Originally published on 6/8/2006
you know you’re getting old when…
You’re teaching class, standing up in front of 60 undergrads, and about ten minutes afterwards realize that your fly was down the whole time. And after the realization you’re not even embarrassed.
But I am pretty glad that today’s the last day of classes. If one is going to teach with one’s zipper unzipped, the final day of the quarter is a good time to do it.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things
Pic above is of Bobette, our foster kitty, who’s a source of endless delight around here. She has her own fanclub on FaceBook now because she’s such a rockstar!
I keep vacillating between getting another haircut or growing it out. Not the world’s most important decision, but…
during the summer it’s always nice to have hair long enough for a ponytail,
but then again, short hair dries so much faster when one is swimming often.
I think for now, my lack of decision means that it’s growing out. But I’m not sure I’m really committed to it. I saw a vid of me teaching the last time I had long hair and I realized that my hair is just so fine & thin that it doesn’t really look healthy when it’s long. When short it has much more body. So what to do?
Awhile ago I told a friend that my dream life would include paddling on the ocean every morning. It’s part of that fantasy-dream life that includes that two-room cottage in a hippie beach city, that we’ll buy after I’ve sold a few bestseller books or hit paydirt in some other manner. I remember as I told my friend this, thinking of all the logistical hurdles that kept me from paddling: a boat, the skills, the time, etc.
So it really was cooler-than-cool when a new friend invited me along to go outrigger canoeing on Newport’s Back Bay a few months ago. And it was hardly any wonder that when she told me about her paddling team that I was eager to try it out. So fast forward a few months–I’ve joined the “novice” women’s team and I’m having a blast learning how to paddle.
The irony of this wasn’t entirely evident until attended my first novice practice. Because we’re just learning the ropes, us newbies are practicing on Sunday mornings and not with the regular team yet. We push off from the beach at about 9 and return around noon. It’s three hours of various drills, sprints, and pointed advice on technique. We switch positions in the boat because each seat has different responsibilities. And most of all, we’re building up our endurance because the races are miles long and we’ve barely just gotten the feel of paddling through the waves (most of our practices are still held in the harbor as we toodle around Lido or Balboa islands).
What didn’t dawn on my until the first practice, was that the beach where we launch…it’s just across the street from the LDS Chapel where I first met John, where we held our wedding reception, where our son was blessed, where I taught early-morning seminary, where I worshiped for most of my adult life. And as I turn right to the beach, all those SUVs turning left are my LDS friends who are pulling into their Sunday meetings.
This really gave me pause on the first morning of practice. I reflected on how much I’ve changed in the past five years, how when I was even a lukewarm Mormon I never would have considered joining a sport team with practices on a Sunday morning, because of injunctions about keeping the Sabbath holy and because of my obligations to my ward.
This week my coach announced that she was teaching me how to steer the boat. The steerer sits in the back of the boat and is basically in charge of keeping the other team members on track–most literally because the steerer sets the course for the entire boat because they are the boat’s rudder. Using special strokes to keep the craft going in the appropriate direction, the steerer also calls the ‘start’ of the paddling and watches to make sure the other paddlers are in sync. My coach, during the time I was training gave me tips on how to keep a team together, how to help the boat move successfully toward a destination. I was amazed by the trust my teammates had in me, because the canoes are precarious and the ocean current is strong. A slight miscalculation on my part would result in all of us landing in frigid water, which was especially undesirable given the chilly winter temps on Sunday (and we all saw another team with a seasoned steersman tip a boatload into the bay last week, so we were well aware of the risks).
So we zig-zgged around the channel a bit until I figured out how not to ‘overshoot’ with my steering strokes. My boatmates were calm and never expressed concern about my efforts. As we pulled into shore and finished cleaning the canoe, my coach told the other team members (who were in other boats) of my success at steering and they congratulated me on my efforts–a few even offering applause. It was a kind and rather unnecessarily embarrassing gesture, but I loved how it made me feel part of the team.
As I drove away from the beach area and passed the LDS chapel I thought a lot about the way I used to feel a part of the Mormon team. I felt a thrill every time I entered that building and felt its echoes of memories and special occasions. It will never cease being a holy place for me. But when I get out of the canoe and feel the bone-deep satisfaction of having paddled hard, having felt the thrill of being on the open ocean and the rhythm of the waves, of seeing dolphins playing in the surf, of having dry lips and chapped cheeks from hours facing into the sea wind…I can’t help but feel joy that I’m steering my own boat these days. I don’t have the surety of the ‘final destination’ that I used to when I spent my Sundays on the other side of the street, but I’m okay with that. The open water offers me more now. And I’m up for the challenge.
Picture above not mine, but is of the same kind of canoe that I paddle in with my team.
If you know me well, you surely know that I’m not a morning person. I suspect that this is the result of many years of insomnia-related intermittent sleep patterns. In the mornings I’m short-tempered, I don’t want to talk, and I don’t smile or giggle much at all.
However, I’ve recently noticed a change in that pattern. I’m appreciating how full of possibilities my mornings are. Even though I often still hit the snooze button, it’s far less often than before (like maybe twice instead of 6 times). I don’t grumble through the morning carpool and I find a lot of joy in those moments where I’m planning my day–so many possibilities.
I suspect that mornings are going better because I’m sleeping better at night. It might be the result of more exercise (you try paddling a canoe for 2.5 hrs and then see how well you sleep!) or those novels that I’m now enjoying each evening before bed. Or it might even be the little kitty-sprite (in the form of TobyJoy) who’s started sleeping at the side of my pillow for the first few hours of each night.
I don’t know, but I have to say that is does feel very good to have my mornings.
“To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning”
~Henry David Thoreau
Being a crunchy-granola gal, I’ve tried in all kinds of ways to reduce my carbon footprint and overconsumption of resources, including water. But I have to say that it’s just agony for me to go without a daily shower. I’ve been experimenting with “skipping a day” and that whole day that I do, I feel off-kilter and gross. I don’t particularly want to spend time with non-familial humans when I haven’t showered. And running my hands through my day-old hair grosses me out.
I’m all for re-wearing clothes until they’re dirty, but I think I’m a big fat FAIL at not bathing. Like when I saw Heather’s post today, I realized, wow, the only times I’ve gone three days without bathing have involved hospitalization (meaning: I’ve had surgery and couldn’t).
My difficulty with not showering might be a result of my uber-sensitive nose–if I don’t want to sit next to me because of the unwashed smell, it’s pretty tough to feel normal. Of course it might just be that I’m a particularly greasy-stinky human and so I have to bathe more than most people.
What do you think? Any sympathy or advice for this shower-addict?
Did that crazy meme where you do a google search to see what you need (to play along, enter “[your name] needs” into google and report your findings). My top 10 hits:
1) Jana needs psychotropic medications
2) Jana needs A Home
3) Jana needs your help
4) Jana needs to get her ass back to new york
5) Jana needs a bang trim
6) Jana needs the help
7) Jana needs at least version 1.4 of Java®
8) Jana needs to find that peace and soften her anger towards her Father
9) Jana needs ya Very Happy
10) Jana needs to stand up for herself
with a bonus #11:
Jana NEEDS MORE COWBELL!. JANA COWBELL!
PS: I undoubtedly need a lot of help, a bang trim, and to get back to New York…