"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, May 19, 2014

it's a jungle out there

things i never, ever, never ever EVER wanted to be doing with my life:

#1 - join an online dating site.

at first i did it for "research" purposes after hearing this Freakonomics podcast, and then out of curiosity after reading this article. i figured if it's good enough for PJ Vogt, surely it could be good enough for me? (and in all honesty, i thought, if guys like PJ Vogt are using OKCupid, maybe that's where i need to be meeting more eligible, PJ Vogt-like men!) honestly though, i'd never even heard of OKCupid until this podcast, and didn't think people were actually using sites like these to, you know, really date. as soon as i created my profile i felt like i had just set myself up to be trolled.

i figure the internet already brings out the worst in people by granting a veil of anonymity and a low-risk of getting caught for shitty actions and a low accountability to "real" people. but then when you add in the potential for "hook-ups," hundreds of thousands of objectifying men, personal questions about sex, relationships, etc. AND a chat/messaging function? you've pretty much designed THE WORST way i can possibly imagine to meet people. for me at the moment, it still remains a social experiment -- how many guys are interested in me because of the pictures i posted and how many are actually impressed by my work experiences, my interests and my hobbies? i've also been interested to see how race factors into my popularity on OKCupid. so far, i'm surprised that it's been far fewer Asian men and many, many African-American men. like, twice the amount from any other race. lots of young'uns too. and then there was this guy:
what am i, or anyone, supposed to do with that??

i also had a guy try to chat me up and get me to hook up with him and when i said i wouldn't, he proceeded to lecture me about moralizing and basically called me a "stuck up b****." the best part was, about a month later, he tried chatting with me again under a different username (but same picture), and when i ignored him he tried again the next week ("third time's the charm?") i guess even in the digital world of human interaction, a lady just can't get a break from the douchey entitled bros.

all of this to say: i'm angry that this is what's happening. i poured my heart into the last seven years and worked so hard to make another person happy because i thought it's what i wanted and because i thought i couldn't imagine living without this other person. it made me happy to give so much of myself to make someone else happy. then i wake up one day and it's like a switch was turned off, and he became a different person. unable to feel anything, unable to understand what he'd meant to me the last seven years, unable to even look me in the eyes and tell me how his heart has changed, explain what has happened. i look at him now and i feel so distraught and angry, at him for changing into this totally different person who can treat me like such shit, and at myself for letting this happen, for making myself vulnerable and not expecting this could happen one day. every day i wake up and grieve for the person i loved who i feel is now lost to time forever. wherever that person went, i will never see him again, and looking at pictures from the past is such a deep wound in my heart ripped open all over again because i don't understand where that person has gone and know that they've also taken that version of myself with them. i will never be the happy smiling woman in those pictures again either. we're both lost, we've destroyed each other. i used to be excited about the rest of my life with another person, and now i dread the rest of my life spent agonizing forever the doomed happiness of the last seven years.

Friday, May 16, 2014

i'll have what she's having

i don't typically watch the Mindy Project, but found myself alone on Friday night after a long week of emotional intelligence/conflict-management classes and needed to be understood. somehow, strangely, this episode did the trick.

having never watched the show, i didn't know any of the back story for the two characters Danny and Mindy, didn't know how they started dating and ended up breaking up, but it didn't matter. when Danny starts running through NYC towards the Empire State Building to meet Mindy to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" i literally gasped and put my hands to my face... this was romance and it was making me happy.

maybe i'm being ridiculous. i can hear my girlfriends and the college version of myself mocking me right now... these are the ideas the movies and pop culture poison our brains with, you are above this romantic mumbo jumbo. you don't need men running up buildings to declare their love for you, you are full of self-love and you don't need them!


after weeks of feeling not only unloved and under-appreciated by someone i once imagined spending the rest of my life with, i not only feel a general disillusionment and doubt about my ability to love and be loved (plus, a resulting lack of self-love), i feel an increasing suspicion i've tried to suppress my need for romantic love in order to convince myself i could be happy with what i had. those grand gestures, like developing an elaborate scheme to tell someone you love them, though saccharine and cinematic, are the kinds of things i wish people would do for me in real life. do those people exist? are there still people who go out of their way to express their love for someone? i haven't been with anyone who ever did that for me, but i ache for it.

growing up i thought love was weakness, romance was cliche and women who bought into this myth were submissive, and i never wanted to be one of them. i laughed at the women who went to college for their MRS degree (btw, barf, i hate that phrase). but maybe it's age or me gradually learning to think for myself, but there are multiple ways to be a fully realized, independent person. and i'm not ashamed to admit that if someone ran up a tall building to Springsteen to woo me it would make me supremely happy.

*title of this post is a reference to the When Harry Met Sally scene, referenced in an earlier part of this episode. so many rom-com tropes activating!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

developing a home yoga practice


recently i've had quite a few friends tell me they've struggled with developing a home practice, and a few have even asked me to share my approach to developing my own practice. my friend Andrea recently sent me the following email:

Hi Stephanie!
I'm writing because I know you're a seasoned yogi, and I am looking to get into home-practice. Do you have any tips for home practice or yoga sequences that I can do on my own at home? Yoga in the city is so expensive and unfortunately, I cant really fit it into my funemployed budget right now :]
I hope all is well!
i was delighted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with her. developing a strong home yoga practice is, in my humble opinion, like learning to change your own bike tire and cutting your own bangs -- daunting and scary at first, but super empowering; every independent woman should know how to do it! 

As for home yoga practice, I'm happy to offer some of my own thoughts based on what's worked for me. What I've done is tried to replicate favorite routines my old yoga instructor in CA would do. Or try to string together poses that go well together (ex: flowing from warrior II to half moon, or warrior I to dancer's pose). I make a playlist that I can really groove to and try to focus on the music and let that "move" me in my yoga practice. For me, yoga is a compromise for my six-year-old self who always wanted to be a dancer but never got to be on stage -- I absolutely cherish it as a time to listen to music and allow my body to respond in the most graceful ways I can manage to transform it. I know that's probably not very helpful, but those are the things that have helped me in my own home practice.
this pose sums it up: Camatkarasana, "the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart"

More practically speaking, I think easing yourself into it is the best way to go. Maybe find 2 classes a week that really excite you, with teachers whose energy you really dig and whose practice mirrors your own. Use their group classes as a guide and a reference for thinking about developing your own home practice, and try to build your practice slowly, say once a week finding an hour on the mat to work on a series you want to master (hip openers, side stretches, twists and rotations, balance poses, etc.) And the sun salutation is a good building block that you already know really well -- see if you can add poses onto the ends of each sun salutation each time and expand from there. For example, I start out my practice with very basic sun salutations (standing mountain, swan dive, forward fold, monkey, chaturanga, up dog, down dog, repeat) then add on when I feel warmed up (three legged dogs on each side, warrior series, then repeat with rotations, try a dolphin instead of a down dog, transition into arm balances). I think the hardest part of a home practice is really challenging yourself to hold the poses, think about your breath, and think about your body -- usually that stuff is all taken care of by an instructor, but when you go it alone you have to internalize all of it. That's why a strong playlist really helped me at first, not only so I could have something to distract me when I wanted to quit or relax out of a pose, but also because it helped me figure out timing. Once you get used to practicing on your own you get better at knowing the poses you want to work on, integrating breath and movement, and you'll develop a routine or framework that you can return to each time you practice on your own. And the best part: once you fully develop your home practice, you're not confined to an hour in a studio space... you can be at home, or go outside, and hold those poses for as long as you please.

Does this help at all? Sorry if all you really wanted was a link to a site or something... I know a few of my friends have used podcasts on iTunes to help with their home practice... you could try that too if you wanted something more concrete. 

(Nothing sums up the joy of a self-directed practice better than spending nearly two hours blissed out in a park enjoying your poses with the sun shining on you and birds singing all around.)

For those who are interested, here are two playlists I regularly listen to when doing yoga:
"study" (also a playlist for studying, not very original, i know)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

time travel is for broken-hearted lovers

never have i ever wished harder for a time machine than the last few days.

technological advancement has enabled time preservation of the cruelest kind... i can pull up emails from a few months ago, years ago, and read them and transport myself back to a time that was so happy and filled with promise and yet so achingly out of reach. so real and in my grasp, summoned from memory as if it were yesterday, but still rigidly in the past. i can remember, but never resurrect.

how much i wish for second chances. if only those sweet words that used to be heartfelt could be re-learned and practiced. like sitting back down at the piano and playing that favorite song. climbing back on a bike after falling off and riding it over hills to the next town over, leaving this dreary place behind.

all my deepest desires to still time, to go backwards, to wallow in nostalgic longing, can be traced back to a painful understanding that nothing lasts, and somethings you can never get back, no matter how much you try to recreate and/or preserve them. we are all victims to time.

big loser

if there's one thing i've done exceptionally well the last few weeks, it's losing big.

let me express my feelings using a sports analogy

this article about the Indiana Pacers' mind-boggling playoffs performance is pretty much THE BEST SPORTS ANALOGY EVER for my love life. if ever a guy had difficulty understanding the way love works (ALL THE FRIGGIN TIME, amirite?) just give him this article and hope he's able to stretch himself mentally/emotionally to identify with Pacers fans.

"Rooting for a team like the Pacers is a special exercise in having your brain broken by loyalty. Root for a bad team long enough and you just get inured to it, but a disappointing team? A team that has talent, gets your hopes up, flirts with success, and then, due to some mystifying inner lack, self-dismantles just when it really matters? That’s a torch song. They’re too good for you to switch your feelings off, too unpredictable for you to ever feel safe, too successful for you to hide behind cynicism, too bent on failure for you not to know that your hope is a missile pointed at the moon."

guh. this is the Modern Love column i've been wanting to write.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

(if only i could) sleep all summer

i saw Neko Case perform at the Egg in Albany with some good friends last night: a college friend, a friend from my recent graduate program, and one of my best friends, my partner of 7 years (he turned 30 yesterday).

Neko came out to perform this song for her encore. just her and a guitarist. i was in tears by the end of it. something about sitting with all these people who i loved so much, people i've needed in different ways at different stages of my life, some who i've gotten much closer to over the years and others who i know time and distance will eventually pull us apart, not knowing the future of things, not understanding the past, and wanting so much to pull it all in tight and protect it from the erosion of time ever-marching onward. i've never been so afraid for a moment to end.

so i'm just gonna put this video here, and some lyrics that particularly spoke to me, like a little fragile time capsule for me to come back to another day and remember how i felt in this particular moment, tears streaming down my face in a dark spaceship-like concert venue, afraid for the lights to turn back on again.

"I would change for you but, babe, that doesn't mean I'm gonna be a better man

Give the ocean what I took from you so one day you could find it in the sand
And hold it in your hands again

Cold ways kill cool lovers
Strange ways we used each other
Why won't you fall back in love with me?"