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Monday, January 31, 2005

Wergle Flomp Lives!
Wergle Flomp has already enlivened WoT's "Random Thing" category, and now he gets a return engagement with the Wergle Flomp Free Poetry Contest.

How Hard Could it Be?
In the world of endeavor, there are difficult things that look difficult, and there are difficult things that look easy (or easier than they truly are, at any rate). Many, if not most, Olympic sports fall into the first category. No matter how "easy" an Olympic diver makes a triple whatnot with a half-twist look, it is hard to ignore the work necessary to produce that dive. For the second category, certain forms of art and literature are easy marks for those who like to say, "How hard could it be?"

I am not sure how many people who have uttered those immortal words have actually attempted the thing that they dismiss, but I am willing to bet it is small. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and scoff at an effort you scorn to attempt. It is hard to make the attempt itself - that is, to really make the attempt to produce something of worth. As soon as you set brush to canvas or fingertips to keyboard, it becomes evident that talent, practice, hard work, or some combination of any or all of them is necessary to produce something you would be willing to show to someone whose honest opinion you valued.

I have had some kind friends suggest I write a novel. I am not ready yet - I know this. But when I finally set out on this endeavor, it will not begin with, "How hard could it be?" Nobody likes to try for a swan dive and end up with a belly flop.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Only in Moderation
Teresa Nielsen Hayden has got a wonderful post up about moderating conversations in virtual space.

Beneath my Dignity to Climb a Tree?
Getting married points up all sorts of differences between the married people. Actually, just living together does that as well, but there seems to be an additional shade added to those differences upon marriage.* Sometimes sharing an abode with someone can actually go beyond highlighting differences to stripping illusions away. So it is in our house with food.

John used to give me seventeen kinds of trouble about my "empty refrigerator" back when we were dating. Hey - I was single, I traveled a lot for my work, and I didn't love the idea of throwing food away. I didn't think much about his joking criticisms. When we moved in together, I was astonished (and a bit impressed) by the amount and types of food he would get. The man actually made his lunch every day (there are a few things I intensely dislike making: sandwiches and salads are among them, because I feel like I spend more time pulling out ingredients and putting them away than I do making anything with them). Additionally, he actually made dinner every night - a proper dinner with protein, starch, and veg.

Suddenly, I realized I was living with a bona fide Food Adult. Even when I had a fridge full of food, when I lived alone I tended to eat serially. I would cook up some chicken or a bowl of spinach, see if I was still hungry, and if that was the case I would wander back to the kitchen and get something else. I grew up in a household where meals were square, so the idea of eating a "normal meal" was far from alien to me, but it often felt like too much trouble to cook an entire meal just for myself. Similar to my dislike of making salads and sandwiches, I felt as if I spent more time washing up than cooking and eating. Why go to all that trouble? When I had people over I would cook properly, and sometimes I would actually get in gear, roast a chicken, and do the various follow-on things a good and frugal cook will do with it (chicken salad, soups, etc.), but usually I would just serially graze until I didn't feel like eating any more.

Now that there are two of us, my "cooking for one is too much trouble" argument doesn't hold water. Additionally, I feel like when it is my turn to cook I have to rise to the same standard as my Food Adult husband. Therefore, we eat a proper dinner most evenings, even if it is usually in front of the television. However, last night John had a late class and I did some freelance work into the evening.

My working "dinner" was chips and salsa. Take that, maturity.

*Note: I am not one to state that "everything changes" when you get married, because my experience tells me that that statement is hooey. Very little changed when Our Hero and I got married. I am glad I did it, and I would do it again, but not because it rendered our entire relationship in colors I was unable to perceive in my pre-married state. It lent a different depth and tone to the colors that were already there, but those differences are subtle to the point that I might even be imagining them.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cutesy "Draft-Stoppers" are Bad Enough
I worry about people who have to decorate everything - tissue box covers, TP-cozies, and now this.

On a Mat, not a Pedestal
In my experience, it is almost always a mistake to idealize situations or people. Setting things up on a pedestal is tantamount to setting them up for a fall, and all too often the falling object lands on your head. Knowing that, it is also sometimes difficult not to make heroes or mistake a fantasy for reality.

When I was offered my own Yoga class, I was worried. I was worried that I had idealized the work, that it wouldn't be what I had hoped it would be, that I would be just plain bad at it. Yes, I had a smidgen of experience working with other people's classes as a substitute and I had a very happy private client, but I wasn't sure if I could take that and successfully translate it into planning a class through the entire arc of the session, yet having the flexibility to improvise. I wasn't even sure if the need to improvise would be clear to me - what if adherence to my plan didn't serve the class? What if I abandoned the plan to try to please everyone and ended up serving nobody?

I was also unsure what the hallmarks of long-term success might be, but I think I have that one figured out. It is pretty simple. I have a class of five people enrolled for the session, and they show up. Not every person every time, but after three (three!) whole classes (yes, I know, it's a small sample, but yet...), I have witnessed dedication and commitment.

This past Saturday was snowy and I wasn't sure if the Maryland terror of the falling flake would cause me to have to cancel. But I showed up early, and I was rewarded with four out of my five. They have worked hard since the beginning, but in this class they started to ask questions and show other signs of comfort with each other and with me. I have a long way to go, but I think my early indicators are good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

1 HP (Hamster-Power, that is)
A Hamster-Powered night light. I have a couple of friends who might think that this is reason enough to get a hamster.

Cedar Shavings in the Garage
Like most people of my generation, I have owned my share of beaters, clunkers, and rustbuckets. I actually own a car now that I like - it's been referred to as a "Suburban Mom-Mobile," but that's a bit of an outdated reference. All the suburban moms I've seen lately don't drive station wagons anymore: they drive SUVs, which means my little wagon is an "Outdated Suburban Mom-Mobile." But my little station wagon has a zippy motor and heated seats, so my inner speed demon is soothed at the same time as my frozen behind. In my youth, however, I was perfectly happy with whatever had four wheels and took me somewhere more or less reliably.

My first car was a diesel Volkswagen Rabbit, color red, top speed: 65 MPH (0 to 60 in about 20 minutes or so), max. capacity: 8 bendy teenagers (over a short distance, that is, and forget about getting over a speedbump). The aftermarket stereo that was in the car had a stupid bit of design: the Rewind/Fast Forward controls were accessed by twisting a rather stiff knob up or down. Due to my family's tendency to obsess over a single song, the rewind/fast forward control button had cracked, leaving a hostile and intransigent little stem of metal sticking out of the dash, not unlike a miniature version of the metal bit that sticks out of your stove if you remove the knob. No problem for your average multitasking teenager: I simply commandeered a pair of pliers to twist the bit of metal and rewound my obsession du jour to my heart's content. Little Red Rabbit met its death at the jaws of a Buick whose owner thought stop-signs were optional. RIP, little crapmobile.

Living in the country means that if your parents want to be let off the hook for driving you everywhere, it is the better part of valor to get the teenager some wheels. The insurance money from Little Red went to Bailey, a tan Subaru station wagon that was completely unremarkable. Its blandness was eclipsed by the acquisition of a truly cheapo bit of engineering: a Subaru "Justy." Five-speed, four-wheel drive, and three honkin' cylinders of power. Who could blame me for passing up Bailey's beige comfort for the golf-cart soul of the Justy? My inexplicable preference for the little 2-door must have been a matter of discussion, but I can't remember the details.

That little car ended up being one of the best idiotic decisions I ever made. During my post-college years of penury, it asked next to nothing of me. It filled up for a fiver. Replacing all four tires cost less than $100. Despite its three-cylinder gutlessness, it got stuck exactly once, thanks to the little four-wheel-drive that could. It served me well from 1990 to 1994, and despite my friends' razzing about "winding it up" or "feeding the hamsters" when it came time to fill the tiny tank, it got me from here to there with raffish reliability. I may not miss it, but I sure have a nostalgic fondness for that little bucket.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Other Essays I Wish I had Written
Move Along, Nothing to See Here...
I used to be moderately well-dressed. I used to be told that I looked nice. That was back when I had a full-time job, and had to wear business attire - or at the very least, steer toward the the dressier end of "business casual." Now I feel as if, were there secret footage taken of me, Trinny and Susannah would say, "Sorry darling - that's too much of a challenge."

I blame nobody but myself, mind you. I do dress up for interviews and the occasional business meetings for the consulting work I get, but my daily attire now stretches in a narrow band between Yoga clothes and jeans and turtlenecks. Add the fact that my skin is throwing its annual winter tantrum, and I feel lovely. Occasionally, I even get surprised when I look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of how lax I have become.

I feel sure that I will resume my old pernickety habits when I am employed once again. I know that dressing professionally does in fact make me gear up to go into an office. But you know what? I am sort of enjoying the not-caring for a while. Most of the work I have gotten allows me to stay at home in my jeans and turtlenecks and simply use my brain. I am not engaged in the other things that "dressing for success" implies: ladder-climbing, impressing people (or at least, not putting them off), or looking a part.

They say that on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Well, I'm on the internet and now everybody knows I'm a slob.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Google Searches v. 5
Yay!!! Google searches! Goofy, giggly Googleiciousness! The tradition continues.

wot does ergonomic mean - Gee, I dunno. Wot is a dictionary?

writing or typing or hello wot have a good day message brought to you by who is matthew martin - Thanks, Matthew. You were just waiting to see this become an actual post, weren't you? (And I hope you get better very soon!)

pony jobs for jill - Now that is something I hadn't considered. A job with ponies! Or does the searcher want someone to pony up a job for Our Heroine? So many questions.

rudolph claymation movie - After referring to "claymation Rudolph," I found out that they are actually puppets, not claymation. My bad.

annoying ways of typing - How does one do this, I wonder? I suppose you might annoy a typing perfectionist by typing with two fingers, "hunt and peck" style. Maybe you can annoy someone by using their computer and pounding on the keys. Not sure. The real question is why do they want to know how to annoy with typing?

where did typing come from - That's easy. Typing hails from Lower Slobovia. Glad we could clear that up.

what is literary merit - This search came from a pepperdine.edu domain. I invite you to draw your own conclusions.

“top model” bunion - This search came from the Italian Google site. It makes me wonder if the searcher wanted to find a really high quality bunion or a well-paid fashion mannequin with deformed feet. Either way, it's kind of gross.

how do i just write like typing - I have no idea what this means.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Now this is a labor of love...

Why don't we Just Subtitle this Blog "Watch my Head Explode" and Get it Over with?
I was thinking this morning that my more ranty posts tend to include the concept of cranial explosions. The combination of disbelief, outrage, and sheer bogglement I feel when contemplating the vast variety of things I find too serious to be silly, yet too silly to be real, truly makes me believe I am about to suffer a massive noggin detonation.*

However, when I searched for "head explode" on my own site, there are only two little lonely examples of this fine expression.

This is too bad - life needs more exploding heads.

*Yes, this is another "fun with the thesaurus" kind of day.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Can You Ever Have Enough iPods?
Possibly. (Link is to movie with sound).

Weather Wimpiness
It snows here in Maryland. Not a lot, and not often, but enough so that the entire region should not have to freak out when the white stuff falls from the sky. About an inch landed about midday yesterday, and schools are delayed today. You would think that seventeen hours or so would be enough for dealing with a thin layer of fluffy frozen water, but apparently not.

Considering that the local methods of coping with snow, or what they refer to down here as "snow removal" drive me crazy, I probably shouldn't be surprised by today's school delays. Back when we actually had a big snow and were snowed in for three days, the plow came in with the blade about six inches off of the actual road surface, creating an icy, pot-holey, miserable driving surface that later had to be removed with a backhoe. Additionally, the local regional authority seems to be very fond of salt as a "snow removal" device. A light dusting of snow means mounds of dirty grey, slightly glittery, car-eating sodium chloride scattered around the roads.

Of course, there may be a better reason for keeping schoolchildren home when there has been snow in this area. The wealthier denizens of this region, in common with their brethren across the country, are fond of their SUVs and seem to be too trusting of their anti-lock brakes and four-wheel-drive. When faced with the threat of an H2 or Lincoln Navigator roaming around loose with a driver who is inexperienced with snow and ice at the wheel, I would definitely prefer to stay home too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

That Ms. Rowling has Written Another One
In case you are confused by the terminology, here's a reference.

Some People are not Deserving
This just in from Jeff Cooper: apparently winning a "reality" show does not guarantee either wisdom or intelligence. Who knew?

A word to the wise: if you find yourself a contestant on a highly successful network "reality" gameshow, and you win a million dollars in a season finale episode watched by millions of people and discussed around water coolers across the nation, DECLARE THAT MILLION DOLLARS ON YOUR INCOME TAX RETURN! Because it's possible, just possible mind you, that perhaps an IRS agent or two might have watched the show.

I don't watch "Survivor." I don't watch "America's Next Top Model," "American Idol," "The Apprentice," "Fear Factor," or any of the other so-called "reality" shows.* I don't despise those who do (well, except for "Fear Factor." That show is just nasty). I just don't find any of it appealing, and there's plenty of other trash TV that's more to my liking. However, it is hard to insulate yourself completely from these shows, so even I know who Richard Hatch is, even though I have never viewed a single minute of "Survivor." Personally, I would have thought his 15 minutes were up some time ago, but I guess nothing keeps you in the spotlight like doing something colossally stupid like failing to file your taxes for one of the most famous paychecks of the last several years.

*I'm sorry: can anything possibly be more artificial than these alleged "reality" shows? Can we think of another name for them? Because the cognitive dissonance caused by putting people in the most bizarre, synthetic, unnatural situations, filming the results, broadcasting it on national television, and then going and labeling it "reality" is just about to make my poor head explode.**

**Yes, I did bust out the thesaurus this morning because my spluttering, idiocy-maddened brain just could not come up with enough synonyms for "fake."

WoTs of Whimsy
Over there on the right hand side of the site, WoT now has a branded commercial venture.

It was made far easier (and way snazzier in terms of image quality) through the fine efforts of Brad, Design Guru Kansas City. Thanks, Brad!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Fun with Dead Languages
Organization or the Total Lack Thereof
I love organization. I love having a place to put things. I love order, and knowing where to find my stuff.

This does not mean I am always a tidy person. "Far from it," I think as I survey the wreckage of the living room. But I strive for tidiness and my brain craves order even as I don't outwardly manifest that craving.

One of the dilemmas that tidiness brings is over-compartmentalization. While I love the idea of everything having its own specific place, too much of this sends me into overload and a bit of cross-pollination helps me to keep spinning ideas around and looking at them from various angles, the better to think creatively about them. I have thought for some time that I need to carry a small notebook around with me to capture the random ideas that seem to fade all-too-quickly from my nonretentive brain. I have a lot of blank notebooks, and some are even in sporadic use for containing Yoga thoughts or interview notes, but I have begun to feel as if the various pieces of my life are locked away from one another. They need to get together and mingle, flirt, and get into fistfights. I needed a portable Mos Eisley Cantina for my thoughts.

My continued joblessness has kept me from making too many discretionary purchases, but this weekend I bit the bullet and purchased one of these little guys. Sturdy and no-nonsense, with plain paper (I may not be able to draw at all, but I like having the option), it has already captured a few thoughts (including this one) for later inclusion into the WoT? It will also act as my repository for Yoga thoughts, quotes, and other musings. My hope is that having a place to put these things will soothe my need for order while also allowing the disparate sections of my life mingle and bump into one another and hopefully spark some interesting combinations.

It's a new hope, if you will.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Not Exactly the Dream that the Good Doctor was Referring to
Dr. King had a dream. It was a glorious dream, set like a jewel into the setting of a stirring speech.

There is also "The American Dream," a phrase often used to describe home-ownership.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year, we will be helping our friend Melanie move into her new home - the first she has owned.

We all have our dreams. I will be reserving some time to consider mine on January 17. I would encourage my readers to grant themselves the same gift.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The New You
Via Rana, a wicked-cool face transformer.

You can take a boring corporate photograph:

And make it into a Modigliani-style thingamajob:

...or a manga-heroine:

...or stuff that's much scarier, which I didn't save.

Silver Bullets
One of the problems with giving advice on a difficult subject is the tendency for the advice-receiver to focus on the minute and meaningless, while ignoring the large and important. Over on Making Light they are having another conversation about publishing. This time the conversation revolves around the large amount of self-help books that exist to a.) enlighten aspiring authors, or b.) fleece them of their hard-earned cash (apparently, many "how to get published" books are written by would-be authors who can't get published any other way - imagine that). One post noted that all-too-many would-be writers will "...ignore major points and focus obsessively on passing remarks of no significance, trying to figure out how they can turn this Revealed Wisdom inside out."

Whereupon a chord was struck in me that went CLANG!

There is a sort of superstition out there in the world that has to do with a phenomenon I call "silver bullets." Silver bullets are minute, meaningless details that a person invests with some sort of mystical significance, the better to allow them to a.) ignore reality, or b.) not do something difficult. This sort of magical thinking is amusing at best, hair-tearingly frustrating at worst.

For example: in my law school days, I had the misfortune to draw a terrible partner for Trial Practice class. The second half of Trial Practice revolved around preparing for the final, which was a mock trial, complete with judge (professor), witnesses (carefully prepped volunteers), and jury (friends and family of both sides pressed into service - nobody ever "wins" one of these, as the jurors tend to vote for their friend or family member). My partner for this enterprise was not one of those people who is trustworthy and solid, always prepared, but nor was he shiftless and irresponsible. The problem was, he was somewhere in between. At one point, having sloppily prepared for something crucial, he noted that we were sure to win (as I noted before, nobody ever "wins" these things - the point is that the professor gets a chance to see whether or not you have the skills necessary to be let loose in a courtroom). When I asked him why he thought we were going to win if he wasn't prepared, he said he had a wonderful pair of shoes that would impress the jury no end.

Shoes. I am not kidding. Neither was he.

Contrary to the evidence presented by this anecdote, this fellow wasn't stupid. He was just indulging in the fantasy that his silver bullet was going to bail him out. Anyone over the age of three could probably have told him that it wouldn't matter if his shoes were ruby slippers - they weren't going to make a difference. But he decided to fixate on style over substance because style was easier.

I can understand the attraction (temporarily) of fantasizing about a silver bullet that will make everything all better. However, I am not interested in the slightest in feeling the short, sharp shock of reality as the silver bullet fails to reach its target and I am left with the nonmagical consequences of everyday life.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Can I Get One of These for my Life?
Back to School
Our Hero, who usually lights out for work at an ungodly early hour, is sitting on the couch at 8:20 this morning. No, he's not sick. He's not taking a personal day. He's neither enjoying a vacation day nor a holiday. No, today is the first day of school for our favorite straight-A student. As such, he is calibrating his Thursday schedule to go in later to work and leave later, as his class is in the evening.

Man, from now through Spring, Thursdays are not going to be fun for Our Heroine. They are not going to be fun for MacIntosh, either. The dog loves me, I love the dog, but if Toshie had to choose which of us to save from a burning building, he'd grab John and start tugging with all of his 36 pounds. That dog adores John. When John is late, he starts circling over to the front window to look for him. When John leaves the room, he follows, unless John instructs him otherwise.

*Sigh* I have learned to live with being second-best. Toshie and I will just have to learn to live with our Thursday-night blues.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"Ah, the good old days, when deformed freaks would wander around the prairie on really short stilts."
The Stuff of the Universe is Locked in the Mind of a Cat
Cats know stuff. I don't know how, but they do. When I say they "know stuff" I mean they know what is going on in your head or your body. There has to be some sort of diagnostic job for cats, because they know stuff the way that kid in "The Sixth Sense" saw dead people.

What the ever-bleeping-freak am I talking about? What pushed my cat-button this morning? Simon. Lovely, darling Simon of the double paws and serene cat-face. Simon, whose true love is a slipper. Not for the first time, Simon proved that cats know when you really have to pee by jumping on the bed and sitting right on my bladder. Whywhywhy???

Dash frequently judges the exact moment when I am about to get up for another cup of coffee and strategically leaps into my lap, purring and settling himself in for a lovely snooze. Can't.... move... too... cute.... Simon used to bolt out the door (he is an "inside cat" - he has claws, but at eight years old, it is too late for him to learn how to use them to climb trees) when I was running latelatelate and desperately wishing I had extra minutes - and none to spare for the feline who has decided this is his day for reenacting the Great Escape. My friend Mary Kay has just had a knee replaced. Apparently, her cats found the surgical site absolutely irresistible from the moment she came home. Why???

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Oh Dear...
The British band Texas got Alan Rickman to be in their latest video. Not an Oreo in sight, but delicious nonetheless.

Holding Pattern
I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that waiting patiently is not my strong suit. Patience in general has not been my strong suit, though Yoga has helped a whole heck of a lot with that.

The problem with improving in this sort of area is you rarely get credit for it. It is easier to recognize a thing than to perceive the absence of a thing, and when you gain greater forbearance, its outward manifestation is not perceived as an increase in calm or gravitas, but a decrease in snits and outbursts of temper. So, labors of patience and its ilk tend to go unremarked-upon, even by those who know to brace for an explosion in certain instances.

Constant testing with no end in sight also peels away those layers of self-control that you have built up around you. It has been a year of testing that patience, of waiting, of trying and falling short. A year. I never thought it would get to a year. There is something very, very big about a year. The year has held some backsliding, some squaring of the shoulders, and a lot of efforts at improvement and forward motion. But it has been a year.

I would not go back, though. I would not change what I did and I still believe that this path will lead me to something better.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Regret Not.
"Regret the Error," a collection of corrections.

...Along with his own errors, he offers us this correction gem from the film "A Fish Called Wanda," where the character Otto is put to shame: "Aristotle was not Belgian. The central teaching of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself.' The London Underground is not a political movement. These are mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."

Weekend Update
First item: Yes, I tweaked the sidebar this weekend. My goal: simplification. My strategy: a toned-down color scheme and fewer fiddly gadgets and bits. My execution: cooler, softer colors in the background, earthier colors for the text, and deletion of some of the cutesy stuff I had accumulated over time. Feel free to leave comments or suggestions for further improvement.

I also took a look at various other blogging solutions this weekend and found... nothing that doesn't make me run screaming from the room, even after checking out a book on PHP and MySQL from the library. So I am sticking with iBlog for the time being, despite being a bit too inflexible in the design department (at least for us regular users - another iBlog user, icerabbit, seems to have hacked it into something much more interesting), and too-frequently choking on the FTP upload.

My first Yoga class went well (I think). I had five students (four more than I had thought I might get). They were quiet, asking no questions, but seemingly invested in the class and the ideas. One student (the only man in the class) did approach me afterwards, letting me know that he generally prefers more aerobic exercises and that his wife signed him up for Yoga in the hopes of lessening stress and improving flexibility! Despite the slightly coercive nature of his entry into Yoga, he seemed to enjoy it.

We toured Mel's new place, which looks much bigger without furniture. The previous owners had far too much stuffed into the place, and I knew it would look much larger without massive wardrobes and too many cupboards, cabinets, and bookcases, but it was startling nonetheless. We also took Mel to The Great Indoors to look at lighting and other bits and bobs she is going to need, where she promptly got sensory overload (as any sane person would).

Last item: what is up with me and my toes? Do I have bad toe-karma? Last night, while horsing around, I rolled over my right big toe and seemingly sprained it or something (this is especially un-fun because I have fairly bunion-deformed feet as it is). Owwww.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Speak You the Fine American Much?
PBS has given rather a lot of thought to this.

--Thanks, Mark!

In Dreams, We Get What We Want. Sort of.
I am teaching my very first, all-my-ownsome Yoga class tomorrow. Hatha Yoga for beginners, 9:30 AM. My biggest fear is that nobody will come. Through substitute-teaching and having a private client once a week, I have gained confidence in my ability to program a class, adapt it for circumstance, and keep people moving and motivated. I know I have a heck of a lot to learn about Yoga and teaching and I know I will for the rest of my life, but reaching a baseline level of confidence in myself (and having teachers consistently repose their confidence in me to take care of their classes) is one of the biggest milestones of my life.

But teaching someone else's class and teaching my own are vastly different prospects. I know that when I have looked for new teachers in the past I have looked for experience, training (preferably by names I recognize and trust), and key descriptors like "humor" and "playful." (I have noted before that in my opinion the best Yoga teachers are also funny people - why do it if there is no joy in it?). But my bio contains no teacher training, even if it were up on the studio's website, which it is not as of yet. So I would probably not go to my class if I didn't know me. Would I enjoy my class if I were taking it? Interesting question, but one impossible to answer. I have no idea.

So my dream last night started out as the usual sort of anxiety nightmare - I was late, circumstances were making me even later, and I was getting severely rattled. Then I show up at the studio and it is packed. They're not there for me, of course - most of these dream-students are doing makeups for other classes - but it was gratifying to my dream self to have all of these people there, regardless of the reason. There is even a "famous" Yoga instructor there ("famous" because in my dream I recognize him from Yoga videos, but in real life I have never seen such a person in a Yoga video). So I start the class with a Sun Salutation, feet grounded, legs energized, arms rising above the head, palms facing, fingers spread with energy, hinge over into a forward bend, and all of a sudden I wobble and fall over. There is grumbling from my class - I try to joke it off and resume, and I fall over again. The floor feels squishy underneath my mat. I peel back the mat and find pillow after pillow. I cannot do the simplest balance on all of these shifting bags of feathers.

Oy. I thought I had enough to worry about for tomorrow. Better go polish that lesson plan.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I Wanna be a Baked Potato Person...
Another Milestone
Yay! My friend Melanie - she of the Chinatown Express Bus Adventure - has closed on her first home - a condominium one Metro stop away from us.

We have been veritable pests about getting her to purchase real estate. "Paying rent is flushing your money away," "We know you love color - why live in a magnolia rental box?" "Owning your own home is an investment and it makes you feel more secure - why not do it?" Yes, we have sounded like realtor's brochures for a few years now, and finally Mel took the plunge and started looking. And, in the time-honored form known and hated by almost all DC-area real-estate purchasers, looked and looked and then looked some more. She saw places that resembled dank little closets and participated in the not-infrequent game of being outbid (twice, when the first bid fell through) on a property she desired.

However, in a twist that should please those who believe that everything happens for a reason, her eagle-eyed agent's boss (who also happens to be the mother of our friends Miklos and Michele, who are about to become parents for the first time. I told you that great milestone moments were occurring all around us) saw a property that was exactly what Mel was looking for, listed right before Thanksgiving. (Was the seller clinically insane? No, we don't know either. We're just happy for Mel). She put in a bid, it was accepted, and suddenly all the disappointment and toil were eliminated.

Life is like that sometimes. It is nice to get the reminder.

Who Knew?
Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Question of the Year
I Don't Get It.
This will surprise nobody, but I just do not understand some people.

Occasionally, I watch some of the "lifestyle" programming on BBC. There is, of course, "Changing Rooms" (the original program that spawned "Trading Spaces"). I am always astonished at the people who make strong, yet bland, pronouncements of what they want in their rooms. You want pale, cool colors? You hate deep red or hot pink? You have specific things you really want done and specific things you don't want touched? Did you watch the show before you signed up? Because even a designer who wants to do what you want done is going to surprise you, Mr. or Ms. Specific. These are often the same people who walk into their newly done-up room and exclaim in horror, "It's so different!" Er - what did they expect?

For an even greater taste of unreality, there is a show called "House Doctor" that takes a house that is up for sale but not selling, and brings in a designer to make the space more attractive for buyers. There are three types of homeowner on this show: the lazy git, the oblivious, and the theme-park operator. The lazy git has usually started a DIY project and left it in mid-stream. The oblivious cannot understand what is wrong with orange shag carpet or a bit of dirt. The theme-park operator is usually a person of obsessive interests who thinks that a viewer who can't see beyond the owner's favorites - taxidermy, funeral masks from New Guinea, the color pink - is hopelessly lacking in imagination.

Usually, most of those homeowners come around to the notion that paler, more neutral walls, setting the rooms as they were intended (no more housing the ferrets in what is supposed to be a dining room), and tidying up is a good idea. But occasionally there is someone who is absolutely livid that the space must be "stripped of personality," which is code for "put my stuff away." They want so badly to place their stamp on the space that they forget the fact that they are trying to rid themselves of the space in the first place. And that is what I truly do not understand. I can understand not being able to see your space the way others do. Familiarity may not breed contempt, but it does breed a certain sort of blindness. But to insist that the home stay firmly stamped with your overwhelming personality or interests while you are trying to sell it to someone else when it is painfully obvious from the lack of interest in the house that this strategy is not working? I don't get it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Fully Articulated Tweety Bird
I am not a resolutions-maker. The New Year does not ring in with lists and affirmations. However, there are times in the year when I find myself looking around and seeing the disorganization and clutter that have accumulated over the previous months. September brings that back to school feeling, springtime heralds summer's more relaxed pace, and the darkness of early January brings the annual tidying of the closet under the basement stairs where the holiday ornaments live.

This January activity feeds on itself, and I have found myself tidying, organizing and starting to attempt to think differently over the last few days. John and I are trying to be more organized about dinner, for instance (our usual "seat of the pants" method of "planning" for dinner is getting old for both of us). Today, perhaps inspired by John's massive office mucking-out, I am tackling my office. The closet is full of things that we're not sure where else they should live. The furniture needs rearranging. The shelves need clearing.

I also have thank-you notes that need writing (the spur of guilt gets duller every day we step away from the Christmas holidays), and various other tasks with solid, looming deadlines.

In other words, having spent the last hour or so trying to think of something to say, I am having one of those days where there is nothing much.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year!
And chill out! (Link is a flash movie with sound).

Holiday Recap, or "What I didn't Learn on my Winter Vacation"
Hello all. Yes, I am back. No, nothing Earth-shattering occurred during my absence. Our Hero (a/k/a John Smith, International Terrorist, and now that we've watched part of the Twilight Zone New Year's Day marathon, "his satanic majesty, Lucifer, prince of darkness - otherwise known as Mr. Smith") and I relaxed some, though I am not sure John knows how to relax. He spent much of the holiday painting and rearranging his office, then decided to take apart part of the basement shelves and attendant clobber yesterday. I am married to the proverbial worker-bee. Whatever - I did relaxing for both of us, as well as bread-making, dog-walking, and fire-building. Also lots of knitting.

Working backwards through the break, New Year's day dawned with a lovely sunrise.

That morning, we also went to something we may never have the privilege to witness again - a Hindu housewarming ceremony. I am not terribly articulate about this, because "Wow" seems the most appropriate word. The preparations were elaborate, the guests multitudinous, and the colors (including saris and flowers) were dazzling. The ceremony itself was about 2 1/2 hours - short, apparently, by knowledgeable people's standards. As it was conducted in Sanskrit or Hindi, we were grateful to various relatives and friends of Alicia's who murmured explanations and translations to us throughout. Aside from Alicia's husband Guillermo, we were the only non-Indians there, so it must have been terribly obvious that we needed the assistance.

Christmas was almost as quiet as New Year's, although my mother sent catnip mice that sent Simon and Dash into frenzies of delight:

For Christmas dinner, we had the aforementioned Alicia and Guillermo, as well as our neighbors, Philip and Kathie. Since Alicia is Hindu and Philip and Kathie are Buddhist, we decided we were having "ChrisBudGaneshamas" dinner. It was our first Christmas at home, and we loved it.

Happy New Year.