Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Part Time Yogi

I think I'm in love with yoga.

I know, I've been in love before; Zumba was a saucy and tantalizing way to shake my butt and be proud. But that only ended in heartbreak (and plantar facitia from all the damn jumping in sub par shoes).

But this...ahhhhh. It's like slipping into a warm bath full of Pop Rocks. Warm and comforting and makes my blood buzz after a nice deep Half Pigeon or Reclining Hero.

Around Thanksgiving I realized that it was getting harder to touch my toes. Normally, any aging adult would be like "Well, yeah. Makes sense."

Not me. I was not happy. Being fat and able to touch my toes has been a point of silent pride as I watched smaller but somehow less limber girls flap about trying to get purchase on their piggies. I would regain my flexibility one way or another.

This isn't the first time I've visited yoga. But with my anxiety at an 11 for most of my adolescent life sitting or standing for any amount of time with my whirlwind of thoughts was far too daunting to do very often or with any conviction. Now as an adult with medication coursing through my veins and brain I can sit with my thoughts and not freak the absolute fuck out. 

I Googled Beginners Yoga and found a 10 minute video made by a lovely Dutch woman. It was simple, a bit challenging, and satisfying. I did it every morning for a week. By Christmas I was bored with my 10 minute morning stretch. I hit Google, Pintrest, the App Store and Tumblr looking for more poses, more inspiration. I found it in spades. Not just new routines but body positive yoga blogs featuring women who had bodies like mine who could touch their feet to their heads and do effortless backbends. Kiss My Big Asana, Fuck Yeah Yoga, Big Gal Yoga, Yoga Journal, Yoga Studio App; the list of awesome and bendy chicks who don't make me feel like a whale is endless. I bought a yoga mat and a strap to help hold my legs when my hands can't reach them.

He thinks he's helping. 

Traditionally, you do yoga so you can successfully meditate. You can't be enlightened when your back aches, distracting you from the divine. For me, it's the opposite. Mediation makes my mind flexible so I can separate from my body, whether it's balancing in Tree or just having a bad day at work. I've often snuck up to the 4th floor stair well on my break to sit in silence and breathe the bullshit away. Or when my brain can't find anything else better to do then get on its hamster wheel and sprint, I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a few minutes. The lack of stimulation knocks the hamster off the wheel and I feel calm again. 

Yoga and meditation are making it easier for me to just be. I can walk in the house to a dusty coffee table and splotchy stove and not hyperventilate over when I should clean up. Any more I just walk right past the offending grime, my head more concerned about taking my bra off than putting rubber gloves on.
It could be said that yoga is making me lazy, but I prefer the term zen.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday the Terrible

Pops breakfast cereal has less sugar than granola cereal and more fiber than raisin bran. Not an advertisement, but an investigation at the work snack shop since I didn't have time for breakfast at home this morning. Work breakfast came to a grand total of $5. For cereal.

My outfit says "UC Berkeley student goes to the vegan coffee shop". If my hair were curly it would add "To organize a PETA protest."

I did a double take, not going to lie.

Dude should have just taken the middle chapter and wrote the entire book about Somni-494. Because that's really the only interesting part. And it's taken me nearly a month to muddle through to this point.

Jeniece (11:53 AM): Once located, do you see blue links below the heading or a gray gear symbol next to the heading?
Customer (11:54 AM): yes

I swear to god this happened. 

Use your imagination for that one. Just know that is was gross.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nerd Sins and Star Wars.

My name is Jeniece and I have never seen the original Star Wars Trilogy.
I was able to hide this from my loved ones for years, even tricking my husband into an engagement without him knowing.
I am a nerd hipster; I watched Episodes I-III, all the Family Guy remakes, and the fucking STAR WARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL before I ever saw A New Hope from beginning to end.

Ever dreamt of a 15 minute scene spoken entirely in Wookie? George Lucas delivers, then denies, this gift to the masses.

Why? Because I didn't need to see it. Star Wars is so ubiquitous to our culture that you don't need to watch the series to tell the story. You don't need to see Luke almost take out his own eye to know what a light saber is. You don't need to know that Han shot first to know that he's a badass. But my reasons for not seeing it were growing thin, I was out of Christmas ideas, and Jason was denying me access to his portion of procreation until I saw it.

Bringing marital rape to a whole new, weird, nerdy level.

I broke down and bought the trilogy on blu ray, wrapped it, and when Jason opened it Christmas morning, gritted my teeth and told him I would watch it with him on my next day off.

And we did.
These are my notes.

Why do all the guys wear robes but Aunt Beru wears a denim work shirt over orange paisley like every other 70's mom?

Ewan McGregor does not grow up to be Obi Wan Kenobi. Also, what type of disguise name is Ben Kenobi? At the very least that sounds like a cousin or other distant relation. Not very wily or cunning.

"Sorry Ben. I was too busy playing with this glowy stick thing to listen to you ramble about the forcey thingy"- Luke Skywalker. Thus making it all the more confusing when getting on Han Solos ass about not believing. Child! You don't know shit yet. Reserve judgement until Yoda shows up.

Luke drives his space ship thing like he's British. Which means that Tatooine is a British colony. Long live the queen.

Scene in the cantina; I wonder if Bea Arthur is working tonight (watch the Christmas Special!)

Did that robot just scream?!?

No, I haven't heard of the Millennium Fawl-con . I've of the Millennium Falcon, though.

Why is Han pronounced Hawn but the movie says Han (rhymes with Hand). Is this the Gif vs Jif of the 70s?
I do like how the Millennium Fawl-con has a breakfast nook.

"What are those little black boxes, babe?"
"I think they transmit messages or are roombas." Not even nerds have all the answers.

Apparently George Lucas didn't believe in space bras. Hi Carrie Fishers nipples from 40 years ago!

There are a whole lot of bowl cuts in the rebel alliance.

Fucking hell just shoot already!

Side wipe to me on the couch, looking into Jasons watery, emotional eyes....
Can I go to bed now?

Stay tuned for notes on The Empire Strikes Back. Which will happen when I'm restocked on whiskey.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013; Noteworthy, But Not Batshit Crazy.

The end of the year approach-eth.

Lets break 2013 down.

1) I had a sinus infection and mono. Gross. But I discovered that the NetiPot is better than sex whether you're sick or not.

2) Jason started a job he likes and makes him look like a coal miner. It does nothing for me.

3) He also legally changed his name, putting us on the path to continuing my family tree.

4) We got a new pope who is literally the coolest pope in the world.

5) I got married. In secret. It was teeny tiny and absolutely perfect.

6) I got to see my personal mecca; where children sing Seasons of Love at day camp and there's a dog on every corner. Berkeley CA. My home, my Pittsburgh, my Shangri La. If I could click my heels together 3 times and be there I would.

7) I broke up with my family. First by getting married in secret, then writing them a letter why. Maybe one day I'll post it for all to see. We'll see if I'm invited to my cousins wedding first.

8) I bought my first car! But I changed her name to Tina. Because this is how she acts...

Anxious over the littlest of things. Like taking corners too sharply or extra weight in the back seat sets off the traction control in July and turns on the check engine light. But I love her.

9) I seriously considered getting pregnant, then, to my deep and abject sadness, decided against it. Trying to enjoy being childless by staying up late and cursing but my hearts not in it.

10) Kirby had surgery and Jasons mothering instinct kicked in. Do they have sick days for dogs, like kids do? If not, too bad, he took one.

11) Jason and I made it to 4 years. So far so good.

12) I interviewed for a job in Colorado. Didn't get it. Then got another interview for the same job. Also in Colorado. Turned it down because I got a new job here! Whiplash? You know it.

13) I turned 25. And I'm relieved to not be as young as I was. I may be the only person to think I have a handle on this life thing. Probably because I have such low standards.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Silver, Not Grey

I have silver hair. Just a few scattered so deep within the canopy of my head that you can't see them unless I pull the layers back and point them out. Which happens rarely considering I have at least 3 bobby pins holding my style together at any given moment and disrupting that would be madness.

Just one of a few. This is Yvonne.

When I see people around me (most of them younger) show trace amounts of uncertainty and fear when it comes to their ripening age, I laugh. Then I look them in the eye and say, "I love getting older."

Thats right; I don't hate aging. If anything, getting to 25 feels like I've won a race to not be a child. With arms raised above my head, in 6 days I will be an adult with a long A sound.

I've never understood people who are afraid of their birthdays. You made it through another year unscathed and thats a reason to be happy. Each year I stand a little taller, speak a little more clearly, and the shape my life is taking becomes less blob like and more defined.

But what about my YOUTH? you scream into the night over the strains of the Beatles Birthday Song.

What about it? Here are all the reasons why getter old rocks and being young is for suckers.

1. You don't have to designate a driver when you go out. You can pay for a cab now.

2.  Every year you put between you and the embarrassing stuff you did in your youth means its less likely to shame you. Also, you have had time to acquire embarrassing shit about OTHERS, thus leveling the playing field.

3. Your angst has pretty much resolved itself. So much so that any extra Hot Topic makeup can only be used at Halloween.

4. You no longer give a shit about what anyone thinks about your habits, dress, or job. What's more, others don't have time to give you shit about your shit. Because adults have THINGS to do.

5. The THINGS you have to do are not that scary; paying bills and budgeting is simple math. All other adult responsibilities add an extra 2 hours tops to your existing schedule. But they're a great excuse to not go out to "da club" and sit in your pj's drinking and watching True Blood.

6. Also...

So quit your whining, do a shot and live another day!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The C Word

Tis the season for helping your fellow man, giving to those in need, collecting donations, etc etc.
At work I'm helping organize a Giving Tree for a local animal shelter; my dog was a rescue so my bleeding heart leaks a little more for animals without a home.
We also have a Giving Tree for needy kids set up by another organization through my work; I took two ornaments and fully intend to get each girl everything on it.
A town an hour away was flattened by a tornado and donation boxes are popping up for that; I can part with some toilet paper and shampoo my husband will never use.
A clothing drive is being held at my old junior high school; I'll be diving into my closet this weekend and scavenging clothes from the "maybe one day, someday" section behind the hoodies.

This is exhausting. And it's making me angry.
Angry that baby North West has an entire wing of Gucci baby clothes and others are struggling to keep their kids in hand me downs.
Angry at every Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes I see in the parking deck when kids who miss the bus are walking 4 hours to school without coats or breakfast.
Angry that organizations that do collect money for good causes also funding causes that piss me off; causes like banning gay marriage and adoption rights for gays. Which means I don't give to them and neither do others, ultimately hurting some wonderful causes.
I'm angry that I bought a $60 Wicked hoodie on a trip to see the show. I'm angry that when ever my husband spends even $20 I give him a glare, because I could have used that for something stupid I wanted. I'm angry that I'm no better than anyone else.
I'm angry that I'm so stressed out over something as good as clothing a child or feeding dogs and cats. It's supposed make me happy to make others a little warmer, a little fuller after dinner, or a little less worried.

But no; I cram a years worth of caring and giving into 6 weeks and call myself a humanist. We as a culture have been taught that charity is seasonal. Shelters and soup kitchins are turning volunteers away because they are over staffed. They are asking that people come back after the new year when there is more demand for helpers. The majority do not and the cycle continues. The world seems to rest on the shoulders of every person to make December as magical for others as possible on top of the regular responsibilities of every day life. And I think that's part of why the winter months are so stressful. Winter is treated like a marathon; giving presents, money, cookies, hugs and time until you drop. What we do (or don't do) to contribute and help those not as lucky as some is shoved right in our faces along with all the advertisements for the newest tablets and shiniest baubles. The contrast is striking, so we pour out more and more, usually to our own circle of people who already have enough. We don't ever want the people we love to want for anything. What about those people who are loved by others? We typically take a couple of cans to the food drive or shove our change in a kettle and call it a day. By the New Year I am sick of everything and everyone and just want to sit in my expensive hoodie and frown on the couch. I recuperate from Christmas and giving with the icepack of Doctor Who marathons and stale cookies. I feel relieved that the season is over and I don't have to care for at least another six months. the pangs of guilt set in sometime in July and I start to plan my Christmas season charity. I don't act in the moment and I am ashamed of myself.

There's just so much to do in the world. So many things are wrong and I feel responsible. but I don't take responsibility until the temperature drops and shrug it as soon as I take up the mantle. We all WANT to change the world, but how many are doing anything on a regular basis?

I want to be better at  keeping the giving spirit in me all the year; a notion we sing and read about next to the pretty lights and under the tree but don't actually do. Helping should not have the excitement of novelty followed by ambivalence. the thought of "this is my one chance to do something" is what i tell myself but I know that's not true. there are chances to donate to food drives, clean out my bookshelves for the library, buy diapers for shelters while I fantasize about my own future children in the baby section of Target. I can do with less because I have enough clothes, too much food, and a roof over my head. Most of us do.

I watched an iTunesU lecture featuring a rabbi explaining why miracles don't happen anymore. His theory is that there are stages of miracles; stage one is big obvious shouting from the sky, stage two is silent and small miracles, and stage three is human driven miracles. Science is a miracle with its vaccines and medications. Buildings large enough to house a towns population of people is a miracle. Food grown year round and available on every corner is a miracle. We have the ability to make sure that every man, woman, and child has food, shelter, and clothing. So let's all be miracles each and every month; not just when we remember.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


The last bonfire I went to was in June and a massive failure. Rednecks, green leaves, and a propane blowtorch is an incinerator; not a bonfire. The damn thing smoked like crazy leaving most of us sitting the cold dark night using our phones as flashlights. So you can imagine how excited I was to get an invitation to a REAL bonfire in October with mulled cider, brats, and hoodies.
It was something like this...

Our hosts, Debbie and Doug, are friends of my mom, but I've gone to school with their daughter since junior high. Debbie is the sweetest woman you'll met and not afraid of anything. We spent a decent amount of time throwing coffee creamer into the fire because Jason mentioned it causes big awesome flames and she HAD to see it (scampers into the house, comes back with a Sams Club size tub of the stuff). 

One thing we knew was on the agenda was reading my moms totem. Debbie is Indian/Native American/I don't know what tribe she is, I should ask. She brought out a bag of stones and a deck of cards. Mom was "getting to know the stones" and she asked if anyone else wanted theirs read. 
Ooo Ooo Ooo, me me me!

There are 7 positions to the totem. The center (representing you as a person), below (what supports you), above, the right, the left, behind, and front. 

My Center: Butterfly
Debbie had a big gasp over this when she flipped it over,"In 25 years I have never had anyone draw the butterfly."
The butterfly changes, transforms, morphs. It flits from thing to thing without much of a worry. It wants to try everything, do everything. When external changes take place it is easy for the butterfly to change with them. 

Below: Otter
The otter is cute, playful, and likes to have fun. They are also very loving and mate for life. I'll give you one guess who that is.

Right: The Eagle
Debbie said that this is God, with a capital G. She asked me point blank if I have been neglecting my relationship with the Big (Wo)Man. And she believed that I have some searching and seeking to do in the spiritual department. Truth be told, she was right. But I didn't want to get into a whole thing around the bonfire so I'll do it here. 
You may recall a passing comment a while back about how I love Judaism. Fact. I love the Jewish faith. It's so steeped in philosophy, history, and culture that I doubt I would ever be bored studying it. As a kid I read every book I could about the Holocaust. Mostly about the leading up to and aftermath parts, less about the camps and atrocities. I believe that as a western religion it has done the least amount of damage to it's followers and non followers alike. I have yet to see a holiday, a ritual, a ceremony that does not have a deep meaning. And the concept of ancestry strikes me right in my heart. Maybe because I yearn for that type of connection to a people and a family larger than my blood. Probably because my blood has let me down time and time again (Hi Dad). 

Left: Deer
"Do you have a friend that's a little timid, maybe skittish? Are they a little afraid of the world?"
Bulls eye. 
"I see that this one will be a lifelong friend. She is genuine and will always support you. You're the stronger one and you'll have times when you'll need to take care of her."
I intend to. She does the same for me.

Behind: Wolf
"The wolf is a predator but it's not a bad thing. This means that you have someone fierce always behind you  to protect you."
Hi Mom!

Front: Bear
Not a big scary bear. A mama bear. Watches over the cubs, strong, fierce with love and devotion.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick says my bear shaped biological clock.

Above: Dragonfly
Dragonflies also fly to different points in a circle, flying outwards from the center. Their movements seem random and chaotic, but there is purpose there. Something that Debbie told me about dragonflies in general is that some only live for 24 hours. They're lifespan isn't always very long. Fun fact: I'm fearful that I won't live past 35, leaving Jason with 3 kids Full House style. His buddies Jack, Rock, and Mica will move in to help him raise them. Amy and Rock will get married, have twins, and live in the attic. Shenanigans ensue.
This nightmare is filmed in front of a live studio audience.
When we got home, Jason helped me more with this one; dragonflies have 360 degree vision. They can see everything around them at once so they react swiftly. Basically, they see what's going on and get shit done to deal with it.

Freakishly, spookily accurate? Yeah it is.
Debbie says that the totem can change with time and the totems are usually read before a big change or journey.
Stay tuned for major developments.