Friday, February 27, 2004

God, for some reason it’s been a long, brutal week.

The yoga has been phenomenal (or better), mostly because I’ve ditched the caffeine. It’s warmed up here, too, and been more humid—we’ve had more rain in the last week than in the last year, although it’s a particular kind of Southern California rain. It will rain for two hours or so, but all with a brilliant blue sky just over the next hill. So you know the rain is only a temporary spectacle. It’s not actually weather.

It makes me wonder how I’ll appreciate India, especially as I’m going in the hot season, followed by monsoon. I’ve read temperatures vary from 85 to 105 degrees. Plus it’s tropical humidity, too. Ye gods. Well, I thrive on scorching temperatures, so hopefully I won’t be totally blown out.

I’m roughly five weeks out from departure, give or take a few days. To appreciate the full magnitude, some might say insanity, of my situation, let me provide a few details.

Fact number one: In three weeks, I’m putting in notice at work. I’d love to take a leave of absence and return to a paying job, but I don’t think the powers-that-be will go for it. So boom, just like that, I’m quitting my job.

Fact number two: I’ve sold a ton of old clothes, donated a ton of old clothes and books, and sold or donated all my furniture except for my mattress. Not that I had much, mind you. I’ve sort of become a minimalist, and most of my worldly possessions consisted of a bookshelf, bed and nightstand. That was it.

On March 1, a friend is moving into our apartment and taking over my room. I’m moving onto the couch to become a houseguest in my own apartment for the remainder of my time in the U.S.

I’ll come back low on funds, with no job and no permanent place to live.

In light of all this, India is icing on the cake.

Until Christmas, I had these anxiety-filled moments where I’d seize up, overwhelmed at the thought of all that was coming in 2004.

For some reason, something changed during the holidays and the sense of the inevitability and right-ness of my actions has only grown stronger. I think in part because it’s becoming more and more obvious that I’m doing what I love to do.

As I’ve mentioned before, the difficulty has now become biding my time until D-day. It’ll get here too soon, but not soon enough. I’ve taken to marking days off a calendar. It’s not much, but it helps.

Monday, February 23, 2004

More fire for practice today. I’ve decided that Mondays are going to be a fiery practice, because over the last few months I’ve noticed that for me, they tend to be the absolute opposite.

Maybe it's the come-down from a heated, vigorous Sunday practice. Maybe it's because it's the start of the week. Maybe it's knowing I've a full week of work and practice ahead of me. But on Mondays I’ve been pretty sluggish.

Also of importance this week: I’ve been off the coffee for a total of five days now. I wanted to see if I could have an energetic practice without the aid of caffeine, because since November I’ve been drinking a lot of espresso.

I'm glad to report the drive is still there—that I worried that the juice for my practice would be gone without caffeine says something about my relationship.

Caffeine Withdrawal Journal
Thursday, Day 1: Sluggish, tired. Head stuffed full of cotton. No headache to report. (I was rather sick, though, which precipitated my decision to go cold turkey. Sickness was the perfect springboard for dealing with withdrawal.

Friday, Day 2: I’m still sick, so I call in to work. I’m drinking loads of water. Minimal headache, but it’s lurking. Later that afternoon, I go to the gym and sit in the steam room, chugging bottled water. That afternoon, I go to practice before assisting in a Mysore-style class. I can barely do forward bends, as the blood rush hurts too much. I cut practice short—opening sequence right into closing sequence.

Saturday, Day 3: Headache has receded to the periphery. It still lies in wait, but has greatly diminished.

Sunday, Day 4: No withdrawal symptoms to report. Practice Sunday morning is heat-filled, fast, intense.

Monday, Day 5: Today. I took some aspirin just in case, but I seem to be fine. Is this it? Seems like it.

Mysore Update:
Tickets bought. Next step: visa.

Also, I’m trying to save for the yoga. Three-month total: $1,250. That's more than the plane ticket!

My biggest concern of late is that I won’t have enough money for rent, food and spending money once I’m there. I worry that I’ll get there and be budgeted too thinly to be flexible—what happens if it takes me a week to find a place to live? I don’t want to be stuck in a hotel for an entire week. I have to budget for train ride from Bangalore, hotel room for a week, etc, etc.

But I’ve been reassured that I should just relax—once I’m in Mysore, and can pay for the yoga, everything else will sort itself out. I’ll find an inexpensive room in which to live. Friends who have been to Mysore for years tell me it’s generally no problem to find a place to stay for under $5 a night, rooms in houses are always opening up, and in the worst case, Saraswati knows loads of Indian families who are willing to take in Westerners for money.

The other difficulty has now become doing the time at work to make it to April. I’m so excited I’m beside myself, and I want to jettison this job (with its great pay) as soon as possible.

As of Monday: seven weeks and two days. And counting.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Last few days have been fiery practices. It's warmed up in the mornings to a balmy 49 or 50 degrees, and there are more people filling the shala. This means more heat, which is good. There's nothing worse practicing for an hour or an hour-and-a-half, and realizing your fingertips and toes are still stiff and frozen.

I cranked through practice on Monday in an attempt to keep a steady, moving clip. When I hit backbends, I had enough juice, and was feeling open enough, to try to come to standing. It almost worked, too---I felt the motion shift from back and shoulders into legs.

Unfortunately, while I was curling upward, I tried to look up, which is a no-no, and fell back onto my mat. I figured I might have to slam a few times to figure out what not to do, so thank god it didn't hurt. Made for some pretty dramatic thumps in the shala, though.

I reckon it's coming, and soon, probably before India.

I went to a going-away dinner last night for Max, a guy from our studio. He's moving to Boulder, Colorado tomorrow. I felt gross at dinner, and when I hit my bed at 10:00 or so, the gross feeling had escalated into full-blown sickness. As I write this early Thursday morning, I feel like utter shite.

Thankfully, I feel bad enough to know that I am not going to practice. Any less sick-feeling, and I might have tried to push. Which would be stupid.

I'm still going to pranayama, though. Tim's in Mexico for a few days, so Sequioa will be leading today, and as it's Thursday, that means pranayama-lite, as Tim calls it, which means the first few sequences of pranayama will be followed by kirtan singing.

Sequoia can actually sing, too, as I've mentioned before, and she plays the harmonium. Mark brings his tabla, and it actually gets pretty fun.

Surprisingly, Tim showed up yesterday at the studio. "I thought you were gone?" I said. "I am gone---after pranayama," he said.

Of course, I knew what that meant---we sat down, and Tim said, "We're switching up the schedule---today, pranayama-lite followed by singing. If you don't like it, tough. It's my way or the high-way." The last said with a smile, of course.

After a morning of pranayama, kirtan, and asana, you really feel like you get the whole ball of wax for a yoga practice.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I swore it would never happen, but my blog has languished, a result of the combination of too much writing, too often, and increasing demands at work. The word-count demand at my job at Cosmodemonic Shoes has undergone a steep upward spiral.

I’ll end this post early, then, with a large dose of fantastic news, a light at the end of the tunnel that’s only growing brighter. Namely---

I paid for my ticket to India on Friday. The trip is official. Depart LAX April 14, 1:50 a.m. on Singapore Air. The ticket lists a return to LAX on July 26, but we’ll see how that works out.

Hanging up with the travel agent, I was flushed with a sense of lightness and well-being. I had anticipated this feeling, but still---the trip has now moved from an abstraction to reality, and in the process has reframed my whole perspective towards work.

I’ve been perishing by inches over the last few weeks, even months---once I had decided I was going to tender my resignation, my ambition at work withered on the vine.

With no ticket, my trip remained stuck in half-world between dream and reality. And I was stuck in the purgatory of a desk job, staring out my window into the clinical orderliness of an office park. At least I have a window, I would think.

That all changed on Friday.

Now the effort becomes saving enough money to pay for the yoga.