May Showers, Mercury in Retrograde, and the Santa Ana Winds

It’s Spring. Growing up I couldn’t wait for Spring. You had spent the better part (depending on the year and our dear old and tired, Mother Earth) of 4-6 months covered in Western New York white snow and by the time May came around you were pretty certain that there would not be another freak snowstorm. But even though there was no call for snow, there was a pretty solid chance that it would rain. That whole “April showers bring May flowers” stuff was delayed by a month or so sometimes up in the Greater Niagara region. And even though you didn’t have to scrape your car when you tried to go to the grocery store, it would be pouring rain; and who, after five months of ice and snow who would be happy to see any other kind of precipitation at all? The nonstop complaining of hating the weather outside carried on until it was officially Summer, because you can never be too happy.

So when I was old enough to think I was capable of uprooting my life I choose a place to live where it didn’t snow. Little did I know that it would barely rain either. And after a few years of being surrounded by yoga, kale and Sunny SoCal Liberalism I started to drink the kool-aid and become more aware of my energy what kind of energy I was admitting into the mix of Carbon Monoxide and Methane gas. And although I was skeptical at first, and it honestly took a lot of time to become  fully conscious of what reactions I should expect from my own energy, I was starting to be able to manipulate my own aura. I should also point out that during my time of growing self-realization, the rainy season in Los Angeles became pretty nonexistent and the Summers became hotter and drier. About four years ago, I became fully acquainted with a SoCal Spring… and developed allergies.

With the increasing effects of the drought, the Santa Ana winds have now started to resembled a menopausal woman: increasingly hot, unapologetic, and dry as a bone. And since you can develop allergies at any point in your life (which I did not know until I actually developed allergies) I learned all about Santa Ana and her winds. I also learned when to watch for Zyrtec to be on sale; and so the seasonal weather complaining continued.  But I was a different person now right? I mean at least wasn’t I like, trying to be? How would the new Dina react to this seasonal weather pattern? Two things that I started with were acceptance and preparation. The winds started around the same time every year (Fall and early Spring) and all I had to do was make sure I had allergy medicine on hand so I didn’t suffer.No need to complain, no point in relishing in the agony of it all, because after 20 years of complaining about snow and rain you just have to come to terms with Mother Nature and the fact that she gives zero fucks about how you feel about her weather patterns.

I came into Spring this year after a shitstorm that was Winter and decided there was no way to go but up, and since we’re all about nature in this post lets keep it going and say, there’s nothing to do after a storm other than grow. See what I did there? So I was extra conscious about my energy as I stocked up on Zyrtec and braced myself for high, hot winds. But this year was extra special, this year just in time for Spring, Mercury decided to be in retrograde.

Now, what the fuck does that mean?

Although it is common to understand that Mercury in retrograde means that the planet Mercury starts to orbit around the sun backwards, this is false. Mercury in retrograde simply means that Mercury has changed its orbital speed compared to orbital speed of Earth. And even though I would love to sit here and talk about Astrology for 700 words, I don’t, and you’re all adults that can Google. As it pertains to this post however, Mercury in retrograde does normally affect communication of any kind. This includes how we communicate with each other and our normal types of everyday communication i.e. your phone or computer. So even though I have decided that I am able to survive and conquer anything that life has to throw at me, because after the first few months of the year nothing could get worse, I now have to accept the fact that communication will be hard to navigate and my phone may or may not glitch at anytime. This is of course, if you believe in this kind of stuff, and I do so there’s that. Haven’t you ever had a chunk of time where everything is like “What the fuck is happening in the universe right now?!” Maybe you should check your astrological calendar that’s all I’m saying.

So here I am in the middle of my growth with another season to complain about. But if we are being honest, isn’t there always something to complain about? I’ve spent to much time being annoyed with the way I think things should be instead of being okay with the way things are. The only advice you will find on ways to prepare for Mercury in retrograde is to have the knowledge of accepting that you can’t stop Mercury and to adjust your reactions to the effects this time will have. So I have one more thing to become adjusted to. But seasons change and if I have to adjust to six inches of snow in March or my phone just dying because it feels like it, there’s always something to complain about. And what do they say, “When it rains it pours?” How about “When it winds it blows?” there’s still the SoCal sun so I can grow.

๐ŸŒฑ

Be

I am, or actually we are, 45 days into 2017. And I would just like it be over already. Within the scope of 45 days I have felt pretty much every emotion, it’s been a heavy year thus far. Most of theses emotions are self-inflicted , and I am still trying to figure out exactly how to navigate what I want to do with each of them. But instead of processing anything that I know I should be,ย  I sit here and I don’t feel like doing anything, just nothing. No reading, no yoga, no thinking, just being. And for me right now, a week after my 29th birthday, being is all I can be accountable for. I have thrown everything in the air and it has landed upside down around me and all I need to figure out is how to be. To be myself, to be strong, to be stable, to be stupid, to be something.

I thought that I had a pretty clear picture of what it was I wanted to be, until one day I didn’t. I woke up and saw everything for what it wasn’t, what I wanted it to be and how it didn’t turn out that way so I threw it all like caution to the wind. I thought that after I had thrown my life into turmoil that I would be able to breathe, and now that I am surrounded by the aftermath of my decisions I still cannot breathe. Sure I am breathing because I am living, I am here and I am aware. But I’m not here and I am only semi aware.

Maybe me trying to be requires that I take the steps to become aware. Or maybe I fly home and hide on my parents couch in 20 degree Western New York weather, maybe I need a distraction, maybe I don’t. Is figuring out how to be yourself a journey through maybes? Is that what I have done, entered myself into this self created labyrinth of maybes? I had spent so much of my time creating a place where I was sure, where I felt safe and secure. Until I didn’t. And instead of living in a world of what ifs I traded it all for maybes.

So what do I do with these maybes? What do I do with all of these emotions? I’m not exactly sure yet. But sitting here on my couch by myself wrapped in a blanket can only last for so long, until I decide to go back to yoga. When everything around me was created by the chaos within me then the only way to fix it is to go inside. Root down and rise up, lean on the strength of other souls so they can show you how strong your own soul is. Sweat out every tear that you think you have inside and try your hardest not to cry when you release the emotions that have settled in your hips (it is kind of embarrassing to cry in a crowded yoga class on a Monday afternoon I’ve learned). It’s 2017 and I am really, really over it, but it’s not done, and neither am I.

The Bills Make Me Want to…Cry

Well it is December once again. An Arctic front is once again hitting Western New York and the Buffalo Bills season is over. As a native of Upstate, my relationship with the Buffalo Bills has been contentious. I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY and pretty much like any other football town going to The Ralph on Sundays was just something that you did. In fact, some of my first football memories are from the mid 1990’s, when Buffalo had something to cheer for. But as much as it was disappointing, it was some of the greatest football memories I can think of. Actually, all Buffalo Bills home games are pretty memorable in their own right, but we’ll talk about that later. Since then, the Bills have been rebuilding for what seems like the last 25 years and as fans, we can only hope and pray that sooner or later Buffalo will get their shit together. We have kept the faith through Flutie Flakes, JP Losman, Doug Marrone just up and quitting, andย  Bon Jovi trying to take us to Toronto. Every year we would rally cry that “This would be our year! This year Buffalo is going to the Superbowl!” but it never happened, and Buffalo hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999.

I took some time away, I will admit it. I just couldn’t keep doing it to myself. Getting all excited every Fall for the start of a new football season and every Sunday just getting my Football heart getting crushed sometimes even before halftime. I wouldn’t even watch Bills games, missing them became easier since I moved to Los Angeles and couldn’t even get the Bills games on Sunday. Until one day we were saved, Terry & Kim Pegula came down from the heavens and saved us and the Bills from Bon Jovi and Toronto, beginning the era of “One Buffalo”.ย And it seemed that this new breath of Pegula life would be everything that Buffalo needed to grow into something that we had been waiting for. The Pegulas even gave us what they thought was a gift with a new head coach, Rex Ryan.

The beginning of the Rex Ryan’s tenure in Buffalo started just as you would think, with lots of talk, lots of personality and of course, lots of promises.Most of these promises included and long awaited trip to the playoffs in the 2016 season. They also included some new and noteworthy talent with the likes of a new quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and running power with LeSean McCoy. And we as fans, as the “Bills Mafia” were again giving our rally cry that “This would be our year! In Pegula we trust and Rex promised!” And what we got has been nothing short of ย smoke and mirrors promises. Rex has let us down in the worst way, because he has played on our hope, and he has let us down with bullshit challenges and no timeouts left after the two minute warning and losing games by a field goal, and it’s time we say goodbye to Rex and Rob for that matter.

So it is the end of the our season once again, and yes of course I know that they season isn’t over but we in Western New York know better. We know that once the weather turns, the season turns, if it hasn’t already. And there is something reassuring in that, we know as Bills fans where we stand. We stand with the best fans in the league, we stand with the best tailgates you will ever find in any stadium in the country, and we stand with hope that next season will be the year the Bills make it to the Superbowl.

The World Turned Upside Down

Last week I had walked into a Big Lots for the first time in a long time. I was in need of some paper plates and dog poop bags. As soon as I entered the store, Christmas smacked me in my whole face. It was everywhere, from candy to decorations, to Christmas kitchen items to dog costumes. I immediately felt bad for Thanksgiving. It just gets the shaft, rushed over and forgotten.Agreed that Thanksgiving has transformed into a holiday that is buried in commercialism; stores don’t even close anymore, forcingย  employees to miss the entire weekend with their families not just a Friday. And yes, Thanksgiving is a holiday with somewhat of a contentious history, but then again, what part of the United States history isn’t contentious. But I still felt bad, Thanksgiving had been reduced to a distant clearance corner inside Big Lots and it hadn’t even happened yet. With everything that has happened already this November, I can’t imagine rushing to the end of the year, freely falling into the unstable and unknown.

My fear of falling into the unknown followed me all the way to my yoga practice and has been taunting me for some time. In order to conquer this fear, I took the day off of work and participated in a yoga workshop given by a teacher that I take on a regular basis. During the opening sequences of our practice, the class focused on opening our chests and strengthening our spine; breathing intentions and focusing on our fears. The world is becoming unbalanced enough, my teacher had explained which is a vibe that has been a haunting theme in the everyday. He then mentioned the recent attention to this unbalance when the cast of Hamilton called out Vice-President Elect Mike Pence during a curtain call following a performance.It was the only political comment of the class, and it was taken with a passing laugh. In order to overcome that fear of being unbalanced, we had to adjust our “sunskaras” which is a sanskrit word for mental impression or habit, the order in whichย  you automatically cross your arms for example.In order to do that, we had to become aware of when our fear took over and adjust our reaction to that fear. Physically, this meant that as soon as we felt we were pass center we should bend our knees and land on the balls of our feet essentially in a wheel position.

When we focused back on finding balance while upside down,he went on to tell us that our spine has to be strong enough to find this balance; but subtle enough to adjust to the shock of falling. Our spine is the center of everything that is happening while trying to achieve an inversion. We spent a better chunk of the class flipping upside down and trying to hold various inversions including headstand, handstand and forearm balance. The ultimate goal, my teacher explained, is to not be afraid of falling out of an inversion, but to get frustrated that you did so. The goal, is to stay upside down, balance and be strong, getting over the fear of falling is just the first step.

By the time the class got to savassana I was exhausted. My arms were sore, my quads were screaming and I could not wait to lay down. Our savassana was extra long since our class was both extra long and hard on the nervous system. Once I had opened my eyes after giving gratitude for being able to practice that day, I felt light but grounded. I felt open and ready to be strong and stable in an unstable world.

Every Emotion, All in a Week.

I skipped my blog post last week. I was planning on writing a post Tuesday night no matter what happened but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I needed to take a collective breathe.And now it has been a full week of observation to this transition in history. It has been a mixture of disappointment, shock, and a test to issues and causes, institutions I believe in, family members and strangers relationships.

I had spent election night at work, watching history unfold in the side station by the service bar so I could see the T.V. This whole election season I have been one of the many that vocalized how “Trump could never become President,” I couldn’t fathom that when it truly came down to it, America would elect a Reality T.V. star to its highest office. But then states started and continuing to turn red and everyone around me started to panic. Since I was watching the election results at my job at a restaurant in Los Angeles, my coworkers, whom the majority of the them are Latina carried a specific anxiety with them all evening long. I came home and went to bed. I woke up the next morning as if I was a child who had been disappointed by every single one of their Christmas gifts. I made my coffee and I went to work, because that is something that will never change.

I reran the whole election cycle in my head. I closed my eyes and watched everything unfold as I brewed my coffee and I came to a grave and disappointing conclusion:America is obsessed with Reality T.V. From the establishment of villains, the heightened anticipation of conflict, to the very last minute of drama when John Podesta addressed the crowd and told everyone that Hilary would not be addressing the crowd and everyone should go home. Everyone ate it up like the best Housewives reunion ever. Donald Trump is perceived as one of the most successful businessmen on television. So America believed that and voted him into the oval office. I took a whole day to come to the realization.

The morning after there was a lull at the office. Everyone was either very over dramatic or very lethargic.The news of the election resonated throughout various corners of my family and friends, if anything FaceBook is a great reminder of that. The next day, I went to yoga class. My teacher spoke of accepting defeat, and allowing ourselves to work with the things we cannot change. She tried to apply these smalls pieces of advice to our yoga poses, but it was understood throughout the room that we could carry this advice with us once class was over. We laid on blocks to open our chests and our hearts. We used our legs and feet to find center and become balanced in an unstable world.

Once everyone was over the shock and disbelief of what had happened Tuesday night well into our Wednesday lunch break, protests began to break out in various pockets of the country including Los Angeles and New York. It was and continuous to be an emotional anger that will either be the catalyst to more participation in localized government and change or a further wedge in the division that has been a theme throughout this election cycle.

By the end of the week there was only one thing to look forward to and that was Dave Chappelle hosting SNL on Saturday. And after we were done crying because of Kate McKinnon’s cold open, it was worth the wait. He spoke truth and reminded us that we can laugh about our mistakes, change who we are and carry on. By Sunday, John Oliver made us laugh and then called the defeated to action. And that is important, so much of this election was convoluted by non fact and a misunderstanding of what our government could be. We use humor to pick ourselves up and learn to change our reaction to the things we cannot change.

And if all else fails we have those perfect Joe Biden memes.

The Gospel According to Saint Pablo

For the second time my boyfriend, Eric and I braved heavy traffic and long merchandise lines to go and see one of the artists we  share a love for, Kanye West. West was playing his second of five (afterwards West added a sixth show) concerts at The Forum in Los Angeles for his Saint Pablo Tour. The first time we had seen Yeezy he was playing at The Staples Center for his Yeezus tour (which was amazing, Jesus was there, it was a spiritual experience.) Once we parked our car, hid joints inside my bra, and bought all of our much coveted Pablo merchandise, we made our way down to the floor.

I had bought these tickets for Eric’s birthday at the beginning of August and the anticipation of the show had been building in our apartment ever since. Because we also had general admission floor seats for the Yeezus Tour, there was no way I could downgrade Eric to regular seats; especially since Kanye would be floating above the stage for the Saint Pablo Tour. There was no way, no how. In pure Kanye fashion, there was no opening act. Eric and I drank beer and watched the floor fill with all kinds of Kanye fans: celebrities, hip-hop fans, and my personal favorite teenagers with there moms. In fact, there were more teenagers there then I had ever expected to see, and their moms looked happy to hold their purses and stand against the wall while their teenage sons followed Kanye’s stage back and forth, side to side all while jumping and rapping every single lyrics. This is one of the few times that it is good to be a Ye fan,because most of the time I am defending why I am actually a fan. It is exhausting, to be honest, everyone wants to know WHY you are a Kanye fan, they want to know HOW you could be a Kanye fan. But then as the lights dipped low above us and started to brighten under Kanye’s feet, the question that I’m constantly trying to answer, surrounded by Ye haters, is answered and his music started.

He opened the show with Father Stretch my Hands Pt.1 the intro was extended and the audience vibrated with anticipation to start the song. When it did, and Kanye’s stage started to move, you knew why you were there, because everyone there was a fan of Kanye, everyone knew every word, everyone was on their feet and jumping (even the moms), following Kanye’s stage from one end of The Forum floor to the center, where Kanye was stationed for majority of the concert.

For the beginning of the show the music was the main focus, mostly because the lights were kept low, there was smoke and fog machines in every direction and Kanye was sort of an omniscient, invisible being that floated above us, making sure we enjoyed the music and the emotion of the people we were surrounded by. There were times when I couldn’t even see Kanye, he was just there, and that was all part of the planned experience. Because part of the vision is that we didn’t need to see him, we heard it and felt it blanket us in this world of bass, attitude and ego. If anything, the Saint Pablo tour is a live cultivation of Kanye’s relationship with his fans.

The first set of songs, which included both parts to “Father Stretch my Hands,” Nike diss track, “Facts,” “All Day,” Can’t Tell me Nothing” and his verse to “Don’t Like,” were an ode to this ego. It was the smart, sarcastic, Kanye with attitude, shown through songs and performances orchestrated by West. He even told the crowd when and how much to crowd the stage, made the crowd sing the opening lines to Famous, repeating his continuous dig at Taylor Swift, 3 times. It was the Kanye that everyone in the world hates, the arrogance and reason that most of us have to defend our fandom, and everyone there relished in the attitude.

The second set was a thought provoked transition that allowed Kanye’s attitude and ego to collide with his musical talent. The set list included, “Jesus Walks,” “Wolves,” “Flashing Lights,” Highlights” and ended with “Runaway”. In this set Kanye connected with the audience on that common love that we were sharing, which was the music.  He danced his own “kanye dance” around the floating stage and was feeding off the energy of the crowd.He had the audience sing the finishing verse of his song “Heartless” off of the “808s and Heartbreak” album. You could tell that Kanye was truly living his greatest dream right there, he laid his arms out, closed his eyes, and enjoyed hearing thousands of people singing his song. He enjoyed it so much, that he made the audience sing the same lines THREE times. (In my video you can hear Eric turn to me and say, “So fucking Kanye…too many times tho”.)

It was during the second set where Kanye stopped the concert and told everyone to move to the outside of the stage in order to see the screens playing for the people in the seats. What I thought would be a transition into a rant, perhaps about Jay-Z, or what has happened to his wife, or pretty much any kind of Kanye rant you would expect at one of his concerts. But that’s not what we got. What the audience received was a shorter version of the video Kanye had made for Kim on her birthday. It was a personal moment in the show for Kanye, who just stood on stage in the dark with his hands folded; while also giving the audience the perfect photo opportunity of him on stage, never one to miss an opportunity. The video concluded and Kanye moved into “Only One” a song written from the perspective of West’s late mother about his wife and daughter. This was the part of the show where West showed his sentimental side, if you can believe he even has one.

The third and final set of the show was then a thank you to everyone that had come out to see the show. He opened with the acappella “I Love Kanye”, a song that is aims to encompass everything Kanye knows and perceives about himself. He then transitioned into a range of songs that encapsulated his creativity with “Waves”, “All of the Lights” and “Fade”. West ended the show with “Ultra-Light Beam” the gospel track that opens the Pablo album. West ends the show with his stage moving towards the beam of light in the middle of the auditorium. Throughout the show, the stage moved from one end to another and then, side to side. The stage even leaned from side to side allowing West to be even more closer to fans. So when the stage started to move to what looked like it’s final resting place, playing to the song of “Ultra-Light Beam” it made the moment even louder, a grand final.

A Sexual Potato

Well it’s finally here, the end of the presidential election season. And yes, even though the president will be picked and the majority of America’s sad political understanding will die down; complaining and misinterpretations will continue to allow people to speak on things that they just don’t understand (there is always Facebook for that, and we thank you, Mark Zuckerberg). But one of the most disturbing issues in this election, a topic that I believe will out-live inauguration day, the first 100 days and perhaps continue its life well into the 2020 elections, is the issue raised about gender and more narrowly, sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, I have in some context or another been sexually harassed since puberty. Cat called while walking down the street is probably the oldest form of this that I can remember. There is always someone trying to grab my ass when I go to a bar. There is almost always a man that doesn’t want to believe that you would like nothing to do with him, and then tells you that you are the problem. Since I am not a huge bar scene kind of gal, this type of harassment is far and few between but I will bet a dollar that it happens every time.Most recently however the most sexual harassment I encounter on a consistent basis is at my job serving food. This is a constant in my life and honestly I don’t think it is unfortunate. I take these comments and use my reaction to make myself a stronger person, a stronger woman actually. And although while some men have “locker room talk” with the misconception that women have the same kind of conversations, we don’t, I recently, while at my job walked into the very kind of conversations women do have about men.

I had been serving a table of six women who were celebrating a birthday. We had just sang “Happy Birthday” and the woman was opening her gifts, I approached the table to serve coffee.ย  These women, who were celebrating their friend’s 80th birthday, were discussing recent comments made by our Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, to which he refers to sexually harassing women as “locker room banter“.ย  As I approached the table with the tray of coffee I heard one of them say, “It really is disgusting but they talk about women that way”, to which her friend replied, “well of course they do. Men talk like that all the time.” These are the moments when I would love to know a.) What my face actually looks when I approach a table and b.) How to change the expression on my face because I have an issue where I am terrible at hiding the emotion that sits on my forehead. I didn’t say anything, then one of the women looked at me and said, “I bet no one sexually harasses you in that outfit.” Now my workย  uniform is no way flattering. It is a potato sack, not a literal potato sack but it does nothing for me and I don’t love it, so. It is a potato sack. I smiled at her in spite of myself.”Actually Ma’am it happens all the time.” And that is both the truth and sad, because the majority of the people I work with are women and if it isn’t happening to me it’s happening to one of them.

These are a few of the examples we hear:

“I would like to eat a (side dish) off of your tits.”

“Happy Birthday too you.” “Now strip!”

“You should work in Texas all the servers have big boobs in Texas.”

Dressed as a potato.

And of course you tell a superior maybe they kick them out, maybe they change servers depending on the comment, but most of the time no one says anything. It doesn’t really get any better after someone says something like that to you.Especially in a business where you depend on that jerk to give you money after all of it. If I choose to complain and lose the tip or the table its money out of my pocket.

Although it doesn’t bother me, and I may be immune to comments of that nature, they are still hanging above me in a form of control when I am in the workplace. It is the kind of environment that women face everyday no matter what they have on. And yes, it may be said that men talk like this because they always have. But maybe it is time that we stop allowing them to.