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This is my entry for Courtney Miller-Callihan’s super fun contest challenging folks to share their craziest re-imagining of their summer vacations.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation
A Haiku re-imagining by this inadvertent yogini

Conquered Voldemort!
Vanquished bridesmaids, Smurfs, bad boss!
Sigh. Just saw movies.
essay on criticism
You may remember that I’m a bit of a crazy-magnet. I accept that as my lot in life. Sometimes, however, I forget that it’s my lot in life. Well, this morning, I was reminded. Le sigh.

I took Pelu for an early-morning outing to the dog park before an editing session with my crit partner. For those unfamiliar with dogs, dog parks, and dog park etiquette, it goes something like this. There’s a “any-size/big dog” area for the…(wait for it)…big dogs or any brave little dogs that don’t mind mixed big-dog company. And a separate “little dog” area for…little dogs. Each one is fenced in with three-foot tall fences, intentionally separate, and gated.

Lest there be any confusion, there is a painted sign of a little dog with “<#25"spelled out for the little dog portion. Pelu–all ten pounds of her–was in the little dog park alone when a monster-sized, garantuan, astoundingly huge, mind-blowingly large dog leapt–yes, leapt–over the three-foot-tall fence into the little dog area. This alone was kind of amazing.

What was more amazing, however, was that the owner simply stood there and watched as little dogs began running around in terror and little-dog owners began scooping them protectively. It was practically akin to a post-bomb scene in a movie with people running for cover, screaming.

Meanwhile, the giant dog–let’s call him Brutus–then began relieving himself all around our area. And in case you’re thinking it was only “number one,” well, you’d be wrong. After he left three separate piles around the little dog sanctuary, he then began tearing around in victorious loops. (I imagine this is the doggie equivilent of “Take that, b^tches! Your park is mine now!”)

Still in the general/big dog area, Brutus’s owner, let’s call him Oblivious A-hole Owner (OAHO for short), yelled, “You got the sh^ts or something?” as he continued to simply stand, stare, and do absolutely nothing.

Yeah, he’s got ‘the sh^ts’ from the little dog he ate on his walk here, I thought sarcastically.

Finally, one small-dog owner approached him and asked if he needed an extra bag to pick up after Brutus (aka hint-hint).

OAHO stared angrily, silently before finally pushing off the fence he’d been leaning on and ambling over, snapping “I’ve GOT it.”

Walking past me, he said (as though we were having a conversation), “So, let me get this straight, my dog can’t come in the little dog park but little dogs can come over to general area.”

“Yep–those are the rules alright,” I agreed cheerily. “Because big dogs can really hurt little dogs, so it’s at the little dog owner’s discretion if they want to take that risk.”

“Oh that’s it, is it?” He taunted, his voice a nasty sneer. “Well how am I supposed to know?”

I pointed to the sign.

“Yeah…too bad my dog can’t read,” he sneered derisively.

“Good thing his owner can…and that’s the owner’s responsibility, to control the dog and stick to the rules.” I volleyed back.

Sensing that he wasn’t going to win this one, he decided to make it personal. “Wow. You’re a real happy person, aren’t you? You’re just in a GREAT mood today, huh?” The sarcasm in his voice could’ve peeled paint off walls.

“I was,” I agreed, “until about 5 minutes ago.”

By this point, my tiny Pelu broke free of her frozen state of fear and ran to the gate, pawing frantically to get out.

As we walked home, I remembered again that I have a bit of a crazy-magnet and that next time I need to resist engaging with crazy. Perhaps this sign on the pick-up bag dispenser said it best.

Thoughts? Etiquette violations (dog-park or otherwise)?

cell phone listening devices

As I reflect on my trip to India, I try to wrap my brain around what I saw and experienced. I try to find words that accurately describe that world–colorful, chaotic, crowded, hot, amazing come to mind.

But I think that the most accurate and illustrative summary of India that I can come up with is actually the word contrast. As in, India is a place of dramatic disparity and striking contrasts.

The contrast between the rich and the poor. A holy man asking for money to bless me. A cow holding up two lanes of traffic. An ox-cart/cow-cart/camel-cart on a highway alongside buses, cars, and trucks. Women in beautiful saris sitting side-saddle on the backs of motorcycles. Delhi—India’s third-largest city—with a population of 16 million people (double the size of New York!) not having basic infrastructure like trash removal. Wild monkeys everywhere…including major cities that are twice the size of New York. Families of five on one motorcycle. Families of five on one motorcycle and only the father (who’s driving) wears a helmet. Monks buying ice cream. Flies covering fresh food. Rishikesh’s city government hiring people to empty dumpsters (into the sacred Ganges River) and simultaneously hiring a “Green the Ganges” team to…fish trash out of the sacred Ganges River. People purifying themselves in a river polluted by trash and toxic waste. Women purifying themselves in the Ganges only ever fully clothed in their saris. Men purifying themselves in the Ganges wearing only ever small, skin-tight bathing suits (shorts). Most men wearing western clothes. Absolutely no women wearing western clothes. 110-degree weather and yet everyone very covered (men in long-sleeves, long pants; women in saris or salwar kameezs). Food being sold/consumed in the filth of the streets. McDonald’s being a really nice restaurant. Electricity being unreliable (at best!) and yet only the really nice hotels having back-up generators. (Think of the ramifications of that—all the food that spoils and then is sold anyway.)

My own internal contrast of being so fascinated and drawn to this crazy, amazing, and difficult place.

Can I get that with a side of flies, please?
Street scene
Mama and Baby Monkey
mobile android gps tracking app
When we moved to the South End six years ago, we learned that an unanticipated perk of the place was that it happened to overlook the starting line of the Pride Parade. This year, over mimosas, we stood in the rain and clapped and cheered for all manner of marchers. Spanning the gamut were everyone from church groups to cross-dressers, the Old and Bold to the young and scantily clad. Nothing shocks me anymore. Or so I thought…

But this year, my not-so-delicate sensibilities were scandalized by one float in particular. No, it wasn’t the woman with the duct-taped breasts. Nor was it the leather-mask-clad people dressed in some sort of equine-theme, pulling Roman-chariot-looking carts carrying another leather-clad person wielding a whip. (Wow! Apparently, six years of watching the parade has really jaded me. I didn’t even blink an eye at this).

No. What really shocked me this year was the yoga float. Yes, the yoga float. It sounds innocent enough. But it was carrying what can only be described as a Cirque du Soleil-esque display of attention-seeking contortionism. The shirtless guy in full handstand (undeniably an accomplishment on a moving float) was the tamest. (Note: One of the studios where I teach requires men wear shirts due to the exhibitionist-curbing theme.) (Further note: it was a cold that day–jeans and sweatshirt-wearing-cold. These yogis must’ve been freezing!) There was a shirtless guy in full paddotanasana (wide-legged forward bend) who then snaked his arms under and around his inner thighs and into a full-bind at his lower back—and the fact that I couldn’t even find an image of this during a google search says something. Then there was all sorts of skin-tight, barely-there yoga outfitted women executing all sorts of writhing, snake-y, twisty-pretzel, Gumby-ish poses. Bodies weren’t the only thing contorting—faces, too, were twisting and squinching in the exquisite delight of performers pandering to an audience.

I know that the opposite argument will be to let yoga be what it is to different people, and that’s fine. But I think it was the attention-seeking, pandering aspect that made this one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. And bear in mind, I’m a strangeness magnet.

Call me naive, but I was actually shocked that there was a yoga float at all. Isn’t that the polar opposite of every tenet of the practice? Isn’t the very nature of a pose-flaunting parade float in opposition to the deeply personal, inwardly focusing, mind-stilling, non-competitive, non-exhibitionist nature of yoga??

I’m all about providing yoga to the masses. But this inadvertent yogini’s two cents is that it would have been far more in line with the true mission of yoga—not to mention more business and marketing efficient (hey, ten years in the corporate world yields thought patterns that die hard!)—if the studio had simply walked in normal clothes, handing out vouchers for a free class.

I think one comment that I overheard sums it up best: You know, I’ve always wanted to try yoga…but if that’s what it’s like, forget it. I could never do any of that.” And surely that’s not what the studio was going for.

Love it? Hate it? Don’t mind either way?

(click to enlarge pics)

mobile spy technology

Throughout my twenties, my Italian grandmother lamented my single status. As all her other grandchildren married and reproduced, she was wont to introduce me as her “granddaughter…the unmarried one.”

Finally, at the ripe old age of 30, I too got married. This meant that she could stop saying Hail Marys to that effect and I could feel relieved that she’d now stop asking if I’d met any “special friends” during our daily conversations.

I’d earned a blessed reprieve. Or so I’d thought.

Until…she started asking when she’d see great-grandchildren. Ah, le sigh. It seems marriage is not enough for a little Italian nonni.

In much the same way I resisted marriage, I’ve stubbornly resisted the kid pressure. Maybe it has something to do with all that getting up every three hours for round the clock feedings. And cleaning up someone else’s poop. And the whole 18 years (minimum) of undue responsibility–the idea of another (utterly helpless!) little being depending on you for their food and safety and care. I couldn’t just go away for the weekend with friends or hubby anymore.  I couldn’t have wine with dinner, mimosas with brunch, or vodka…ever?! (OK fine – not “ever,” but at least for a year or two given pregnancy and breastfeeding).

That level of commitment is so very intense and overwhelming. And I’m kind of a wimp and definitely a commitment-phobe. Which basically boils down to…fuhgeddaboudit.

So here I am, nearly 34, and my biggest responsibilities are my indoor plants year-round, and my garden in the summer. No fish. No cats. No big burden of responsibility.

Until I decided I was ready for at least a little more responsibility. And suddenly, getting up every three hours for the first few months and cleaning up someone else’s poop didn’t sound quite as bad.

Which is how I knew I was ready for the big plunge: a puppy!

Enter: Pelu. An adorable mutt from MacAllen, Tx. Her mom was a cockapoo (half cocker spaniel, half poodle and trust me, that sounds better than the alternative “poodlecock”) and the dad is a mystery. My vet says she looks like a border terrier. And given that, at five months, she’s only growing longer and not taller, I think she may be part long-haired dachshund as well.

I got up every few hours to let her out for the first few days of housetraining. Then I realized this tiny puppy and I were soulmates: she could hold it for at least eight hours. Heaven! Mama can sleep!

Yes, she is utterly dependent on me for her care, food, safety, and well-being. But surprisingly, that isn’t as terrifying as I’d feared. I can actually handle it. She loves to snuggle. She can entertain herself for hours while I work. She naps like a champ. And she has a sassy, loving, irrascible personality that is entirely endearing.

Which makes her just about the most perfect little creature in the world and exactly the right amount of responsibility.

Still not ready for kids though! 🙂

Napping…like a boss
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Just had an utterly lovely week at a yoga retreat. Yoga everyday, walks outside in the snow, yoga everyday…amazing, organic, nutritious food that you don’t have to plan, shop for, or clean up after…yoga everyday…ah, le sigh.

And now, back to reality. Stopped at a coffee shop on the way home. After several hours in the car, I’m stretching while I wait for my tea.

Deceptively sane-looking man in his 40s-50s approaches.

Him: What are you doing?

Me: (mid side-bend) Um…stretching?

Him: The universe punishes those who drive in poetic ways.

Me:  Ok.

Him: Drivers poison our planet with their driving…And their cars…And now the planet…and the universe are punishing you in poetic ways for your driving.

Me: Ok.

He leaves. I’m still waiting for my tea, still stretching. He comes back and says – NO JOKE – “I forgot my crayons.” Grabs a box of crayons from the table near me, returns to his seat at the counter, and proceeds to start coloring.

I did not dare to look to see if he was coloring outside the lines.

Does this stuff happen only to me?

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ust in time to get the weekend started off on a good note! I got my organic produce delivery. And there, nestled among the butternut squash, bananas, lemons, and various other veg, was this magnificent example of just how awesome nature can be…

 And just in case you missed it…

And in case you need the close-up in order to see the naughty…

Happy Friday