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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dialogue: Sunday Run

God it's cold. My feet. My legs. My lungs. Already? Already.
Mmmh, steam on the grass, dew on the trees-I'm glad I came out, I'm glad I'm moving, I like this.

There they are, my legs, hanging off my hips, I feel them. Where is moola bandha? Is that it? Why are my arms moving like that? Do everyone's arms do that when they run? Look at that runner, he's not moving his at all. He's gliding, he's sailing, you should do that.
Stop moving your arms.

Oh forget it, let them swing.
Hi lungs, yes you. Yes I forgot that feeling. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Can I smooth that out? Breathe slower. Close your mouth. Inhale, exhale-foooo, that's hard. Trying again, Inhale, Exhale-

Bah, forget it, just breathe. Be happy you're breathing. Feel that. I do.
The river, we're here. HA. You made it, you're finished! You're halfway.

You're too f'ing pragmatic.
You're so idealistic. Who do you think you're kidding?
Where are my thoughts? Look where you're going.
Feel this, be here, be here, be here-HERE I am! Tree, slap, leaves, smack, bench, slap, clouds, smack, in, out, in, out, river, river, river, river, ahhhhh.....

Flowing, ebbing, bobbing, breathing, living, dying one little death every second, reborn, airborn,
I have no fear, I feel NO fear,
The possibilities are endless,
No, but I can feel the sensation just the same.
Surging with each step closer to an invisible ledge; I feel that plunge, rush, that belly-up laughter, nothing but pure joy. The immortality of a pulsing heart and a jagged pant, throbbing each moment of my life into existence and winking it back out again.
I am a timeless motion.
I am poised on the drumming of my own two feet.



Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hidden Rhythms

When I stop expecting surprises, they come. When I start to think that I've cracked the code, that chance is just a word for people to excuse themselves from not taking note of the world turning under them, then, and only then, comes the dropkick to my dozing senses. Wonders never cease.

Just under one year ago, I found myself leaving Ananda Ashram minus the yoga teaching certificate I had come to earn: the state of New York had instituted a new law regulating yoga teacher certification programs, and there was no time for the Ashram to comply and continue the training. I was confused and disappointed as I flew to Oregon to visit my family, and I had a long, lonely train and plane ride to question myself. Do I want to be a teacher? Am I being told I shouldn't be a teacher right now? When your goals get roadblocked, is that the sign to hop over, or turn around?

Luckily someone on the other side of the blockade offered me a hand to climb over. Clayton Horton, a Greenpath Ashtangi in California, offered me to join his training, and I did. I left Oregon excited and nervous, early one morning in July. I hugged my mom, sleepy and teary-eyed, and my dad, who smiled as usual with his beautiful crooked-toothed grin, and they wished me the best.

Thirteen months later, halfway around the world, I remember that day and I can't stop smiling. I remember checking my e-mai one more time for the e-mail from a craiglist advertisement, and printing out a map of how to reach my ride-share's house. I remember my parents driving me to Eugene before the sun rose, and parking in the twilight to buy a tea and share a laughing moment with my mom. I remember being met by an unremarkable, but nice young man. Daniel was, in his khaki pants and t-shirt, my definition of a Eugene college student. I ran inside to use the bathroom, and when I got back, he had already loaded my things into his little sudan. And then we were driving south, sharing the road to California and a bag of Oregon cherries.

The ride was easy and seemed short, but when I arrived in Willits, I was happy to be out of the car, and I said good-bye with a kind of relieved shortness, lost in the anticipation of visiting my hometown. When my one-time chauffeur showed up at my door in Basel this week, I didn't recognize him. I couldn't connect his face to that of the man who drove me to Willits last year, someone whose company I enjoyed, but who seemed to share no lasting connection with me. The person standing before me now was an old friend from the moment I saw him. It seemed not to need any verbal communication. He came in, sat, and we started talking with the nonchalance of neighbors. I felt completely relaxed.

We spent that evening in the kitchen, slowly and lovingly creating a beautiful meal. He marveled at the sharpness of our new knife, and sliced the radishes painstakingly thin, eyes twinkling. I stirred, and adjusted, and stirred, and tweaked a salad dressing. And then he tried and we stirred and tweaked again. One of those collaborative projects that becomes art by virtue of the pure mutual focus instilled in it.

When we sat down to eat, it was on the balcony upstairs, in a paling cloudless evening with the last bit of sunset behind the Basel skyline at my back. I turned to watch it and when I turned back to my guest, he was already looking at me. I looked at him. I felt a jolt in my stomach and I looked away. I looked back. He was still looking. This time I held still and we observed each other, suddenly and fully. A flood of feelings came into me-
Joy: to share a long gaze with someone is something magical and connective, and i felt that connection strongly.
Fear: that gaze is something intimate, and can be easily perverted into a kind of dominating staring contest.
But it wasn't. We just looked. I found myself thinking, "If someone else looked at me for this long, I would label him a creep, awkwardly start talking, and avoid all eye contact. Why, exactly, is that not happening now?"

It was a question that flitted across my mind many times as the light seeped out of the sky above us. The space between us darkened and thickened. It seemed to amass itself into a breathing, pulsing substance, completely blurring the lines of matter and emptiness. I lost the outlines of his face against the wall behind him, and everything but his eyes become a mottled movement of dark hues. When I smiled, he smiled, and when I held still long enough to let his pupil become the focus of my gaze, I felt myself plummeting into it with a rush that caught my breath in my chest and left me teetering nervously before him. People came and went around us. The food sat uneaten, lights turned on and later off in the house. When something flicked my attention away for a moment, I saw it, but I always looked back.

I have no idea how long we sat there, but when we finally started eating, it was night and blood was rushing my ears. The food was perfect. My senses were sharp; I tasted each ingredient as it hit my palette, I spoke quietly and slowly. Everything I said felt like a joke. Daniel seemed to recognize the humor in trying to communicate with words, and we smiled with downcast eyes as after each sentence.

What is a decision? I am sitting here with the people I live with now, thinking of this short meeting with a friend who is already gone. I don't know when, or if, I will see him again. I don't know why he found me now. If he had come a week ago, would I have looked at him long enough to feel the world turning? There are many obvious decisions that brought him here, and another question is to whom they belong. Him, by contacting me after so long, so spontaneously? Me, by accepting despite my wish to stay here alone right now? How did I still my usual scattered attention long enough to look him in the eye?

I don't know if I had any say in the matter, but it brings me a smile knowing it started a long time ago, with a decision to drive to California in July; I can hardly hold the laughter knowing now that I decided then for a perfect evening one year later.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Footsteps on Concrete

It's about feeling myself firmly on the ground. After a week of head-spinning, cough-rattling, bleary-eyed head cold, all I want is that feeling of my two feet pushing on the sidewalk. I walked a lot this week. Before the cold set in, but also during, and tonight I can almost say, 'after,' because I think it will be mostly gone tomorrow.

I owe a lot to the people around me. My family is far away right now, too far to look any of my relatives in the eye and tell them how I feel. Though I never considered myself especially a family-type, I miss that closeness. Without the unexpected warmth of the friends I have made here, I would not know how to begin to express that feeling. What is your family but the people you invite to share your life with? I have a family growing out around me now, from the people I live with to the travelers who sleep on my couch for one night and I may never see again.

I believe you can learn something from everyone, especially the people who you find it hard to even bear being around. And when you start feeling squeamish in someone's company, it can often be a sign of insecurity on your part. Sometimes people mirror our worst side back at us, and it makes us cringe. But it's not really the mirror's problem if you're having a bad hair day...

If I duck around trying to avoid all the mirrors, my life becomes a maze of frantic evasion. I find myself coming home and avoiding meeting anyone, just going as quickly as possible to the shower, to my room, or back out into the world where I am anonymous. I guess it's clear that all that is a sign of not being ready to face things in myself. I am running away from the possibility of seeing my flaws, or what I imagine to be my flaws.

This week I tried to sit still in front of those mirrors and see what they actually show. It was so uncomfortable. I even wound up with this cold, which coincided neatly with my admittance that something has to change in the way I am living my life (not the things i do, the way I do them)-it wouldn't be the first time someone's manifested physical symptoms for emotional tension. Yet despite the discomfort, the intensity of peering into other peoples' eyes and seeing myself, humbled and simpler than I like to think, I felt again that buzzing joy of life this evening. That feeling of savory vividness that's so tangible it could almost be another entity;

You now what I'm talking about?
It starts as a smile in the corner of my mouth, and then starts to yank a string connected to the bottom of my stomach as it curves up my cheek into a grin. There I stand with a smile and a belly full of butterflies, for no reason other than...fill in the blank-I felt the wind on my legs in the warm evening; I shared a smile with a stranger; I thought of a sentence that made me laugh out loud as i scribbled it into my notebook by the Rhine. That is all I want in life, to sometimes cross paths with that entity and embrace her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shifting Gears

I'd like to explain something: I started as a food blogger. Like many of us sometime-vegan, full-time celiac, lactose-free and (by virtue of having grown up in a norCal hippie clan) overly-aware-of-what-we-eat folks, I thought a recipe blog would be the best way to share my thoughts about food. It was fun, I enjoyed it, I still read recipe blogs form time to time, and maybe someday I will return to the world of foodie fun.

For now, I've got to admit that I just want to write. Recipes were a good excuse, but never juicy enough to satisfy the writer in me. As a shameless chaser of human connection, I already know that I like to share my thoughts with the world. My love of communication borders on unabashed, and maybe it's time to take the plunge and just *gulp* live it. I want to share my thoughts with you. I won't tell you everything, because a certain amount of magic comes from keeping your secrets secret. Let's just say, if not an open book, I'd like to be a lovingly dogeared book, which you can feel free to open once and a while to see what's going on inside.

Of course, as someone who loves to share ideas, it comes as a blow when I can't get an idea across. I am too easily frustrated by people who I can't connect with; or rather, too easily frustrated by myself. My art history professor is a woman I barely manage to maintain eye-contact with, and every time she pauses awkwardly at one of my (poorly formulated, grammatically incorrect, german) questions, my heart skips a beat. "Shit, am I incapable of being understood?"

What I start to realize is that this frustration comes from the self-doubt it casts on me-did i do something wrong? Am I uninteresting? The usual questions of self-worth when someone doesn't immediately confirm it for us with a smile. Thankfully, at the moment it is impossible to take any of that seriously. Spring fever, or a trick of the mind, or both, either way I am seriously optimistic and self-loving right now, to the greatest extent that optimism can ever be "serious". I laugh so easily at silly jokes. I even laugh at things that aren't jokes...In How I Met Your Mother, the one series I guiltily watch late at night with a cup of tea in hand, Robin calls Ted an "I love you slut" because he says I love you so easily. I am without a doubt a giggle slut-I'll give it up at the drop of a hat, and truth be told, there's a good chance I'll laugh even if it's not funny, because it feels that good. I can't stop smiling. I can't.

So here I am, smiling away at my keyboard as I look forward to a day of dance, acupuncture and yoga. Jeeze, that's just holistic as hell. Fear not, I'll balance it out with a little bit of How I Met Your Mother, just to make sure I don't float away to Candyland on my peace and love rainbow.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Couchsurfing: it's an online travelers' hub where you can meet potential hosts, guests, guides, and travel companions, all free and nonprofit. It's also how I stayed in Europe for a year, how i met some of the most important people in my life, and why I live in Switzerland. Yet I forget sometimes why exactly I do it. Usually that's around 2 AM in a fog of other peoples' smoke and loud talking, at one of the big meetings. I start to wonder if I have imagined all the magic there. Is it real? Did I really meet such amazing people couchsurfing? Why are we all just drinking buddies now?

And then you meet someone who changes your whole perspective on it again. Let's call him A. A and I had tea yesterday and it was like a breath of fresh air into all the dense smalltalk that any big meeting of strangers can be. I felt the most amazingly good feeling there in the Red Angel, looking at this person who is very different from me, but at the same time running almost parallel to me. Talking, pausing, looking at each other, it was like looking at a part of me in someone else. Aha. This is what we talk about in yoga, the "sameness" of everyone. the universality of existence. We are the same. And, beautifully, we are completely different at the same time-what stays the same is that twinkle in the eye. It's got to be the most important thing out there, that twinkle. I am sure a cosmologist one day will finally find his equation and it will read:

life=(twinkle in the eye) + laughter + tears

That part of me that aches for interaction on a deep level felt like it was drinking champagne after a 2 year draught yesterday. Of course, that could be partly because we did in fact drink champagne later...Regardless, it was the most refreshing feeling to be so at ease in someone's company, to have none of it pertain to sexuality, and to know that this is inside of every person that I meet, somewhere, just waiting to be ignited by a moment of sitting still and looking. Just looking. What a gift.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am filled with a thousand moving streams of endless possibility, racing blood and sweat and unforgivable visions of excellence. I pray on homemade notebooks; I prey on lost boys...I run from something in the air that makes me, ahhhh exhale and let everything fall out of place, disheveled, de-mystified, re-wrinkled and pure.
I let a breath move me miles high, take me back and forth, sit me down and cry on its shoulder 'til I'm breathless again, and there's nothing left to breathe but all the drifting spirits here.
The way the moon looks through all the windows at once, i sneak through the in-betweens, to let the half light kiss me with its whispered knowing, and feel my skin unravel in its hands. It's blooming all around me, with a pale red readiness, a morning waiting to be born.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

Oh, Sunday evening, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Planning my week with a cup of chocolate yogi tea, flipping through art books because I can, and daydreaming about what I'd like to do for my month-long break from school. Yes, that's my version of contentment.

New years always brings a positive shift in my life, be it a result of the holiday or the sun shifting cycles, I don't know, but it makes a measurable impact on how I feel. Until January, a tension builds in the way I live-I do a lot, I do it quickly, and I don't really stop and smell the roses. Until suddenly we flip a digit into a new year and it's like I've plunged into a warm, deep hot tub-everything relaxes and I can't help but sigh every 2 and a half minutes about how simply nice everything is.

This year, my transition was aided by a spur-of-the-moment trip to Budapest for the Couchsurfing Winter Camp. I arrived just in time for the new years party at Citadella, the "capitol hill" of Buda. I met with old friends, a met a few new ones, and felt again that steady current of life in me that has been a little evasive this winter. New energy seeping up from my toes, aided by dancing, walking, talking, laughing. Those four seem to be my staples in life, and I'm glad to be enjoying them all again. Bring it on, 2010.