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Good Morning World,
Yesterday, while perusing my Facebook, i read a story in the local Albuquerque news about a man who choked his mother to death over a pair of sweatpants. Aside from the usual horror that i feel when someone behaves in such an appalling manner, i also asked a few questions including why the man was at his mother’s home, whether he lived there, and why was he even arguing over a pair of sweatpants to begin with. I suggested that his problem may have been a failure to launch situation.
What a mistake.
Righteous indignation ruled the day. Angry Burquenos leaped upon me like hungry lions in a Roman arena. It was strongly (and insultingly) suggested that this was yet another soulless thug and that we should just kill him and move on with our lives. The sad thing is that i agree with the mob. The young man was a soulless thug. And he should go to jail-for a very long time at least.
But none of this answers my main question.
Why was he a soulless thug?
Why are behaviors that were virtually unheard of -like this young man hurting his mother, the 40 or so people who decided to destroy a Brooklyn seafood restaurant in a fight so monumental that it made the national news, or the folks who decided that their childrens’ birthday party at Chucky Cheese was an appropriate place to throw down in yet another city,the mother who thought it appropriate to invite her druggie friends to her daughter’s 12th birthday, where they gave her meth, raped, and murdered her- now the norm?
Where is the moral compass, conscience, little voice, whatever it is that keeps people from committing atrocities historically unknown (or at least extremely rare) to those of us living in a civilized society?
I used to think that, thanks to 24 hour news cycles, that we were just hearing about crimes that didn’t usually make the international press. But the FBI statistics clearly state that violent crime is on the upswing, and crimes like this, once extremely rare, are on the increase?
And according to many people out there, why should i even bother to ask why? Why shouldn’t I, and others like me, pick up a verbal stick and attack these perpetrators like a bunch of Neanderthals defending a watering hole in the desert?
Why should anyone ask themselves (and others) just why people have become so violent? Are we devolving?
Is it something that we as a group are ingesting? Is it a lack of socialization? Is the constant exposure of violent music/video games being fed to preschool aged children having an effect?
Could it be the internet itself?
What about the microwaves that come from cell towers (or our phones)? Microwave ovens cook food by exciting its water molecules; perhaps the low level waves coming from our routers and even the towers themselves are exciting the water molecules in our brains, either dampening our reasoning lobes or exciting our limbic system. Or maybe both?
I do know that a recent study released by the California Department of Public Safety strongly suggested that children, whose skulls haven’t completely hardened shouldn’t carry a cell phone, and if they need to use one, they should text instead of speak. This was to help prevent the risk of brain tumors, which have outstripped leukemia as the most prevalent childhood cancer. A British study suggested that any wifi router should be kept at the opposite end of the house from any child’s bedroom and turned off when not in use.
Kind of unrealistic, given the increasing lack of landlines in increasingly small apartments…
Anyway, I believe that these (and many other) questions need to be asked. And I also believe that We The People deserve the answers.
Otherwise, it’s the Zombie Apocalypse.
Only with living zombies.
Thanks for reading.
Last night, after a seven hour road trip, i was bushed. So i wrapped up my bathed, Lanz pajama/d body into my favorite heated throw and tossed in a DVD. After all that “day,” it took me no time to choose the right film.
I chose Heathers.
For those of you who have never heard the name, it’s a little high school flick starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and a host of other famous (and not so famous) teen talent. It starts by introducing a group of high school “it,” girls (three of which are named Heather) and a new, “cool,” outsider, and rapidly devolves into murder, alleged suicide, and just about every stereotype ever identified by an after school special. Heathers is dark, funny, and subversive as hell. It almost didn’t get made, except that New Line Cinema was about to file for bankruptcy and they knew that there would be no one to take the calls full of parental outrage.
And then it occurred to me, this film could never be made now. Here, in Post Obama America, where all behaviors are allowed…
But all thoughtcrime is forbidden…
Even if it managed to make it to the theatres, one would need to wade through the throngs of protesters who, without having seen the film, but having heard that the film was homophobic, or made fun of teen suicide had made it their personal agenda to ensure that no one saw anything that they might deem offensive…
The problem with the PC crowd (or any crowd of censors), is that most have never seen the item that they want to ban, but have “heard about it,” and decided that they know what is best for everyone. So, if they’ve heard that a film, book, or person is, “homophobic,” or “racist,” or “ridiculing the mentally ill,” then they just jump on the bandwagon and start screaming.
In the unlikely event that they have seen the film, read the book, etc, self censors often lack the intellectual chops to comprehend that a film is making fun of homophobics/homophobia rather than promoting it. Or a film is making fun of societal glorification of alleged teen suicide (the teens were actually murdered, and their murders were made to look like suicides) than the tragedy itself.
Kind of ironic that those who come from universities, which used to identify as bastions of intellectual freedom are now more likely to resemble know nothing vigilantes than the freedom fighters of truth they would like to present to the world. And remember folks, for the most part, these folks are representing on our dime in the form of tax dollars to run the University system, to the tax dollars spent on Pell Grants, to those same dollars spent on a heavily defaulted Federal Student Loan System.
But then, the ability to recognize irony, like the ability to, “live and let live,” has gone the way of poodle skirts and a decent malt shop. And evidently, the ability to think critically.
Intellectualism simply no longer, is. In my opinion. And it makes me sad.
Thanks for reading…
Good Morning, Minions:
Imagine, if you will, being an almost middle aged person and discovering that you’re a Jew. No, really. A hereditary Jew. And that a chunk of your family (6 Aunts and Uncles, along with their children and their children’s descendants, and all of the children that they might have had, died in Nazi Concentration camps in what Jews refer to as the “Shoah” (devastation).
And History calls the Holocaust. Where literally half the population of your people were murdered for no reason except that they carried the same DNA.
Imagine that you then discover that Anti-Semitism runs rampant in your country and the world. That people hate you for no other reason that your heritage. And because of this, your local synagogue is wired up and locked down like Fort Knox.
Because, you know, things happen. Even in upper middle class suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Things like Arson, Bombings, random acts of vandalism…All because you have a star on your church instead of a cross…Because their martyred savior was a Jew…
Imagine, as you look with new eyes, that you see European countries, which have been bastions of individual freedoms in your lifetime, electing candidates that openly identify with the individual responsible for the largest extermination of humanity in history up to that time. A man whose behavior created the word, “genocide.”
So you look to your homeland and see it, a friend to your country and a shining beacon in a region in flames, under attack, not only from a violent group thrown out of every Arab nation and plopped in the middle of your country in one of the most obnoxious acts of NIMBYism ever, but from your own country, Europe, and the world press. Based on half truths that are easier to believe than to look at the alternative. Your country isn’t good at examining complexities, any more than its denizens comprehend geography. Or world history. Or anything that can’t be easily put into a sound byte.
By people who would rather be called, “Anti-Semitic,” than, “Racist.” Because in this world, labels are more important than reality.
Because six million dead–over three times the population of the State of New Mexico–murdered seventy years ago don’t count anymore. For whom the word, “murdered,” is an understatement. They were starved, beaten, the victims of chemical attacks, guinea pigs for horrific medical experimentation, impaled, had just about every physical violation and indignity heaped upon them…no longer count.
In a world who uses the word, “Nazi,” to label any person they don’t like.
In a world that can’t see beyond who won a soccer tournament. And sees nothing wrong with referring to the winners as, “Nazis.”
Because it’s easy to discount the horror of losing half of your family in some of the most horrible ways imaginable. While the world watched and did nothing…
Until you discover that it happened to you…
Good luck finding a therapeutic yoga class in this area on a Wednesday. I checked, like five studios and finally gave up. I thought I’d go do some cardio so I strapped on my running shoes and went in to my regular cardio gym. After spending some time on the treadmill and machines, I noticed that the class room was empty except for a couple of people working on their own stuff. So I jumped in, took off my shoes, and did my own yoga practice. I know that I had set the goal of classroom practice, but, given the whole concussion issue, any idea of a normal class, with its balance poses and challenging asanas, was out. So I grabbed one of their crappy gym mats and a roller and got started.
First thing, I rolled out my whole body. I really needed this because doing yoga for four days in a row had made for some sore muscles. My glutes, and upper thighs, in particular, were extremely grateful for the attention. It’s amazing just how those rollers can remove 90% of the muscle aches and knots an active practice can incur. Snap, crackle, pop, rice crispies went my back. Lovely.
I started in Tadasana, or mountain pose, then did about twenty slow and simple sun salutes. Complete with Cobra at the end. Oh yes, I do love my Cobra. I noticed definite improvements in my Downward Dog and that I can hold a Plank pose for much longer than I could only six weeks ago. As a restorative, I went into an extended Child’s pose. Once i was warmed up, I started some wide legged poses, culminating in exalted Warrior pose. I loves me Vira poses. I then moved down to the mat, where I started in Sukhasana (Lotus) pose and, moved to Upavistha Konasana (wide legged forward fold), ultimately, ending up in full pigeon pose, which I held for three minutes per side. I recovered in rabbit.
All in all, not a bad practice, when you consider the whole concussion thing. Oh, and one excellent thing about today’s practice.
The classroom walls were mirrored.
I have never done yoga in front of a mirror before. It was miraculous. I could actually see when my knee was extended too far over my ankle, when my hips were uneven, when my stance was too wide. And I could see when I fixed it. I liked that. It was a bit of an ego boost, because my asana practice looked better than I thought. For the most part, I stacked correctly, did not overextend, and lined myself up well. I was my own best teacher and guess what?
I’m a better yogini than I thought.
Good to know…
Thanks for reading.
I fought the floor and the floor won.
But I digress…
This morning, I showed up at the studio to be greeted by a guy with a serious camera and “We are filming a video today. Sorry for any inconvenience.” signs taped all over. As that camera followed my backside across the entry way to check in, I really hoped that that side of my body was red carpet ready, because it was definitely getting the treatment. I checked in as quickly as I could, grateful that the crew seemed set up in the front of the club and that they weren’t going to be filming the yoga class.
Still, if there’s anything I have learned in this life, it’s to take nothing for granted. There was a little voice giggling in my head. It told me to run far, run fast. I ignored it.
Following through with my desire to attempt a more difficult class, I signed up for “Mindful Flow.” Years of yoga practice has taught me that anything that sounds innocuous usually isn’t, and this class is no exception. This is a lot of strength movement(the flow part) done incredibly slowly (the mindful part). Kind of like if Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to teach Yin Yoga together. In short, it resembles something that is done to either Navy Seals or prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
It is, essentially, a beautifully choreographed march through hell.
And 24 women sign up twice a week to do it. They grunt, groan, some cry, and yet they hold these poses. Anyone who calls us the weaker sex is full of it. At any point, you can find at least a third of the class in less strength oriented positions. By the end you can find more than a couple curled up on the floor in child’s pose. All in all, it’s a wonderful class.
I got there early, and found a spot against the back wall. I always choose a wall position. It can aid in balance, and often a teacher will want the class to work with legs up the wall. I like to plan ahead so I don’t need to move my mat in the mad dash for wall space. I found my place and all was well.
Or so I thought.
The first idea that I got that everything was not copasetic was the sound of heavy equipment banging and crashing outside the door. Then the cameraman lumbered in and asked if it would be ok to film the class. About half the class agreed and about half the class looked like they wanted to disappear. I was never more grateful to be in the back. But distance wasn’t enough, I learned, as he picked up the camera and aimed it right at me. Or so it seemed.
I resigned myself to an hour of sweating on video.
If only it were that simple.
We did a derivation of just every strength pose available. We saluted the sun (complete with Vinyasa), we were warriors–both free and bound, we were Eagles, chairs, you name it. I only wobbled off the mat once. I did not fall, just lost my footing on that pesky ankle and needed to take another step out. All in all, I held my own in a class that was so difficult that two folks left halfway through.
Until we got to the inversions. Instead of doing a deep lunge, I noticed the bent armed frogstand (aka, Bakasana, or the crow pose) my neighbor was doing. It looked so easy. So, of course I had to try it.
And it was totally simple. I stacked my wrists under my shoulders, bent my elbows, brought my open knees up and dropped those knees over those elbows like magic. My body was born to do this pose. I held victorious, suspended, in yoga wizardry. Just like a bird. Right up until the moment that my body decided that it couldn’t fly; that this pose was too simple and that I must be doing it wrong. As I tried to adjust a fully functional center of gravity forward, it happened…
Head first and thunk. That’s right. Faceplant. On the hardwood floor. Because I was too far forward on the mat. As my two nearest neighbors gasped. And the cameras ran.
Yep. I live for days like this…
I quickly moved back into a less lethal position and finished the class. Because it was so crowded and I was in the very back, only two people knew that I was the one who fell. Well, two people and a cameraman. With a camera. Oy.
Long story short, I have a little blue spot on my right cheekbone and a silly putty egg sized swelling above my right brow. Fortunately, my bangs will cover it until it heals. Until then, I have it to remind me that, in yoga, as in life, when something works and doesn’t hurt, then don’t “fix,” it. Because it’s not broken. Because I can fly. But something might really break if I mess with it. And that something might be my head.
Oh, and I spoke to the folks in charge of the video and was assured that my fall wouldn’t be on the final cut. As I said, Cali people are just nice people. I am very grateful. But if they had insisted on releasing it, I wouldn’t have minded too much.
Because, when you’re a redhead, it’s go big or go home.
Thanks for reading.
Welcome to day three of my yoga challenge. Today, I chose a Gentle Yoga class taught at the studio by a woman named Reba. She was one of my first yoga instructors and her patience and low key attitude make this class a joy. More Yin than Yang tonight (she changes it up), we spent a long time in half pigeon pose and I spent at least five minutes in a shoulder stand. There was a lot of balancing poses, but she did them slowly and steadily, adding variations as we were ready for them. My ankle held out fine. My feet are no longer sore and, thanks to the pigeon, my hips feel all warm, open, and happy. Yes, I have happy hips.
I did have a moment. I was on a grassy hillside and David Carradine was playing a wooden flute while I did the yoga. I could hear Reba and see my classmates. Alternately, I was on a hillside with a man playing a flute. Both at the same time. Weird. And magical.
Driving home was interesting. Am eating an egg salad sandwich and watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show. I got home in time to see the toy class. My favorite.
Tomorrow, I think i’ll choose a more challenging class.
Until then, thanks for reading.