The scene: I’m sitting here next to Ellie (Week 0, Day 6) on the second floor porch, where I can see the Sears Tower. I don’t remember what it’s called now. It is just too nice to stay inside and write, so I am trying this experiment. It’s quarter after 8pm, about 74 degrees with a gentle breeze. There are a lot of birds around, sparrows mostly, I think. I can hear children playing in the yard next to the school across the street, a couple of male voices conversing downstairs. A yappy dog is barking, in spite of what I said yesterday. There is music, too far off to distinguish, but it has the familiar echo of an ice cream truck. Earlier, a man walked by pushing a cart with shaved ice and two flavor bottles. He honked a horn, that kind with a rubber bulb and sounds like a duck, to get the attention of the kids in the park. There are quite a few people out and about. I’m eating dinner: a steak shawarma wrap from Zaytune, about two blocks from here. It’s more than I can eat tonight, but the rest will make a nice breakfast.
I went to yoga this morning at 6. To my surprise, there were quite a few people there. The small studio, Southside Om, was almost full – only one or two more could fit comfortably. The instructor, Meg, said it would be a challenging class, and it was. Ten minutes of uninterrupted, self-paced sun salutations was just one of the challenges. I met Meg on Saturday at her morning Hatha yoga class. She was the second instructor I met there. Erin was the first.
I really enjoy visiting new yoga studios and taking classes with new instructors. If at all possible, I go to a new studio in every city I travel too. I can almost always find a class that works, timewise. Every instructor is so different, and I never fail to learn something from each. Every one uses slightly different words or emphases. This one suggests to hold your belly in during a certain transition, that one says to line up your fingers and toes in a pose. In some classes you move pose to pose quickly, in others you hold poses for what seems like forever. Some instructors are hands on, making sure to help align the poses of every student in the class, while others never leave the front of the room. Generally, if they are going to align you, they tell you at the beginning of the class and give an option to wave them off. I always accept whatever the instructor has to offer – I like to get my money’s worth. Sometimes the instructors apply essential oils, usually to your temples and the back of the neck, other times to the insides of your wrists. There’s one studio, in Burlington, VT, where the instructors (I’ve had two there) mist you during final relaxation.
Somehow, there’s a unifying whole to all this variation. There’s a deep core to yoga that exists in every class, but maybe is harder to discern from just one perspective. It’s almost like trying to discern the meaning of the bible by reading many different versions. You know there’s an underlying truth to it all, and particular words or phrases from different versions make it clearer.
After yoga, I headed straight downtown, without changing – I brought a change of clothes with me and changed at work. Stopping home was feasible, but would’ve made me rush to be on time – adding an extra twenty minutes or so to my journey.
We had a long day of coding today – little direct instruction. Two labs: the first was a simple Pong like game, the second was the game Pig. More students struggled today than yesterday since the challenges are mounting. What’s a little frustrating, but par for the course if you teach teens, is that students will disengage from the activity, but still ACT as if they are doing it, hoping you won’t notice. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience with this and can spot it from across a room without even looking at the student’s laptop screen. I just watch the patterns of their fingers on the trackpad, their eye movements, and their facial expressions. They are like open books. The hard part is getting to all of them and staying with them long enough to get through the rough patches. Tomorrow is another difficult task: programming a jukebox.
One of the challenges for me today was physically getting to a place where I could help (see the screen, talk quietly, etc.) because they were sitting so close together. I like to sit or kneel next to students rather than looming over them. I think I’ll remove about half the chairs, so they can only sit two on a side of a table instead of three. That’ll make my job a whole lot easier. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Less work for me?
It’s a little after nine, now. The birds have become silent, and the children went home about ten minutes ago. All this while, a couple have been moving in upstairs, trying not to disturb me while they move their earthly possessions up three flights of stairs. They seem like really nice people.