1. what am i thinking?

I just had a crazy-ass idea: Howsabout I complete a random NaBloPoMo in August?

I’m just the guy to do it.

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nerves.

first yoga

I took that shot as I awaited the start of my very first real yoga class.

I was nervous. Nervous enough that I almost didn’t get seated in the grass. Nervous enough that I almost left.

I had been through a couple of demonstration classes at Venture Outdoors Fest two weeks before; I did those with a friend, and I enjoyed them enough that I talked myself into following up with a studio. I met a woman who owned a studio in Bellevue, just a few minutes from my house at the festival, and geography made that choice a natural one. But I also picked up a flier for a summer-long series of classes — at Grandview Park on Mount Washington and in the little park at South Side Works — and those sounded interesting too.

They were interesting enough, in fact, that that’s where I headed for my first yoga class.

And I was fine with that decision. Until I got there.

I parked and walked up the crest of a hill in the park, the one you have to walk over to really get a look at the stunning view of Pittsburgh over there on the other side of the Mon.

I should have noticed the downtown skyline; what I noticed instead was all of the athletic-looking people — mostly women, and all at least 20 years younger than me — walking over the hill with me.

“I do not belong here,” I thought as I slowed my pace up the hill to a shuffle. “I am too old to start this. And I should just go home.”

I froze on the top of the hill, seconds away from turning around, chucking my brand new mat in the back of my car and heading to Carson Street to find a breakfast suitable for a fat old guy.

What kept me from leaving? I met the guy who was signing people in for the class, an instructor at BYS who appeared to be about my age and then seeing two friends who had already unrolled their mats and were waiting for the class to begin.

Seeing friends there was good. Seeing someone there who reminded me of, well, me — and a yoga teacher, no less — was even better. I was still nervous. But I stayed.

It’s been nearly two years since that class. There were more that summer, and more after than in the studio. Yoga — both in the broad sense and specifically with my teachers and my friends at what has become, without question, my studio — is now a pretty important part of my life.

And, oddly, as I approach this weekend, I’m feeling a little bit like I did when I walked up to that first class on June 1, 2014.

I’m signed up for three workshops with a visiting teacher on Saturday and Sunday. And I’m nervous about it.

The situation is a little different this time. Before that first class, I really had no idea what we would be doing. But I know pretty much exactly what’s coming in two of the three sessions, and one of those — Sunday’s shoulderstand workshop — is massively intimidating.

I know how this is going to go — we’ll break down poses into their component pieces, and I’ll be ready to do them or not — and this isn’t the same kind of doubt I felt two years ago. Part of what I’m feeling is excitement. But for the first time in a long time, I’m also feeling a little anxious about going to the studio as well.

No, I’m not going to turn around before I get to the top of the stairs at BYS. I’m not going to skip out on the workshop for a breakfast at Piper’s. Even if I’m feeling like a new guy again.

don’t miss out.

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Thanks, Michelle.

I need your help.

Mrs. Crappy has a rule pertaining to the Polar Bear Plunge coming up on New Year’s Day. She doesn’t mind that I’m dumb enough to jump in the freezing cold Monongahela River, but she maintains — correctly, I will grudgingly admit — that I’m not allowed in the water unless there are enough friends along to pull me out.

At the moment, I know Jenda is going to show up at the Mon Wharf on Thursday morning. And with all due respect to Jenda, that’s not enough.

Have you always watched the spots about the plunge on the news New Year’s Day and kind of wondered what it would be like? It’s kind of like this:

And let me tell you, boys and girls — the bragging rights are unparalleled. And this could be the year you finally do it.

Specifics? I have specifics. We swim sometime between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m., but you’ll need to be down on the Mon Wharf by 8:30, or you may not make it down there at all. When you get down to the wharf, head towards the Point and look for the red Honda Element flying at least one Ohio State flag; the river bottom and shore is easier to navigate, which means you’re out of the water faster.

Oh, and we usually go get breakfast and beer after.

I have plenty more advice, none of which Jenda needs. But if some newcomers — like, say, you — let me know in the comments that you’re plunging, I’ll be sure to share.

reminder.

I wasn’t very nice today.

It’s safe to say I’m feeling some pressure. At work. At home. Most days I handle it OK. Today, I had to walk away. Took a walk around the block. Took a drive — windows down, music loud — at lunchtime. Both things helped, but now, hours later, I still haven’t fully unclenched.

Some of this stuff I can’t control. It’s part of being a grownup — which I am, in a sort of technical sense — and I can and will do my best to deal with those things.

There are other things I can do that will help. Shutting down earlier in the evening. Walking away from my desk once in a while (and not walking back to the cafeteria to buy crap out of the vending machines). Running.

And, perhaps most importantly, slowing down mentally. Remembering my place in the world. Making sure the pressure I’m feeling isn’t being created somewhere in the back of my brain.

I don’t remember which one of my friends posted this on Facebook a while back, but I owe him or her a beer. I hadn’t read Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata — or even thought about it — since some English class nearly 30 years ago. I’m posting it here in hopes that I don’t forget it again:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

That’s worth remembering. Every day.

19. mornings are hard.

It’s 9:30 p.m., and I’m going to bed as soon as this is posted.

That’s a pretty good indication that I am seriously dragging. I felt OK most of the day, but the morning was, without my complete knowledge, was apparently pretty rough.

The first real indication that I wasn’t as perky this morning as I normally am came at lunch. I brought what I thought was a dish of ricotta ravioli, Italian sausage and the red sauce I made last week. But when I pulled the dish from the microwave at work, walked it back to my desk and opened it up, I found that it was not a dish of ricotta ravioli, Italian sausage and the red sauce I made last week; it was instead a dish full of extra red sauce — and nothing else — that we had placed in an identical-looking dish.

So. Yeah. Popcorn for lunch.

That was the part I knew about. When I texted Mts. Crappy about my lunch error, she filled me in on the rest:

  • I left the mouse for my laptop at home.
  • I left the bathroom light on.
  • I left the radio on in the bathroom.
  • And, after I screwed up my lunch, I left the refrigerator door wide freaking open.

And that, boys and girls, means it’s bedtime. See y’all tomorrow.