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Grumpy Yoga

I have had a day. Nothing terrible happened, it's just me. For instance, I cleaned the fridge today, thereby perpetuating a great good upon the world. Except then, as I firmly shut the doors in triumph, I realized that my stupid great good was INSIDE MY STUPID FRIDGE, and therefore could not matter less to 99.9999% of the world. And the few souls it does affect? Are almost guaranteed not to notice. *I* will not, in fact notice, because no one notices a clean fridge. You only notice a fridge that reaches out and punches you with its odor when you innocently open it, looking for butter. This managed to irritate me even more than the filthy fridge had.

Also, my parenting style today has been "flailingly shrill." 

So tonight I went to yoga, not because I wisely thought that I could use some namaste in my world, but because it's Tuesday, and yoga is nonnegotiable on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. So I scooped up my mat, scraped Sophia off my leg (somehow the only time she ever gets clingy and "don't leave me, Mommy" is when I'm going to yoga), and stomped off to yoga.

Because that's how all the real yogis do it.

Plus, I ate pork before I left. 

Anyhow, I got there in time to elbow my way in as the Zumba crowd bounced out (dang bouncy Zumba crowd), so I could floop my mat out front and center. I like to be up front because I am always lost. Since I got there early, I got to spend a few minutes before class, judging where the other people lay their mats. Again, totally yogini-ish.

THERE ARE ROWS, PEOPLE. Potentially, I mean. As long as you all don't have to GET RANDOM about your MAT PLACEMENT. 


Now, I've only been back at yoga for a few months. And before that, I have mostly only done yoga when I was pregnant with Max. So. A few years ago. And it's not like I was the star of my yoga class back then, either. Don't give me that "no comparisons" line either. We all know there are yoga stars. And I'm not one of them. This is how I feel in my yoga class: All the other people there are like the very best Apple designs. Their bodies are sleek, and fit into the poses elegantly. I, on the other hand, have been put together by a ham-fisted toddler. Out of battered wooden blocks. 

I don't care, though. I love yoga. I love it even though my body does not bend like that, and I'm pretty sure the teacher is mistaken when she suggests some of the poses. Even though there are wild claims thrown around about things like a third eye and energy lines and other things that don't seem to exist in my own, non-Apple designed body. Even when I'm surly, I love yoga. I clears away space inside my chest and lets me breathe. Yoga is good.

Tonight we did pigeon pose, and I cannot tell you how much I hate pigeon. Wait, let me find a picture. There you go. Be sure to scroll down so you can see that lovely, deceptive young woman fold over her leg like THAT is a THING you can DO. I love how that article is titled "Proper Pigeon Pose" - implying that the author KNOWS you are doing it wrong. 

I do it wrong, because my hip does not work like that because that's not a thing hips do. Shut up. No.

And unlike other poses I regularly fail at, I hate pigeon the whole time we do it. And you're supposed to stay there for a good long time. Tonight, during our one hour and fifteen minute class, we spent seventeen years in pigeon. 

"Relax into it," the teacher urged, "exhale and release deeper into the stretch." 

I exhaled and released swear words in my inside-the-head voice.

"The hips hold frustration and anger, so if you're having difficulty with this pose, it is probably exactly what you need," she went on. "Embrace it. Accept it. RELAX into it."

I swore so vehemently in my head that I'm almost certain some of it was in Sanskrit. 

"Now bend the leg behind you and reach back grab your foot," she purred, because she is a brutal meanie pants. I tried that, and promptly died of tightness and ouch. 

Eventually our seventeen years were over, and we moved onto other, less horrible poses. By the time class was over, I was all sweaty and limp and ready to ROCK the final pose, which is corpse. You lie there. Motionless. I am a corpse STAR. 

And then I rolled up my mat and toddled home, passably calm and content.

Now, the only reason I'm telling you all this is because if yoga can even work for me, for flailing, failing, swearing-in-my-head me, and take me from full-on grumpiness all the way to pretty much okay, well.

You know it's magic. 


First day of school - emotional breakdown edition

Okay, so this school year? I have four kids going to four different schools. Let's set aside for the moment how much I spent on school supplies. My lord. No, let's just look for a moment at these kids.

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Tre here? Is a senior. He keeps telling me this means something important is happening at the end of the year, but lalalalalala I can't hear him, sunrise, sunset, STOP. He is pretty sure the world belongs to him. 

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Max is starting high school. He's not only starting high school, but he's done with homeschooling. I am a shade bereft about that. I'm going to miss having him around, making his brother insane every day. Also? We both forgot to pack him lunch this morning, so I sent him off to his first day of high school with a gas station burrito. Yeah. I'm pretty much here to make everyone else feel good about themselves.

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Speaking of the brother who is driven insane, Raphael went back to his Monday school program today. He's going into seventh grade. That alone is a little bit of a trauma. But it's also his first year of homeschooling without any brothers. We're going to have a lot of freedom to do what's most important to him. I'm really looking forward to it, and a tiny bit terrified. Seventh grade. I'm just saying.

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And Sophia here started preschool today. When I dropped her off, she was all wide-eyed wonder. I helped her find her cubby and hang up her backpack. She found her seat and started writing her name on her paper. I said good-bye and started to leave, but paused. She was so distracted, I was afraid she hadn't heard me and would look up in a few minutes and be upset that I was gone.

"Sophia?" I whispered, touching her arm. She looked around at me, startled.

"Why are you still here?" she wanted to know.

So. I think she's going to be okay.

I, however, am a wreck.

Once upon a time...part 3

Part One

Part Two

If I assumed I wouldn't see Clay again after that first day at church, I was a chump. From that day on, he was there. RIGHT there. Every Sunday. I found it unnerving.Every time we ended up in the same room, I was hyper-aware of him, yet completely unable to speak.  A few weeks later we had a service in the park, followed by a picnic lunch. Guess who was manning the grill? 

After the lunch was over, I was gathering up the kids and stuff to head home with Dad. During this era, Mom was working a job that often had her gone on Sundays, so often it was me and Dad showing up at church. As I scooped up the cooler to carry it to the car, Clay stepped up to say hi. We stood on a bridge over a small stream, and - just like that - we chatted. He asked how I was, and I claimed to be fine. Trees arched overhead in a lush green canopy, and we both exclaimed overmuch about how good the lunch had been. 

The boys were ahead of me on the path, but when I looked over to check on them, I couldn't see Raphael. He was only three at the time, but he was already fully Raphael, if you get my meaning, and with a small stream in the area, I knew I couldn't afford to assume he was okay. I turned and scanned for him, then spotted him and relaxed.

"Oh," I said, "there he is. With my dad."

"He's YOUR DAD," Clay said, with such obvious relief that we both laughed. Then he carried my cooler to the car for me (impressing Dad), and waved goodbye as we drove away.

I think Clay may have assumed at this point that the path ahead of him was clear. He thought I was interesting, and I obviously thought the same of him. Because I was in charge of the church prayer chain, my phone number was simply all over the place. He even asked me, seriously and directly one Sunday after church, if he could call me. I agreed (somewhat curtly). And sure enough, shortly later, he called.

Now, this summer ('04) happened to be a hard time with my grandparents. They'd recently moved near us, into an assisted living facility, and even that bit of independence was being whittled away by the brutal process of aging. Grandma had fallen and broken her leg, and was in a rehab center for a few months. Being away from home, away from her husband of sixty-odd years, being in pain, all of it conspired to undo her. She was anxious - paranoid, even - and confused and angry. Grandpa couldn't sleep in the rehab center, but was absolutely driven to being with her whenever he could. Three adults in the family shared the job of helping them, and Mom took the lion's share of that burden. And yet it was exhausting us all.

The afternoon that Clay called, I was in the midst of shooing all the boys out to the van, so we could pick up Grandpa from the nursing home and take him back to his home. The phone rang, and when I answered it and heard Clay's voice, I panicked. 

"I can't," I said, "I mean, I'm just about to leave."

"Okay," he replied, "I was just wondering if we could get together for coffee sometime?"

"I don't think so. I mean, I'm busy. My grandmother broke her leg."

"I'm not trying to push you into anything, Kira. I was just hoping we could be friends."

"I'm sorry. I can't. I'm busy," I stammered. And then I hung up on him.

I stood there, and stared at the phone in my hand. As desperate as I'd been to get him off the phone, I was sad that he was gone. And I was sure he was gone. He'll surely give up now, I thought. 

I didn't know Clay yet.

Our cat is a dork. Try to conceal your shock.

This summer, while Max was away at camp, our fool cat had a nervous breakdown. She's bonded with the family on the whole, sure (except the dog, whose love-eyes and gentle whine causes Melody to scramble up the stairs, her tail seven times its usual size, as though Satan himself just showed up with a catnip toy), but Max is her boy. Her own personal boy, forever and ever without end, amen.

Melody sleeps on Max's bed every night, but when he was gone, this was unsatisfactory. To the extreme. She's not that strong on suffering silently anyhow. Every morning she prowls and meows and shoots everyone in the house pitiful looks, until just about everyone ends up putting more food in her bowl. And then, when you try to dump food in the bowl? She thrusts her head in the stream of food, scattering it everywhere, so great is her anxiety to EAT ALL THE FOOD. Please understand that she's not actually going hungry here. Only once have I ever actually seen the bottom of her food bowl when I fed her. I believe with time, counselling, and prayer, we will all recover from the "I saw the bottom of the bowl" trauma. Please send healing thoughts.

My point is that she's a tad needy. And she needs Max. While he was gone, she spent nights wandering around the house, meowing her sad story to all the sleeping souls. I would like to submit this fact to be filed under "Clay: Possibly a Saint?" : even though he didn't want a cat - ever, for any reason - and even though he is in fact allergic to cats, and even though the DEAL in getting a cat was that she wouldn't sleep on OUR bed, good heavens, not that, Clay agreed with me that Melody should probably sleep with us while Max was gone. And okay, he did hiss at her if she put one paw across the imaginary line separating his side of the bed from The Cat Zone, but still. Possibly a saint.

So soon Melody was curling up with me, which sort of delighted me, if I'm honest. I love having a cat curled up next to me. The problem is that with Melody, there is no "next to." She will sleep ON YOU, thank you very much. I like to sleep on my side, so she would walk up and down my flanks, searching for the right place to alight. It's not like I was depriving her of plenty of cushy spots to choose from, but WHATEVER. CAT. 

Eventually she found her spot and draped herself over me. It was like being gently gripped by a large furry mitten all night long. And while I like to shift positions often during the night, Melody does not approve. At all. And then? Sometimes? She would drag her arch enemy, The Blue Monkey, onto the bed, and engage it in a battle to the death at 3 AM. We were all happy to have Max home, for more reasons even than the usual.

I bring this up because tonight Max is sleeping downstairs, on the couch. He and Raphi are going fishing in the morning with my dad, so they're both sleeping downstairs to make their exit easier (on me. They leave at 5:30, like that's an actual thing people do). And so tonight we have the return of the prowling, yowling kitty of neediness. (She won't go downstairs, because the DOG is down there, and we all know how frightening an animal that takes twelve minutes and four attempts to get to her feet is.)

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It's just a good thing she's so pretty. That's all.


Once upon a time...part 2

Part One is here.

One Sunday, a few months later, I showed up at church. It was summertime, and I was wearing a long, sleeveless blue dress that I lived in that summer. And, I'm told, red lipstick. I can't imagine ever wearing red lipstick to church, but that's what I'm told. 

I'd like to tell you that when Clay walked in that day, and settled into the seat in front of me, I was immediately attracted to his gentle spirit. Or his kind smile. Or...anything less shallow than my actual first thought. Which was, "Wow. Look at those ARMS. It's like they're CHISELED or something. How weird would it be if I just reached over and gave one a squeeze? I could claim he had a bug or something that I was brushing away..."

Of course, no, I couldn't actually do that, and not only because it would be weird. At the passing of the peace, he turned around and extended his hand to me and I froze to the spot. Now, passing the peace isn't a socially challenging event. I mean, it even comes with a script. But the minute his eyes met mine, I fell mute. I shook his hand and maybe nodded my head and muttered some random combination of sounds. It was charming. 

I did not know this man at this point. All I knew about him was that he came to church one morning, and he was in the company of a couple I adored. He could easily have been a puppy kicker. Or a serial killer. Or a serial killing puppy kicker. But oh, I liked looking at him. For years I'd avoided eye contact with men, and I found that it was fairly easy to get overlooked. Don't make encouraging expressions at them, and swath yourself in young children. Voila! You are invisible to most of the males of our species. And that had suited me just fine. 

But oh. I liked looking at THIS man. 

And that scared me to death.

He made his way over to me after the service, and struck up a conversation. I thought I was conversing amazingly well. I even managed to drop a reference to my EX husband in there, which I thought was very smooth. He couldn't figure out what I found so fascinating about his shoes. So perhaps I didn't come across quite as coolly confident as I thought.

Soon enough, it was time to go. I rounded up the boys, said good bye to That Man, as I was mentally calling him (yes, I knew his name), and headed out to the car. I was riding with my dad, so he drove home while I stared out the window, lost in thought.

"Well," I said after a while, "I talked to a man." Dad agreed that I had. "And I didn't dive under a chair or anything," I concluded. Dad wisely refrained from commenting.

I was mildly proud of myself, but I figured that was the end of that.