The Infinite Playlist
“You know, this is just one of those moments that I wish you could capture. I mean I know something like this will happen again in another time and place, but it still wouldn’t do this moment justice.”
This is what Sarah told me last week as we were sitting on the back porch, painting our nails, and watching in silent awe the wind swoop up and stretch out all the branches all around us. It was warm and muggy and and sweaty but totally peaceful. I typed her words as she said them, lucky to have my computer on my lap. Yoga means to yoke one’s self with all that is, to unite with the energy within and all around you. Even the trees need to stretch out, , I bet it feels so good for them.
Sarah and I got hired at the cafe two years ago together. She and I and our friend Evan were the only ones left from the fall hires of 2011, but Evan just left with his super groovy band Grandkids to live in Chicago, and now it’s just me and her, amidst what a friend of mine once referenced to as a staff from the island of misfit toys. I think we are all pretty awesome though, my super cool coworker Darwin just got hired to go on tour with Deer Tick for goodness sakes. A few weeks ago Sarah moved into my basement with her boyfriend Nick, who works with us too but he started a little after us. Nick already graduated this Spring, but Sarah has one more class between her life now as a student and the rest, and then she and Nick are taking off into the world to start their life with what they have. They can go anywhere, and do anything. They’ve yet to discover the total empowerment of their freedom and seeing as they are such beautiful, talented people, I’m so excited for them. I love in the generation of today, it seems to be a mix of the bohemian and the beat and the mountain man, inspired by Lennon, Kerouac, Thoreau, Donovan. You know… instant karma, the dharma bums, walking, and all that into the wild barabajagal? I’m writing a book all about those things, my experiences that seem to have been inspired by their words. My hope is that my stories can start a spark within those in need of a fire in their belly or an openness of heart. The experiences are of truth, beauty, freedom, and love and they are meant to show that life is so, so beautiful.
My life in the last couple of weeks seems to have been revolving around our coffee shop, the garden, yoga, and the back porch. The coffee shop is like a hub for everyone I know right now, It’s a busy time of year with school starting at the University and all that, us old timers are there around the clock while we wait for the fresh baristas to get the hang of things. But I don’t mind because that place is the best. As I was riding to work this last week, bobbling down the cobblestone road between my back door and the bike rack, I was thinking how thankful I was for my job. I love how it encourages my personality and personal life, even if my work is so intertwined with my personal life, in the best of ways. A couple of times a week I work in the kitchen in back, spending hours upon hours making juices and sandwiches and salads and fruit cups. Chopping, chopping, chopping, squeezing, mixing, whisking, spreading, washing, feeding. Since last fall I’ve begun saving all the organic waste on my days in the kitchen, dividing the compost from the chicken scraps, main differences being the chickens can’t have citrus, rinds, or icky things like grape stems and ginger root (not icky for me, but them, I’m sure). I strap the scraps to the back of my new bike basket, which I made out of an old drawer I found walking home from work a bit ago, or maybe I’ll come back with a borrowed car if it’s just too much to handle. Sarah does it too now, and sometimes some of the others. I used to think it didn’t really mean much, but now I understand how things grow. My mom works at an assisted living facility for old people, they have a big kitchen to feed all the residents. She told them about what I was doing and they started saving the compostables and chickenables for her to take home, even on days when she isn’t working. It’s catching on.
Last fall when we moved in we discovered a giant compost box at the back of our yard, hugging the fence separating our yard from our neighbors from behind. They were the ones that helped us out with the chickens by giving us their old coop, as they have since upgraded to a coop mansion, ours is more like a split level. They told us that we could share the compost with them as long as we helped contribute to the waste. I’d been wanting to compost since my sophomore year in college, now my dream was coming true! I also had a dream of having people over to my house to lead group yoga classes. I had some luck in the fall with a few of my coworkers, and of course my house mates, I was always just asking people to come over to my house to do some yoga. Recently this started up again, Nora and I started talking about our own practice with friends and somehow this started happening. Let me tell you, yard yoga is the shit.
It’s so amazing to be reaching towards the sky in a pose, and actually be reaching for the sky. It’s so relaxing to hear the noises of all the crickets and cicadas as we watch class off of the website that we share. I’ve talked about it before, www.myyogaonline.com. We set up the computer and speakers outside, light citronella incense all around us, douse ourselves in bug spray and we hit the mats at dusk, starting the practice with daylight, ending our shavasana just as the moon and the stars started to peak out. This has now happened twice in the last week, and it’s very exciting. Afterwards, at least so far, we put on the Songza playlist and make a big healthy meal for whoever sticks around.
Caitlin, Nora, and I have been trying to explore the Chakras pretty deeply within this last month. I feel like that was the August project. We started following a 7 week Chakra yoga series, so far we are on week 3, Solar Plexus, yellow, fire, energy, digestion, Manipura. It deals with the energies of self commitment and achievement, it’s the center of reaching one’s potential because it’s the fire within that makes things happen in achieving one’s dreams. Outside of the series we are doing other classes on the website that seem interesting throughout the week, like ones that focus on happiness, core, the sun, the legs. I know I’m getting better all the time, every day I feel better and better as I continue on. I noticed today as I was doing typical household tasks that I normally anticipate pain in doing, like just bending over most of the time-I was a gymnast for ten years, everything always hurts, or at least it used to. As I was saying, bending over, and suddenly I realized, I don’t feel anything, I just feel normal, and then I realized that I haven’t felt my back or my right femur or my shoulder hurt in some time now. My right arm always felt so tense and for weeks no longer, and most of all, my digestion is better than ever, something I have struggled with all my life as I have most of the signs for IBS and a mad too-much-sugar problem. Yoga has taught me to believe in myself and take care of myself in the best way for me. I take the time to notice how I feel when I do certain things, eat certain foods, and what does what. Yoking, uniting, mind, body, spirit.
In celebration of my love I’m adding on to Caitlin’s flower garden in my yard, I’m starting a Chakra garden. I’ll be adding fall flowers in the colors of the Chakras, as the weeks pass and as we keep going through the series I’ll keep it growing. I really never got a chance to plant as many flowers as I had dreams of doing. So far we have done the first three classes, so I went ahead and bought a red mum, and orange once, and some yellow flowers that I don’t know the name of but they look like small sunflowers. I haven’t been to a big store in a long time like Meijer. The whole time in the car driving there I was miserable thinking about the prospect of having to go there, I felt like I was a hot mess, but I needed citronella candles for yoga, and sometimes you have to do what you must. However, as I’m constantly reminded in life, never make assumptions. Meijer totally rocked my world, I stocked up my cart with my flowers and then I went ahead and bought a peach, pear, and gardenia tree for the yard. Like the dykes built years ago in the Netherlands, the future generation may need those trees.
Ethan is moving back in September, just for the month before he heads off to Seattle for the contract of his career as an actor thus far. He’ll be in Les Mis. During September, he’ll be working back on the farm that he worked on when he first moved to Urbana last year. I realize now that it was the first step that began this whole farming fixation for the both of us. I’ll be helping him when I can, just like I did before. I’m sure it will be at least a day a week, which is enough for me between the coffee shop and all my other dreams. In July, when I decided to stay in Urbana for the year I made a list of pros and cons to staying, versus trying to do something else in the world. If I stayed in Urbana my hope was that I could start my own garden, both vegetables and flowers, and get chickens again, and work for my mom’s radio station, and be able to work on a farm again, and be able to experience life with Ethan again, if only for a little bit. I hoped that I could start a new job, in conjunction with my old, and I hoped that I’d be able to travel some more, that I’d advance my yoga practice, finish my book, speak more Spanish, and that I’d be able to fill my life and home with as many rich relationships as possible. It’s not just about doing the class for a half hour a day to a computer screen, it’s about all the other things going on and coming together to compose my day to day, moment to moment.
The garden is growing, but it needs work and that’s the weekend project, the chickens are back, my mom is training me on her show to prepare me for my own in October, I’m thinking groovy, funky, soulful, grassroots rock and roll mixed with some classical, electronic music from all over the world type station. Ethan’s going to be around, and so will the farm again, and a giant ball of yellow energy. I’m going to start baking the tea breads one day a week at work as Darwin leaves to go on tour, which means I’ll be in the bakery squishing bananas and zucinni and cracking a lot of egg shells and bringing home a lot more compost. I’m going to Costa Rica in ten days for a week, a trip my mom and I couldn’t pass up, she’s very in the know of travel deals. We are a family of travelers and now we are going to a part of the world we have never visited. Lastly, yard yoga is taking off, my book is more than just skin and bones, and the back porch chairs are always warm from the fire in those that fill them.
Advice of the month: “You know, I was being crabby for a while, and one day I just realized that I didn’t have to be like that anymore.” Erin Carmondy, ERC
Movie plug: The Darjeeling Limited
Band Plug: Delta Saints
Video of the week: