looking for chocolate).

Monday, December 24, 2012

how a 72 year old Korean man and yoga are teaching me to surf

oooh, Roberto.... 

Today the sun is out, so today is the day I began surfing lessons, with Roberto.... (roll those rrrrrr's people). Turns out I'm not too bad, this has been reported to me by my surfer hostess, I thought I looked hopelessly clumsy. Tomorrow I will go to my second lesson.

Tomorrow I there are several things I will remember:

  1. Do NOT wear the low waisted bathing suit bottoms because (a)they try to slide off each and every time I flop (a generous description) up onto the board, giving my hot young surf instructor a half moon I'm certain he is still traumatized by, (b) they try to fall off in front when I'm paddling into waves and do a 'surfing upward facing dog on a board' like I;m suppose to do when cresting large(ish) waves (no idea who I'm traumatizing there, (c) they try to escape into the ocean each and every time I fall off my board.
  2. For Heavens sake Keep Your Mouth CLOSED when traveling towards a large(ish) wave, falling lamely off my board, and ducking under the water to capture escaping bottoms.
  3. A smallish wave in the face will do more to clean your sinus than any pharmaceutical or nasal spray every could.
  4. Stay LOW. Lean FORWARD. Leaning backwards is the Number 1 cause of bathing suit bottom escape attempts because one hits the water ass first.
  5. Everything comes from your core, you control the board with your core - try to remember that.
  6. Two hours surfing uses ALL of the muscles in your body, including your sinus muscles, I'm not sure if they exist, but something is getting a workout inhaling and exhaling gallons of ocean at a time.
  7. All surf instructors are HOT, which makes repeatedly falling on your ass because you didn't lean forward, and losing your bottoms each time you get on your board even more mortifying.
So where does the little Korean man come in? Master Chang is my Hapkido instructor. I swear the fist words he learned in English were LOWER, HIGHER and FASTER. I have spent hours and days and weeks in Horse-riding stance with one are extending in front of me while he walked around saying LOWER!

In yoga I have spend just as many hours, days and weeks in horse-riding stance, and Goddess (which I renamed Pooping Waitress, but that's another blog). I've also done, approximately  1 billion* Yogi core strengthening exercises (*estimated).  So, when I was shown how to crest waves in downward facing dog, no problemo (except for opening my mouth and swallowing ocean). When I was told to hop up and bend my knees LOWER on the board NO problem, I have quads of steel. 

Now all I have to do is keep my butt covered, close my mouth and stay on the board. So tomorrow while you all are eating turkey and opening presents I will be taking on the ocean again with better bottoms and hopefully less salt water inside my head. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

me and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and a half

*Spoiler Alert: Pity Party in full swing (The Smiths "I Know It's Over" playing softly in the background - look up the lyrics, no really, Do It) combined with PMS, and "I'm All Alone For Christmas and Really Bummed About It" Syndrome. Read ahead at your own risk.

I hate this place and  I want pack up all my toys and go home.

But I'm in the Caribbean, how could I possibly be unhappy?

Well, it's raining. It has been raining since I got here. I think it started raining when my plane was descending (because the weather was just great before I arrived - I might add that when I arrived in Montreal it started raining there too)  Today, at about 11:06, there was about 20 minutes of sunshine during which I jumped into my bathing suit and covered myself in sunscreen. That did it, it started raining again. Rain is forecast right up until the day I leave.

Good thing I've got a nice place to stay in.

In the place I'm staying if it rains, the ceiling leaks - in three places - and the floor in that room can give you 'shocks' if you're barefoot. The 'door' has two open metal grates that bugs like to fly in through. One of the open areas is to reach my hand through and clamp on the padlock on the outside of the door to lock it at night - no getting out quickly for me. Also the bedroom is right up against the owner's kitchen so every word, every bark, every musical note come through clear as a bell, especially since the bed's head board is against that wall.

The ocean is a 15 minute walk away, and there is a yoga studio there, and little restaurants, and cute things like families with grandparents and kids all together for a "Christmas Holiday in the Fucking Caribbean", just like what my kids are doing  - thanks to ex mommy-in-law dearest - without me. It's lovely to sit out the rain (because rain or not, I going to go be by the ocean, goddammit)  in a quaint restaurant where they make great hummus, until three families that appear so very similar to my own come in and surround me with their happy happy family time.

As Alexander's mom says at the end of the book (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in case you didn't get that from the blog's title), "Today was a difficult day, tomorrow will be better."

I sure hope so, because I just ate my last piece of chocolate.

Also, "Beautiful Boy" is likely not the best book choice for me right now, where's Bridget Jones when you need her?

ps. for you who didn't look up those lyrics, you know who you are....

"If you're so funny
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
And if you're so clever
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
If you're so very entertaining
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
If you're so very good-looking
Why do you sleep alone tonight ?
I know ...
'Cause tonight is just like any other night
That's why you're on your own tonight
With your triumphs and your charms
While they're in each other's arms..."
It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind
Over, over, over, over
It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind
Over, over
Love is Natural and Real
But not for you, my love
Not tonight, my love
Love is Natural and Real
But not for such as you and I, my love..."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

my home and native land

I forget the subtle things I love about Canada. I don't get home very often, and this time I'll have been here for only 15 hours on an overnight stopover on my great adventure. I'm in Montreal which means I hear more French than English. Canada is a bilingual country, and I am always amazed at how anyone from shuttle drivers to coffee shop employees effortlessly switch from one language to the other. My own French allows me to say please and thank you, ask the time, read and order food (mostly, I've had a few surprises) and the odd small saying. I'm certain my appalling accent gives me away immediately, but I still mumble my small vocabulary. Occasionally this will get me a full response in French, to which I can only respond with a politely frozen smile until the individual realizes they are dealing with an "Anglophone", and then repeat themselves in English.

Canada, I don't think you realize how cool you are. People complain about having everything in two languages, everything from cereal boxes (my first French lessons) to government employees in Alberta. In Quebec the French language is legislated as the dominant language. You require a level of fluency to graduate from high school here and signs must be entirely in French, or have French in much larger letters. This and the disagreements between the Quebec and Federal governments can be frustrating.

But here's the thing. I've lived in the US for almost ten years now and I hear plenty of Spanish, and in some neighbourhoods there are signs in Spanish. It seems insane that Spanish is not an official language in America, but it's not. It's seen as the poorer language, the language of immigrants, possibly illegal immigrants, and if you live in the US and speak Spanish and look even slightly Mexican, it is perfectly acceptable for authorities to ask to see you papers, to detain you, to deport you. Mothers and fathers can be arrested and sent to deportation centers with no way to contact children and family at home (home meaning in the US). I find this appalling, I am an immigrant and have never been asked to provide proof of citizenship. I have an American friend of Mexican decent who speaks perfect English, and while she was in Texas on a business trip was approached by police during a professional lunch and asked for ID. She showed them a driver's license, and was told she needed to provide proof of citizenship, and because she didn't have her (American) passport with her they "detained" her under treat of deportation until her husband arrived with her passport.

Right, so I got slightly off topic there. Canada, you're cool, even if you're not always aware of it, which makes you even cooler.

Also, I've got some pretty awesome Canadian friends, with whom I had a fabulous dinner with last night. Stayed way too late, but it was so good to connect again. I must get back home more often.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I may have left my pocket handkerchief behind

I may be the world's worst packer. Four hours with the surfaces of my bed, bedroom floor, bath room and hallway covered in "stuff I need to pack", "stuff I want to pack", four of five lists of "stuff I bloody well better NOT forget to pack" and Christmas stuff that I will wrap up after Christmas when the kids and I get to have our holiday.

Even after I got it all "stuffed" I kept thinking I'd forgotten something critical and would unpack until I found what I had forgotten I'd already packed, and then, I'd have to repack it all again. This all ended up with a very late bedtime. The sleep deprivation from an early wake up time has only added my dis-organizational skills and poise today.

In the airport my suitcase was 10lbs over - those 10lbs? Books. I had to unpack enough literary weight and cram it into my already poorly chosen and poorly packed carry-on bags. I "lost" my Kindle (yes, I brought a Kindle AND books, you'd understand if knew me) for about 20 minutes and was all set to march back up to the Full Body Scan Area (I'm special that's why) and see if I had left it there when I discovered right where I had packed it. I may have been somewhat of a spectacle, patting down all my pockets, walking in circles madly unpacking my carry-ons in the lounge, while everyone else sat there composed and reading, or snacking or playing Temple Run on their iPads.

This adventure has turned me into a clumsy, scattered, and unorganized ditz; I can almost feel my hair turning blonde (sorry politically incorrect, my bad). Me, who is used to packing for 3 kids for extended car trips. Me, one who co-ordinates multiple complex schedules simultaneously whilst grocery shopping, driving, cleaning etc, etc. I'm Queen Multi-fucking-Tasker, and I seem to have completely fallen apart.

The good news is I've made it to Montreal, and all the way to the hotel, and only had to ask 7 or 8 people at the airport for help. More good news (typing as my stomach rumbles) in 20 minutes I am meeting (assuming I can find my way back to the Lobby, but that's another blog) 2 friends I haven't seen since I moved to the US, and we're going out to dinner.

The not so fun news, I have a 4am wake up call for my morning flight, I'll write about that tomorrow.

*Sorry there's no pictures, only bare bone blogging tonight. Later, I will have pictures, wonderful tropical pictures, pictures of birds, plants, my feet in sandy locations.... now, it's time for dinner!  Bon séjour!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

an adventure was about to happen

I'm getting ready for an adventure.

Something I've never done before. I will be all on my own, knowing no one, in the Dominican Republic for 8 days. No kids to get from here to there. No household chores that need doing. No commitments, no errands or jobs. No morning alarm, and no bedtime. No structure to my day except what I make of it. To be honest I'm not sure how I will cope with this.

Being an organized person I like to prepare. Firstly, I have had all visible body hair removed, and/or trimmed, and/or coloured. My toenails are being done today, bright red, and all those nasty callouses will be sawed off. Also, I'm actually succumbing to vanity (who am I kidding, I'm vanity's bitch) and getting a spray tan tomorrow, so when I meet two old friends in Montreal for dinner during my stop over, I will look like I'm returning from vacation instead of going to. Seeing old friends is another reason I am going to extra yoga classes, so I can pretend that I effortlessly and always look svelte and fabulous (I have never said I wasn't superficial, you can check).

Aside: Spray tans, What I Only Just Found Out: it's me, naked, in a room with a 'professional' spraying every inch of  my pasty-glow-in-the-dark white skin with a tan-in-a-can airbrush. THAT will be dignified, and then you let it 'cook' for different times depending how dark you want to be. I'm going for that just slightly bronzed enough to cover the jiggly parts of my thighs and tummy. I know, I KNOW, there will be people who will be disappointed in me for doing this. Who will think I should be proud of my white skin and not condone unhealthy sunbathing habits. To them I can only say, I have a Groupon, what can you do?

Many people would be able to pack for such a trip with just a carry on. Not me, I've never packed lightly in my life. My Kindle will take up less room than the six or seven books I'd pack, but I may just pack the books as well.

Also, I will need:
  •  art supplies, sketch books, pencils, markers, paints, special Art Doodle journal that I've had for a year and not made a mark in.
  • camera supplies, lens. memory cards etc,  because you know I can't go anywhere without taking several thousand photos of it.
  • writing supplies, pretty journal, nice pens, laptop to blog and share with etc.
  • hair supplies, another reason not to check my bag, no WAY 3oz of anything will be enough to last me for 8 days, seriously!
  • yoga outfits for yoga on a paddle board, and on the beach, yes it's true, I will downward dog it anywhere with anyone
  • cute dress to flirt with local men, positive thinking here, I didn't get all that hair removed, and spray tanned for nothing.
  • bathing suits (two piece! yes, this really is an adventure).
  • several fabulous, but oh so causal "this-old-thing" outfits - see cute dress and hair removal comments.
There is more, sunscreen, passport, SHOES, but you get the idea.

I hope you will all still love me after this unabashed display of vanity and superficiality, and I promise you a profound thought or two in blogs to come, till then it's packing and unpacking obsessively till flight time.