Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Gateway to Narnia is Not in my Neighborhood, FYI

Dana: Our neighbors are assholes.

Phil: Is this about the lemon people again?

Dana: No, I'm over that, mostly.

Phil: Did someone do something you hate, like spanking their children in public?

Dana: No, but you're warmer. Here's what happened. I was driving home, past the blue house on the corner.  I looked out the window and I saw this door sitting against the tree out front.  The door said  "Gateway to Narnia" on it. So, I pulled over to check it out, and -"

Phil (giving me a blank look): Wait. You pulled over to check it out? Were you - did you actually get out of your car, looking for Narnia, because of a door you saw?

Dana: NO! I mean, yes, I got out of my car. But I knew it wasn't Narnia. Obviously . I just wanted to check it out....just to see.

Phil (repressing laughter): To see if the door led to Narnia?

Dana: Honey, you need to focus. I got out to inspect the door, just to see what it was, and there was nothing behind it. It was literally just a door propped up against a tree.

Phil: Well, so?

Dana: Well so?! So, our neighbors are assholes! Why would they do such a thing? Why would they put a door that says "Gateway to Narnia" against a tree, with nothing behind it, so when you try the door, it just falls down on you and hurts you?! LIttle kids are going to get hurt! It's a total safety hazard! They probably enjoy it! They're probably sick bastards who like to see others in pain. They probably have a camera and they're videotaping it whenever someone comes and tries the door!

Phil (now laughing and mocking his wife openly): Wait! Did you pull the door down on top of you trying to get to Narnia? OH! Oh that is perfect! I hope they did have a camera. I would pay any amount of money to watch that.

Dana: I repeat. I KNEW that it wasn't actually going to take me to Narnia. I'm not stupid. I know...wanted to see. It might have been something really, really cool. You know you would have stopped to check it out too, so don't make fun of me!

Phil (seriously): Honey, I can honestly tell you that I would not have stopped. And I would not have pulled a door on top of me. No one does these kinds of things but you.

Dana: So, what? You would just let a safety hazard sit there, uninspected? I'm a modern day Dudley Do-Right, is what I am. I'm doing the Lord's work, helping to solve problems and protect children.

Phil: Bullshit. You thought you were going to go to Narnia through a magical tree, but instead you just pulled a door down on your head and now you're pissed, because of the disappointment.

Dana (taking a deep breath): Again, I think you're losing focus. There is a larger issue at hand here. So here's my plan - I think we need to destroy the door. It's a danger and a menace. What do you think?

Phil: You want to destroy the door? And how do you plan to do this?

Dana: I don't know. With axes, I guess. We'll bash it to pieces so it can't ever trick anyone - any children - ever again.

Phil (sighing): Honey, we're not going to do that. I think you're overreacting.

Dana: I think you're under-reacting! OK, how about this? We just go and talk to them and tell them that their door is a dangerous distraction, and also a lie. And then they'll destroy it for us. Is that better?

Phil: Look - I'm very tired. I think we both need some sleep. I bet you won't be bothered by this after you get some rest.

Dana: Ok. But you'll go talk to them in the morning, after you've got some rest.

Phil: Yeah. Sure honey. I'll do that.

The door is still there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cookies and Complaints - Scenes From My Day

Today was my appointment with the genius Dr. Lynch. To reward him for his genius I decided to bake him some delicious cookies. I got all the stuff together and then said to myself "Are you really going to make Dr. Lynch gluten free cookies? I mean, they're ok and all - but does Dr. Lynch deserve 'ok'? After saving my life? NO! Dr. Lynch deserves moist, chewy gluten!"

So I purchased some regular flour and began baking. But as I was mixing together the ingredients, I suddenly began to panic. What was I thinking with all this butter?! Sure, butter is delicious, but so much fat! Obviously, I want Dr. Lynch to outlive me, so it's important to keep him healthy, not load him up with sugar and fat.

And so I reduced the amount of sugar I used and replaced some of the butter with olive oil.

But when the cookies were done, I panicked yet again. What would these healthier cookies taste like? Would they be disgusting? I couldn't serve The Beautiful Healer Dr. Lynch substandard tasting cookies! It would be like spitting in his face! For all I knew, he would refuse to treat me anymore, saying "The poor quality of these cookies shows me that you do not appreciate my gifts, nor do you take your health seriously. Get out of my sight. I hope your lungs explode. In fact, I'm writing you a prescription for GNCs."

Well, what could I do? There was no one home except me and Molly. So I did what I had to do.

I ate a gluten cookie.

Well, they tasted ok, but I didn't feel fantastic, afterward, obviously. I told myself that it was worth it - that there was no other way, and that I did what I had to do. Sure, my body hates me, but it is what it is.

It was in this frame of mind that I received a telephone call from the manager of a gym where I sub.

I have subbed a yoga class for the past two weeks, and have one more week to go. A little background. The first day I came in, every person asked me where the regular teacher was, and they all expressed their concern for her well being and wanted me to give them all the details as to why she wasn't there. I tried to explain that I don't know the woman personally and I don't know why she needs a sub. I know she's not dead. That is all. Their questions became more and more frantic and pressing - they are all clearly in love with their regular instructor, which is sweet, but I knew right away that they were not going to give me a chance.

But whatever, I tell myself. I don't have to make them love me - I'm just a temporary sub. I have to provide them with a good, high-quality yoga class and that's it - I don't need or want them to get attached to me.

So I taught my classes as usual and thought they went ok. No major issues, nothing crazy.

Today, however, I got a call from the manager. Apparently, a student complained that my classes are not hard enough, and that I need to make my classes harder like the regular teacher does. In addition, she complained that I didn't demonstrate enough, and that I "checked my ipad during class".

I was shocked and upset. Let me address these complaints here, just so we're clear.

1) My classes need to be harder, like the regular teacher's.

I'm not the regular teacher. My style is going to be different from hers. Also, I'm not a "hard" teacher. My goal is not to kick your ass - if you want your ass kicked go to a boot camp or weight training class. Yoga, for me, is not about that - it's not the way I practice and it's not the way I like to teach.

That being said, I'm happy to make my classes a bit harder to accommodate you - you just have to let me know beforehand. Every single time I sub a class, (this class included) the first thing I do is ask for requests. If the complainer wanted a difficult class, she should have spoken up when I asked, rather than go behind my back and complain to the manager later. Boooooo!

2) I don't demonstrate enough.

Yoga instructors aren't supposed to demonstrate everything. This isn't zumba or Turbo Kickboxing where the instructor does the whole class. I ALWAYS demonstrate poses that are difficult to understand verbally, and of course I demonstrate sun salutes and anything that has a lot of parts to it. But I don't demonstrate every single move - I'm not an instructor who just does her own yoga practice on her mat and expects the students to copy her. I watch the students to make sure they're doing things correctly, so I can give adjustments if needed. It's how I was trained to teach, and I haven't had any complaints about it until now.

3) I looked at my ipad while teaching.


OK - I MAY have taken a peek during savasana, but only for brief moment. I do this sometimes. I check the time, I look at my playlists for inspiration in case I want to change my savasana song - or MAYBE I check my email. I NEVER do this while I'm doing actual teaching - ONLY when everyone is lying down with their eyes closed. Apparently one of my students caught me checking my ipad and thought that was completely unacceptable.

OK. That would have been unacceptable if I was doing it in the middle of teaching, but during savasana I'm not teaching - the students are just laying there with their eyes closed. In this type of setting, where I don't know the students, I don't do adjustments, so I'm just sitting there too, as they lay there - staring at them.

The ipad also would have been unacceptable in a restorative type setting where the room is dark and the electric light would have been distracting. But this was a gym - bright and noisy and full of lights. My ipad would have been completely unnoticeable.

Also, I never have sound on my ipad, so it's not like the sound was distracting anyone.

And it was so, so brief!

So, I won't ever check my ipad again during savasana - I learned my lesson. I had no idea it would piss anyone off -it certainly doesn't bother me when I take yoga classes and the instructor checks her iphone. But then again, I'm not a crazy person who complains for no reason.

But I don't know what I can do about the rest. I teach my classes the way I like to be taught - I'm willing to take into account the desires of my students of course, but if they don't verbalize those desires to me beforehand, I don't know what I can do. If they don't tell me "I want a hard class" or something similar, I don't see how I can know that.

I guess I just have to detach from this situation. I'll do my best to please them next week, but I won't lie - I'm not expecting that I'll be able to do so. I think they just want their old instructor back, and that's all there is to it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I have always hated relying on others for money. Even as a small child, I wanted to earn my own funds, attempting to do so with several ill-fated entrepreneurial schemes.

For instance there was my berry selling business, started at the age of six. I would pick wild berries from the woods - usually blackberries, but sometimes salmon berries and thimbleberries - and attempt to sell them by the side of the road. This plan was a failure for three reasons:
1) I lived on a country road where maybe two cars went by per day.
2) People were perfectly happy to pick their own berries, and didn't need my assistance.
3) I had a tendency to eat all the berries myself.

Then there was the time I tried to make my own newspaper, when I was 8. I went door to door asking people if they had any news to report. I would jot down the "news"and go home and painstakingly write all my scoops down, making copies using crappy carbon paper that I found in a box somewhere. I eventually became discouraged with this business because:
1) No one was giving me any actual news, probably because they believed a newspaper created by an 8 year old child was not the appropriate medium to discuss the pressing issues of the day. I didn't like writing about the fact that the neighbor kid got a new toy, or that the old couple across the street just came back from the Grand Canyon. BOOOOOORING.
2) It was a lot of freaking work to make those newspapers, and I could only sell them for a quarter a piece. The amount of work I put into it was not reflected in the pay I received.

Then there was my dog walking business, which never even got off the ground, because the neighbor kids - the Leutts I think was their name - stole my idea. I suppose a true capitalist would have taken their idea-stealing as a challenge, and would have upped her marketing and expanded her reach and attempted to undersell them. But nine year old Dana was not a true capitalist - she simply stamped her feet in anger and spent huge amounts of time hating the neighbor kids.

Their business failed anyway.


I mean :(

My point is this - by nature, I prefer to be self reliant, and I'm not afraid of working hard to be so.

Which leads me to my current dilemma.

Until a year ago, I worked in finance. I hated almost everything about that job - I hated the dull nature of the work, the fact that I had to repress the very best parts of my personality at all times, and the general inefficiency that always accompanies teamwork.

But, the good thing about it was that it paid well. The pay was what kept me there for so long, even though I was miserable and angry all the time. Of course, pay will only keep you complacent for so long, and eventually I was forced to quit and strike out on my own as a yoga instructor - it was necessary for my well being.

I'm very, very glad I made this decision.


When I look at how much I made last year, I am shocked by how drastically my income has been reduced. There are probably children in sweatshops in Indonesia who out earn me. It's beyond frustrating, because I work hard, and I believe that there is far more value in what I do now than there was in my stupid office job. I actually help people and make them happy - and in an ideal world, my pay would reflect that.

But it doesn't.

And so now I'm in a bizarre predicament - I am mostly reliant on my husband for money.

Our arrangement is such that the money I earn is supposed to go to food and gas, and any little extras I want to buy myself. Phil's money is supposed to pay the main bills.

I freaking hate this.

For instance. I really want to get hair extensions. I have always wanted to have masses of luxurious, long hair, but I've never been able to have it, because when my hair grows out it turns into a thin, straggly mess - not pretty at all. Hair extensions would solve this problem. But, hair extensions are expensive - at least $300. I don't have $300 just sitting around, because all of my money goes to gas and food. So if I want extensions, I have to ask Phil for the money. Phil says hair extensions are too expensive, and why can't I just grow my hair out like normal people? I try to explain about the straggly and the thin and the ugly, but I wind up sounding unbelievably spoiled and vain, and I can tell that Phil thinks I'm being insane.

Aside from this, there is the the constant pressure to please Phillip and to keep him healthy. Because if Phillip were to die, or to become tired of me, I would be deeply fucked. I cannot live on my meager salary in Southern California - I would have to take in roommates to pay the bills, and even then I would have to live like a poor person. I've been poor before, and I can honestly say I can't go back to that. I just can't. So a large amount of my energy goes toward making sure Phil is happy with me and that he's eating nutritious foods and driving like a sane person. Fortunately, I am very interesting, so I do a good job of keeping him entertained, and I take sole responsibility for the housework, the cooking, the grocery shopping and walking Molly - which he appreciates. But every pound I gain, every TV show I watch that annoys him, and every lupus induced medical crisis weighs on me - I can't help but panic, thinking that any moment he'll throw me out on the street and I'll have to live in my car, or on people's couches, or join a commune.

Realistically, I know that Phil loves me and wouldn't do that. Our relationship is strong and healthy, and I don't have any logical reason for my panic. But I can't help it - the fact that I'm so reliant on him bothers me - a lot.

So the obvious solution is for me to make some more money. But how? I can't go back to working in an office - it's really not for me. I can only teach so many yoga classes per week. I would be a terrible prostitute. I could sell my organs or my eggs, but with the lupus it might not be a good idea.

It hit me a few months ago that I should try writing professionally. I have written 7 books - four of which are publishable - and it doesn't make sense to just keep them on my computer, taking up space. I should try to publish them! I know that I'm not a "great" writer. I'm no John Irving or Toni Morrison - I'm not even Stephen King. However, I am an entertaining writer. People seem to enjoy the things I write, and I bet some people would be willing to pay to read them. It makes sense to have a job that plays to my strengths.

Plus the life of a writer is ideal for my personality because:
1) It can be done anywhere
2) I can do the actual writing alone, by myself, without having to do teamwork.
3) I can do it on my own schedule.
4) I enjoy writing.
5) I have an overactive imagination that needs funneling into something constructive. I find that I have fewer nightmares and paranoid delusions when I write regularly.

I don't intend to quit teaching yoga - I enjoy teaching yoga, very much. But I want to supplement my income with writing. Eventually, I would love to write full time, and only teach a few classes per week, but that's a long term goal. I know that I have a long road ahead of me to travel before I teach that goal.

So I have sent out some queries and manuscripts. I'm aware that the rejection rate is extremely high and that it could take years before I'm actually published, but I'm still going to give it a try. I suppose the worst that can happen is I never publish anything - I'll be no worse off than I am now.

Wish me luck!