Believe in Back Bends (or something)

Photo Jan 09, 8 42 35 AM

FOR THE NEW FOLLOWERS OF THIS BLOG (or those who care to read it again) – This is a re-post from January, 2013.  

I’ve been staring at this attractive Macy’s holiday advertisement for a month now.  Since mid-December, it’s been posted on the MARTA train, right above the seats that are reserved for disabled and elderly passengers.  I can only guess they selected this advertising location because they figure all of the other MARTA riders will look in this general direction to try to figure out if the person sitting below is actually old or maimed in some usually unobservable way.  In fact, sometimes I sit in those seats when I’m depressed or angry, hoping someone will dare to ask me if I should be sitting there. Continue reading


NaNoWriMo 2014 – They Come in Threes – POST 100


National Novel Writing Month – November 2014

It’s not exactly the way I envisioned writing the novel that’s been bubbling up in me. But it has gotten me up at 4am every weekday morning since November 3rd and has resulted in 20,000 more words toward a work of fiction that I didn’t have ten days ago.  I’m averaging 2000 words, while wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with the Mac in my lap, in the one hour before I bundle up for my Ashtanga Yoga Class – all while Doc B meditates for that same hour.  ButterBean the cat just rolls over in bed when the alarm goes off at 3:55 am.  He stares at us like we’re freaks, wondering what type of humans get up this early.

Why are you awake at 4 in the friggin' morning'?

Why are you awake at 4 in the friggin’ morning’?

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a way to make yourself write 50,000 words during the month of November.  Their non-profit slogan is “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon! No plot? No problem!”

One of my writer buddies, who happens to also be one of my birthday twins (Gale), first mentioned NaNoWriMo to me last year when I had the interest but not the gumption.  So I let it fester and boil up for a year (ew! gross!) and here I am, on day ten of 30, and almost half way done with the required word count.

The hardest part so far has been the idea that perfection (quality) is out the window and word count (quantity) is, well, what counts.  My story is all over the place but I do have words on the page and an outline, or story line, that is starting to appear. And the recommendation is that you do just that: write in streams of consciousness, with or without an outline and without stopping or using the backspace key…oh, and edit later.

Wanna help me write a compelling, perhaps sizzling, but for sure intriguing, “back page” description of my novel?  I’m taking all ideas, possible book titles, first sentences/paragraphs and summary blurbs.  You can count on a bold print acknowledgement if your idea is selected (oh, and if the book ever gets published!)  Here is the gist (even Doc B. doesn’t know this yet so have at it):

Husband and wife marry after college graduation with the engagement night agreement of saving their asses off until they can both retire comfortably.  The husband’s retirement plan is to join the Peace Corps for the two year stint he has just reluctantly waved off (upon marriage and law school graduation when he receives an offer he can’t refuse from an employer).  The wife’s retirement plan is to keep the home fires burning until her hubby returns from Peace Corps service and they can pick up where they left off and continue whatever else landed on their bucket list during their “work to retire years”.

After 25 years of saving, the retirement, and Peace Corp, plan is in motion.  But just before departing for his South American assignment, the husband unexpectedly dies.  And because deaths often come in threes, the wife will soon experience two more losses.  All three of the deaths result in the wife coming into more money than she needs.  So the wife and her best friend set out on a new retirement plan – one of  gifting away the extras (and finishing the bucket list?).

Bring on the ideas, book titles (They Come in Threes?) and suggestions!  I’m here to listen (and to finish typing my 50,000 words).

And in celebration, and anticipation, of spewing out all of those words, I’m treating myself to a trip to Miami with my baby sis.  An excellent reward that I’m sure isn’t offered by the NaNoWriMo staff!  And in the meantime, I’m turning up my favorite Tangerine Dream writing music and the (word) countdown (or up?) is on.

Cheers fellow yogis, bloggers, NaNo’s (and Miami art deco lovers)!

Traditions: The Final Episode of “50 Years Ago”

me at a half hour old

me at a half hour old

I could have called this post If I were a rich man, but then I’d have to win the lottery and have a sex change (but at least I’d rest easy knowing that I had properly used the subjunctive mood).

Oops, tangent already. Let’s get back to the story.

50 years ago this week, I was born. It was three days after the 1964 Harvest full moon. But even more auspiciously, it was two days after Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway. I’ve always loved that play – now I know why.

This year, my 50th birthday falls on a new moon and the start of Rosh Hashanah. I might be secretly Jewish. At least one co-worker wishes me happy Hanukkah every year. Maybe she knows something I don’t. So Happy New Year! Sound the Ram’s horn, bring me apples, honey and pomegranate wine and cast your sins into the depths of the sea!

Jewish or not, I won’t be doing Ashtanga Yoga on my birthday this year; the studio is closed on moon days.

My weight chart still looks  the same 50 years later

My weight chart still looks the same 50 years later – headed up

I was born at 8:41AM. I weighed 6 pounds, 15 1/2 ounces and was 20 inches long. Mom and I checked out of the hospital three days later and my parents paid a bill of $126.60. I was cheap then, but I’d easily make up for that exponentially over the years in cash, checks, loans, credit cards, second mortgages, and sleepless nights. But it all would work out.  My dad had his good government job making $2.75 an hour or $5800 per year and they’d soon be able to buy a house on East Avenue for $9500.

no wonder - I was, and still am, eating on demand

Some traditions never change: I was, and still am, eating on demand

Mom says that husbands were not allowed anywhere near the delivery room back in the day so she would be the first to proclaim that I was “an adorable baby with tons of black hair”.



When my mom and I rolled out of that hospital (because I’m sure they wheeled us out to my dad’s waiting Corvair), it was the first of 4 times over the next 5 years that mom would uphold this tradition.  Between December 1963 and January 1970, she was pregnant more than half the time; 36 of those 60 months. She made it out alive and with her sanity. And somehow she found time to make all of her maternity clothes.  Wish I had that kind of energy.

the 4 of us

the 4 of us

My parents took me home to their manufactured house at the trailer park where my grandmother was there to help. The home’s bathroom door was right next to the basement door and unfortunately, one night grandma mistook one for the other. She fell down the stairs and an ambulance had to come and rush her off to the same hospital I’d just come from. No broken bones but painful and scary for everyone.  Despite the slippery start, this was the beginning of grandma’s tradition of coming to help out each time mom was pregnant.

Apparently my mom and dad weren’t the freak out, hovering kind of parents because within a month of my birth, they were leaving me with my Dad’s boss while they went off to watch Duffy Daugherty’s Michigan State football team beat Northwestern. To honor this tradition, my middle sis snagged tickets for my mom and me in the Huntington Club Suites at the MSU vs Jacksonville State game while I was in Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Middle sis also made sure that she, baby sis and I could have a quick lunch at my old Margarita drinking stomping ground near the MSU Campus – El Azteco – a college tradition.

Spartan Marching Band

Spartan Marching Band

So to wrap this up, I simply say Cheers, or better yet, L’Chaim, to tradition.  And happy 50th birthday to me.

headlines of the day

headlines of the day – 50 years ago

Sukha Mamma

wrapping up my twenties with Grandma and Grandpa at Western Michigan University

Wrapping up my twenties with Grandma and Grandpa at Western Michigan University

My forties can best be described as acquisitive. Plus, I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence. I have accumulated more hobbies and interests in my forties than I did over the full thirty years prior.

My twenties and thirties were too busy for hobbies. Those years were about education, trying out several crappy jobs, overachieving in those crappy jobs to the point of burnout and an ultimate “I quit” within months, trying out potential spouses, and squeezing in basketball games once a week followed by beer and laughs at Eddie’s Attic, back when Eddie was still the man in charge, and the bartenders knew me by name.

Oh Cynthia, I miss you're old crazy self

Oh Cynthia, I miss your old crazy self

The entire focus of my twenties and well into my thirties was on either finding a sugar mamma (or daddy, it didn’t really matter), or finding a good paying job so that the sugar part didn’t matter. Oh, and exercising just enough so that I could generally eat and drink what I wanted without ballooning back up to 200 pounds.

The first job I got after moving to Atlanta

My first employer after moving to Atlanta – where I would start my 30’s – stayed about two years before tossing in the towel

By the time I hit forty, I lucked out and hit the jackpot on both, or as I like to say: Kaching! I had hooked a sugar mamma, who would now probably prefer to be called sukha mamma, and I found a good paying employer. That employer has “let me” have 4 different jobs during my almost ten year tenure and that’s allowed me to ward off the dreaded burnout – most days anyway.

I’ve slowed down in my forties. My body has slowed down, my brain has slowed down, my social life has slowed down and I’ve pretty much just plain hunkered down – finding myself more and more happy to just be in the house with our feline iterations, quiet home-cooked meals and some porches to sit my butt on.

In my forties I replaced keeping up with my much younger teammates in basketball with lighter gym workouts and ultimately yoga – where I only have to keep up with myself (and when a 20-something slinky, limber, skinny girl shows up at yoga, I have to remind myself that I really do only have the energy to keep up with myself). I replaced putting packs on my back for strenuous hikes up mountainsides with putting binoculars around my neck for jaunts down leisurely bird-watching trails. I replaced Jaegermeister and Bud Light with martinis, wine and microbrews. And I started dabbling around at hobbies that would suit me better as I aged. First blogging, then birding, and more recently bonsai.

I started my Blue Mailbox Blog Spot on September 16, 2005. I was 40. On September 13, 2012 I switched over to Tipsy Yogi in WordPress. Now, as I’m about to turn 50, with 293 posts behind me, I’ve been reassessing my interests, including this time-consuming but fun hobby of writing. Why? Because I’m curious if having too many hobbies is actually keeping me from being good at any of them.

So I decided to ponder it while on my recent “one month to 50” birthday trip across Michigan. According to the odometer, I had 263 miles of secret alone time in a bright red salsa Chevy Spark rental car so trust me when I say I had time to think.

I’d pretty much decided to say bon voyage to some of my “B” hobbies so that I could focus on Doc. B, bonsai, birding with binoculars, bumbling through yoga and book reading. It was going to be bye bye blog, hello birdies flying through bonsai; so long booze, cheers dry drunk; and adios to being bi-lingual tambien.

But then I was reminded that National Novel Writing Month is coming up. NaNoWriMo is a creative writing effort that starts on November 1st and ends, if you’re persistent, with a 50,000 word novel on November 30th. Money-wise it’s free (though they love donations) but time-wise it’s a fortune. Last year over 300,000 people hit the word count requirement.

So now I’m wondering if I can play with all of my B’s during the month of November by starting a novel that includes them?

I’ll let you know…whether you want me to or not.

Holding Space – For the Crackheads

My beloved Mirada Sport in the back of the Ford Ranger - ready for Hilton Head Island

My beloved Mirada Sport in the back of the Ford Ranger – ready for Hilton Head Island, April 2014

Friday morning I was all motivated to wake up and get my stiff, been-driving-in-the-car-too-much, body back to Ashtanga Yoga Atlanta. After an almost 3 week hiatus, due to end of the fiscal year (physical year if you prefer) work crap, followed by fun travels through my home state of Michigan, I was ready to check myself back into the daily grind. No involuntary commitment needed. So, Thursday night I laid out my yoga clothes, wrote out my “I need yoga therapy for the next 30 days” check, ground the coffee and hit the sack.

When the alarm went off, I struggled to rise but ultimately found my smiling face skipping out to the truck a little before 6am with my thermos of java and some fresh yoga towels. But the hop in my step was interrupted with a blow. The door to my truck wasn’t fully closed and the interior light was on. WTF?

I slid onto the truck’s bench seat to investigate. How could I have been so careless the night before? What was I thinking?

Then I saw that the ashtray was pulled open and all of my McDonald’s salt packets were sprinkled on the seat (what?  you don’t keep salt packets in your ashtray?). The four pennies I’d thrown in there were left untouched. I glanced to the right. The glove compartment was also open and the contents were strewn about the salty floorboards.

It was disconcerting that someone was ballsy enough to walk all the way down our driveway, past our bedroom window AND our neighbor’s bedroom window, undeterred by the motion detector lights, through a gate (albeit an open gate) and into the backyard. Probably just some kids looking for change?

For the record, I leave the truck unlocked because there is nothing to pilfer – unless they want my yoga mat, my stuffed dashboard frog, a used Kleenex, my bitch mirror, a bungee cord or some zip ties. I’d rather have the car thief just open the door and take those things than have him (cause it’s always a him, right?) break the window only to find there’s nothing to steal.

I then checked Doc B’s car and it looked untouched – doors locked, windows in tact. Then I remembered the shed, and more importantly, the possibility that I left it unlocked. Crap. Sure enough, no lock in sight… and… my bike was gone.

if you see this bike, minus that baby thingy attachment, and it turns out to be mine, you get a reward!

If you see this bike, minus that baby thingy attachment, and it turns out to be mine, you get a reward!

With my blood pressure now as elevated as a crack head that can’t find crack, my first inclination was to go back inside and tell Doc. B.  But that would have interrupted her hour-long meditation. I thought better of it and went on to yoga. Doc B. showed up at yoga a little later, and again I lost focus on my yoga in order to consider going over to her and divulging what had been running through my head for the entire first half of the primary series. Nah.  Why ruin both of our mornings? I’ll just wait until after I report the incident to the police.

When I got home from yoga, I called the non-emergency number for our fair city. A business-like but pleasant operator took all of my information and said a police officer would be out in 5 to 10 minutes to take a full report. 12 minutes later, a friendly officer arrived at our door and apologized for being late – that’s my City of Decatur tax dollars at work.

The officer looked at the scene of the crime and was disappointed that it had rained overnight or she could have “dusted for some prints”. I suggested it was probably some kids since all that was taken was a bike. The police officer said, “yeah, either that, or, for lack of a better word, a crack head looking for something easy to pawn”. She asked how much the bike was worth and I immediately felt sheepish in even having reported the crime. My 25-year-old Schwinn Mirada Sport was probably worth $25.00 but I said, in the form of a question, “$50?”

She maintained her seriousness and didn’t even roll her eyes. She then gave me her card with my case number on the back and some basic information on the front that identified her first initial as “F”.  She said an investigator would be in touch with me in the next few days. I decided her name was either Frankie or Freddie while she told me she’d probably be getting more calls as the morning rolled on and people started to head off to work.

Meantime, cheerio my old chum. You will not go with me into my 50’s. I was so happy to get you. You were the start of my health regimen back in Battle Creek, Michigan where I would ride the 4 miles around St. Mary’s Lake trying to lose all the weight I gained in college.  This was during my mid 20’s when I quit drinking beer and ate the same 1200 calorie meals every day for months. You helped me get to my lowest adult weight of 132 pounds followed by everyone telling me I looked anorexic. You carried me along the bike trails of Hilton Head Island every year. You caused storage issues in 7 different homes in Battle Creek, Atlanta, Norcross, Avondale Estates and now Decatur.  You were perched on bike racks attached to several cars including the below Chevy Tracker, a Chrysler LeBaron, a Nissan Altima, a Toyota 4-Runner and ultimately you were tossed in the back of the Ford Ranger.

the first house where my bike lived and the bike rack on which it first rode

The first house I ever owned, where my bike first lived (St. Mary’s Lake, Battle Creek, MI) and the car/bike rack on which it first was mounted

I’ve only owned three bikes in my life that I can remember. First was the blue Raleigh Chopper that I had up until 5th grade. All the boys at Stone School in Ann Arbor were jealous.

Chopper I loved you!

Chopper, I loved you and your white banana seat!

Then there was the red five-speed Schwinn that was in the bathtub on the morning of my 10th birthday (yes, my creative mom and dad woke me up on September 24, 1974 and told me I really needed a bath – I should climb out of bed and get in the tub. I couldn’t believe they were doing this to me on my birthday, and in front of my three younger siblings at that.  I protested like a 5th grader would, and finally gave in, only to find my brand new bike hidden behind the shower curtain).

the 5th grade 5-speed went to MSU with me and my freshman 15+

the 5th grade 5-speed went to Michigan State University with me (and still I gained my freshman 15+) in 1982

And finally, there was you, the Schwinn Mirada Sport. The only bike I’d ever purchased with my own money.

Buh bye bike

Buh bye bike

Truthfully…I’m shedding an even bigger tear for the combination lock that was in the handlebar bag of my beloved stolen bicycle. I’d had that lock since 7th grade when Mrs. Cope, at Tappan Jr. High in Ann Arbor, engraved my last name onto the back of it. No more 31-5-39 to remember after almost 40 years.

Crack head – I hope you got a hell of a high from that pawn of my lifetime.

Fifty Years Ago (and “The Dinah”)

she's got to be close to giving birth

Mom’s got to be close to giving birth

50 years ago, my mom had been pregnant with me for 8 months and I’m sure she was ready to get that over with. Similarly, Dinah Shore had been married to former tennis player, Maurice Smith, for about 8 months. She too was ready to get that over with; they divorced after barely a year.  At least it gave Dinah the opportunity to become a 1970’s cougar – dating Burt Reynolds who was 19 years younger. Oh, and it also gave her (Dinah, not my mom) the opportunity to have famous mid-century modern architect Donald Wexler design and build a house, just for her. It must have been quite a place since Leonardo DiCaprio is currently living there.

Also happening 50 years ago: the Animals released their big single House of the Rising Sun (the Shawn Mullins version is the BEST!), Haley Mills signed on to star in That Darn Cat, Mary Poppins had it’s world premiere and Discotheques came to America (with dances like the Hully Gully, the Frug and the Swim).

But, back to Dinah Shore. You might be surprised to know that she’s been on my bucket list for years. Well, it’s not exactly that SHE has been on my list, but rather attending her golf tournament has been (the former Colgate Dinah Shore, now known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship). Well, okay, actually, it’s not really about going to her golf tournament, but it’s more about attending The Dinah.

What? You’ve never heard of The Dinah? It’s THE spring break for women, held in Palm Springs at the beginning of April every year, and it coincides with the golf tournament. 2015 will be the 25th anniversary of this drunken long weekend that includes music, pool parties, comedy and the celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of a good tan. If you Google The Dinah, it’s not uncommon for the word “debauchery” to show up repeatedly.

As an introvert that hates crowds even more than public speaking, I really just want to attend as a fly on the wall. Perhaps a poolside room with a balcony and a pair of binoculars would suffice? Or maybe I should just save all of my energy for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival – I’ve never been there either.

Sink bath - getting ready for the  Dinah early

Sink bath – getting ready for the Dinah early

Back to my mother and her pregnancy – just one month to go Mom and you’ll greet your firstborn! And the WordPress world won’t have to put up with these posts anymore!

And rest in peace Dinah – February 1916 – February 1994 (ovarian cancer took her life)

Flipping the Bird(s)

Protective Turtle

Protective turtle overlooking the maple forest

For the past several weeks, I’ve had a daybreak routine. Every morning, when my sweaty, stinky self pulled into the driveway after yoga, I’d scare off a flock of birds. Granted, if I’d have pulled into a Starbucks drive through in that state, I’d probably have scared off a pack of grande latte-making baristas. But these were birds so I will simply assume that it was the truck engine, and not me, that scattered them to the wind. At first I couldn’t tell why they were congregating for their morning meditation in the driveway when there were plenty of other places in our yard to be contemplative birds – the full feeder or the Calgon bath for example.

Calgon, take the birds away

Calgon, take the birds away (credit contained within)

Then I realized what they were up to. They were foraging through the carefully placed moss on my bonsai plants, evidently looking for a more appealing breakfast than the Ace Hardware brand birdseed I’d lovingly selected for them. This wouldn’t have bothered me much, since I’m all about birds AND bonsai, but the little birdies were flipping the moss and soil off my trees. And that just made me want to flip THEM off – yes, you can give a bird the bird.

As you might guess, much of my post-yoga glow was quickly flapped away as I picked up moss around the bonsai display tables every morning and put it back on top of the soil.

My bonsai teacher, Dr. R., does not have this problem or I’m sure he would have told me how to remedy the situation. But on a visit to another Atlanta Bonsai Society member’s collection, I saw fake snakes all over his display tables. He said it was to keep the pests away, but that he had to move them around daily or the vermin would figure out they were just plastic with no real bite.

fire-spitting snake

fire-spitting snake protecting the ginkgo

So last Friday night, Doc B. made me walk up to the dollar store with her. She said it’d be good for us to get out and walk after our meal. I agreed but really had no interest in going into the dollar store. In fact, when they first moved into the neighborhood, I swore I’d never go there. That swearing didn’t last long – probably because I didn’t do it with my hand on a bible. But Doc B. assured me this trip would be for a good purpose, so I followed her in. I couldn’t figure out why we were wandering the grungy aisles of the toy section until she came around the corner with a big smile on her face and some plastic lizards in her hand. We walked them home, placed them around the trees and damned if they didn’t work! Next morning, no flipped off moss and no flipped off birds.

Lizard demons

Lizard demons

So Doc B stopped at another dollar store this week and found a snake – I’ve added it to the collection and so far so good.

$1.00 fire-spitting snake

$1.00 fire-spitting snake

And as usual, yoga mirrors life. If you have an hour to spare, you can check out this link where there is a discussion of how turtles, fire-spitting snakes and demons apply to your yoga practice.

By the way, I’ve heard that strong odors also keep birds away; maybe my bonsai display benches should be where I toss my yoga clothes after class?