the original kStyle blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Closing Up Shop

Today was the Shiatsu School "Yard Sale", Clean Up, and Move Out. I arrived towards the end of the yard sale, 10 minutes before its theoretical closing time, and found the gorgeous Kwan Yin art yet unsold. The three framed paintings of her were huge, for one, and $50 each, for another. I stared at them for a few moments, until my favorite emerged. It was larger than I'd realized, in the scale of the school's high ceilings. When I later loaded it into my car, with the help of a friend's husband, we finagled and wrangled and jiggered until at last it rested at an angle from the driver-side backseat to the passenger-side front seat. I prayed that she would protect me on the drive home, given that I couldn't see out the back or right side.

My fellow students were wandering around rather like ghosts, eyes red and weepy, choosing an item here and there, not quite focused. There was the strange mood of a Catholic wake in the air; we were sad, but happy to see each other, and holiday-happy, and no one was sure of the answer to "How are you?" Good, but, well...this is sad, but doing OK. Wakes are hard. At least at the funeral, everyone is just supposed to wail, none of the happy-sad-happy-sad-numb-sad-happy confusion.

After I staked out my art, I took over the front desk post, collecting a dollar or five from the yogis emerging from their class, in exchange for a candle or cushion or some such item. The yogis rent the large qi gong room, and have always been out of sync of the energy of the rest of the school. I love their OMMMMs, don't get me wrong, but they leave class like a flock of birds--always have--twittering and flitting and spacey. And talking, dear gods, the talking. The East Asian practices, if I may generalize, are more grounding than the Yogic practices. We connect with dan tien and the earth; they favor the third eye and the heavens. I practice yoga, too, but my teacher gets the grounding thing, and sometimes I direct my qi differently if it's getting too spacey in class.

So the yogis emerged, a sweet flock, but there was one particularly irritating British yogi who didn't seem to perceive the Difficult Emotional Thing Happening and just dove into the shopping without the regretful restraint we all felt. She was a retail clerk's nightmare: "If I walk these home, will you be here? Hello? Will you be here?" I had no idea she was talking to me right away. Then the, "I need a small floor heater. Are there any others?" And then the long deliberation about whether to wait for the acupuncturist using the heater to finish her session..."No, I can't wait," she decided. I think she meant no harm; she was merely out of sync with the wakeful mood. Wellll, and a little entitled.

While I was dealing with British Yogi, a futon materialized in the sale room, $20 for a thick, gorgeous futon with pale green-gold silk embroidery. I need another futon for my practice, and it was like I was handed the futon. When I added it to my purchase, everyone commented they were glad it found a good place: It was our sick teacher's personal futon, her favorite, the one she used in her own practice. I feel that I was given a sacred object, full of strong juju and powerful karma. Even our teacher's sister seemed pleased.

So then, as the sale wound down, I cleaned out the school fridge. It was unbelievable in there! My favorite findings were the smelly ones. A ginseng tonic in a glass jar, which probably smelled terrible fresh, was almost faint-inducing after the passage of indefinite time. After I dumped that jar, I had to leave the kitchen for air. Returning to the kitchen, I dumped what looked like a soda, but proved to be a "green drink"--you know, the kind with algae and chlorophyll in it--and the stench of old green drink could kill skunk cabbage, it was so foul. Then there was a sealed plastic container of what was no doubt very good carrot soup from Whole Foods, but it was so ancient that the top and bottom were perfectly convex, bulging from fermentation, CO2, and rot. I just placed it on the counter, unsure what to do...and very afraid.

I got tired around 2:30, after 2 1/2 hours, and opted out of loading the moving trucks. As I stepped out of the school to fetch my car, it was snowing--a perfect Tim Burton moment, the first real snowfall of the year, big, soft white flakes coating everything and making it gentle.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


1. The New York City Ballet Workout 2 DVD is freaking hard. All those prissy little moves make for big abdominal exercise. I appreciated the workout, but I quickly remembered why I hated ballet as a kid. Will I practice this DVD again before it's due back at the library?...Undecided!

2. Congratulations to Eric! You'll have to ask him why.

3. Beginning Jan 2, I wll be working only 4 days/week at Day Job. This is good. This is what I wanted. So why do I feel nervous and jittery? I suppose it's partly because I'd intended to spend this day working at the shiatsu school, which sadly is no more. It's better for me, in a sense, that I can instead spend the day as I need to grow my practice. All the swift change of late has me jittery, though; I'm feeling somewhat tossed by the waves. I sent in my gym membership cancellation form a few weeks ago, normally not a big deal--seeing as how I haven't been to the moldy old place in months--but right now it represents more change. Today, I almost freaked after talking with my cell phone provider and learning that, yes, my contract is over and I'm free to switch to a better plan elsewhere. (New cell plan + no more gym = $50/mo in my pocket!) It's so silly to be nervy, because I'm having a big Life Exfoliation, sloughing off old, dead stuff for shiny, new, better things; but so much scrubbing all at once is making me emotionally raw.

Enough extended metaphors! Here's to a cheery 2007 full of good new ways! Resolution: To work only 6 days/week and REST on the 7th. Even God did this, they say.

PS Now that Blogger allows you to sign in using a Google account, we, the faithful Blogger users of years, who have stuck by Blogger through thick and thin, must sign in as "Old Blogger". Old Blogger! Like I'm a relic, a dusty dinosaur! Harumph.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Fun New Hobby

G and I amused ourselves for a good half hour looking at random strangers' Amazon wish lists.

Tony from Orlando just wants body-building supplements.

A young lady in Oregon signed up for an array of New Age/self-help books with titles like Manifesting Abundance, Opening the Heart to Receive a Soul Mate, Affirmations for Positive Living--you know, hazy, pastel covers with wholesome, slender, cleanly-scrubbed white women smiling out--and a whole bunch of angry, angry rock music.

Then there were the more mundane revelations: Huh. Somebody wants That's So Raven on DVD. People buy that.

Go on, try it yourself. See what you find.

I'll just say this once

Renting space is not the way to go when running a business.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sandwich Cookies, Part 2

They're pretty darn tasty, especially the PB variety.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sandwich Cookie Hell

It turns out that baking, say, 3 dozen sandwich cookies means that you're actually baking 6 dozen cookies, which are then sandwiched together. By the time I realized this, it was too late.

UPDATE: It also turns out that they burn really easily. I lost about 10 halves. The little chocolate briquettes taste disgusting; believe me, I tried to salvage them. The others are good, though!

UPDATE 2: And, oh my, the filling is a challenge. Remind me next year that I'm never baking these things again.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A More Coherent Rant

This is hilarious.

Barely Coherent Rant Ahead

The fucking international catalog! Fucking ISBNs! Fucking muddleheaded, indecisive editors! Fucking sleep deprivation! Fucking arrogant male behavior! My fucking trigger reaction to fucking arrogant male behavior! Fucking indigestion!

Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fucking Fuck

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life Is a Terminal Condition

The school's not the only entity dying; so is its leader. Today what I feared was confirmed, that my teacher's cancer is terminal. It's very sad when someone with so much light starts dimming. She is such a blessing to all of her students.
She is our sensei.
It's a sacred relationship, one that can be hard to find in our culture. Not a mother, she never had her own children, but for many years she helped her students grow. Her energy was not maternal, though. Caring and certainly loving, but with a certain distance that gave her a mystery, like the graceful crane she chose as the symbol for her school. But the crane means longevity, sadly ironic.

We've all begun our mourning though she is still here. Many phone calls, many voices breaking mid-sentence. Much questioning that dissolves into, It's just so sad.

My prayer is that we can find our lesson in this, too, that we will learn from our sensei's death. She will die gracefully, as she lived, to be sure. And we all must. We all must. We all must die. Life is impermanent.

Music Trance

On Saturday, I attended a women's drum lodge. It was led by a woman who has studied Native American drumming traditions and mystical traditions. It was beautiful and incredibly intense.

I've heard of shamanic journeying before. I didn't think I would simply slip into shamanic journeys, meeting animals who offered guidance and power and lessons.

But there we were, drumming to the four directions (I played a rattle) and...To the East, the direction of Air, I saw a pack of horses flying across the open earth. They told us that we should be as noble and graceful as them, as free and joyous. In the South, I slipped beneath some desert brush in the dark of night. Crawling there, I met Coyote. He smiled at me, his eyes glowing yellow. He reminded me that trickery and sneakiness are OK, put to use for the greater good, and that we should laugh and enjoy life, taking nothing too seriously. I can't even talk about the long canoe trip I took to the West, it was so stirring and transporting. I met many animals and ended up on grey cliff, sea crashing below, rainstorm beating down and cleansing me, lightning crashing. And the North, the direction of Earth. I dropped into the red earth, and enetered a place where we all danced in a circle, kicking up the red dust, the earth warm beneath my feet. Then I met the Earth Mother in the guise of a particular animal. For some reason, I feel like I should keep the details secret, because the experience was so...so...no words... After we returned from that journey, I told the drum circle leaders whom I met there. Their mouths dropped to the floor. I'm still not sure why. I think she must be a very powerful being in the Native Way.

But what happened? I still feel refreshed and nourished by this wild experience, this traveling without moving, even through the sorrow and grief that stabs at me because of the shiatsu school's end. But what was it? I'm Western enough, schooled enough in science and the Greeks, that I reserve the right to chalk it all up to a very active imagination, or to some primal part of the brain activated by the sound of drums, or dreaming while awake. But why is there a road map I could find without prior knowledge? Why do humans, transported by drumming, meet the same "Beings" over and over? Is it part of our ancient brain that we don't normally activate? Are these journeys without or within or both?

And then I have a question for Larry, or any other musician who has happened by. Does music transport you? Have you met gods in a trance-like state? Are you transformed and transported by your music? Is it the power of Native drums I felt, or of music itself?


The shiatsu school is closing at the end of December. It's heartbreaking.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

oh my gods, do people know about this?

There comes a point in the ice cream aficianado's life when she is elevated from novice to conoisseur. On the brink of womanhood, she meets one more experienced in earthly delights, who lovingly, gently pulls away her pint of Ben and Jerry's and replaces it with Haagen-Dasz. She never forgets that moment, that hot summer of velvety frozen delights.

She might place it in the back of her mind, though, compartmentalized, rationalized. What sort of place could such gauzy, meltaway pleasure keep in the grimly determined world of career and adulthood?

But if she's lucky, one day, seeking nutritious Kashi waffles in her local grocer's frozen section like a practical woman, she'll wander across the aisle and open a door. On the chilly currents of air she'll catch a whiff of hot New Mexico summer breezes. There before her will stand rows of golden Haagen-Dasz containers, glowing with calories and joy. And there, before her, a new flavor with an exotic name: Mayan Chocolate. Silky-rich, dark chocolate ice cream with warm-flavored cinnamon. She is transported to an ancient place of mystery and sensual delight. The floodgates of pleasure open again, life saturated with color and music.

A Fine, Red-Blooded Quiz

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Just sit me in front of the Wheel of Fortune and give me something to gum down

I've been falling asleep on the couch at around 7 PM every night.

Action Sequence

It ended quite spectacularly. Cookbooks went WHOMP, a chair fell over, a cat flew out of the room, all fear and claws scraping on linoleum, glass shattered. The teapot went out with a BANG. (And a crash, too.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Disconnect, and the Advice

It's getting weird. I feel like I'm splitting, my life is splitting, and the elements are different lives rather than parts of the same one.

Monday-Friday, I'm tense, irritable, running around like a headless chicken to make deadline. That dull pain sets in between the shoulder blades. My jaw closes down to produce a steady grind. I'm tired, too.

On the weekend, I have this other life. I teach and learn and practice, my body and mind open, stretching wide with joy. My aura, as they say, expands. I feel truly myself, connected to something deeply human and deeply spiritual. I might even laugh, though I'm usually still a little tired.

And then Monday comes crashing back.

But let's return to Sunday for a moment. Here are the three "homework" notes I wrote for a client trying to get pregnant:

1. visualize happy baby growing in womb.
2. journal hopes and fears surrounding motherhood.
3. after intercourse, lay on your back and prop your pelvis up with pillows.

Ah, the spiritual and the human. It's funny.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Notes from the weekend, going backwards.

Accounting. I tallied up the shiatsu books for the year, thanks to the handy-dandy excel spreadsheets my honey made. Some observations:
  • 44% of this year's expenses went to office rent; 35% to advertising/business coaching.
  • I brought in about $1800.
  • I spent about twice that.
  • The first year of running my practice was less expensive than attending shiatsu school.
Couches II. My parents brought us their couches. They recently acquired new ones. These couches are smaller than the couches we had, but still plenty long, thus making our condo seem much larger, and the ceilings appear higher, while still providing ample comfy seating. My parents also treated us to an early dinner at the Indian restaurant, and to a generous early Xmas gift cheque. You see, my dad is currently earning a retirement pension and working full-time as a contractor; he's now earning a good--a double--income for a public school administrator. The cheque made my mouth drop to the floor, and G did a triple-take. We were staggered. I was deeply glad I had bread to give them.

Couches I. Saturday evening, we hauled our couches downstairs for the neighbor's unfurnished living room. They're a super-sweet mom and her darling little daughter, newly arrived from Spain. They like our cats, and they have a tan-and-white guinea pig named Pigita. The little girl was eager to introduce me to her pet. Then, returning upstairs, I read on the floor and G watched TV in our chair.

Tree. We bought a sweet little Xmas tree for only $15. It's a lovely douglas fir from Canada. It seems like a happy tree. The cats were enthralled. I also ordered many holiday gifts from Amazon.

The brain tumor and a class I had no business teaching. The founder/director of my shiatsu school has a brain tumor. Well, had a brain tumor; it was removed last weekend. We're all dismayed and saddened, and worried, too, both for her and for the future of the school. She's been sick with a mysterious illness for some time. A month or so ago, one astute student voiced her hunch that it was cancer; nothing else would keep this lady from her school. After the Saturday morning practice session I supervise, I lead the students through healing visualizations for her. It made us feel better, at least. A koan: how much is prayer and visualization for the receiver, and how much for the giver?
Then I substituted for Meridian Review, the one class I was planning to take again. I'm a trifle rusty on the material. No one else was available to fill in for the teacher, an acupuncturist who was down with a cold. I suppose that some teacher is better than none, so I pulled out all the point location charts I could find and went to town. I don't think I did any harm (although I did call BL-67 "Kunlun Mountains," when we all know that's BL-60). In the end, all I really had to know was slightly more than the Level 2 students, so I straightened them out on the location of LI-15 and called it a day.

Friday night I whipped up two loaves of fabulous white bread, one for us and one for my parents. If you didn't think that ordinary white bread could be fabulous, you've never met the King Arthur Flour Baking Companion.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's a freakin tropical storm

in Massachusetts on December 1. We have the air conditioning on. WTF?

Someone get Al Gore on the phone.