Feline Flow

I’ve always admired people who can exercise on their own at home. They are devoted to their routines and rarely miss a day. I have at least three women friends who do this and a family member who works out almost every morning in his home gym.

It’s so self-contained and convenient. Doesn’t require special clothes, driving, money, or having to talk other human beings on those days we’d rather not.

Many times, I’ve wanted to emulate my self-disciplined friends. But living and working alone, I’ve been afraid I’ll miss the inspiration of good teaching, group energy and companionship. So, until recently I stored this idea away in my mental files.

I became less happy with my yoga studio. Not particularly friendly, lackluster teaching, more money than I can afford and too much rubbing on of oils and the slippery woo-woo philosophy. I went on a quest for another studio and discovered two things: 1) most of the classes in our beach town are heated, and 2) they are powered by 20-something, bendy toothpicks.

After almost fainting in a smelly, cave-like, “hot” yoga class, I tried a couple of outdoor classes next to a temporary trailer where our new Y is being built. A good teacher, but I had to get used to my mat slipping on fake grass and tune out the “Express Circuit” class leaping around next to us. A young woman failed to complete the leap across a big tire and landed in a heap of pain. Cell phones came out and I thought for sure we’d have paramedics, but as soon as the coaches were able to hobble her across the field, all seemed okay. My teacher had to get up, grab a clipboard and “make a report,” but then returned to finish up our class. We both commented on how yoga allows us to calm down.

One morning I was rummaging around in my office closet, and, without thinking, I pulled out my large, thick yoga mat. Not the thinner one I carry to and from class. One I used to store for $5 a month at a fancy studio, too heavy to carry, but perfect for home practice!

I lay it out on my office floor and started moving. My office is peaceful, shaded by trees that cover the windows. I’ve practiced yoga long enough – 18 years – to be able to move from one pose to another and create my own sequence. The only guiding voice I need is my own. The only music I need is the soft wind pushing the branches and leaves into the glass panes.

And I don’t lack for company. My three tabby cats, who normally lie around day and night, have suddenly decided they need yoga too. This is new! Mom sits on couch or lies on bed and we snuggle in close, but this body swinging and bending and legs swinging in air is too much! Must investigate. Must emulate. Underfoot, yes, but graceful.

To my surprise, I love the feel of their little bodies and can move with and around them. Whereas a person’s foot on my mat in a class would annoy me, these little soft paws and bellies are comforting. So far, they have mastered Sphinx (what cat could not?), Puppy (like Sphinx, but with butt in air), Half-Assed Side Plank (not unlike mine) and, of course, Savasana (the cat’s natural state, resting).I now look forward to my routine every morning. I am pleased, not just that I stretch and feel good, but that I am stretching into a new way of being – freedom to move (in my pajamas!) at my convenience. I see myself doing this for the rest of my life, even if I’m away from home.

I also found another studio, a mellow one. Instead of signing up for a membership, I bought a class pack and can go as often or as little as I want. Say once a week. Or not. Depending. (For an overly conscientious person like me, this is HUGELY freeing.)

This morning a woman brought two kittens to class in a carrier. She couldn’t leave them alone with their dog. Brother and sister, Houdini and Magic, grey and white and calico. We took turns petting them. They were quiet during class.

“Welcome to Feline Flow,” said our creative teacher.

Yes, perfect name, I thought as I settled into my mat.




Defeating the iPhone Daemons

Recently 28,747 ghost emails showed up in my iPhone’s Mail Inbox. Ghosts because they are not really IN my Inbox, despite the notification hovering over the Mail icon saying they are. I managed to turn off the annoying apparition, but the grey number 28K still displays in my Mailbox menu.

These ghosts also haunt my Sent folder. Supposedly it contains 966 sent emails, none of which I can see.

According to my preliminary research, it’s a bug in the software – and it’s been bugging people without any resolution for at least a couple of years.Ghost email

Truthfully, I’ve been unable to read the long, online threads of threatening rants and obtuse explanations for more than a few minutes at a time. My eyes and brain fog over. (I can’t believe I spent 25 years as a technical writer without slipping into a coma.) My heart sinks when I see the same suggestion again and again: delete account and add back in. Sure, simple. Just let me locate my list of server settings and passwords. Of course, if I must do that, I will. But unlike with childbirth, when you forget the pain and do it again, I do remember how long I labored to set up the email account, how many people I had to call to obtain settings, how many buttons I toggled on and off before it magically worked. (Again, I marvel at my perverse ability to write about these maddening mind boggles – as a career!)

And now – another fun, twisting challenge. The ghosts must be pissed off at me for trying to yank them out of purgatory. All my Contacts disappeared! Names, addresses, phone numbers, emails. All my incoming calls appeared as Unknown Number.

This was my fault, as much as I’d like to blame cyber-demons. My fingers became possessed and in a fit of impatience, they pressed the secret code to open the gates to iCloud heaven. Once inside, they mindlessly decided, no we don’t need you anymore. Close down iCloud and take everything away (secretly hoping this might include ghosts).

Once I realized that the ghosts remained, but real people disappeared, I was able to re-open iCloud, bow down and ask for forgiveness. Prayers answered. All my contacts floated down from the clouds and reappeared on my phone.

Plus a few extra. Ones I deleted years ago! For reasons that could be the subject of future essays. I’ll have to be careful scrolling through them to re-delete. One slip of the finger or the stylus and I’m calling that born-again woman who refused to listen when I told her I could edit her book, but not run her personal errands. Or that handyman who became overly hand-y until I invented a boyfriend, a former NYC cop with a pet pit bull.  Ghost emails

As for the mysterious emails, are they real? Are they really emails I’ve sent and received for the last 10 years? Has a server somewhere decided, “Here, I don’t want these anymore, I’m sending them back. You’ll have to hire an exorcist or an engineer to get rid of them.”

I have a few ideas, I don’t give up easily. Did I mention I was a technical writer? And I have a software engineer son.

If the emails are real, and not ghosts, I hope I don’t have to see them again. As with old Contacts, I deleted them for a reason. They are free to die peacefully.

When Your Best Plans Take You for a Ride

A Facebook friend wanted to know what the best thing was we had planned for our day. And – NO sarcasm, please, only happy ideas.

(She is a rah-rah life coach.)

Geez, coach, my day is not complete without sarcasm, or at least some droll or semi-dark humor. In fact, I wouldn’t have made it this far, a few decades, without laughing at myself hanging onto the frayed, whiplashing rope of my life.

Some days the sun is shining, some days it is not. I have no control over that. I do my best to feel the sun and smell the air on warm days and walk tall and bundled up on damp, shivering days.

My plan for the day, after wrangling finances, was to return a book I didn’t like to the bookstore and exchange it for one I would like.

I had bought “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist. I thought I liked his ideas, as much as I understood them on a Bill Maher TV interview as he rattled off suggestions such as “Stand up straight, Pick friends who want what’s best for you …”

I had a crush on his pleasant demeanor and accent, Canadian, being Canadian-born myself. Normally I read reviews before buying or checking out a book, but this time I didn’t, I just jumped in, like a fool in love with superficial good looks and too-good-to-be true ideas.

I was so disappointed! Conservative. In love with mythology. Anti-feminist. Crap!

Reminded me of the arrogant, condescending male poets I ran into at readings. They were so enthralled with their cleverness and intellect they couldn’t see or listen to anyone around them.

I threw the book in the trunk of my car where it lay for a few days. And so, today, an appointment cancelled, was the day to take it back.

I headed south down the road that crosses Mission Bay and the San Diego River. Was just over the first bridge that crosses the bay when I see slowing traffic and a white car turned sideways across the road, blocking access to the second bridge. It’s a Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) car. All cars were being forced to go to the right.

For a few seconds I wondered if it was a mistake and considered barreling straight through. You are not even real police! But because I did not want to hit other seniors or land in the bay, I was swept up in the caravan of vehicles shooting off the main road into a big circle east. The exits and entrances here loop around, diverge and converge quickly, and it’s hard to keep track of what direction you are driving in, especially if you don’t take the side roads often. Soon I was hurtling alongside the San Diego River, past Sea World with its other-worldly new roller coaster rising into the sky. It’s the Electric Eel, due to open in a few days, “… the tallest, fastest roller coaster in Sea World’s history, a multi-launch coaster with high-energy twists, electrifying loops and inversions,” according to their website.

Fly past that and the only way back around to my destination was to head into the beginnings of Mission Valley, turn into the Old Town Trolley Station, slow down for the tracks and pedestrians, and miraculously come out onto the street where the bookstore is located (but not before going down a dead-end street and having to turn around in a junk yard).

Heading home an hour later, I took a chance, hoping the road was clear on the south end. No such luck! This time, real police cars, several of them blocking the bridge over the river. And the only way to go was east on the 8 Freeway, into Mission Valley. I zoom-zoomed past the Mazda dealership where I had taken my RX-8 the day before, waving mentally at the woman service rep and wondered if she was enjoying the mystery novel I’d given her. Traffic was fast and heavy, and I couldn’t get off for a couple of exits, but once I did and got turned around, it was an easy, if long, drive home. What should have been about an hour’s outing took me almost three.

Would I describe this as a happy day with the best of plans? In a roundabout, rollercoaster way, yes. My day/ride took on a life of its own. Picked me up, tossed me around, but brought me safely back to ground zero.

And the new book I got made it all worthwhile: Trevor Noah’s “Born in Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.” Host of The Daily Show, he is known for his satire, surreal humor, black comedy. I was already an admirer of his mind and his looks, but now I’m in love for life. (Is that sarcasm?)