In the home stretch before Christmas (or the winter gift giving holiday of your upbringing, or your choice) artisans and crafters and jewelry makers like me are afraid to fall asleep because we are all time-sharing the same anxiety dream. Getting sick during the holiday rush. Not being able to create our ART!
When people actually want to buy it.
And that's why I am so relieved every year when something strange and amazing happens to my body in the late Fall.
Bugs and viruses waft through it by the dozens, but instead of making me sick they take a rain check.
"Sure, sure, we'll come back and infect you later," they say, pulling out their little virus palm pilots. "Just have your microbes contact our microbes when your calendar opens up."
And to get all the jewelry made in time, I do bad, baaaad things to my back. And yet my back doesn't go out. It stays in.
Well, it stays in until the last, last minute order goes out, and I close down my studio for the holidays, and I collapse in my bed, and my body gives the
all-clear signal, and the next day I wake up with a cold, a flu, a fever, the heebee jeebees, my last three periods that I missed from stress, and a bad, baaaad back.
"Good morning!" my baaaad back chirps. "Oh, I just love it when they assign me to an over-evolved primate. You guys are so easy to take down!"
Man, that is sooooo unfair. I mean, you never see a cat with a bad back. Oh, no. Cats just love to flop down in front of you and streeeeetch their backs into Mobius strips and then look at your opposable thumbs and go, "Ha! Evo-loser."
I read a book by this astronaut who said that in a gravity field like Earth's, your spine compresses one full inch from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Yet another good reason to sleep late.
But this year I had to admit to myself that my back felt worse than it did last year, which was worse than it did the year before. The wear and tear of being a storytelling jewelry maker was starting to tell. It was time to take action. So I went to see a physical therapist.
Unfortunately, he could see my back right back. And he took one look at my posture and said, "You should be taking yoga."
Well, this did not surprise me. People were always telling me I should be taking yoga, even complete strangers. One time an old woman, who could not have been younger than 80, came up to me in the street and said, "Take yoga, kid, take yoga."
Well, what she didn't know, what they all didn't know, was that I had taken yoga. I took it for four classes, and then I dropped out. Yeah, I was a yoga delinquent.
It wasn't that I didn't like yoga. It was just that I hated it! And here's why. There is an unwritten law in the universe that goes: And wherever a yoga class shall gather, it shall always be comprised of 9 ex-dancers and one klutz.
That's why limber people are always trying to get you to take yoga. They can't hold the class without the klutz. It's the law.
And you know you're in a yoga class because, unlike a regular exercise class, every move they make you do has to have this mystical, Eastern sounding name. Like, the instructor will go, "This next stretch is called, Mountain Lion in Thought."
And I'll think, "No, it should be called, Jewelry maker in Pain."
And after awhile the yoga instructors started to seem like they were M.C.'s introducing each new stretch like it was the latest boy band from Liverpool: "And this next stretch, and you're reeeeeally gonna love this one, ladies and gentlemen! Oh, it's reeeeeally gonna make you feel good! Oh, put your hands together for the stretch that's climbing all the yoga charts; Stampeding Herd Of Double Jointed wilderbeast!!"
But I told my physical therapist that I would try yoga again, because I was a self employed primate with a jewelry business to run.
So I went to the yoga website to check out the Winter schedule and right away I saw something that I liked. Classes didn't start for almost three weeks. Yippee!
But time, that great betrayer of all procrastinators, especially me, went by. And suddenly it was the day of my first yoga class. Rats.
Well, I decided that I needed all the edge I could get. So I got up an hour early and to go to the YMCA to swim some laps and loosen up. When I pulled out of my driveway it was starting to snow and I thought, "Great. I'll have the pool to myself."
But I'd forgotten that it was the first weekend after New Years. Everyone in Somerville had just made a resolution to self-improve. And then had eaten all the leftover Heath Bar cheese cake. The pool was packed with desperate sinners, newby swimmers whose fluorescent bathing suits hadn't been bleached out by the chlorine yet. It was like doing my laps in my screen saver.
But I noticed that the Fish Man was still wearing his usual dark swimmers briefs. I had developed names for all the regular swimmers. The Manatee. The Water Crone. The Splasher, The Show Off, The Anorexic. The dolphin. But Fish Man was my favorite. A beautiful older man, he would press his knees under his chin, wrap his arms around his legs, and sink to the bottom of the pool and then just stay down there, tumbling over and over, bubbles trailing out of his nose in a silvery spiral.
It was like Esther Williams meets Obe Wan Kanobi.
Ah, but time, that great betrayer, betrayed me again. Because when I looked up at the clock it was time to go to yoga.
Well, when I got to my car that snow was really coming down. Those big, filigree snow puffs that always seem like they're falling faster than they should, like you're standing in a blizzard in fast forward. All along Highland Avenue people were clearing off their cars, leaving them looking like a row of badly shorn sheep.
I cleared off my own car and pulled out carefully. Now, usually driving in the snow makes a trip seem longer, but I must have hit an intergalactic worm hole in Porter Square because suddenly, there was yoga.
And just before yoga, there was Carberry's, one of my favorite cafes. And if I looked really hard I could see in between all the snow flakes, all the way into their window. And I could see people in the window. Sipping coffee. Eating danish. Not doing yoga.
But I was good. I firmly deployed my turn signal and pulled into a parking space behind a long line of cars sporting an above average number of leftist political bumper stickers.
And I got out of my car and slogged through the snow to yoga. Where I met a long line of people just slogging out. A woman stood on the steps shaking her head.
"No yoga," she announced gravely. "Canceled for snow."
Well, you've never seen so many people wearing comfortable, breathable, cotton clothing looking so depressed. They were like little kids who'd rushed down the stairs on Christmas morn only to discover coal in their stockings.
"No yoga," they wept in disbelieve. "You mean we don't get to do yoga?"
And me, always trying to fit in, went, "Boo, hoo, hoo."
But inside my head, I could hear a brand new mantra starting up.
"Yoga snow day. Yoga snow day."
Then it turned into a rap mantra.
"Yoga snow day.
Go to the cafe.
Yoga snow day.
Drinka lotta latte.
Yoga snow day.
Boo hoo ha!"
So I did.
And as I sat there in the cafe sipping my coffee and nibbling my danish, as I looked out the windows at the cars driving past in the snow, just as I had driven by not 5 minutes ago on my way to yoga, I was struck by two rather profound and philosophical thoughts.
The universe can really turn on a dime.
And, hey, yoga's not that bad.