Proust had his madeleine, what about you?

In San Francisco last month, I had a mini reunion with a couple of old writing-group friends. Over dinner, the conversation turned to travel and hometowns and memories of “place.” Doug, who grew up in Los Angeles when it was full of orchards, said, “What I remember about LA is the smell of orange and lemon blossoms. And hillsides covered with wild fennel.” A moment later, he said, “You know the smell of Coppertone? Late in the day, hours after you’d gone to the beach, you could still catch the scent of Coppertone and feel the heat of the sun … Continue reading Proust had his madeleine, what about you?

What professionalism means to me

A few months ago, I had a little falling-out with my massage therapist. While temporary and amicable, it made me consider the meaning of professionalism. I met “Jane” in early 2010, when I decided to treat myself to massage (among my favorite splurges). She had her quirks, but I appreciated her long experience, unpretentious personality, and reasonable rates. To me she was like a well-meaning, goofy aunt, whose idiosyncrasies I let slide. For example, she’s routinely late. Not 10 or 15 minutes, but up to 45 minutes or more. She drives to Vancouver from Port Moody and something always delays her: … Continue reading What professionalism means to me

Did Seacret work for me? You bet! Well…

A post I wrote last August, Was I suckered by the Seacret saleslady?, is my biggest hit: highest average click rate and longest shelf life. Clearly, my experience with Seacret’s aggressive sales pitch (and apparently with the allure of satiny smooth cuticles) resonated with people worldwide. Even those who have never heard of Seacret can empathize with buyer’s remorse and second guessing. Whenever I check my “Site Stats,” this post ranks in the top five. Thanks, Seacret, for boosting my daily numbers! One commentator introduced an idea I hadn’t expected: Reynold urged others not to buy Seacret products because they’re made by … Continue reading Did Seacret work for me? You bet! Well…

Simplify, simplify, and get rid of unnecessary stuff

Glancing through my computer files in March, I couldn’t find my Lonely Planet archive folder. I looked everywhere. It was gone. That folder contained files from LP books I’ve written since 2005. While I lost nothing urgently necessary (or necessary at all, really), it was disconcerting to lose so many documents, so much history. What if I ever need that stuff? Well, chances are, I won’t. I keep tons of unnecessary things: Clothes and shoes I never wear. Photocopies, old bills, and other paper clutter. My old iMac and iBook (no time to wipe out the hard drives for computer recycling). … Continue reading Simplify, simplify, and get rid of unnecessary stuff

Bloom where you’re planted?

Hilo rains are unpredictable. So my parents and I took advantage of a sunny day and headed toward Volcano. Before reaching Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, we stopped at my dad’s farm lot, a lifetime “project” that stocked our household with bananas, pineapples, jaboticaba, and much more. We then visited a sightseeing attraction among Japanese tourists, Akatsuka Orchids since my dad knows Moriyasu Akatsuka, who founded the company in the 1970s and grows gorgeous orchids for sale worldwide. I read this sign near a display. It brought to mind the potted orchids I see in random garden shops and corner grocers. Most of low-priced … Continue reading Bloom where you’re planted?

My love-hate relationship with structure

In early April, I visited my parents in Hawai‘i for a week. Ah, fresh Kapoho Solo papaya, my childhood bedroom, backyard orchids, pouring rain. (I love the drumbeat of raindrops at night.) I brought my computer and two books, but ended up doing only essential work and asana. Instead I switched to Hilo mode vis a vis my parents. One predictable thing at home is “the news”: In the morning they read the local dailies, Hilo’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald and the statewide Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Before they go to bed (and sometimes at dinner time), they watch local TV news. Don’t get … Continue reading My love-hate relationship with structure

No comments?! Blogging as karma yoga

I don’t get it. Why do some blogs generate dozens of comments (and shares and likes), while others sit pristine like wallflowers? Bloggers can check click rates to see if anyone’s reading. But what if people are reading but not commenting? What does that mean? And why should I care? Before I launched my blog in 2009, I’d never read yoga blogs, as I discussed in The Wide World of Yoga Blogs.  I just wanted to organize my free-floating thoughts about yoga. I was curious to see if I could sustain my stream of thoughts or if the well would … Continue reading No comments?! Blogging as karma yoga

So many books, so little time

Vancouver’s indie Book Warehouse is closing its West Broadway location (sigh). All stock is discounted 25%. I was tempted by 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die*, a 960-page reference edited by Peter Boxall, English professor, University of Sussex. But the sheer number put me off. It’s probably impossible to read all 1,001 selections, but I crunched the numbers anyway. If I read 25 books a year, it would take 40 years. If I rack up a staggering 50 books a year, it would take 20 years. Actually, popular blogger Steve Pavlina made a compelling argument for this very goal, Read … Continue reading So many books, so little time

Anger management 101

Outside my yoga life, I’m a writer and editor. Recently, as managing editor of a top peer-reviewed journal on urban planning, I observed a professor’s angry reaction to negative reviews. Actually, she was lucky. The editor didn’t reject her manuscript but gave her the option to “revise and resubmit.” But, almost immediately after receiving her decision letter, she asked us to withdraw the paper, adding exasperated remarks about the reviewers’ misguided opinions. In academic publishing, it’s rare to pull a paper that’s still viable. She was obviously acting emotionally. In day-to-day life, I witness miscellaneous bursts of anger: Impatient diners at … Continue reading Anger management 101

The challenge to my intelligence

Years ago I discovered Lydia Davis‘s fragmentary short stories. While extremely brief and lacking standard beginning-middle-end structure, they were strangely compelling. Recently I was reminded of her: the title of my last post, “The End of the Story,” is the title of her only novel. For fun I Googled her name and found an interesting 2008 interview in The Believer. When asked about how Samuel Beckett‘s writing influenced her, she responded: I came to Beckett very early on and was startled by his pared-down style. As I practiced writing (in my early twenties), I actively studied his way of putting sentences … Continue reading The challenge to my intelligence

The end of the story

The other day, waiting at a bus stop, I noticed a well-dressed man racing to catch his bus. The last passenger was already boarding, and drivers are notorious for zooming off. A few onlookers turned to see whether he caught it. (He did.) That’s human nature, I thought to myself: We want to know what happened. If I get halfway through a disappointing book or dud movie, I often forge through to the end, for closure. If I hear an anecdote, I’m especially curious to know the end result. Obituaries (or even, forgive me, the name-dropping New York Times Wedding/Celebrations … Continue reading The end of the story

Pranayama, sleep, and other New Year’s resolutions

In the late 1990s, I took to yoga asana without a second thought. My body immediately loved it. I initially attended three to five classes weekly. My little apartment, with carpet and cat, wasn’t ideal for home practice, but I eventually appropriated a floor and wall space at the UC Berkeley rec center for my practice. Pranayama is another animal. Stillness, physical or mental, is not second nature to me. I’ve attended classes and done some reading on pranayama over the years. But adding breath work to my current two-hour asana practice simply hasn’t happened. The immaculate expanse of a … Continue reading Pranayama, sleep, and other New Year’s resolutions