Writing and editing

I know that the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay people in the US military is really regressive, but unfortunately I’m going to have to institute the same policy re: pregnancy over here in Miss Stan blog world. Happily, unlike gaydar – which can be hit or miss – you can tell I haven’t given birth because I’m still blogging. I promise to post pictures very soon after the policy gets revoked!

I switched last week to a home practice after a bout of contractions on Sunday kept me housebound. I cut out my closing inversions this week. The baby’s head is fixed and is too far into my pelvis to be moved or turned around, but I felt like I didn’t want to give the baby any funny ideas about staying in here longer. This Friday, David told me to do standing so I wasn’t pushing too much energy up with all the primary vinyasa. I did standing and then a whole round of backbends. Really, all I want to be doing is backbending, forward bends are getting uncomfortable – even with my legs really far apart. I’m still practicing everyday, and I still really need it. Practice lifts my mood and works out all the kinks and sore spots from the night before.

I made a terrarium this week, inspired by my sister’s link on my last blog post.

I got the bowl at the dollar store, the cacti from a local flower shop for $4, and the rocks, soil and toys I found around the house. Making terrariums is actually a lot of fun, and they are so low maintenance. This one is a little boreal forest, but a gorilla has escaped from the zoo and he is scaring the oversized birds (made from fimo).

Mercedes made one too, with more of a wild west theme.

I want to do more. They make great housewarming gifts.

I went out on a date last night to a fancy vegan restaurant. I curled my hair, wore a mini skirt (Ok not so different from the usual) and everything. It was fun to be out even if the food was just OK. David said the food was like going to a really amazing huge party but there are only 1 or 2 interesting people to talk to. I ordered (gasp!) a glass of wine. I think this was the very first glass of wine I have had all pregnancy. I could tell because I started going on about which soccer teams had the best looking players (ie. who I plan on rooting for in the World Cup).

In good news, David and I saw my tattoo artist on the street and he told me I look like a python. Later, David told me my bum looks better just a bit fatter like it is now. I know in normal non-pregnant lady world, being told your bum is fat and you look like a scary reptile digesting a large animal would be cause to shut yourself in your room and seek revenge on all your friends for letting you out in the world looking like that. But I was totally pleased. Anyone who doesn’t say you look “Huge!” or “Ready to give birth!” within five minutes might as well be telling you that you are the next Helen of Troy.

Digesting python with fat bum, so hot right now!

I’m  bit of a busybody, but these last two weeks before the baby comes are supposed to be my time to relax and sleep. But the lawn NEEDS mowing! And the kitchen NEEDS cleaning! And I NEED to make pound cake! I’m getting really excited to meet the baby. Who has been in there this whole time growing, moving and hiccuping? It is such a gorgeous mystery. Sometimes, I feel like I know the person inside me. Other times, I feel so disconnected – like maybe this has all been a strange mistake and I should just be eating a little less pound cake.

When I was a little girl, I thought plane rides were big scams.You never felt like you were moving in a plane – the same way you move in a car or train or on a bicycle – the sky just stayed stationary around the windows. I wondered if maybe the plane would lift off the earth and then just hover midair until everyone below had reorganized the city to your destination of choice. Often I feel that movement and momentum, take off and landing, things are changing and moving in inexorable ways. But then I also feel liminal. I’m just waiting around, watching movies and feeling uncomfortable until someone tells me I have magically reached the place I am supposed to be.

Veronica has started a baby pool at AYCT. Everyday, I check for new possible answers – girl or boy? June 8th or June 1st? I dismiss all the answers that I don’t like – anything over 9 pounds is nonsense! anything past June 10th: crazy talk! But my guess is as good as any. Who, who is in there?

In my last post, I gloated about my ankles. Well, clearly instant karma has other ideas and only a few days later, my feet are lumps of dough that take the shape of and then rise up and swell over the rim of any shoe I wear. I’ve been strolling around in my mary janes lately, so I have these puffy little semi-circles on the top of my feet. I would post pictures, but no one needs to see that.

David make a little video of himself doing karandavasana. I haven’t made it up to there in my practice, and I have mad respect for women who can pull themselves back up – like the amazing Laruga, who I have seen do it in Mysore, India.

David’s video is cool because his head doesn’t touch the floor at all and his hands don’t meet when he comes back up. He is so crazy strong. Sometimes, when we are watching a movie, he will put his arm on my leg, and within minutes I can start to feel pins and needles.

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Last week, Larissa posted this video on my facebook. God bless her! I was growing weary of the slow loris and this is now my daily obsession.


I’m going to go roll around in some food now.

p.s. Stay tuned: I have a little video of Pound Cake belly and I coming up in my next post.

Happy New Moon!

No scary childbirth educational toys at last night’s prenatal class, thank goodness. Just the little cloth baby with a plastic head that our teacher demonstrates with and then disconcertingly throws around when she is finished demo-ing.

She asked us what we remembered from last week’s session.

D: Well that placenta toy.

T: Oh yes, what did you learn about that?

D: It haunted me.

T: OK…. And what about you, Stan?

We practiced breathing and David practiced rubbing my back. That was fun.  We learned about epidurals:

Ughh. My last two experiences with needles have been a little crummy. When you are pregnant they test you for everything under the sun, syphillus, rubella – whatever – you name it. The second last blood test I had was at Women’s College Hospital and the staff were training someone new. Because the skin on my arms is basically see-through they used me as a pin cushion for a trainee. She was nervous and her hand shook when she put the needle in. She had to take several vials of blood for each test and she kept filling them up to the very top. At one point the supervisor came back into the room and yelled at her for making all the vials overflow unnecessarily with my blood. Great.

The last time I had blood taken, it was at the midwife’s office with the student midwife – who is also just learning. She made a bit of a mistake and blood started spurting both inside and outside the vial. Suddenly, there was blood running down my arm, all over her hands and covering the pillow my arm was resting on. We both started apologizing to each other as the blood kept streaming down. I had a bruise on my arm for a week. Pregnant junkie is not a good look – in case you were wondering.

I’m done being helpful to the medical community. I’m going to need a resume from the next person who sticks a needle in me.

David and I ate chap chae on Bloor after the class. I love chap chae. We ate at 9:30p. Because we always eat at senior citizen’s hour, we spent most of the meal remarking on how amazing it was that the restaurant was open and people were there eating as well.

Tomorrow, I am back to practice. I was so grateful for the break today. I haven’t taken a day off practice in over two weeks, because I did a fantastic mysore with Kino on Saturday (David calls this a “bonus practice”) and the Saturday before I took Oliver’s beginner class. I am teaching Oliver’s class this Saturday, and now I know how he tortures his students with extra holds in chaturanga. I’m hoping if I talk in a really low voice and pretend to be much nicer than I really am, his students won’t mind his absence too much.

Have a great Thursday back.

Fruit Brute bordering on Yummy Mummy Terror Yoga spot today, it was a peaceful day. This trip I have noticed that Sharath and Saraswathi have a different organizational technique for dropbacks. Two years ago, I would find myself waiting for several minutes. But this year, they seem to catch most people as they are doing their three dropbacks, and so you can transition very quickly into your assist. I like not waiting, and it is fun to stay on your breath as you come up from your third. The one drawback is I find myself dropping back with no one in front of me and when I come back up two seconds later, Sharath or Saraswathi is standing three inches from my nose. It can be a little unsettling and it makes me want to laugh because they always give me a blank look. Like they somehow ended up in front of me through a strange set of circumstances beyond their control. I guess that is half true. Anyway, I like it.

Last night, I had a terrible sleep. It is getting more and more difficult to get comfortable in bed and I toss and turn. I started using an extra pillow to wedge under my belly, which does help. Last night, I kept waking up in pools of sweat. Finally, I got up in the middle of the night, took a cold shower and cried a little as I dripped cold water on the floor under the fan in the living room.

I like getting stuff done, but I think I can’t physically do very much when the temperature goes above 35. I think I just overdid it yesterday. So, I’m keeping a low profile for the rest of the week. Today, I ate a lovely breakfast of fruit, fenugreek roti and spinach. Then, I read a little White Noise and took a quick nap – dreaming of North American supermarkets. We went to Kelly and Hudson’s house for lunch. It was unbelievable – Kelly had nori!  We had a lovely time hanging out. Then we all clambered into a tuk tuk and went to the pool where we watched all the kids play and swim so beautifully.

It was, however, a busy day for critters. Critters all over Mysore were on the move.

This horse had no time to stop and chat. He had somewhere to be!

This one was catching a quick snack between engagements.

These monkeys were trying to sort out their problems. It involved lots of chattering and some wrestling. The one on the left wasn’t really part of the disagreement, but he liked to join in the wrestling when it was happening.

Well, I wasn’t doing anything and someone has got to work!

category: Mysore
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Vikram and Vanessa made an incredible breakfast spread this morning for 10 people. Vikram even borrowed a toaster from his landlord for the occasion. We were so spoiled by all the beautiful food and the lovely company. I was particularly excited because finally there was a social occasion that I didn’t have to cover my shoulders for.

It is 36 degrees today. As we were crawling over to Vikram’s, drenched in sweat, David observed that walking around naked with just an umbrella should really be a cultural norm here considering how hot it gets. Funny how the warmest places seem to have a fascination with covering up all the time (or covering up the women).

That outfit would be quite inappropriate here. No need for the fellow with the measuring tape. Although it did remind me of private school in grades 7 and 8 when our teachers would make us kneel down and they would measure the distance between the floor and the hem of the kilt (3 inches). I won’t even go into the bloomer check. All-girls schools are secret hot beds of oppression.

Anyway, I guess Goths like to dress warmly in the summer too.

Maybe I will just pretend I’m a goth for the rest of the trip – like covering up is totally my fashion choice.

The heat has become so onerous, I can see it has killed every molecule of motivation in the people here. I watched a teenage boy glumly taking 5 minutes to put a straw in an empty glass before clearing the table. He would drop the straw in the glass, it would fall out and then he would look at the straw on the table for a few moments before gingerly picking it up and fumbling around with it again.

The man at the video store was complaining about the heat last night. He told us it should rain once and cool down by Indian New Year, which falls on March 15th.

But we fly out the morning of March 15th.

Tomorrow is going to be 37.  I have to go cover myself in black eyeliner, get out my black tin lunch box and listen to some Bauhaus.

Today I got a “Great” from Sharath during backbends. GREAT! Not “Good.” or “Hmm” or even “Very Good”. Everyone else in the room literally has their heads up their bums doing these gorgeous and thrilling backbends. I must be the only person who is barely walking myself in one step and getting a “Great.” Who knew it was that easy?

Then, of course, he looked at me and said, “Well, there are two people doing it.”  I mumbled something incoherent and whiney about that making it harder, but he was already walking away. Ah well, that few seconds of great was worth it.

I made tofu sandwiches and bean salad for lunch and then we headed down to the pool. A quick word on lunch: We didn’t have any condiments for the sandwich and the only bread we have is this crumbly millet stuff, so I thought I would brush the bread in some oil, crushed cumin seed, and chili and fry it to make the whole thing a little tastier. Wow. Fried bread – where have you been all my life? Why doesn’t every sandwich in the world contain fried bread? Don’t answer that question! Don’t!

That is how St. David survived on his diet of bread and herbs. He fried the bread, and then gave it to his dove and ram friends. Glorious! Don’t think about it, just fry your bread next time you make a sandwich. You will totally thank me.

So, the pool. With the crackdown on yoga students, the hotel has a new policy about using the pool as a guest. Ordinarily, you pay a fee, write down your name and the yoga shala you study at and then you can use the pool for the day. The new policy is you have to submit a copy of your passport, a copy of your tourist visa, and two passport size photos in order to use the pool. I think sometimes they just make stuff up here. Regardless, we came prepared. The desk manager seemed taken aback when I pulled out the passport size photos (we had them lying around with the passport photocopies) – I think he was almost tempted to ask us for a letter from “The Commissioner” in Bangalore. We had to sign a paper saying we agreed to the rules including “No public displays of affection as per Indian Law”.  Apparently our pool membership cards will be ready in a week. David asked if we could use them next year.

“Oh sir, I do not know what will happen next year.”

Very sage advice. Have you ever needed 2 passport size photos to use a pool? What sort of terrorist threat will passport size photos somehow avert? I’m pretty sure you could just lob something over the fence and be done with the PDA-crazed lot of us.

That aside, the pool was cool and refreshing and we sat in the half shade soaking up the late afternoon sun with our friend Kelly who was regaling us with hilarious ear piercing stories.

We had a “Great” time.

Happy Heart Day!

I really prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day with people under the age of 10. Since I can’t ply my nephew with enormous amounts of sugar from India, David and I kept the whole day pretty low key.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I would be walking up the 1000 stairs of Chamundi Hill to celebrate the moon day and to mark my donation to the Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, as part of a fundraising effort at the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

First a word about the moon day. In Ashtanga Yoga, we traditionally don’t practice on new and full moon days or Saturdays. The energy is thought to be too intense or scattered to practice on moon days, and it also serves as a great moving holiday. The full moon day landed on a Saturday for us two weeks ago, which meant no holiday. This new moon has landed on Sunday morning India time, but sadly for Torontonians it landed on Suturday evening. Really it did. David got a few emails about it today. He is a good yoga teacher, but he has yet to master the ability to control the tides. Maybe it has something to do with his moola bandha?

Anyway, back to me and my now non-existent moola bandha. We started out after breakfast when the weather was still cool. Here is me at the bottom looking all fresh. You can see on the first big step, there are quite a few offerings of pigment (!!) and flower petals. We watched a few women make an offering to each step, which would take at least a few hours.  In the distance you can see a gateway where the monkeys hang out.

These two found some of the offerings to Ganesh and shared a bite of banana.

There are so many monkeys, some people walk with sticks to shoo them off. I don’t find them that aggressive, but I did keep all my Dog Whisperer techniques in mind.

Nandi, Shiva’s bull, is at about step 800. This Nandi has his own priest.

I love his face.

I huffed and puffed my way to the top. It wasn’t that bad because I stopped and rested a few times. And I did have a few of these conversations:

David: Are you OK?

Stan: (Breathless) Yeah, no problem

David: Umm, because your breath is sort of laboured…

When you get to the top, you can wait in line to give an offering to Chamundi temple. These were my favourite: double coconuts with marigolds, roses and a lotus flower on top.

Last time we went up the hill, we went into the temple. You have to wait in a long line and the whole event is a bit rushed and chaotic when you get there and involves forking rupees over to everyone you happen to cross paths with. This year we skipped it because it was pretty busy at the top. Lot of calves, I think some were born on the last full moon.

Here I am, happy and winded in front of Chamundi Temple!

Then we slowly walked back down, and I made lunch on our cook stove.

Miso soup, salad and a big bowl of pasta. It was delicious, I was famished.

Happy Valentine’s Day, happy moon day, happy help Haiti day. I hope your day is beautiful. I’m off to donate!

Yesterday was Shivarantri, the festival for Lord Shiva. It was business as usual in the morning, and in the evening I was instructed by my Sanskrit teacher, Lakshmish, to go to temple. That really just consisted of me following (a very kind and patient) Vikram around a temple like a lost idiot with some jasmine, dumping water on my head.

Lakshmish told me that pregnant women are supposed to concern themselves with spiritual matters, because there are two people growing – a baby and a mother. And after the baby is born? “You can just go back to doing whatever.”

On Shivarantri, every time you chant Shiva’s mantra, Aum Namah Shivaya, it carries the weight of 1000 repetitions. I said it once, which might make up for a very heathen pregnancy so far.

Oh – but I did have a spiritual experience eating Rava Idli with Vanessa, Vikram and David after pooja. Rava Idli are steamed rice flour patties with vegetables and comes with a lovely veggie stew and coconut chutney for dipping.

Today is the day of darkness. It seemed inauspicious to go up the steps, but we needed to distract ourselves from feeling really sad about Dolly, so this little piggy went downtown to the market.

The market was busy, hot and crowded. I am so easily overwhelmed inside, but I love the smells (jasmine mixed with vegetables and spicy cooking oil) and the colours. It is totally obnoxious, but I also appreciate (for a short time) the people that follow you down the aisles trying to guess what country you are from to sell you a baby anklet.

“BonnJourr – France!…..Choooww! Italy!….New Zealand! Alllo! … Canada! English part? French part?”

What has been interesting this trip are the looks of shock and horror when people see my belly. I have yet to set eyes on one Indian pregnant woman. Lots of babies. No pregnancy. I must get some pictures of the look. So far this is the only one I found on the interweb that sums it up.

Maybe minus the skeleton hands.

Anyway, this is me at the entrance to the market (you can provide your own look of shock and horror from home!).

Here is the standard tourist photo from an Indian market. Pigment. I always want some. What would I do with it? I wouldn’t mind just letting it sit there in a neat pile that I can poke occasionally with my finger.

I am mesmerized by pigment and David is bewitched by the cotton shopping bags. They are so beautiful.

David needs a pair of sunglasses. These were so rad, but they didn’t have any glass in them. The guy offered to fix them, but I kinda like them empty.

The flower stall area was off the hook and everyone there was pretty manic. I think because it was the day after a festival.

I would like to bring this home and use it as a stool.

And then we tuk tuked all the way home.

I used to get a kick out of hearing my kindergarten students chime, “Safety first!” while clutching onto a banister or holding hands at the crosswalk. Later, when I left teaching, I would say it to my dog when I put on her leash. Now that Dolly is deaf, I feel like a dork whenever I say it. So, I was really pleased to see that Indians are also quite taken with the phrase.

safety firstAnd I suppose if safety means honking several times before aiming your vehicle at small children or the elderly, then India is a bastion of safety. In this particular picture, you can see the women have stopped their scooter to put on a helmet (only the driver needs one) before entering the intersection where the police hang out. Once through the intersection, they will stop again to take off the helmet. Safety first!

Practice was nice today, the usual primary. I tend to whip through it a little because I get addicted to the momentum and also I’m hungry for breakfast. We have an 8am start time, which means we have to wait for about 30 minutes in the shala vestibule before being called in. I don’t eat before practice and David and I just eat a big late lunch. By the time I’m called into practice I am ready to gnaw off someone’s arm. Actually, it isn’t that bad. I think it is mostly irritation at having to squish into a small space with about a million other yoga students on a cold tile floor that makes me want to gnaw off someone’s arm. I suppose that is where my yoga practice is really beginning.

We had lunch today with David and Laruga from Stockholm at the 70s inspired (or stuck) Paradise Hotel.

great furniture

The lobby is a huge glassed in atrium. And check out the totally unused furniture. So rad.

david & larugaDavid and Laruga are hilarious and fantastic company. Laruga has a great blog called Peace Love Yoga that is totally worth checking out. I know my blog is chalk full of incredible insights and philosophical musings (“Pug in a Basket” anyone?), but Laruga actually deals with some loftier ideas. Novel!

My husband, David Robson, is a man of many talents. He is an outstanding yoga teacher, he can name any 80s tune after hearing only a few bars, and he has become pretty handy with the camera here in India. Without him, this blog would certainly be imageless.

photographer davidSometimes, when I look through the pictures he took during the day, I am reminded of a Blind Pilot lyric, “All the photos came out lonely, but we’re not alone.”

stan loves davidThank goodness!