love, Personal

The Moment

We were in his car, a brand new Mercedes Benz SUV. He changed lanes, and someone honked wildly at us.  He seemed bewildered; he didn’t know why this person was so angry. I said, “You cut him off.” He said, “Oops.” He hadn’t looked. And in that moment, I saw my future.

I saw more Saturdays like this. Brunch dates and hand-holding and awkward kisses and clumsy sex that was never rough in the right way. Me, realizing that he refused to acknowledge when he was wrong. Me, planning our every outing because he never seemed to notice what I liked to do. Him, inviting me to Sunday dinners at his mother’s house. Me, driving us everywhere because I didn’t trust him not to get us killed. Him, telling our mutual friends that I was his perfect girl. A  year, then two, of this routine. A diamond ring, pretty, but nothing like the kind of ring I’d ever wear. Me, saying yes, because he was a good guy. A lavish wedding, because he could afford it. And me, frustrated and bored, finding my way back to my old friend. An affair, brief and painful and illuminating. Me, realizing I’d been lying to myself. Me, hurting him when I walked away.

I saw this all play out like a movie montage, scene after scene, quick flashes of what my life would be like if I didn’t end this now. I looked down at the angry driver, then over at him, as he fiddled with his side mirrors. My stomach dropped.  When we finally reached our destination, he helped me out of the car and grasped at my hand. I let it slip past his outstretched fingers.

“We have to go,” I said. “We’re going to be late.”

#thisiswhyimsingle

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Fitness, Goals, Personal, Yoga

Getting it Together

One day near the end of August I woke up with my knee throbbing.

I decided to stay home and rest. I grabbed some ice and propped my knee up and watched terrible daytime television and cried.

By 2 pm, I was bored. So I got up and drove myself to Crocheron Park, where I sat by the pond and finished reading Daring Greatly.

Then I walked over to the Bayside Marina and kept walking. And walking. Until I stood underneath the approach to the Throgs Neck Bridge. Then I turned around and walked back.

My knee still hurt. But not as much as it had when I first woke up. And I realized: I had tried to protect myself from the knee pain by being as sedentary as possible. What I’d done, instead, was pack on an extra five pounds, which my knee definitely couldn’t take. I know five pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but I am just over five feet tall, and, at the time, weighed more than I had ever weighed before– over 147 pounds.

In the eight weeks since I took that walk along Little Neck Bay, I’ve shed 11.4 pounds. I resolved to move my body in some way, at least six days a week. I began tracking my food intake with an application on my iPhone (Lose It!), and I dug up the Polar Heart Rate Monitor my sister gave me last Christmas to track my calories burned with every work out. And so I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. Mondays and Wednesdays, I work out at home. I do one of my Jillian Michaels DVDs (usually No More Trouble Zones because it is ROUGH), then follow up with an hour of incline walking on the treadmill I bought three years ago (which has only been used sporadically up until now). Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do cardio at the gym  (typically a StairMaster/elliptical combo since I have the treadmill at home. I do at least 30 minutes, but usually closer to an hour), then go to my regular 90-minute Hot Vinyasa Flow class. Fridays, I go to the gym for my favorite, leg day. Saturday is whatever I feel like doing– most of the time I’ll walk around my neighborhood, or do my Butt Bible dvd plus a yoga class.  This is the most consistent I’ve been about working out since I was still in law school, and routinely shirked my study duties by spending hours at the gym. My consistency has paid off.

My knee feels so much better now. Without the extra weight, there’s less pressure on the joint. And all the strength-building I’ve been doing has helped stabilize my patella so it doesn’t slide all over the place and get compressed when I bend the knee.  I spent 30 minutes on the StairMaster yesterday and my knee feels totally normal. So it occurred to me– why can’t I run?

I want to run again. I miss it terribly.  I never thought I’d miss it, but I do. As always, I don’t want to hurt myself again. So I will wait until I am under 130 pounds, and then I will start the Couch to 5k program. When I weighed myself yesterday, I was 135.8. My 31st birthday is in three weeks. My goal is to do the first day of the program the weekend after my birthday. It’s time.

And now I’m off to the gym!

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Personal

Daddy Issues

me and my daddy in St. Thomas USVI, some time in the early 90s.

me and my daddy in St. Thomas USVI, some time in the early 90s.

My mother’s father died of renal failure four years before I was born. When he died, he was living in Brooklyn with his Trinidadian-Chinese wife and their four children. My mother, one of three children he’d had with my Grams prior to his marriage, was in graduate school at Fordham University at the time. She was easily accessible. His wife didn’t tell her that he’d died until nearly a month after his funeral.

I am afraid of history repeating itself.  I am afraid of being shut out of my father’s life because his wife, for some inexplicable reason, does not like my sister and me.

My relationship with my father was rocky, at best, for several years.  He left my mother when I was thirteen; they weren’t divorced until I was twenty-one.  When he left, I was old enough to understand what was going on, and I despised him for it.  But eventually, I had to let that hurt go. I couldn’t function with that burden. So I forgave my father. I love him dearly.

I think, what might have happened is, when my father and his wife met some nine years ago, she didn’t expect that my sister and I would be around.  And honestly, at twenty-two, I didn’t think I’d have much to do with him, either. I believe this sudden turn around– I speak to him at least once a week, we hang out and drink and talk shit, he brings me soca cds from Trinidad after Carnival every year– is unsettling for her.

At the hospital yesterday, after he’d been prepped for surgery, the chaplain came to talk to him. She asked him, “Is this your wife?” He said yes. She didn’t ask who my sister and I were, because it was clear. We are his daughters. I have his forehead, his eyes, his chin. My sister has his cheekbones and his full lips. We both share his dark mahogany complexion. We are his daughters, Barrow women. We earned that name by blood.   We are proof that he was married before her. We are proof that he loved before her, had a whole different life before her. We are undeniably his. And his wife hates us for it.

I am sensitive to people’s energies. And I knew the moment I laid eyes on that woman that she would be trouble. When we first met, my poor father, who was so afraid of upsetting me, didn’t even want to tell me that she was his wife. But he introduced us, and I am not rude or nasty (unless provoked), so I was pleasant enough. I told myself I wouldn’t judge her just because she happened to be my father’s second wife. But she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. And she never spoke to me directly, instead addressing her questions to my father for him to pass along. I thought that was strange, but brushed it off as her being nervous. The next time I saw her, I said hello to her, and she said nothing. Her daughter similarly ignored me.  This continued over the years, so I tried my best to avoid her whenever possible, and to remain neutral if I did have to interact with her.

Then I began to hear rumors– things she’d said about me, about my sister, about my mother, and about my parents’ divorce. My mother’s younger sister went to high school with my father’s wife back in Trinidad. They are the same age, were in the same class. They have mutual friends. My aunt told me his wife had said she didn’t want us in her house (the house, I must point out, my father bought and moved her into, because before they were married, she lived in an apartment in Brooklyn that she rented). That my father would never have treated her the same way that he treated my mother– as if my mother deserved the treatment she received from my father. That if she’d been with him when he finally divorced my mother, she would’ve made sure that he got the house. The last part made my blood boil. My sister was still in high school when our parents’ divorced was finalized. So she would’ve felt good about herself if she’d ensured that her boyfriend’s 17-year-old daughter was forced out of the house where she’d spent her entire life?  What kind of woman says these things?

The kind of woman who says these things is also the kind of woman who will roll her eyes when her husband’s daughter begins to cry before he is rolled into surgery. The kind of woman who will grab her grandson– who has no relation to my father–when the hospital aide calls out to the Barrow family and will rush him in to see her husband without acknowledging that my sister and I have been in the same lounge, feet away, for five hours, just waiting for news. The kind of woman who will look right at us and walk away, leave the hospital without saying a word to us about our father’s condition. We went to the front desk and were told that he’d made it out of surgery just fine, was asleep in the recovery room, and that someone would come get us when he woke up again.

I will not let what happened to my mother happen to me. If that means I have to fight–with my words, even with my fists– I will.

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Career, Goals

The Hard Questions

Sometimes Buzzfeed is good for something other than amusing (and sometimes bemusing) lists or ingeniously-curated gifs.

From a piece on former tennis pro athlete, James Blake:

His career just never seemed to click into place the way the instructions that came with the package said it was supposed to. And it did really seem like Blake was supposed to have an epic career, given his story. He was born in Yonkers, outside New York City, and as a kid played at — and heard Arthur Ashe speak to — a Harlem junior tennis program that his parents worked with. That’s an auspicious start for a black American tennis player… But despite putting together the best streak of his career in 2006, he never threatened to win a major. Just when it seemed like everything was coming together, something would come apart. You may know the feeling.

The press conference was a heavy thing — a guy seeing a three-decade life project come to a end in a largely empty stadium after midnight. There was a lot to think about: fans coming to terms with an unsatisfying end to Blake’s career, Blake coming to terms with an unsatisfying end to his own career, and (perhaps, if you’re in the mood to brood) fans thinking about the similarities between his life and their own. Thanks for speaking to us, James. Can you tell us what you feel like right now? Can you describe what it’s like to know conclusively that you will never have the thing you wanted most? Can you talk about your forehand, your serve, and the way that every day your life’s possibilities get incrementally narrower? How did your legs feel in the fifth set, and don’t almost all of us have to admit eventually that we aren’t going to be the ones who get lucky?

Read the rest  here.

I’ve been thinking about this article non-stop since I first read it yesterday afternoon.

It’s an uncomfortable thing to consider. We all want to be successful and happy, healthy and loved.

But what happens if, despite your hard work, you never quite reach your potential?

What if you never get what you want?

If you’re James Blake, you acknowledge the career highs. You accept your uncertain future with gracious, open arms.

Maybe one day I’ll learn.

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Fitness, Food, Personal, Yoga

Things They Said

Yankee girls are all fat because they eat too much. You’re solid. That’s why you’re so fat, because all you do is eat and read. Don’t bend over like that, we can all see your breasts. Why are your boobs so big when the rest of you is so small? You’re short and you can’t afford to gain much weight; you’ll look like a house. Did you eat all the ice cream? You wear a size 5 because you’re a MOO MOO MOO. Well, yeah, you could stand to lose a few pounds. You’re overweight, ma. Come here and give me a hug, looking like a Coca-Cola bottle. Put your tits away, slut. No way, you can’t weigh more than me. I don’t know why you’re always complaining, we’re the same size. You have a beautiful shape. You didn’t get those breasts from your mother. You’re too young for your stomach to be that round. You should work out. You’re fat. Your waist is so small; when we get you down a few pounds your body will be crazy. You’re a little neurotic about food. I think you should eat a bit more than salad. Were you planning to stop losing weight any time soon? You’re looking a little thin. You’re all boobs and hair, there is no fat on you. Your body is perfect. You’re more fit than you give yourself credit for. You’re a strong little thing. You’re starting to get track thighs. What happened to you? You’re just so thick. Your ass got bigger, but that’s a good thing. How do you carry those jugs around all day? You’re so tiny, but you have the body of a grown woman. You’ve ballooned back up. Aren’t you gonna go to the gym? Will yoga help you lose weight? Your waist was so tiny. Don’t overindulge in food. You must remain nice and slim. Your belly is too round. Do some sit-ups. You see how slim you were? You’re not fat though; I’ve seen worse.

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Personal

The Truth

I’ve been thinking about what I’d write here for the last month.

It isn’t that I haven’t had ideas. I have several posts sitting in my drafts, getting dusty. I could’ve just pressed “publish” and and patted myself on the back for blogging.  But something about those posts felt inauthentic to me. So I let them sit there. For weeks.

In the mean time, I’ve been to Boston to hang out with one of my best friends, started making friendship bracelets again, read four books (The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum, The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger, Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino, and Boundaries by Elizabeth Nunez). I nearly passed out while crossing Queens Boulevard after a hot Vinyasa class on a 96 degree day (in other words, I almost died). I’ve  missed a man, started tapping, and gained five pounds. I’ve spazzed on a co-worker. I was annoyed, but the sheer nastiness that flew out of my mouth surprised even me, and while I think everyone else involved was also annoyed by his actions, my sharp Scorpio tongue was not completely warranted, especially at work.  I’ve written in my journal and cried and prayed and spent a day on Long Beach wishing and hoping that summer will stay forever because my moods are so much heavier when it’s cold and dark out. And that’s pretty fucking awful. I’ve gotten bad news and planned fantasy vacations, bought a new dress in a bigger size and it still didn’t fit. I’ve worn makeup for the first time in a long while and gotten annoyed by the compliments, by people staring at me, telling me how pretty I am. Like, shut up. That is why I stopped wearing it in the first place.  No one ever says I’m pretty without it.  I’ve stared at my phone, waiting for it to ring, and turned it off for two days because it disappointed me.  I’ve washed my hair twice and dreamed about locking it because I am tired of the constant maintenance my loose natural hair requires. I ate grilled chicken salad with fries three times in one week and remembered that, fifteen years ago, I would’ve just thrown it all up. I’ve seen friends hurt and I’ve wanted to hurt someone– a woman who finds ways to passively-aggressively intrude upon my life. She wants to know the truth, but she doesn’t want to ask. I know what I will say should she ever muster up the courage to ask what happened, nearly six years ago. Funny how the past haunts us both.

In my last post, I wondered if I had the tools to get through this on my own. I ditched my therapist a year ago because I didn’t feel like she was helping me. I chose her initially because she seemed to understand me. We were from similar backgrounds. But I think perhaps we crossed the line. She spoke to me sometimes as more of a friend. She revealed some of herself to me. And because of the things she revealed, I could no longer trust her with my secrets. I couldn’t tell her, my therapist, the things I can’t tell anyone. And if I couldn’t be candid with her, how could she help me?  I stopped answering her calls. I never know how to break up with anyone.

The fact is, though, that I’m pretty sure yoga and prayer are not enough for me. When I first met my therapist, she made me complete a battery of tests and told me that I had no diagnosable mental disorder. This was the same thing I’d been told by a psychiatrist my mother took me to see when I was in high school, after I was almost suspended for cussing out a classmate in front of several teachers.  In college, I was a peer counselor, and our requirements included attending sessions with our director, a licensed therapist herself. She told me she worried for me because I took on what other people felt and made it my own. I seemed self-destructive to her. A year later, a boyfriend told me, “You know what your problem is?  You need to quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

The solution was that simple to him, and it seemed to make sense at the time.  Whenever I’d hit a slump, like this one, I’d tell myself to get it together, to quit feeling sorry for myself. And I’d find something to distract myself and pretend I was okay.

It took me almost a decade to realize this:  I don’t feel sorry for myself.  I’ve had a fairly easy life. I know this. I appreciate it.

I am angry. With myself. Furious. Seething. For the mistakes I’ve made. For the secrets I can’t share.

I’ve been carrying this anger around with me for much of my life.  It started from a tiny seed, deep in my belly, nearly 18 years ago.  And it grew, flourished really, with each horrible predicament I placed myself in. Now it’s like kudzu, thriving and invasive. It’s what has me here, today, looking at my path, at what I feel are my only available options, and seeing the destruction Cassandra saw when she looked at me, when I was only 20 and clueless. Now I know what she was talking about.

I don’t need to quit feeling sorry for myself. I need deliverance.

Yoga and prayer help. They do. Yoga made me confront myself, made me acknowledge that I was even angry in the first place. I know I’ll never discuss any of these things that make me angry with anyone in my life. I don’t talk about my problems, because who wants to hear a privileged person complain?  Even writing, sharing this is difficult.

The truth is, I just need a little help.

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Personal

Holding Pattern

holding patterns

they look kinda pretty….

Definition:

1: the usually oval course flown (as over an airport) by aircraft awaiting clearance especially to land

2: a state of waiting or suspended activity or progress

I’ve been in a weird mood lately (just in case you hadn’t noticed).

I’m feeling pretty…stuck. Across nearly aspects of my life. Career, love life, family.  Even in my practice. I had Eka Pada Koundinyasana and suddenly I can’t do it anymore.

I’m trying to figure out how to get through this. I’m not sure I have the tools to do it on my own.

I just know that, eventually, I would like to land.

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movies, Yoga

Top That!

Still recovering from a cold that knocked me over last week. Despite my sore lungs, I managed to drag myself to Pure East for a very special workshop this past Saturday.

photo (17)

That’s Mandy Ingber with her arm around my shoulders.  Yes, that Mandy Ingber, who played Polly in Teen Witch and now teaches yoga to the stars.  I TOOK A CLASS WITH POLLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have you all forgotten how much I love Teen Witch? Well, you can refresh your memory here.  The class was fun, her signature hybrid of yoga with strength-building moves. I love that she introduced herself to everyone who set foot in the room and asked if we had any issues or injuries she should know about before we began our practice.  I can tell that she’s used to working with private clients because her general class cues were sometimes vague and full of what Laurie calls “throw-away” words. For example, she’d say  “We’re gonna shift into plank” rather than the more direct “Shift into plank.”  HOWEVER, she assisted everyone in the room several times and when she offered individual instruction,  her cues were much more specific and helpful.  She was really sweet and quite hilarious. I would definitely recommend that you catch a class with her in your city if you can!  I’m currently reading her new book, Yogalosophy (which she autographed for me!!!!!!!!!!!!), and I’m thinking about buying one of her dvds.

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Poetry, Writing

When All Else Fails

I don’t have the words today.

What I mean is, I have nothing illuminating or interesting or amusing of my own to share.  I’m just not in the mood.

So I’m going to leave you with some more bits on Warsan Shire.

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with her. And through the clouds that continue to linger over me, I’m starting to realize why.  I don’t have the words today, so I can’t tell you exactly what it is. Maybe later. But not right now.

Anyway, enjoy these interview excerpts I rounded up:

List 3 things that have made you a better poet?

1. Not competing,

2. not comparing,

3. being honest (even if the truth is perhaps a little shameful, a little painful)

from “Ask a Poet” by Indigo Williams. Read the rest here.

Any writing rituals? What is your writing process like? Do you keep a journal, write before dawn…?

I write when everyone is asleep. I write with music. I never plan it. But it is a very constant. It feels organic. My poems come to me in images, like film. I can see it very clearly and then this overwhelming urge to write out best what I just saw comes over me. I write best with free writes, where I refuse to edit what is leaving me, where I write within a specific time frame. I refuse to obsess over it, and if it doesn’t come out easily, then I leave it. I don’t write for an audience. I don’t write under pressure. I’m thankful to take my time. The poems happen to me. Sometimes I have no actual idea where they have come from.

from “To Be Vulnerable and Fearless” by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Read the rest here.

How did you develop such an acute sense of observation (about human nature in particular)? Is it something that came naturally to you or was it something that developed over time? Is that sense of observation perhaps what drew you to write in the first place?

I’ve always been very observant; I’d rather listen than speak. It’s overwhelming, the amount of detail I see in really mundane scenarios: strangers touching one another; someone arguing on the phone; a man falling asleep on the train. I’ll fill in the gaps of the story myself. In my mind I’ll follow them home, I’ll imagine their childhood, what their bedroom looks like, if they are in love with someone who does not love them. The downfall is that I give everything (and everyone) too much meaning. Sometimes a thing is vacant and I’ll create depth for it; that’s not always fair.

From “Warsan Shire’s Raw & Vulnerable Poetry” by Anya Wassenberg for OkayAfrica. Read the rest here.

And finally, listen to Warsan herself read her poem “What We Have” here (fast forward to the 23:30 mark, though the rest of the discussion is fairly interesting if you like poetry). I’m thinking of getting the last line of this poem tattooed on the inside of my left arm:

The only darkness we should allow into our lives is the night, and even then, we have the moon.

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