Monday, December 26, 2005


Although 'tis a federal holiday in which banks, post office facilities, schools, libraries, courts, drivers license facilities and even some yoga studios are closed, today is not considered a holiday in the City of Chicago (at least where revenue is concerned). In other words, parking meters must be fed today.

At least one yoga student has already received a personalized orange gift from the city on this, the first day of Kwanzaa.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Self-portrait With Cat, Santa and Vertical Line
@ Satya C 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Last year began with a delivery truck with an honest driver sideswiping my (parked) car and my being awarded $1400, which helped cover 2004’s emergency room, dentist and vet bills -- plus it turned out I didn’t need that root canal right away after all. A grandniece (Lilayna) was born in January; I got a FOID card in February and threw out my back in March. I finally framed that Cydney portrait of my mother, and Blet! finished shooting and editing that sequence from our sit-com, which turned out quite well despite featuring my wooden self in the lead. Now Gridlife and I are procrastinating on a feature length script that Blet! hopes to shoot next year – with real actors. Some of my first-person essays aired on public radio and appeared in, plus I wrote a few mini- reviews of Bollywood movies for the Backwards R. I finally got a rather sad website, gained and lost a half-assed book deal (long story), and wrote a stilted chapter for DK’s upcoming eGuide to Chicago (out this spring). But now I’m writing less and teaching more yoga…. and making less. Kirby stopped leaking pee, chased a squirrel into the house and made some informal dung paintings. I practiced yoga in NYC with Pattabhi Jois (who did not seem to recognize me) and visited friends in Boston and Santa Monica (who did not seem to mind me). Last fall I met a man at my best friend’s wedding (he of course is the groom’s best friend) and we will hit the three-month mark on Xmas Day (knock wood). A week ago I finally gave up on my mother’s Geo Prizm and bought my first car – a 92 Honda Civic. From a friend. I sold the Prizm to the repair shop owner, who will make his teenage son drive it this winter as a form of punishment…. which makes me think I’ve been unwittingly punishing myself for the past eight years, and wonder what else I’ve been doing to further the cause. Perhaps I’ll figure it out sometime next year -- which I hope will be a peaceful and productive one for all. In the meantime I'll work on standing up straighter, writing more regularly, chewing food prior to forcing it down the gullet and making vegan, whole-wheat sugar cookies that somehow don't suck.*


*"How are these cookies supposed to be?" asked the old man via cell phone last night, while on his way to share them with friends over sushi. "How should I explain them?" Oops.**

**Apparently the sushi chefs loved them anyway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Since Thursday I've been in the new (used) car vortex, test driving, buying and then having fixed and fixed again and again a '92 Honda Civic that I purchased from a friend (duh) and which needs far more work than the mechanic originally thought (duh) but which only has 84K miles on it plus it came with a complete file of every bit of servicing it's had over its lifetime not to mention a dented hood (where a tree fell on it in New Hampshire) which means I don't have to worry about collision insurance. Plus I managed to sell my old car (91 Geo Prizm) to the auto shop owner, who will make his teenage son drive it this winter as some sort of punishment -- which brings to mind many questions but there's no time to ponder them at the moment as the thing is in shop no. 2 having the frame pulled and straightened (not unlike going to a car-o-practor) and undoing the damage that was done when my friend rearended a cabbie a year and a half ago. At some point I must find the time to go to Mechanic no. 3 to have the windshield re-sealed where T-Wan accidentally penetrated it with a shovel while clearing snow.... and then I may just find a cheap stereo to put in it. And a new antenna, so while stuck in traffic I can hear Amy Goodman and other college radio goodies.

In the meantime the house is a pigsty and I'm way, way, way behind on deadlines [it didn't help that I had to create an entirely new cartoon from scratch; the editor's afraid we'd be sued for the one I just did (see below) -- although *I* think we fly so far below the radar (and I draw so badly) that they'd never know] not to mention Xmas shopping and cards. This year's cards turned out well but I ran out of envelopes tonight and didn't pop out to get more because the car is in the shop and my only transpo is the bike which I normally don't mind but when it's 11PM and the windchill is subzero, well, one opts for bed, bath and blogging rather than the deep freeze of late fall -- even if one does have all the right layers and knows exactly where to wear them.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to take the train to the suburbs for shopping with Dorian Black, after which we'll pick up the car and I'll teach two evening classes. In fact I teach eight classes between now and Xmas. On Thursday I will teach FOUR classes -- a new record for me, if I make it -- including a noontime "vinyasa flow to live music," which I signed up for before I knew what was involved. If I must wear a mic I will die. Suffice to say I'm afraid. Very afraid.


*In Spain, Despedirse a la Francesa = to leave the French way (i.e.; without saying goodbye).

Friday, December 16, 2005


Rosebud is a sled

Soylent Green is people

And Oprah, Yoko, James R. Thomson, et al is....




















Wednesday, December 14, 2005


It seems this cartoon may not make it into the (free) mag due to fears over copyright issues. My (and Gridlife's) argument are that 1) The images are not used in a denigrating fashion; 2) No profit is being made from the cartoon (believe you me); 3) It's not being used to promote an event where a profit will be made; 4) The characters are not identified by name; and 5) The images kind of suck anyway. Any intellectual property / entertainment lawyers out there willing to weigh in?

Monday, December 12, 2005


Push "play" first -- then start reading.

this is an audio post - click to play

Such a sweet, innocent that could model professionally, if only one had trained the thing when one had the chance.

Such a small and mediocre -- albeit lovingly decorated -- spinsta's xmas tree.... full of what some might perceive to be cat toys, ripe for the pickin'.

The seed
has been

....and yet another half-assed home yoga practice is rudely interrupted by outside events.

Music and lyrics @2001 by Catesey -- aka The Hex
(Yes, he wrote a song for a cat)

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Snow on Chicago Avenue by Kazuo Ooka

I couldn't figure out why the equivant of two space-fuls of snow is piled on the street in front of the apartment building. While having chai with my neighbors today I learnt that the young gent who clears the snow for the landlord dumped it all into the street. Very Chicago. And from an immigrant no less.

The stuff has been melting during the day and then freezing at night, so that in the morning it's dense, icy and dangerous. Now it's snowing again, so there'll be a thin powder on top of the ice which will make for much slippin' and sliding for tonight's many revelers (this seems to be thee big holiday work party weekend).

I also learnt from the neighbors that even native speakers of Malayalam have a hard time understanding what the hell Yesudas is singing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I told you to stop snowing, er, smoking

We are in the midst of a major snowstorm, which normally wouldn't be a big deal except for that plane skidding off the runway into traffic and killing a child. Sad.

So is the city's punitive new 24/7 parking ban on major arteries, which goes into effect whenever there are two inches or more of snow on the ground. For those not in the know, FIVE HUNDRED MILES of streets fall under this ban -- basically it covers the entire city -- and of course I live on one of them.

So I moved my car to a safe spot (which I will have to shovel out tomorrow morning and then relinquish to my lazy neighbors, because I am not willing to mark it with a crappy old chair in the grand old Chicago tradition of calling "dibs" on my "spot"). Then I trudged my ass to class through the snowstorm.

The first thing I saw during my long winter's trek was a young male professional on a mountain bike, riding in the middle lane of my very busy street. He was dressed entirely in black, including the shorts he was wearing. No helmet of course. I saw him blow through a red light. In the dark. In several inches of snow, with more falling so hard it was going sideways. No wonder motorists hate people on bikes.

The second thing I saw was one of my favourite Windy City winter sights: A fat man with a moustache stepped out of his store and haughtily sprinkled a boatload of salt onto several inches of snow on the sidewalk in front. Why shovel, when you can salt?

Not one bus went by during my entire walk. And only one person showed up for class*.

Besides the snow ban the city has a new smoking ban that starts January 16 and goes into full effect in two-and-a-half years. It covers every indoor space except private homes and clubs, tobacco stores and a quarter of the city's hotel rooms.** Even folks caught smoking within 15 feet of a nonsmoking establishment can be fined a C-note, ouch.

But it's still more expensive to get ticketed and towed in the snow.


*This is a class which I am giving up as of tonight, because I'm paid by the head and I've tried for two-and-a-half years to get people to come and still no one does. The one student who came tonight was kind enough to give me a lift afterwards. Talk about going out with a bang.

**Which reminds me. Neck Tattoo, whose host likes to smoke in our lovely, carpeted stairway and stink up everyone else's apartment except his own, has reappeared. I saw him getting out of a car the other night, and he saw me too. I did not look away. He also got an eyeful of Dorian Black, who drives a big old pimpmobile and looks kind of imposing from afar.

I'm also somewhat flipped out about this bit of Mysore entrepreneurialism, which somehow it brings to mind the $3 chai from last spring's SKPJ workshop. If only I'd thought of it first.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

writer's malaise for the holidays

You'd think writing would get easier with experience. After all, I've been a so-called professional journalist for over a decade.

But no.

It seems that every sentence I write is awkward, and each story I write takes longer and longer to do.

Time to quit?

Or dig in harder?

My yoga teaching kind of sucks too.
Not to mention my so-called practice.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I brought not one but TWO canvas shopping bags to Trader Joe's today and still needed more room for all the loot I bought (I'm trying to make fewer trips to the grocery store as part of my own personal Being Green/ahimsa-to-the-earth initiative, which means I'm having to tote a lot more stuff). When the unctuous clerk asked "Paper or plastic?" my mind started to whirl.

Paper or plastic?

Plastic uses less energy to produce, transport and recycle -- plus it can be reused as a vehicle for dog poop. But I have a blog -- not a dog. And it takes between ten and 1,000 years to biodegrade.

On the other hand, paper comes from trees, which is bad. Poor, poor trees. But paper's biodegradable, as long as it's not put in a landfill, which is good. Also the cat sometimes likes to play in the discarded bag. It can also be reused for, say, bundling newspapers or toting Xmas gifts to the family. Plus it's easily recycled.

But apparently they're making a better plastic bag these days -- more biodegradable. Out of corn or something. And Dominick's and The Food Whole offer blue plastic bags, which can be used for recycling via the City of Chicago's half-assed Blue Bag Recycling Program.

No tengo ni puta idea.

I chose paper, which did not impress the cat at all.

Guilt is there, Madam.

(Guilt is *always* there).

If only I hadn't lost that fabulous folding bag-in-a-bag that Dorian Black gave to me, none of this would be an issue.

However I'm writing a(nother) story about being a Green Yogi, and am keen to know which is more PC. But I'm flummoxed. Any ideas?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From today's New York Times style section:

December 4, 2005
Yoga Assumes a Social Position

ON a recent Friday night Valentine Remusat om'd and saluted the sun and arched her back in the cobra posture at a yoga class, until she came into final resting pose 90 minutes later, lying on her back in shivasana.

But rather than roll up her mat and head out the door when the teacher brought class to a close, Ms. Remusat, a 30-year-old student at Parsons the New School for Design, spent the next two hours sitting on floor cushions with her fellow yoga students, sampling organic chocolate and Austrian and French red wines.

"It was great that you could stick around afterwards," she said of the Lift Your Spirits event at Yoga Works on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "The energy completely changed. In class everybody was concentrating, but after that everybody started to speak and laugh. You didn't have to change your clothes immediately or take a cab home."

Yoga studios used to be a place to get away from it all, but these days more yoga centers are doubling as community centers for the stretchy set, offering everything from book parties and knitting circles to organic cooking workshops and cocktail parties. While many students, like Ms. Remusat, are happily taking advantage of the new offerings, others are reluctant to merge yoga with their social lives.

"Wine in a yoga studio is an oxymoron," said Donna Davidge, 50, who has been teaching yoga in Manhattan since 1985. "There's a whole commercialism of yoga, and people are getting away from its roots."

In part the new activities are a natural extension of the social bonding that already takes place in yoga centers. But, those who run studios say that with the number of yoga centers in New York growing so rapidly (248 versus 65 in 2000, according to the online yoga directory, the chatty extracurriculars are also a necessary way to compete for and retain students.

Rima Rabbath, a former marketer for Colgate-Palmolive who recently became a marketer for Jivamukti, which was founded in 1986 and is now one of the largest yoga centers in the city, said the studio has eight social events a month, double what it offered three years ago. She says yoga studios, are like drugstores now, with one on every corner. "The idea is," she said, "once they come in here, to retain them somehow."

And while studio owners confess that they are using these events in part to drum up business, they are certainly noting a need among their students. Dana Flynn, co-owner of Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in the Flatiron district, said the regular parties they throw for their students, which once drew only 30 people, now average 100. Some, she said, come to a party and decide to try out the yoga afterward.

Socializing is becoming a common reason for starting yoga in general, teachers and students say. Anne-Kerr Kennedy, who designs yoga clothing, said she found New York's nightlife to be "obnoxious" and started to attend yoga classes regularly largely for social reasons. "You go to yoga class, and people want to know who's dating whom," she says. "It's fun to know what the person on the mat is up to."

Satsang, or keeping good company with likeminded people, is a central tenet of yoga, but in some studios it seems to be eclipsing the physical nature of practice altogether. Centerpoint, a new studio on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, has a lounge area where people are encouraged to socialize. A jazz trio performs there weekly, and Sabina Stahl, a Ford model and "ayurvedic-inspired" chef, is on hand every night to serve things like sugar-free chia-seed pudding and pumpkin sage risotto with pomegranate.

"We're trying to blur the lines between coming in and taking a yoga class and other things," said an owner, Raj Singh, who used to work in the cosmetics industry. "It's casual and organic, like inviting friends over to watch TV or something."

For Cyndi Lee, the owner and founder of Om Yoga near Union Square, "your yoga family is really your family." Ms. Lee started a Friday night "Vinyasa and vino" event at a studio in East Hampton, N.Y., and in the winter she hosts a knitting circle at the Manhattan location. "We have wine at that too," she said. "Sometimes the knitting goes astray."

Usually the socializing precedes or follows the yoga, but sometimes there's no yoga at all. The Kula Yoga Project in TriBeCa recently invited its clientele to a Saturday night "epic clothing swap." About 40 women arrived with duffel bags of clothing to trade, but the first hour involved shooting the breeze and sitting on the floor, where snacks and a dozen bottles of wine and champagne were laid out.

Indie rock, courtesy of an iPod, blared from bookshelf speakers. Once the swapping started, some people dug enthusiastically through piles of clothing, while others drank and caught up with one another.

But for every student who enjoys the yoga scene's newfound clubbiness, there are those who are less flexible. For them the last thing yoga should be is another social totem pole.

"You just want to go and relax and instead you end up feeling bad about yourself," said Jessica Risling-Sholl, a 31-year-old dance music publicist, whose most recent yoga experience, at a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, devolved into watching her fellow students hug and kiss and make plans for after-class drinks. "It was the same horrid nervous gut feeling of walking into the middle of the lunch hall not knowing anyone to sit with."

Jessica Metz, a yoga teacher at Hunter College and at Equinox, said that some students at her gym were turned off by the overly forward climate at their yoga studios. "It gets a little bit cliquey," she said. (Ms. Metz explained that since most studios pay teachers based on attendance, the teachers are bound to favor the students who show up regularly.)

Silvia Fernandez, who used to go to classes at Go Yoga, recalled an aggressive group of students who would set up their mats together and hang out to gossip afterward. "They made me feel like an outsider," said Ms. Fernandez, a 40-year-old technical writer. Now she practices either at the New York Sports Club or at home. "There's less likely to be any distraction and anxiety about what's going to happen after the class," she said. "It begins and ends when I want it to."

Some objections are less personal than philosophical. In ashrams, yogis do not eat meat or drink alcohol, and the idea of bringing wine, even if it's organic, into the studio does not sit well with everybody. "These are sacred spaces," said David Kelman, owner of Yoga Sutra in Midtown Manhattan. "That's not cool."

But Schuyler Grant, who owns the Kula Yoga Project, pointed out that separating the meditative components of yoga from the knottier problems that come with forced socializing might not be so easy.

"You go to class together, you get to know each other in a very intimate way," she said. "It's an organic transition to hang out together. If you come with any regularity, you get sucked into the community. You either get into it on that level or you don't stick around. Not to sound culty or anything."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections XML Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map Back to Top

Friday, December 02, 2005


-Get on the bike and go.
-Remember that it's temporary (state of mind)
-Make appt. with therapist
-Call a close friend
-Put on talk radio, loud.
-Eat a banana
-Right nostril breathing
-Put on Thich Nhat Hanh's "Anger" CD (ha)
-Clean/straighten the house
-Take some swings at the heavy bag (ha)
-Do cognitive distortion exercises from Feeling Good
-Make overdue calls to service people
-Pick up an old project and finish it
-Go for a walk along the lake. In the cold.
-Put on Turner Classic Movies
-Read this
-And this
-Do Target therapy (wrong on a karmic level, but oh-so-effective)

Feeding it, by:

--Not eating
--Reading A Million Little Pieces
--Getting in car
--Slamming doors
--Starting a phone-fight
--Starting an IM-fight
--Isolating one's self
--Skipping yoga
--Breaking shit
--Beating self up
--Watching / succombing to infomericals
--Trying, unsuccessfully, to upload pictures onto your blog