March 26, 2008

2007 et cetera

Well aaawwwwlll-righty then. The blog. Truly, I wish I hadn’t stopped posting, but there were reasons. Real ones. And some I’ve made up along the way. It was never my intention to stop. It just kind of happened. Actually, a lot kind of happened in this last year and at the same time nothing really happened. I find myself more or less staring down the same dilemmas as far as life and career and choices that I was a year ago. Regardless, I liked blogging here and it is my wish and hope I will keep posting, but I know, promises, promises – so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

So I was doing my usual procrastinating last night and came on this “blog of note” on blogger. I’m not a big blog reader generally. (Maybe that is why I had terrible follow-through with my own.) But this one is stellar – and in some ways reminded me a little of my own experience, or at least my reasons for starting a blog in the first place - seeing the beauty and appreciating the strangeness of a place far from the context of your upbringing – and it’s written from Montana, not too far from Wyoming, where my heart still goes home to roost in dreams. Anyway, it got me thinking about trying to get back to posting with some regularity on mine. Let’s see what happens. Like I said let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First I should try to do a quick re-cap and fill you in a little on where I’ve been for the last year. It really shouldn’t be that hard because other than the noisy place in my head, it has been rather like the famous one-note samba.

But first, the speed dating version of some of the highlights.

We spent Carnival in Rio – now don't go getting all excited and start booking tickets to come down thinking we'll do this next year -- it was a lot of fun but in that exaggerated sort of way that makes it something you only want to do once. Sorry.

In May C and I drove down to the Enchanted Mountain retreat center south of Florionopolis. We stopped at the amazing city of Curitiba along the way (that's Niemeyer's "Eye".)

He was hired to film a promotional video which I assisted with (sort of).

And I taught a little at their annual Yoga Mandala which is a big 4 day conference with lots of teachers from all over the world. We hung out with Mukesh Desai (amazing, wonderful)...

And got a good photo-op with Dharma Mittra (and discovered the secret behind this photo)...

From there I flew straight back to New York where despite having caught a terrible chest cold I had an amazing ten days with friends, and where my 34th birthday was celebrated with an unforgettable afternoon getting scrubbed at a Korean Spa in New Jersey and a taco garden party at DZ’s in Red Hook.

Then it was on to California to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday

and soak up the good life of wine tastings and fancy food

I may be a left wing crunchy barefoot yogi with brazillan sand in my starry Obama worshiping eyes, but I still look damn good in a Mercedes….

Arriving back in Brazil at the beginning of June the rest of the year went like this (all together now)

I guess what happened was at some point I got (what my Brazilian friends call) "the American Ambitions" in my bonnet, and convinced Shakti, the yoga school where I teach, that they should think big, and not just plan a teacher training program but make it a 500 hour complete Aliança do Yoga registered program, and along with that schedule in advance a year long calendar of special events and monthly workshops, flying in guest teachers from around the country. I don’t know why, but they listened. And worse, none of us had any idea what we were doing.

So starting in June we flew by the seat of our pants into the eye of a yoga tornado which spun us around Gravitron style (remember those?) for the next 7 months, and in whose whirling incense-filled funnel could occasionally be spotted random body parts in various states of yogic contortion, along with torn out pages from Sanskrit dictionaries, the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras and a photo or two of Amma and Bhaktivedanta which fluttered down like leaves in the wake of this Aquarian monster and above the din of which could be heard Krishna Das and his harmonium carrying on like a street corner preacher, underscored by a constant moaning that sounded somewhat like OM.

We stumbled out of the dust in December, dizzied, disoriented and surprisingly not in Oz, but rather right back where we started (oh Auntie Em) having made a little money on the teacher training but only barely breaking even on the rest of the events we threw so much time and effort at. See that’s the thing with yoga. You just can’t make money off of it. Don’t even try. The gods will just laugh at you and throw you right back into the storm and watch as you once again start flailing about, clicking your heels and crying out for home.

In the middle of it all I actually did slip out and take a little side trip into my own personal yoga melee, returning to the Enchanted Mountain in October to teach for 15 days for their 200 hour Teacher Training. It was my fourth time teaching for the program, but the first time I was on my own, not an assistant, not the lackey, but the numero uno teacher for physical, posture (asana) part. I was literally a lamb thrown to the lions. 50 of them.

All looking at me expectantly and licking their chops waiting for me to say something stupid. Which I did. With frequency. (More on that in a future post about the myriad of ways you can really embarrass yourself to the point of being pornographic while learning to speak another language.)

It ended up being a great experience, but totally nerve racking and exhausting. I had never taught 50 people before, let alone in another language, let alone persuading people in said language that I am an authority on a something which, let’s face it, even on my best days I am still a complete neophyte fool.

The hardest part of this past year – other than working every weekend, having no game plan, not knowing what we were doing, and not being able to see more than 24 hours in front of ourselves – all the writing that all of this entailed -- yoga writing, which I have to say, is really not my favorite thing to do -- at least not about asanas. My eyes just kind of glaze over. I'd rather do it, not write about it, especially when there are so many other things I'm dying to write about. Anyway, there are few good books in Portuguese on yoga, so we were responsible for creating a manual for our students. This meant every week researching and writing up pages on what we were teaching. For me this meant doing it twice, once in English, and then agonizing task of translating it into Portuguese.

In addition to all this I was also contracted to write part of a book on yoga postures for Joseph at the Enchanted Mountain – the original idea was that it would be written in English and later translated (by a presumably qualified translator) into Portuguese for publication here in Brazil. Somehow through the course of the year he decided the book should be published in Brazil first and I, after my mere two years here, and was capable of completing my part in Portuguese with a little help from whoever I can beg plead and cry to for time and patience. To date the only part that could be somewhat considered applicable for this project, is the hastily and poorly written 30 some-odd pages that were written while I was there in October.

So as you can imagine, all of this left very little time or mental capacity for blogging. So please forgive.

At any rate, this is the excuse for the absence, and the sum total of 2007. A year of yoga madness. That proverbial carrot that you find yourself trotting after even though it’s gone a bit rubbery and you forgot why you were following it in the first place.

I’ll try to fill you in at some point on my whole yoga teaching dilemma. It really has become a bit of an untenable beast.

But for now, I’d like to try to return to the point of this all. Brazil. And it’s strangeness and wonderfulness. Oh there is plenty to write about. My mom just visited for a few weeks and she got a full dose. A lot of the beauty and more than a few of the problems. When I tell my Brazilian friends about her visit they slap their foreheads saying, with an embarrassed finality, surely she will never come back. But that along with hopefully much more, I will save for another time.

No comments: