Friday, January 29, 2010


Yep, I had a wonderful week at work. Awesome.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Little Old Portuguese Lady: Cleaning Edition

It occurred to me, one Saturday morning a while back, that I am slowly turning into a little old Portuguese lady. I had gotten up, stripped my bed, cleared the towels out of the bathroom, and put it all in to wash before I'd even had a cup of tea. It's what I do every Saturday. As my grandmother would have said, "because I always do." I have my little routines, just like Gram had. I mentioned this to my brother, who said "Turning? Babe, you turned that corner years ago."

There may be something to that. I have caught myself saying things like "I can't stand it when my house is upside down," and yelling at people who track mud on my clean floors. Especially the floors. After the last big snowstorm, I found myself mopping my living room floor at ten o'clock at night because I don't have an entry hall and salt had been tracked in. On rainy days, I stop The Army Dude at the door and I do not allow him in until he takes off his boots (yes, he wears boots on his days off; also, his favorite color is green).

Yelling is an important aspect: first you yell at whoever is making a mess, then you clean. You can't skip over a step. Or maybe I don't want to skip over a step. It's very cathartic. There are few things in life I have any control over, but by God, if I've just cleaned my hardwoods with Murphy's Oil Soap, they are going to stay clean for a while. It's possible that control issues might be a factor in the little old Portuguese lady transformation.

I have an indoor cat, however - something no little old Portuguese lady I've ever met would have allowed. I also consider any garment with fewer than seven cat hairs on it to be "clean." The transformation is obviously not yet complete, although I know that at some point it will be, and I accept that.

You'll have to excuse me. It's Sunday morning, which is downstairs cleaning day, and I need to get to it. "Because I always do."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Better Than Reality

I have a friend whose mother has remarried and her new last name is Martini. Based entirely on that and my friend's deep and abiding love for Budweiser, I have constructed an entire Mrs. Martini in my mind. I imagine her in a hot pink faux Chanel tracksuit, with perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable makeup; her nail and lip colors match the tracksuit exactly. She has golden platform sandals on her feet (she lives in Florida) and smells subtly of Estee Lauder's Beautiful perfume. She is very proud of how tight her tush has gotten since she started taking merengue lessons down at the senior center.

She is shaking up a batch of lunchtime martinis and listening to Patsy Cline on vinyl. She waves a martini toward her comfy white couch and says to my friend in a voice filtered through 45 years of smoking "Sweetie, hand Mommy her smokes and let's sit down and have a little chat about when you're going to give me grandchildren."

Imagine my disappointment, after my friend got back from Christmas in Florida, to discover that Mrs. Martini is a regular mom who likes to golf and give gifts of undertaker suits to her middle-aged son (I didn't make that part up, honest). No bouffant hairdo, no matching tracksuit-nails-and-lips ensembles, no Patsy Cline. It was like finding out that Santa and the Easter Bunny are mad at each other.

I've decided that since it is unlikely that I will ever run into the real Mrs. Martini at, for instance, my local Stop & Shop, in my mind she shall remain a mythological character. I can see her now, shaking up a batch of apres-ski martinis and saying to Santa "Kris, hand me my smokes and let me tell you what to bring my boys for Christmas. Then we'll have a little chat about this problem between you and the Easter Bunny."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dancing Yogini

A change is as good as a rest.
- Some Australian dude I met once in a shoe store

A friend asked me the other day, after reading my blog post about ballet class, if I was done with yoga. The answer is, absolutely not!

If anything, my yoga practice has been reinvigorated by the new challenge of trying to keep up with teenagers in a ballet class. I was able the handle a much tougher workout than I had anticipated, and I am a lot stronger - especially in my core - than I was when I was dancing regularly fifteen years ago. That is all due to my daily yoga practice.

The fact that I know my dancing wasn't always pretty and I was okay with that is also because of my yoga practice. I am able to enjoy the process - of anything really - a lot more than I did in the past. I'm 46 years old. I have physical limitations. I am never going to dance like a professional dancer, and I am never going to do Eagle pose without feeling it in my shoulders. And it's all okay.

It occurred to me one morning, as I was stepping over the edge of the tub and feeling it in my quads, to question the wisdom of starting ballet again at my age. Then I realized: if not now, when? This is not something I'd be wise to postpone. And besides, I've had it up to here (picture me with one hand about a foot over my head, and typing like gangbusters with the other) with postponing things I really want to do, waiting for some mythological someday that never comes.

One of the important things my yoga practice has taught me is that life is lived daily. Good days, bad days - they all make up a life. Some days yoga is a struggle, some days it flows. I know the same will be true of ballet class. And I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Today's Words of Wisdom

Courtesy of my friend Joe:

I don't have all my ducks in a row. I don't even like all the ducks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Last night, I took my first ballet class in fifteen years. It was a combined adult/teenage class taught by a professional dancer. It was challenging. For a lot of the time, I felt like one of the elephants in Fantasia, just as I had feared. But somehow, that was okay. The barre work alone would have sent me crying for my mommy fifteen years ago. I got through it, although I'm sure it wasn't always pretty. I was okay with that too.

For the past 5 years or so, I've had a daily yoga practice. In the beginning, it was a practical decision to get the most bang for my exercise buck, and also to have a form of exercise I could continue to do as I age and my body changes. Over time, it has become about more than toning and stretching, to become the cornerstone of my spiritual practice. Yoga has helped me to be in my body where it is now, to accept the process rather than constantly comparing myself with other people in the room or on the DVD. Yoga has helped me to become more centered in myself.

It was on the mat that I heard the quiet inner voice saying "I'd like to do ballet again." My practical self threw up every roadblock it could think of : expense, time, age, injuries, looking stupid, feeling stupid, not knowing who had adult classes. Practical Me had the upper hand until fate intervened. I ran into a woman who taught dance at my old school and who now has a studio of her own. Two weeks later, I was sweating away at demi plies and releves. My yoga practice had brought me full circle.

Today at lunchtime I heard Orpheus In The Underworld on the classical station. Most people, if they are familiar with it at all, know it as the Can-Can. I danced to it as a twelve-year-old. As I listened today, I could remember the dance - from the skirt swishes in the beginning to the kick line at the end. Alright, maybe I didn't remember every step, but I remembered how it felt to be completely in my body, to be in the moment and having fun. How could I have forgotten how much I loved to dance?

The more interesting question is, if I keep listening, what else can I remember?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January Is The Cruelest Month

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating with the title, but just a little. I'm exhausted. I think it's probably a combination of the busyness of the holidays that have just ended - I ate a lot more sweets than I normally do, went to parties that disrupted my schedule, spent an entire weekend in the kitchen baking cookies - the fact that it's been snowy and therefore the days have been dark, and a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Whatever the reason, I'm pooped. To the point where I am having recurring dreams about being unable to move - as if my limbs are made out of lead and I can't lift them to walk. I'm trying to get somewhere, trying to accomplish something, and I'm frozen in place.

I'd think there was something deeply psychologically disturbed about the dreams (and indeed, I have a big change I know I need to make that I have been putting off for - oh, a couple of years now), except in my waking life I feel almost that heavy and sluggish.

This is probably not a good time to start ballet lessons. I mean, you want to feel light and airy going into it, right? But let me tell you a little about me: I rarely let a bad idea stop me. Ballet lessons start Monday night.

I danced for twelve years as a child and an adult. I pray that there is some muscle memory left in these old joints and tendons. I'm also hoping that the years I've put into a daily yoga practice will help me. I fear that I will be like one of the elephants in Fantasia - in heaviness on my feet, if not in shape. And I know I will be sore.

But I sort of feel that in the dark days of winter, it'll be nice to do something different - to walk into a warm, brightly lit studio and get in touch with the little girl within who loved loved loved ballet.

Besides, it's an excuse to buy one of those little chiffon dance skirts. I've always wanted one.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hello, Hello

I was sitting at a stoplight behind a schoolbus the other day when I noticed the high school kids in the back looking at me. It's amazing how fast your mind can go from that of a mouthy middle-aged woman to a self-conscious teenager.

Within moments I was uncomfortable - worried about what I was wearing, checking my hair surreptitiously in the rearview mirror - and telling myself they were looking at someone else. Then they started waving at me. Definitely at me. So I waved back because I was not going to let a bunch of kids not old enough to vote see me sweat. They smiled at me and at each other, and as the light changed I still wondered what all that was about.

Then I hit the gas and the Hello Kitty bobblehead on my dashboard nodded. Clearly the kids in the bus were impressed by my pimped-out Hyundai Accent and were letting me know they thought I was cool.