Thursday, January 19, 2012

Of SOPA and Whale-Song

First off, if you haven't written your representatives about SOPA/PIPA yet, please do so now. Yesterday was the day of action but I won't fault you for getting on the bandwagon late. I will wait. .....welcome back.  Thank you for helping us all live outside of an Orwellian nightmare. Compliments of I have included this educational animated gif. would like you to know pirating this is a-ok by them.

Now that we are all back and have participated in the great democratic process, I was at the Bikram studio in Rome... hmmm? Yes, Rome, lovely city. Very sweet little studio. Okay, enough pretending to be all continental and stuff. I WENT TO ROME! And did YOGA THERE! It was awesome. It was also over a year ago, so I am getting rather nostalgic about it and I figured I would share. 

If you have been to the studio in Rome, or are a regular, please refrain from rolling your eyes at this American yahoo who did everything she could to blend in. This included wearing nicer clothing, putting on make-up and trying my best to speak Italian. To say I am bad at languages is to say that a child of seven is bad at communicating via whale-song to a hump-back.*  I took three years of Spanish and a Spanish language course as an adult, never once progressing beyond Spanish 2. To my credit, I can order a beer in Portuguese and Korean, and learned to order red house wine in Italian. Once back from my trip I forgot that one though. Mock-Chu Chu-say-oh is far more engrained because Koreans, in my experience, drink even more than Italians. 

Three Years of Spanish One

So, with my limited repertoire of, "House red wine, please," "Where is the bathroom, please?," "I do not speak Italian. PLEASE, do you speak English?" and, the Swiss army-knife of phrases, "Sorry, excuse me, please!," the phrase "twist your arms like wet ropes" was a wee past my linguistic capabilities. Fortunately, there is one English class taught each week at the Rome studio! Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a very large bowl of pasta while it was being conducted. I, much to the relief of The Boy, managed to carve out some time between wine and pasta bowls on day two. I say, "much to his relief" because I am very bad at relaxing. It seems this skill is not well suited for me. When I went to visit my friend in Portland, the land of retired 20-somethings, I was confronted with such a lack of anxiety it made me anxious. I wanted to shake every bearded man I met and ask him how on earth he thought he would live out his old age without a 401k. Granted, I do not have a 401k, but at least I have the good common sense to fret over it until I have ulcers.** So, when visiting Rome, The Boy knew it would take a while of twitching until I got used to a vacation's pace. 

He was a good sport as, for 24 hours, I rushed him past fantastic ruins to walk to...nowhere. That's right. We walked roughly 12 miles that first day. He tried to stop maybe 5 times as we passed giant monoliths of history. Tried. I would pace back and forth like a caged animal until he put his camera away and continued the walk/run pace I had set for us. On day two we decided he would catch a bite to eat and grab some wine while I took a cab to The Vatican and walked to the studio from there. I charged to the studio and began to unwind. 

At the front desk, I established right away that I did not speak Italian but had done this before and would do my best to follow whatever the teacher told me. They were so nice to me. One of the ladies, not the teacher I would have, spoke a little English and we mimed the rest -- she was happy to have me, I was grateful to be here, etc, etc. 

I was starting to feel grounded, partially from the sudden familiarity (it felt a little like discovering you have a relative in the area), partially from my independent foray (proving that separating from The Boy wouldn't equate to being instantly nabbed by the Italian Secret Service and held indefinitely for a crime I did not commit unbeknownst to the outside world). I set up in the room, nodded to the nice Romans I would be taking class with and got down to savasana. The class went really well, considering I could understand nothing. I moved from one pose to the next in time with the rest of the room, focusing on myself but feeling the general flow from one pose to the next. I thought I was doing pretty good. 

I was just in the middle of thinking how very good this was going when I noticed the teacher was getting very loud. We were folded forward in separate leg stretching. As I looked between my legs I could see that her, now overly enunciated, words were quite possibly meant for me. Oh dear. She walked toward me repeating the same phrase over and over, each time pulling her lips away from her teeth in a more exaggerated manner. In my head, it was just a more precise version of Charlie Brown's teacher, "WAH-wah-wah-wah-wa." I tried pulling my head closer to the mat, "WAH-wah-wah-wah-wa." I tried pigeon toeing more, "WAH-wah-wah-wah-wa." I moved my elbows closer to my knees, "WAH-wah-wah-wah-wa!" Finally realizing that she was in the presence of a seven-year-old attempting whale-song translation, she spoke the three magic words in English "Lock your knees." AHHHHH!!! I should have guessed. I locked my knees. She smiled and flipped right back to Italian. 

For the rest of the class, the only other mistake I made was to get into final stretching when we were supposed to be getting into rabbit. Wishful thinking. The nice Roman next to me gave me a little nod to her folded legs, as opposed to my strait ones, and I got the message before any Italian need be uttered. All in all, it was a lovely experience. The studio is great, with a little zen fountain by the changing rooms and the staff were accommodating. Besides, you can say you practiced IN ROME. I am fairly certain you get like +30 Cool Points and at least a bazillion Provincial Points for that.

* If Science Officer Spock had a hard time I assume it is exceedingly difficult for a seven-year-old.

** If I have told that story before, please forgive me, I am still working through the trauma.

This is for Dalia, who learned to talk to her whale today. See comments if you are confused.


  1. Awesome simile/image of the little girl shouting at the whale... I will be giggling about that for a while.

    (Also, awesome in general...)

    1. Aww! Thank you! Not much of a stretch Im afraid. Replace the whale with some Italian bloke and you've got a Kodak image of me in Rome.

  2. Just because I have no one else that will understand my elation, I had a small victory tonight, and I had to tell someone! In class, I have always felt like I have t-rex arms. I have never once been able to grab my heels in rabbit and get a grip. Alas, everyday, I go, I try, and I fail. Until today! I immediately thought of the little girl trying to talk to the whale, as that is how I have felt when everyone else elegantly grabs their heels and I struggled.....Today, I spoke to the whale. :)

    1. HOLY CRUD!!! DALIA THAT IS AWESOME! Congratulations! I dub thee, "Whale Whisperer!" :D It seems I can't post pictures in the reply section. Look back up at the post. The update is for you. :)

    2. Awe! Thank you so much! I shall have to have "Whale Whisperer" embroidered into my mat. It is no longer a 'rabbit flap' - but a whale tail :)