I interrupt my part-time mission of countering anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, and racism on Facebook to bring you this blog post.
You can thank me later.
Yesterday, after several months of on-and-off capoeira (due to a winter marked by lots of sickness) I got up my nerve and actually wore the white pants that are part of the capoeira uniform. Why is that a big deal, you wonder? (You must be a man if you really wondered that.) Here I am, nearly fifty years old and out of shape and going back to class after a twenty-year hiatus and feeling fat and ugly and old and wrinkly. Wearing clingy, white, polyester pants was not my idea of improving my self-esteem. But here’s the amazing thing: Twenty years ago, when I was relatively young and studied capoeira in San Francisco, I loved, loved, loved it, and yet it was also an incredibly painful experience for me. The atmosphere in my class was one of intense competition and antagonism, spurred on by a mestre who was insecure and pretty fucking crazy. Now, as a Tired Old Thing, I return after much deliberation and the response—particularly from my new mestre and instructor—is one of admiration (for coming back after twenty fucking years—you try it!) and support. I am surrounded by fellow students who are there to learn and grow and, in the process, are happy to help and encourage each other. And that’s a beautiful thing. I leave class feeling elevated and happy and glad to be alive.
I could focus on all the things I can no longer do after twenty years but I’m encouraged to feel good about what I can do. This is a something of a revelation, a epiphany, and a wonder.
And so I rock the clingy polyester pants. Every facet of our lives should be like this, every day.
Just Do It
On Sunday mornings the hub-sand and I really get our lethargy on. I usually laze about in bed until the child informs me that he wants to eat.
“I’m hungry” is the Jewish mama’s call to action.
Last Sunday I asked the little guy to feed the kitties. This is generally my job, so I gave him clear instructions.
“Empty their bowls in the garbage can, wash them, dry them, and then put food in them.”
He offered to clean out their litter box, too—bonus!—and as I lay there, I reminded myself that the mess he’d make did not matter. What mattered was that he was doing it. This was not a time- or work-saver for Mama—it was an opportunity for him to chip in. So I lay in bed smiling, even though I knew I’d need to go into the bathroom a little bit later to sweep up, finish cleaning the litter box, put the food away properly, and—he tipped me off about this one—clean cat poop off the floor.
Hell. It was still a beautiful moment. And you’d better believe I savored it.
To Brainwash or Not to Brainwash
Last week the hub-sand and a friend of ours—the dad of Jonah’s friend and classmate—brought the kids to a “monster truck jam.” This may have been a bad idea—I’m not sure about that—but I do know I’m immensely thankful I didn’t go because the entire experience would have given me a massive headache and further soured me toward the human race, what with the faux patriotism, the ear-splitting music, and the horrendous noise of the trucks. (The dads bought the kids ear muffs designed to resemble monster truck tires at a whopping $20 a pair, but they didn’t cut out enough noise for Jonah, who had to leave after about half an hour.)
Yesterday, after capoeira, we went to a pub for lunch and Jonah became fascinated with the Nascar race being shown on two of the three of the televisions in the place. The third TV was airing a basketball game, which I pointed out more than once.
“Isn’t basketball more interesting, Jonah?”
“No. I like this,” he said, pointing to the cars, which were zipping like wind-up toys around the oval track.
I kind of get it, while simultaneously not getting it at all, and as a men’s chorus from Appalachia performed (silently, as the sound was mercifully turned off), I came very close to saying, “Do you see a person of color in that crowd? Beware of pastimes that attract only white people.” But then I realized how badly that could backfire, and how under-represented people of color are at many things I enjoy and find worthwhile. And so I decided to leave it to fate, to hope and trust that the things we expose him to and the values we share with him and the people he knows and cares about will guide him through his life in a good and beautiful way.
I do. I believe. I have faith. Hallelujah!
Photos: Top: Capoeira performance by Sinha Bahia Capoeira Canada, June 2013 © Howard Sandler | Dreamstime.com; Middle: Photo of Thing Two by Aviva; Bottom: Excaliber monster truck driven by David Brown in Toronto, 2011 © Serena Livington | Dreamstime.com