dimarts, de gener 04, 2005

Yoga (aka Namaste), The Trouble with Albanians (from Albany, NY), and a Preamble of Several Other Inane Bits (English / Welsh)

Af i gwrdd â'r gelyn...

A line from a Welsh hymn the name of which currently escapes me, but it translates as, "I go to engage the enemy." During an Ysgol Gân in London, Ontario a few years back, a Welsh teacher of mine, Gareth Jones from Pwllheli in the Llyn, once told us the story of a fellow teacher whom he knew in the region who would site this line to his wife after he finished his morning paned (cup of tea), just as he went off to prepare for his day with his students.

I go to engage the enemy, is the enemy the students or their ignorance? An age-old question...

My own line to my secretaries is, "I'm off to battle ignorance!" with the same sentiment in mind. As an aside, one of my other lines, to Darcelle in particular, at the end of the day is, "That's it, I'm blowing this popsicle-stand," to which she replied one day, "Ok, where do I tell'em to line up?" But I digress...

Back to ignorance, I have 15 students in my EN103, that is English Comp, 14 look at least salvageable, one I give to the end of the week. Social Darwinism? A lack of compassion? Or, do I refuse to enable, rather do I choose to empower through adversity and forced acceptance of responsibility? God, lest he be, shall be the ultimate judge, but I figure that bozo is a goner. Oh well, hopefully he will prove me wrong. And believe you me, one out of 15 is very good; generally I have more like 14 out of 15 in that kind of class, oy vey!

Of course "he", but I will give my diatribe on the sorry shape of men and the male student another day....

So, then it was off to acupuncture. I love alternative medicine, I love acupuncture. I have been "clean" now for almost three years, except for one little stint of antibiotics and exactly one 800mg Ibuprofen I took when my wisdom teeth were removed, I have not taken on allopathic medication. My motto has become, "If God didn't make it, don't take it!" Some day I will probably have no choice but to begin taking various sorts of allopathic medications just to survive, but I will keep sweating and jiggling, and adding new things to my routine like Yoga as long as needs be to stave that day off as long as possible.

When I was coming back from my Dark Night of the Soul three summers ago, I arranged a triple threat power morning that began at 5AM. I would do around 40 minutes of kundalini yogic meditation followed by 20 minutes of Qi-Gong, then an hour of aerobic exercise every other day; on the odd days I would do 30 minutes aerobic and 30 minutes of strength training; this I would do six days a week. On the sixth day I would still do the yogic meditation, and would sometimes also complement it with an hour and a half of yoga. Add to this my trips to the acupuncturist, chiropractor and the message therapist; lavishing all this attention of myself I couldn't help but get better, stronger, healthier. I was able to carry on this way for nine months, when a schedule change at School forced me into the office every morning by 8 o'clock. I still exercise at least three hours a week adding biking this summer which was fantastic, but I have sadly fallen too far away from meditation. Time to go back, and Yoga class is one step in the right direction.

Carolyn suggested the class, and even bought me some fancy yoga gear in aid of it for Christmas. We both signed up for the course which was to be held on Wolf Road, kind of like a middle-class version of Rodeo Drive (oxymoron, I know, my life is a martyr to them). Tonight was the first class, and I was quite relieved to see that I could do all but two of the positions correctly. This class is Kripalu Yoga, so a bit different from the Kundalini I have done before, but the moves were not so dissimilar. I have to confess to having very little knowledge of the history and background of the different schools of Yoga, something else to add to the list, ay yay yay! In any case, it was very enjoyable. The only bad thing about going to things is Albany is Albanians, to paraphrase a sort of bon vivant lady about town from Cohoes. The other members of the class were very Albanian, all very self important people with things to do, and stress in their lives, so this is why they took yoga. So typically, few even bothered to say hello or good-bye, but several did manage to mutually complain about their families and their responsibilities. The only other man in the room was a Rufus Wainwright wanna-be with an "I'm too sexy for this place, especially since almost everyone else is a middle-aged house marm-type or a fat guy" attitude.

The trouble with Albanians... They think Albany, as provincial as it is, is the center of the known world (Upstate New York, for many of them), the Constantinople of its day; it is after all the Capital! My God! Don't get me wrong, I really do like the Capital District, and on some days I would even say I love it, but I live in a somewhat more real place than Albany itself. Schenectady and Troy, like Watervliet and Cohoes, have maintained a realness about them, a gritty edge. On the same token, passing by strangers here in the street, we most always make eye contact with them, greet each other, occasionally swap town gossip about local worthies, or unworthies as the case may be.

Albanians on the other hand seem to like to give the impression they have somewhere to be, to see someone about something, far too busy to give the time of day, or a damn. There's a coldness to many of them, a brashness that when exposed to the light of day, does not reveal, as it does in Schenectadians or Trojans, a genuine blue-collar let's have a beer and some pasta (or golemki depending on the neighborhood), rather a carpet-baggerish stand-offishness that reeks of self-agrandisement based largely on whiffle, it's fake and quite empty. Many people who have relocated to Albany really indulge in this social jockeying, and will often, as the ersatz Rufus at yoga-class, act as though they are so much better than everyone else around them. Yet, these same people, behind closed doors, or in online chatrooms, will express their exasperation at the Albanian attitude.

Hence, the trouble with Albanians.

Namaste :)