It’s not that I hate summer, but I find August to be draining. Send help. And fans.
SOMETHING I’M LISTENING TO: GEORGE CLINTON AND PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC
Okay, full disclosure: I have not been spending a lot of time listening to George Clinton recently. Truth be told, my current playlist is almost exclusively newer music. That said, I’m a big believer in paying homage to those pioneers who paved the way for others. George Clinton is one of those legendary pioneers.
He was already old when I was young, so when I saw he was coming back to town this summer, I messaged my friend and told him we had go. George Clinton tours endlessly, but you just never know these days. (Moral of the story: buy those concert tickets!) I have always been a funky girl, all the way back to my formative roots listening to The Jackson 5 and Marvin Gaye. The Isley Brothers was my first real concert at what is now Seattle’s Key Arena and Prince was my main man from pre-Purple Rain days to now. I had heard Clinton’s shows were extravagant, fantastic funk-fests and I was ready.
We got to the venue just as Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic took the stage. No opener, just straight up Godfather of Funk from the get-go. And there he was, centerstage, draped in some sort of appropriately regal white robe. I didn’t recognize the song, but it didn’t matter. Clinton was the conductor, a grand master of ceremonies, around which a full stage of musicians jammed. Horns, guitars, backup singers, keyboards, rappers–never fewer than a dozen people on stage. It was a loud, glorious spectacle to behold. I turned to my friend and excitedly yelled into his ear, “It’s just gonna be a two-hour jam session!” And it was, mostly. The crowd was wonderfully diverse and danced like fools, dripping with sweat. It was a happy place and we all knew we were witnessing something special. Clinton had a chair onstage and he frequently sat back and enjoyed the youngin’s in his band take over without a break in the action or drop in energy.
And then the solos happened.
Am I the only one who dreads long, extended solos in the middle of a concert? Is it because I’m not a musician? Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve hated that moment in a show where the drummer/guitarist/pianist/trombonist takes it away and showcases Their Stuff. I understand that it gives the rest of the band a break and I appreciate that. I also appreciate musicians and their talent. I really do. But lord oh mighty. These solos seemed endless. I knew going in that George and P-Funk play for nearly two and a half hours, non-stop. That’s a lot. I get it. My feet hurt, too. But to spend at least thirty minutes of that set on solos–guitar, singers, drums, horns–seemed to bring the funky energy to a dead halt. I began to fantasize about leaving early and getting home and in bed by midnight. And just when it sounded like a solo was winding down and I got my hopes up–NO! It kept going. And going. I was tired and sad, but he hadn’t played Atomic Dog yet, so I was held hostage. We were all held hostage.
Also, encores. A few artists these days are eschewing formal encores and instead playing a wonderfully long and fantastic set and saying goodbye without the requisite clapping and cajoling with the band going offstage and then oh look! here they are again and yay they’ll play their big hit now and we’ll all leave satisfied. I support that trend. Clinton and his band did go off and come back again with his fabulous Parliament Funkadelic and play Atomic Dog. And yeah, in the end I was glad I made it through the solos and sore feet and finally got the chance to experience this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in his element. I may have even put Atomic Dog on my current playlist.
SOMETHING I’M COOKING: NOTHING, EXCEPT POPSICLES
I mean, is anyone actually cooking during this heat? When I see the weather forecast with nothing but mid-80’s and 90’s for the foreseeable future, I stock up on salad greens, fruit, yogurt and ready-made proteins like rotisserie chicken and marinated shrimp. Simple, healthy, easy meals with zero cooking required. Maybe even some cold rice noodle salads with peanut sauce and marinated cucumbers. But yeah, I don’t turn on the oven when the house is already registering 80 degrees. But when I was out shopping for said hot-weather items I thought about a sweet, cool treat that wouldn’t be problematic like ice cream but still hit the spot. I thought of popsicles. When I got to the frozen food aisle, I loved the fact that there were so many non-dairy frozen fruit bar varieties. Every imaginable fruit, simply made, refreshing as hell. I brought home two boxes of Outshine popsicles–watermelon and coconut.
No one else in this house will have anything to do with coconut, so I tried that one first. It was delicious, creamy and coconutty, but with the addition of strands of coconut meat. Now, I don’t mind the texture of coconut like some folks do, but in a popsicle? Not the greatest. I was hoping for something straight-up smooth and instead I kept having to chew the coconut and pull it out of my teeth. I loved the flavor though, and the thought of “creamy coconut and lime” flew through my brain and out the other side. I reeled that thought back in and did a little research. How easy would it be to make my very own coconut-lime popsicles? Very, very easy, it turns out. So easy, in fact, that I’ll save you the effort of having to click on a link and tell you right here that all it takes is a can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice, about a teaspoon or so of lime zest, 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Blend it all up in a blender, don’t even bother to strain it and pour the whole mess into your popsicle molds.(This makes about six popsicles.) SO GOOD. And no annoying strands of coconut messing with your refreshment. As it frequently happens, I’m now obsessed with my latest endeavor and am dreaming up all manner of homemade popsicles. I even ordered additional molds so I can try a bunch of different flavors without waiting to eat up the others. Coming up: banana-cardamom. I expect it to be epic.
SOMETHING I’M DOING: GETTING “GOOD” AT YOGA
Yeah, this is something I hear a lot. “If I just keep practicing, one day I’ll be good at yoga.”
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?
A few months ago, I saw a meme circulating around social media that said “You know your yoga is working when your life gets better, not when your yoga gets better.” I wholeheartedly agree.
I have had a regular yoga practice for nearly twenty years. In that time, I’ve sought after advanced poses, achieved them, lost them, mourned them and never found them again. My life did not suffer because I couldn’t find my balance again in crow or handstand. But has my life improved because of my yoga practice? Oh hell yes.
Yoga is a relationship between my body and myself. It asks me to see myself as I am, not as how I pretend to be or how others tell me I am. When our Kardashian-obsessed culture tells me that I should feel ashamed and apologetic for my softer, rounder body, my yoga practice shows me everything this fantastic body is capable of and I laugh in the face of shame. It has shifted my relationship with my belly, my gut, from one of disgust to one of respect and admiration. I now trust and listen to those wise “gut feelings”. When I still hear the endless loops of labels others have placed on me–timid, fearful, not-athletic–my yoga practice bears witness to my unshakeable courage and strength. I stand taller. I walk into rooms confident, regardless of whether I’ve gained or lost five or more pounds.
My yoga practice is working because I understand that there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide on my mat. Sometimes it’s joyous, other times, weepy. But in the end, I see myself as I am in brilliant honesty, warts and all. It helps me process complex emotions and hopefully holds me accountable for my own shit, rather than project it onto the people I love most. It reminds me that we are all broken and beautiful in a myriad of ways.
Because of all this, I wish everyone had a yoga practice. Yeah, you’ll get stronger and more flexible. You might never get into full splits or Lotus or Bound Extended Flying Squirrel Pose (I made that one up) but I’d wager a good amount of money that you’ll wake up one day in a better life.
See you next week, beauties.