Wednesday, August 24, 2016

TERMINAL

I have to be careful in what I say I want to do. I need to actually want what I’m saying I want, not just talking to make noise. Because without my mentioning wherever or whatever it is again, Jim will go and make it happen, and if it wasn’t something I was actually interested in, I end up with a grand experience that I’m only marginally excited about yet he’s delighted to offer.

There are two factors at play here. First that Jim lives to make his people happy. He really is like that. My friend and I were talking the other night about how great my mom is, how she just serves and serves and gives and it seems to feed her. Jim is like that too. He’s a giver. He wants me happy. The other factor is that he’s in it for the experience. Let’s go do something new. Let’s try that. He’s always down for an adventure.

I love So You Think You Can Dance. Out of the blue he worked his connections to land us at a taping. One day I mentioned in passing that I’ve always wanted to go to Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! A couple months later, there we were in a San Francisco amphitheater, watching Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis live. Adding the cherry, the next morning I found myself in a wharf diner in front of a pile of the prettiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, across the table from Bill Kurtis, listening to a discourse on grass-fed beef. (My life has its Dalí moments to be sure.)

Sometimes the fun things we do come by way of me going along on his business trips. He had a meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, back in June, and since it’s not convenient to get there and it’s, you know, Michigan, we decided I’d opt out this time. But our Hannah convinced him otherwise—she has to go!—because it’s beautiful or something like that. I’m so glad she sold us. The forests around that area are the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen. The couple days we had driving around finding tea and Meyer lemon vinegar and chocolate and darling houses and field after perfect field giving way to maple stands were worth whatever trouble it takes to get there.

For his part he loves having me along because I’m self sufficient. On that particular trip we assumed that with Über I could go and do as I pleased while he did work things. So our first morning there he went to his meetings in the hotel downstairs, and I picked a few yoga studios to investigate, packed my yoga bag, and opened my Über app to discover no cars nearby. Curious. We were in the biggest hotel in the area and there were no hovering drivers? Oh well. I went down to the lobby to catch a cab. No cabs. At the front desk they were confused by my confusion, which was quickly mounting to irritation. Why would they just have cabs waiting? Uh, so I can take one and get to yoga? I ended up taking the hotel’s shuttle to the airoort to rent a horse and buggy, or at least that’s what I was sure I was going to to end up with. Toyota Yaris. Same same.

At dinner that night Jim was a broken record of surprise and pride at the fact that I went and rented a car all by myself. Being the follow up act to his codependent first wife is some of the most fun I have. Surpassing that standard so thoroughly that I look like an effing superhero takes little more than getting out of bed and going to the grocery store solo. You think I’m kidding. I still think I’m kidding. He assures me I’m not. I take my car to get the oil changed and he looks at me like I up and grew horns. Wait. Maybe that’s because my car doesn’t have an engine. And it doesn’t have oil to change . . .

I kid. I kid. I never did that. But it really is simple stuff like that—booking a flight properly without help—that gets him seeing me as the World’s Smartest Woman. I don’t even have to employ my above-average intelligence to impress my husband. This can be a problem as it leads to intellectual atrophy which leads to the death of whatever self esteem I have left, but that’s a personal problem. I’m working through it.

Being able to go along on business trips is one of the reasons that I quit my job selling life-saving medications. (See what I did there?) In our case, it’s good for our relationship for us to spend time together, especially when we go out of town, so if our relationship is more important than me having a full-time job, then it made sense for me to make myself available for stuff like that in a way that keeping the job wasn’t allowing. (Also the job was becoming one of those things that made me a miserable, crazy bitch, so it was migrating from the asset column to liability.)

His job goes through phases where it requires travel. The places he goes are worth visiting. All places are, really. I can at least find somewhere to take yoga class. So I go along. And when he’s not in meetings we find places to explore, like a chocolate factory to tour, a waterfall to visit, and a fruit stand that only sells asparagus. What do I want with a bunch of asparagus? I wanted to eat a flat of strawberries while we drove to the next town, you fools. You’re a fruit stand! Sell fruit! My fruit. I don’t care what’s in season! I care what I want!

Because he likes to do things at the spur of the moment and I like to be where he is and—cautiously—try new stuff. I may wake up one morning with plans to take class that night but instead end up face to face with a giraffe. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself throwing things in a bag to run off to wherever one of his clients needs attention. I'll suddenly end up in San Diego (on that trip he pulled an entire key lime pie out of his suitcase when we got into our hotel room; a good story for another time) or a Giants game or ballet. My big first world problem is that I have to make sure that my wardrobe is diverse. Hey, let’s go to a Cirque show or two in Vegas tomorrow. Cocktail dress. Check. Let’s go to Yosemite. Hiking shoes. Check. The lake. Swimsuit and scowl. Check.

When he started working on tickets to Jimmy Fallon I asked, “You’re not, like, terminally ill are you?”

“Uh, no. Why?”

“We do so much stuff. Cool stuff. It’s like we’re trying to cram as much living as we can into the little time you have left.”

Some Sunday a month ago I asked what he wants to do for Thanksgiving. We don’t have the kids this year, so we aren’t tied to a traditional dinner. “Want to go see Nick and Mal?” he asked. Well, sure. They live in Denmark. So now there are tickets to Copenhagen in November.

“You’re not terminal?”

“No.”

This last Friday the opportunity arose to go to Burning Man next week. “Want to?” he asked. “Hell yes,” I replied, “Let me me just make sure you still have those blue lamé shorts . . . But are you sure you’re—“

“No. I’m not terminal. I just like to have fun.

I know as well as anyone that things can—they will—change, fast, and life may not always look like this. So for now we do all the things and I marvel at how this can be someone’s reality. My reality. Weird.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TWO HUNDRED BEING TOO FEW

A few months ago I tore a snippet out of Yoga Journal where the magazine asked prominent teachers in the Western yoga community if the typical 200-hour yoga teacher training is sufficient to make someone an instructor. Before even scanning the responses I exclaimed, “No!” RYT-200 (Registered Yoga Teacher) is my certification level and I’ve never felt like that first rung—the one most widely maintained throughout the yoga teaching community—should be considered enough to let a person call themselves a yoga teacher. When I do (and I try all sorts of semantic backflips to avoid it whenever possible) I feel like a fraud.

I’ve always been a stickler for credentials, and while I’ve got the common credentials—call it the yoga teaching Associates degree—I’ll feel like a hack until I get at least one of two things: the next notable level up, a 500-hour certification, or loads more experience. The 500 takes time, and I’ve got that underway, but I don’t care how much classroom training you’ve got if you don’t have the experience. Unfortunately the only way to accumulate experience teaching is to teach. Teach real people. Sorry students, I’m learning to get good at teaching you by doing it.

There are times when I’m teaching and I think, Why in the world are you people listening to me? I have no idea what I’m talking about. Which isn’t true. I know stuff. I’ve become as meticulous a student as ever hits the mat. I research all the garbage that comes out of my mouth. I’m conscientious about giving safe, supportive instruction. But for the impact 12 years of yoga has had on my body, good and maybe not so good, and the weight it has in my life, I take seriously the job of teaching it, no matter where the class or how many students. I can’t know—usually the practitioner won’t even know—if that class could be the tipping-point. Don’t blow it, Megan. I’ve had teachers who don’t know anatomy enough to understand that what's falling out of their mouths is bullshit and detrimental. I’ve had teachers give me bad verbal and hands-on adjustments that exacerbated injury. I feel like it takes so much more than what I have in order to be qualified to be entrusted with a room of bodies and minds ready for overhaul. But there I am, the little in leggings cueing you into Vira II again.

I’ve struggled with the shift from full-time drug rep and part-time designer to stay-at-home wife, sporadic designer, and yoga teacher. Leaving one set of daily activities for the other was the easiest, most seamless thing I’ve ever done; it’s been the fact of change in income that’s rattled me. Wise or not, our society uses annual spoils as a way to mark one’s level of professional achievement, and because I exceeded the average I bought into it. (If I’m not surpassing a particular standard I discount its relevance and therefore maintain success. Redefine the win, Dear Reader.)

According to the U.S. census I was doing okay for myself. When in 2015 I left my pharmaceutical career of 10 years, graphic design money aside, I was pulling in 175% of the median household income. Not too shabby. I went from a single W-2 that said I made $97,000 to a handful of 1099s that put my annual fiscal contribution closer to $7,000. The math done for you: when I quit my job pedaling insulin to instead teach some yoga I took a $90,000 pay cut. Thus with my estimation of self-worth tied loosely to how much money I was making, I’ve loosely come to think of myself as worthless.

Turns out that pisses Jim off.

On a drive home from dinner last week I started whining about how since my “career” shift I have no value (fiscally speaking; though not suffering specifics I went with all-encompassing) my husband’s response was to a little bit lose his shit.

“Stop saying you don’t add any value. I’m sick of hearing that. I’m proud of you.

“I teach yoga.”

“Yeah. I’m proud of what you do.”

“I make no money. I’m worthless.”

“When you say that it makes me think you’re unhappy.”

“I’m not unhappy. I just have no financial value.”

“So what?”

Let’s just sum up the whole conversation and problem itself by saying that I might have erred in tying up self-worth with income. Doing that now leaves me inconsequential. When I talk to a new student before class I tell them that if a posture hurts during class, Hey, stop doing it and we’ll figure out something else. Maybe obey my own rule?

Jim’s end point landed at if you’re unhappy—I’m actually not—you’re welcome to go back to work if you’d like—oh, I do not—but you oughta know that you have huge value to me—aw—and to your students—aw . . . wait, really?

It goes back to that 200-hour certificate being puny. I’m a new teacher. I’ve been teaching for a year and a half now. How can I possibly provide any instruction worth following and coming back to when my training was so little and my experience not much to speak of?

The only answer that works for me is the 3,500 hours I’ve spent taking yoga classes. That’s what I have to offer—my experience as a student. The 200 hours of teacher training gave me the tools to translate that experience to classes that I hope I hope I hope are useful. I have experience with yoga injury, success in postures, shifts in my practice, catering to my individual anatomy, curbing my ego, stepping back from the practice, new understanding of what my practice means to me, stretch, strength, the task of balancing the two, learning how yoga fits in my life, how it affects my life, how that changes over time, knee problems, sacroiliac issues, shoulder trauma, reshaping my down-dog, and with being a longtime, attentive, often-obsessive yoga student.

Now, at this rate, according to the 10,000 hours-to-mastery rule from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, I’ve only got 25 more years of taking yoga classes until I’m an expert student and 45 more years of teaching until I’m a master instructor. So come take my class when I’m 79. It’ll be siiick.

My teaching style isn’t what’s common in a vinyasa class. It’s irreverent. Which maybe isn’t the best idea when it comes to yoga. (Look at me, just bursting with confidence today.) But I see it like this, if a student has a good time in a class they’re more likely to come back, to build a practice over time, to go to more classes and other teachers, and to find value in time on the mat. So while perpetually tugging the class back to breath, I lean toward partnering the physical with the funny.

I believe that you need more than one reason to come to the mat. Maybe it’s meditation. Maybe it’s that you have a good time. That you dig being upside down. That you have new yoga gear or like seeing your yoga friends. I don’t care what brings you to the mat. I care that you come. And relying on one reason alone—well, it’s just what I do on Wednesday afternoons—often isn’t enough for long-term attention. What brought you there becomes irrelevant as the practice seeps in. You get stuff on the mat. Maybe not what you thought you wanted but instead what you needed. For that you have to show up.

My role as the girl in the front of the room is to try to give you as many reasons to keep showing up as I can. So using the assets I come by naturally, I augment with play; we have fun in class—safe fun, really, really safe fun—so that that one class can contribute to creating a personal conviction that yoga is something worth doing.

Whenever I go to the dentist I always apologize for my teeth. Which are straight, white, and cavity-free. This last time I bashfully admitted that while I usually floss at least five days a week, lately it’s only been, like—gasp—two. I’m sorry my mouth is so gross. The hygienist replied, “It’s always the ones that fret and apologize that have nothing to worry about. They’re the ones with good care that don’t realize that their teeth are great. Your hygiene is perfect. It’s the people who don’t care that have problems. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I see.” (Insert some histrionic gagging here. Dentists. Gynecologists. Mouths. Lady Business. The people that choose to deal with that stuff as their bread and butter are more than a few slices shy of a loaf.)

I’d like to think that it works the same way with yoga teaching. It’s the ones that go into it too quickly and with overconfidence that aren’t doing a good job and the ones that agonize and apologize and are sure they’re a disaster that don’t realize that they actually don’t have anything to worry about. Let it be that. Let it be that so that I can let my head move on from certainty that I suck and fear that I’m destroying the practices entrusted to me to working on my goal of swearing less while teaching yoga. Not kicking the cussing altogether, you understand, just ratcheting back that shit.

Friday, August 12, 2016

JUST A NUMBER

Two important things happened in 1982. Yes, yes Tylenol laced with cyanide killed people. Think smaller and less national newsworthy. Number one: Jim got his first car, an International Scout. And the second: I was born. While he was learning to drive, I was learning to eat. When he was graduating from high school I was graduating to a toddler bed.

I am 34 years old and on Saturday my husband turned 50. He looks great. He feels great. He’s never taken better care of himself. So while a tucked away bit of me was a titch uneasy about the gist of this milestone birthday, it’s actually not a thing.

I know that I’m a significant reason he does the eating right and exercising stuff. When I’m his age he will be today’s social security age. When I’m today’s social security age he will be 80. Because men tend to knock off earlier than women and because he’s got 16 years on me, before we got married I had to sit myself down and come to terms with the idea that if we signed on there'd be a good chance I’d spend the last 20 years of my life alone.

Bummer concept though it is, he’s worth it.

When my divorce was certain it took my dad a hot second to start working on my next spouse. I wasn’t interested. A decade of experience with the first one said they were just a needy and dramatic hassle. Jim—not needy or dramatic—opened my mind.

Once Jim and I started to spend time together it wasn’t long before I decided to make him mine. Age was the first hurdle. It didn’t stall me even slightly, but I knew that in his ideas about remarriage he was only thinking within his own age group. He needed prodding to look the next decade down.

One night after I’d come over for some reason or another we were sitting in the front room downstairs that’s now decorated with the art I chose and bright colors I like (and Benjamin has told me he prefers to the way the house used to be decorated) we were talking about The Topic. The others. The affair. The lies. The divorce. The thing that sat us in the same room in the first place and was destroying his children.

“The age difference baffles me,” I told him. Bump. “She’s eight years older than he is. It’s the wrong direction. You don’t graduate from a younger woman to an older woman . . . ” He nodded agreement. Set. “But I think it’s totally okay for a man to go for someone much younger.” He looked at me, his face reading the realization of what I’d just suggested. Spike.

He recalls that conversation as the moment when it hit him that Sister Romo was into him. That she was an option. Before that he thought of me more like a little sister. A month earlier he had offered to cut me a Christmas tree when he was out cutting theirs. But why? Because if one of his sisters had been newly divorced and away from family he’d hope that someone else would take care of them like that. He was being the good guy that he can’t help but be. It’s that good guy that obliviously reeled me in. Hey, wait . . . There’s a fish on this line! I don’t think I even baited the hook . . . Aw. All you had to do to bait the hook is be you, handsome James.

Since 50 is the most standout birthday left (‘cept his 100th, he reminds me) I wanted Jim’s to be special. So I orchestrated a 50-days-to-50 celebration. Every day for the 50 days leading up to his birthday he’d get present—a trinket, a note, a something. I recruited his closest people, interspersed silly whatnot betwixt the meaningful gifts so as to not overwhelm the boy, and kept tissues handy. They were necessary. Katelynn found a recording of his dad talking about the day they adopted Jim. For nine-days-to-50 Josie wrote nine reasons he’s the best dad. Traci found a journal entry Brandon wrote about a day he and Jim spent together with their kids. My mom sent Spikeball and a letter about how grateful she is that he’s part of our family. Turning 50 turned out to be a great reason to make it loud and clear how much my husband’s loved. He merit’s all of it.

One card from a friend talked about how much he enjoys watching Jim support all his people. That’s it. That’s the thing that makes Jim unlike other guys. His life is structured to support us all. His employees. His family. His friends. He wants all of us content and spends his time deploying resources to make it so.

So what I was barely walking when he graduated high school? When your health is a priority and your mental age is about 14, age is just a number. So what I landed him at 48 and missed so many earlier years? I’ll take whatever time I can get.

Happy Birthday, baby. You were a choice. The best one I ever made.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

The cosmetic dermatologist sat down on the stool across from me and asked, “So what are you here for?”

“I want you to fix my face.”

“What exactly do you think needs fixing?”

“My face. It’s time. I’m looking old and my aesthetician agrees that it’s time for needles. So even though needles terrify me, I’m more scared of what I see in the mirror, so I want you to poke needles in my face and make it look better.”

“So Botox?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Well, I don’t see any fine lines on your face. So Botox may not be the solution you’re looking for,” she took a satin nickel rimmed vanity mirror off the countertop and handed it to me, “So, here, why don’t you look in this mirror and tell me what’s bothering you.”

I accepted the mirror and without looking in and it replied, “Oh. My face.” I swept my hand around my head and said, “The whole thing, really . . . well the puppet lines bug me.”

“Can I tell you what bothers me?”

“Please!”

She indicated where I could use some filler and I asked about Botox used prophylactically and that’s how one ordinary Wednesday I came to have a 31 gauge needle inserted into my face in seven places.

This experience helped bring me fully to the fact that I have no idea what I look like. None of us does. What I see in the mirror isn’t the same as what other people see when they look at me. I see dark spots and bags and big pores. My husband sees my bright eyes and straight teeth. I see bumps and divots on the backs of my thighs. He sees the pert shape of my butt. I see that my thighs are massive. He sees that they’re muscular.

I’ve gone through my life just assuming that the world I see is the same one everyone else is looking at. But no. We don’t even take in the same vistas.

Since the early stages of our relationship Jim and I have played a game—What Do You See? It occurred to me as I was getting to know him that we weren’t focusing on the same things when we looked at the world. I’d comment on signage and he’d ask, “What sign?” How did he not see that? “So what were you looking at if not that font?” “The power lines strung by the road. They’re old here. They aren’t buried.”

When we were driving through the area around Lake Michigan a few months ago—easily one of the most beautiful drives I’ve even been on, and I was raised on the Wasatch front, went to college in Hawaii, and now live adjacent to Lake Tahoe and am therefore not easily impressed—we played our game a lot.

Me: That is the most amazing blue!

Him: What? The sky?

Me: No. The nursery back there.

Him: What nursery?

Me: Uh, the one that was deep blue and surrounded by flowers and flagstones. What where you looking at?

Him: There was a tractor for sale.

•••

Him: When you see machinery like that in the backs of trucks do you wonder what the guy uses it for?


Me: What machinery? What truck?

•••

Jim sees industrial things. Construction things and wood. What I see is driven by color, scale, and alignment. Just last night we were sitting on a restaurant patio for dinner and he asked what I see. I couldn’t get past the mustard-colored blouse on another diner. It was clearly new and bought online. Because it still had the fold marks in it. “Why doesn’t she steam those out?” I asked, “It’s a really cute shirt and she ruined it. What were you looking at?”

“The curved roof over there. It was well done and has nice design elements.”

I’ve driven past that building thousands of times and never once given a thought to the windows below the arched roof. I’ve never noticed the roof is arched.

Right now, through the sliding glass doors, I can see Jim outside on his hands and knees sanding the deck. (Yes, I offered to help and he said I could bring him a glass of water.)

When he said that he was looking forward to getting that done this weekend and that the deck will look great when it’s refinished I told him, “You know, my list of things we need to do to the house is long and that wasn’t even on my radar.”

“Really?”

“I didn’t really even see that it needed work.”

“It’s good that we see different things.”

“So you’re telling me that you haven’t been losing sleep over the ottoman downstairs?”

“What ottoman?”

Monday, July 4, 2016

HEADLIGHTS & TAILLIGHTS

An imperious mid-sized woman just stopped at the row in front of me, looked down at the man in a camo cap settled 4D and pointed at the seat next to him. He stood, stepped into the aisle, and let her pass. As she scooted through, that woman with a pinched mug glowered at his country face. There are 60 unsold seats on this plane. Even for the late boarders middle isn’t mandatory.

I like being an outsider on planes where so many seem to know each other. This flight departed at 11PM. I’ll find my car in Reno Tahoe International’s long term garage around 1AM. You wouldn't expect a flight at this hour to be brimming with conviviality, but there are enough gregarious college softball players and coaches on this plane to surrender to cliché and reclassify us as the planet’s friendliest flying lesbian bar. And though it’s jovial in here I’m happy not to be a part of it. I’m tired. I’m done. And I’m glad to not have to explain my standoffishness to jolly traveling companions.

I should have been home by now, but imaginary thunderstorms rerouted my trip from SLC. The $100 travel voucher from Southwest was a nice gesture and the roasted beet and hazelnut salad in the Denver airport was worth replicating, but I’d rather see my husband while he’s awake today.

When I finally get home around 1:30AM I’ll come into the house, hear Sophie’s tags clink against each other as she bobs down the stairs to meet me, Gus’ claws irritatingly scrape against our new carpet as he army crawls from under our bed upstairs, and the heavy vibrations of my Jim’s snores. Even though the people in my house wouldn’t stir a bit if I spoke at full volume I’ll whisper loves at my creatures as they meet me halfway down the stairs. Anything but sotto voce in a dark house after midnight seems out of place. When I slip into bed, Jim will stir. The snoring will stop. He’ll roll over, reach for me, pull me to him, expertly find my butt with his left hand, find my head with his mouth, kiss whatever he finds—my eye, my bangs, my part, my cheek—and mutter, “My wife. I love my wife,” release me, roll back over, and resume slumber. But without the snoring this time. I’m home. He doesn’t need the companionship of his own mythic breathing.

I'm on my way home from four days in Utah. I went for my nephew Van’s baptism. Eight years ago I stood at the foot of my sister’s hospital bed and watched him arrive. He was my first birth. My sisters, my parents, the person I was married to back then, they all thought I’d freak. Instead, I saw a baby crown, I saw him slide into able hands, I heard his wail, his mother’s confessions of love, and I cried. Now he’s a blond boy with a froth of freckles and a penchant for collecting—rocks, bones, thread, needles, keys, whatever seems homeless and in need of purpose.

Over the weekend I swam with the nieces and nephews, dragging them from one end of my mom’s pool to the other on a giant inflatable slice of pizza. I followed Claire’s teeny legs and bum up the ladder for the Big Slide to stop her from falling if she slipped and I held my hands underwater flashing numerical gang signs so the littles in goggles could practice their underwater breathing and burst back up hollering, “Three!” “Five!”

When I switched from my swimsuit into the nearest pair of Lululemon Wonder Unders Claire asked, “Aunt Megan, why did you change your clothes?” When she heard my reply: “Because if I go more than 14 hours without wearing a pair of yoga leggings I start twitching uncontrollably,” that perfect four-year-old brain housed behind eyes bluer the the cerulean pool lining surrounding her told her that it was a reasonable answer and she nodded with total understanding.

It’s Claire who approached me at the brunch after the baptism, pointed at the leopard high-heeled sandals on my feet, and asked, “Aunt Megan, can I wear your shoes?” Later, back at Grandma’s house, I let her. Her skills in 3.5” heels are as good as anyone six times her age. Better, actually.

Almost ten years ago my parents sold the house we grew up in. I’m not the sentimental daughter. In fact, I’m heartless. If there’s a better house, go get it. What does it matter if the walls were papered with memories and the grout darkened by six pairs of little girl feet caked with summertime and on their way to the bath? Sell it. Leave it. Find something you like better. But my sisters have souls. So my mom made us each a book of the Provo house, with photos from each room—before the remodel and after—pictures with all of us that lived there and made that place something worth recollection.

On the first night of my trip I invited myself and my parents over to my sister Cat’s house for dinner. Almost immediately upon walking into their home, my five-year-old nephew Samson took me to the bookcase to show me his Minecraft books, his preschool graduation binder, and a Star Wars picture book. “My mom has a book of her old house,” he told me, pointing up at a higher shelf. “I know,” I said, “I have that same book. I used to live there too.” His bitsy mouth formed an O and he asked, “Really?” “Yup. We lived together for a long time. We shared a room.” He went on, “In that book is a bad, bad man. He made you very sad.” He was referencing my ex-husband. “Yeah,” I told him, “We hate that guy.” “We all hate him so much,” tiny Sam agreed. And then he took me to the back room to show me his miniature violin and to the yard to show me his slide.

I don’t visit Utah often. Jim and I travel a lot but not so often to Utah. The infrequency is good in a way because it means that I get so excited to visit, and while there I’m the most interesting novelty. At whoever’s house I visit I have to see every corner, hear each story, read important things aloud, and play games (until I finally win). My parents stay awake late to talk. My sisters make the drive down to Mom and Dad’s. And I get to hear for myself that now Silas makes sense when he speaks and Walt is still enamored with his mama. And I don’t miss the sliver of time where Violet’s lack of two front teeth give her a little lisp. But my, it’s good to get to go home. As my minutes in the air slip by, the plane’s occupants settle, and I get closer to that daily routine that is my comfort and the man that makes my heart tick quicker.

Friday, June 24, 2016

WALKING, TRASHING, TRAINING

I think I witnessed quail day care the other day. Two adult quail herding 15 little fluffs of baby quail across the street, enjoying a slightly stressful outing while the chicks’ parents were out doing their damnedest to peck out a living. It’s nice to know that animal kingdom has systems in place where parents can go out and provide for their young.

When I walk Gus it’s around the loop of the derelict golf course behind our house. Sophie doesn’t get to come because she is diva. When I’m putting on Gus’ harness she comes and stands by the front door too, ready to join us. But if I get out her harness she books it upstairs. She wants to go on a walk but on her terms, okay? When we walk we pass smatterings of other suburbians with their dogs or on bikes or running and we say hi and smile and continue on. (Unless they have a dog in which case Gus will straight up threaten suicide if he doesn’t get to smell its butt.)

At one point last evening coming down the path toward me was a middle-aged lady and her teenaged daughter. I locked Gus’ leash and pulled him close—I’m a polite dog owner, see—and then prepared to exchange a greeting as we passed. But they never looked at me. They kept walking toward me, looking beyond, like we weren’t 12 inches away from each other. So I said good evening and the woman scowled at me and mumbled it back as she walked on. So under my breath I whispered, “Bitch.” And I’m pretty sure she heard me. So who’s the bitch now, Megan, you genius?

Jim is in Alaska getting seasick with some clients for a few days, so I came home from our walk, turned on So You Think You Can Dance, and sat on our bathroom floor to clean out the cupboard and drawers. Cleaning Out is my happy place. I did our closet last weekend and it was time to tackle the toiletries.

A few months ago I cleaned out cupboards in the garage and when I opened the one on the far right I paused in shock. I found Jim’s crazy. He is a lightbulb hoarder. It’s our house that will still be glowing long after the Four Horsemen have come and gone. Bulb after bulb after bulb will save us. But you would experience the same stop and balk if you opened the third drawer down in our bathroom.

That’s where I keep all my Sephora samples. That’s where I keep my crazy.

95% of them I’ll never use. But. What. If. I. Will!? I have to keep them all. I have to keep them organized by type. And I have to add to them frequently enough that I’ll be a Sephora VIB Rouge just as long as Jim will keep our house well lit. I am currently satisfied with my skincare regime—aesthetician Victoria and I are really doing all we can with what we’ve got (dry skin that ages early and a client who thinks water tastes gross and so drinks Diet Dr. Pepper instead thus making her dry skin look even duller)—but what if I must to make a change? How will I know what to buy? My samples!

As I write that—samples—it makes me think of my old life. It revolved around samples. For years it was samples of insulin. But there were heart meds in there. Bone stuff. ADD meds. And plenty more. I wrote them all down once, the drugs I sold; in my ten years as a pharmaceutical sales representative I had responsibility for 18 different products spanning at least 10 disease states. And I’m sure I missed some. But have I thought about any of that since I quit a little over a year ago? Nope. I'm still surprised how quickly I un-repped myself. I trashed the buttoned-up wardrobe and forgot basically everything I learned over that decade of drugs. I can’t remember local doctors’ names, details of the drugs I knew inside and out, diseases I studied, all the parts and parcels of pharma. It’s a shining example of how caring about something helps it stick in your mind, and I don’t care about the drug rep world anymore. It was a major part of my identity and, unceremoniously, I offed it.

For all of those ten years and before I have cared about yoga. It’s been 12 years since I started my practice and it’s still with me, evolving on its own and sustaining me. Two classes today and a teacher training this weekend.

For the first evening of this training the pre-class packet said to wear not yoga clothes but street clothes instead. How do you people not know that these leggings and strappy sports bras are our street clothes. Have you ever noticed that when not in their Lululemon whatnot yoga teachers are about the worst dressers on the planet? Sure, there are exceptions but very few. When it’s time to ditch stretchy and functional for looking like a normal person most of us are all thumbs and gauche. And with that I will now go to my closet, change from of my leggings and strappy sports bra, and see what terrible ensemble I can come up with.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THE UNINTENTIONAL SHAPESHIFTER

Some days you just wanna sit cross-legged in your office chair knocking back beet juice and puttering around the internet instead of, you know, doing things. By 10:30 this morning I was already done with walking Gus and taking yoga, so I felt justified in lazing about until I was going to go teach at 4:30. In that way—and seriously so many others—Benjamin and I are soulmates. Around the time I got home from taking class he asked me if he could please not go to the pool with his sister and stay home instead. Hell yes, homie. And let’s turn on some Star Wars to keep us company.

But the wheels came off. Come 2PM I was sitting on the steps in the garage clutching a Diet Dr. Pepper and hiding from summer break. Bickering over the TV, a blasting slasher flick, flip flops and damp towels from the pool in the entry way, and pancake batter dishes just chucked in my spotless sink were more than I was interested in dealing with. So I hid until Jim pulled in and saved me.

This morning I told Cameron that I’m enjoying watching my yoga practice change. And that’s really what’s happening. I’m watching it. I’m not propelling the shifts. I’m just kind of riding along, letting the body and psyche have what they want.

For the last three or four years my practice has been about volume— as many classes as I could get done. Like taking 12 yoga classes/week was pretty standard. But I’m feeling this swing toward returning to actually enjoying myself in class and learning rather than focusing on busting out as much practice as I can. My yoga practice is making itself into something more about quality instead of quantity. Which is weird because my leanings in regard to everything else tend toward more! more! more! I was built without a stop button.

The quality I’m seeking is taking classes that are a pleasure and looking to find the flawless geometry of the postures in my body—avoiding sloppy just-gotta-get there yoga and refining my foundation instead.

I find myself reaching for big deal poses less and less. There was a time not all that long ago when I was gaga for the mad impressive, tough asanas. All the fancy, twisty, balance-y, death-defying tricks that make up the bulk of still yoga photos on Instagram. And I can do enough of that. Arm balances come to me pretty naturally. I’m a bendy little thing. But I am not feeling compelled to get more of that into my game. I want to clean up what I’ve already got.


After asking some students why they come to the mat I asked myself too. The answer is simply that it’s on my mat that I most frequently meet my very best self. That’s what I’m looking for in my practice lately—my best me. Not stuff that merits photos. If in my practice I happen on the aesthetically pleasing and impressive, yay, but that’s not my end game. Guys, I don’t have a goal. In yoga that’s such a good thing.

Yet my students are interested in inversions and other flashy shapeshifting, so as a teacher I feel like I need to maintain solid footing—or handing, if you will (yuk yuk yuk)—in the snazzy poses so I can offer them more than just what I want to do. If I taught what I want to practice we would do 45 minutes of sun salutations and then 30 minutes of sleepy hip openers on the floor, and we would never ever ever do Revolved Triangle and Warrior I. Ever.

It’s also interesting to see that I don't require as much Bikram yoga in my practice as I have in the past. For years now it’s been my habit to get in five to seven Bikram classes/week, but lately I’m kinda okay with three to four and about that many vinyasa classes. I’m not interested in getting rid of the Bikram in my practice altogether—the part of me that frequently requires a good old fashioned ass-kicking will never die, and I need to sweat out my demons. But it feels nice not being nuts about it. I might be edging in on “normal.” 

Also the dependability of Bikram yoga is a gift, especially when traveling, which we do kind of a lot. Vinyasa classes can be a crapshoot, and when I'm limited on time I like that with Bikram I know what I'm in for. 

This weekend I’m going to the yoga for trauma people training thing or something like that at Midtown Community, and when telling Jim what I'd registered for I said, “Maybe it will make me a better teacher.” His reply— “Maybe it will make you a better person.”

Also, I'm sure I can safely assume that you too have had to ask your non-smoking significant other what he wants you to do with the 40 lighters you found while cleaning out his closet. Do you store them in the safe with the 10 guns and cash and then relabel the thing Outlaw Kit or do you cram them all in the “lighter drawer” downstairs for when you need to spontaneously set off fireworks? It's lofty stuff, the decisions we have to make 'round here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

HOUSEWIFERY

When I told my sister, Whit, that Katelynn and I are going to learn to can this summer she text-yelled back, “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?”

“Dude,” I responded, “I choose something to do and get totally awesome at it. This is just the thing I’m doing right now.

That thing: housewifing.

For someone—me—whose life choices had firmly defined her as not-housewife, this is a puzzling revision. Except it’s not. I never said I didn’t want to be a housewife specifically. I said I never wanted to birth things. And I won’t. There are three pretty significant stumbling blocks that the parts and pieces of zygote-building would have to hurdle in order to knock me up. I never considered Housewife as an option because that job and motherhood usually party together. Instead my housewifery happened because I hated my boss, my husband hated my hating, we didn't need my income, and that darling husband said something like, Woman, quit if you wanna quit. So I went from childless* drug rep who teaches yoga sometimes to childless housewife who teaches yoga sometimes. Drop one noun. Snag another.

But what does housewifery even mean in my situation? To start, it means that my friends kinda hate me. It’s actually one reason I haven’t blogged recently. I a little bit can’t. When I write about my life people hate me and that leaves me a lil’ lonely.

Example—

A few months ago driving through Napa on an impossibly green weekday Jim took hold of my bare right foot crossed over my thigh and said, “I love these feet.”

[one friend just stopped reading . . . her husband’s not very attentive and she can’t deal with enduring this sap right now]

Fighting the urge to slip it from his hand and slide it to the floor, I asked, “But why? I live barefoot. They’re horrible.”

He rubbed a thumb along my rough heel. “Because they’re where my wife starts.”

[three more friends just clicked off . . . two never to be heard from again]

When he says things like that I coo that he’s darling and I kiss his neck, and then I say, “You know I can never tell anyone how cute you are, right? You’ll end up being my only friend and that will put too much pressure on you. You don’t enjoy girl talk.”

It’s not just the stuff he says though. He makes my day-to-day enviable.

Take right now for instance: I’m perched on what must be the softest bed in America, near an open window that overlooks SF’s Union Square while Jim is out visiting clients. I planned to take a few yoga classes today, and I still may, but right now it feels nice to just not. I do, however, plan to take the 8-minute walk to Lululemon for another Scuba Hoodie a little later. My big problem though is that I forgot my shampoo and conditioner at home and had to use some drugstore stuff that’s making my hair frizzy despite the pricey potions I added pre blow-dry.

Dear Reader, this out-of-town Monday isn’t a weird one. I’m exactly this spoiled all the time.

When talking with a friend a few months ago about how irritated I get when the housekeepers don’t tuck in my sheets just right (I actually had the spoiled audacity to bitch about that) she cut in, “Wait—they change your sheets too? Sorry, but what do you even do!?” It’s never a good idea at moments like that to reply, “Uh, I fill out the order form for the weekly organic box. I schedule the Tesla maintenance, pay the people who pick up the dog poop outside, bring the milk in from the front porch and pick up my weekly juice order. I request additional landscaping and leave out the dry cleaning. Oh, and I choose new carpet.” I have experiential confirmation that nothing makes you sound douchier than a response like that. More importantly—to me—it overlooks what I do that actually adds value.

I’m married to a man who would prefer not to think about anything that isn’t fun or doesn’t have to do with work. His life is about supporting me, his kids, and the parasites that literally live off of his kids’ child support. So I make a good bit of my life about making his easier.

Jim’s ideal world is one where he doesn’t have to think about what to wear or what to eat, where his people are happy, and where he feels loved. So I manage his wardrobe—I toss clothes when they’ve seen their day, clip coordinating socks to his shirts, pitch a fit when the dry cleaners crease his chinos, and hunt for shoes that are comfortable on the first wear. I handle his food—the evening before each work day I choose and pack his snacks and I make his lunch salad with vinaigrettes acidic enough to give him lockjaw, just like the man likes. To take care of the keeping-the-wife happy part of Jim’s ideal I go to yoga, teach yoga, buy clothes, visit family, keep friends, and learn new things. And to make sure he feels loved I don’t let my hobbies become more important than us spending time together and go to bed when he does so I can tickle his back for the whole two minutes it takes my guy to pass out.

Nutshelled: housewifery for me means that I take care of the guy who is taking care of me, and the rest of the time I do whatever the hell I want, and I do it in a really nice car.

We’re good partners. We are religiously aligned. Our priorities match. He likes to talk business. I like to hear it. I have skill sets that enhance his work and home life. He’s good at the money making. I’m good at the money spending. He comes with me to art museums. I accompany him to baseball games and occasional outdoorsy garbage. We each feel well-supported. We were happy when my daily wear was high heels and pencil skirts, and we’re happy now that I wear more Chucks than heels and leggings than skirts.

I was born pretty uptight. For most of my life that served me okay. I got shit done. I felt good about the shit I got done. It gave me something that felt like happiness. But I don’t feel like I have to be like that just now. If I need to go into hyper-productive mode I know how; it’s built into me. 

My relationship with Jim caught me at a good time. The first month we started seeing each other was the month I finished graduate school. I’d been doing driven and stressed out for a long time and I was ready to give output-as-priority a break. I was managing the emotional trauma of a cheating ex-husband, and I finally had some space for fun. If there’s anything people know about Jim it’s that my husband is fun. So I let it happen. Without really knowing it, I was ready for something else. I’m now up to my ears in Something Else.

I’m crushing housewifery like I crushed drug repping, like I crushed school, like I crush all the shit I choose to crush. Anyone can make almond milk every Wednesday, Dear Reader, but it’s only badasses that use Thursdays to make crackers out of the pulp.

•••

* But Megan, you can’t call yourself childless! You have step kids! Yes, yes I do. And I don’t. When Jim and I got married we talked about what my role with his kids should be. Jim wasn’t looking for someone to be a parent to his kids. His younger children have a part-time mom. And for the older two that don’t, Jim’s a great dad and mom and those two’s mothers-in-law (wink, Traci!) are about as stellar woman as exist on the planet. A stepmom wasn’t necessary. Instead we decided that I would support him as a parent and be the kids’ friend as much as they were okay with—I would give them the assurance that their father was loved and would help them in whatever way they needed. And that’s just what I told them in the letters I wrote the kids when we wed.

The relationships have evolved over the last couple years. It’s different with each of them. Anyone whose done the blended family thing knows that the bonds are tenuous and the relationships perpetually delicate. I do my best to not overstep my boundaries while still being available in the capacities the kids need.

Initially, I helped out and made myself available because I loved Jim and he loves his kids. It’s nice now that I adore those little dorks for themselves and get to enjoy relationships with each of them and their significant others that are unique to them and independent of their dad.

So am I their stepmom? Only if that’s what they want. I don’t presume. I try to identify and respect boundaries. I just act as their dad’s other half and have a really good time with them both when he’s around and when he’s not.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

EAGLE ONLY MEANS GARUDASANA SOMETIMES

We haven't met before and we're having that getting-to-know-you interaction. When you ask me what I do I sort of stall and then say, “I teach yoga.” When you ask me where I say, “I teach at Juice Box and at Pure. I sub sometimes at Midtown—” then I mumble, “and I teach at aplaceoutinSparks.” I could just omit the last bashful part and pretend that I don’t teach yoga at a gym, but then I’d be failing to mention a place I love to teach. I so did not see that coming.

My name is Megan Romo-Elliker. I am a yoga teacher. A couple times weekly I teach yoga at a gym. 

There. It’s out.

I’d say that—sheesh!—I don’t know why there is this stigma about teaching yoga at a gym, except I do know. It’s gym yoga. It's not Yoga Journal yoga with expensive leggings, Krishna Das' latest album, a big Om symbol painted on the wall, and freshly swept environmentally friendly flooring. It’s yoga where there can be the clang of weights in the background, where students may not know to take off their socks for class, where sometimes—I am not kidding—the new front desk staff will come through the room during class to go out back to empty the trash, where students might show up without their own mat, where people are like, “Eh, what the hell? I’m already here, why not try yoga? It's stretching. How hard could it be?” The stigma surrounding gym yoga exists because since it’s not a yoga studio, that temple of middle class white lady pretension, it's not real yoga. So those of us who deign to teach there get bashful about it. Even though we may love it.

Yoga studio students can get so spoiled and entitled. They pay beaucoup bucks for their yoga and for those dollars they expect that their copious feedback on everything from the water pressure in the showers to the duration teachers have them hold postures will affect instant change. I’m about as fed up with it as I’ve ever been. It makes me appreciate that much more the humility of my Eagle Fitness yoga students.

I admit, the yoga environment at Eagle isn’t ideal. The props are rustled up from whatever students and teachers have brought in, the sound system is unreliable, the room is cold, there’s no good way to control the temperature; that place doesn’t have all the comforts of a for-real yoga studio. But it doesn’t matter. (And I perpetually argue that a shitty, uncontrolled environment provides for real yoga, this stuff that's useful off the mat, the yoga where you have to cope in difficulty and make real use of your breath.) Here's the thing, Eagle students don't need the pampering of a hipster ashram with a juice bar to get in their yoga.

These people arrive on their mats with the best attitudes. If it's cold they wear a sweatshirt. If a lightbulb is burned out, they make good-natured jokes about haunted yoga. If there's no music, they listen to their breath. Because Eagle doesn’t use fancy scheduling software like MindBody Online, students never know for certain who will be teaching their class. And they roll with it. They are grateful for any yoga at all. They are happy for the variation a substitute provides. They are eager to learn and they listen well. They respond to corrections. They enjoy each others' company. They try new things. They employ props. They fall out of arm balances. They respect their teachers. They are yogis.

The mythology about gym yoga students not knowing how to behave in class, e.g. talking while the teacher does, laughing at sanskrit, and fidgeting in savasana, it’s apocryphal at Eagle Fitness. I can’t be certain why we are exempt, but I credit Ella.

Ella is my friend who has been teaching at Eagle for, like, five years or something now and practicing for much longer. I tell everyone who will listen that she is one of the best teachers in town. I know; I've taken from just about everyone. The sincerity and study with which she approaches teaching gives the other Eagle teachers a standard to strive for and has inspired in her students a reverence and respect that results in a dedication to their practice that rivals that of any studio student. She gives them real yoga and they give back earnest devotion to their practice and to her. It bleeds into the other yoga classes offered at Eagle, and as one of their teachers, I am a fortunate beneficiary.

I'm feeling all cuddly about Eagle right now because I just came back from subbing a class there, one that I’ve never even attended before. The teacher needed a sub, I was available, I took the slot, and I then texted her asking what the class was like. They flow some. They work on strength. They are happy for whatever she comes up with. I showed up, introduced myself, heard a couple students say, “Oh, you’re the other Megan!” and then we went to the breath. My class was certainly different compared to what they’re accustomed to, but as expected, their attitudes were great.

At 4:30 I get to go back there and teach my regular Tuesday class, and once I plan the sequence I’m going to teach those fine yogis, I’ll be looking forward to it. Those fools got game. I'm thinking we'll play with Bhujapidasana.

Friday, January 1, 2016

DAY ONE?

I rarely know what day of the week it is. Since quitting my drug career I haven’t really had to know. I look at my calendar in the morning to see if I’m teaching, but other than that, my knowledge of what date it is barely extends to the current month.

Therefore learning that not only is this the first day of a new month but in fact the first day of a new year was unexpected. (Well, actually not much is expected. I have the immense privilege of floating through my days taking yoga, taking pole, teaching some, making out with a hot piece of ass, and eating lots of feta.)

But I did the significant day proper. I took Bikram this morning, went to Star Wars in 3D with Ben and Jim, and then picked up my two yoga teacher pals for a vinyasa class this evening. In class I laughed hard enough to fall out of postures. Then there was cake. And all day diet soda.

If I do that thing that all the people everywhere are doing and take stock of 2015 it’s clear that I done the whole durn year proper too—
  • I graduated from yoga teacher training.
  • I stopped selling drugs.
  • I discovered that it is possible to be sexually attracted to a car.
  • I started seriously working on my French.
  • I took up pole and got a pole in my house!
  • We got lost in Venice.
  • We lazed in Hawaii.
  • We partied at the Playboy Mansion.
  • I rattled around The Big Easy with my two besties.
  • I celebrated my first year of marriage to the best man I know.
  • I saw all five of my sisters at once.
  • I met a good looking newborn.
  • We got a Katelynn Hansen quilt.
And those are just the standout things. The everyday things add up to notable too. I enjoy Jim’s kids. I live to love that man. I get to text with my mom and my sisters most every day. My dogs are annoying but healthy. Jim’s company is thriving. While my eyesight sucks I have contacts and glasses for correct it. Netflix has The West Wing on demand. My body is sore and bruised and calloused from constant activity. My drawers and closet are full of clothes and shoes I like. Amazon exists. My knees hurt less. My bed is comfortable. My husband adores me.

Not only do I not know what 2016 has in store, I don’t know what day of the week it is tomorrow. But I do know that with Jim as my person the year and every next day will be entertaining and abundant. Aw, shit, I just used that word—abundant. I'm gonna go gouge out my own eyes now.

Monday, December 28, 2015

THIS CAR ENTHUSIAST

When someone stops me to talk about my car the order of their questions is predictable. And while I do wait to be asked, I could rattle off the answers people want before the first question leaves their lips:
  • Each charges goes for about 240 miles, depending on how fast I drive.
  • We plug it in in the garage every night, and it is fully charged in the morning.
  • We installed a 220V outlet in the garage, so it gets about 30 miles of juice/hour when charging at home. Comparatively, a standard 120V outlet gets you about 3 miles/hour.
So Jim and I think maybe we should just have some business-card sized answers handy for when someone wants to chat about my ride. “Is that a Tesla?” “It is.” “How—“ “Hang on,”—hands asker the preprinted answer card—“this is what you want to know.”

The conversations always start with questions about range and charging and then evolve from there. At some point I let slip my going-to-polluters'-hell environmental apathy and reveal that I couldn’t give a damn about the car’s zero emissions; I love the thing for how it drives. Read: fast. (And on its own. With auto-steering I can eat a bowl of fruit and yogurt at 50mph, both hands off the wheel and looking down in the bowl to make sure my spoon snares every berry all while driving more safely than I would with both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.)

One day I came out of a store to find an elderly couple circling my car—slowly—and trying to be discreet about peering in the windows. It wasn’t freaky. These days that kind of thing isn’t far outside my ordinary. Teslas aren’t the most common cars and presently they’re unlike anything else on the road. People are curious. I answered the couple's—the man's mostly—inevitable questions and went off on some of my favorite features.

“You seem like quite the car enthusiast,” the guy said.

“No,” I told him, “I’m a this car enthusiast.” I like it more than I like most people, and sometimes I want to pet it cooing, “Pretty car. Pretty, pretty, perfect car.”

By way of moving forward, yesterday afternoon we booted our Christmas decorations. It took ten minutes. Since we didn’t have the kids over the Christmas part of the holiday break Jim and I decided to forgo the tree. But the decor we did put up was bomb:


I made that. I took a family photo into Illustrator, traced it, slimmed my ever-substantial thighs some, colored the clothes to match our Bright Lab lights, and added a little one before his arrival. Jim hangs all sorts of things for me throughout the house, but this tapestry was the thing he actually wanted to put up. It’s his favorite piece of decor we’ve ever had, and when we de-decorated yesterday he wasn’t down with my tossing it. He just loves it too much. I should have it made into a blanket for him. He’s darling.

This week will see both Elliker men heading to Vegas. Jim just for a layover on his way to San Diego to look at a job and Dustin back to CFI school. CFI—that’s Certified Flight Instructor. He’s a pilot with a commercial endorsement and is now training to train other pilots. It’s how many new pilots build hours enough to be eligible for jobs with regional carriers. I know these things now. I only have to ask Dustin to reexplain everything to me again six or seven times whenever he’s in town.

And the baby. You want to know about the baby. We had our new little fella over on Christmas day. He was dressed as an elf and definitely on the nice list. He just makes little squeaks and squawks here and there. Katelynn and Nathaniel have managed to produce a very content lil’ critter. And while I was unabashedly rooting for a girl child mostly because of the baby girl offerings in Old Navy, I am happy for the arrival of a little dude and satisfied with the selection of baby boy wear out there. The Katelynn texted yesterday of tiny grandbaby in his green striped hoodie was more than enough to sell me on boy clothes being plenty rewarding for the shopper.

After yoga and errands, this day is about writing thank-you notes. The impending inconvenience of writers cramp signifies a life full of thoughtful and generous people, so I won’t whine about the ache. Much. Jessica gifted me a t-shirt that says My Life Rocks. It totally does. Other shoe, please don't drop.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CONFOUNDING EXPECTATIONS

We didn’t expect life to look like it does now. Whoever does though? For one thing, I’m pretty sure I expected my hair to stay pixie-short for the rest of my life. I expected to be a drug rep—begrudgingly—for a long time. I expected I’d stay married to that other guy. I even expected that I would give in and have a kid and spend the rest of my life trying to to have a good attitude about being something that I never in my life wanted to be.

I’m just so glad, so grateful, that none of that is true. Life now is startlingly different than what I may have expected. It is startlingly so much better. 

Yesterday I asked Jim, “You know that saying, ‘If it seems to good to be true it probably is?’ Then how do I explain you? You seem to good to be true but with you what you see is actually what you get.” He is this great. And Jim is never shy about his faults or things he would have done differently in his life. I never have to be uptight about telling people things about my husband. He’d tell them himself. Even nearly three years into this relationship I’m still surprised by that. I spent ten years married to a guy who was nothing but secrets. Jim, however, couldn’t keep a secret to save his life. Or even my life. Anyone’s life, if we’re being all-encompassing and honest here. Keeping secrets takes more energy than he is interested in expending when he could be doing something useful. He is dead set on being useful.

This was the week of his Victory Woodworks holiday parties. One for each office, one here in Reno and one in Vegas. I love going along to those events. First off, Jim lets me hand out the crisp new money when people spin the wheel for cash which makes me instantly the most popular person in the room. And I love seeing how happy his employees are. Unless they are 85 of the best fakers in Nevada, these people like where they work. My husband is a good boss. He is genuinely interested in making Victory a place where his people are happy. And when he gave his little speech at the Reno party he got to announce that he missed work the previous day because he was at the hospital becoming a grandfather. He'll be good at that too.

You skipped over the relevant niceness of Jim’s daughter having a baby and went right to, “Wait! Doesn’t that make you a step-grandma!?” Snicker snort chuckle guffaw blah blah blah. You realize I’ve been getting that for a good eight months, right? I’ve also come to terms with it. If a grandma figure is someone who buys shit the parents wouldn’t and perpetually sends surprises to their doorstep and helps decorate their apartment, well then I fit that bill. I got to leapfrog all the hard parts of having a kid and jumped right to the part that all overworked mothers ache for. I’ll take it.

Something that Jim and I frequently say that we didn’t expect was how great things would be with his kids. We reasonably thought that it was going to be awful a lot of the time because family blending is just that. But I—thank you thank you thank you—didn’t come with kids, which makes things easier, and also, I am awesome. (Jim too, but let's talk about me for a sec.) The kids—I’d say especially the older two—have gotten the message that I’ll do anything to help them. In the beginning that was for Jim. I wanted to make him happy and that meant being nice to his kids. Now I enjoy them in their own right for the engaging people that they are. When I threw Katelynn’s shower I told Jim, “This isn’t for you. This is for her.” I love hanging out with Katelynn. And I’m going to enjoy watching her be the terrific mom everyone is certain she will be. I’m excited when Dustin comes home to visit. I’m ecstatically pleased at how he’s progressing in his pilot training. They’re not my kids but I adore them, I am happy for them, I’m proud of them, and feel what I guess could be termed a sort of stewardship for them. It’s a gift that the horror Jim and I expected to wade through didn’t materialize. Instead we all get along and even enjoy each other’s company.

All of that has been a boon lately since my yoga practice has been on a sort of hiatus and I needed other things to focus on so I didn’t drive myself—and Jim, the real sufferer here—to madness. A couple months ago I dislocated a rib in pole class, and then just as it was healing I had a minor foot surgery that developed an infection which absolutely wouldn’t heal if I didn’t stay off it (“for crying out loud” —nearly exasperated podiatrist who would really love it if I started wearing shoes once in a while instead of living my life barefoot). But I’m back on my mat, Dear Reader, heading to class now, in fact, and am really looking forward to putting my body in its place. (Said the girl who imagined she had some kind of control.) Peace out, y'all.