The last few days have been nice, sunny, but cold. I have a lot of free time and would like to go out and do something, but it’s just too damn cold to sit on the beach. So I end up in the food court instead, writing. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a writing group. My favourite thing about doing NaNoWriMo is the write-ins, surrounded by people as weird as me. But it never lasts past the end of November. NaNo is, for most people, a fun challenge once a year. I wish I could do it every month. All my hobbies are lonely hobbies. I guess that’s why I chose them. I wanted to do yoga teacher training because I wanted the structure, accountability, and community of a group. I just wish I could find the same thing in the rest of my life. So I end up in the food court instead, writing, alone.
I didn’t grow up with cable, so I didn’t grow up with music videos. Being able to search and watch anything I want on YouTube is so amazing to me, ten years on. I have cable now, but the videos on Much Music aren’t the videos I want to see. Except for two hours in the middle of the day called Retro Lunch. It’s a playlist from the past, but my favourite part is that there’s always a theme. Yesterday was alternative rock from the mid ’90s. Last week, I caught a collection of soundtrack songs. Today, it’s ’70s soft rock. There’s just one glaring thing all these video have in common: men. They’re all male artists. That ’90s playlist was everything I loved (and owned) in high school, but in two hours of songs, only two sung by women: You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette and Violet by Hole. Today, Stevie Nicks is saving another retro dude lunch. At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to read only women. Now I think I have to extend that to listening and watching, too.
My homework isn’t just to build a daily practice, but to do that daily practice while teaching out loud, even if there’s no one there to listen but me. It’s a smart thing. This isn’t just one assignment I’m procrastinating, but two. I might be a slacker, but I get my work done eventually. I just need to waste some time first. You can’t do that with sadhana. Sadhana means daily practice. You can’t do seven practises on one day and call it done. Adding the teaching to the yoga makes it comfortable, familiar, a thing I know how to do. Tonight, I started just by talking, explaining the om chant, describing the warm-ups and why they’re important, and by the time I was teaching the first movement, I found that my feet were moving, like I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to move. I hope I want to move tomorrow, too.
Looking back at the list of recent posts on the WordPress dashboard, I see that all of them were written after 9pm. I’m a night owl, remember. I wouldn’t say it’s when I do my best work, but it’s when I do most of my work. It’s when my brain finally shuts up, and I remember I have work to do. At the end of a full weekend, my work tonight is to write this blog post. Most of my writing these days is stream of consciousness free writing, which means that I do a daily practice of setting a timer and writing, keeping my hand moving the entire time. The first lesson you learn is when you can’t write, write about how you can’t write. When you can’t blog, write about how you can’t blog. The only way through a block is through. It gets easier on the other side. It gets easier because you’ve done this before and you know the way.
This weekend is a yoga weekend, which means I’ve been awake since 6am. It’s 9pm now, and I’m so happy to be in my bed. I’m a night owl, but I also crave comfort. I’ll probably be up for a few more hours, reading, but I’m more than happy to do that in my pyjamas, curled up in bed, with the lights turned off. I’m not someone who takes her bra off as soon as she gets home, but I’m definitely someone who gets into my pyjamas as soon as I feel like it. In yoga, tamas is inertia, black, night. This is when I like to do my practice, before bed, when I’m calmest. It’s when I like to meditate, after my mind rests, in the dark. But today’s teachings have me worried that all I’m doing is fostering tamas. If I want more sattva–happiness–in my life, I need to see more mornings.
Most of the last year I spent listening to Hamilton. A good six months of nothing but since the cast recording was released last September. Then I bought an iPod for the summer hiking season (I was tired of my iPhone battery dying before I got home), and I started listening to everything on shuffle again. But over the last week, I’ve been listening to The Decemberists and thinking about concept albums again. I had this idea a few years ago that I don’t write books; I write concept albums. I don’t make music (as much as I tried to figure out the guitar), and I only sing for myself, but the way I write is more like tiny story songs than long novels. I like connected vignettes. I like prose poetry. I’ve written long poems, and everything I make is multi-media. Even now, listening to The Hazards of Love, I’m reminded of seeing the visual album made by four filmmakers–a collection of animated films interpreting the songs. I saw the band perform in front of the films at a theatre in LA. I like things that turn into other things. I like concepts made concrete.
Between Mays 2015 and 2016, I made 51 tiny books. I called the project Sunday Zine. The form was the same: an 8-page quarter size zine, print and digital. The deadline was the same: before I went to bed on Sundays. It was a challenge. It was also fun. It was a chance to write (and draw) and think about whatever fit into eight pages. I did a year, and then I stopped. And it’s been hard to get started on something new ever since. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog at the end of August. I just needed to start something with a form and deadline, something to prove to myself that I still could. I’ve been on the Internet for twenty years now. In that time, I’ve had tiny moments of success. The Sunday Zine was not one of them. It’s hard to keep putting your work out into the world when the world isn’t paying attention. I thought a lot this summer about giving up. Except I’m still here. And I’m thinking about starting a new project.
I work part time and make just enough to support myself. The reason I’m not starving is because my grandma grows vegetables in her backyard. That’s where I do most of my shopping. (I’m going to miss that garden so much when they move.) It’s late September now, and definitely autumn, but that’s what I love about living in the Lower Mainland. The garden isn’t dead yet. Today, I picked kale (two varieties), parsley (flat and curly), and the biggest leaves of Swiss chard you’ve ever seen. My grandpa is still picking green beans every other day, my grandma gave me all her green tomatoes to ripen, and I spotted a few more zucchini, which will be ready later this week. As good as the fresh stuff is, we’re definitely headed into the season of preserving. Tomorrow, I’ll be making sauce with the tomatoes that are ready and roasting kale until it’s crispy. I had a slice of pie after dinner today, but I still have a crisper full of apples from the tree. Whether you have a whole backyard garden, like my grandma, or a few pots of herbs, like me, cook with pride and eat with joy.
I have a new bookcase. My grandparents are planning to move after forty years in the same house–my whole life in that one house. Job one is clearing it out. At the same time, my parents are attempting to do the same. They have no plans to move, but ten years and inertia have filled their house quickly. After house/catsitting for the weekend, I’m headed home with my grandmother’s bookcase, a handful of my favourite knick knacks from my mother’s shelves, and two more boxes of my books. Three generations of history coming together on the shelves in my house. Hand-me-downs are more than just free stuff.
In the week since I started my yoga teacher training, I’ve done my sadhana twice. Sadhana is daily practice, and 2/7 is not daily. Before I started tonight, I started the stopwatch on my phone. Less than 15 minutes to do the assigned breathing and warm-ups, along with verbal cues. 15 minutes, but habits are never about how long they take. They’re about starting. I’ve quit a lot of habits in the last year. Some, like my weekly zine, were projects with natural endings. Others, like 750 words and Day One, have been rolled into another habit. I write in my notebook every day; I don’t need to record my mundane days multiple times over. I’ve been working to build a regular yoga and mediation practice. Honestly, this course is as much about the structure of commitment and accountability as it is about finding another revenue stream. A daily yoga practice isn’t just hypothetically good for my health. Now it’s an assignment, and one I can’t procrastinate.