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I have a really good sense of direction and spatial awareness and all of that obnoxious jazz. I say it’s obnoxious because I know I make it so–I have been known to say, “I would NEVER get a GPS because I don’t need one,” or “I found a new shortcut–I just figured out which direction was home and completely circumnavigated traffic!” I can tell you exactly which way is north at any given moment, and I don’t even have to look at what section I parked my car in because I will just know where it is. Except when I don’t know where my car is.

A dear friend of mine once lost her car in a time of great stress. One morning, she woke up and her car was gone. She spent the day on the phone with her insurance company and the police, and later on when I called her to ask how she was coping with her stolen car, she said, “Well. It wasn’t really stolen. I forgot that I parked it someplace different.” I tell that story to illustrate that highly intelligent and delightful people have memory lapses sometimes.

Last night, Goldie (blog nickname for The Girl) and I went to see a movie at Atlantic Station. It was close to midnight when the movie let out, and I was annoyed by the yuppie pretentiousness of that whole complex, fighting sleep, and angry at the frigid air conditioning in the theater, and Goldie was exhausted and wasn’t feeling well. In short, we were like a couple of worn-out toddlers. I got my parking stub validated and we descended underground into the parking garage and toward my car. And my car wasn’t there. And we walked and walked and walked. In circles. I started sweating, which is what I do when I’m anxious, and Goldie was looking green, and we were both understandably annoyed with me. It was like a Seinfeld episode, only not funny at all. Everything started to look the same and I started to wonder whether this was an impossible endeavor and whether we would die in that garage because I’ve had a bit of a fragile mental state lately.

I was shedding more layers of clothing when a garage attendant on a golf cart rolled up and asked if we would like a ride to find our car. I sheepishly and reluctantly said yes because he might have super powers. The guy reminded me of a non-homophobic Tracy Jordan (I know that because I kind of tested him) and bless his heart, he sure tried to small talk us up and cut the tension. And he drove us around in very speedy circles that started making me feel queasy and I tried not to cry. He asked questions meant to be helpful, like, “What garage entrance did you come in?” And I couldn’t remember a thing except that we drove down a street where Goldie admired fancy new townhouses and I admired little older cottages, and none of that would be helpful to Tracy. “Did you turn right or left when you came in?” he asked. “Did you see those fences?” “I don’t know,” I whimpered.

And then, we turned a corner, went down a ramp, and there was my little 13-year-old car. Where I remembered parking it. But a level below where we had been wandering. “Yes! I do remember two escalators now!” I exclaimed, and Goldie and Tracy probably wanted to run me over with the golf cart. But they resisted, bless their hearts. And I am never going to Atlantic Station ever again.

As an update to my apartment search, sixth time was the charm and I found a delightful, clean, updated apartment with quiet neighbors, in my desired neighborhood. The huge kitchen and back porch were what sold me, and I’m also a fan of the lack of carpet and the real tile in the bathroom. I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging, wondering if I ended up in a basement apartment with 20-year-old carpeting and a registered sex-offender for a neighbor, since that’s the direction my search seemed to be going.

But in other news, one of the yoga studios where I teach and attend classes has themes for each month. April’s is compassion, and in a recent class, the teacher asked us to manifest that by, at the start of the class, sending compassion to someone in our lives or in our sphere of awareness who needed and deserved it. Easy. I mean, it actually wasn’t easy to think of just one person because of my line of work, so I sent compassion to a select twenty. I’m pretty good at compassion.

Later on in class, the teacher asked us to think of one thing we’re not crazy about in ourselves. Easy. I’m not crazy about how my pants got tighter because I ate more Cadbury mini eggs than necessary and how my mind went to a place of “OMG, world is ending, I cannot abide this muffin top, even though I am a giving person with a big heart who does good work, all that matters is my expanding butt.” Also, I’m not a huge fan of when I get stressed out and have the inclination to curl up into fetal pose in the middle of the intake office at work. But I’m actually doing better with that. Last Saturday, I got kinda stressed, then tripped over the cord of the credit card machine, flinging it across the room, and it was enough to stun me out of my state and say, “This is what happens when things don’t go right: I throw things!” And for the rest of the day, my co-workers joked, “It’s OK; just don’t throw a credit card machine at me!” And we laughed and none of us took ourselves too seriously, because even if it’s life-saving work, it’s just work. But still, the muffin top. I had to deal with that. And I sent myself compassion and in the following days, I noticed that there was less of muffin top than I thought. And I can still wear my pants. And when I cut back on the Cadbury habit and paid more attention to what I was eating in general, I noticed I had more energy. +1 to compassion. Well played.

And then at the end of class, the teacher, who I adore and admire, asked us to think of a person or people who deserve no compassion. Terrible people. The worst people. People with whom we don’t really even want to coexist. And then she asked us to send them compassion. I thought of the time after Dr. Tiller was murdered that my friend sighed and said, “I know I’m eventually going to have to forgive his killer,” and I replied, “Why?” I’m actually really good at forgiveness. If the person has apologized or even if enough time has passed, I can set aside whatever happened and be best of friends again. But my hang up is when there’s no apology. Which I know isn’t quite the idea of forgiveness or compassion–those things are designed to be unconditional.

I could have declined to identify this person or people I had such disdain for, and I could have continued to send compassion to friends, family, clients, and my ass. No one would have known. But I challenged myself, and I let Dr. Tiler’s murderer into my consciousness. I allowed myself to think of those awful people who protest my clinic, who don’t kill doctors themselves, but who quietly encourage those who do. I thought of the ones who harass our clients and make such wonderful, strong women doubt their goodness. And against everything in my heart, against every fiber of my being, I sent compassion to those assholes. I didn’t even know what thoughts, exactly, to send. Nothing concrete would do, so I figured it would have to be a general sentiment of non-hatred. That was the most I could muster. And maybe the idea of love, even though I wasn’t in a place where I could extend the real thing. I didn’t send them any understanding, nor did I try to justify their actions, because I can’t. But I focused on non-hatred. It’s what people have been telling me to do ever since I first saw the protesters and they started to make my blood boil. I knew they held a certain power over me. And I cried. It was the most emotionally challenging yoga class I’ve ever been a part of.

I can’t say that I peeked out the clinic window the next day and felt nothing when I saw the protesters. I can’t even say I feel a difference in myself like the amazing disappearing muffin top. But I can say that a tiny part of me feels a tiny bit lighter for knowing what I’m capable of when it comes down to the most difficult thing…more difficult than giving up chocolate eggs, or holding a balance pose in yoga, and more difficult than the kind of compassion that I’m comfortable with.

Namaste, motherfuckers.

I’m apartment hunting. I love, love, love my little apartment, but it’s very far from yoga, which I practice five times a week and teach once a week, and very far from most of my friends, and I just don’t think that leisure activities should involve a commute. I’m actually being a little bit dramatic by calling it a commute, because it’s 25 minutes, tops, but…OK, now that I type it out, I’m not actually being dramatic.

I didn’t think I had a whole lot of criteria going in to the apartment search. I wanted a historic apartment, not too big, a dishwasher if at all possible, affordable, and in one of the neighborhoods I deem desirable. When apartment hunting the last three times, I loved the first place I saw and signed the lease and lived there for years. Easy as pie!

But I did not love the first place I looked at, nor the third, fourth, of fifth. I did love the second, haggled, got an amazing deal, then took too long trying to haggle some more, and lost it to a renter who doesn’t haggle as much. And apparently, I have criteria.

Apartment #1 was a duplex, nothing special, but amazing location, and a landlord who was way less than amazing. I asked him about updates and he volunteered that he installed that fancy block window in the bathroom and he was planning on putting in central heat and air. I asked when, exactly, the heat and air would be coming and he changed the subject multiple times. That fancy, new-fangled block glass window wasn’t enough of a draw for me.

Apartment #3 was gorgeous and spacious, another duplex, but just an OK location. And the landlady was so pro-choice that I wanted to hug her. The thing about this place was… OK, let me just preface this by saying that I’m not a snob. I like eating at chain restaurants, I am genuinely a fan of the soft rock radio station, and I wear sneakers with nice dresses because it’s comfortable. I’m not a snob! But the thing about this place was that the duplex neighbor people (is there a word for the people who share the other side of the duplex?) had tchotchkes on the shared porch that were definitely country kitsch. Like, “God loves you” ashtrays. And they had large plastic deer in the shared front yard. And the deer were not left over from Christmas. And I met these people while I was visiting the property–they were lovely people, but they really were the type of people who would decorate like this. And who smoke on the shared porch. There were just a lot of things that represent a very particular aesthetic, an aesthetic that I do not share, and an aesthetic that I would be forced to share by virtue of the duplex. Also, there was some sort of evangelical church across the street, and I’m not sure how they would feel about my car with all of the abortion stickers, and those are not the types of risks that I enjoy. And the other neighbors apparently party a lot when their disability check arrives, says the landlady. And I don’t care what people use their money for! Yes, use WIC on potato chips! I probably would! Sure, party! But I am not really a fan of any type of party that takes place with any sort of regularity, especially ten feet form my would-be bedroom window.

And apartment #4 looked truly dreamy from the outside and on the website. I dreamed about this place, and my premonition dreams are usually spot on, so I was ready to sign a lease right then and there. And so was the leasing agent, who, for some reason, was under the (false) impression that I was well-off. But the website for this place didn’t show the kitchen nor bathroom. The building was constructed in the 1920s, and I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that nothing had been updated since then, and only slightly exaggerating when I say that nothing had been cleaned since then. The whole thing was just dingy and smelly and made me want to crawl out of my skin. No amount of shiny hardwood floors and pretty neighborhood could make up for that. And I bathed in hand sanitizer when I left.

And because I had to drive on ice all the way across town to get to that dump, I figured I would combine it with a trip to see apartment #5. The place had a lockbox and the leasing agent emailed me instructions for getting in, so I wouldn’t even have to deal with a dude following me around as I pretended not to be grossed out. So, I let myself into the building and sought out apartment 16. I tried the second (of two) floor, which was logical. No 16. I thought that maybe part of the charm was that 16 was stuck between 4 and 5 on the first floor, or something. No 16. Where I found 16 was in the basement, which was very basementy. The place was at least twice the size of my current place, it had two bedrooms (I could have a yoga studio!), it had wood floors, but the reason it was so cheap was because it was in a basement with a window AC unit (like I have now), a dinosaur of a built-in space heater (like I have now and am terrified of), a view of a retaining wall, and very little light. Thank goodness for no leasing agent because I could not get out of there fast enough.

So now I am 0 for 5, and I’m beginning to think that I might be picky. I also fully acknowledge that this apartment search might be easier if I were willing to have a roommate or pay more money, but I refuse to believe that my dream apartment with no roommates and reasonable rent does not exist. It does! And I will find it!

I considered doing that end of the year survey that’s going around–the one that asks if you’re thinner, happier, or richer–but that’s very 1960s society-esque (“You can never be too rich or too thin!”), and it’s also all about what did you want, want, want? So instead, I’m going to make good on one of my 2010 resolutions and share the list of books that I read in 2010, their respective ratings, and the amount of time it took me to get through them. You will notice that I am sometimes a very, very fast reader; that I am sometimes competitive with myself; and that from September until December, I was quite busy with yoga teacher training homework.

The rating system is an LCA Original, not at all scientific, but the gist of it is:

* Couldn’t finish it/shouldn’t have finished it
** OK or at least fun
*** Good
**** Great
***** Favorite

I didn’t rate books that I had to read for a purpose, like the “summer reading list” for yoga, I didn’t rate young adult books because I read those purely for fun, and I didn’t rate researchy books.

And I considered linking the books to their summaries on Amazon in case anyone is interested in reading them, but you’re all good Googlers, so I’ll leave that to you.

1.

    The Olive Farm

Dec. 27-Jan. 11
**
2.

    Let the Great World Spin

Jan. 11-Jan. 20
****

3.

    Push

Jan. 21-Jan. 22 (<24 hours)
****

4.

    Just Listen

Jan. 24
YA

5.

    The Highly Sensitive Person

Jan. 25-Jan. 27

6.

    Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice

Jan. 28-Feb. 10

7.

    Them

Jan. 30-Jan. 31
***

8.

    The Patron Saint of Liars

Feb. 10-Feb. 13
***

9.

    Sammy’s Hill

Feb. 14-Feb. 25
**

10.

    Easter Everywhere

Feb. 17-Feb. 18
***

11.

    If I Live to be 100

Feb. 18-Feb. 19
***
12.

    Open House

Feb. 18
**

13.

    A Walk in the Woods

Feb. 19-Feb. 20
**

14.

    The Soloist

Feb. 20
***

15.

    Willie Mae

Feb. 27-Feb. 28
***

16.

    Truth and Beauty

Feb. 28
***

17.

    Hit by a Farm

Mar. 1
***

18.

    Mama Makes Up her Mind

Mar. 1-Mar. 3
**

19.

    Clay’s Quilt

Mar. 3
* (abandoned)

20.

    My Before and After Life

Mar. 4
* (abandoned)

21.

    Songs Without Words

Mar. 4-Mar. 8
**

22.

    Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying

Mar. 8-Mar. 9
***

23.

    Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes

Mar. 9-12:40 a.m. on Mar. 11
****

24.

    Never Change

Mar. 9-Mar. 11
**

25.

    The Time it Takes to Fall

Mar. 11-Mar. 12
**

26.

    Some Girls

Mar. 12-Mar. 13
**

27.

    The Dive from Clausen’s Pier

March 15-
(Was re-reading it, never finished it this time)

27.

    Julie and Julia

Mar. 16-1:02 a.m. on Mar. 18
***

28.

    Dangerously Alice

Mar. 18-12:39 a.m. on Mar. 19
YA

29.

    Almost Alice

Mar. 21-1:12 a.m. on Mar. 22
YA

30.

    Blue Sky July

Mar. 23
***

31.

    Secrets to Happiness

Mar. 24-Mar. 26
**

32.

    Mendocino and Other Stories

Mar. 26 at 11:52 p.m.-Apt. 1
** (unable to finish last story)

33.

    Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents they Work for, and the Children they Love

Apr. 1-Apr. 2
**

34.

    The Friendly Young Ladies

Apr. 4-Apr. 6
* (abandoned)

35.

    Big Fat Manifesto

Apr. 6-Apr. 8
* (abandoned, YA)

36.

    Fact of Life #31

Apr. 8-Apr. 16
*** (YA, but rated)

37.

    I am an Emotional Creature

Apr. 19
*** (YA, but rated)

38.

    Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

Apr. 20-Apr. 21
**

39.

    While I’m Falling

Apr. 28-12:27 a.m. on Apr. 29
***

40.

    Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice

May 8-May 9
**

41.

    Swimming Lessons

May 9-May 17
***

42.

    Girl, Interrupted

May 17-May 23
***

43.

    The Miracle of Mindfulness

May 13-May 23

44.

    Couldn’t Keep it to Myself: Testimonials from Our Imprisoned Sisters

May 27-May 31
***

45.

    The Woman I Kept Inside

May 30
*****

46.

    Paradise, Piece by Piece

May 31-June 3
***

47.

    Tree of Yoga</ul
    June 9-June 30

    48.

      3 Willows

    June 9-June 11
    YA

    49.

      Family History

    June 12
    **

    50.

      Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and the BRCA Gene

    June 13-June 19
    * (abandoned on pg. 210)

    51.

      Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

    June 20-June 26
    **

    52.

      Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin

    June 26-June 20
    ***

    53.

      Making Toast

    June 30-July 4
    ***

    54.

      The Usual Rules

    July 6-July 12
    **

    55.

      The Year that Follows

    July 13-July 20
    **

    56.

      Enchanted Evening Barbie & The Second Coming: A Memoir

    July 5
    ***

    57.

      Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

    July 23-July 26
    ****

    58.

      The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women & a Forty Year Friendship

    July 25-July 27
    **

    59.

      Insatiable: A Young Mother’s Struggle with Anorexia

    July 29-July 30 (<24 hrs.)
    ****

    60.

      The Time it Snowed in Puerto Rico

    July 31-Aug. 1 (<24 hrs.)
    ***

    61.

      The Windup Bird Chronicle

    Aug. 3-Aug. 10
    * (abandoned at chapter 10)

    62.

      Roxana Saberi: Between Tow Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran

    Aug. 11-Aug. 17
    ***

    63.

      Runaway

    Aug. 18-Aug. 19
    ** (abandoned on page. 297)

    64.

      Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage

    Aug. 25-Aug. 27
    **

    65.

      Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

    Aug. 27-Aug. 29
    ***

    66.

      It’s a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in your Twenties

    Sept. 19-Sept. 20
    ****

    67.

      The Opposite of Love

    Sept. 21
    ****

    68.

      Yo!

    Begun late Sept., abandoned early Dec. on page 209

    69.

      Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven

    Begun and abandoned in Sept.

    70.

      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Dec. 19-Dec. 26 (mostly Dec. 26)
    **

    71.

      The Happiness Project

    Dec. 27
    ***

    72.

      Waiting to Exhale

    Dec. 27-Dec. 28 (mostly Dec. 28)
    *

My day started around 4:00 a.m. when I woke myself up from a nightmare that I had somehow made it to 40 weeks of pregnancy and I was about to be given Pitocin (interesting because I never formulated my opinion on Pitocin because I expect I will never be in the position to need it, and otherwise, women can do what they want with their inductions or lack thereof) and begin the labor process, to be overseen by one of my co-worker doctors. In the dream, I suddenly realized that there was no way I could give birth nor be a mother, and I’m not being facetious by calling this a nightmare–it was as bad as the bad guy chasing me while in a room full of spiders variety of nightmare. So I went back to sleep feeling so much relief, and awoke again with my alarm at 6:30.

My mornings are rather regimented. I know that I should be getting dressed at 6:40, finishing figuring out what my hair is doing at 6:50, cleaning the litter box at 7:00 (I don’t know why I feel the need to cram that into my mornings), and in my car by 7:10 so that I can be at my desk by 7:30. It only takes me eight to eleven minutes to get to work, depending on traffic, but I have to allow time FOR traffic and also for my recent habit of driving down the street, worrying that I didn’t lock my door or turn off my space heater, turning around, going back to my apartment, and going back inside to discover that I certainly did lock and unplug, respectively. And I need to get to work early because in my world, early is on time and on time is late. I never claimed to be easy-going.

So today, I was on track, and I had my TWO (I don’t know why) tote bags packed, my pocketbook, and my travel cup of coffee ready to go. I was holding all of that stuff as well as a quart-size measuring cup of water. Someplace, I have a can of ice melter which is great for frost on my car, but I can’t find the can, so I figured I could DIY it by pouring four cups of hot water on my windshield. So anyway, I was holding a lot. And I got into the hallway and was very focused on locking my door because I have to focus so that I don’t have to turn around and double-check myself. And as I was crouching down to set down the measuring cup, I felt warm liquid seeping onto my leg because I was pouring coffee all over my jeans and shoes. The good news was that the coffee wasn’t hot, but the bad news is that it was sugary, so instead of having a burned thigh, I had a sticky thigh. So I maneuvered some of my paraphernalia back inside and stayed optimistic that this situation would enable me to take two trips, like I probably should have originally. I put my pocketbook in my car and poured the hot water over the frost, then went back inside to retrieve the rest of my stuff and change my pants and my shoes. Then I went back into the hall and concentrated on locking the damn door again.

I got to my car and in the time it took me to change my pants, the formerly hot water had turned to ice, as water is wont to do when it’s below freezing. I was less optimistic about things at this point, so I grumbled as I turned on my car and turned on the windshield wipers in hopes that the wiper fluid would melt the ice. Then I got out and went to work scraping my windshield, and of course it was more difficult to scrape ice than it would have been to scrape frost. And as I scraped, the wiper flung itself at me because I forgot to turn it to the “off” position. It was when my fingers were nearly amputated when I yelled at the top of my lungs, “GODAMMIT!” I surprised myself. I didn’t know I was going to yell, and I never use the lord’s name in vain–that is one of the very few tenets of organized religion to which I adhere, for some reason. But I REALLY don’t make a habit of shouting obscenities a few yards from my neighbors’ front doors at 7:15 in the morning. It just isn’t the way to win friends and influence people. I don’t actually want to be friends with my neighbors, but I don’t want to be enemies, either, and it seems that I might have to work harder than average at that since they know I do abortiony work.

So anyway, I hollered in the street and stomped back inside to just get another supply of hot water. The door from outside into my hallway doesn’t really latch easily (Hi, internet, come and attack me, please.), so I kicked it open out of rage, and it made me feel a teeny bit better for the .2 seconds before I tripped up the stairs. For some reason, I wasn’t concerned with the kicking, but I did get concerned about waking up my nearest neighbor, so I just growled at the stairs. I got more water, dumped it on my car, and drove off at 7:23, shoving an oatmeal raisin Luna Bar in my mouth.

I took some deep breaths and reminded myself of how we learned in yoga teacher training that we have the power to make the decision about how to react to less-than-favorable situations. I told myself, “Today will be a good day. I will put this little morning debacle in the past and all will be well,” and then promptly tossed the last few bites of my breakfast into the air. I have no idea how that happened, but it went flying and the trajectory was onto the floor where I put my feet, and I’m also teetering on the edge of compulsive about germs. “No!” I yelled. “That was my breakfast! I wanted to eat it!” And then, miracle of all miracles, I glanced down to see where the bar landed, and saw it perched in the little handle that you use to shut the door from inside the car. I shoved the rest of it in my mouth with gratitude, and clocked into work at 7:31. The day did improve, but I did fall into my car after yoga tonight.

Last week, I got a Christmas card from my financial adviser, which I thought was ridiculously funny. It’s like I’m a grown-up–I have a retirement account and a financial adviser and she sends me holiday cards! I got it in the mail the day before I turned 28, which actually means that I’ve been an adult for ten years, and I have insurance and full-time job and I’m allowed to go into stores with expensive items all alone (I still get a kick out of that, too), and I have a legitimate retirement account, even though I don’t even open the statements that arrive periodically because I don’t understand them and I just stick them in my File Box of Important Things. This is my life!

My life at 27 wasn’t super-amazing. I mean, it was actually a good year, but it wasn’t easy nor was it full of rainbows. It was the start of my Saturn return, and when it became apparent that Saturn was not fucking around, I was kind of glad I was aware of the astrological situation and I surrendered to it a little bit, figuring that what happens happens, and it’ll end up working out. I kind of hoped it might be a year-long process and wrap itself up by the time I turned 28, even though I knew that it wouldn’t be that tidy.

I’m only four days into 28, but so far, I’m doing alright. Actually, I’m amazingly blessed, is the only way to describe it. The day before my birthday, along with getting the card, I got a promotion at work. Today was day two of the new job and among other things, I sorted through resumes and called applicants to interview with me (me!), I signed my name to a document that had a blank for my signature next to my new title, and when I started to find a manager to approve something, I realized that I’m a manager who can approve something.

I had my birthday off (I don’t think I’ve ever worked ON my birthday) and I went home to hang out with my parents, two of my three absolute favorite people in the world (my brother is the third). We dined on all the food I love, my dad bought me pumpkin spice coffee to be French pressed, we shopped, had lunch at a Thai place, I opened gifts and ate canolis (another birthday tradition), and I read the newspaper and did crossword puzzles, and it was wonderful. I only left because I had to be back in Atlanta for yoga teacher training where the group sang happy birthday to me and we crafted malas together.

Sunday was the last day of yoga teacher training. We had a five and a half hour-long graduation ceremony during which we chanted, shared something with the group (that was the assignment: share something), hugged, cried, and celebrated. I planned on being happy with subbing a few yoga classes, but I already have a prospect for teaching a class of my own.

Tonight, my parents came to visit me. I turned on my heater and Christmas music and we put up my little Christmas tree, garlands, seasonal tchotchkes, bows, a wreath, paper cut-outs, and an advent calendar. My mom brought dinner and the three of us sat around my teeny tiny kitchen table in my teeny tiny kitchen, my dad in my real chair, my mom in my camping chair, me on a yoga ball, Ramona meowing around our feet, and plates balanced on our laps. It was incredibly delightful and beautiful and I keep typing a little bit and then looking up to admire my apartment.

Really, I keep admiring my life. I didn’t turn 28 and magically have great hair (I saw a photo tonight and said, “It looks like THAT?!) or magically become graceful (yesterday as I sat down on the toilet, I hit my head on a towel rack and worried for hours that I had a concussion), but I turned 28 and was reminded of how very, very fortunate I am.


Photos by mi madre

I’ve had all week off from work in honor of my visitors, JJ and Charrow. They left yesterday and I have today off because I’m not good at reconciling time off requests with calendars, but it’s good because I need a mental health day to get over the absence of two dear friends in my little apartment.

Yesterday after the left, I ended up eating my leftover El Myr (pronounced “El Meer”) burrito and then taking a four-hour nap, then going to yoga, then eating a lot of potato chips that JJ left for me. When I’m home all day, I have a tendency to eat too much and sleep too much, which is the reason I try to to spend time at coffee shops. They charge you to eat and would probably kick you out if you slept. (Though not in all cases, as evidenced by the homeless guy who buys cups of water and then dozes in a chair for 15 minutes or so, and I’ve never seen him reprimanded, and he never bothers anyone.) So today, I came to the coffee shop near my apartment to work on a project that is not exciting, but that I’m not ready to disclose to the public, just because.

This coffee shop has free wifi (well, with a purchase), but they ask you to choose an amount of time you plan to spend online, then they’ll print you a code that you enter on the login site, and your computer disconnects when the time is up. It’s kind of inconvenient, and I’ll be honest, it’s also what prevents me from stealing their wifi, because I live that close. Anyway, I came today to work on something that didn’t require the internet, but I just felt better having the internet available. I was just using Microsoft Word, and really, I could have written in a notebook and typed it up later, if we’re being honest. Moose understands.

So, I typed away, writing a paragraph (or less), then reading a blog or two, writing a few more sentences, then checking Facebook. And then my 60-minute session ended (the barista dude said they were out of longer sessions, but I could request another hour-long one, which I don’t understand), and I meandered back up to the counter, wondering if the baristas could all see that my internetting did include about 5% of relevant research along with 95% fluff. What if they could say, “No, you came here to work on a Real Document, and we saw you on Flickr. No internet for you!” What happened, of course, was that I asked, “Can I get a refill on internet please?” and chuckled at myself, and the guy said, “Of course,” and handed me a new code for 60 more minutes that I really don’t need. (Or that I need for blogging, apparently.)

And then I had the idea that if this internet portioning out system exists, the coffee shop should also offer to block certain websites to ensure that the patrons really will stay on task. And then I realized that it’s called “school or workplace with blocked websites,” or “unplugging your home internet if you’re old-fashioned and have a modem.”

Next time, be sure to ask me about the time that I invented libraries.


My apartment was built in the late 1940s, and while it has nice, snug, non-drafty windows installed in 2005 and brand new carpeting, it also has features that are definitely 1940s originals, like the medicine cabinet that has a slot for old straight razors and an absolute dinosaur of a heater, even older than the one shown here. I am new to the world of gas appliances in the first place, as evidenced by the time I tried to broil a pizza in the gas oven and was confounded about why it was still cold after 10 minutes. I did some Googling and then discovered that I had been broiling an empty Pyrex dish I had been keeping in what I thought was a handy storage drawer in the bottom of the range. So this heater was all Greek to me. I didn’t have to use it until Friday, God bless Georgia, but I remembered back in March when the Georgia Natural Gas guy came to turn on the gas and he told me to get a carbon monoxide detector because “this old heater will kill ya.” In fact, I decided at that moment that I would just wear layers and use space heaters. No crazy old heater for me. Because even with the best detector, if Ramona was here alone, she wouldn’t have the wherewithal to get out, so that’s no good.

But then it got cold and there was this heater right here, and if everyone in the whole complex has been using this heater and they are ostensibly still alive and well, why can’t I? I bought a detector and had the maintenance people light the pilot light, and it roared to life. I mean, it roared. And it rattled and there was fire inside, and that’s just weird. It was really warm, but it was only really warm every 40 minutes (I timed it) when it turned on and if I stood right in front of it. Ramona was frightened of it, and I was, too. I went to the leasing office and asked if they could give me a thorough rundown of the mechanics of the weird old thing, because that would soothe me. They couldn’t, really, and told me, “No, you won’t die! No, you shouldn’t leave a window cracked because then the pilot light could go out. Yes, it’s safe.” I lasted 24 hours. Ramona meowed a lot which made me worry that she was trying to communicate, “I am more sensitive than a carbon monoxide detector and I’m telling you, we are slowly suffocating!” Every time I got home, I’d rush in the door, drop my things in the middle of the room and call, panicked, “Ramona?! Are you alive?” And when I got home form yoga teacher training last night, she had vomited on the kitchen floor. Ramona has never vomited in the 8 months since she’s lived with me, and it was just too much of a coincidence. I was all over Google asking the internet if animals were more sensitive than electronics when it comes to carbon monoxide. There was no definitive answer, but enough was enough.

I opened a window to air out anything that had accumulated, and layered a tank top, long-sleeved T-shirt, fleece jacket, and hoodie (all of my proper cold weather clothes are being stored at my parents’) and set out at 10:45 pm. for WalMart. I have boycotted WalMart since 2005, and I can only recall breaking that boycott when I needed knitting supplies and I was in the suburbs so there was no other option. And honestly, it isn’t difficult to avoid WalMart when you live in the city and there are only about three WalMarts in a 30 mile radius. But it was the only place that was open at the time and I was not going to spend any more time with any CO fumes, so off I went.

The space heater aisle is an overwhelming aisle. All of the many boxes have friendly little comparison charts on the back to tell you which heater is best for your needs, kinda like a quiz in a women’s magazine. But none of the charts included, “Will not kill you nor your cat.” As you will recall, it was 11:00 p.m., so there weren’t many friendly WalMart employees to be found. But there was a dude and two women also purchasing heaters. They were laughing and carrying on, and I pathetically crept up next to them trying to make my presence known. I stood in their vicinity and pretended to read boxes for a few minutes and they didn’t notice me. Finally, I asked, “Do you guys know about heaters?” It turned out that boy howdy, did they ever know about heaters. I described my built-in warm death box, and the dude immediately agreed, “That will kill you! Either the fumes or the pneumonia from leaving the windows open.” He then told me which heaters were “pieces of crap” and which ones he used when he lived in Chicago during the winter. He promised me that if I was a smart heater owner, I was not likely to die, and neither was Ramona. He even pulled up ratings of various heaters on his phone and let me scroll through them. And then we started talking about how we’d rather not shop at WalMart and about all of us being Democrats. I, of course, was doing my usual profuse sweating in a social situation, especially because of the four layers, which was probably overkill. But he was delightful, and his name was Chris, and I ended up purchasing the electric radiator that he said kept him warm and also dried his drawers when he draped them atop it, which was reason enough for me. In fact, I named the appliance Christopher since I have a penchant for naming inanimate objects. And they way Ramona melts herself in front of it, it needs a name. And I am currently so warm, it’s 44* out and I could take off my slippers and robe.

But I digress. My late-night (for me) heating adventure was far from over. See, the route I took to WalMart was thus. (That’s not where I live. I’m not that dumb. That’s a close-ish intersection.) But on the way home, it’s not a route I travel often (at all), so I didn’t realize that I had to cross around four lanes of 70+ MPH traffic in the dark over the course of a quarter mile (by the time I realized what was up because I swear, it wasn’t well-marked), so I completely missed my exit. So I kept driving into downtown where there aren’t easy on and off ramps to and from the interstate. I pride myself in my sense of direction and my familiarity with Atlanta, so I figured I was good. But the problem was that it was dark, as I said, and then my lane abruptly ended and the escape street was a one-way that was not going my way. So I made a complex turn-around in a parking lot and went a few blocks to where I knew was an interstate connection. Except that exit was not clearly marked, either (I swear), so I kept going. I ended up at Centennial Park, which is close to exactly no where I needed to be. I meandered through downtown and finally back to the interstate. This is an approximation of my route back home. I don’t think these things happen to everyone. I don’t know how I end up in these little pickles. It was manageable because I always knew where I was and how to right myself, but the whole thing was just wholly unnecessary. But that’s the story of how I got scared, made a friend, bought a heater, toured Atlanta, and got warm.

Last week, my brother called my phone while I was at work, a place where I don’t generally answer my phone because of HIPAA and stuff like that. He didn’t leave a message, so I figured I would call him back later and we’d catch up. I don’t remember if I called him or if he ended up calling and tracking me down, but when we connected, he admonished, “LCA, I called you, my older sister, to ask you important advice and you didn’t answer. So I had to have two drinks. That is no way to treat your little brother.” Homeboy was serious. I apologized and inwardly panicked because clearly, this was major and because I wasn’t there for him, he had to resort to alcohol to cope. I actually had to do a two-second self-talking-down-from-the-ledge and reassure myself that he might be angry and I might feel incredibly, irreparably guilty, but in my family, we historically don’t disown each other, so eventually, things might be a little bit OK. This is my standard reaction to things, I swear.

So there I was, sweating and wondering if I needed to reconsider my childfree stance just so that I would have a firstborn to give to Paul to appease him. And I said timidly, “What was it that you needed my advice about?” “Well, I got home from the lab and I decided I wanted to have a white Russian, but I wasn’t sure what went in a white Russian, so I tried to call and ask you, but you didn’t answer, so I had to try it with vodka and then with rum. I still don’t know if I got it right,” he explained.

My brother is Captain Sarcasmo, and you would think that after knowing him for 23+ years, I would understand this about him and become a tiny bit accustomed to his deadpan delivery, but no, that is not in the cards. And all this to say that I obviously have some kind of hangup about blame and guilt and stuff. I once read in O, The Oprah Magazine, an “Ah-ha Moment” by Jane Lynch. Sue Sylvester herself said that she, too, had that tendency to see a friend with a problem and immediately think, “What did I do?” And her Moment was realizing that her reaction always detracted from her ability to help with the real problem at hand that almost never had anything to do with her. I get it. I’m working on it. And I’m going to have to stop panicking about White Russian emergencies.

And post script: I have no idea why my brother thought I would be any kind of authority on White Russians because the only alcohol I know how to mix is beer with green food coloring. My go-to recipe for anything else is trial and error, and eventually, I get buzzed taste testing it and I don’t care anymore. But I did get to volunteer to Paul that I knew that White Russians included Kahlua, which he already knew, thankyouverymuch. I knew that because I learned it two days prior when it was an answer to a crossword puzzle in my big book of 200 crosswords. So my second point to this post is that I am 82 years old and very, very unhip.

Two truths and a lie:

1. I was nude under my graduation gown.
2. I love autumn.
3. I ate guacamole with a spoon and loved it.

Go ahead, guess which factoid is the false one.

It’s #2. Did you guess that? Who hates autumn, right? It’s the season when things finally cool off after a sweltering southern summer, the leaves are jewel tones of gorgeousness, the air is crisp and you can pull on a cozy sweater and enjoy hot cider, the air smells like bonfires, and there are pumpkins to carve and costumes to plan–what’s not to love? Dude, ALL of that is not to love if you’re me. I will admit that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and tonight, I put sparkly Halloween clingy decorations on my windows. But I love being warm all the time, and when it cools off, I never get warm. I would rather see lush spring leaves than crackly ones that are going to fall off the trees any minute. My style and comfort are in line with cutoffs and tank tops or sun dresses and sandals. Bonfires make me wheeze and smell like sadness to me. And the whole damn season just means that winter is coming next and winter is even worse with the seriously endless chill and the short days and nude trees.

People around here are all up on autumn. The other day after yoga, a friend of a friend gushed, “I’m so glad it’s getting cooler! This is my favorite time of year!” My beloved haircutter told me about how he loves bundling up and going on his annual autumn trip to Tennessee. It seems to energize and delight all of my friends, and then there’s me, the grinch who grits her teeth and says, “I’m glad you like it. I…don’t. But really, I’m glad you do! I miss summer, though.” I think the idea is that if you say, “Yea, autumn!” it’s like saying, “So how ’bout them Braves?” No one can argue, and it’s fool-proof small talk.

Today, I met with my mentor group for yoga teacher training. We met in a street-level yoga studio and left the door open for the fall air to join us. And my mentor and my yoga buddy always, always have the kind of presence that makes anyone around them feel lifted up, and the two of them are also autumn lovers. (They aren’t lovers with each other during the autumn. Or any other time. What I mean is that they’re both lovers of autumn. Oh, syntax!) They are wise and wonderful people who I respect deeply, and so, I did tell them, “I am not quite a lover of autumn,” but I also revealed my plan to them. My plan this year is to pretend to like autumn, and maybe I will eventually believe myself. And those two are the type who can make someone like me think, “How could I not like autumn?!” (Items in paragraph 1 notwithstanding.)

So today, I pretended to like autumn. I watched the sunrise progress in the clear, clear sky because it now happens late enough for me to witness. I put on layers and then shed them as I heated up at yoga with one of my favorite teachers. All day after that, I smelled like the jasmine essential oil she wears. I went to Barnes & Noble and read PostSecret books while eating a bagel from the cafe, and then went to the group meeting. And after that, moved down the street to my yoga buddy Jenn’s house. The requirements of the training are that we have to meet with our buddies weekly, but it’s not much of a requirement for us–we’d meet daily with no prodding because we are just that well-matched. She opened all of the doors in her apartment, we sat on the bed and petted her cat, Mr. Kitty. She gave me a tour of her garden and gifted me with plants from her porch and with books she no longer needs and with her lovely perspective. We chatted under the perfectly turquoise sky, warmed by the sun despite the cooler temps. “Maybe part of why I don’t like autumn,” I mused, “is because I still have trouble staying in the present. I only think, ‘Ugh, it’s going to be winter next. And I wish it were spring or summer.” Practically half of yoga is mindfulness, and that’s the challenge for me. Jenn and I hugged goodbye and I drove off with my widows open, listening to ’80s music, trying to be present. When I got back to my apartment, I opened my windows wide and worked on dream board like Jenn suggested while I listened to folk music and while Ramona tried to sit on my lap even though I was moving from magazine to magazine. I went to Target and ran into another friend from yoga teacher training and I got a hug in the middle of the store, and I bought a bulletin board for the project, as well as a hat because I told myself that a hat might make me enjoy the cold more. (I can justify anything.) Then I drank mango tea with Ramona purring on my lap. Today, I liked autumn, and I’m going to try it again tomorrow.

And yes, I was nearly-nude under my gown at convocation at a Methodist church. I was wearing underpants and a bra in case of some kind of major wardrobe malfunction.