Yoga Talk

I go to yoga seldom enough to miss it when I am not there: sometimes twice a week, sometimes twice a month, sometimes every twice month. I miss it because I feel my abs deflating and I feel an intuitive pull towards child’s pose, which is really just lying down on one’s face. But what I realize, every time I “arrive on my mat,” is that I haven’t missed the yoga talk.

It’s a jargon that grates at me, maybe because of its recent mainstream appearance on  lunch bags or because of something more. I think it’s a feeling of being on the outside,  wanting to be in.

I’m sure all resident doctors feel this, all aspiring baristas and apprentice sorcerers. Everyone wants to be at the point where they can use the jargon without feeling they’re faking it. There’s probably always a moment where one tries to distance oneself from it by mocking it. A resident mocks the doctor for the nickname he gives a scalpel, or whatever. But there’s probably also always a moment where one tries it out for the first time, feeling the absurdity roll clumsily of the tongue: “It was nice practicing next to you today.”

I go to so many of these yoga classes and at the end, and at the beginning, and all the way through, I wonder how these teachers can be faking it so bad. They surely don’t actually want me to tell my neighbour one gift I will be giving someone for Christmas, (for example, the gift of my time)? They surely didn’t ask me to run around the room and hug people? They surely didn’t mean that this class was going to be focused on passing energy to someone else by holding in my pelvic floor muscles in mulabanda?

Then there are moments where I hear someone who isn’t. Where I hear a teacher who has so honestly connected with the talk. And I wonder if it’s just me who is the problem here. Maybe yoga isn’t my way of being, my way of seeing the world.

There is one saying on that unmistakable, ubiquitous Lululemon bag that bothered me so much for so long but has since become my favourite saying. It reads: “Don’t let what is most important give way to what is least important.” At first I thought it so shoddy, so simplified and common. But the saying has popped into my mind at several moments, enough to let me know I’d been moved. When I’m driving and I want to check a text message, I tell myself to not let what is most important (my life and others’ lives) give way to what is least (emoticons). I read it off a yoga bag but I made it mine.

I’m finding it hard to sit through 90 minutes of someone else’s yoga talk, but I am learning to tune it out. And then once in a while I hear gems. And maybe they touch me because you feel it, or maybe they touch me because I’m feeling the same thing, right then, but that connection seems to be what I’m there for when I go to yoga: some other reason, some  higher reason for stretching my muscles and opening my heart.




I Am the Worst

It’s the biggest error of a young diarist: believing that it is interesting to write a diary entry that begs the reader to forgive the writer for having been “bad,” for having forgotten a commitment, for having been too busy or too normal not to write in their diary every night before bed. And bloggers do it too, because bloggers are just kids writing in diaries but with bigger audiences (an audience). But how embarrassing a diary entry it makes, when read months later, as still the most recent post. Where does there exist a more outright proclamation of laziness?

And I am the worst. The worst of them all! I have been doing nothing but work (work work, not writing work!) for two weeks. After writing a novel in three days and thinking that would help me continue (and not give up on) writing while teaching. After once telling someone that I would probably write for 90 minutes before school and 90 minutes after. After imagining a life where a job and writing were mutually inclusive.

I am, of course, not the very worst. I understand that these were the first two weeks of school and the first two weeks of my teaching career. But then I think about how in life I have given up on so many penpals. And that there are still so many unanswered messages in my Facebook inbox because I forgot Facebook is a viable means of communication and not just where I look at what weddings you went to and read your hashtag run-offs from Twitter. I am becoming bad at making time for writing, and that’s almost the only realm of writing that I am any good at!

But I talked to my students about my writing. And I’ve had them write in their journals every morning. And I am reading a book. And I went to a writing meeting in Whistler. And I dream. And I stare at people too long in public. And I wear this long blue skirt. And when people ask me about my writing I don’t admit I’m not doing it. And then I’m doing this.

Writing Elbows

I did it, I wrote a novel in 3 days. I held my elbows at my side and I wrote a novel for 3 days straight. At the 2.25 mark (1:00 on Day Three) my elbows gave out. They hurt! I blamed them then I kissed them better. Then the day stopped. My document was stuck at 83 pages when I so badly (so badly!) wanted it to be at 100.

I wrote a story about a girl that ended up being a little shallow (17 pages shallower than I thought). It took place in one day! How much of a worthy-of-a-book life transformation can you have on that one day that will make a book worth reading? Less of one than I thought. Or at least I kept telling myself to back off because I didn’t want to appear corny. I didn’t want to accidentally write a young adult novel without meaning to! What would that say about my level of intellect? My soul?

So I added a subplot. I knew about this one already (it was in my outline). It was the story of her parents meeting at Woodstock. I didn’t know anything about Woodstock, really, so I tried to tell their story through feeling (through what I imagined was the feeling of Woodstock).  And that was okay, but it was short, because feelings are fleeting.

Overnight Sunday and early morning Monday, I began planning a new subplot. This one was the story of homeless people living in Powell’s Books (this one day takes place in Portland). However, instead of homeless people, I just created one homeless person, and I told the stories of his three great loves. This got me no further than 83 pages because love is fleeting.

What I loved about this contest was its absurdity. Everyone on Twitter shouting at each other, shouting at empty rooms: Why am I doing this? What am I doing? I loved going places that weekend (because I somehow made it to an outdoor concert and too many coffeeshops) and wondering whether people looked at me and knew what I was doing (or were interested). They didn’t; they weren’t, but I liked the secret I was holding, like I was in some cult in which we write a novel in 3 days.



It’s what fiction writing is, some weird cult. You do that? Who else? Actually, I sit alone and do it, but I know some people…

One very big highlight was being interviewed by CBC’s Canada Writes about my preparation and afterwards about my experience. It was neat to appear on a website I look at often and to somehow feel validated, even before the experience happened. I love committing to hard things, knowing that all that matters is I committed.

I started teaching the day after I finished my 3 day novel. My back and my legs hurts but my elbows have stopped hurting! I love the sharp contrast: here I am alone; here I am with so many kids so full of energy. The experiences better one another, and I am better for committing to both of them, however hard and crazy a commitment that may be.

Preparing for a 3-Day Weekend

Next weekend I write a novel in 3 days. Not this novel! I’ve been working on this one for 2 years. Three days to finish it would be ridiculous. But a whole new novel? No problem! I speak of the 3 Day Novel Contest, something I didn’t make up. It’s a thing! Click on the link! I’m paying money to do it!

My mindset going into it is one of naive confidence, something I’m hoping to cultivate for my first year of teaching, which starts the day after I finish my 3-day-novel. It’s a frame of mind I’m actually trying to cultivate in all areas of my life.

I spent a weekend by a pool in the middle of summer. I kept cannonballing into the pool, telling myself before I took the leap: this is you jumping into everything.



I know that for my first day of teaching I need to look like I know my stuff. I need to have the right amount of desks. I know that for the 3 Day Novel contest I need to have an outline. I need a main character with a cool name.

But there’s something else I need for both these journeys, something so much more important than anything already mentioned. I need to be absolutely crazy! I need to go feral. I need to trust my instincts before my tired, sketchy, rigid mind. I need to keep doing cannonballs even if no one’s watching, even if I’m paying thirty-five dollars to sit alone all weekend writing something that will undoubtedly have such poor grammar.

But that’s what it seems to come down to. I need to keep doing what makes me happy, in the strange, clumsy way that I do it. It’s only then that I’ll find the things I’m looking for (or what I didn’t know I was looking for, but happened to find). If I don’t whisper maxims to myself before jumping into a pool by myself, then I’m not being me! I’m not putting all of myself into it. And what better thing to teach, to write about, then the feeling of power that comes from giving it all?

The Reading Fad

I admit I walk around carrying a book in my  hand more than I used to, though I used to read more than I do now. I admit I don’t read as many classics as I should, but I always name classics as my favourite books. I admit I bought glasses that make me look like I’m reading and I get shivers in trendy used bookstores. But I will not admit that I am a part of this new trend called reading.

I’ve had a few different people lately tell me they are reading a book out loud as a couple. That’s great! I wish I was in a couple in which we read books out loud! But it also seems to signify something: is reading a becoming a novelty?

When someone walks by me wearing a Great Gatsby tee-shirt, I’m usually pretty sure it’s not an English Lit major. Why would someone who studied English feel the need to wear a tee-shirt announcing they like books? They decided that already, probably early in life, and it has since been their identity.

Second question: why am I so defensive of books? I didn’t write any of them! Maybe I’ve read more than some people, but I’ve also not read most of them, and I read them pretty poorly.

But books are my thing. They are a thing for people who don’t have many other things. But someone who rides a funny-looking bike and sketches and, like, has a horse, already has so many things! You can’t take books too!

So I propose this: we just all keep reading. Don’t stop when the other member of your couple has moved on to partner yoga (even though that’s so last year). Just keep reading until it stops becoming a trend. Until you missed the next trend because you were so busy reading.



Until you become a real smoker, not just one who smokes at parties, you don’t know all the downsides of the trade. You don’t know that you slowly lose your eyesight. You don’t know that there are some books that will plague you, consistently looming over you to get you to finish them. And even if you’ve seen the Dracula movie and you read all of Atlas Shrugged except for the 100-page-long speech by John Galt, you know that one day you will just sit there, miserable, reading those two books instead of whatever book is on everyone’s tee shirt.

And it will become a part of you (not every book you read, but the fact that you do weird little things, like accidentally buy two copies of the same book or bring ten with you on a trip) and you will never stop reading, because it’s the best trend ever invented. It offers a way of seeing the world and of seeing yourself: through words, beautifully arranged, on these little sheets of paper you carry around in your hand for everyone to see.

HP Sauce

A couple friends and I are rereading Harry Potter. My friend did this a few years ago and I was so jealous – how did he have the time? He had the time, I realized, by letting Harry Potter and his childhood overtake his life. I grew up on Harry Potter. I left a best friend’s birthday party to go to the midnight release of the seventh book. I like being in on something so childish and esoteric. I like books!

Remember how big Hermione’s hair was in the first book?

And how you never see Scabbers coming?

Remember when you realize that instead of a murderer, Sirius Black is just a sex bomb?

Sirius-Black-sirius-black-7017004-1000-725 (sexy photo from

I don’t always remember that Professor McGonagall is an animagi!!

Wouldn’t there be some practices where you just don’t find the Snitch?

They don’t even know about the tournament yet!! People are going to DIE!!

Yesterday somebody had a portrait in their room that looked like You-Know-Who but it might have just been a deceased grandfather!

Did Joanne see the Ginny thing coming? Because Harry sure didn’t!

Is it just me, or does travelling by Floo Powder make no sense at all?

Who IS Dean Thomas??

The Day My Computer Slept

Everyone needs a day off! My computer took an elective vacation day yesterday. It was going through some issues with a new processing system and it just sat there, breathing heavily, putting me out of work.

It took hours before I forced myself to open a notebook and write in there. What? A pen? To write with?

I immediately rationalized my fears of all of my novel being lost with the old “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was thrown in the fire” story, which I think about mostly every day. Did no one else ever have to rewrite a book? I wish there was some more modern example of a computer crashing and a novel living on that I could go to, instead of staying clear of fires.

flames background


I wrote six pages by hand in my journal last night – nonsense pages, not prose but explanations to myself, little tidbits of emotions mostly centered around my computer. Then I got to page six and I started doing crazy writing (all over the page! non-linear!) and I came to a revelation that I might not have come to were my computer well. One of my characters is illiterate! She tells her story through images!

And I recognized (and wrote down, in the embarrassing way I do, talking to myself in my notebooks) that maybe every once in a while I need to write by hand instead of with the tips of my fingers. Maybe the circular hover of my palm over the page can create things that the choppy pulse of my nails against the keyboard cannot. Maybe I get at different places, write through different tones.

This morning I felt okay, thinking that a computer in the fire wasn’t the end of the world. If my computer didn’t wake up today, then I still would. But alas, I write a blog post, which means I am either typing on that very small keyboard on my iPad mini or my computer has decided to serve my sweaty palms one more day. And so here are my linear, peckish thoughts, about imagine if I could just write by hand and drop my notes into the fire, instead of allowing them to sit perpetually in the cyber world. How much less embarrassing, how much more poetic and tragic.