Wednesday, February 28, 2007

colonel sanders in the house.

so last night at belly dancing class, a man (YES, a man!), was there. sitting at the side of the gym "observing."

there was decidedly more flesh showing on everyone and almost all the women now have coin hipscarves, which makes the class really fun as we jingle our way through hell.

the class has been very low intensity. rudimentary. but last night she kicked our collective ass. the entire first fifteen minutes of class were hip drops and lifts. weight bearing left leg, right leg perched on the ball of the foot, the hip shoots up and carves a circle to a downward sitting position when left leg bends, repeat for fifteen minutes. switching legs when we got tired on one side. it was brutal but wonderful. it is was the first time i felt free to let go. after the fifteen minutes, we did variations. then a few moments of free dance when all the women went in a great cluster and danced together, but i danced alone. i always dance alone. facing the wall is my norm. i'm not trying to avoid entering in, but i needed my own space to be. and i so enjoyed it.

your hip coins are the percussion, keep it going!
our instructor yelled.

then we did chest shimmies, which is simply an alternating forward and backward thrusting of the shoulders, but the thing about it is, everything is extreme, so we bend to a forty five degree angle forward and as far back as possible. very difficult.

i wear a bikini top and long black flowy pants with my blue hip scarf. leaving class, i layered on my standards, and headed for the gym. i can't neglect my workouts just because i'm doing belly dancing, so i went and did a minimalist workout because my body was all ready tired.

changing clothes and to church for lent teaching, it was quite a series of events that i had to push through, but i got a chill and now i'm trying to keep from getting sick. i forget how cold it is here. indoors it is so hot. going from one extreme, bikini and barefoot, to parka and snowboots is just not something i am used to.

so i'll try to remember an extra layer, i've been going out in lighter layers than is probably best, but the outdoor cold is so temporary. the car heater works, inside stores you'd think they were trying to get bread to rise, so i leave off the layers inside. it's just leaving that gets you.

oh, so we were leaving belly dancing class and my new friend said to me,
we really worked tonight. he probably had it the easiest.

didn't even break a sweat,
i said,
or maybe he did!

and we laughed. we did hip circles and chest shimmies, and hip shimmies, all very entertaining to watch i'm sure. so many different body types and things going on. not all beautiful by most standards, but that is not what it is about. i hope no more men come to spectate. sheesh.

Monday, February 26, 2007

bleareyed never stopped me. (when moons collide)

i'm way too tired to be writing anything coherent, forgive me. i did not sleep last night, i cried mostly. and when i can't sleep or am overwrought, what do i do? yes, i write. probably the worst thing i can do. but this place of openness comes at a cost, i must be willing to go through the emotional meatgrinder publicly (sort of), a cost which while exorbitant to some, seems part and parcel of my poetic profession. (long sentences when i'm tired. a period just slows me down).

speaking of period, i should have an alternate title for this post, when moons collide. because when women work closely with one another, or are thrust together in enviorns, which they have to deal regularly with each other, their cycles coincide. so as we worked late into the night sharing oh too many intimate details (my kind of crowd), we discussed our monthly debt which was either being paid or the sore back boobs and legs indicate it's on its way. i'm more of a weeper. so weeping through ten hours, and the weeping hasn't stopped yet folks), is kind of an indication that a bad moon is rising. probably tomorrow. or when i least expect it or am least prepared.

my moons are like crapshoots, who knows when they'll come. they just appear, like bad company and you can't get rid of them until they are ready to leave. they stay too long and, well, you get the idea. the whole topic is really inappropriate, so let's leave off here, reminding ourselves of my, i've had no sleep since this time yesterday, so give me a break!

i'm usually nonfunctional after not sleeping. keep me up till midnight and i'm giddy. but tonight, my heavy heart needed a place to be thinking about something as mundane as sensoring and hanging racks and racks of clothes. i needed not to think about my all too dramatic life, and be free to weep as i felt the need. at least every hour i'd break out in a full blown bellysob. i started joking about it whenever someone would see me, but i couldn't help it. and i didn't want to.

i believe we grieve over people we love, because we have loved them. the evidence of love is grief. way back when i was grieving over my grams, i walked through an entire year draped in shrouds of tears. i did not attempt to quell the flow. i danced, and wept, actually.

i don't know if there is anywhere i can dance (liturgically), but maybe my belly dance will substitute. i started tai chi and it almost killed me but i loved it. a deep squat for forty five minutes is enough to give anyone the shakes. but i felt like a heroine addict going through withdrawals i was so shaky by the end. but i loved it. a moving meditation. my mind is way too busy here to ease back in to other types of meditation i found so familiar back in rural texas. new york is my proving ground, and i think i'm not doing so well. in terms of the peace ratio. while i do attain moments of piece. they are moments only. i'd like to see a whole string of those moment lined up to the street and back.

perhaps i'm more comfortable with grief and sadness. i hope not. i want to rejoice. i want to dance for joy. to belly dance for my love.

i must go, tears are drawing nigh.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

community of women

almost everything i do these days is around women. i hadn't realized how this had happened, but i understand why. i've been in need of women my whole life, but now i'm more aware of it than before.

tonight at belly dancing class, more skin was showing on everyone. there are at least thirty of us who are all lined up across the gym shaking and shimmying for all we're worth. one lady walked in late, after the instruction had been given. and i asked her,

you got it

no. i came in late.

i taught her quickly how to do what we were doing.

oh thank you
she said.

apparently she thought i was just asking to show off that i knew how to do it and she did not. that is so not what i'm about. and while it threw me off a bit, it wasn't hard to catch up. i would hope someone would do it for me, as i'll invariably be late to this class on certain occasions.

the teacher, all decked out, with cut arms and tiny hips that seem to move independent of the rest of her body says,

sexy ladies. let's make this a fantasy

and later,

it's all about the pose. exaggerate the pose.

so we're getting our coats on, and she says,
belly dance has always been only women. it's never been about dancing for a man. and sure there are men who do it, but they do it for bonding, communally. but for women, it's the community of women coming together. it's nice to have a large class.

and it felt that way. as we come together and shed our body hate. our crazy ideas of what is beautiful. our ingrained cultural biases to hips larger than twenty nine inches and breasts smaller than a handful.

certainly the dance is invigorating. but it is also a time for women to come together around a common theme and shed their selfconsciousness. and just be women, together.

my workout joint is also women only.

my place of employ is also women only.

i'm nicely surrounded by many breasts. many hips. many curves and differing body types. many differing styles. many differing life choices. it's much different than being around men all the time. for now, i find it much easier. for now, i find it incredibly comfortable and receptive. for now, i find it home.

the equivalent of the modern day river for washing clothes. the well for drawing water. we women have to come together sometime. let it be now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

found wanting

i went too late for a full workout tonight, the hubby got stuck in traffic. but i did get my delicate digits taken again. and i lost the equivalent of a small bag of sugar, a small cat, a small dog, 5 boxes of butter.

i lost five pounds! and i'm glad they're gone.

my body fat index went down by 2% which is a wonder and a miracle. that horrifying number is less horrifying now. and it wasn't even really that hard. i just had to go workout even when i didn't feel like it. i had to get my butt off the couch (i don't own a couch anymore, but you get the idea), and just workout.

so, the trend will likely continue and with all the girating and undulating i'll be doing, things should firm up nicely. it's a good feeling. a start anyway.

eagle watching tomorrow, then work the next two days. we've had snow days this past week and i'm glad, i needed a rest. but it's time to get moving again.

i learned shoveling snow is hard work. as i tried to do my driveway today, i found i couldn't do it alone. thank God for men. when it comes to me being a feminist, i have to say, i'm glad for men. for their strength and ability to grit their teeth and get a driveway shoveled.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

look sexy

it's not everyday i hear that. last night, on my way to my first belly dancing class, i got woefully lost. so lost, i didn't even know where i was or how to get home. but decided to breathe, and drive. always a good solution. i found my way. i was late, but made it.

they were doing hip drops and i knew how to do that, so i wasn't too slow in picking up where they were at.

the instructor is awesome. tweaking out her body in all manner of ways. and as we go throughout the class, she's telling us,
women with bellies are the best belly dancers because one they get control of those abdominal muscles, it's amazing.

very encouraging. i smile.

she's splaying out her rib cage and running her hands down her hair.
you must look sexy for class.

we will show our bellies, apparently. so i rush home and stand in front of the mirror to see what horrors my fellow students will be exposed to. and yikes, is all i can say. yikes, folks. and i've been working out for a month.

do you know how long it has been since anyone has told me to look sexy for anything? a long time. a very long time.

so i'm picking out some belly dancing apparel and trying to figure out what exactly i want. what colors i will choose and which things will flatter my particular body type. not things i think about in those ways.

wear swimsuit tops ladies!
the instructor calls out as we're walking out of the gym.

i've got some serious reckoning to do with my body. looks like indigo will be my colors. and silver coinage about my bod, mostly on my hips. i'll have a black chiffon and satin skirt and an alternate black satin shirt.

ah yes, look sexy for class. i shall try.

Monday, February 12, 2007

the art of leaving

it seems i've made departure an art. it's come naturally, honestly enough. for the better part of my life, i moved every two years (yes, since i was a small child this has been the norm). uprooting and transplanting has come to me in all manner of ways. sometimes peacefully, sometimes i loaded up the car and drove off unseen, other times there was a bit of planning. a few goodbyes.

the thing about it is, there is so much to see. so many great adventures out there to be had. i take the leaving as a good thing (after i rebound from losing all my friends and comforts, which takes a good six months), new territory to explore.

being transplanted has changed my life so profoundly so many times, i can hardly believe it when i meet a person who was born and will die in the same house. boggles my mind. i had once thought it an enviable position, but now, i'm not so sure.

there's a line in horse whisperer where the matriarch of the family says,
some people carry roots on the inside.

yeah, that's what i hope. that i'm a bulb who can be taken and transplanted myriad times. always springing up, lush and green wherever i happen to be planted. forced. enjoyed.

it's a heavy word on my heart right now, because leaving comes to me so easily. it seems like the right thing so many times. do i opt for it too easily? or do i just trust my road to lead me beyond the comfortable surroundings? i'm not really sure. i just know these roads stretch on to the horizon and i've not hit a dead end yet.

when i think i really know something, have some certainties. we move. all my wisdom leveled by some cardboard and packing tape. and a few thousand miles (as was the last case). the bare walls, unknown neighbors, foreign streets all conspire to teach me about starting fresh. stepping out and trusting strangers.

i thought i knew something before i moved here, and now i find, i knew nothing. the people i once thought the bomb, were a different kind of bomb in my life. or i bombed out, something like that. and now i'm moving in utterly different circles and the ages, races, orientations of these folks are shaking longheld (yet often unknown) beliefs about what and how things should be. moving will do that to you.

it takes awhile for me to settle in. to get to know a place. the other night driving lovely 83 years young helen to an inter parish council meeting (IPC), we passed the church and she said,
where are you going?

down here,
i said. having no clue where i was headed, i went over a bridge and turned on a one way street which lined some stream. it was pitch black, the tall pines jutting skyward, and the waters glistening in the moonlight.

how lost can we get,
i asked.

i don't know.
she said.

just enjoy the ride, this is my life in new york. i'm always getting lost.
and we laughed and laughed. i wound my way back across the stream and to the church. laughing all the way. it was a lovely ride. a whole new approach to getting lost. i'm losing my fear of these wooded areas. they don't seem so mysterious to me now.

though helen gave me directions back to the PIP (palisades interstate parkway) that had me so befuddled and confused, i swear i could never find that way again without her. but we laughed some more and made our way back home.

two church members i knew have died since i've been here. it is an aged congregation. but the people are so lovely. i wouldn't want to be anywhere else. and kneeling around the altar, i look across at the dear souls there and thank God for them. that i've had the chance to meet them. even the ones who are control freaks. or who reek of nicotine. or who don't know how to exchange the peace without creeping me out.

i'll be leaving here in the near future. and while i will be sad to go, i will be looking forward to the next adventure. who will i meet? where will i go? so many things yet unseen. so many possibilities. endless possibilities.

Friday, February 09, 2007

the student is ready

so i've been wanting take a bellydancing class for years! ever since i went to a lll conference and took a class there. finally, after trying many times, i've got one lined up which begins next week. i've got the skirts, the jingly bells, the hips, all i need is the master, the student is ready.

i've always wanted to do tai chi as well, so i signed up for that tambien.

my schedule is jam packed now, and i don't care for that, but if it is an option of doing nothing for myself and having free time, or doing stuff i enjoy or have wanted to do for aeons, i'm going to be busy a while and love it.

the thing about bellydancing is, you need someone to show you the moves and the regular practice will build my confidence. because i know a few things, but only isolated steps. having some sort of structure will be really helpful.

sometimes, i have poems in me that want to come together. one just peeked its head into my words just now, but i sent it back into exile.

it's a gorgeous image and i don't want to cheapen it by butchering it. but sometimes talking about what i'm going to write helps. i guess it all depends on who i am speaking to. my closest friends are generally the best for these unformed beauties to have a little light shined on them. then, after articulating a bit of what i'm thinking they come together relatively quickly. that is probably the most conscious processing i do. the rest of the time, it is all the fruit of darkness. the stuff of the unconscious.

yeah, i'm reading jung again. the undiscovered self. it's quite a book. sometimes i really don't agree with what he's saying, i had a lot of differing opinions in what i read of jung and st. john of the cross, but there again, i'm stalled out because i'm trying to find someone who knows sjotc before i plunge past my questions. i got so angry at the book, i had to stop.

i don't want to impugn sjotc at all, so i've not spoken of it, but i've asked priests,
do you know sjotc?
no, they say.


so i wait. the kind of waiting that is essential to becoming, i guess. i just don't like waiting. it is hard work. it is exhausting. it is mindnumbing.

i've gone weeks now where my mind has been grinding though scenarios of what is to come, i can't stop it. or couldn't. and rightly so, i guess. when there's stuff coming up, one has to contemplate it. and it isn't worry. i'm not worried, i'm just considering options, thinking things through. planning as best i can.

but i need to get apart from my daily life and focus on other things. the classes and work help to that end. i also had a new friend turn me on to a type of massage, let's call it. a woman's gift to a woman.

i've slept better the past two nights than in the past month. and i am grateful. masters are appearing from the woodwork, and i guess that means the student is ready.

Monday, February 05, 2007


when i serve as an acolyte, i want it to be this composed solemn occasion. a time when i'm ready for what i'm being asked to do. a time when i am prepared, spiritually, mentally, physically.

but it is still my life, which tends to be more laurel and hardy than thomas merton. i woke up early sunday. a good start. but i was so exhausted, i went back to sleep. my daughter kept trying to wake me, which is a perilous task, but someone has to be brave.

so finally, ten miutes before i'm due at church, i drag my exhuasted self out of bed. i wasn't sure why i couldn't wake up, i just couldn't. so i get ready quick as lighting and walk to the church as fast as i can. realizing, when i'm in the parking lot that i had forgotten my glasses. i never forget my glasses. so i tried to press on without them.

i am looking at people but not really comfortable with this blurred vision, and too tired to spend time that way, i go down to the basement dressing room, and decide, i have to go home. i need those glasses or i'll be utterly unfocused the entire time.

so i pop my head in the sachistry, and the priest is talking to the LEM, jane, who will teach me, her beloved husband red, the WWII vet is the one that just passed away. i tell them,
i forgot my glasses.
and i ran home.

we have to light candles soon, so hurry.
jane calls out.

i'm now running through the parking lot, and to my house (which fortunately is very close), but there is the added skill element of snow (winter finally arrived and it's freezing! but i love it. we haven't had a killer snow yet, but a few inches have piled up here and there, enough to make things look pretty).

up two flights of stairs, into my house, my glasses no where to be found, i search and find them, down two flights of stairs, back down another flight of stairs to the basement. i'm pretty frantic by the time i'm getting dressed. i forgot to ask what color rope we wear around our waist, i am not sure how to read the church calendar yet (it was as the lady downstairs dressing had said,
the color of the number on the calendar for that day is the color you wear).

so i am clamboring back up the stairs in my acolyte robe, my cording untied, and trip. i nearly wipe out, but catch myself on the first stair, only thing hurt is my pride and i could use some dashing there.

so helen, lovely 83 years young helen, ties me up. and i get the candlelighty thing. i forget the proper name. by the time i've finished my clamboring, there is only one small tier of candles left to be lit.

when church is about to start, we get the torches. and carry these large pillar candles in the procession, which is very nice. behind the cross, before the choir. we process in. bow at the altar (a habit i'm now grateful i've acquired). we put our torches away in the small nook to the left of the altar, and sit opposite the choir by the priest. from there, i can see the whole church. the backside of the altar, and a lovely stained glass window which in never see, the windows are all tiffany and very fine. but this one, instead of having a pictoral inset, is just shaded glass, greys, blues, pinks. i love the simple diamond cuts, and shading.

at the reading of the gospel, i stood with jane behind the priest. when he was done, and raised the golden book up and kissed it, he turned in his golden vestments and handed me the gold bible. i carry it out of the sanctuary and into the sachistry.

at the offeratory, jane hands me a plate and she takes one. we walk to the head of the aisle, and hand them to the ushers. when they are done, they wait for me to pick up the large golden bowl the plates nest in. i walk to the head of the aisle and wait for the ushers. they place the plates in, and i kneel beside the altar waiting for the hymn to end.

from there i have a view of the rosette tiffany window with the bvm in it. seated on her lap is the son of God. i had always longed to focus on that window. and i got to kneel and look at it for about three minutes or so.

the way her blue robes fold in her lap. the Christ child in red seems to pop from her lap. the yellow halo on her head, the ornate one on his. the blues and reds seem come alive, and the light color of the halos seem ablaze with holiness. there is notching and symbols everywhere in our church. these windows are the same. i could look at them for years and never fully see them entirely. partly because the glasswork is so intricate, but also, because the symbology is unknown to me. though i think i know a great deal of the Church, i don't know a great deal of the church. which is a good place to be.

i've never worshipped in such an aesthetically pleasing environment before. warehouses were the ideal i'd grown accustomed to. scant furnishing, folded chairs. minimalist to be sure. but even more, not lovely. the loveliness of the churches i enjoy come from the people, the true church. rather than the building. so i have never really contemplated the building before. but perched up behind the priest, i can see the vaulted ceilings, how the dark wood beams are carved so delicately and intersect. how the candles flicker in the air. the stations of the cross punctuate the tiffany windows which run the length of the building. it is truly a lovely church.

the thing that most surprises me about my current church is to find such an open atmosphere in a traditional setting. i edited a book which spoke of the traditional churches being steeped in this formalism which would lend itself to postmodern thought. i didn't really believe it, but now i find it to be true. the liturgy is so forgiving. so gracious. so pertinent. it is hard not to bless the soul when one partakes of it.

i have not grown up in these traditional churches. rather, in what i thought to be more open nontraditional, congregational types of churches. but now i find them more fundamentalist than i am able to be at this point. which is surprising to me.

next time, i'm an acolyte. i want to be better prepared. awake and ready for my service.

i've a full day of housecleaning to do, and i must get to it.
may the peace of God reign in your life today.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


i was talking to a poet i just met, and i was describing my read,
you know how the room gets so quiet you can hear a pindrop and all eyes are locked on you?

what's it like,
she asked,
to read a poem?

it's powerful. like this great surge of energy is coursing through me. sometimes i cry because it is such an emotional experience. not the bawling tears of an overwraught woman, but the stream of tears from just so much power that some has to be let out. it didn't start out this way, that i could read for twenty minutes and be strong. i started years ago, one poem, one open mic once every couple months.
(it was a long drive, i was a flake, but i was also just gaining confidence).

how often do you go now?

to an open, at least once a month, i host once a month, and take in other things as i can.

tonight i have an open to attend. it will be packed to the gills with seasoned new jersey poets. they are a tough crowd. it is quite an accomplishment to hear
you're a powerful reader,
from these jaded newjerseyites.

much different than hearing it from your mom, shall we say.

but i find, that when i read, things get silent and still. the best way to describe it is the perfect moment of jean-luc pacard's sweetie in star trek nemesis i think it was. these are perfect moments.

the man at the grocery store, put his arm on my back (i ran over his foot with my cart last week, we always stop and talk to him, and i wondered what that bump was, and he said,
it's okay.
i said,
i'm so sorry, i wondered what that bump was!
this week, he smiled and said,
you're so kind.
thank you,
i said. and it is just because we stop and say hello to him when we walk in.)

yesterday, my girl even said,
mom, why are you in such a good mood today?

because i'm doing what i was created to do.

what does that feel like?

do you know how it feels when you're in art class?


that is how it feels.

i can't describe it. it didn't happen over night. but one poem led to another, led to another. that is how i ended up here. that is why i got so pissed off about missing the last intensive. it silenced me in ways i could not accept.

if you have a clue what your gifting is, even if you don't (listen to your heart, ask yourself, what do i WANT to do?), then do that thing. maybe not exclusively. let's be real. julia cameron suggests making ten teeny tiny changes. things you can do right now, today. my first list included, get a tan. all i had to do was go outside scantily clad. that was easy to accomplish but it made such a difference in my head. no one told me to stay indoors and get bleached out. i told myself i was too busy to go outside. so i bought a bikini top, slipped in to some shorts, and spent hours outside (i'm not much for eeking slowly into things).

that tan is gone, but the point is not. what ten teeny tiny things can you do, can i do today, to make me feel. to give me hope. to just satisfy some desire. going for a walk was another thing on my list. very doable (plus we were broke then, so i had to do all free stuff).

anyway, i'm not saying quit your day job and start making macrame, i'm saying, ask yourself, what do i want to do and what can i do right this second to move in that direction? don't let money be an issue. there is always something that can be done. the hard part is asking the question and taking time to listen for the answer.