Sinte

As you know, I started drumming a couple years ago to fill the void that leaving African dance left. My community is so positive, interested, earnest, inquisitive, and joyful that I forced my body to “fight through it” far longer than Fibromyalgia wanted me to.

When I left African, I felt like a failure. I was lazy, something was wrong with me – something else, something real, something wanting in my nature, not my body. My body was always strong. I’m young. If I “can’t” do it, it’s because I’m not eating right. I’m still partying. I’m just not talented enough.

Yes, that’s all true. I’d be better at African if I’d stop all those things, but I could still hang. African dance wore me so bare, I was my authentic self. I didn’t want to let it go.

I decided to listen.

I started drumming, to keep my tie with the community. I began belly dance lessons. That’s the recipe. Drum for the beautiful people of SLC African Drum and Dance. Move your body elsewhere, somewhere gentler, more lyrical, equally challenging. Belly dance is the perfect fit, and there’s so much room for me to level up!

I give myself permission to have autoimmune disease.

Today, we played Sinte in class. We don’t do that so often, and I’m not that good. Drumming is hard! I ask for the simplest background rhythm and hold on for dear life.

But Quinn pushed me. “You know this!”

“Okay!” I agreed. It was deep down somewhere, back when I was taking lessons.

I know this!

I remembered the dance. So much in me wanted to rise up with the dancers. I could feel it in my body, and I did remember once – long ago – learning the rhythm in Quinn’s class.

By damn, I figured it out! It was a huge high, and I barely held on. I did well enough that when I fell off the beat, he harassed and teased me. (If I sucked utterly, he’d correct me and continue to lead.) I laughed a lot today.

It was a great break from the pain of Cricket’s emergency 2 days ago.

Cricket is at the end of her life. Of course I know that. She’s 14 years old in September, OBESE, and sick with random everything all her life, that sweet alien. A respectable, healthy feline life is 12-15 years. She’s given everything she has. More.

I have a vision. Perhaps it’s selfish. I just want to keep my kitty until the first cold snap. I want to build a fire in our forever home, their last home, and cuddle with them by the fire. I want to love my girls by the hearth of our home.

After that, whenever she’s ready to go, I’m ready, too. I want Lap of Love to put her gently to sleep on her own pillow, while I thank her for spending her unexpectedly long life with me. Please don’t die under my bed tonight, in pain and frightened, blind from ketoacidosis. Let me hold you in my arms by the fire.

“Thank you for being my baby. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my sister. You’re my baby. You’re my weird, interspecies lover. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you making me a mother. Thank you for teaching me love.”

I feel guilty. I can see that she’s tired. She used to be so grabby, I had to be careful not to get scratched when I took my hand away from a long spell of affection and sweet talk. Now, all the the strength she has to to give is the flick of her tail. And she gives it.

She gave me her everything.

Hold on, sweet love. I’m not asking for long. I know you’re ready to go.

Please give me a cold snap of weather. I want to snuggle by the fire.

My Cricket is dying. cricket in the er
cricket in the er 2

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African Kicked My Ass

It was awesome!

We played 2 rhythms I don’t know, though we started class with one that has a standard accompaniment I am familiar with. There are 2 basic parts that carry through most rhythms. Usually, one or the other pattern supports the harder accompaniment, and Quinn, who solos and holds us all together.

The second rhythm knocked me out! Quinn had to modify it so I could keep up. I wasn’t the only one, thank god, but man! My hands, arms, and shoulders are aching now!

Typically, 4 or 5 drummers make up that week’s corp. Today, we had 6 on djembe and a full dunun section behind us! (3 separate standing drums and rhythms, as opposed to the one regular fella who plays a version – ballet style – that blends what the 3 drums would do together. Sorry, can’t explain it better than that.) I can’t tell you what it feels like to have that music pulsing through your body, buzzing from head to toe and shaking every cell! It’s as though you can feel the space outside of your skin.

On the drive home, at high noon, a murmuration of starlings danced overhead. It was directly above me at one stop, and so big that you could watch it in the sky as the shadow surrounded you beneath. It felt like the refracted light of crystals in a sunny room, landing on you, teasing you. I felt like I did in class, like I was part of something bigger than myself, like touching the space outside of me, being part of it.

ballet style

Dunun for one, known as Ballet Style

dunun

What we had today! L – R: Dununba, Sangban, Kenkeni with attached bells … You can get a lot more sound behind and around, with 3 people on 2 rhythms each.

Cedars of Lebanon

I danced for the first time last night at Cedars of Lebanon, a gorgeous, high-end Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown Salt Lake. If felt great to get the first performance behind me, and I’ll definitely be returning!

cedars of lebanon

Shahravar’s sleeve gives me the most fantastic belly dance booty!

beginning bellies

Beginning Bellies!

And this morning I finally made it back to African! It felt so good reconnecting with my community. I really feel like all of me is back, like the girl with Jax – even before I got sick – just pushed Christie out of the way. I never imagined I’d be the kind of girl to ameliorate to the point of disappearing, for a relationship.

I really just love my African dance community. The welcome I received there nearly brought me to tears. I feel loved. Rosie, our instructor, shouted my name when I walked in, so loudly that the dancers looked up from the din of conversation. My friends ran to me. I was embraced by these beautiful women whose ups and downs have been supported by this group, and who’ve certainly seen me through mine.

“I love it when you’re here!” Rosie said, hugging me. “You have the best energy!”

I can’t tell you how wonderful that was to hear from old friends, people who know me, after a month spent with the stabbing, echoing words of Jax’s cruel wife.

I didn’t realize how deeply she cut, or how lasting was the wound. It was, after all, absurd. Carrie doesn’t know me, and it was her energy she revealed, not mine. In any case, all I felt was luuuuv, and then we pounded that shit for an hour and a half!

Korejuga, my favorite rhythm! How timely was that?

I’m really happy right now. It feels good to write that.

Guitar Army

Last time I was in City Weekly, I unwittingly got drunk next to a reporter and told “rambling stories about [my] cats.” Our local urban rag is famous for its annual Best Of Awards, and the day it came out, FOUR people slapped the mag down in front of me.

“Christie! You got in the paper!” Unnamed, it could have been no one else.

From 2004 – when Penny unexpectedly started my family, joined 2 months later by Cricket – to 2007, I think I talked of nothing else! Our bartender and friend once said to my boyfriend, “I’ve never heard anyone talk about their cats so much, in my life.”

I believe no one ever has.

Twilight Lounge (my Cheers) won Best Assorted Clientele back then. “On any given night,” the writer quipped, “the pickled regulars might be swapping dirty jokes or telling…” said rambling stories. Pickled. Perfect!

****

This incarnation of band life is a mission by my friend, Wild Bill, to sing or play Ode to Joy in every time zone at 7pm Thursdays, so the sun will be greeted by healthy vibrations of happy intention every week, every where, as Earth cycles by. He has mathematical equations worked into the whole theory and, really, it’s the least we can do from our little outpost of the universe.

What I’m loving about it is that, rather than sing a whole set myself, I do a song or 2 between other musicians’ set ups, when I sit down again to actually jam. I’ve never understood what that really is. It goes far beyond the how of it. Coming from musical theatre, I speak rehearsal. What is that that musicians are doing who sit together, unknown? A foreign language, that’s what!

I’m speaking my first faltering words and phrases!

So far, so good, 2018. I’m the freakin’ drummer!
city weekly

 

Best Laid Plans

Finally, after more than a year-long absence, I was going back to African dance. My body can’t do the hard-pounding moves anymore – belly dance is absolutely filling that void – but I miss the community and I miss the music.

I was so excited to drum again! As I approached the theater, I saw an old friend and started giving him shit. “No, no,” I harassed him. “Turn it around. We don’t take riff raff.”

“Why are you bringing your djembe?” he asked.

I laughed and carried on.

“No, really,” he continued. Literally, in years of knowing this dude, I’ve never had a serious conversation with him.

“Wait, what?” I asked.

“This is the Congolese workshop. Makaya [et all] is here.”

“Ah, crap,” I stopped. “See you next week.”

He tried to get me to join them, but I had the wrong drum. He was sure they had extras, but I hadn’t been there all week. Once upon a time, I did brave a weekend camp with African dancers, including Makaya, but there’s no way I would dare drum with Africans! (I took a beginning beginners class with a guy from Guinea at that camp and held my own, but let me emphasize beginning. And I’d been studying for a year with Quinn, who’s legit, trained in Africa and India, drumming for 20+ years.)

I’ve danced in these culmination classes. They’re performances for the students and teachers, as well they should be. For some reason, I’m not averse to flailing on the dance floor. I’m terrible, but when I mess up I can laugh at myself and get back on track. Or just keep laughing and moving, getting high on endorphins and community.

Oh, I do miss African! I was part of that community for years. If I’d brought money, I might have risked a Fibro flare just to throw down on the dance floor. Instead, I came home to cuddle up with my cats and write to you all.

I’m satisfied. Someone’s purring on my tummy, another next to my head. >^..^<

Halloween Capers

and Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been taking a Community Ed class at East High here in Salt Lake. Quinn decided on a break from teaching djembe [that threatens to be a long-term shift], and I needed focus and music in my life. I’m not terrifically self-directed, so I pulled my old guitar out of the garage and started again with Beginning Beginners. I love it.

My wrist has not complained like it did when I dusted off my rusty, twanging dreams 4 years ago, when my real journey with Fibro began. I definitely feel it, but pain patches and yoga really seem to be taking care of me for now. LARGE BLESSINGS!

My body is my own again!

It’s clear that the janitors come during our class, because every week when I leave, the halls simply sparkle. For some reason [I’m weird], last week I got the idea to leave notes for the cleaners. I giggled and giggled dreaming up my caper and yesterday, I finally played out my little impish frolic. I ducked around a corner every time I heard someone approach, then re-emerged to post another note. No explanation can capture the why of this, or how hard I had myself laughing.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween is my FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

2011

Redhead Costume Idea … FIRE Itself!

second-floor

thank-you

“Excellent Work!” “Wonderful Job!”

Skinny Was My Superpower

And I ate everything!

I learned that some girls in my school had what they called “The Christie’s Thigh Diet,” because my legs didn’t “splat” when I sat down in my cheerleading outfit.

So I ate more. To show off.

Well, 40+ happens to everyone, ha! I bought a car on September 1st and gained 19 lbs. in 4 months. (9 years on a bike, and damned proud!)

I am 5’6(-)” and 159.6 lbs! I think 5 lbs/mo. is healthy weightloss. I’d like to reach 130 by Summer, and stay there this time.

When I got home from Spain last year I was 129 lbs. But, you know, being held captive and fed once a day will do that to you. I told my best friend that “The Brian and Chrissy [forced] Diet” was more effective than the one those girls named after me in high school, and at least one good thing had come from the trip.

But my visit triggered dormant PTSD, which triggered a loooong binge, and I ate everything. I finally got it under control after 6 months or so and held steady at 140-145, not minding if I did or didn’t lose weight.

So that’s what I’m doing this New Year’s. Diet and exercise, like everyone else. I don’t mind being average. 🙂

And quit smoking. (For good! 20 YEARS in May! Unacceptable.)

I quit Diet Pepsi in October! Hey!

I expect Salt Lake Power Yoga to bring me back to my athletic body and relieve the newly unremitting pain of Fibromyalgia. (Since Spring, 2015 was spent in constant pain, with a week to 10 days off here and there. It was aching, exhausting, and extremely challenging to retain my signature enthusiasm. Before this year, I never considered medication. Now I’m studying.) (It seems awful. I really hope to keep it natural, and controlled.)

I have to say, I hide weight well. It’s pretty evenly distributed. It’s like everything just puffed. I got as much back fat as I did boobs but they fill an A cup now, so there’s that.

Oh, guess what else happened in 2015? Psoriasis. *sigh*

Coconut oil seems to help, but I’m still finding new patches every so often (since November). I’m hoping to avoid steroids or immune suppressors.

I’ll continue djembe lessons and drum for dance classes. I’m joining a guitar class on the 13th. I’m anxious. That’s what began my journey with Fibro 4 years ago. Refamiliarizing myself with chords and frets, I developed pain in my left wrist until it seized up to the point of requiring a cortisone injection to move freely again without screaming agony that woke me up nights. Other joints joined in, but only the left big toe needed cortisone. None of those joints is 100% now, and that wrist is particularly moody, but not unbearable.

I have to try. I want to play and sing! I want to write shitty music.

Life is strange. I would have thought it untenable, my reality. My body hurts. I’m tired and lack endurance. Aching like I do – worse and worse, in ever-new muscles and junctions, then finding scaly patches of goddamned skin that spread and won’t go away – is very frustrating. And I like my life. Huh. tough

Everyone has something. Some people have lots of somethings.

Okay.

Hope you’re rollin’ with it and having a good time, too.
Blessings in 2016.blessing