Gallo pinto and eggs and the sweetest pineapple you’ll ever taste for breakfast. White-water rafting on Rio Sarapiqui. Mountain biking around Volcan Arenal. Vinyasa yoga in an open-air pavilion overlooking the Pacific, the sounds of the ocean and birds and white-faced capuchins and air moist with promise surrounding you in savasana. Snorkeling in the shimmering green waters of Isla Tortuga. Mornings in the hammock, Centenario and Coke at night. Even the rum tastes better there.
I am listening to this freezing rain as it falls. Chunks of snow are crashing from the roof. The squirrels in the crawl space above my head are playing soccer. The radiator hisses. The new mayor says he went to the gym before he shoveled the heavy, wet snow from the sidewalk in front of his Park Slope home; he advises City residents not to do this. His Spanish is better than the old mayor’s, but not much. I am wondering whether I will hold my community class tonight. It doesn’t look very bad from my window, and there are cars whizzing past the house every few minutes. I can hear the tires slice through the water and connect to the asphalt below. I have just finished reading “The Girl Who Flew,” by Camellia Phillips. I told myself I should read more literary journals, so I subscribed to Calyx. I’ll treat myself to Callaloo when I come back from Costa Rica. Maybe I should read The House on Mango Street again. I bought it on Friday and read it on Saturday; it’s the first assignment on the syllabus of the experimental fiction class I’m taking at The New School, taught by Sharon Mesmer. Last week was our first session. She asked what I was reading, so I told her. I told her that I sleep with books in my bed. How I can’t stop thinking about words. She told me that just means I’m a writer. I have to pack, but I don’t want to stop reading. Maybe I will just pack my books for now. I bought a bright orange backpack for this trip; it matches my cashmere travel scarf. I am going to fill it with books and snacks. And panties, just in case our luggage gets lost. I am still listening to this freezing rain as it falls. It sounds like sweet music. It sounds like a promise. It sounds like now.
Me, in Virabhadrasana II on the Plaza de España.
I’m still recovering from my whirlwind of a trip. We visited nine cities in as many days. I prayed for my mom in Fatima. We ate massive steaks and patatas fritas in Madrid. We hopped on the metro in Lisboa and took the train to the last stop, Cais do Sodre, where we strolled along the Tagus River and had an early dinner at a chic little restaurant/lounge in Praça do Comércio. We climbed the hills of Toledo, visited the old Jewish quarter of Cordoba. While the rest of the folks on our tour were heading to bed, we ventured into the streets of Sevilla at 10 pm for tapas and sangria. The next night we found ourselves squeezing through the crowds of Semana Santa to attend a flamenco show, then devouring delicious paella mixta, taquitos de bacalao, and chocolate con churros at Cafeteria Spala. Our waiter, who spoke no English, showed me the receipt and pointed out that he hadn’t charged us for the churros. I understand enough Spanish to know he said he extended that kindness because he wanted us to remember Spain. I’ll never forget it.
Almost two years ago, I traveled to Italy with my college buddy, Michelle. We had an amazing time and promised to do it again.
Part of the reason why I’m so ready to complete my yoga teacher training is that, just a few days after my practicum, we’ll be heading to Spain, with two nights in Portugal!
To keep things simple, we decided to stick with a tour. We start out in Madrid, then travel to Coimbra, Portugal. We stop at Fatima– where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. My super-Catholic mother is really excited about that part. From Fatima, we move on to Lisbon, then on to Seville, and we end up back in Madrid for the last two nights of the tour. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see Barcelona, but that just means I have an excuse to go back to Spain.
This trip has been in the works for several months, so it’s no surprise that I am truly looking forward to it. While I get busy studying for my final and the practicum, I’ll be dreaming of strolling along the Plaza de Espana in Seville (pictured above), ir a tapear en Madrid, and eating buttered cod in Lisboa.
I need to start brushing up on my Spanish.
So, anyone who knows me knows that Teen Witch is absolutely my FAVORITE childhood movie.
The first time I saw it, I was on a family summer vacation to Cancun, Mexico. I was probably nine, going on ten. The day had started out sunny and bright, but it began to rain early in the afternoon. So we had lunch in the hotel’s restaurant and went back to the room. My parents put the TV on and fell asleep. My sister and I looked for something to watch and I found Teen Witch on HBO. I was instantly enthralled.
In the movie, Louise, a nerdy sixteen-year-old girl, finds out she’s actually a witch. She uses her superpowers to make herself the most popular girl at her high school– she suddenly gets a curly perm, begins rocking tiered miniskirts instead of dowdy dusters over sweaters, she gets the lead in the school play, and the captain of the football team conveniently forgets about his girlfriend, Randa, to begin dating Louise. It’s all fluff and fantasy and totally ’80s cheesy– but it’s quite hilarious to me! There are all these random scenes when the characters burst into song and dance. Including this one:
Allow me to explain what’s happening here. Louise, the redhead, and her best friend, Polly, are just riding their bikes around the neighborhood after a game of tennis, as nerd girls are apparently wont to do. Louise has only recently been informed of her status as a descendant of the witches of Salem, so she starts out practicing easy spells. Her link to her powers is the amulet you see her reach for– it plays a key role in nearly every spell she casts. And she makes Polly, played by Mandy Ingber, become a rapper and go toe-to-toe with her crush. *yowls in laughter*
Moving on to the silly discovery. Little mousy Polly grew up to be Jennifer Aniston’s YOGA INSTRUCTOR! (There’s a cool interview with Mandy at the link.) And how did I learn this, you ask?
Well, sometime last week, I found this article on Jezebel, which made my day. A stage show called Teen Witch: The Musical actually EXISTS! And a commenter mentioned that Polly was a yoga teacher to the stars. Which is how I found Mandy Ingber‘s blog. It is totally worth reading.
Is it completely silly for me to say that I am deeply satisfied by this discovery? I just think it’s so cool that this woman, who grew up acting, just decided one day that her practice– which she’d been taught as a child by her father– was what made her whole, and that she was going to make a living doing it. I also think it’s cool that I grew up watching her (my parents got me Teen Witch on VHS when we got back to the States, and I bought the DVD about four years ago), and came to the same conclusion on my own– though I doubt I’ll teach yoga full time. It’s just something I love, and I want to share it.
Speaking of sharing…last weekend, my teacher training resumed and we spent all day Saturday practicing hands-on assists, and all day Sunday practice teaching. I now have Surya Namaskar A and B completely memorized, which is amazing! And I got to practice savasana assists on my classmates AND during Laurie’s class last night, which I was observing. I love savasana assists. They’re so delicious. If you ever come to my classes, be prepared for a long, lovely savasana!
More from Warsan Shire.
This video makes me want to go to France. My parents took me to Paris when I was two and a half. My father likes to tell the story about how, in the crowded Eiffel Tower elevator, I looked over his shoulder at the city below us and said, “Uh oh.” My mother likes to remind me that I made friends with the German girl whose family stayed in the room next to us. And Japanese tourists at Versailles wanted to take pictures of me. “Maybe they’d never seen such a cute Black baby before, I don’t know.” I haven’t been back to Paris since. I know I’ll make it there some day.
My excuse? Oh, there are many. Too many to bore you with right now…