The Post in Which I Review A Dance Performance? Ok.

Let’s start this out by saying I am not a columnist anywhere, I am not an expert of ANY world – let alone the world of dance, and my review isn’t going into any fancymag or you know, going to be read by a whole lot of people.  I do my writing thang for me, in hopes that someone somewhere (besides me) gets something out of it, gets a laugh, feels uplifted, whatever.  I’m just sayin.  Also, I’m no dancer.

But I fucking used to be.  I was a dance minor for a hot minute in college, actually.  I don’t talk about it a lot because it was short-lived and I gave it up pretty quickly.  Ever since I was a small child, dance has been a way for me to express everything from joy to sorrow.  I may be older now, but I’ve never NOT loved dancing, or watching those that do it a million times better than I ever could.

Enter Keone and Mari Madrid.  I don’t watch network TV all that much, had no idea they have been quite the dance sensation.  We’ve lived in San Diego since July and are finally getting settled, and I heard about this performance called Beyond Babel that was calling San Diego its home through November on the local NPR arts segment.  I looked it up and watched the posted videos about how they basically turned a warehouse-type small building into a theatre, how they came up for the concept for this show, and I didn’t care how much the tickets were anymore.  I was instantly captivated by the creators.  This show.  Holy shit.  If you live anywhere in Southern California or are coming to visit anytime soon, you need to see it.  If it goes on tour, which I hope it does, buy tickets as soon as you hear about it.  But I mean, let’s talk about why.  Because me just saying it’s great is all nice and everything, but if I felt so strongly to write about it the minute I got home, there are clearly things you gotta know.  IMMEDIATELY.

 

I appreciate a lot of different forms of dance, and hip-hop is among the most demanding  – grueling level changes, impeccable isolations, high energy – I can say, even when I was young, this shit kicked my ass and it wasn’t even super prevalent yet at that time as a form you could learn in a class.  What Keone and Mari have done in Beyond Babel is create a story through their choreography that is both timely and timeless – the story of a wall, the soldiers of that wall, of love torn asunder and separated, of death and life, and of the divisions of the world we live in today.  Set to contemporary music, every piece is crafted in such a way that you feel this story, not just see it and hear it.  The rest of the ensemble, in muted shades of street clothes for most of the numbers, shine – no matter that they are wearing grey.  The use of six pieces of tall, rolling chain-link fences, various crocheted designs adorning most, is so inventive and adds a dimension to the story and the dancing that is hard and cold when necessary – bright and joyous at other times, with all of the crochet work on display.  The rolling fences, some wooden crates for levels, and crochet yarn – very few props are needed to depict what the performance intends to get across to the audience.

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While Keone and Mari created the show along with production company Hideaway Circus, the other dancers in the show are undeniable in their force, their love of what they are doing, and their sheer power demonstrated through every move.  The subtle nuances in their upper body movements especially are just fucking amazing.  If you are a fan of syncopation and dance being choreographed to more than just the obvious rhythm of a song, you will be amazed.  The slower pieces are simply beautiful, with sustained movements and long, slow, controlled expressions.  The amount of effort it takes to perform the slow pieces, as any dancer will tell you, is just as intense as a fast and energetic piece.

So I could talk for forever about what I can remember of each piece,  but I think what’s more important – and what I think the creators intend – is for me to talk about how it makes me feel.  From the opening sequence, I felt hope, pride, beauty at these performers who are 100% emoting all that is happening right now in the world and giving those emotions back to the audience.  The producers were sitting behind me and to the left, and I’m pretty sure they thought I might have been nuts – but checking their Instagram feed, I am not the only person that evidently cries during this show.  There are movements that are so dynamic, so expressive, so fundamentally a depiction of everything many of us are feeling during the times in which we live that one can not do much else but cry.  I have seen a lot of live performances in my life.  I have been part of a performance a time or two.  I can honestly say that this was like nothing I’ve ever seen and it has made a lasting impression.  I want to see it again.  And again.  And again.  Thank you to these amazing dancers that have created something so powerful that people can’t help but talk, write, and think about it for what I think will be years to come.  Thank you for taking a snapshot of where we are in history and making it personal –  more than that.  Making it pivotal.

Bravo.

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Ooo La La, Look Who’s Fancy Now!

Thanks to the artsy lady over at Crescent Over the Crossroad and the presider over the Hex Rated site who can make shit look way better than I can.  I AM NOT BELITTLING MYSELF – I know my strengths.  Making things look cool is not my bag, but it is hers for sure.  Anyway, this is nicer to look at, the font has serifs (FUCK YES), and no one has to read that tiny, tiny print anymore.  AND SNAKES!!!

Anyway, stay tuned for more.  I plan on…continuing.

Decidedly Not Dead

I have started this post about 20 times in my mind.  The original effort keeps coming off as snarky, shitty even – and worse yet, I managed to once again get real comfy with doing what I do best:  Belittle myself and all the trappings that come with that.  Make light of my accomplishments.  Poo-poo my struggles.  Minimize my insecurities and my vulnerability.

To which I say, Fuck that.

And I can probably only write this from a place of honesty right now because a little podcast that is now absolutely ginormous and epic has saved my life and thousands of other lives.  This post may or may not turn out to be about that.

Shit’s hard, y’all.

My husband and I packed up and moved across the country. That was not easy. Being new, in a new job, in a new city, in a new state, Is not easy.  If anything, being new is definitely one thing:  It is vulnerable. I have had to get over saying “I don’t know how this works here”, I have had to get over being in the wrong lane 1000 times, And I have definitely had to get over not having enough room for all my shit.  If anything, I needless shit.  I want to go explore my new city, but I am so fucking tired.  It is literally all I can do to drag myself off the couch to eat something.  Which is another thing. As tired as I am, I still have had plenty of energy to gain 10 pounds.  No, we have not eaten healthy anything since we’ve been here, but time is of the essence and sleep is a hot commodity.  Cooking anything, healthy or not, has not been a priority.

None of my friends are here.

But I knew all this before we started.  I knew what I was up against.  I guess I just thought I wasn’t too old to do this, or if I was, I wouldn’t feel it.  Trust me, I feel every bit my age lately.  And It’s not like I regret the decision to move.  I don’t.  I know it was the right move to make.  I’m really glad that we did it.  I know that it will get easier in time.  That being somewhere 100% new doesn’t get comfortable overnight.  I know that I will have time to explore and do all the kinds of things that I used to, and not be so tired all the time.  But right now, I can’t see the light at the end of this particular tunnel.  Yesterday I woke up at 4:45 AM (my new wake-up time, SUPER NOT AWESOME) with a giant sleep wrinkle in my face, and it did not go away until 1 PM.  Everybody said DRINK MORE WATER!  Newsflash, I’ve been drinking lots of water.  The problem is I am almost 50 years old.  My skin just doesn’t do what it used to do.  It’s OK, I’ll get used to that too.

I’ve cried a lot.  Sometimes it’s a release.  Sometimes it’s because I’m sad.  Sometimes it’s because I’m frustrated.  I know I need to find someone to talk to – I was used to going to therapy every other week and add Find a Therapist to the list of Shit I Need to Do.  So many things are not the same.  All the old things were so…familiar.  Comfortable.  Easy.

And despite all of this, I am happy.  I do love it here.  It’s going to be great.  I’m just impatient, and I want it to be great right the fuck now. I know it’s going to take more time then I’m giving it.  So when I feel this way, I just have to slow down and think about all the great things. It’s beautiful here.  The ocean is right the fuck there.  I see it everyday when I’m driving to work.  I can walk outside at lunch and barely break a sweat.  There are a million things to do.  The food is fantastic.  I have not had a bad taco since I got here, and I have had many tacos in a month.  But I am tired.  And my perfectionism Is really trying to take over.  I won’t let it.  Things are not perfect.  They are not going to be perfect.  My need to show you something different – in writing, in what I say, or on social media – the need is strong, but keeping it real seems more important.  I’ll show you a tree.  I’ll show you the beach.  Occasionally you’ll see Tired Old Me.  And that is who I really am right now.

And oh, how’s this?  WE MOVED ACROSS THE FUCKING COUNTRY.  We sold half our shit, sold 2 vehicles, packed up the rest of our shit, packed up 2 cats, drove across the motherfucking desert, lived without most of our belongings for 12 days, started new jobs, got drivers’ licenses, insurance, an apartment, HOLY SHIT WE DID ALL THAT!!!  I have to remember, this was a Big.  Fucking.  Deal.  Don’t play it off like “oh yeah well people do it all the time blah-dee-blah you’re not special.”  True, I am not special, and also true, people do it all the time.  AND YET STILL.  It’s a huge accomplishment that we did it.  Or even thought of doing it.  CELEBRATE, and FUCKING HOORAY.

I think sometimes my penchant for needless worry makes it hard for me to want to do anything outside of stay home and try to make the apartment look neat and clean, or do other things that really aren’t adding anything to my personal enjoyment.  So, circling back to that little podcast that grew into a monolith:  Every Murderino knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Karen and Georgia have made it possible for me to just do the damn thing, and not think about it.   WHO CARES IF IT’S NOT PERFECT.  IT IS PERFECT BECAUSE IT’S NOT PERFECT.  I was trying to live by this philosophy already, but then they came along and made it OK for everybody to do it. I’m just so grateful that they talk to their listeners about mental health the way they do, And make it OK for us to feel whatever we’re feeling, whenever were feeling it.  No one can dictate that.  I wanna tell you that this life that I have moved to is Instant Awesome. It is less than that at this time.  And it might not be awesome for a while.  Right now, I’m just trying to roll with the punches, get some sleep, drink some water, not go crazy.

And make it home.

 

 

 

 

 

May the 4th Be With the MFing Resistance

I am not sure how much more we can all take, those of us that want and expect decency to prevail in this Upside-Down we are in right now.  It’s all so gradual, right?  I mean, everything that’s happening may not have really touched you or a person you love yet.  You have health insurance from your employer.  You are in good health.  You are not an immigrant.  You are not a Muslim.  Or brown, for that matter.  Or a woman.

But there’s going to be a time when a category rolls around that hits you.  Because they are gunning for everyone that is not rich and white and male.

The Republicans of the House of Representatives, save 20, voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act today.  They have passed the American Health Care Act, which will leave millions of people without access to medical insurance coverage.  It also guts Medicaid.  While this bill would still have to go to the Senate, to committee, back to the House, blah blah blah before it passes, the point is:  Republicans cracked open a few cold ones to celebrate making dying for millions of people a more affordable option than paying for health care.

So I hope that goes down realllly smooth for ya, fuckers.  Come on back home to your constituents.  We are waiting for you.  If you want a class war, you might just get it.  The poor, the elderly, the women, the immigrants, we are all waiting for you.  Come back and face us at town halls.  Come back and hear more of the complaints that you’ve been hearing for months, except now they will be louder.  More vehement.  More desperate.  If you didn’t like it when women cried at your town halls or children questioned you, prepare yourselves.

I mean, what difference does it make?  You’re winning, right?  That’s what matters.

For everyone who is empathetic out there – for those of us who know in a short time, we too will feel the long poking stick of GOP “justice” and “freedom” – man your battle stations.  The sound in the distance is sirens.  If you have just been thinking all of this is a bad dream, now is the time to wake the fuck up.  There are elections for mayors and city council places happening right now.  Get educated about the candidates.  Vote.  Write letters.  Use Resistbot.  Run for office.  Do anything except think this is all going to go away.   Do anything except wait for someone else to save this particular princess, that statuesque lady in the Harbor that other countries used to look toward in order to find safety.

It happens gradually.  The Death Star wasn’t built in a day.

 

So What Will You Do?

As I stood in my bedroom folding towels while listening to thunder in the distance and rain actively – well, raining – I had a deep thought:  There will be a time in the future where my consciousness may or may not exist, or know what it feels like to fold towels while it’s raining outside, or what listening to thunder feels like.  Yeah, it’s that kind of Sunday.

I just finished Shit Townwhich got me to this exact plane of thought, I think.  If you have not listened to it, go.  Just stop reading this.  See you in about 7 hours.  It is an amazing look at one man’s life, a man who possibly understood both the finite and terrifyingly infinite concept of time better than many.  A man whose mind was, to say the least, tortured and complex.

It made me think about where I am now, in this very moment in time, in my life.  I have read hundreds of amazing books.  I hope to read hundreds more.  I have laughed so hard with friends that tears spilled from my eyes and my breath was hard to catch.  I have spent countless hours balled up in a small, dark place in my heart, paralyzed by failure, crushed by unrequited everything, unable and many times unwilling to dig into the marrow of what might be the cause.  I have witnessed selfless acts of encompassing kindness;  I have put myself square in the majesty of Redwoods; I have lived sometimes too cautiously and done enough reckless things to at least have some stories.

As I listen to the purr of the cat on my lap while the rain softens, thunder hums and a bird cries out nearby, I know I am changed.  I am changed by this moment, and every moment.  I am beyond grateful that I get to experience these changes.  I am in awe of sometimes every leaf I see, every duck I watch land on water, every time my cat snuggles up to me and lets me rub his belly, and the feeling I get when I hear my husband’s voice.

I don’t always show my gratitude for these moments, but I’d like to think that overall, my life, this journey that can be so frustrating and yet so inspiring all at the same time – that my life is full exactly as it is.  I would not alter one minute of this life.

I will do my best to be aware of the minutes remaining, and to always, always realize that the “big picture” is right in front of me.  All I have to do is be still and open my eyes.

 

Sometimes All We Have is Music

Oh hey, are you reading this?  Then my guess is you, too, are no stranger to disappointment or depression.  Are you human?  Alright then.  We’ve all been there – you got some less-than-good news, you had a bit of a soul-crushing defeat, someone you love has left you in one way or another – your friends see that you’ve put on a fucking smile anyway and then you know, you still gotta pay the stupid car insurance and go to work and buy toilet paper.  How do we keep going?  There are many answers to this complex question, and while I am a big fan in recent years of really feeling all the feels and figuring out why I feel the way I do and what, if any, action I can take, there are days when you just have to slap a motherfucking band-aid on that shit and say to life “WHAT ELSE.”

While you may really need that band-aid, I propose the theory that there is one thing that is that, but maybe more:  Music.

Music can get you out of a mood, put you in a mood, cause you to explore that mood, or shut out everything in your life that is just not a thing you can deal with right the fuck now.  As I blasted The Cult’s “Love Removal Machine” on the way to work this morning, I followed it with Deftones, Marilyn Manson, and Pantera just to get some fucking anger out of the way.  We all have our own thing.  There will be a moment in the next 48 hours in which I will probably sit bawling in my car to OH YOU FUCKING NAME IT, because my Spotify is filled with shit that will make you cry.  (Of course, when the dance-able joy of New Order’s “1963” makes me get teary, it doesn’t take much. Lyrics can hit me in the breadbasket.)

What I am trying to say is that for me, music is a key that can unlock numerous doors, or lock them back up if need be.  Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you need until that perfect song hits you.  There are other times where you know that if you roll all the windows down and turn up the volume, you’ll be allowed, in that space, to feel exactly what you need to feel.

Turn up the volume.  Either way, that guy next to you at the light totally wins.

 

 

 

 

“I Don’t Get Along with Women”

Yeah.  I used to say this.  I used to say it a lot.  I used to wear this phrase like a badge of fucking honor.  But it never was really all that true.

What the phrase should really be is “I am scared of myself.  I am scared of my own power.  I do not want to look in a mirror and see all the things I am too frightened to be or not be.”

Today is International Women’s Day, and I can say this:  I was wrong for a really long time.  It was never about not liking women.  It was about being uncomfortable in my own skin.  Then I joined roller derby, and I didn’t have a choice but to look in that shitty mirror every fucking day.  Roller derby served as a really great halfway mark between feeling extremely uncomfortable around women and conversely, feeling great around them.  But yes, it was only a halfway mark.  Just being part of a large group of women who loved the same sport did not bestow upon me the kind of affection and care I feel for the women in my life today.

Because looking in that mirror is hard, y’all.  I saw in every one of you what I hated about myself, and what I wanted for myself but was too scared/unmotivated/unwilling to go get.

So what changed?  Me.

My perspective shifted to one of gratitude and realization for all that this mirror has done for me.  To look through the mirror and to really dig down deep and find yourself in the faces and hearts of your sisters – that’s what has changed for me.  The ugly, the splendid, the spectrum of human frailty and emotion and strength is all there.  Was always there.  In you, and in me.

So if you also find yourself saying “I don’t get along with women,” maybe it is time to dig a little deeper into the murky pit of why that is.  It’s a little gross in that pit.  But I can guarantee you will come back out of it with something you didn’t have before:  You.

To all the women who have spoken up, fought, persisted, and just kept livin’ in my lifetime and throughout the centuries, and to all the women who have not found their voices yet:

Thank you.