Drum Circle

My cousin recently moved to Elko, NV, and had the idea to start a drum circle. She asked me to help, so I brushed up on a few basic rhythms, packed my extensive collection of noise-makers, and drove west.

First, I detoured north, to visit family in Twin Falls, ID. This was an epic winter for the Rocky Mountain desert plateau, and Shoshone Falls is higher than it’s been in decades.
shoshone

Farmers have already diverted massive amounts of water to river-wide irrigation ditches all across Magic Valley, and it’s still roaring!

Impressive as Shoshone was, I liked Cauldron Linn even better. You can walk right to the edge and dangle your feet over the river, which seems to boil as it crashes over rocks, and narrows into steep igneous canyon walls downstream. It’s deafening!
cauldron linn 3cauldron linn 4

The drum circle was small, but it went about as well as it could have, I think. I left feeling festy-buzzed, and the drive home was familiar and sweet. It’s the road that took me to and from Burning Man a lifetime ago. I’m going back this summer, for the first time in 7 years! It’s the 10-year anniversary of my virgin burn, and I can’t begin to quantify how different a person I am today, largely because of that strange thing that happens every year in the desert. It’ll be interesting to go back after so long away.
drumsOnly 5 people joined us at the Peace Park in Elko, but I was thrilled. My biggest fear was that someONE would show up. (That would be worse than none!) They all arrived within 15 minutes of each other, and we banged around for an hour-and-a-half straight. We got one groove going that was pretty darn meditative. Each drum’s voice met my ear like a conversation. It was joyful and trancey, and that, my friends, is a drum circle!

Best part? I realized I’d never seen my drums in the sunlight! I started this project last fall and my drums, like me, spent winter indoors. They are so beautiful!

I’m so lucky. Blessed, I think. I got to play at something risk-free that’s given me pleasure, respite, laughter, music, and a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn’t have done it if it cost me anything; the risk of failure is more frightening when you put money on it, in the view of a Taurus and a girl with a frail ego. A loving universe put me in the path of this wonderful, wild, generous artist. Marko and I met at Burning Man in 2007. We camped together the next year, and have been inseparable ever since.

Those drums are the thing I’m most proud of. Even without the positive feedback, they give me so much. They make my heart sing. Thank you, Marko!

brc '08

Black Rock City, 2008

(I can tell you one thing that’s changed in 10 years. People ask me now, “What’s your relationship with Marko?” These are the same people we’ve partied with for a decade, and now I seem age-appropriate for a man who’s older than my father?

Oy! The 40s are for humility.)

drumming-on-the-wall

Oh, I lie. I did see my drum in the sun at last year’s March for Love in November, after the thing happened. It was a different experience to see them in the hands of others, with a little distance and perspective and, as I mentioned, drenched in all that delicious light.

Downswing

I feel icky. And then I feel bratty. And then I feel like I can’t get safe enough. I need money.

It started yesterday. My cat has long-since established dominance in my new place. My roommate’s cat holds his own just enough that she doesn’t attack him (much), but there is the odd chase here and there. Penny is obsessed with Oliver, and his room is her favorite place in the house.

Several weeks ago, my roommate caught on that she was using his litter box. I was horrified, of course. That’s complete alpha ownership behavior, and poor Ollie must feel so violated and insecure.

Recently, my roommate changed litter brands and Penny didn’t approve. She pooped outside the box and he stepped in it. He, my roommate; not he, the picked-on cat. His slippers were ruined and he ground shit into the carpet all over his office.

I fell apart.

As far as I was concerned, it’s all over. There’s no coming back from that. I felt like an idiot. She’s been at it forever, and we just got wise. It’s not going to get better. Ollie’s not going to hold his ground any more than he does, but she’ll keep getting bolder.

The only solution I could immediately find was to keep my girls captive in the bedroom while I’m at work, and I wanted to cry. That’s fine for Fat Cricket, my little Shadow Cat. She never leaves our room, never has. But Penny basks in the sunlight of living room windows, or on a recliner and blankets in the spare room, and on Ollie’s bed while he cowers underneath it.

She can scarcely stand our door being closed overnight. She wakes me up with the most pathetic (hilarious) chorus of mews, begging to wander in the dark. Every night. Her vocabulary of varied pitch, vowels, and syllables is staggering, and utterly delightful. “Oh! You tell a good sad story,” I tease her, and readjust to fall quickly back to sleep.

I can’t bear it. I can’t imprison her.

My mind leaps. “It’s over. I have to move.”

I tried to keep myself in check. No need to “awfulize,” or borrow trouble. Let it play out. There might be an option you can’t see in this state of mind. If not, you face what comes next when it comes. Today, you just clean the carpet.

I couldn’t! I was pouty, angry, sullen. The mood of the entire house changed, and I felt that old shame for using my energy to hold everyone hostage. Negativity was palpable. Jax kept reassuring me and I wanted to scream, “Shut up!”

Even my cats looked at me with that searching anxiety. That’s the worst. I felt awful. I was mad, at a cat! Who has no ulterior motive, who’s being perfectly feline. She’s alpha, because she is. That’s all. And I was mad at her!

I was mad at myself, for thinking her dominance was cute. For thinking I was some kind of cat whisperer who’d negotiated a sort of peace between the 2 of them. For thinking it was getting better. For blurring the lines with my roommate, and spending most nights in his bed and not mine. Why shouldn’t she?

I was mad that I can’t afford to live in Salt Lake without a roommate, mad that I’ll never be able to buy a house. I was mad at all the stupid decisions I made in my 30s that cost me so much. I was mad at all I’ve lost and given up, and can’t get back. I was mad that I’m getting older and running out of time to do anything I once dreamed I might. I was mad to know that my life will never be anything more than scraping by. I was mad that my roommate thinks his yard is xeriscaped, when really it’s just overgrown and ugly. I was mad that I’ll never have a haven of my own. I was mad that I’ll always be alone.

I’m mad that that’s exactly what I want, and I’m still not satisfied. I’m mad that I’m losing my looks. I’m mad that I failed, and now I’ve lost my bloom. It’s all over.

You know, perfectly reasonable stuff like that. Meow >^..^<

Jojo Dancer

My little sister-friend got married and moved to Germany last Fall, so I bought her car 6 months ago today. Here’s the report on my ugly little Hyundai Accent named Jojo Dancer, after her previous owner.

She had 128,001 miles the day I bought her. I’ve added 3,147, averaging 29.6 miles to the gallon. She hasn’t had a hiccup. Or a bath.

I gained 15-20 lbs within months of leaving the bus-n-bike lifestyle. (Until New Years, I only learned my exact weight at doctor’s appointments, but I know where I hover.) Of course, now that I’ve added yoga I’m down 8 lbs, and I’m seeing muscles I never had before. Wee!

Speaking of yoga, and the fresh confrontation with pain I’ve been negotiating this year, I remembered something random the other day. In a Spanish class in college, we had to stand and introduce ourselves: name, age, what I’m like, what I fear.

“Me llamo Christie. Nunca pregunte a mujer su edad. Soy hablante. Tengo miedo de dolor.” I’m Christie. Never ask a lady her age. I’m talkative. I’m afraid of pain.

“Well, yeah,” the professor dismissed me. “Everyone’s afraid of pain.”

“No, like phobic. I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it. I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want it to hurt.”

I used to say to my best friend growing up, “At least if I have to cry the tears of the damned, I have a strong body that doesn’t hurt.”

How could I have forgotten that pain was my biggest fear? I’m living my biggest fear! I once went to a psychic who said, “Oh, that’s interesting. You came to see how much you could stand.”

“K?”

“You push everything as far as you can, just to see how much you can take. Start to look at your life that way and see what you find.”

I do! The will I/(probably)won’t I of motherhood. The (non)career/low-income life I’ve chosen. The abusive/devaluing relationships. I thought The Unmarriables were a result of my upbringing, feeling abandoned, unworthy of love, unable to love and be loved. But, being an imaginative mystic myself these days, I follow it further. I think I chose my childhood and family – possibly to see how much I can stand.

I believe in reincarnation. In my last between-life phase I examined what I learned in the life I just left in the context of the lives that came before it, and looked at what I wanted to conquer in the next, to learn and accomplish, to see, to feel.

I think I came here for exactly what I got. I came to discover my strength. In the context of community (i.e. I couldn’t be dropped in the wild and make it), I can do anything. It’s crazy to have such confidence, but nothing can crush me. I’m tough as hell. What’s to fear?

I even think I chose to come up in an extremely religious culture. Those are some serious eternal consequences to contend with! And it isn’t easy to be shunned and shamed.

So much of my time is freed, not scrambling for survival. I get to explore, wonder, play, find, relax, love, dream, laugh.

If I’m honest, I’m kinda bitter to have both the psychological trauma of my childhood and early adulthood and now the physical pain of mid-life and beyond (which terrifies me). However, I would say to my best friend today, “At least if I have to suffer the pains of the damned, I’m not emotionally tortured anymore.”

She say’s I’m a Fucking PollyAnna, always finding the silver-lining, but don’t mess. 🙂
happiness

Blogiversary the Fourth

222-2
I confess I expected a more immediate response to yoga than what I’m experiencing. I’m still in PAIN. I remind myself that I’ve made positive changes to aid my healing and better my prognosis. Secretly, I fear that this is only going to keep getting worse. It’s pretty bad.

I’m grateful it’s almost exclusively on my left. I’m right-handed. Life would be a lot harder if this insane discomfort interrupted function of my dominant side. I’ve wondered why it should be so marked a difference on one side of my body, and the only thing I can think is that the car that hit me (hard) in 2009 struck me on the left. I flew 20 feet off my bike and landed on my left, as well.

The injuries were minor, but here I am. I’m not the only person to develop Fibromyalgia after an accident. It’s also common for sufferers to come from violence and abuse. ?

It sucks. I hate Fibro. But my life is good.

I love my home. I hit the roommate jackpot. I like my job. I love drumming. I’m reading book after book, with a cat on my lap. Sixteen sun-drenched plants are bursting at the seams, in Winter! I’m excited for festivals and road trips this Summer and Fall. I’m planning on Oktoberfest in Belgium and Germany.

(I don’t have kids to put in braces, college, or therapy. I do what I want!)

(I’m terrified for such a long flight, twice. Last year, I flew to the Gulf and then to NYC, back to back, a total of 3 weeks travel. I was in SO MUCH PAIN in-flight. I consider that trip the marker of my new relationship with my body. I’ve never fully recovered. ‘Til then, pain was sporadic, not nearly as high on the scale, and could pretty well be counted on to go away between flares. Now I start every day assessing what hurts and wondering if today will be a bad one. For me, Fibro worsens in the afternoon. I’m glad. It would be hard to stay my upbeat self if I woke with the discomfort I go to bed with.)

I’m utterly stuck at 155 lbs., but I can see a difference in muscle tone. I think I’ll start paying attention to body fat percentage. I need some numerical satisfaction!

I’ve quit Diet Pepsi and cigarettes. I don’t drink as much. (I can’t anymore. A Fibro hangover is like a 2-day, whole-body migraine.) (And I’m bitter!) I’m thinking about quitting coffee… but then I might as well be Mormon, and that depresses me.

I think I’m middle-aged. Weird.
HappyBlogiversary

Online Dating and Other Misadventures

Here we go again!

I got a love note from OkCupid, telling me how dismal life has been since I deactivated my account a year ago. The wheels started turning again (“Maybe…”) so, sure, hell, why not? I rejoined.

I think online dating is a young person’s game. I simply cannot force a connection with someone I meet there, even if the date is pleasant. Even with dynamic, interesting conversation. Even with a good-looking fellow. I don’t know; some kind of mental block.

And those are the rare finds. Generally, they’re of the trying-too-hard/always-on variety with screen names like “QualityGenes,” and I find myself wanting to remove them from the gene pool. Painfully.

I know it’s hard out there, but no.

I’ll give it another week, and if all I feel is hostility for myself and all others in the gene pool, I’ll get out of the water and back in the shade.

Speaking of young people, I got chatted up (insistently pursued) by a PUPPY of 21 the other day! He was very gracious and charming about not taking no for an answer, bless him, and he finally did. It was a fun flirtation, and a great boost (gorgeous young specimen, this one, looking all of 16, as far as I can tell anymore). The young’ uns asked me out en masse 5 or 6 years ago and then stopped en masse about a year ago, so it was nice to be the sexy older woman again to some young bloke wanting lessons. Ha!

Anyway, let’s be honest. I had a temporary affair in a temporary city and, nearly a month on, I’m still pining for the perfect man! I know he can’t be. He’s perfect because he was gone before either of us could show or find flaws, but… PERFECT, I’m telling you! I wish I could love and let go. I never have festival boyfriends, for this reason. Offers at every event, of course. I love people. Connecting, flirting, kissing, dancing. Beyond that, “I’m just not available. Thank you.” He’s why. I’m so moony for him, I’m willing to join the other desperados online to fill the void he left. I’m aching. PERFECT!

He. was. perfect.

*sigh*gene pool

My Cat Needs Surgery and I Have Cancer

Well, it’s a grabby headline, anyway.

My poor kitty. Her ear has swollen even more since yesterday. Any more, and it will pop on its own. Maybe that would be cheaper. I feel so sad for her. It’s been one thing or another with her since she was 4 weeks old, from the innocuous to the terrifying. I’m always amazed at the next new thing. “Seriously? It never ends for you!”

I’ve decided she has a compromised immune system that makes her vulnerable to attacks of this, that, and everything. “Well, it’s obvious you’re my children,” I tell them. “One of you never stops talking and the other has auto-immune disease. We’re family!”

How I love them. =^..^=pen and crick

And the medical information I had to worry about all night? Well, I didn’t worry. I felt comforted, by my mom and my cheerleaders on high. I spoke with the nurse first thing this morning, and my biopsy came back positive for squamous cell skin cancer. No biggie. I’ll wait for the site to finish healing, and in a month I go back in to start freezing it to death.

When I mapped my genome 2 years ago, it revealed a higher than average risk of squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Both are relatively harmless and very common among fair-skinned people. I’m a redhead in the desert, and I’m a cyclist. Though my hands didn’t burn in the last decade, I confess I didn’t always wear sunscreen. Sheer bike gloves afforded some protection, but I knew better. It’s begun. (I was comforted to learn that I have only average risk for melanoma, the more deadly skin cancer.)

Yesterday, mom told me she got a cream from her dermy to put on her face for a couple of weeks to seek out the bad patches and burn them. She said she looks like she has acne on every square inch of skin. “Poor mom!” I laughed. “I’m sorry you’re ugly!”

Hopefully, it’s like a chemical peel and takes age spots, too, because ALL of my freckles have morphed these days and I, no doubt, will be getting that treatment myself one day.

Mid-life was never supposed to happen to me!

7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7!

WOW! Today was such a stressful and fretful day. I came home from work last night to find my little fatty’s ear had swollen with some kind of huge cyst or abscess. I took her to the vet this morning and had to worry all day.

I finally spoke to the vet, who diagnosed an aural hematoma. He couldn’t explain why she got it; She had no signs of former ear infection, which often is found to be the trigger. Ultimately, it will cost me nearly a thousand dollars. goy! *sigh*

hehe

hehe

While I was on the phone with the vet, I got a call from an unknown number. I returned the call immediately upon hanging up to learn that the nurse from my dermatologist’s office had gone already, having closed the office early that day.

Sure enough, she’d left a voicemail. But here’s the thing: I had a little bad patch of skin removed from my hand 2 weeks ago. The doctor didn’t think it was anything to worry about. Neither did I. Just figured, at mid-life, it’s time to start that maintenance. He said he’d call if there was any cause for concern, not expecting there would be.

I clarified, “Okay, so you’re sending this to the lab and when I don’t hear from you, I don’t need to call panicking, ‘I had this thing biopsied and I never heard back…'”

“No. We’ll call you if it’s anything to be concerned about.” So this chick leaves me a message at the end of her day and leaves me to worry ALL NIGHT LONG about what the hell she was calling to tell me.

So then I reframe it. “Okay, Christie. It’s an opportunity to practice patience and calm. You don’t have a choice, so just be.” I took a breath. “Anyway, it’s nothing. It’s probably something clerical or stupid, in which case it’s an opportunity to prepare to treat the caller with respect when you finally reach her, even though she created unnecessary worry for you.” (It’s not administrative. Otherwise, a clerical agent would have called.)

In any case, it is what it is and I get to sit in the not knowing all night. Okay. I called my mom. We ended up having a lovely conversation. We’ve been speaking more and more the last couple of months. It’s been nice.Today, especially so.

****

I picked up my little fat kitty cat from the vet, and as I sat waiting for the cab I noticed the door of the pet hospital: “Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7-7, 7-7, 7-7, 7-7, 7-7, 7-7.”

Oh my gosh! It’s 7-7!

Oh my gosh! It’s Christine’s birthday! She was apprehended and questioned by the police, on her birthday, for the physical assault that occurred 2 days previously as I tried to escape last year. I was delighted that they were located and hauled in at all, but especially that it happened on her birthday. I knew there would be no consequences for them. I’m sure the whole inconvenience took no more than an hour. All I wanted was for her to know that she did not get away with it. I know who you are. I know what you did. It was wrong, and you know it, too.attack Christine loved that her birthday was 7.7.72. The reason for my visit last year was to celebrate our friendship one last time before finally phasing her out. She didn’t know my plan. I intended to celebrate her with one last round of blind drunkenness, and move on. You can’t get wasted enough to enjoy her company anymore, and I just wasn’t going to feel guilty about it any longer.

I wanted a cute pic, but this was all she'd give me.

I wanted a cute pic, but this was all she’d give me.

I’m so grateful to be home and healing, continuing to learn. My family is getting better, stronger. My new boundaries are effectively protecting me. I still feel a lot of pain and sorrow for the difficulty we experience(d) as a profoundly ill family, especially as I watch the trauma become more disruptive for one of my dear brothers. I think he’ll have a lifelong journey with Depression and anger, and so far I don’t have a lot of confidence that he’ll even look at it as something to recover from and live with. Pray for him?

Things are good.

My angels greet me now and then through numbers, and I don’t care if believing that makes me mad. 🙂 Sometimes it’s just a little nod, a hello, but I’ve never got one like SEVEN sets of SEVEN in a row! What a reminder to take stock and express gratitude. Thank you, angels!7 of heartsWow. I got a new follower moments after publishing this post. I checked out her site and right there on the front page was a post called A Copper Penny In Your Eyes. Pennies became one of the first symbols of angel communication for me. I asked my Grandpa [after his passing] to send pennies. He answered. I was practically knocked out by pennies from heaven, there were so many the first 5 or so years. It’s less frequent now, and less personal. I don’t feel his energy, exactly, every time. It’s just a smiley face for me each time I see one now, but after the connection I had with Spirit this afternoon, I can’t help but find it to be a confirmation of the day I had and the feelings it inspired.

All is well. “Cuddle doon, me bairney,” Grandpa might say.
pennies and quarterThe author of that poem used pennies to represent the low regard in which a false friend held her. Nevertheless, my meaning for pennies remains untarnished and the poem itself is quite profound and well-written, about honoring oneself and drawing on courage to stand tall in the truth of who you are. (A timely nod after my reminder of Spain today, and confirmation that I did well to leave my own false friend.) Check it out.

Fatty’s surgery is slated for SEVEN SEVENteen at SEVEN a.m.
I don’t make this stuff up.
(For those of you keeping track, that SEVENteen SEVENS in a row.)

*****

“The repeating Angel Number 7 indicates for you to keep up the great work you’ve been doing of late. Your angels are telling you that you are on the right life path and that you will find that things of a positive nature will flow freely for you.  Your job is to maintain your momentum and enthusiasm, with the highest outcomes for all in focus.

Angel Number 777 is a positive sign and means that you should expect miracles to occur in your life.”

I love this site by Joanne Sacred Scribes. I don’t remember when I first found it, but I just love it! 77777777777777777! http://sacredscribesangelnumbers.blogspot.com/

THE YEAR OF THE ANSWER IS WORKING! 42! (7×6, like the wall of the vet clinic. 🙂 )
Mid-life is kind and difficult and funny and strange and wonderful and MIRACULOUS!