Saturday, August 14, 2004

These summer days have been an indolent gift. Every morning, I wake up after nine hours of sleep. Do you have any idea how gorgeous that is? I wasn’t able to sleep uninterrupted for four months after the car accident. When I did finally start sleeping in April, it was because of sleeping pills. But now, I just flop into bed and sleep, sleep, sleep. Every morning, I feel a month better. So I sleep, and wake to my life, slowly.

Coffee. Ah, the French press. Or, if I’m really feeling bleary, I just tuck the button on the coffee maker into place. That’s a happy burble.

And then, I sit. I sit meditation while I wait for the coffee to brew. There’s no point in putting words to meditation, especially when most of the work in front of my small shrine is in trying to move beyond the words into that vast space of consciousness. So, I sit.

Slowly, I turn the knob to make the music come alive. Lately, it has been this Danish boy named Teitur. What? He’s from the Faroe Islands, which I barely eknew existed before hearing about him. And he’s probably 22. But his voice is so clear, and sweet, that he makes the mornings easy. (Thanks to Clown for the downloaded cd.) And he writes about childhood friends and writing postcards and riding on airplanes. And love. Or course, love. “Love is somewhere in between what you believe and what you dream.” He feels familiar.

Coffee’s ready. Ah.

I check my email, write some back. Read the Guardian and the New York Times online. Check out some other blogs (try mimismartypants for a funny read). Write more emails. Bounce up and down on my purple exercise ball. Move away from the computer (foul machine I love). That green chair by the window looks inviting.

Stretch out. A series of little exercises that keep my body from completely falling apart. It’s always about twenty hours away, if I’m not careful.

Muesli’s nice in the morning. Ah, and that chicken pesto sausage smells good.

Book of the day. When I was a kid, summers always meant hours in my room, reading away. Now, I have other activities, and most of them outdoors. But I must read in the morning, somewhere in the afternoon, and just before bed. Must. I’d like to say that I’m reading something edifying and outstanding. Hey, I’m working on the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying in my shrine room. But right now, this morning? Honest? Live from New York, an oral history of the making of Saturday Night Live. Shut up. You try to put it down. It’s like crack cocaine, without the nosebleeds. * (see below for footnote)

More email. Okay, true confessions here (which I started to type as confusions). I like to see myself as intelligent and healthy. Many, many people tell me how powerfully I have changed their lives, so I must be doing something right. But like everyone else, I have a whole bunch of stupid little idiosyncracies that don’t put me in the best light if you know them. And long summer days give me even more of a chance to see these in action. Examples? You want examples?

a) I leave cds face up all over the little table on which my cd player sits. I keep meaning to put them away, because I adore music and I want to treat my cds right. But when I’m done with one cd in the three cd-changer player, I’m usually so eager to hear the next one that I forget to put the old one back. And so, there are four or five bare-naked cds, on top of each other, in my living room. I know. I’m a horrible person.

b) There are always at least a few dirty dishes or errant coffee cup stains on my kitchen counter. I dream of being completely clutter free, but it never really happens. I’ve been meaning to clean out my living room closet, build shelves for all the photo albums, and free myself of the unnecessary items by generously donating the detritus to charity. But I’ve been saying that since I moved in, over a year ago. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m always going to have a little bit of clutter. And I’m not apologizing anymore.
Oh, and you should see my car.

c) I check my email way too many times a day. Seriously, like way too many times. Like every fourteen minutes sometimes. If I’m on a hike or playing with friends or out for the day or working on my novel in a coffee shop, I’m not checking my email. But driving home from it, I’m kind of excited that I can connect up again. I know, it’s sad. But the thing is? Almost every time I check it, someone has written to me. I love all the people in my life, and staying connected with them is one of tmy most potent forces. Communication is the key to all great relationships. And there are so many stories to tell. But really, I just love opening my email and seeing that someone has written to me. “Ooh, someone likes me!” And irrationally, I’m still disappointed when I check it and there isn’t an email. (If you want to help me feel more loved, write to me at shaunaforce@mac.com. I’d love to hear if you’re reading this, anyway.) I could say that I’ll try to stop, but I don’t see it happening.

So I checked my email again.

And then, it’s time for Hydro-fit. Ah, the joys of Hydro-fit. The entire morning is building to it. And it was a stellar day at the Magnolia outdoor pool today. Kate, the dippy, twenty-one-year-old girl who has been teaching our class all summer, leaves for her last year at WSU next week. Thus, this was her last day at the pool. Now, as much as I may have liked Hydrofit in the late winter/early spring, that was only a nascent crush. Now, I’m utterly in love with it. Every day, I’m at the outdoor pool at 11 am. The first plunge into warm water is like coming home, every day. And then I bob and float and run cross-country across the pool and pretend I’m a ballerina and do crunches underwater. Mostly, I feel so buoyant and delicious that I could just float on air when I leave the pool. And if I do this, then I can stave off most of the pain in my body for the rest of the day. Ahhhh. I’m daily grateful for it.

So, even though Kate seemed to live in her own little spaceland most of the summer, which made her a rather poor teacher (“You call that teaching?” Mary once said to me in the pool. “That’s being generous.”), she did show up every day. And without knowing it, she has become a big part of my summer. In the pool in the preceding days, all of us chattered and planned as we worked on our triceps. We decided to throw her a party. Because, that’s the thing. These people have become my outdoor pool family. Any group of people whom you see every day for an hour become important, eventually. And with me, it’s usually immediately. I adore these senior citizens and young people with rheumatoid arthritis and brain injuries and torn calf muscles. They know what it means to be grateful to be here.

At the end of another sunny class with Mary’s giggle and my ridiculous laugh intermingling in the air above the water, Kate said, “Okay, guys. That’s it. Now, let’s turn on the slide!” There’s a dark green, corkcscrew plastic slide above the pool, fifty feet in total. They only turn it on for special occasions, because gallons of water shoot down the center. And when you lie down in the water, you can let yourself go and the water carry you, around and around, down and down, until you plunge deep into the pool and come out reborn. Or at least laughing. So all the senior citizens whose bodies could handle it and the little kids and the overweight, middle-aged women and me--we all lined up eagerly at the stairs. And you know what I did when I was going down. WHEEEE!!

Afterwards, we ran to the poolside to eat our food. Mary had made outrageously good guacamole (“It’s not my best,” she apologized beforeheand, and now I know not to believe her). There were crackers and goat cheese. Krispy Kreme dougnuts. Cranberry juice. Carrots and salmon dip. And twenty-five people in their dripping-wet bathing suits, eating and laughing under the kind Seattle sun. People whom I would never have met if it hadn’t been for the car accident. And now, I love them.

You see why I love these summer days? That only takes me up to noon.

* I do believe I unwittingly stole the “crack cocaine without the nosebleeds” line from one of Sharon’s old stand-up routines. So, credit to the inimitable Sharon Jensen.

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