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A fictional book: Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. Here's the Amazon review:
Fingersmith is the third slice of engrossing lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters. Although lighter and more melodramatic in tone than its predecessor, Affinity, this hypnotic suspense novel is awash with all manner of gloomy Dickensian leitmotifs: pickpockets, orphans, grim prisons, lunatic asylums, "laughing villains," and, of course, "stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad." Divided into three parts, the tale is narrated by two orphaned girls whose lives are inextricably linked. Waters's penchant for byzantine plotting can get a bit exhausting, but even at its densest moments--and remember, this is smoggy London circa 1862--it remains mesmerizing. A damning critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy, a gripping melodrama, and a love story to boot, this book ingeniously reworks some truly classic themes.

I loved it and could not put it down. It is my favorite of Sarah Waters books. Her first three (Affinity and Tipping the Velvet) are far superior to her more recent two, although she is such a good writer and really captures the quintessential English-ness of English literature.

A non-fiction book. I read FAR more non-fiction than fiction these days. Right now I'm reading Georg Feuerstein's Yoga: Technology of Ecstasy, as one of my home books. It is easily one of the best books about yoga I've ever read. It's not a how-to manual at all. From the Amazon blurb:

"The impulse toward transcendence is intrinsic to human life. Nowhere has this drive found a more consistent and versatile expression than in India. The civilization of India has spawned an overwhelming variety of spiritual beliefs, practices, and approaches. The goal of Yoga, the most famous and globally widespread of India's spiritual traditions, is to take us beyond ourselves to the Absolute Reality, to the utterly blissful union of the individual self with the transcendental Divine... This book features a lucid explanation of Yoga's roots in Indian culture, outlines its relationship to other important Indian traditions, and discusses the diverse forms it has taken in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism."

A fanfic: N/A
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Two quotes that have got me thinking this morning.

From the Economist: Every time someone tells you to 'be realistic' they are asking you to compromise your ideals.

From Light on Life by BKS Iyengar: It is a modern illusion that positive emotions, sympathy, pity, kindness, and a general but diffused goodwill are the equivalent of virtues.

I'm not sure I completely agree with Iyengar about what virtues are, but the quote is a reminder to me that virtue is a verb, much like love. Thinking about love but not actually loving others isn't enough. Thinking nice thoughts for others is not the same as actually being helpful. Pity is not the same of compassion. Pity asks nothing of me, compassion asks that I involve my heart in another's life. I think I too often fall into the modern illusion.
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I just got back from my last session at the yoga conference thingy. John Friend, founder of the Anusara style of yoga, is AMAZING. Whatever he's got I want. He is a phenomenal teacher. Charismatic without being a cult of personality. Performing miracles, but assuring us that none of it is magic and comes with practice. It was beyond great.

Plus, getting time away from the babe makes me realize the joy of physical autonomy. Not having to worry about another living being, not having another person on my person, etc. However, I've beaten my boys home and my boobs are tingling. I want to feeeeeeeeeed.

This weekend has reinforced for me that my mental health requires time off from baby and regular yoga and meditation. That's it. There are other deeper issues of course, but for basic functioning, I need those things. And thank god those things are possible.

My weekend

Sep. 14th, 2008 09:34 am
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Leaving Bennett all day yesterday to go to a weekend yoga workshop with John Friend was awesome. I missed lil' B, but getting away is crucial for the mental health. So is yoga. I need it. NEED. IT. I feel human, if a little sore this morning. I actually feel fit and healthy, in mind and body and spirit. I have two more hours later this afternoon. I skipped the morning session today. Because of the need for sleep and time with Bennett.

I also didn't want to have to pump. The yoga thing is being held at the the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, which is this huge enormous complex. For all of their family programming and preschool, none of the women's bathrooms have a chair or loungey area. So I sat on the floor of the handicap stall -twice- and pumped. Thank god the bathrooms are really really clean! It was a little demoralizing.

Plus, we must wash the floor in the dining room/study/changing area today. Late last night B did his usual pooping thing. Thinking he was all done, Adam went to go change him. With the diaper off and butt in the air for a wipe down, B let more poo fly. And by "fly" I mean projectile poop! It was awesome; we laughed so hard. And then we sprayed down Adam's pants and wiped up the mess on the floor, as well as the changing table, diapers, clothes and baby. Just call B the "Guacamole Shooter"!
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Today has certainly ended up much better than expected. I went to the hospital at noon. Adam had been earlier with his folks and talked to the nurses, telling them I would be in and to please leave me be. The nurses did and I fed my boy and held him for almost two hours. It was peaceful and he was looking so beautiful. I hadn't seen him for two days and at this stage in his growth, I can really tell differences already! He's gained some weight - up to 5 lbs, 1.8 oz. GO BENNETT!! He really has the most impish smile - whether he's actually responding to anything, I don't know. It did seem he made the smiling faces as I was singing to him. But he might just be practicing his facial muscles. Whatever the case, his smile is mischievous.

After that, Adam and I went to see Kung Fu Panda. It was so much better than I expected! It was delightful. The animation was equal parts annoying 3D and beautiful. The opening sequence and closing credits in particular were stunning.

And after that I went to yoga. I took it easy but I still may not be able to move in the morning. Plus, my pelvic floor is going to take a while to get back to normal. Wow.

Dinner was provided by my friend B, who made us the most amazing and delicious pasta - tomato cream sauce with red peppers and smoked salmon from Juneau. YUM.

We are now watching China Town.

It's a good day. I'm feeling better. I feel like life is actually good once again.
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Not very articulate today. I am TOTALLY procrastinating working on some staffing reports. Argh, staffing. Bane of my existence these days.

My weekend yoga retreat was wonderful. Only 12 of us, 13 if you count lil' Bennett-in-the-belly, and many people were quite kind to him! One lady (hot, so hot. Do I ever miss the ladies sometimes!) even knitted him a beautiful green hat one night! The yoga was great. I feel better than I've felt in months - my hips feel normal, I'm not waddling. Just amazing. It was also great to hear birds and bugs. I saw toads and hawks, and heard wild pigs and horses. AND, I saw the biggest butterfly I've ever seen! It was horribly incredible. Body the size of both my thumbs together plus some and wings the size of my hand. I really miss nature.

Thoughts on yoga and pregnancy )

But, I had to come home. What did I do? I immediately went to the movies with Adam and [livejournal.com profile] alizarin71, and concurrently with [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna. We saw Iron Man. So fun! Totally not a feminist movie, but what the hell. Robert Downey Jr was everything I'd hoped he be, by which I mean fabulous. Gwyneth Paltrow played her part well and I loved the chemistry between her and RD Jr. My only criticism was that after wonderfully detailed and engrossing first and second acts, the third act felt like the director all of a sudden realized he was running long and had a Holy Shit! moment, cutting out stuff and speeding things along to the rather anticlimactic Fight Scene. I would have happily hung around for another 20 minutes for a more cohesive third act. But still. Good fun. Recommended for a good summer flick.

Okay, that's it for now.

Upcoming

May. 1st, 2008 08:43 pm
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To celebrate spring, to celebrate the last days of my independence, I am going on a yoga retreat here over the weekend. I am SO excited. My yoga teacher is leading it, so I know I won't have to worry about anything.

I am also downright exhausted and underslept. I'm so tired of being uncomfortable and peeing all the damn time and I know it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I hung out with [livejournal.com profile] qibitum and her 9month old today. So cute, so snuggly. I am both excited to meet my little guy and overwhelmed with the thought/fear/realization that I may never be productive again. All of sudden a nanny sounds like a GREAT idea. I suppose this waffling is normal, especially as I start winding down the pregnancy.

I take it back! Do overs, right?? I don't need a baby. Sheesh, what was I thinking? Just kidding!

and also

Who is this little guy? What does he look like? Can't wait! So excited to have a family with Adam.


This vacillation is taxing.

Yoga

Mar. 31st, 2008 09:56 am
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Last night, I went to yoga class for the first time in two months. I've been doing a gentle practice at home most mornings, but I finally felt recovered enough from Feb to go back to class, and also my teacher was back from a two week trip. Being pregnant I didn't want to go to a class with a sub, some one I didn't know.

But class last night was great. Mellow but challenging enough for my body, now 30lbs heavier! Downward facing dog still feels awesome, which is a relief. The really exciting news, and the reason I'm posting, is that I can still go upside down!! I was able to do two handstands! I needed help getting up, but once up I was stable and comfortable. We also did partner supported back bends (dhanurasana) and I could still do that, too! And they felt sooooo good. It was all the hip opening stuff that I had to sit out on. My hips are not happy. Time for the chiropractor.
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I really, really miss my yoga practice. This left hip "injury" has put me out of commission. I limp around. And I can't take pain killers. I call bullshit on this.

Inspired

Jan. 4th, 2007 10:43 am
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Last night, after a very productive day (I did Urdhva Dhanurasana by myself for the first time!), I came home and collaged. It's the first full moon of the year so I lit some candles, said a little prayer and made a collage of all of the things I want more of or to manifest in my life in 2007. It was fun. It's not especially artful or profound, but the just the act of selecting and organizing and using a glue stick was inspiring.

Maybe it's just my mood and I'm ready to be inspired, but I got to thinking while listening to a youtube posting of a folk singer on [livejournal.com profile] ginger_root's journal. Sometimes I wish I was a guitar-wielding singer-songwriter. There seems to be so much freedom in this genre. It continues to be inspiring and fertile despite its simplicity and overuse. Mostly I wish I could be Ella Fitzgerald or an R&B diva, but occasionally I wish I had the easy going nature and careless vocal stylings of a folk singer. But his will not happen for several reasons: I don't want to learn the guitar, my voice wants to sing opera and I don't write music. This is also why I will never be a piano playing singer-songwriter. Although I love the piano, own one, and can barely play. I only ever write music when I have to (like for theory classes and such, but I don't take those anymore).

I miss making music. I think maybe I want to make chanteuse disco-folk, or elegant happy roots techno, when not singing Mozart. Look at all the creativity stirred up! Perhaps this will manifest in 2007.
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I've been studying yoga pretty seriously for almost a year now. I've been attending an Iyengar style class and an Anusara style class. I get a great deal out of both, but in the last couple of months there's been something about the Anusara style that just seems to click with me. Iyengar feels much like the technique to Anusara's expression. Technique is important as a foundation, but I am really trying to move away from a tendency to rely on technique, which often leads me down the path to perfectionism. Anusara is based on a more Tantric, heart-opening philosophy. At first I found it to be a little hokey, but it's been growing on me. I now prefer it over my intense 2 hour Iyengar class.

Recently, my teacher gave me a copy of her Master Immersion booklet, so that I could learn more about the Anusara philosophy. While reading I kept thinking "This sounds like Feri! No wonder it's clicking!" And then I came to this excerpt, which just lays out the similarities between the Feri witchcraft stuff I've been studying with T Thorn Coyle and this style of yoga:

"You can be deeply soft and open, or deeply focused and strong. Performing fully means to play the edge or the threshold of our potential. The edge is where the alchemy or transformation takes place. It is the critical point where a quantum shift from one level to another occurs instantaneously. Performing fully in any moment expands the middle space of balanced action.... By playing the edge, the boundary line of our potential moves further out, so our capacity for our individual expression and knowing of Shiva/Shakti within us grows."

Feri is all about expanding to the edges and walking the line there. It's unsettling in a completely fascinating way. I'm not very articulate at talking about the stuff that I practice. It's much easier to discuss religious and spiritual things kept on a theoretical level. What's kind of neat about this Feri stuff is that there's very little "magic" in that casting-spells and conjuring kind of way. It's really about intention and experiencing the Divine. And yoga also seems to be all about that too.What I find really interesting in all of this is that as my yoga practice deepens and as I study Feri more, I am increasingly interested in finally getting my ass into the Orthodox Church.
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Yeah, so I figured out how to make icons on my own. I don't know how good they are, but y'all can check them out and see what you think. My pride won't be too wounded if you don't like them. Adam hates Rie Munoz by the way, so I expect some snarky comments at some point. Poor guy has two of her paintings hanging in our apartment.

Things I am excited about this week:
1: I can do Pincha Mayurasana (with a wall) all by myself! I feel like I'm seven - look what I can do! I'm really excited about this. I've been working on this pose for a couple of months, but for the last three weeks I've been able to do it. Last night at yoga, the whole class was centered around this pose. I went up three times all by myself.

2: [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna is here for a visit! Yay! Her plane from the mid-west arrived several hours late last night. She got to my door, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] alizarin71, at a quarter to 4 in the morning. L-a-m-e. But she's here! And I'm functioning. She gave me Gling-Glo, a CD of Bjork singing jazz in Icelandic. Awesome.

3: I get to marry Adam and my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Ian from Australia are probably coming over for it.

4: It's Friday. Tonight is a Halloween party. The weather here is absurdly perfect.

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