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

TEDx Salt Lake City

Look what I found!

Africa Heartwood Drum & Dance Ensemble performed at TEDx on Sept. 20th. Of course, I can hear myself and immediately begin finding fault, but I just have to remember that day. I love Africa Heartwood Project. I’m so honored to be a part of it. I love the music. I love the community. I love African drum and dance! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for me.

This was so exciting and nerve-wracking. You might perceive, also, that as an ensemble we’d never heard the last song of our show before we took to the stage, haha! Andy’s… inspiring like that. 🙂

(Ooh, get up on that note! I remember thinking, “Oh my, they started a little high.” Oy!)

(Funny side-note: I’m told I clapped for myself after my first performance at 3 years of age, as well. It was my premiere audience and I suppose I thought, “Oh, this is what we’re doing now. How lovely, yes!” I’m still at it, it seems, only these days I have a percussive rattle. I clap at the end of my shows, too. I love the actors I work with, and I really love the audience. Live music, theatre, and dance are special. Even if it’s not the best, there’s something beautiful about the symbiotic relationship we create together. It can’t be duplicated. It’s fleeting and sacred, and exists only because of every person in the room.)

Processing A Trauma?

BANG A DRUM!

I started an 8-wk. djembe workshop on Tuesday. I LOVE IT! Our first rhythm was Balakulandjan, from the Malinke tribe in Guinea. My instructor is the drum leader for Salt Lake City African Drum & Dance Corp and for my dance class on Saturdays. We’ve been acquaintances since I moved here in the 90s. (He must have been a teenager, come to think of it. Cute.) I always enjoyed Quinn, more and more as I’ve come to know him in dance, but he was unleashed in his own classroom, cracking bad jokes and mocking himself almost as much as he teased us.

Class is like therapy. The students are weird and sardonic. We meshed immediately.

(“What’s this strange sensation?” I marveled at the end of class.

“Nerve damage.”)

I’ve wanted to participate in one of the sessions for years, but could never justify spending $120 that way. I don’t know if I’m feeling a little free since my credit card is nearly maxed from Spain anyway – might as well do ‘er up – but I decided if I don’t prioritize it, I’ll never do it. I’m so happy I did this for myself!

Here’s a surprise: My cats LOVE it! Back in the day when I imagined I might play the didgeridoo, they ran for the hills whenever that low drone vibrated the air. I thought this loud, new instrument would be far more jarring, especially considering that I’m still, shall we say, rather in the rough. They both coiled up right at my feet while I figured out… just how do I stop smacking my thumbs on the rim of this thing? And keep my fingers relaxed, my wrists straight, my elbows in and…

Wait, how does this go?

______

Balakulandian is played at children’s festivals.

Location: Guinea
Ethnic Group: Malinke

Red Bows

I danced that year with girls a grade higher than me in school. All year we prepared for the big recital in May. My favorite number was the tap dance. We were sailors, in little blue pleated skirts and matching vests, which our mothers made, worn over a white, sequined leotard. It was all topped off with a sailor cap, but the best part was the big red bows on my shiny black tap shoes. I loved my big red bows.

The big night finally arrived. I was smack dab in the center of the front row. And mom forgot my big red bows.

Oh, I yelled. I yelled and yelled!

“If you wear your biggest smile, no one will see your feet,” she promised.

Of course they’d see my feet! It was TAP! Did she think I was stupid? What difference did a smile make to my shoes? I was going to be a fool, and it was all her fault!

“Just smile,” she instructed me again, “and no one will notice.”

I would never forgive her, I vowed, as Teacher readied us offstage. I walked into those bright lights near tears and shaking.

The strangest thing happened. I heard my mother’s voice and I smiled, cautiously at first. The music began, and I smiled bigger. I loved that dance! I loved everything about it. I loved the music. I loved the sound my tap shoes made. I loved my costume.

My smile grew.

Then I saw something, two women on the front row leaning into one another, grinning from ear to ear, looking at me. They were smiling at me! I couldn’t help it, I smiled bigger. And bigger and bigger!

They started giggling, and so did I! I’ll be damned if my feet didn’t grow wings that day. I’ll bet silly red bows would have weighed them down.

1980