Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Monday, June 18, 2007

In which they are still just wet cucumbers

Calling my parents is remarkably like eating a Lil’ Debbie snack cake. It seems like a good idea at the time. “Hey, I think, maybe they’ve improved with time.” “I’m sure they’ve changed the recipe by now … and that picture on the box looks pretty alluring.” Afterwards, I just feel vaguely nauseated, my teeth hurt, and I could kick myself for STILL not lowering my expectations sufficiently.

87% of adults have complicated, ambivalent relationships with their parents. 98% of statistics are made up … but this one I’ll buy. My parents aren’t (to my knowledge) serial killers, alcoholic abusers, pedophiles or anything remotely interesting. They are just utterly apathetic.

“Oh,” friends will say. “My parents are apathetic too – they’re workaholics, more interested in their hobbies, friends or volunteer work than me.” “That’s just it,” I say. “My parents don’t have any hobbies, they don’t socialize, work or volunteer. They literally find dust mites more interesting than their own children.

Our phone calls go something like this. “Hi Mom, NASA just picked me to be the first civilian captain of the International Space Station. I’m going to be launching on …” At this point, I’ll be interrupted with: “I saw the most fascinating show about the evolution of the teapot last night. It was a four-part special … (insert roughly 45 minutes of excruciating detail about pre-Columbian teapots.)” I can literally put the phone down, mix and consume a pitcher of margaritas and my mother will still be holding forth on the optimal curvature for bamboo teapot handles.

When I say “apathetic” – I mean at the Olympic Gold Medal champion level. My parents possess the the kind of mythic apathy that produced one of the best answering machine messages of all time:
“Oops, guess we missed your birthday. I was looking at some expired lunch meat the other day and I noticed the date was your birthday, so I guess this is late.”

Mmmm yes, my bologna has a first name -- it’s Hallmark.

Today, my parents surprised me by hijacking the conversation to announce that they bought land in rural South Carolina. They plan to move to Aiken, South Carolina so they can “get away from it all.”
They live in a leafy suburb 25 minutes away from any urban center. No one has visited them in, no kidding, five years. But, somehow they have miraculously conquered their fear of the gypsies that live in the greater Aiken area (which is another post) and are planning to head south.

When my father came reluctantly to the phone, he was clearly irritated that my mother had divulged their plans. “We didn’t tell your sister when she called because we decided not to tell anyone. Your mother must have forgotten that.”

“So you were planning a secret move without telling your kids?” I asked.
“Your mother made home made pickles yesterday,” he replied. “If you had one today, you wouldn’t know they were pickles yet, they’d just be wet cucumbers.”

Yep, they are still just wet cucumbers. And wet cucumbers they will stay. I am just hoping Lil’ Debbie doesn’t introduce wet cucumber cakes anytime soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend at the Ashram

Noble suffering is best enjoyed when served as a concept vs. reality. I learned this by surviving my own little reality TV show known as "Yoga Weekend." Initially, I was thrilled by the opportunity to teach Improv at the venerable yoga institute known, only semi-jokingly, as "cripple you." By the end of my 3 day tour, I was using "yoga" as a 4 letter word.

When I first learned I would be teaching there, I eagerly devoured the institute catalogue. I looked forward to the opportunity to cleanse myself by spending time in austere monastic surroundings, enjoying organic, vegetarian fare and cleansing my chakras with vigorous yoga.

By the end of the first day, I felt like Ellen Degeneres eating the cucumbers off her eyes at the spa.

Only fifteen minutes after arriving, I was being yelled at by a woman named "Rainbow."

I had placed my tray at the end of the salad bar while fetching a drink and, apparently, health inspectors could come in and accuse them of cross-contamination. Or something. I was too gobsmacked by this fierce little silver-haired woman in a flowing caftan bellowing at me to listen.

I was most surprised by the attitude of most "cripple you" staff members. Where I expected, serene, centered, peaceful folk ... I encountered sour, stressed-out task-masters. My first morning, I was brusquely sent back to my room to fetch my name tag before entering the dining hall. Even the faculty have no mojo with yogini lunch ladies.

I was almost literally shoved out of our instruction room, dinged for sneezing loudly during silent breakfast and shushed repeatedly after 9pm curfew. I hate being shushed. As my five year old proclaims when confronted with any dire circumstance: "NOT MY FAVORITE!"

I will say though -- the people watching was fabuloso. There were definitely hard-core organic, hemp-attired, spirolina-swilling, probiotic, ashtanga-addicted yoga folk there. But I also noticed more than a fair share of fake-tanned, acrylic-nailed, Barbiesque bimbos doing more crystal shopping than stretching. There were also a good number of yoga posers (like me) for whom the best part of the weekend would be telling people you went. We identified one another by our spanking new coordinated yoga attire and our eager willingness to be seen parting with the $3.50 "sin-tax" for real coffee in the basement cafe.

One morning with the dining hall's dessicated bark-chip blend had me naughtily fantasizing about Juan Valdez.

That's not to say I didn't experience some personal transformation or learn a few things about myself along the way during yoga weekend.

I created a new morning mantra for myself: "Kazuki Beans For Breakfast"
I learned that I'm more of a Cap'n Crunch girl and that cabbage vegetable broth, red miso paste and kazuki beans do not a suitable Denny's Grand Slam replacement make.

I learned its more fun to look like a yogini than to be a yogini and I have even adopted a new Sanskrit name in recognition of this experience.

You can call me "Penuche." That would be penuche as in the fudge shop I hit on the way to the Mass Pike after burning rubber out of the parking lot.

Hasta Luego Rainbow.

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