Tuesday, December 30, 2014
on Blondie, sweatpants, and competition
The inevitable chatter of holiday plans started to crescendo amidst casual banter with friends and colleagues around the second week of December at which point it occurred to me that I was going to have three weeks at the farm with very little to guide my days and unreliable internet. Time off scares the shit out of me. I don't like to relax, I don't like vacations, and I don't like pajamas or the word 'lounging' or, for that matter, sleeping. But I do some of these things, obviously.
For example, I take baths. I can sit in the bath for hours. My bathroom at the farm (which doubles as a flower studio) has a phenomenal antique cast iron tub ($200! never buy a new tub!) that keeps the water really hot for extended periods. I like the water so hot it's like I'm cooking a lobster. Some of my friends have expressed a certain bath boredom; an inability to sit in the bath for more than 15 minutes without getting bored. "What the hell? - You just went in there!" I said to my friend Sarah once when she emerged before I had time to finish secret smoking on the back porch...
Eric barges in a few days before Christmas half way through my soak. Carrying sweatpants. Big thick grey sweatpants Hanes or something without elastic at the bottom - sort of open ended; designed possibly to resemble trousers, as if one might consider wearing such things out in public. Try these on! he said, fucking with me.
I've been walking the dogs a lot everyday, getting to know our woods better, marking off trails in my head so visitors don't get lost out there and have to send me a dropped pin (!) to locate them and lead them out. One day before Christmas Eric joined me in the woods. We walked slower than usual, I noticed how much he notices. More than me. He wonders out loud "If a florist makes an impromptu holiday wreath in the forest and no one instagrams it, did it really happen?
I'm building a bird watching station out in the swamp lands and a deep woods fort for coffee drinking. I need a good thermos I realize. My dream is to have a coffee kiosk in the middle of the woods staffed by a well trained intern who maybe has worked at Blue Bottle and wants to learn about flowers in exchange for keeping the kiosk (solar powered) open everyday from 2-4pm which is when I like a coffee break. I'm serious about this, interested persons please send me your resume.
I've been spending lots of time with Blondie, one our sheep-guarding Maremmas. When I get bored or sad I go out an hold hands with her. She's my favorite dog. People say they don't have favorite children, that's a fucking lie.
She was hard to break in. We took her in about a year ago from another sheep farm. She spent the first two weeks chained up in the barn while she got used to us. She'd bark and growl whenever I went out to feed her. She's a 110 pounds, I was timid with her. I'd sit on the hay stack and watch her watch me. And then one day she didn't growl at me. And then a couple of days after that Blondie gave me her paw and just stared at me. (I'm waiting for ang lee or steven speilberg to call...)
Weathered, a little washed up, she's an aging beauty queen; a single mom working the night shift. (Maremmas are nocturnal and patrol the sheep field dusk to dawn.) A teenage mother, she'd been bred 2 or 3 times when we got her. After we had her spayed she refused to swallow the pain meds they give you at the vet. Of course.
I've been at the farm now for one week. Time really moves slowly here, which should be a good thing. In the back of my head I keep a running list of things I can do if I get really bored or anxious...replace the a string on my cello, repot my houseplants, paint my office, work on my star charts, order seeds for next spring, look for a one-eyed elderly black male pomeranian on petfinder...
Someone said to me once it was going to be important to learn to be alone at the farm. It's different than being alone in the city where I'm lulled constantly by the chaos and other people's busyness as they walk by on the street downstairs. We feed off distractions don't we. Or I do. A couple fighting on the street on their way to work. How charming this is to me! Down with O.P.P.
I've been thinking a lot about the nature of competition, and my competitive nature...it fuels me like nothing else. In a yoga class the other day I found myself competing with the girls next to me; completely against all the tenants of the practice!...but there I was congratulating my handstand as they struggled through it.
Over the years of on again off again yoga I've been through all the things; devout practitioner, chanter, stabs at meditation (can you imagine me meditating?!)... There was one class I went to for a while in Brooklyn where all the women were like goddesses and during the class -- one of those hot rooms kept at 95 degrees - they all moan and sigh like a bunch of preening snakes. I was into that for a while.
Other popular attributes commonly at play in my internal repertoire? Guilt and self flagellation.
On my drive home from this ho-hum Albany basement class instead of beating myself up for being a competitive bitch I found myself laughing at myself in a kinder, more accepting way.
In the city someone has been tagging around our neighborhood this dumb stencil that says SELF LOVE IS THE ANSWER. Every time I see it I roll my eyes. A few months back it showed up on the door at Saipua. Deanna had it scrubbed off in two days and I haven't thought about it again until now.