Monday, October 31, 2005


Kai and I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Carroll Gardens (Brklyn) on Saturday. After a brief, light practice I took the F-train to 2nd Avenue and Arlene's Grocery to meet Miss Grace and Entourage (one was a curator at one of the fancy modern art museums; our conversation began and ended with, "So you've never left Chicago?" Thud). Incredibly, Lesion started on time. Better yet are the non-smoking laws in clubs (something that's being hotly debated in Chicago at this very moment). I was home by midnight -- and with no smoke hangover to boot.

Sunday morn the Hex and I sat at the Two Red Hens cafe in P-Slope and watched the locals maneuver their strollers and wait 20 minutes in line for a mediocre cup of coffee. Cousin Marlene and Allen and I endured a lovely jazz brunch (despite some abuse by the hosts) at the too-well-known-for-its-own-good Blue Water Grill and hung out in and around Union Square. After shopping (I've since returned just about everything) I then walked south to SoHo for tea with the Goodmans and dinner with the Dancing Curmudgeon at the macrobiotic restaurant Souen. Today it's coffee with Mike-the-artist, the Park Slope Halloween Parade and the Tiger Lilies at Anne's Warehouse......I'm poised to open a club called Satya's Outhouse.

Does anyone else think I look like Amy Goodman?

Saturday, October 29, 2005


After seeing The Squid and the Whale in Chelsea, Michael M-the-artist and I kept meandering towards downtown, stopping in the Union Square market for some home-made oatmeal-raisin cookies we shared over coffee (it was *really* cold). He told me about his latest artwork (no more painting, lots more conceptual work) and we walked around SoHo, Chinatown, NoLita, etc. I was freezing and tried on some jackets and hats (no luck) but did find some cheap gloves at National Wholesale Liquidators, which has gone down in recent years if you ask me.

Then back on the F-trian to Brooklyn for dinner, Italian ice and the first two episodes of Deadwood, which apparently was (is) a very real place. Tonight it's Lesion at Arlene's Grocery with Miss Grace + entourage. Led primary at 7:30 tomorrow? Despite the clock-turn, I don't think so (mostly because it's probably packed and they don't need another carpetbagger making it moreso). I thought all of Sharath's talk about diligence and discipline in the Namarupa interview was having a profound effect on me but maybe it won't really hit home til I'm back home (hard to self-practice in one's host's wee abode). Feeling like a sloth, I am.

The Hex keeps checking CNN, to see if Karl Rove / Dick Cheney are going down.

Goodman called this morning to give the Hex the football scores and tell us about the bombings in Delhi. More proof the world is indeed falling apart; Rosie O'Donnell appears on the Actors Studio tonight.

Friday, October 28, 2005


After breakfast at Dizzy's we walked through a bit of Prospect Park (lots of pine cones and acorns and fallen leaves and branches The Hex is dying to collect for the fireplace) before stopping by the Park Slope cinema to see which theatre is playing The Squid and the Whale -- pompous-but-proficient director Noah Baumbach's coming-of-age tale about growing up with dysfunctional writer parents in Park Slope. But it's playing in the basement, which means we'll be heading to Chelsea to see it with my brilliant painter friend Michael M (we worked together at Wishbone way-back-when), who just came back from Itay for a few months.

At some point tonight we'll meet up with the Goodmans (musical theatre folk and their three kids) in SoHo and get their take on the demise of Larry David and on the hellish Broadway pairing of Harvey Fierstein and Rosie O'Donnell in what The Hex is calling The Fiddler's a P**f ("Rosie O'Donnell as a Jewish woman???! Are you fakking kidding?"). Other fodder after the food will include Ben Brantley's NYT review of The Odd Couple, starring the unstoppable Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane ("two actors perceived as being to Broadway what Redford and Newman once were to Hollywood -- chemistry-igniting buddies whose pairing automatically spells box office. The mere thought of the combination whispers sexy words you imagine embroidered on needlepoint pillows on the beds of Broadway producers everywhere: 'Familiarity Breeds Success'"):

"Odd is not the word for this couple. How occult an adjective suggesting strangeness or surprise apply to a production so calculatedly devoted to the known, the cozy, the conventional?" and so on.

The early onset of Ladies' Holiday has made the Patanjali Yoga Shala silence moot for the moment, but come Sunday I should be in an undefilable state and plan to drop by regardless. I'm trying to remember if that's the day the Hari Krishna-looking guy makes the fabulous Indian uppama breakfast (or if they're even still offering it). So out of the loop I am.

So far no Suketu Mehta* sightings (he lives here in P-Slope, as do many of Today's Best Writers). Not yet anyway.


*Another Suketu quote: "You can't throw a stone in Park Slope without hitting a(nother) writer."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NOOOOO. SLEEP. TIL.........................

After teaching 16 classes in seven days (not that impressive actually), I'm in dark, frigid Brooklyn borrowing someone's wireless internet, hoping for a call back from the Patanjali Yoga Shala or whatever it's called these days, and procrastinating on a deadline for a piece (which may very well get killed, considering my recent dismal track record) on Kriti Festival, a Chicago conference for and about South Asian-American writers. No one here gives a flying fukk about the White Sox, by the way. The cab driver was far more interested in our traffic patterns and the size of our yoga shalas (a ploy to distract me while he navigated an HOUR LONG ride from LaGuardia to Park Slope via the ever-clogged BQE and, strangely, Crown Heights). More later.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Don't walk but run out to get the current issue of Eddie Stern's Namarupa magazine, a copy of which Miss Y presented to me when I walked in to take over her Mysore class yesterday (I was coming from a private lesson at the Chicago Yoga Center, where she was going for Richard Freeman's week-long intensive). So far the mag is worth reading from cover to cover and includes the photo essay of BKS Iyengar's trip to see Pattabhi Jois shortly after his birthday (they hadn't seen each other in, like, SIXTY-FIVE YEARS). There's an excerpt from Suketu Metha's Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, many spiritual articles and photo essays as well as interviews with the next generation of the Krishamacharya legacy: Sharath Rangaswamy (who apparently is now officially the co-director of the AYRI), Kausthub Desikachar and Prashant Iyengar. They were all asked the same questions, and the answers are fascinating, to say the least. Suffice to say I couldn't put it down at the chiro's yesterday. Unfortunately there's no interview with BKS's daugther, Geetha Iyengar. Sisters may be doing it, yes, and doing it well -- but does anyone really give a toss?

More annoying is this brief Life magazine story about Mr. BKS Iyengar (for a legible view, click here ):

Some tit bits:

The first line: "Yoga was unknown in America in August 1956..."

Um, what about Vivekanada's speech at the Parliament of World Relgions in Chicago, in 1893? And Paramahansa Yogananda's famous 1946 book (still in print!), Autobiography of a Yogi? And his Self-Realization Fellowship?

And from Mr. Iyengar (regarding when he began teaching in 1937):

"There were 10 teachers in the whole of India. I was my own guru."

For those keeping score, the BKS stands for Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja. In the Namarupa piece, Guruji refers to him as Sundararaja (they also recall that Krisnamacharya's famous first female student, Indra Devi, got that name after leaving India).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

from today's Onion:

Report: One In Five Women Training To Be Yoga Instructors
October 19, 2005 | Issue 41•42

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a Department of Labor report on job retraining, 21 percent of American women are training to be yoga instructors, marking the highest level of female interest in the flexibility-and-spirituality-expansion industry since 1971. "One particular indicator is striking: All but 32 women in New York and San Francisco are now certified yoga instructors, specializing in either hatha, bikram, or ashtanga yoga," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said. The report notes that the rising interest in yoga instruction has caused a commensurate depletion in the ranks of massage therapists and board-certified realtors.

....not to mention veteran journalists-cum-would-be-authors

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


On the Nightstand:

Yoga Journal's dissection of Kapotasana (August '05)
Holding out feeble hope that I'll be able to do the pose again one of these lifetimes. (BTW, for about $30 you can now adorn yourself with a pendant or charm depicting your most vexing pose).

Joseph Mitchell -- Joe Gould's Secret
The book that never ends, "borrowed" from the Evacugees' apartment. Mitchell is one of Suketu Mehta's favorite writers. I will not be seeing the movie.

In CK's dish:

Corn chips and guacamole
!No mas!

Pasta with Dorian Black's red sauce (not a euphemism)
At last -- a fella who brings a girl knives *and* home-cookin'

In the CD playa:

Low -- I Could Live in Hope
The Duluth trio's mellow debut from 1994 -- the year I bought a CD playa

The Concretes -- The Concretes
Swedish Jesus and Mary Chain-esque pop now featured in all the best TV commercials

Wasifuddin Dagar -- Dhrupad
Dagar is a 20th generation master singer of classical Indian Dhrupad music, and is playing a free concert with Pakhawaj (drum) player Mohan Shyam Sharma at the the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday, November 9.

Anuradha and Kavita Paudwal -- Gayatri Mantra
An exuberant, almost pop version of the classic mantra that repeats endlessly (well,for at least 20 minutes), purchased at the top of Chamundi Hill in Mysore -- where it plays incessantly. When you awaken to the radio and the first thing you hear is the latest Bush speech / atrocity on NPR, THIS is the antidote. Otherwise the rest of the day will be spoilt, ruined, no good whatsoever.


The Way We Were
Will it never end? I taped it from Turner Classic Movies on Saturday night and I'm still watching it. Still, it has one of the all-time greatest breakup scenes, ever. So right-on. So familiar. But not as familiar as the tantrum that sparked it. Hmmmm....

On the living room floor:

Hugger Mugger's new Earth Elements Eco Yoga Mat
HM claims it's recycleable and biodegradable, but under repeated questioning (where should people send it to be recycled? etc) the spokesperson will only say that the thing will break down in a landfill. Yes, and so will plutonium. Eventually. Made of TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) foam, it is however PVC and latex free; despite the mild plastic smell it works quite well. So far.

In Kirby's Dish:

Feline c/d Prescription Diet
For a healthy bladder; last week the vet told me that before they could control a male cat's urethra problem through diet (crystals form, the passage is narrow and gets blocked) they used to give them a sex change -- ie; remove the penis. "Yeah, we used to do about four penis removals a week," he said. "Now we do one about every other month." Who knew.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


This week I stood up from backbend for the first time since throwing out my back and falling down those stairs last March. This was after doing primary series followed by intermediate series up to my rendition of Karandavasana (see plate).

I did three -- three! -- dropbacks and was even able to walk upright afterwards, which made for a very lovely day indeed -- especially since I thought it was something I'd never do again. That yoga. You just never know. That's why teachers who tell students they'll never be able to do this or that pose because of their anatomy irk me to no end. Why, if I'd listened to all the naysayers along the way (particularly the internal ones), why, I'd still be waiting tables, sleeping til noon, throwing phones and halfheartedly searching for that one elusive thing that would give shape and meaning to my life.

Speaking of negative teachers......Later that day a private student of mine, who had gotten herself up into backbend for the first time the previous week (she actually screamed with delight), did it again -- three times in a row. She was as surprised as I: "I didn't expect to do it again for awhile," she told me. "Because of what you said last week." Oops. What I'd said was that sometimes, when you have a breakthrough, you shouldn't be surprised if it goes away and comes back again (which I've seen happen many, many times). Apparently my little speech made her think she wouldn't be able to go up into BB again for awhile. So perhaps I should keep my mouth shut next time; I'm not sure. Is it reassuring to know that the pose will come back? Or does it just instill doubt? In any case, it didn't stop her.

That very same day I witnessed a Perfect Yoga Moment during Mysore class. Miss Y had been hovering near a student who had recently been given some intermediate poses and was finishing up her backbend sequence. "I just can't stand up today," she said, with frustration in her voice. Without missing a beat, Miss Y replied, "Sa tu dirghakala nairantarya...." "Huh?" said the student, dumbfounded. "You want to practice for a long time without a break and without attachment to the results," replied Miss Y. It was the first part of Yoga Sutra 1.14 she'd rattled off so effortlessly: "sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumik." Mr Iyengar's translation of the full sutra is "Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations [of the mind]."

What a day: I also learnt that the AYRI in Mysore may be closed while the family goes on a world tour in March and April. So the plans for going January to March are on hold. Apparently they're not planning to go to NYC on the tour, which is a shame. The official schedule should come out in the next week or so. Or so they say.

I also learnt that designer yogaho Donna Karan is "hosting" BKS Iyengar's current trip to NYC. If I'm not mistaken, that would be the same Donna Karan who waxes on about what a great teacher Pattabhi Jois* is in the Ashtanga, NY documentary, and complains about how badly she wants to go to India but just doesn't have the time. Hey, even Mike D. cleared off a month to go India and study with Pattabhi Jois.

Later that night a student told me she read in Men's Health that the new yoga sensation sweeping Hollywood is (drumroll).............. Disco Ashtanga. Not Salsa or Charleston or Meringue or Minuet or Bhangra or even Jazz. Nope -- DISCO. One wonders what Sri T Krishnamacharya would have to say about that.

At the end of the week I brought the New Orleans evacugees some Louisiana red velvet cake** made by a New Orleans native named Dallas who lives in Chicago and works at a Filipino bakery. They told me that the evacugee husband was able to go back to their house last week, and found that their cat had survived a month alone in their flooded Big Easy home. A month. He was eating well, etc. but last night the Crescent City equivalent of our evil 24 hour emergency vet (the meanest and most expensive vet in the world) told them he is jaundiced and needs a $1,000 kidney ultrasound. If only they'd brought him up here and showed their NOLA ID, everything would be free.....


*BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois are elderly master teachers with different takes on the same yoga poses. At some point, serious yogis usually choose a school, or type of yoga, or teacher, and stick with it. (Of course some have the hubris to cherrypick and make up their own hybrid form of yoga).

**While eating breakfast after yoga with The Most Charming Couple in the Midwest (now that the Kellers are in LA) at said Filipino bakery, I learnt from the Philippines-born wife about Ube, a bright purple Filipino yam that's made into cake and a dense, addictive sort of pudding called halaya (I took some home since Dorian Black is a huge yam fan -- although I'm not sure about his take on Karen Finley's yam slam, since I'm not comfortable using the word "vagina" around him just yet). While we were eating, the cook brought out a sheet cake with a dark brown figure on top and set it on a table across the room. "Why would you put a solider on top of a birthday cake?" said I. "I think it's a dinosaur," said the husband, squinting. "It looks like Zorro to me," said the wife. Later, we looked closer and saw that we were all wrong -- it was a cowboy. Cue Yoga Sutra IV-15: "Vastusamye cittabhedattayorvibhaktah panthah," or "The characteristics of an object apear differently, depending on the different mental states of the observer." (from TKV Desikachar's 1987 translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The Backwards R killed my What Not to Wear story (this means they don't run it, pay you 1/4 of your rate*, and make you look like a hack). They did say however that it's not me -- it's the fact that nothing much happened.
Yeah, but we're still not a couple anymore.
I'll admit it couldda used an extra day, a good editor and a pithy headline:

By Satya Cacananda

My friend Jeanine and I made frequent trips to Woodfield Mall while growing up in McHenry, which is 50 miles northwest of Chicago. After ditching her mother at the Marshall Field’s department store, we’d head to Stuart’s and Claire’s Boutiques for cheap clothing and accessories – and sometimes even bought the same ones. When we got a little older, Jeanine shopped at the conservative Talbots store while I browsed the record shops. Eventually she became an ultra preppie, and I ended up with a Mohawk and combat boots.

My look wasn’t quite that extreme on my recent trip to Woodfield for the What Not to Wear Mall Tour, but my outfit -- plaid micro-miniskirt, clunky brown boots, thrift store scarf -- was designed to draw negative attention from the The Learning Channel realty show’s style squad.

Woodfield was the last stop on an eight-city tour to promote the show, but its hosts -- fashion editors Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, authors of the new book Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style that’s Right for your Body -- were nowhere to be found. Instead, a team of free-lance experts answered questions, helped people use the touch-screen style stations and selected a few to go on a $200 or $300 shopping spree with a professional stylist.

What Not to Wear is a tamer American rip-off of the more caustic BBC original that features hosts Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine muttering about “tits” and poking and prodding their charges’ bodies before fixing up their look. Both shows dress down people who’ve been nominated by their friends and family for a fashion makeover; the candidates are forced to watch secretly videotaped footage of themselves and get an assessment in an unforgiving 360-degree mirror.

In the American version, they’re given $5,000 to spend on a new wardrobe, plus a new haircut and makeup job. But first they must agree to throw out their clothes and follow the host’s rules for their body type (Kelly and London really seem to have it in for people who wear thrift store clothes or look a little “different.”). More often than not there are tears when the candidates learn they’ve been sold out by their loved ones, and more later when they see their sleek new selves at the “reveal” at the end of the show. The shopping takes place almost entirely in chain stores, and those sleek new selves are usually stripped any shred of individuality. The clothes may fit their shape but not their personality. I’ve often wondered what Trinny and Susannah (I prefer them to the obsequious, trying-too-hard Americans) would do with my weird hair -- an overgrown mix of gray, brown, and bright-red henna -- and my penchant for dressing like a naughty puberteen.

The mall tour set up last weekend a the Comcast Connections Court near Marshall Fields, and featured a small stage, plasma monitors playing clips from the show, that 360-degree mirror, and several interactive computer style stations. After asking a question about shopping for shoes -- her wide, flat feet and narrow heel make it a chore – north suburban Deerfield resident Noelle Beebe was chosen for the first of Saturday’s three shopping sprees and given $300 in gift cards. The Master’s degree candidate in elementary education was wearing an oversize purple button-down shirt over the biggest and brightest skirt I’d ever seen -- a pleated, colorful floor-length tent thing she’d had for 15 years and made her look far bigger than her size 14 frame. Beebe, a fan of the show, had read about the tour in People magazine. Her husband told her to wear the skirt.

“They pointed at me and said ‘You!’, Beebe explained later at the plus-size store Lane Bryant, where she spent a couple of hours frantically trying on jeans, tops and skirts selected for her by New York-based free-lance stylist Megan Ireland and a helpful store employee. When she came out of the dressing room modestly holding closed the top of a long, dark, low-cut knit sweater that crisscrossed over the chest, Ireland was ready with a selection of silky camisoles to wear underneath. Ireland, wearing flare-leg black jeans with heels and a dark, form-fitting top, explained they were putting together separates Beebe could mix and match for both school and student teaching. But most of the tops and skirts Beebe tried on were too big. “I’m on the cusp between regular and plus size,” she explained. “They should have a store just for me.” A promising pink and black button-down shirt with slimming vertical stripes was particularly disappointing. ‘I don’t love it on you,” said Ireland, who suggested she look for tops later at shops such as Anne Taylor and the Limited.

The sweater and camisole did work nicely with a few pieces -- jeans, a pair of mid-rise boot-cut black slacks and a dark midlength pleated skirt that had a slight flare at the bottom. “I’d like to see it with heels and a necklace,” said Ireland, standing back and cocking her head. “Are you happy with it?” They started discussing the shoes that Ireland had bought for herself that morning at the mall -- open-heel Mary Janes with a high heel and pointed toe that were “extremely comfortable” because they were made of soft calf leather. Fingering them, she said she thought they’d be perfect for the unusual shape of Beebe’s foot, and suggested they pick her up a pair on the way to the reveal. “They don’t have a back, but you can wear them through the winter,” she said. “But what about the snow? ”Beebe asked. Apparently it doesn’t snow in Manhattan.

Beebe walked out of Lane Bryant with $100 left for shoes. She spent less than 10 minutes at Clarke’s trying on and paying for the Mary James, setting a new land speed record for shoe shopping (women’s division). A few minutes later, Beebe was standing onstage in front of her portly “before” photo and showing off her sleek, curvy new look. “Don’t you think she looks thinner?” asked Ireland, and the smattering of people in the audience applauded. “I never would have picked this sweater, because I have a bit of a tummy,” said Beebe, preening and beaming.

“My advice is to try things on that you would never wear,” said Ireland. Hmmm, thought I.

They went backstage to more applause. The host, who had Special Ed hair and dressed like a boy band member, came out with another sleek stylist in jeans and heels, who later complimented me on my out-of-season boots. They started taking questions from the audience. A petite fortysomething in short hair, glasses and a sweater-vest asked about flare-leg jeans “You’re wearing ‘the mom jean,’” accused host Matthew Landon, pointing to her high-waisted jeans that tapered at the ankle and pulling her onstage. “I’m not a mom,” protested Chicago resident Chris Johnson, who said later that she’d dressed that way on purpose. After making fun of her jeans for a few more minutes, Landon handed her a $200 gift card and herded her backstage so she could sign a release for her makeover.

Nearby, there was a line to use the interactive touch screens, after which participants received a customized list of style rules and a somewhat sparse WNTW swag bag (with hand lotion, a WTNW mirror, and refrigerator magnet and PR for Comcast and another TLC show). Most of those who dared look at themselves in the 360-degree mirror stayed in for less than a minute and came out frowning, holding their hands over their mouths or smiling ruefully. The guard at the door told me that one woman went inside and danced for ten minutes straight before coming back out. “She didn’t know I could see her the whole time,” she said, pointing to a transparent panel.

When I went in, I noticed that my butt is the same size it’s always been (phew!). But my skirt was far too short and that you could see where I’d spilled frappuccino all over my tights earlier that morning. My hair looked scary even to me, and I got out of there fast.

While doing the touch-screen body type test, I learned that my tall, non-curvy frame calls for fitted straight pieces, layers of clothing and -- of course -- high heels. Landon, who was helping me, reiterated the thought -- even when I protested that I’m already quite tall and that yogis don’t wear heels, not to mention the whole dead-calf thing. “You should try the shoes that Megan has.”

Like a robot (hey, he was cute), I went across the way and tried them on.

They fit perfectly. They looked great.

And even though they weren’t “me,” I considered getting them for a moment. Which is exactly how long it took for me to realize that they hurt like hell.

But Beebe was ecstatic about her pair when I spoke to her on Monday. “I wore them all day at school [with the jeans and sweater combo] and I love them,” she said. “I got compliments all day.”

She admitted that she usually buys her shoes at Wal-Mart and is still learning how to walk in heels. “I never would have bought a pair of pointy-toed shoes,” she said. “But these are so wonderful, you don’t feel like your toes are squashed.”

Interestingly, she said she found the experience empowering rather than degrading, and ended up buying some expensive new bras at Field’s afterwards. ”I’m so converted right now,” she said. “It’s making me feel better about the body that I have. I know what I need to do to change, but they really helped me feel better about what I already have.”



*This means I'll have to return Stacy London and Clinton Kelly's crappy new book Dress Your Best. But I'll definitely keep Trinny and Suzanna's far more useful What You Wear Can Change Your Life; they even show you exactly how to clean your closet (not a euphemism).

Saturday, October 08, 2005

We are the gootswa and we're coming to town (beep beep)

Last night I dreamed an interminable dream in which I shopped and shopped and shopped but could not find the perfect White Sox shirt.*

Today I am off to the sprawling and horrifying Woodfield Mall in northwest suburban Schaumburg to (hopefully) dig up a story on the What Not to Wear Mall Tour.

Do you think these things could be related?

BBC's T and S

Unfortunatley the Mall Tour is for the American ripoff of the brilliantly addictive BBC original. The tamer lamer Yank version offers very little in the way of the fine art of ripping someone's style to shreds and then pointing out the assets they've been hiding. Poseur-y US hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly are no Trinny and Susanna; never have I seen them grab or smack someone's cans in delight or even once utter the word "tits." Nor do they possess a sense of humour. What's that? Irony? How do you pronounce it?

At least they're bringing the 360-degree mirror and leaving the smarmy hosts at home. And they are going to Ground Zero for bad dressing in the area. We fat. And we dress bad.**

Unfortunately I did not get it together in time to convince Jack from Iraq to don Utilikilt + desert boots + artillery cap and accompany me on this suburban nightmare.

I spose I'll have to rely on my three-tone hair (an overgrown monstrosity featuring gray and brown on top, hennae on the bottom, something else in the middle) and wear one of my usual appropriate-for-someone-20-years-my-junior-outfits and take the flak by myself.

Time to prep by chai-ing up and doing some yoga. In that order.


*I don't even like the Sox. I'm a north sider. Like it or not, I'm with the Cubs.

**We dumb, too.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


The publisher may be finished with me, but the radio station wants me to come down and record the following:

By Satya C

One of the four noble truths of Buddhism is that life
is full of suffering.

But some of us have spent our whole lives making
things harder for ourselves.

Some of us have even turned it into an art form.

In my case, it's often due to a conviction or belief.
Other times it's because I'm poor or afraid of
identity theft or distrustful of authority.
Sometimes I just like a good challenge. Whatever the
case, my belief system makes life complicated.

It dates back to college, when I had a Mohawk. Not one
of those little fakey faux-hawks all the kids are
wearing these days, but a foot-high one with the sides
shaved to the scalp. It took a half hour to style
it. It was so tall I had to squash myself down in my seat so
I could drive my car.

I can't take one multi-vitamin; I have to take seven
of them. I don't have one career, I have two -- which
means twice as many receipts and checks and tax
returns. I quit three graduate school programs before
I found the right one. And I pay cash at toll booths,
so The Man can't keep track of me.

I've dated a former drug addict, a vet just back from
Iraq, a cancer guy and someone who only ate orange
food. And that's just over the past few years.

I've never used an ATM. Instead, I make bank
deposits in person, at the teller, and plan my cash expenditures ahead
of time.

I'm a Mac person of course, and I can't count the
number of times my iMac has frozen up, been bumped off
websites, or refused to load software. My editors
can never open the stories I send, and just about
everything I do requires a call to tech. support.

I recycle everything I can. But first I have to sort
it, rinse it, and haul it down three flights of stairs
- Why rent on the first floor when you can live on the

I can't use regular soap, toothpaste or shampoo. It
has to be cruelty free, and purchased for top dollar
at the health food store.

But it can't just be any health food store - it has to
be locally owned. That means I have to make a special trip. On my

I ride it everywhere, which means I must check the
weather every time I leave the house. Then I must put
on the special, ugly shoes that click into the pedals.

My exercise consists of doing a two-hour yoga practice
six days a week. And I can't just throw my yoga
clothes in the washer; they have to be hand-washed and
dried on the clothesline. No wonder I never have time
to call people back.

But yoga is all about letting go, and one day after
practice I was accompanying my friend to the suburbs
when I had an epiphany. We were about to hit the
toll booth, and I had started digging in my purse for
change. But like most normal people, she had I-Pass.
So instead of slowing down and choosing a lane and
counting out the pennies** and waiting in line and
hoping the coins would register properly, we flew
through the toll gate in record time.

It made me feel light and happy.

So the next day I installed I-Pass in my car. Sure,
the government can track my comings and goings. But
life is so much easier now.

It's working so well I may just have to take it back.


*Difficult, high-maintenance -- potato, poTAHto, it's all the same

**Dorian Black (Gray) too puts pennies in the toll basket -- also as a form of protest.

***That photo is *not* of me -- mine was bigger. And blonder. And minus the Hasidic side-curls.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I waited all day for Animal Control to come yesterday. Even after a second phone call, nothing. So much for the City of Chicago's 311 non-emergency help line.

Knowing that the squirrel was behind the shelves holding the TV, but not able to see or hear it, was nerve-wracking. Dog suggested I leave the back door wide open and go into the bedroom with the cat for awhile, to see if it would leave. So I took a late-morning nap. I crept out 45 minutes later to find the thing growling and clicking behind the TV. Then it got quiet again, and hid, and I called Dog for help. Not home. I called the chiro to cancel my appointment, explaning about the squirrel and hoping they weren't going to charge me for the short notice.

After making some stabs at my November media column I decided to do my abandoned yoga practice. Despite the moon day and the painful back and neck it felt quite good. I was in Marichyasana D when the phone rang: "unknown caller." For some reason I picked it up. Oops.

It was the uber-editor from the publisher. Apparently I read their lack of communication and inability to cut me a cheque for the (meager) advance correctly; I am no longer on the book. Apparently a letter to that effect is in the mail.

This prompted a crying jag that had me rubbing my eyes so hard that both contact lenses folded in on themselves and got pushed up into the sockets far above the eyeballs.

This of course led to more crying, which made things worse. It took about 20 minutes to get them out.

I called my brother ("You didn't want to work for those assholes anyway"), who expressed far more interest in the squirrel drama. Gridlife suggested I still have a legal leg to stand on. Then I phoned Miss Y to ask her about teaching more classes at the new studio she's opening next month. That improved things a bit.

Then back to my practice, finally. No matter how bad (or good. or boring) things get, yoga is always there.

After savasana I carried Kirby around the apartment, using him as a feline geiger counter in an attempt to pinpoint the location of the squirrel. But he was useless and far more interested in the flies that had gotten in and were buzzing about and was clicking his mouth like crazy at them.

Finally Dog arrived and I put the bike gloves and big black boots back on. He seemed skeptical that the squirrel was still there. Armed with brooms, the cat locked in the bedroom, we advanced towards the TV cabinet. He poked here and there and made loud noises. Nothing. He asked for a wire hanger, which I produced from the closet. He unbent it and used it to poke around the back of the shelves, which he had pulled out from the wall. He found a cubbyhole in the back of the bottom one: immediately the clicking and growling started up again and next thing we knew a fat gray squirrel was running past us and out the door.

Well, it seemed to go out the door. In my stressed-out state I'd forgotten to close off the closet. So it's possible the thing is in there. I'm keeping the door closed for now.

Afterwards we stood on the back porch** and watched a fat squirrel play in the yard next door.

Was it him/her?

Perhaps we'll never know.

Later I got a call back from Larry David Midwest, who offered his services, explaining that the Appalachian side of his family had a long history of hunting/killing/skinning/cooking/eating the things. "But of course you're vegan and won't be interested in much of that."

Not vegan, actually.***

Not an author, either, for that matter.


*At least now I know who has been raiding the recyling bin and unrolling and licking clean the foil pieces I use to wrap up the honey/peanut butter Ezekiel toast I take with me to eat after class.

**a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there

***Just vegetarian

Monday, October 03, 2005

Can a Squirrel Play Possum?
Or Why One Should Not Practice Yoga on a Moon Day

Just a few minutes ago, as I was explaining to Henry the Punk on the phone why I could not practice in public today -- a moon day -- two gray blurs passed in front of me and behind the shelves holding 33RPM records and TV set. Lots of clicking and growing; somehow a squirrel has gotten into the house, followed by Kirby the cat, who chased it behind the TV.

I herded Kirby into the bedroom using a spray bottle (not just for Garba Pindasana anymore). The squirrel was clicking and growling like crazy when I changed into long pants, big boots, jacket and gloves (from what I've heard, squirrels are mean, their bites can be quite deep and some are rabid). I got on the phone to Wildlife Rescue (the ones who helped me trap the bat a few years ago). I was inquiring about how best to get the thing outside when I went closer to assess the situation. I could not see the squirrel anywhere. It was not behind the TV, not mixed in with the records, not beind the VCR -- nowhere. But I could hear it. I kept expecting it to lunge at me and bite me in the face.

Animal Rescue confirmed that their bites can be a nightmare; something to do with their superlong incisors. They suggested using a broom and herding it into a box, slipping a cover over the top and walking the thing outside. Peanuts could be used as a lure. So I set everything up and then of course the noises stopped. I have no idea where it is. Poking the broom around elicits no response. Dog and Dorian Gray aren't at home or I'd ask them for help.

So I resorted to calling evil Animal Control. They will not say whether they euthanize the animals they catch. I'll wait til they get there; if they say yay to euthanasia I'll tell them that I already did the job and get out of here already. In the meantime I can't pratice yoga. I'm sweating bullets in these big boots, jacket etc (it's quite a look). The cat keeps pounding on the door, trying to escape from the bedroom....I suppose I should get to work on those Oct 1 deadlines. Perhaps the quiet will give the thing the confidence to check out the peanuts....Or maybe I should call The Evacugees next door for help.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Your bad-waitress bad dream turns into a bad-teacher bad dream.

Friday night, before subbing two morning classes for the director of the yoga center, I had the recurring nightmare in which I was at the shala and more and more people kept coming through the door and setting up their mats and ignoring me.* No one would sign in with me at the front desk -- a major problem when you're paid by the head -- so I put the sheet on a clipboard and asked them to pass it around and sign in, which most of them did illegibly or not at all. In the meantime the shala had grown several new rooms and people were setting up their mats here, there and everywhere. Many of the students were older and / or overweight which led me to believe they were on the wrong class.** Nonetheless I chose a spot that seemed to be the front of the sprawling classroom and tried to lead them through a warmup. I had to yell. It was awful. No one listened. Everyone was doing something different and, often, dangerous. Yet I somehow got everyone into samasthith (a variation of standing mountain pose) and started leading them through the opening chant. I was mid-mantra when I noticed Tim Miller*** in the front row. If that weren't enough, someone came in late and squeezed his mat into the spot next to him. It was David Swenson.**** The pair of senior ashtanga teachers looked at me expectantly (yet without judgment) as I nervously re-started the opening mantra. Their eyes were on me the whole time as I tried to teach. People did the wrong poses and walked in and out throughout class. It was impossible to keep order no matter how loudly I spoke.

After an eternity of this I woke up and went to teach the real thing -- where I knew most of the students, everyone listened attentively and only one person neglected to sign in.


*In a competing recurring nightmare, the students see that you're subbing and walk back out the door and you have no one to teach.

**Most (but not all) seasoned ashtangis seem to be on the young/lean side

*** Tim Miller was the first American certified to teach ashtanga vinyasa yoga, which he's been doing for over 25 years in Encinitas, CA.

****David Swenson is another well-known ashtanga teacher. This is the first (and, one hopes, last) time celebrity ashtangis have made cameo appearances in this particular nightmare.