Monthly Archives: March 2010

motivation, i lack it

OK, so apparently what I will be doing this weekend is sitting at my computer feeling sorry for myself.  Particularly since I have to go to work tomorrow (ugh).  Sorry, green pants!  We will meet again soon.  I need some veg time.

Since I’m by myself, I’m going to eat whatever I like for dinner.  And whatever I like is, as always, pasta!  My favorite since I was a little kid.  Here’s how I make the sauce:

splash of olive oil

1 small onion, chopped very fine (about half of a grocery store onion is plenty)

1 clove garlic, minced

3 Thai chillies, sliced or chopped

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

generous handful of fresh basil in season (about 2 teaspoons dried if it’s not)

a generous shake of dried oregano (anyone ever used fresh?  They don’t have it at the farmer’s market here)

pinch of salt

Start the water for the pasta.  While it’s heating, saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and chillies in the olive oil until soft.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir, cover, and simmer until the pasta is done.

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2ww no more

Well, I knew it was coming but that didn’t make it any easier.

Shit.

me-ow

At my admin job, we run a concert series for preschoolers.  My job is to show up early, make sure the performers have everything they need, check in with the box office, and then welcome all of the kids and their parents.  This is usually a little crazy because our support staff (box office, stage manager, usher) routinely show up very late.  But who’s complaining?

This morning was the last concert of this season.  It just gets harder and harder to take.  All the happy kids, whose moms and dads are younger than I am.  All the babies tagging along in slings and car seats.  All the pregnant moms.

This is unspeakably sad, and it brings out a side of me that I am less than proud of.  I catch myself backseat-parenting:

  • I would never dress my hypothetical 2-year-old daughter in skinny jeans.
  • I would never ignore my hypothetical children while they knock over signs and generally cause mayhem.
  • I would never feed my hypothetical child sugar and Coke right before a concert.

Yes, I am the queen of holier-than-thou, and yes, I know that life happens and shit happens and everyone is doing the best they can just like I would be.  When I am my best self I would never (see what I did there?) judge someone else’s parenting choices (because hey, at least they managed to make a baby, which is more than I can say).  But somehow when I’m sitting at these events, feeling like jumping off a bridge, my inner claws come out.

patience

A patience is a type of sorting game played alone with cards.  The cards are laid out and taken up in a particular pattern, and the person playing continues to follow the pattern until all of the cards have been sorted.  Some patiences take only a few minutes to lay out; others take quite a long time as the player cycles repeatedly through the whole deck of cards.  Some examples, then some thoughts on patience.

A very simple patience:

Shuffle the cards.  Lay out four cards face up.  If any two of the cards showing have the same value, stack them from right to left.  Leave any nonmatching cards where they lie.  Lay out four more cards on top of the first four and continue to sort matching cards from right to left.  When you come to the end of the deck, stack the four piles from right to left and begin again.  Gradually the cards begin to sort themselves; cards with the same value remain together throughout repetitions.  If you lay out your four cards and all of them match, remove those cards from the deck and continue.  The patience is finished when all of the cards have been sorted by number and removed.

Another patience:

Shuffle the cards and begin laying them out one by one, face up, left to right.  If two adjacent cards  have the same value or are the same suit, stack them from right to left.  Do the same for cards that are three places from each other (for example, the first and fourth cards in the line).  Continue to sort from right to left as you lay out more cards from left to right, considering only the top card in each stack and moving the entire stack when necessary.  The patience is finished when all of the cards are stacked in one pile.

And another (the quickest of the three by far):

Shuffle the cards and lay them out, face down, in thirteen stacks.  Twelve of the stacks should form a circle, like the face of a clock.  The thirteenth stack should be in the center of the clock.  Take the bottom card from the center stack and place it, face up, on top of its corresponding number on the clock face.  (Jacks are 11 o’clock, queens are 12 o’clock, and kings are the center.)  From the stack on which you have just placed the face-up card, take the bottom card.  Place it face up on its corresponding number; take the bottom card and proceed in like manner.  The patience is finished when all of the cards are face up and sorted by number.

What all patiences have in common, and what makes them distinct from solitaire games, is that there is no thought or skill involved.  One simply starts with a shuffled deck and plays out a predetermined pattern.  There is no way to practice and improve on a patience;  there are no tricks to learn.

What is tragic is that some patiences are never finished.  In the first example, sometimes the cards are shuffled in such a way that the player ends up with a repeating pattern of 12 or 16 cards that never resolves itself into neat sets of four.  In this case there is no way to finish except to decide to give up.

In the second example, sometimes the cards do not match up well enough to reduce back to one stack.  In this case the player winds up with a long trail of mismatched cards stretching across the floor, and no more cards to play.  She is unable to continue.

In the third example, the player must always remember that the center pile starts out short by one card.  If all four kings are placed face-up before the other numbers have been completely sorted, the patience cannot be completed because there will be no card underneath that last king to pull out and play.  The only way for this patience to be completed, in fact, is for the last king to be the very last card played.

The order, from beginning to end, is determined before the first card is ever played.

Sometimes a patience is completed; sometimes it is not.  The player cannot know before she starts, and she cannot know until she plays it out all the way to the end.

i think they will be lovely

My husband is away this weekend at a conference where one of his works is being performed.  Yay husband!  It will be the first time I’ve spend the weekend alone in…I don’t even know how long.  What will I do with my time?  Maybe I’ll work on the Infamous Green Pants.

I bought a sewing machine after my carpal tunnel got bad enough that I had to stop knitting; sewing is proving to be harder than knitting.  So far I have managed several napkins, a reasonably well-constructed shoulder bag, lots of tangled bobbins, and more than a little profanity.  After finishing the shoulder bag I bought a pattern for a pair of pants.  On the package they look very nice, so I decided to get some colorful cotton and try to make a pair.  I chose a lovely green.

For some reason, everyone who either hears about the green pants or sees the fabric gets the same glazed look in their eyes.  They nod slowly and smile with just their lips.  Something about the green pants makes people think I’m a little loopy.

Clearly I am ahead of my time.  I promise, if I ever finish the Infamous Green Pants, there will be photos.

practice is perfect

This is a follow-up to the previous post, which was getting a little long-winded, even for me.

My wonderful therapist, who doesn’t know anything about yoga, music, or infertility, is trying his best to get me to see other aspects of my life (IF, my admin job) with the same process-oriented focus that I’m able to bring to my artistic practice (in which I include yoga).

Intellectually I can see where he’s leading me.  I’m just not there.  In yoga, I can be OK even if I never look like that flexible lady I linked to in my last post.  In music, if a performance is awful, well, there will be another (presuming I haven’t screwed up badly enough to nix my chances of getting any more gigs).  But with IF, it will decidedly NOT be OK if I don’t achieve the desired result.

I will NOT get to try again.  If too much time passes I will NOT get another chance.  And while I can see that the “process” he’s trying to get me to appreciate is actually the rest of my life, including my marriage and my emotional health, a calm and focused practice will NOT compensate for failure.

And if I should go down the path of ART, there isn’t much about that process that will be fulfilling in itself, in the way that yoga, music, and life are supposed to be.  I just can’t see myself enjoying the process of Lupron shots, laparoscopy, or lying down for procedures (for some reason everything has to start with L).

Boo.

practice doesn’t make perfect

When I started practicing yoga (asanas) several years ago (back in my callow, more flexible youth), I fell in love with something I read in Yoga Journal:

“Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Practice is perfect.”

The process is the goal.  The goal is the process.  Improvement and measurable “results” are secondary.  Even if my eka pada rajakapotasana never looks like this, the fact that I’m putting my full attention into it and working on it properly means that I’m doing it right, and more importantly, that I’m doing all right. It’s not that it’s bad to have goals, and yes, I’d like to be able to get all the way back in this pose, but the point is the full attention, the loving practice, the honoring of both my capabilities and my limitations.  The lifelong practice is the goal, not the aesthetic appearance of a particular pose–after all, do people stop practicing yoga once they are able to get fully into a pose?

This was a concept that I immediately and eagerly applied to my practice of music.  Unlike a composer or a theorist, music is always an activity for me, a daily practice, making art that wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t physically doing it.  In that way it’s very similar to a yoga practice.  I do have to be at least a little goal-oriented; as a professional it is imperative that I am able to perform at a certain level, but the focus on process is something that I think all successful musicians understand intuitively.  If there wasn’t something inherently rewarding about the process of practicing, we would all go crazy.

I started telling my students:  “Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Practice is perfect.”  I also started telling them what my yoga teacher taught me about patience:  for beginners, it can be helpful to practice virasana while sitting on a block, and only over time attempting to sit all the way down to the floor.  His advice?  Practice virasana for ten minutes while sitting on a phone book.  Every day, tear out one page.

Can you see where I’m going with this?