St. Patrick’s Day, Egyptian Style

swag

Got my green swag!

group photo

heading upstairs to dance at SpringFest

I spent the day eating real Greek food, watching the real dancers (We were, like, 2 dances after the 5-yr-olds) and hanging out with my friend, who vends at the festival.

I felt an obligation to get my Irish drink on, but I was so tired I took a nap and woke up at 9:00pm (!), not remotely interested in fighting for a seat on St. Patrick’s Day.

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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.

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. >^..^<

All Strong Women Are Called Bitch

nasty-womanI woke up Friday morning, suddenly aware that my belief that election stress hadn’t gotten to me was, in fact, a coping strategy to hide from what now feels very much like trauma! It broke my heart to see how disconnected I’d become from my emotions just to survive this shit. It was alarming, because I try to look honestly at myself and what my feelings are telling me. I was hiding from pain!

Post-election is going to be ugly, too. There will be no ideal reconciliation, or even real workability, but thank god this part is OVER. The longest, most vitriolic election in modern history. I feel like I’ve been beaten.

I ached again for the little girl who grew up in a violent home, who developed that coping mechanism just so she could breathe. I read once that Depression isn’t merely a pervasive low feeling, but the absence of all feeling, eventually the inability to feel. A person crying “the tears of the damned,” I call them, will do anything not to feel them. Not to feel. They stop being able to feel at all, even the good stuff. It’s horrible, and it comes from hiding from pain.

I would have thought that I had a special radar for noticing when that technique was creeping into my life. I didn’t see it at all! You hear the buzz words “election anxiety” everywhere, and I had perched myself above it, in very much the same way I would leave my body during violence that I thought would kill me. When I saw it – her – I ached, and went in again to be the grown-up I needed when I was a terrified little girl.

I decided that I will no longer watch any news or footage of any kind until Wednesday, and I haven’t. Of course, it’s everywhere. You can’t get away from it. But I’m not permitting the sound bytes into my life anymore. I’ll know tomorrow what happens tonight.

At one point Friday, I was praying and dancing – with my new beautiful mandala hand drum – and putting peace and healing into the meditation/energy bubble I’ve described before. I had this vision of Hillary Clinton ushering in a reconciliation era. I felt almost elated! I danced and celebrated, and put all of my love into that vision.

The next day, I woke up feeling like such an idiot! I’m so stupid! Hillary won’t be permitted to lead our national recovery. They’re going to eviscerate her! They are going to make her pay so hard! They will never stop trying to SILENCE THE WOMAN. And they want the rest of us to witness what happens when we dare to speak.

I felt like crying. I felt hopeless.

And then I didn’t. Immediately, I thanked her again. She is the only woman who could break this final fucking ceiling. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, SHE has opened the door at last for women to be taken seriously in U.S. Presidential races.

The United States hates women as much as it hates black people. It’s shameful that it’s taken so long for a woman to break through that insistent wall of fear and desperation. Germany has Angela Merkel. England has Theresa May, and the Iron Lady was taken seriously decades ago. Israel had Golda Meir a lifetime ago! She was born in 1898!

But not here. Never here. Here, they don’t want to hear. SHUT UP, said white male privilege to every woman and every person of color. “It is the existential fear of displacement from a world that has slowly – too slowly, for too long – been chipping away at white male supremacy.” -Rolling Stone

Hillary Clinton was the woman to break through that blockade, not because her place in history is that of a peacekeeper. That woman is a warrior! She’s strong enough to take anything they say and do to her. And only that woman can handle what’s coming after she’s elected. She’s a battering ram! And she’s willing to do it.

So I’m grateful. I don’t love her perfectly. That’s a childish world view. Politics is messy business. No one is 100% happy 100% of the time. That’s dictatorship. But Hillary Clinton is among the most honest politicians (Deal with it), and she’s accomplished things across both sides of the aisle, that make the world a better place. That has been her aim.

Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see any of that ever again. This bipartisan bullshit is an attempt by the Republican party to bring down everyone if they can’t have their way, exactly as they want  it. It’s so dangerous. It breaks my heart.

And that’s where I come in. I have to learn my limit of exposure, and pray. Ironically enough, I’m a warrior, too. But it’s in this way that I came to my calling, which is to heal. Myself. My friends. My family. My neighbors. My world.

I can’t get bogged down by the futility of it all. I just have to believe in my ridiculous mystical bubble – and I do – and send all of my love into it. I can imagine myself into real visions of peace and cooperation, and when that sight takes the pain from my heart, I pray and pray and pray. “Let the world feel this, NOW. Let everyone who sees this in their heart send the power of their healing into the bubble, too, and make it grow!”

“Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
-Maya Angelou

drum

Here she is again. I love this drum so much! She is a healer! I love her voice.

Tonight, I will go to a belly dance class, and come home to work on my next mandala. In this way, I’ll hear none of the nonsense that I don’t need. It’s done.

I’ve found that the repetition of each rotation brings on a trance state, where the mind forgets its being-ness, and what’s inside comes up. I’ve caught myself putting hatred and anger into these beautiful lines and curves, but Sacred Truth stops me. I really feel like something else jumps in and says, “Not here! Not this!” So I redirect my thoughts, and pour love, joy, healing, humor, and everything beautiful about my inner nugget into these drums I’ve come to love so much. They contain prayers and magic!

Kumbaya, bitches!

womens-suffrage

The Jig Is Up!

The jig is up! I’m staying in Utah! It’s obvious now that I was manipulating an opportunity for my friends to beg me not to go. (None did.) (Bastards.) A year ago on Facebook, I started my LIVE LOVE SLC campaign as a good-bye to the city I’ve loved for 20 years. The result was a year of enriching cultural activities that I always mean to do but say I don’t have enough money when the time comes. Generally, we enjoyed inexpensive things but we splurged on some really worthwhile occasions, as well, and I’m so happy we did. At the end of one year, I have more memories, the same amount of hangovers, and no more or less money than if I’d missed out.

I’d planned to save massive amounts of money on rent near family in Idaho, and travel travel travel. I could get any old job. I’ve always had any old job. Instead, I accidentally fell into a temp position that was clearly the perfect fit for my office and for me, and they offered it to me right away, permanently. I took my time to commit, until I could secure a situation here that will meet my needs and goals. And now I have. I can drive a couple of hours to see my kin, cuz the last of my 3 best girlfriends is leaving Salt Lake (for Germany!) and I’m buying her car.

I hoped to take the bus-and-bike lifestyle to a decade, but I’m satisfied with 9 years. I’m pleased with my contribution to less congestion in the air and on the ground. I’m excited to visit my grandma, who just turned 89, and my new baby nephews – only a year apart! – back home. I’m excited for road trips and music festivals. I’m excited to hike! I’m excited for freedom and convenience, and I hope I don’t get fat. I lost 20 lbs 9 years ago, by accident of peddling.

I’m excited to stay. I thought the presence of Idaho State University would give Pocatello the community education opportunities I so love about Salt Lake City, but there was nothing. It’s too bad. Could be a charming town.

I get to continue djembe! Since African has become too demanding for my body to sustain with Fibromyalgia, I’ll switch to belly dance, and keep the beat for SLC African Drum and Dance Corp instead.

And even with all 3 of my best girlfriends moved and gone, I still have my Chosen Family, a beautiful band of artists and weirdos who love to laugh, love fun, love each other, and love me for being loud and lovely and strange and obnoxious when drunk, or sober. Sometimes I look around at my people and think, “How did I get so lucky?” Sometimes I look around and think, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

I get everything I want!

****

Ha! My neighbor just told me I dashed his plans. “We were going to have coffee-colored babies.”

“With cream,” I added.

“Yeah,” he said. “I figured it would take me about a year and a half to get you to fall in love with me.”

“I don’t have that kind of time!”

Guess that’s as close as I get to the begging I was hoping for from my  jerks, er, friends. 😉

2 More Days of This?

Mayday Mayday! Camp Merveilles!

heating pad I tried to pace myself, but I will be hurting tomorrow. More later.

Quickly… WOW! To learn from these master dancers and drummers! It was so intimidating. Still is. I have to get up and face fear again tomorrow, but I broke barriers today. I was brave. I drummed with a dude from Guinea today, haha! He assigned a part to me that I had to maintain by myself. Nothing’s more terrifying than being the only one charged with keeping that rhythm. All alone. That instrument’s entire voice, beat, and pace rely on you. AND it was kenkeni, the drum I fear/fight most!

I did okay. Really! I held my own. Soriba taught exactly like I learn. He teased me with laughter, with play, with, “Hey! Yeah! We’re all here to learn.” It was so fun, my favorite class today. I almost didn’t go. I was so scared. In Quinn’s classes, I avoid dunun (which includes kenkeni). Like hell I’m gonna drum with some guy from Africa!

As for dancing, oy! hahaha! Thank god I’ve been dancing with Rosie for a couple of years, so sometimes I could keep up! I’ve never been strong, even in our community. I don’t perform. I do it because I love it. It was hard to put myself out there like this. I feel like I don’t have a right to be there – in most cases, really – but especially at a camp like this, as a white girl, in America, where black and white is the most hideous relationship in the world. Who am I to try on African rhythms and traditions? Maybe if I were a serious dancer. Maybe if I were doing important work in the world… Maybe if… Maybe if…

Ever felt that way?

Right now? I feel good. I’m going to bed. It’s six o’clock.

Camp Merveilles

Hooray, hooray! Camp Merveilles!

I did it, I don’t care. 41 was a year of total fiscal irresponsibility. I thought the spending spree would end with my month-long voyage to TX and NYC, but I got home and decided that I must participate in Utah’s premiere African Drum and Dance conference!

My body still works and, by damn, I’m dancing until I can’t anymore! I’ve been in this community for 5+ years now, and I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t send it off with this camp. If I were just dancing I might talk myself out of it but, having found my true love in drumming, I have an opportunity to study with the best of the diaspora! This is a rare and humbling opportunity that I also see as a farewell to Salt Lake, since I’m soon(ish) to leave this home I love. Camp was inexpensive, or would be if I hadn’t just put myself in thousands of dollars of debt, ha. But guess what? I’ve never done that. I’ll recover. And I don’t have kids to put in braces, college, or therapy so I DO WHAT I WANT!

Hooray, hooray! Camp Merveilles! merveilles utah

I’m so proud of my little city. More than ever, I appreciate my community. If someone we don’t know comes around our fire, we say hello and ask them who and how they are. We give everyone the chance to be known. This isn’t some glossed-over, fawning endorsement; I can honestly say of my Chosen Family that there are no snobs. If someone new stands outside the center, someone in it will make sure they know they’re welcome there. We allow everyone until they tell us not to. I love my people.

With that… happy birthday to me!

Hey, hey! 42! You know what you gotta do!

Spend responsibly. *grumble, grumble*

ResponsiBull

ResponsiBull

I’ve decided that “It was fun ’til 41” was a year of rebellion. (“Oh, yeah? Watch me live recklessly! I’m having fun! See? See?!”) My bestie was right: “Don’t say that! You’re too powerful.” That was a tough, scary year! Also full, interesting and, yes, fun.

I really have decided to make this the first day of the rest of my life, and the rest of my life is responsible. I know I’m fun. I know I’m joyful. I don’t have to clamor for anything. I’m also not actually worried about this debt I’ve accrued. It’s an exception, not a lifestyle. What is a lifestyle is food as poison, and avoidance as… avoidance.

I have a list of “I Will”s that I will! More later.

Today, I am The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything! Guess I better get my act together. 🙂

The year of THE ANSWER has begun!

42nd street bryant parkin this house