Reading The Brothers Karamazov (and other grinds)

I have been struggling with The Bros K. but today, today I may have broken through.

Things started to shift in Part 1, Book 3 for me.

I couldn’t get past the whining and the histrionics of the beginning chapters, not to mention all the impossible-to-keep-track-of Russian names. When I can’t hear a name in my mind, but have to rely on just the graphical pattern of letters, I get lost.

I went to book group having slogged through just about 100 pages, and hoped the others who had read farther could assure me that there was light and ease and joy coming in the future.

That didn’t really happen, but I was inspired to keep slogging, just because.

Because it was Dostoevsky.

Because it was a classic.

Because I’ve read longer and more turgid books and god dammit I would read the Bros K. Even if it killed me. And if Linda R could do it, so could I.

It seems like so many things I’m doing these days are like this: grinds.

The Yoga Challenge, The Ultimate Yogi, the Bros K.

But when I got home from book group, bound and determined, I experimented with reading some of it out loud, hoping I could tune my ear to it, hoping I could find a way in.

And it worked! And I did! I started laughing because the way his characters narrate their lives sounds so much like modern conversations. These language patterns sounded so natural, I could hear myself talking exactly this way.

Is this the wonder of this particular translation?

I don’t know, but I am happily reading the Bros K. now, and really digging it.

Today was Day 27 of the Ultimate Yogi. Only 81 more days to go. I decided to just do the damn thing. No expectations. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it.

But the last few days, I’ve been getting into it.

The Strength sequence is still a problem. Even when I think I’m doing okay and hanging in there, there it comes: that long hold in plank with alternate knees at the biceps. When that part comes, it’s nothing but oh fuck, oh god.

So hard.

All the other sequences I pretty much cruise through without a lot of suffering.

I’m starting to tire of his stories, though: the elephant sculpture one, and Hollow Bone.

 Enough.

Note to Self: Kath, if you ever put a program or video online and you want it to stay evergreen?

Don’t talk too much. 

Don’t tell stories. 

Just instruct the yoga and the breathing with as few words as possible, no jokes. 

Never make a joke. Because in all the world there is nothing staler than a joke on video. Especially on a video you want people to watch every day, or at least somewhat frequently.

The Yoga Challenge is 17 days in as of today, and though it’s going okay, there’s not the commitment that there was in the past. No, I shouldn’t say that. There’s the commitment, but things keep happening. Like Jury Duty happened to one person, and a medical problem flared for another one.

I don’t think there are too many people who can do something like this without a miss. Some things like jury duty can’t be helped. Some things like heart issues flaring, can’t be predicted, some things like college graduations can’t be missed. I get it, I do, but still.

So this will be it. I will really work hard to put it online next year. That way more people can do it. It’s not the daily yoga that’s the problem or the challenge, it’s the coming to class. So online might be the answer, I think.

The season is unlocking. Grass is greening, daffodil foliage is breaking through. I’m enjoying my long walks at the Hike and Bike with Stella everyday. That time spent with her is becoming an important and wonderful part of my day. She’s really a great little dog.

It’s feels good not to grind so much and just enjoy: the yoga, the reading, the season. Hallelujah.

The Personal Touch at Wegmans

Lolly is my favorite checker at Wegmans. She speaks in a friendly, conspiratorial tone, kind of out-of-the-side-of-her-mouth. Her voice has a very peculiar timbre, too. Something between foghorn and an oboe. It intrigues me.

But the thing I really like about her, and why I will wait in her line even if there’s a faster one, …well, there are a few things.

First, she’s is just a great checker. She looks down the belt and checks out the lay of the land, quickly assesses my stuff, and then starts to mentally group things for bagging.

Bagging is a fine art. Lolly knows how to sort and how to bag. She’s one of those Tetris kinds of baggers, but she will never sacrifice fragility for spatial symmetry. 

For example, she would never just shove my loaf of raisin bread into the corner of a bag, even if the space seemed custom designed for it. Oh no. Food before form. Always.

She’s not particularly chatty. But I feel she’s there for me. She sees me. 

Today a group of three women were in line ahead of me. I overheard them talking to Lolly about how hard it was to raise 3 kids as a single parent. Lolly said she understood because she had been a single parent, too.

When they finished and it was my turn, Lolly said to me: “It’s a lot like being a bartender here. People tell you everything.” And laughed.

I corrected her. “No,” I said. They tell YOU everything. It’s because of how you are.”

She just shrugged and went back to efficiently scanning and weighing and bagging my stuff.

All the way home I tried to nail down just what it is about Lolly that makes me cruise all the checkers first, to see if she’s working, and then stand in her line even when there are way faster ones.

She’s not particularly smiley or chatty.  That’s not it.

She’s just present

She seems to care about my groceries, yes, but I also feel she she sees me as a person, too. I’m not just the next customer to process. I feel a human connection with her, and apparently, I’m not the only one. People tell her things. Intimate things about their lives.

As more and more grocery chains add self-scanners, the human checkers are going to be phased out, I’m afraid, and for the most part, good riddance to them, because frankly, most of them they act like robots now, anyway.

But it makes me sad to think that someday there won’t be any more people like Lolly; people who you don’t know personally, but who make you feel more like a person for having interacted with them.

I Hate That Progress Takes Time

I hate that things take time.

Not things. Progress.

I hate that progress takes time.

Especially the visible, tangible signs of progress. That’s what I really hate. 

I feel so impatient. I want a sign: something, anything, that will encourage me to keep going. 

I am attached to outcomes. I am a very bad yogi and a very bad Buddhist. 

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he must not fight to win the battle. No.

Arjuna must fight because it’s his dharma. He must fight because it’s his nature as a warrior to fight. 

So here’s what I’m telling myself these days: 

Put your head down, Kath, and grind.

So what if you’re not any stronger.

So what if you’re not any lighter.

So what if you’re measurements are still the same. 

So what if you’re a little sore. And tired. And grouchy. And your words aren’t getting written everyday and you don’t have time to cook, or even shop regularly. 

It’s only been 2 weeks of this Ultimate Yogi thing. What did you expect?

Answer?

 I expected more than nothing. I expected a little something. Some small little something. 

And why?

 Because it’s been TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

Every dieter I’ve ever known has had to fight this battle. Every person who has trained for a marathon has had to fight this battle. Every person who has committed to writing a dissertation, or tried to quit smoking, or any other addiction, knows what I’m talking about here. 

It’s a daily slog. A daily recommitment without any seeming progress. 

It’s the daily sky-gaze where you beg for a sign, for something, anything that will reassure you that, yes, it will all be worth it in the end.

(I feel like I’m getting melodramatic here, but everybody knows this at some level.)

So I really do have to find a way to just unattach from outcomes. To just do the thing for its own sake. 

And trust. 

Or not trust. Just keep going.