How grateful am I for the opportunity to spend my days at Cedarmere, to come and go as I please, to take in the gardens and the harbor, to write and practice yoga, to chat with passersby, to sit in silence in William Cullen Bryant’s Library, to feel the history of a place, and to be in the immediate moments of now. I kinda wanna live there forever. While that’s not an option (right now!), I’m fortunate to have another week on the way. Here are some microblogs of what’s unfolded leading up to and then throughout my first week as the Friends of Cedarmere’s first Poet In Residence.
Happy Summer Solstice!
For over a decade, almost every year, I’ve been fortunate to feel the energy of Times Square running through my body while a simultaneous calm washes over my mind. I am so grateful for #Solsticetsq @timessquarenyc for the unity and the waves of om that echo from the mat to the universe.
If you’ll recall, last time I checked in here, I was limping around, unable to sit or move really. The positive update is that I can walk. The negative update is that not only do I still have patellar chonromalacia in my left knee, but the exercises the “expert” physical therapist gave me to fix that problem by opening up my tight hips successfully tore open the labrum of my right hip. That’s what the limping has been all about.
Meanwhile, I’m yoga-ing. Well, not really. I’m watching people yoga while I yoga in my brain. Fact: like 5 % of yoga is physical practice. The rest of it is all in your mind. Yeah, I know. Mind-blown, aren’t you?
On a complete sidenote: National Grid has been digging up the streets around my block for the past month and my dead end has been a storage place for their big yellow pipe thingies and various-sized piles of loose asphalt. This week, a port-a-potty appeared. I haven’t seen anyone go in it or come out of it, but it’s not like I’m watching it. I bring this up right now only because there’s a new kind of truck outside, and chains are rattling again. Either they’re moving more yellow pipe thingies in or moving them out. Guaranteed that plastic craphouse will still be standing when the truck leaves.
Anyway, focused meditation and breathing are what yoga is all about. Clearly, my focus is off (see paragraph above). I’m working towards passing this yoga course with every element of willpower I own. I passed the written test and enjoyed a lovely ayurvedic meal with the yoga women afterwarrds. I would say I helped cook it, but mostly, I ate, and then I did what I do best with homecooked meals–I helped clean up. It’s the Virgo in me. I like it neat. Here, “it” means every gosh darn thing in the entire world.
The off-track-kneecap stopped hurting for a while. Then it started acting up again this week. The hip is nowhere near as painful as it was, but the pain is still there, moving from front to side to back to butt to all around and down and up and in again. Mostly, I’m annoyed. I work out six days a week on the usual. Now I’m kind of doing my weights for my arms and abs, and then every other day I do some PT exercises I looked up for both my knee and my hip.
FYI: Nowhere in the knee PT does it say to do any of the hip opening exercises the therapist told me to do. Ditto for the hip PT. That therapist? Is an ass. Did I mention he stretched out my right leg and then told the assistant it was my right knee? Yeah, that happened, which makes me even more convinced that he’s the reason my right hip is falling apart from the inside.
This leaves us here: I have my practicum on Friday at 2 if I can get two people to practice for me. I was planning to show up for the gals who are going before me, but yesterday was an achy setback, so I’m not sure if a physical practice in which I have to, like, move my legs is in the near future. This seems unfair to everyone–take my class but I can’t take yours. If it doesn’t work out for Friday, I’ll just teach the final some time in the future.
For shame, PT Therapist, for shame. Yes, I’m blaming everything on him. And on the ortho doc who sent me to PT for my knee in the first place. He could have just said, Don’t do high impact exercise for a week and see what happens because that seemed to make it better overall when I was stuck on the couch for two and a half days unable to sit upright. This is what we call rage. A very calm yoga-like rage.
What does a gal do when she aches and has plans to move and shake? She ices her joints and refuses to accept that she’s got issues. She is me, and I’m doing fine with my ice packs and willpower. That makes a good band name.
Monday through Thursday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, I go to a yoga studio with a group of women where we all learn yoga philosophy and practice. I also do homework. I haven’t done homework since grad school. I also observe classes. I also read books about yoga and anatomy. I also study. I haven’t studied anything since undergrad, and even then, not really. Yoga is now my life, because when it’s not Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 5:30, I’m doing all these other things.
Also happening: my left knee got all wonky after the first week to the point where I got scared and went to an ortho. X-rays showed a tracking problem–one of my quads is stronger than my other quad and is pulling my knee cap off track. Off to physical therapy.
The PT told me that my hips were tight. I kinda knew that, but didn’t realize how tight. I’ve been doing exercises to open them.
Today, I can’t sit down. I also can’t stand with my feet together. My right hip is in so much pain that I’m basically a petite version of Lurch, dragging my leg wherever I go. Clearly, I skipped yoga practice this morning. If I can’t sit in the car, I’ll have to skip today. Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow.
So you want intense? This is intense. Mind swirling but learning about meditation. Body breaking while learning about strength. This is my satya–that means truth. See? I learned something already.
The real satya is that I have found a group of amazing gals who get all the reasons I’ve loved yoga — and maybe disliked yoga sometimes, too — and I get them. Intense, but the good kind.
June 21 means summer solstice. It’s also National Day of the Gong, National Seashell Day (because summer), National Selfie Day, Go Skateboarding Day, National Daylight Appreciation Day, and National Peaches N Cream Day. [see National Days for proof]. Most importantly, it’s Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness Day, also known as Yoga In Times Square, Solstice In Times Square, and International Yoga Day. Also, Lie Down In Times Square Without Getting Arrested Day. Fun for all!
I haven’t been to Summer Solstice Yoga in a few years, so I went this year. I didn’t bring my own mat for the first time, which proved to be freeing and lighter. I did bring a book and wore a backpack. I never wear backpacks–I feel like I’m getting robbed every time I stop walking, I don’t have access to anything, and it’s like carrying a small person around with me. Still, it seemed to be the optimal bag for the day with water and snacks and a change of in-case clothes.
Pit stop: Starbucks 2 in Penn. I grabbed a protein box for lunch that I could eat when I was on line for yoga. I also grabbed a yogurt and sat to read because I’d taken an early train so I could mosey along and not be drenched with sweat before class even started. The cafe had a lot of empty seats. A lot of room for a lot of people. So the very young in love couple dragging luggage behind sat right next to me. Okay fine. Then they started making out. Whenever they stopped making out, they would talk about his future. She knows that he’s going to be a famous director. If you’re interested in this make out session, you can go here. Otherwise, let’s move on.
I walked to Times Square for the 1:30 Bikram class (that would not be over 100 degrees as it has been close to in past years–this year, there was a breeze and the sun came out but not blaringly). Along the way, I passed by a man who was maybe an inch taller than me who was wearing a dapper suit and headphones. When we got to the corner to wait for the light to change, he began dancing off the sidewalk and into the street. Then he danced at me. It’s hard to describe what dancing at someone looks like, but that’s exactly what he did. It’s as if he had a catwalk linked between wherever he went and wherever I was. He would shuffle away in any direction, coming close to cars whizzing by and turning, and then dance towards me, breaking the personal space bubble. I did what any normal person would do–I stood there, not saying a word, not acknowledging the moves, not making eye contact not even through my sunglasses. When the light turned green, I speedily walked around him. We kept passing each other because he would catch up with some fast moves but then slow down to watch himself in window reflections. I lost him after a few blocks. He may still be dancing.
The line-up for me began on 47th and Broadway. Eight people stood on line before me. Well, okay, there were seven people and then a guy who leaned against the gate, talking to the cars driving by. The woman standing in front of him wore cat ears and a cat tail. This guy wore, well, I don’t know exactly, but I remember the bright socks and black sandals. People wear all kinds of things to yoga class, and yoga people can be a little, shall we say, “out there,” so I wasn’t sure if this guy was actually waiting for yoga or simply shouting at cars. I stood a little behind him, a bit off to the side.
When someone else came up behind me to stand on line as he was talking to the air and still leaning on the gate, I looked at her until she looked up so I could whisper, I’m not really sure if he’s on line, so I’m giving him some room. She got exactly what I meant and moved to the curb on the other side of me. Eventually, she and I struck up a conversation and the guy walked away. He wound up on the drop in line for a while, but then went away completely.
On the way in, we got free mats and bags with stuff that we could fill up with more stuff at the Yoga Village two blocks down. All FREE!
My waiting on line gal pal became my yoga gal pal as we set up our mats next to each other and kept chatting. We both went to post photos on Instagram where I saw a post about waiting for class to start. I was like, Oh, I know someone here. She was like, hey what’s your Instagram? And that’s how you introduce yourself to people today. After sharing Instas, we exchanged names. Ha!
The class started and the sun came out with our first breathing sequence. Bikram has a specific sequence, so following is kind of easy. Surprisingly, I did not drip with sweat. I sweat more standing and waiting on line than I did while practicing. The class proved to be calming and invigorating all at the same time. Several times, we all cheered for ourselves. We didn’t chant together, but we breathed together to end it. Then there was more cheering. The whole thing made me happy that I’d returned and excited to be starting yoga teacher training next week.
B and I went to the yoga village together where we scored more water, fresh mango slices, Luna Bars, crackers, and temporary tattoos.
We parted ways, making a plan to meet up for yoga again some day. I walked back to Penn as the next session of NYC yogis filed in for their solstice gathering. The breeze blew. The sun stayed out. The absolutely perfect first day of summer.