Sunday, February 22, 2015

RIGHT NOW

I am sitting on the floor in the intersection between two hallways at Victory Woodworks. That’s Jim’s biz. They make sweet shit. Victory just moved offices, and right now Jim is fifteen feet thataway drilling into concrete. Something to do with the two five-foot-wide barn doors he installed this afternoon.

I’m wearing a long down-filled parka ‘cause winter showed up for a few hours. I’ve still got flip flops on, but at least my upper self is insulated. I’m sure I’ll ditch the coat soon though ‘cause when we came in through the warehouse space—where Jim put the ping pong table, pop-a-shot basketball hoops, arcade game, picnic tables, and dart board—Jim showed me how to hot wire the heater. It’s on now and blowing toasty well wishes. For three seconds there I felt like I could commit a crime and get away with it. Never mind that all I had to do was bend and cross a couple wires; I turned something on without using a switch. 

When I get up from this floor it will hurt. My hip flexors and adductors are stiff and sore. I taught the inaugural Yoga Motion class yesterday at Juice Box and I at least worked myself plenty hard.  I've discovered that there’s something pretty spectacular about telling a student to do something, seeing them look at you like you’re nuts and it’ll never happen, and then watching them do the thing you directed. It happened yesterday when I was teaching the yogis Baby Hopper. Their eyes get wide. They smile. You smile. It’s a lovely exchange. 

Teaching yoga makes me happy. It also stresses me the hell out. Yesterday morning before teaching that Yoga Motion class I was basically bat shit crazy. My heart was beating in my throat. I was snippy. I couldn’t focus at all when I was taking class beforehand. I wandered around the house dropping to the floor to try postures and whispering to myself, “This is what I know. You know this stuff. This is what you know. You're prepared. You’ve studied for this.” I was right. I did know it. So far as I can tell—and was told—it went well. But it doesn’t mean that the nerves won’t start all over again for next Saturday’s class.

Victory's new digs are swingin’. They moved so that everyone could be under one roof—Engineering, Estimating, Project Managers, Management, and so on. The halls are wide. The layout is friendly. Jim’s office is dead center and welcoming. And, well, when the decor is done it’s gonna be top notch. Jim’s letting me do it. I say, “Buy this.” He does. I say, “These go here.” He hangs them. I appreciate that he trusts me, and I’m careful with that. I know I could say, “This wall must be neon yellow!” and he’d call a painter. I want the space to be fun but to also sensibly match the demeanor of the business. Therefore, among the decor we have a wire moose head, retro Vegas and Reno posters, big prints of patent designs for woodworking tools, salvaged letters, and maybe best of all—an idea Jim came up with—a window display thing of sixty-some odd old screwdrivers hung across a window.

Jim trusts my taste and will go with pretty much whatever, but it’s important to me that I’m not the only one making decisions about the decor. I want my fella to like what we put in there, for it to suit him and his people. So when one of his guys said that he should have a couch in his new office—a suggestion at which Jim initially balked; I’m not that guy! That guy is pretentious! No, sweet James, you’re the guy who wants employees to come sit in your office. It’s welcoming, not douchey—and the one that Jim fell for was a retro, sea foam green leather number, I was delighted. His taste is much better than he has been led to believe. Do get what you like, love, we’ll make it work.

And we are.

And we do.

And we will.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

NOON ON SATURDAYS AT JUICE BOX

This was a light yoga week:
  • Monday: take Bikram
  • Tuesday: take Bikram; teach Warm & Mellow
  • Wednesday: take Bikram; teach Warm & Mellow
  • Thursday: practice the yoga of going to the Cheesecake Factory with Jim and Katelynn rather than taking class 
  • Friday: take Bikram
  • Saturday: take Beginning Vinyasa; take Bikram (Note: never stop taking beginner classes no matter how long you've practiced. Revisiting foundational stuff is imperative.)
  • Sunday: take Bikram
See? Light.

Let’s ramp it the hell up, Dear Reader.

Let’s add teaching a regular vinyasa-style class at noon on Saturdays. Let’s do it at Juice Box Yoga, the place I call my yoga home. While ever a Bikram Method Studio, Juice Box is expanding its offerings and adding a class called Yoga Motion at noon on Saturdays. I’m teaching it. It will be a blast. Totally, like, come. It’s not advanced. It’s foundational with advancement options for people already familiar with the practice. It’s different from Bikram, but it’s vinyasa designed for yogis that practice primarily—or even only until this point—Bikram yoga. It’s complimentary to a Bikram practice rather than conflicting. 

I’ll embarrass myself now and show you this photo of me in Fallen Angel (Devaduuta Panna Asana) if you promise to overlook the show of despair on my mug. Actually, my face states clearly: Take the damn picture already!


On here—and everywhere else aside from at my drug job—I talk about yoga constantly. But do you know my yoga history? I shall inform you. Below: my Juice Box bio. My tiny yoga tale—

I took my first power yoga class in July of 2004, and in no time my yoga practice became a significant part of my identity. I’m a yoga junkie. I subscribe to the yoga pubs, write yoga articles, go to yoga workshops, and it takes a significant schedule conflict for me to turn down a new yoga experience, whether that be a festival, a different type of class, or a new studio. But it was four years into my power practice before I tried Bikram yoga.

In January of 2009, my yoga practice had plateaued and I was desperate for a dose of whatever would return me to growth on my mat. So I gave hot a shot. It wasn’t long before I was a goner. I developed an affinity for sweat, my yoga clothes got tinier, and the Reno Bikram yoga community became My People.

While I’ve come to call myself a Bikram yogini, I didn't lose touch with my yoga roots in vinyasa yoga. I enjoy practicing both styles because the differences in method require a greater awareness in each class. I love the disciplined, type-A style of Bikram, and I love the variability and playfulness of vinyasa yoga. Doing one enriches the other and both together help me be me a well-rounded yogi. Thus, in 2014 when I again found myself in a place where I needed to spur progress in my practice, I enrolled in a training program to teach vinyasa-style yoga. I did my training through the Satya Flow: asana + Authenticity training program in Reno, Nevada, and have my Yoga Alliance-RYT 200 certification (200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher).

My mat is where I feel at home. It’s where I accept vulnerability and where I feel the most successful and protected. It’s where I have learned to respect and appreciate my body. As a yoga teacher I want to help cultivate that in my students.

I am honored to have the privilege of teaching Yoga Motion and Warm & Mellow at Juice Box. Yoga is my favorite thing to talk about and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned over my time on the mat and offer this wonderful, juicy community another way to broaden our perspective on yoga and enhance our practices. 


I mean it. I'm excited. I love yoga. I love what it's given me. I love that I have the chance to share that. So come to my new class. We will have fun, I promise. That's a priority.

Other non-yoga-related updates:

• The drug job is a little bit kicking my ass right now. Super busy. Stressing me out.

• Jim pulled a classic and surprised me with a dozen red roses for V-day. Since I'm a space case these days I forget I have them and relive the surprise every time I walk into our bathroom. Red! Gorgeous! Awww. And while they're lovely, my favorite part of of the gift is that he wrote the note on a 3x5 index card. I wouldn't change a shred of this man for anything.

• My hair color is the very definition of bitchin'. (Hannah, you doll of a stylist, thank you for being way above average.) My length, however, leaves length to be desired. Shoulder length is just awkward. Grow, little abused hairs, grow!

• The other morning from the stove where I was cooking something in an iron skillet (maybe an egg? dunno), I said to doing-dishes-Jim, "Did you know that cooking in an iron skillet imparts a certain amount of iron into your food?" He replied, "Did you know that sounds stupid?" Me: "Did you know that I know more food science than you?" And from his place on the couch in the family room where he was engrossed in Minecrafting, Ben piped in, "Did you know that 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance?"

And now: off to further destroy my body by eating more cheddar cheese and cheap Hersey's chocolate. Tanya says that Chocolate Season is over on the 17th, so I'd best eat up. Good news (Cameron and Maroon): Cheese season never ends. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

BUTTERED UP

Dustin is a pilot. A freaking pilot. He has a license to fly planes. In the for-real sky.

Last week while he was taking his practical exam I was in Vegas on my way to the airport. In the cab and in line at Southwest I checked my phone every three seconds to see if Jim had yet texted me the results. I was fretful that I’d get on the plane without knowing! Phew!—I got the “He passed.” text before we were airborne.

When I got back to Reno I went straight from the airport to yoga and then as soon as I got into my car to drive home Jim and Josie called me. Jim said, “Can you come to the mall?” then there was a rustle and Josie was on the phone, “Please come and help me choose glasses. These guys are worthless. They say every pair is cute. They’re wrong.” I made for the mall, we got some glasses selected, and, you guys, Josie-girl rocks those specs like she was born in ‘em. (Bonus: now she can clearly see the board in math class.)

While Jim and Katelynn waited to pick up the stylish spectacles, I drove Ben and Jo home. When I pulled into the garage and saw Dustin’s motorcycle I said, “Our pilot is home!” Josie said, “We have a pilot!” When I saw Dustin I told him, “The best part is that you were this person when you passed you’re exam,” I pointed at his mismatched purple and orange-striped Toy Machine socks, “You were wearing those.”

That boy was completely himself when he took the test. He was wearing a beanie to tame his impressive spray of bleached-over-the-summer-and-growing-out hair. He has ridiculous tattoos. He wore skate shoes. And he’s the reason my black nail polish is missing. The kid is 20 and is consistently the same person no matter where he is. He got his dad’s stellar work ethic, and he studied like hell to reach this milestone.

I too reached a milestone of sorts last week. Dear Reader, I graduated from yoga school. I know that should have a whole lot of wahoo to it, but when you’re already teaching, the huzzah is a little less enthusiastic. At that point, the diploma is more like a box checked than a ticket through the door. Don’t misread me, I am really proud of the accomplishment—it was hard and worth the effort—but the culmination is somewhat tarnished when you don’t need the certificate to get the job. I done already gotted it and now I’m just doin’ my damnedest to deserve it.

Also there’s the part about the 200-hour RYT training being just the beginning of so much more necessary education. I need a long ass workshop on anatomy. I need one on adjustments. I gotta learn more about prenatal modifications. As ever, the more I learn the less I know.

I’m loving it, by the way. I am loving teaching. I have students that I already adore and miss when they aren’t there. I’m giving it my all. I read an article a few months ago about what yoga students want from their teachers and one of the top items was “Learn my name and use it.” As a student myself I agree. There’s something about your teacher making clear that they know you’re in the room.

On Monday I took Bikram before teaching my Warm & Mellow class. Between classes Jim and I texted. He said he was tied up with the new alarm system at work and he wouldn’t be able to make it to my class. Because every husband spends all his time dying to know what his wife is eating, I texted back, “Dammit. I thought I brought chocolate almond butter. Instead: pepper chickpeas. A terrible snack trade off.”

When I finished teaching class and came out to the lobby I discovered my husband sitting on the bench by the window. Despite the late hour, he came to the studio instead of going straight home after work! He took a bag of bagels, a jar of almond butter, and a jar of chocolate spread out of a grocery sack. “It’s not chocolate almond butter,” he said, “but it’s the best I could do.” He had two plastic butter knives in his shirt pocket, and he asked if he could make me a bagel.

When he read my food text he went to the grocery store. And then, from the butter aisle, he called my sister, Whitney. “What the hell is almond butter?” He said, “I can’t find it.” She explained that it’s like peanut butter and would be on the same aisle. My Jim went looking for almond butter with the dairy butter. Whenever I think he must have reached the cuteness threshold he does something like this.

That man is the strudel on my cake. He’s the cherry on my sundae, the Saturday in my week, the breeze in my evening. He's the wag in my tail. All the good things, James makes them even better. (Don’t worry, I’m making me gag too.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

YES, YOU SHOULD CONGRATULATE ME

Breakfast is the first thing I do in the morning. I get out of bed, I find my glasses, I pull on leggings and a sweatshirt, and immediately I go downstairs to eat. I wake for food. But when I went downstairs this morning and turned on the kitchen light I heard a moan and discovered a boy on the floor and a boy on the couch. Dustin and his homies watched LOTR until late last night and so we had some—rather uncomfortable, I’d say—overnight guests. I turned off the lights, whispered an apology, grabbed my diet soda, and retreated back upstairs. If they don’t have to get up yet, why wake them? So instead of toasting an English muffin downstairs, I’m in my office, little heater humming at my feet, blogging about this week.

This week just feels so full. It is full, actually. It’s my out of town week for work, so today I’m driving to Fallon, Yerington, and Hawthorne. I’ve got a meeting in Vegas next week that I’ve got to prep for. My final written exam for yoga school is due this weekend. On Sunday we teach a full vinyasa class for our “final” exam on teaching skills. (And then graduate!) On top of that I’m driving to SF tomorrow night, ‘cause on Friday I’m attending Yoga Journal Live! 

The YJ event lasts all weekend, but because of yoga school/yoga school graduation I could only attend on Friday. It will, nevertheless, rock. I’m signed up to take an all-day intensive with Kathryn Budig. File me under Thrilled. If you’re a vinyasa-ing yogi and know anything about anything you know who she is: a badass yogini goddess without the standard suffocating ego.

I was supposed to be in Chicago for work this week, but when I found out about the meeting I emailed my boss and told her that I already had a nonrefundable reservation for a yoga conference. She and said that instead I could attend the meeting in Vegas the following week and, Wait a minute, a yoga conference? That's a thing? Do you, like, wear yoga clothes and do poses? (I forget sometimes that not everyone does what I do.) Why yes of course. It’s a blast. The last time I went to a Yoga Journal event was eight years ago. I’m overdue for more.

I never expected yoga to be such an enormous part of my life. (But I don’t do things in a small way, so I should have seen this coming.) It sort of just happened. And it wouldn’t have worked without an incredibly supportive husband. Jim has always loved that I do yoga and now he loves that I teach. He wasn’t able to make it to my class on Monday and, quite honestly, ended up fretting some about what he missed. In the lobby before class he likes to tell new students, “This teacher is my favorite in the whole world.” They nod and smile. He continues, “That’s why I married her.” Uh-dorable. Duh.

He gets more ‘dorable every day. Last night Cameron was over so we could do yoga shit and Jim just kept feeding him. Here, try this cheese. Have a bowl of edamame. Drink this smoothie. “I keep telling you he’s perfect,” I said.

Jim and I have lots of I-may-have-marrried-you-fors. “I may have married you for your legs,” I’ll tell him. “I may have married you for your fried rice.” For your perfectly-shaped head. For your awesome mom. For your delight in constantly surprising me. For your love of pie that almost equals my own. One of Jim’s I-may-have-marrried-you-fors for me is that I don’t have kids.

It was a foregone conclusion that Jim would remarry. He wanted to be with someone. And he expected to end up with a perfectly passable lady in his age range who liked Jim because he’s hilarious and generous and most especially because he is financially solvent and could support her and her kids. After all, what other options on the market were there? (Turns out: Me! Surprise!) The family blending with a whole other set of children could be dramatic and painful. Maybe even a nightmare. It is a complication we’re grateful not to have to deal with and a thing he thanks me for often.

As soon as we even started thinking about thinking about dating Jim told me that he wasn’t down for more kids. Four is plenty, you know. “Good news,” I told him, “We couldn’t possibly be more on the same page there. I don’t want to get pregnant. Ever.” After we got married Jim's friends who obviously don’t know me all that well started betting on how long until I got pregnant. (She is 32, you know, and time's a-wastin'.) Nuh-no. Four is plenty. And those four are completely great. I couldn't ask for better.

The other day, however, one of my dear yogi friends asked me after class if she should wish me congratulations. Baffled, I asked why. “Well, I saw you were modifying postures in class, and I know you recently got married . . . ” Oh my stars, she was asking if I’m pregnant.

See, in Bikram yoga we practice the beginner series every day. The same 26 postures again and again. Some of those poses aren’t right for those with child, so there are specific modifications that you switch to just as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Actually, it's usually how we find out that one of our yoginis is expecting. My right knee is so completely effed up right now that I can’t do Rabbit pose without shooting pain that I’ll pay for later. So my teacher showed me how to modify the pose, and that modification happens to be part of the pregnancy series.

“Oh, no, no!” I told my sweet yogi pal, “I’m injured, so I’m modifying so I don't have to sit out the pose!” She was, as you’d expect, mortified. Because I know I don’t look pregnant even a little bit I wasn’t offended at all, and I told her, “Actually your congratulations is appropriate. You’re congratulating me that what I’m dealing with is an injury and not a pregnancy. That’s not in our plans.”

It’s a whole new way to look at my awful knees. Pain over pregnancy, please. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

EXCERPTS

Today the doorbell rang at 4:30AM. When Jim came back upstairs after dealing with the door I asked who? what? He told me, “It was the security guard. Dustin left the garage door open last night.” “What a jackass,” I said. I didn’t mean Dustin. I meant the guard. Seriously? 4:30AM? That’s your company’s policy? It’s two and a half hours before daylight and you think it’s a good idea to ring a damn doorbell and wake people up? 4:30 isn’t exactly prime robbery and rapery time. I think we were gonna be okay until one of us left for work.

• The phone-as-a-hotspot thing is a boon for someone who doesn’t work in an office. I’m online! Wherever I go! Mostly! (Don't forget I live in Northern Nevada where in some places because it's so remote we actually use carrier pigeons.)

• Usually I keep Soph’s coat really short. Yorkies have hair not fur and I don’t want her hair to get tangled and matted. But when I took her in to be groomed this weekend I told Brandi to keep her long and just trim around her eyes and paws. She looks like a lil’ ewok when her hair starts getting long. It’s a fun change, and now Dustin won’t see her with the short, short cut and say in his special, reserved-for-dogs-under-7-pounds-voice, “Sophelia where did your hair go? Who made you look so ugly?

• On the afternoon of January 5th I got to pet a live raccoon. He was on a leash and when I reached out to touch his surprisingly soft coat he came up on his hind legs and put his charmingly creepy raccoon hands on my knees. “Oh, I’m so sorry! He’s getting your nice slacks dirty,” the handler said and pulled him back. “My pants look better with raccoon handprints on them,” I told her. And then I texted Jim, “I got to pet a raccoon. This is going to be a good year.”

• On Saturday while I was at yoga training Jim and Katelynn spent the day up at Heavenly in South Lake skiing in what little snow we’ve got right now. Just the two of them, a little daddy/daughter date. Lucky Katelynn. Still, as an adult, daddy/daughter dates are the best. Even if it’s just down to Sonic to get a soda I relish the time that I get my pa to myself. Cute as can be, these two had a great day:


I recognize the relationship that Jim has with his adult daughter. It’s like what I’ve got with my dad, which is a good, good thing. We love having Katelynn and her husband over whenever we can. My dad (and my mom!) feel that way too, especially now that they have a son-in-law they respect and know adores their daughter. We see that in Nathaniel. He adores Katelynn and has her very best interests in mind. He’ll protect her from distress in any way he can. We love that. Katelynn trusts her dad. As a daughter with a dad I love and respect and admire and trust and all the good things, I love seeing Jim and Katelynn get to enjoy that same fulfilling relationship.

• Saturday evening we spent with Jim’s other adult kid. Dustin turned on a documentary about Ed Templeton, an influential skater and artist—in fact, there’s some of his work printed permanently on Dustin’s body. Both Jim and I were enraptured. Skate language is basically not English and I love learning about that world. Saturday night my dreams were about Ed Templeton and his wife, Deanna, and then all day Sunday I had the song “Mr. Templeton” in my head and I was thinking about the rat in Charlotte’s Web.

• During the documentary Jim and Dustin sprawled on the sectional and I lay spread eagle on the fluffy shag rug on the floor. I wore my long puffy down coat, yoga clothes from earlier in the day, and my gray Sorel boots. I looked like a cartoon. For Christmas Jim got me the cutest snow boots in the history of Ever and sometimes I have to wear them around the house because the weather is too nice for snow gear and the boots are too perfect to just gather dust in my closet.

• Whenever I finish an audiobook and the recording says, “Audible hopes you have enjoyed this presentation,” I reply, “I have! I really have! Thank you!”

• I admit this with a certain amount of shame . . . I say kill all the coyotes, hawks, and owls. I am a vegetarian because I love animals. The animal that made me this way is my small dog Sophie. I love her more than anything else not human and more than nearly all humans. There are coyotes behind our house. There are hawks that fly over the yard. I sometimes hear owls at night. And I hate all of them. My creature is tiny enough to be stolen by those big predator birds and nasty coyotes. That happens around here. I like my critter more than I want them saved. I know how bad that sounds, but she is my person. 

I suddenly love beets. I credit my spiralizer. This super simple recipe in particular. Now I’m trying to learn more ways to prepare beets. I so far prefer the golden beets merely for the fact that they don’t stain my hands. (No, I'm not going to wear gloves.) When we stopped by Whole Foods after yoga yesterday to stock up on beets—and Halo Top!—Jim put the root vegetables in our cart and asked me what they taste like. “The ground,” I replied. That night Dustin took a bite of my beet dinner and said, “It tastes like dirt.” Yes, I agree. But sophisticated dirt.

Friday, January 9, 2015

BLOGASANA

• I have decided that I can’t teach the Juice Box Warm & Mellow yoga class without Jim there. As usual, he’s spoiled me. While I’m out in the lobby talking to students before class he makes sure there are enough props for everyone and works on the room’s temperature. Afterwards he stays to clean up. Last night after I finished talking to students I went into the yoga room to do post-class tidying and it was all done. My sweet-as-pie someone took care of everything. He only gets to come to my classes on the weeks that we don’t have the kids. When we do I’m on my own. Without him I’ll have to, like, work.  

• At Juice Box Yoga—a Bikram method stuido, my friends—the last Friday class of each month is a music class. Bikram yoga is traditionally done without music. The only music you hear during the really unpleasant 90 minutes is the nonstop melodic commands of your yogi bootcamp instructor. This last month’s music class was the purview of Cameron, my yogi co-conspirator, and he made it all 90s music. Team, those are my jams. I sang along to NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and Smash Mouth and Britney Spears and I bounced to the beat in awkward pose and tree and, well, all the postures, and then when I came out of class I told our famously friendly front desk staffer, “I just spent 90 minutes back in high school. I was, like, in the back seats of cars making out with guys and skipping class and everything.” While I’m sure all the students enjoyed the class, I’m as sure as I can be that no one enjoyed it more than me. It was my era. I knew all the words. After class my Jim said, “Thanks for being so hot,”—Well, um, thanks and you’re welcome—“and young!” If knowing all the words to 90s tunes means I’m young, I’ll take it. There are some definite benefits of marrying a man a few years outside my generation.

• It’s so cute how my Maps app thinks that I know what way is south. Start out going south on 4th street. Is this 4th street? Which way is south? Do you mean left? Right? I’m asking for your help, dammit!

Josie and I are going to be acrobats. Also we want a pigmy penguin. In theory. We don’t want to have to care for it.

• The other night Jim, Dustin, and I were in the kitchen talking and Jim mentioned someone and Dustin said, “Wait, do we hate them?” It’s a team mentality in the Elliker house.

 I've been bending and such on the mat for the last decade but today is my five-year Bikram yoga anniversary. I’m a thing made of choices that led me to what I am. I’ve made those choices consciously. While I may not be happy with how I look or how a particular project is going, and I know I’m a work in progress, I always like the actual person I’ve chosen to be. I’m this me on purpose, and Bikram Yoga has been one of the very most important elements of making this right-now person. Yoga overall has given me much—some patience, confidence, acceptance of vulnerability, and respect for limitations, etc.—but Bikram yoga has given me the most. Perhaps that’s because I’ve given most of my time to my Bikram practice. Bikram yoga gave me a pile of people that I can confidently call my yoga family. It’s given me opportunities for growth. It’s made my body into something I can live with (and something my husband loves). It’s smashed my inhibitions. Because of Bikram yoga I love to sweat and live to try again. 

• Work’s been rocky this week. It’s the start of a new quarter, my partner and I have a new list of doctors to call on, and the office addresses in our database are all effed up. We know where to find most of the docs on our lists and we fix the addresses as we go, but I just got assigned doctors up at the lake and those addresses are a mess. I was talking with my partner yesterday about what a joke this week has been, trying to get our jobs done and failing ‘cause we can’t find everyone we’re supposed to see, and I told her that for some of the doctors I’ve resorted to googling them and hoping the most common address in the search results is the lucky one. “It’s so primitive,” I told her, “but what else have we got?” I like how I’m calling the entire world in the palm of my hand by way of my phone primitive. 

• Last night I came out of the yoga room after teaching the Warm & Mellow class and said to Kaitlin, the front desk maven, “I just made that class my bitch.” And I really did. For my last few classes I’ve been feeling like I just suck at teaching. Like, what the hell am I doing? But last night was awesome. It felt good in the room, like cues were making sense. I made the students laugh while enduring some really uncomfortable postures. At least half the class—we had 22 people I think—were new to this class. A fair few were new to yoga altogether. After class students told me that that hour was exactly what they needed. One sweetie hugged me. And when they left they said, “See you next time.”

Wait, do you want to come to my class? Do! Come stretch and such in my smells-like-effort home away from home. It’s a bargain ($10 drop-in) and you can check out the Juice Box schedule by clicking here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I AM NOT GOING TO YOGA TODAY

• I live in a fireworks household. If you root around enough you can always find some something that spews colored flames and sparks. But last night I decided that I hate them. Around 11PM some neighbor set off a green-hued mega bomb whatchamacallit and scared the eff out of our dogs. Soph buried herself under the comforter, smooshed her body against my back and shook for 10 minutes. Gus dove under the bed and whined. I think he slept there all night. Stop scaring my beasties with your pyrotechnic tomfoolery, you hoodlums. 

• On NYE Jim and I went to my friends Dana and Norma—Dorma’s—last class in their 365-day Bikram yoga challenge. I am a sucker for unique yoga goals and experiences. Glow yoga. Music-themed classes. Weirdo poses. Workshops. Challenges. It takes a significant schedule conflict for me to bail on some singular yoga event. There were 48 people in class, and only half of us were around for the post-class photo (and one of us—Jim—had already put on his shoes and didn't want to take them off to go back into the yoga room), but here you go—some of my people. (In the purple shirt standing next to me is Marilynne. We are yoga twins.)

(Nice capture, Kaitlin.)
• Carpet and upholstery cleaning and protecting: costly. I’m a fantastic mark. When the cleaning techs note my wide-eyed fervency for spotlessness they see dollar signs. Upsell! Upsell! And because I don’t know a damn thing I’m like, “Uh, okay, here’s my debit card. Do as you will.” They see on my account that my last bill was huge. They think, “Great, she’s used to giving us all the money.” And then because I can’t do math I overtip them.

• Yesterday when I was in the hot yoga room waiting for my 6:30 class to start I thought, Wait a minute—when this day is done I will have spent about four and a half hours doing some kind of yoga something. That was not my plan. While I felt bamboozled I've never been accused of moderation. I took a power class in the morning. I was then at Juice Box to take a Bikram class. And then after the hot one I would teach the Warm & Mellow class. It's getting absurd. I decided then that I would take off Friday. No yoga class for me today. Cameron and I have to review some stuff for training tomorrow, but I’m not going to class. I’m not. I mean it. 

• It’s the samples Sephora sends that sell me. Oh, I need something I can get at Ulta while I’m out and about. Ah, but they won’t send me samples of shit I don’t need. And I want those samples. I’ll say this though, when there is something I need or want, samples do the trick. There are so many products I like in my in my medicine cabinet that came by way of me trying a sample, digging it, and buying the potion.

• When Jim was cutting holes in the sheetrock above the sinks in our bathroom he discovered that because of some pipes he wasn’t going to be able to install the medicine cabinets as low as we wanted. (His wife is short.) I told him not worry. I am accustomed to having to stand on my toes or scramble onto the counters reach stuff. That is the life of a below-average[-height] human.

• I am never more popular with the dogs than when I have a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn.

My brain is just yoga mush. Mostly Sanksrit mush. Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana. Ardha Chandrasana Chopasana. Svarga Dvidasana. Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana. Marichyasana. Apanasana. Ganda Bherundasana. Devaduuta Panna Asana. Deviasana. Mandukasana. Please tell me you stopped reading by this point.

• I showed Josie Eka Pada Galavasana. She’s her sights on it. The girl’ll have her own flying pigeon before you know it. What I love is that she cares about form. When we play with the posture she pays attention to alignment direction. It gets my safety-oriented heart singing.

• For Christmas Jim got me some more of those Kermit’s key lime pies from Florida. Three actually. (Three!? What am I going to do with three pies?) Good thing they freeze for later. And my parents got me a Godiva chocolate of the month club membership. The people who love me well and know me best know what has my heart. Sugar. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CRUMBS

The shoes Jim wears most every day to work are Ugg chukka boots. I think we are now on his fourth pair in the last two years. He likes the the way they feel. I like the way they look. Sophie likes the way they taste. Before we were married I’d bring Soph to Jim’s on my way to work so that she could spend the day with Gus the Labradoodle. Sometimes when I came to pick her up at night we would find that she had dragged one of Jim’s black boots from his closet, down the stairs, and out the dog door into the back yard so she could gnaw on the leather tongue. Even though she's not much bigger than the boot, it’s a habit she made consistent. And only with the black pairs. She leaves the brown ones alone. A few weeks before Christmas I came home to find that my little dog ripped open one of the gifts under the tree. I was annoyed and then delighted. Because among the piled packages beneath the tree, two wrapped boxes were chukka boots for Jim. A brown Rockport pair. A pair of the black Uggs. Guess which one she opened?

• Have I said this before? I just can’t get behind yoga leggings over your heels. It looks like you decided not to finish getting dressed.

• I bought an ultra light down coat and I don’t want to take it off. But when I do take it off I want to stuff its bulk into the tiny bag it came with. So warm! So comfy! So space saving!

It’s a little bit heartbreaking when the guy who let me go in front of him in traffic misses the light but I make it through. I glance in the rearview mirror and hope that he’s not pissed. But since he's the kind of person who lets other people in in traffic, I’m thinking he's over it.

• Our Ninja blender arrived the other day. That blender’s blade is like its own slasher flick. Whitney suggested that I make little freezer bags of smoothie ingredients so we’re ready to blend at a moment’s notice. “rFozen fruit and maybe some spinach or kale.” Nut job. I’m not doing that. Fruit, yes, but no way on the vegetables. Why make a smoothie miserable?

• My job has perks a plenty. One: our end-of-year shutdown. I don’t work the last week of the year. I get paid for it without having to take vacation time. It’s pretty standard throughout my industry, and when I think about it, a truly terrific plus. It is a great time to whittle down my perpetually-put-off to-do list. (You know, since you could say that drug pedaling isn’t my only job; there’s the designing sometimes, now the yoga teaching here and there, and a long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was the idea of writing.) Also when I consider it I think, “Sheesh, we sorta earned the shutdown this year.” My company is launching a few new products next year. A pharmaceutical product launch is a big damn deal. We retrain on what we already know. We train on new stuff. We go to meetings. We get different managers. Our day-to-day sorta goes belly up. I’m pretty good at taking it in stride, but there are moments when I feel like my brain is shredding. 

• Lots of the posts that flood my Facebook and Instagram feeds are yoga-related. So and so is going to this month-long yoga teacher training in Peru. So and so is going to a 9-week Bikram yoga teacher training. This person is taking three weeks to go on a tropical yoga retreat. My question is this: How the hell? Do these people suddenly not have jobs?

Halo Top in the freezer spells hope. Hope for the future. Hope for snack time. And potentially breakfast.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

REGULAR RIGMAROLE

• Last night I fell asleep watching Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country. I was on movie six because I had played two through five throughout the day while I worked on a design project. Via my friend, Caryn, the McQueen Orchestra hired me to do a typography print that they’ll sell to raise money for a trip. The concept for the print is sweet and distinctive. And while I can never say that everyone will love the style of what I’ve designed—aesthetic preference is a personal thing—design-wise, it’s tight and solid.

• Five more classes until I’m done with my current 30-day Bikram challenge. It’s not a secret that Bikram yoga attracts two specific personality types: addictive and Type A. I’m both and after my 4:30 class on Wednesday I’ll have done 295 Bikram classes this year. Not too shabby considering that I also started teacher training and do other yoga besides. (Riddle me this, how do I not have a completely incredible body due to all this vigorous yoga? Oh yeah . . . treats.) I just need one more double to be caught up. Vacation and the holiday meant that this go ‘round I had to do a fair few of doubles to meet the 30 classes in 30 days. As I was packing my yoga bag the other day with the multitude of crap I bring when I’m doubling up, Jim said, “Remember when you used to say you’d never do a double?” Oh my. I did. I said that.

When I know I’m doing a back-to-back I don’t put my mat in an extra hot spot for my first class. There are times that’s exactly what I want for myself, but when I know I’ll be spending 3 hours in the hot room, I try to be reasonable. I have a rule that if I want to do two classes I can’t skip any poses in my first class. If I do, I don’t get to stay for a second class. (I made an exception last week when a nosebleed put me down for the whole standing separate leg series. With my teacher’s go-ahead, I stayed for a second class, and I don’t mind saying that I totally tore that one up.) Immediately after the first class I knock back 24oz of water. My habit is to not bring water into class with me, but I do take water into my second class to keep me upright and sort of sane. Sort of. No one who regularly does doubles is even in the remote vicinity of totally sane. 

• I’m on my own today. Jim took Ben and Jo to the 49ers game in San Francisco. Ben’s talked about wanting to go to a game. Jim said why the hell not, bought tickets, put the kiddos in the car, and they went on an adventure. I was back and forth as to whether or not I’d go as well but decided to stay home so I could start on the fundraiser print. (This girl cannot do reading or computer things in a moving vehicle. She will vomit.) This is the time I set aside to work on it, and if I don’t follow my schedule I’ll be rushing to get the thing done at the last minute and my work will suck.

• The house is really loud right now. I’m happy about it. Both the upstairs and the downstairs Neato vacuums are doing their job which means I don’t have to think about vacuuming ever. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I know where the upright vacuums are.

I spent last evening with an ice pack on my knee. There’s one on there right now. I made the grave error of, you know, kneeling, and the right knee revolted. Dammit to hell. But this is the life I’ve got. One or more of my knees always hurts. It’s not from injury or overwork. It’s genetic. My grandma’s knees sucked. My mom’s knees suck. My knees suck. They have for my whole life. 

When my yogi pals see me backing out of a pose or avoiding it altogether they ask after class if I’m injured. Because I can’t figure out how to make them understand that I have knees that just can’t take what theirs can, I say yes. They say how. And I try to come up with an explanation for why my knees are messed up. My knee cap slipped one too many times during high school cheerleading. I had a lateral patellar realignment surgery on my left knee that I will regret for the rest of my life. I was a weightlifter. No single explanation works. I just have garbage joints. My ligaments are basically bubblegum which means that for tasks like, say, walking, my joints don’t have support enough for stability. The cartilage wears down. That translates to pain. I’m only 32 years old and there is osteoarthritis in one knee. I’m defective.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

NAVIDAD NUTSHELLED

When I in my kerchief and Jim in his cap settled last night for our long winter’s nap—by which I mean when we finally collapsed into bed around 1:30 for a couple hours of shuteye—I asked, “What’s the secret to being good at go-karts? Why can’t I get a better lap time?” 

I’m guessin’ that question from wife to husband isn’t Christmas Eve’s most common. And maybe he was the wrong person to ask anyhow because—inexplicably—both Dustin and Mikey (Dustin's bestie) beat Jim last night when we did our night-before-Christmas go-karting. Nobody beats Jim when the game’s go-kart.

Our day-before evening festivities unfolded as such: I made a pretty decent-looking layer cake. Katelynn came over with the best goshdarn homemade cheesecake I’ve ever had (and had and then had some more). We ordered pizza. We mowed down the pizza. In the nick of time we remembered to save Nathaniel a few pieces. Nathaniel arrived. We did the Elliker’s tradish white elephant gift exchange. Mikey landed the coveted mortar ball fireworks. We divided ourselves into two SUVs. In our car Dustin vetoed my Christmas playlist. We raced go-karts. I didn’t do so good. (My shoulders are nevertheless sore. It’s an activity with some rather intense physical demands, you know.)

We came back home and did the open-one-present-before-Christmas thing that people do. When Dustin opened his badass skate shoes, he exhibited exactly the reaction I’d been giddy for. Katelynn and Nathaniel made smoothie after smoothie after sorbet with their new Vitamix, giving Jim exactly the reaction he’d been hoping for. We ate cake.

After Katelynn and Nathaniel left and and the littles went to bed, Jim and I got to work. We filled the hell outta the stockings. We moved the couches and coffee table out of the way. Jim pulled the long shop vac hose in from the garage. We inflated the human-sized hamster balls. 

I’ve ever had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about the grabby, greedy, showy nature of Christmas morning, but I made it through. There were the expected: books, candy, clothes, electronics, kitchen shit, magazines, toys. The less expected: key lime pies from Florida (a coming-to-be-classic Jim move) bullets, more fireworks. And then the totally oh-good-grief-did-that-really-happen: Dude Wipes and a cream called Fresh Balls from my father for Jim and Dustin and human hamster balls for Josie and Benjamin. They’re just what you think, and watching the kids get inside the balls and then run full speed and bang into each other in the backyard gladdens all.

2014’s overriding Christmas gift theme: Balls. 

For the day’s food, Nathaniel did more Vitamixery. (Did you know that fresh pineapple, yogurt, milk, ice, and a piece of cheesecake make an oddly delicious smoothie thing?) I made my mom’s coffee cake (doubled the cake batter, Mom, and tripled the topping; worked nicely), very creamy mashed potatoes ‘specially for Dustin and Jo, and skillet cornbread that would have been better without buttermilk. (Evidently we celebrate Carbstmas.) Jim made meat.

While predictably unorthodox in practice, the day was made of what the carols go on about—family, warmth, food, stuff. I've had the Christmas date rape song "Baby It's Cold Outside" on loop in my head all day. Again and again my husband told me how happy he is. There. My Christmas wish. Fulfilled.

Hope it was happy, y’all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MY [RATHER UN-YOGI-LIKE] DOT DIATRIBE

I think most of us call them “the dots.” They’re shaped more like teardrops though. They’re designed to represent sweat drops.

The recycled tire floor in the yoga room at Reno’s Bikram studio—Juice Box Yoga—is stamped with carefully-spaced teardrop shapes. There are four rows of the drops, and I’d say they’re about about six inches wider than mat width apart. They’re easy to overlook if you don’t know they’re there. But unless you’re on your first fifteen or so classes at that studio, you know they’re there. You have been told. If you’re a long-time student at Juice Box you’ve heard the teachers tell the class hundreds of times to please use the drops. 

The drops are there to make space. I live my life generally convinced that I’m taking up too much space in the world and using the dots is one way to make sure that’s not happening. This is my space. That is yours. If every student places the left corner of their mat on a drop, 70+ students can fit in the room. I’ve seen it.

But, alas, people are assholes. Even yogis. They don’t use the damn drops. They know they’re supposed to. They know that using the drops means that everyone can fit and see at least a sliver of themselves in the mirror. But too many of them think only of themselves and just don’t give a shit. 

Obviously I care about this. It makes me effing crazy.

I like rules. I’ve always liked rules. Admittedly I like them because I’m one who can be successful when operating within the rules. But whether or not we like the rules doesn’t matter. In the case of the yoga drops, we need to follow the rules because it’s courteous and no one of us yogis is more important than the other.

A couple days ago I got to class about fifteen minutes early, set up my mat, and then went to go change. When I came back into the room a few minutes before class, all tramped up in my skanky yoga gear, I discovered that a dude had set up in front of me. Fine, of course. If you put yourself in a middle row you should expect that someone is going to set up in front of you. It’s why the dots are staggered as they are; if we use them like we’re supposed to, no one mat will be directly in front of another and no one of us can get miffed that someone set up in front of us. But this dude didn’t just set up in front of me, he also ignored the dots and moved my mat toward the back of the room to make more space for himself.

I could still see myself in the mirror, but the guy behind me couldn’t. (To those unfamiliar with Bikram, know that in this yoga mirrors are a tool we use constantly throughout class. Being able to see yourself in the mirror matters.) The behind-me guy got to class early, set up in the back, used a dot, and was therefore gonna be fine no matter who set up in front of him. Then I came in, used a dot, and therefore didn’t block him. Then in-front-of-me guy came in, ignored the dots, and therefore blocked the guy who who did what he was supposed to.

(This whole dot-ignoring-mat-moving incident left me with an excellent opportunity to practice some of the more difficult principles within yoga, non attachment and clean thoughts most specifically.)

Why the hell can’t we respect other people’s desire to practice yoga like we ourselves like to practice? Why do so many of us think that other students should work around us? Don’t give me bullshit about being too tall or too claustrophobic to use the dots. Even if you’re in a hurry the speed limits apply to you. There isn’t a good reason not to use the dots. Whatever you’ve decided your special circumstances are aren’t actually special enough to exempt you from respecting our collective space.

On that, a great way to respect your fellow students is to quit drinking. Or please drink a hell of a lot less. I can smell it. We sweat a lot in the yoga room and I can smell last night’s or this afternoon’s booze seeping from your pores. It literally literally literally makes me gag. When we sweat together I can smell what you’ve smoked. I can smell the garlic you ate. I can smell what you drank. It’s disgusting. I know my nose is more sensitive than most, and perhaps I’m even more sensitive to that stuff because I don’t smoke, like garlic, or drink, but even then, I’m not the only one who can smell last night’s good time oozing out of your body. (What’s even a little worse is that I know which ones of you drink, like, a lot. Some of you are legitimately in need of intervention.) And when you walk in the room I kick myself for having set up my mat early. Why oh why didn’t I wait out in the lobby until the last minute so I could avoid practicing near you?

At the end of every yoga class the teacher closes things off by saying, “Namaste.” The students repeat it and then you’re done. Within that salutation there’s a message of respect, unity, and equality. And while I am not the best yogi out there or even necessarily one of the good ones, that word and what it signifies means a lot to me. Wanna see me get weepy? Ask me to explain to you what namaste means to me.

Too many of us hot yoga practitioners don’t give a damn about respecting other people. We don’t care about unity. We just want to sweat, get rid of stress, be skinny and get on with our day. It means that too many of us repeat that namaste out of habit; we don’t think about what we’re saying and we barely give its meaning lip service.

For my part, I really am looking for the divine in you, but when you’re the only person you’re aware of, it’s pretty hard to find any bright sparks at all.

Monday, December 22, 2014

HIGHLIGHTS

Last blog post: November 6, 2014
Today: December 22, 2014
Time between posts: Roughly a month and a half.
Reasons: Many. See below. 

I am occupied. Busy. My now-life doesn’t look much like my then-life. It doesn’t look much like the holiday season of last year. It looks one-hundred-percent nothing like the holiday season of 2012.

I spent this year’s Thanksgiving at the 49ers game. That is football. It was my first NFL game. We didn’t have the littles this year. Katelynn and Nathaniel were with Jim last year so they went to Nathaniel's parents’ this year. Jim’s mom and sisters have 49ers season tickets. It’s where they were going for the holiday. So Jim, Dustin, and I made a weekend of it.

At 5:45AM on Thanksgiving day Jim and I got in our holiday Bikram yoga class. At 9:30AM I got in my holiday power yoga class. Then we packed the car with brown butter pumpkin cupcakes, lemon bars, and cauliflower tabouli. We grabbed sodas for the road and landed in Palo Alto just in time to swath ourselves in red and join the mass of soon-to-be-disappointed San Francisco fans on their way into the Field of Jeans. 2014's Thanksgiving dinner was a vegan dog—that Jim and I have been craving since (I’ve either contributed to significant improvements in that man or destroyed him altogether)—and diet soda.

Jim planned our hotel to be within a 2-minute walking distance to a Bikram studio so that the day after Thanksgiving I could go take class while the boys went on a long motorcycle ride through the redwoods—or through Endor as Dustin described it. (Dustin rode his motorycle over to SF and Jim rented one there; don’t go thinking those boys were riding nuts to butts. (I learn much descriptive language from Dustin.)) After my sweatfest I spent the afternoon working on yoga class sequencing.

Yoga class sequencing. That’s right, Dear Reader, little Romo is teaching yoga. I’m taking one or two classes a day and teaching a couple a week. While my teacher training won’t be complete until the end of January, for a reason I can’t so much identify, Tanya's seen promise in me, and I get to teach some of the Warm & Mellow classes at Juice Box.

I walk out of some of the classes feeling like a damn fine teacher. And some make me feel like I should personally refund each students’ fee. The sequence I taught on Saturday night was pretty damn bitchin’, so at this moment right now I’m feeling good about the whole deal. Also: I love doing it. So we’ve got that going for us.

I was telling my amazing Ella-yoga-teacher-friend the other day that much like getting a graduate degree in writing destroyed my ability to enjoy reading (it becomes all about learning something from the read and not just relishing the experience), becoming a yoga teacher kinda ruins yoga classes as a student. You aren’t just practicing in class anymore, you’re also trying to learn teaching stuff from the instructor. Oh, that was a good cue . . . Yes! What a perfect transition . . . And so on. I think that’s the beauty of maintaining my Bikram practice while training to teach vinyasa. Since Bikram classes are all the same and I’ve done a thousand-some-odd classes, I’m able to actually take the classes instead of spend the 90 minutes trying to make mental notes on killer cues and sequences.

It makes me extra grateful that I was able to just be in my power class yesterday and not focus on learning to teach from the teacher. I had the terrific opportunity to take Kim Arnott’s 108 sun salutation solstice celebration class at Pure Yoga yesterday. Yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT sun salutations. I was completely scared to do it. I thought my shoulders would revolt and fall off with the 108 chaturangas (tricep pushups for the uninitiated), but it felt fantastic. And my shoulders are fine. My hamstrings on the other hand are tender to the touch. 108 chaturangas: okey dokey. 108 forward folds: ahem, not so much.

If you are local, take a class from Kim. While she is a badass yogi herself and a damned hard teacher, she is also one of the most generous instructors from whom I’ve had the pleasure to take class. Her preparation for class is unparalleled, and I feel truly privileged to get to be her student.

I’m fortunate that way. I do a helluva lot of yoga—I’m on another 30-day Bikram challenge right now, because, you know, I just wasn’t doing enough yoga before—and I don’t have a teacher that sucks. The people that teach me yoga work to know their shit and are available to their students. I have so much good in my life and more than much of that good has to do with yoga and the people that come with it.

Also happening lately: Christmas.

Guys, I put up a Christmas tree. That is not something I generally do. Or ever do. But I was happy as happy can be to do it, because, well, this:


At present I’m the most awesome person I know. Jim’s the second most awesome because he didn’t pitch a fit about my putting up a pink tree. In fact, he likes it. I married a man who likes my pink flocked Christmas tree. I couldn’t be luckier.

Part of that good luck is the immediate family I married into. Remember how I said that my life now looks nothing like it did before? Dear Reader, I went to Disneyland. With kids. Some people think that Disneyland is for young children, but they are wrong. Disneyland is for Jim’s 23-year-old daughter Katelynn. You want to see something spectacular? Go to Cars Land with Katelynn. She’s a treat on top of a treat on top of a treat.

While short for me because I had to leave early get back to Reno for teacher training, the vacation was better than I expected. You know me a little. You can guess that Disneyland ain’t my thing. But what with the proximity of our hotel, Katelynn’s infectious enthusiasm, Dustin’s teaching me what makes a good ass on a girl, Josie’s insistence that I pound beignets with her, Benjamin’s love of Star Tours, and the VIP tour guide Jim arranged (read: human Fast Pass for all the rides—dude, he took us in through the back of Pirates of the Caribbean in order to skip the line), the trip was good enough to do again.  I can't believe I just wrote that.

When my mom was in town last week we didn’t have the littles, but Dustin was here and we had Katelynn over for dinner (Nathaniel was at work, good boy that he is), and we laughed too many times for me to remember what we laughed about. I told Katelynn that up until about two weeks ago I was basically terrified of her dry sense of humor, but I’m not scared anymore. That’s progress. Progress she found awfully funny. There’s so much funny when Katelynn’s around.

We have all our young people for Christmas this year. Seeing as we plan to spend Christmas Eve evening eating pizza and go-karting, it shall be a pretty super holiday. Traditionally untraditional. My specialty.

Highlights: complete.
Long-ass update: done for now.
The way things are going: see you in a month and a half.