Chop suey (a little of this and a little of that)

As I said on Monday, now that my work life doesn’t fall so neatly into art/craft/writing, the blog’s schedule is undergoing a shift as well. I’m still feeling out its new role, but for today, you get chop suey: a little of this and a little of that, whatever’s on my mind. (For origins of the phrase “chop suey,” I refer you to footnote 80 of my undergrad thesis!)

Back to yoga

I’d thought I was doing a decent home yoga practice since Tisha’s passing, but apparently not. Last night I went to Yin Yoga, and at the end of class we were lying back on bolsters. Rachel said, “If you’re feeling comfortable on your bolster, feel free to stay there. But if your intuition is telling you to come into savasana, gently roll off the bolster and lie down on the mat.” I liked the bolster a lot, but felt compelled to flatten myself into full savasana. When I did, it felt so foreign, I suddenly realized it was the first “corpse pose” I’d done since we had Tisha’s body in our presence. It was a very weird thought.

Yesterday the pet cemetery that took care of Tisha’s cremation sent us an official death notice, along with a photo of the burial site (for the ashes). We had not expected this at all; we didn’t even know his remains were going to this place, since all we did was take his body to the closest vet’s office and pay them for the cremation. When I saw the bleak, forsaken-looking field in the photo and tried to imagine Tisha there — as he was in life — I bawled all over again. It’s been kind of surprising to me just how much his absence can resurface again and again so sharply, hurting me again when I’m not expecting it. He’s the closest loved one I’ve ever had cause to grieve, and it staggers me that the accepted, expected death of a pet can affect me so much. How much more impact must the deaths of human loved ones have, especially if unexpected? No point imagining; someday I’ll know.

While I was crying over the cemetery’s message, I emailed my (middle) sister and told her about it, and said I was thinking of skipping yoga because I was so teary and miserable. She said, “Get out and move, it will help,” and she was right.

10-year high school reunion

HS reunion

Erik and me flanked by two friends. Photo from Melody Han.

My high school class had their ten-year reunion over Thanksgiving weekend, at a Sonoma Chicken Coop. I wasn’t going to go, because I figured everyone who mattered to me was already my friend on Facebook. Then, when some persuasive old friends (including Patrick, in plaid shirt, above) talked me into it, I said I would go, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it. There were some awkward moments, yes; what does one say after, “How are you, where are you living, what are you doing?” But, to be honest, it was mostly fun.

What surprised me most was how purely, wholeheartedly happy it made me just to see everyone again (in the flesh. Not on Facebook). Even people I hadn’t thought of in ten years (in fact, even people I never thought of while we were at school together) — when we caught glances and smiled, I felt a little bubbling-up of joy. I guess it’s true what they say, that as you get older you appreciate more deeply the people who knew you when you were younger. Now I’m grateful for these friends and acquaintances from my teenage years; in another ten or more years, I suppose I’ll feel even more appreciative of the friends from my twenties and thirties. It’s a nice little way life has, of making us look back in rosy affection.

But then, that’s not true for everyone. It’s probably safe to assume that those who attended the reunion was already thinking fondly of their high school pals; the ones who think of those years with bitter dislike probably stayed home. And my mom recently told me that she hasn’t kept in touch with anyone from her high school, even though several of them have attempted to contact her. “I have no good thoughts about those days,” she says, though that can’t be entirely true. I pointed out that if my book becomes a hit, her old acquaintances will start seeking her out in earnest. Her discomfiture was evident.

Living in a material world

It’s December now, which used to mean I put on the Reader’s Digest Christmas CD box set and bought presents like crazy. But the season doesn’t feel particularly festive to me this year, and I think that’s because I’m home so much of the time. That got me thinking. For those of us who aren’t churchgoers, does our feeling of Christmas cheer come primarily from commercial sources? Or am I just out of the loop because I don’t have coworkers with whom to Secret-Santa or plan the holiday party?

I’m sure the office-atmosphere thing is part of it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how much of an audience marketers have in us. Through store displays, print ads, TV, internet, movies, billboards, and even product packaging, they have our eyes. Via radio, in-store announcements, and the same TV, internet, and movies, they have our ears. Even “ad-free” spaces aren’t really, because of product placement. Everywhere we turn, we encounter brand names, logos, and exhortations to buy something. I guess Erik and I are more sheltered from this than most people, because we don’t have a TV, rarely see movies, have ad blockers installed on our browsers, and don’t go out much. But it’s still impossible to avoid it all. This is another form of clutter in our lives. Think back to an era before people bought everything from major corporations, and you can visualize a time when not only were there very few ads, there were very few words around the house (since most people didn’t have as many books as reading families do now). As a word-loving person who’s addicted to using her labeler, I have a very hard to imagining this, but I bet it’d be easier on the eyes.