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The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.

Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...

And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mondays are the 'time of my life'

I like inspirational "just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly."

Transformation comes in many forms, and often is accompanied by something like a death or apparent death. I liked what my second cousin Susan said at lunch the other day when she was quoting her dad. Everything we choose means letting go of comething else. It is related to a sickness I referenced in last night's late night post, "grass is greener" or life-envy.

We cannot simultaneously enjoy the single life and married life. We cannot be both a non-parent and a parent. We cannot in this time-bound existence have it all at once. So we are potentially doomed to always be cursed with the lament "what if?"

In moments that could escape us, when we least expect it, we should see if we can catch ourselves having a 'time of our lives' or recognise that someday we could look back on even this strange stressful time as somehow blessed or charmed.

We've already done it at some point, most of us. In the time of our senior year of highschool, among prepping for exams, writing entrance essays for college applications or fighting with a parent or a sibling but five years later when we graduate college with no clear direction to point ourselves in (just me? Ok, fine you can think of another example) we find ourselves at odds and loose ends missing the dreaded fifth period that today no longer means AP Math torture.

So today, in the middle of my week of Mondays, I will try to savor the stress and know that I am having a 'time of my life' right now.

case of the 'mondays'

Any fan of the movie Office Space will get the reference in my title.

I really shouldn't complain, since my office is a ballroom, and we get to be surrounded by music and dancing so much of the time.

But this is my blog, my little slice of life and I'm here to tell you the grass is not always greener. And while I am a lucky girl, and get to do something fun for my living it is absolutely still a job with stress and deadlines and other not-so-fun things. So today may be a calendar Tuesday, and tomorrow a calendar Wednesday, but with all the things that need doing and conversations that need having and feeling way behind I am declaring this my week of Mondays. I am open to having a case of them on all the days this whole week. On Saturday we have a short work event, and then the afternoon through the next real Monday will be play time. I am going to see a comedienne (Anjelah Johnson) Saturday night, you may have heard of her and if you haven't you need to watch this clip right now!

But until Saturday at around 2:30 pm, every day may feel like Monday. I am breathing, ducking, and smiling through the best I can.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What I Love About Cats

1. Cats are dignified. They are self-cleaning, and also easy to potty-train. They don't typically drool, slobber or jump up on you and knock you over.

2. Cats are independent, but can also be loving. They are proud, but can also be playful. They are sometimes aloof, and sometimes friggin' hilarious. Of course they will climb on things, knock shit over, and generally let you know they are the true reigning entity.

3. Not all cats are, but the ones I have liked the most are sensitive to your needs and tuned in. I have had powerful psychic connections with a handful of cats. They sometimes seem to have deep wisdom, and will comfort when comfort is needed.

4. They make their moods known with their tails, ears, and eyes. You always know right where you stand with a cat in any given moment. If you pay attention to details. Or de-tails as the case may be. (I crack myself up.)

5. There is usually a reason they vocalize. Meowing for its own sake is limited to mating/howling in my experience (And stops once they are fixed). Typically. Unlike the incessant barking for no apparent reason.

6. Their priorities are napping, eating, napping, stretching, napping, hunting, napping, cleaning themselves, purring, napping, and did I mention napping? What a life...

Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure I was a cat in a past life. I have met some exceptional and wonderful dogs (Gunther the great dane, Bodie the golden retriever, Juno the husky, to name a few) but when I think about dogs I like, the qualities I look for in a dog are kind of cat-like. I met a very sweet and quiet chocolate lab. Gunther was in my dream the other night...this dog is as big as a pony no lie.

So yeah, I'm a "cat person."

Cosmic Kotzen, Cosmigasm, and other Meditation experiences

Sometimes meditation is about stilling the mind, sitting still, ignoring the body and its discomforts and fidgets. Ignoring limbs falling asleep, slowing breath, dismissing all distractions.

I admit this type of meditation is still a challenge for me in many ways.

I have also experienced meditation as connection with something both inside and outside of myself that of course defies description, but naturally I want to express some of the experiences.

I do this (somewhat) selectively...

Kotzen is the German word for vomit. Last fall during a very powerful session I did a lot of energetic vomiting, purging some old emotion that needed to be purged.There was some crying, some screams were ripped from the depths of me and some cosmic kotzen. There is no better word in my mind. This was not a conscious effort, it was something I allowed to move through me. Just like with real vomit, I felt much better afterward.

In a separate experience, my body experienced orgasm during a meditation. Just like I described above, I made no conscious effort, I merely allowed it to happen. It is slightly strange, confessing this experience. But I'm just being honest and vulnerable, and I suppose I am throwing caution to the wind in a way. It actually happened twice.

I have had vivid visual journeys or flashes during meditations, some of which I'm sure I'll share at some point, though I feel maybe a film or photo would be better than a thousand words (so the saying goes, and I'm inclined to agree)

I wonder if others have experienced something similar...

Shame and Flattery

She believed him when he told her they must have been soul mates in a past life. She felt important. She felt cherished. She felt loved. By a man. This man also loved her mother. She only five years old, but age doesn't matter in soul currency and she was an old soul. Everybody said so. And she felt open and connected to the universe. Why should she sort and be selective? This man was giving her love...maybe true timeless soul level love. How on earth would anyone ever try to turn away from that kind of love at any age, but especially as young as five. She didn't, because it would never have occurred to her to turn him away. Love is responded to with love in an instinctive way at that age. And anyway it was mostly words then. He treated me like an equal when he was loving. But not in a fatherly way.

So the bond was strong. My love for him and acceptance of him was thorough. And in important ways he disrespected my mental boundaries. He would surprise me by yanking back my chair unexpectedly. This was scary because it was high and backless, and after he did it the first time, or maybe it was after the fourth or fifth, but at some point I asked him never to do that to me again. But he did what he wanted. I was watchful, and scared, and didn't trust and maybe I giggled as young kids might in fearful anticipation, and somehow signaled to him that the game was ok or funny, but it was not ok and my fear was real and a nervous giggle should not make me complicit. And I loved him.

And he tickled me mercilessly, maybe because he liked to hear me laugh, which always started joyful. But then I would run out of air, and he would still be tickling me, and I was afraid I would die because I couldn't breathe in and I was begging him to stop so I could breathe and he must have stopped because I am alive but what it taught me was that my "no" was worthless. And I loved him. And I also wanted his love and approval.

When his friend came over, they smoked cigars and drank beer and I wanted to be included somehow, and he told his friend to watch while he tilted his beer and dribbled a few drops on my head. I felt like I was less than nothing, less than human, less than less than less than. And still I needed his love. This man that hurt my feelings, this man that did what he wanted, this man that offered me soul-currency lip service love. And I didn't understand his love, but I wanted it. And I loved him because my love was pure.

He tested me in a strange way once, without realizing it would be a test. Maybe we never fully know a test is a test until we go through it. We were walking up to an outdoor bank teller and a little old lady in front of us in line had dropped a hundred Deutsche Marks but being old and that it was a bill and not a coin she hadn't heard or realized it. I picked it up and he told me to run with it. I never would have, no matter what. I pity him in a way. I handed her back her money, and that is just who I am from the core of my being. He didn't make me even question it, though I suppose he tried to.

Just as I question everything, I can understand now how he hooked me and then dangled me like some fun toy for his amusement. How he could use my natural curiosity to make me an accomplice so that culpability could be blurred enough that he was never alone responsible. At that age, there were few sexual intentions, though bath time he allowed me to explore his body in ways that were...questionable...he never fondled or abused my body. I suppose I feel lucky that he waited until a much later visit when I was a highschool young lady. Do you see? I feel lucky that he waited? Not the outrage you expect, because I still love this awful man maybe even now, today, on some cosmic terrible illogical level in some timeless weird and twisted way. He did more than I wanted him to do, but never penetration or rape or even other things. My experience is so miniscule compared to some I feel shame even claiming I was abused. Shame even calling it what it was, a violation of father-hood. Because while I didn't let him do things, I couldn't stop him from talking about or maybe I'm the lucky one still because like I said, his tongue didn't make it past my teeth when he tried to french kiss me, his hand didn't make it above my knee, he only held my breast through my shirt and I'm lucky. Lucky and guilty and lost.

Because how can a lucky girl like me recognize the cosmic love again when it has paraded through my life in disguise up until now? How can I separate the love and the treatment when they were so entangled at such a young age?

This all happened to a different me, a distant me, more than 30 years ago something twisted and strange and I am healing the patchwork as I can. I came across a picture of our little family unit briefly a couple weeks ago and I was unprepared caught unawares and I felt my mother's eyes on me checking to see if I was ok.

I'm Not Okay.

Today I was Social. Sort of.

I met my second cousin for lunch, and my best friend for dinner and a movie. We saw the actor from Criminal Minds at the galleria, which was kind of fun.

Then I decided to go to a neighborhood Irish pub for a beer. Alone. This was already a venture beyond my normal comfort zone. I sat and watched a baseball game that was re-running, and found myself enjoying the game. Been a while since I watched, and it brought back great memories of watching or even listening on the radio. Bases loaded, no grand slam, but got to see some action.

I decided what the hell, and got a second beer, which is a lot for me because I am a lightweight.

It was still only the 5th inning.

Then I heard someone say something about a dance floor.

so of course I had to go. Because for me that is familiar. Safe. No one can hit on me on the dance floor. Plus I just cut loose like I'm in a music video because I can do what I want without waiting for a lead, and I can really interpret the music however I please.

of course that was not the purpose. I was supposed to break out of my comfort zone, not fall right back into it.

Baby steps.

It was a step. And it was different. Maybe I'll do this again. I don't know. I didn't exactly make new friends or anything, but I did do something new.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Most Men Learn to Dance

At the risk of offending someone, I am going to make up a percentage here and say that 95% of men who learn to ballroom or partner dance do it for a woman. Or maybe women, plural.

He is either trying to appeal to women in general so he can woo them or take them home or date them anyway. Or he is hoping to please, impress, or appease a particular woman.

I know it's a sweeping generalisation, but I think I'm probably right. If anything the percentage might be too low. I know there is a small and valient contingency of men who enjoy learning for its own sake or for themselves. Some artistic expressive choreographer is presently annoyed with me for making this statement.

Oh wait, they'll probably never read this anyway.

Back to my train of thought.

So the single women in the dance scene are doing the same thing, kind of. They might be open to the idea of dating, or even enjoy the flirtatious nature of the partner dance scene. Maybe some ladies are even on the prowl. On the whole, though, I would say more women are content to dance for the sake of dancing rather than as a means to an end. Since I'm making up percentages I'll say 40% of women are in it to find a man for dating/relationships/sex, and the rest are there to dance. Again, maybe someone will disagree. Or be annoyed that I'm making up statistics. But this is my post so I can do as I please.

Anyway, I have something on my mind about couples. First a message to the ladies who have a partner who is willing to learn to dance with or for you: How many years of nagging, whining, begging, hinting, complaining, etc did it take to get him to agree to take lessons or classes with you/for you?? If you can't smile, shut up and be grateful once he's here you will nag him right back out the door. Rome was not built in a day, and he already knows he's not leading you do not need to announce it to the room or your teacher or even whisper it in his ear. He gets a million boyfriend or husband points for even making it to the lesson.

Women...sometimes I just wonder how those ladies would respond to themselves. My guess is she wouldn't put up with it nearly as well as some of these long-suffering, sweet, patient boyfriend/husband types.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Memories of India

My memories of India are vibrant and vivid, if limited. Of course some might be impressed at how much I remember considering I was three and a half years old.

One memory involves a bike incident. The lady watching over me had said I could ride on the back, but would need to keep my legs apart. I remember thinking it would be no problem. At first it was fine. Then my legs grew a bit tired, and began to sag, and I kept having to reset the distance. I must have been in a tired moment, and she had to swerve and the skin on the back of my heel was painfully shaved off. Not fun, but a vivid recollection.

Another memory was at a farmer's market type of setting. I remember her haggling vaguely over some kind of produce, and I wandered to the end of the table and wound up standing in a pile of ants. They crawled up my legs, and then they began biting, because they were fire ants aka red ants. I distinctly remember being lifted out of the pile and friendly hands brushing the biters off my legs.

The ground was always really hot. The cows were emaciated. The 'toilet' was a hole in the ground meant for grown-ups to straddle, and since I was too little to fit my legs on either side I had to hang off the edge and hope I didn't lose my balance. I remember a beggar woman holding a baby, and asking if we could give her a coin and a certain man responded that it probably wasn't even her baby. I still wish we had given her a coin, because my heart went out to her and the baby. And if it isn't her baby it doesn't matter because her need was still real. Or maybe food...something. Not that we were wealthy, just that we had a heart and enough. And my need to offer help was not met that day.

The most important memory though was running around with the other kids. It was an entity, a group without boundaries. Kids of varying ages, and no discernible leader, they accepted me--swept me up-- and included me in whatever was happening. There is no distinguished member of the group that stands out, no adventure in particular that I can recall. Just a complete feeling of belonging, joining in, flowing together like so many drops of water in a stream moving in the same direction.

Maybe that is part of why I like dancing in a group so much. It is a silent communion of shared experience, and it is the closest I've come to reproducing that same feeling. Wordless, soundless, we all move to the same music and when it's done we re-pair and do it again.

This acceptance was, by the way, in stark contrast once we got to Germany. And that can't be blamed on a language barrier, because I didn't speak Hindi either. Someday I may want to revisit India to see if I still find that feeling there. Maybe it was because I was not self-conscious then. Maybe it was an age thing. But the kids in Germany did not include me, and made efforts to stay away from me. In Germany I related better with people much older than myself. So strange.

Movie Night

I shared a movie with two coworkers last night, and it was a worthwhile film (IMO)

I got home quite late, but we laughed and it seemed they enjoyed the quirky thought-provoking docu-dramatization.

Funny how watching something in a new environment can make it seem like a new experience.

If you've never seen What the Bleep Do We Know, I recommend seeing it.

Sometime soon I will elaborate, but I must get on with my day!

Have an intentional day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nude Beach Lesson

As a relatively young person, our family was heading for a swim in the not actually blue Danube river in Austria. We were going to a section that is a nude beach, and being a bit self-conscious I asked if there would be a changing area once we got there. The ensuing laughter resulted in me wearing my bathing suit underneath my shorts for the bike ride. Funny how we expect to feel does not always match how we feel...reminds me of a Malcolm Gladwell comment about being pretty poor predictors of our own happiness. I was sure wearing my bathing suit would make me feel more comfortable at this nude beach. I was wrong. Being the only person in sight wearing a bathing suit made me so self-conscious because I was getting side-long glances. Turns out I felt much more comfortable blending in by being just like everyone else---nude.

Which brings me to one of the running theme questions/concepts. Our human need for belonging, blending in, feeling 'normal' or whatever you might call that urge is an acknowledged need. At the same time we seem to have an equally strong need for recognition. Are these needs in opposition? Can they both be fulfilled simultaneously or are they alternating needs?  Must we swing from one extreme to another to achieve balance in our lives, or can we walk a tightrope of fine balance between being remarkable individuals and homogeneous blob-like sense of belonging?

It reminds me in a way of Plotinus' one versus many. Or the quantum physics conundrum of particle and wave behavior. How can something be both? But many things are both. And maybe we can never remove the observer and therefore we will spend eternity chasing our tail. I just hope someone is amused by our antics the way I am amused watching a dog chase its own tail.

It hurts my brain, kind of like trying to actually comprehend infinity. Or zero. They kind of occupy the same space of unknowable-ness in my brain. But maybe, even if they are unknow-able, we can feel like we have an understanding.

Instinctively belonging and being unique are not only not mutually exclusive--they sort of might be two sides of the same coin.

In any case, I thought I would share this nude beach lesson. I was much more at ease blending in with my fellow nudists than I imagined I would be!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Controlled Chaos

Excitement rises, nerves stretched tight. The unexpected is her game. She holds the light, remains calm, the storm is rising and she remains the eye of it. Tempers flare, feelings hurt, being responsive to the moment. She observes someone blink too long, someone hold their breath. She observes nuances in expressions, facial, postural, inflection in voice. The boat is always rocking, and she does her utmost to rebalance. One person is getting a bit pretentious, and she reminds them of a recent mistake. Another person is down on themselves, and she focuses their attention on just how far they've come. Someone is stressing out about something they can't control so she tries to make them laugh. She looks for instability, and does what she can to rebalance. Someone in need, someone who can provide. Just as unpredictable as can be, she makes an art of letting go daily. Much like the activity of following on the dance floor, she is in a state of readiness. Trying to remain unattached to the method and sometimes unattached to the outcome, she swerves, ducks, dodges and avoids danger/judgment/offense. Because she is a dancer...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Adrenaline Junkie?

Ok, maybe not. I mean I hate roller coasters. I don't think I'll ever bungee jump.

But in the morning sometimes I stay in bed, full bladder, reading or browsing internets until I think I might burst and then make a mad dash for the bathroom.

And I make a sport of delaying the inevitable, racing the clock to see how fast I can shower and choose an outfit and hit the road.

I think procrastinating may be one of those adrenaline things. I get a sort of satisfaction approaching pride in being able to pull "it" off, against all odds. I'm that good. Most of the time no one but me can be impressed at my antics, because I have become clever enough to hide the close calls from the public eye. My failures are conveniently private. My celebrations are also by necessity private.

Here I am, typing this post. It means my morning routine will have a flurried frenzied slam dunk in a fifteen minute window rather than a lazy leisurely half hour. It means I may not have time to stop for coffee...or do I dare? Do I push the envelope? Do I drive 72 mph instead of 70 so that I can squeeze 5 more minutes in for coffee? Am I just trying to suck the marrow out of life? My private self-induced rush could easily be shifted into a full hour of primping if I enjoyed that sort of thing. But I enjoy the mad dash. I'm impressed with myself. I like being a wash and go girl letting my curls air dry, or slicking my hair into a bun. I don't enjoy make up, I guess I would rather someone like me for me than for some feature enhancing smokey eye-liner.

I guess it's about control. Which is why I can be an adrenaline junkie that hates roller coasters. I take calculated risks on my terms. I don't mind winning privately.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Can You Picture Me Doing Stand-Up Comedy?

I guess I should explain a little. I loved theater, acting, improv and such in my younger days. I'm sure I would have loved musical theater if I ever felt confident about singing. I have performance anxiety, the dreams about forgetting all my lines or not remembering my cue. But I also get a rush from being on stage. I have to work up my courage or be in the right mood to go door to door asking for donations for a good cause or make cold calls.

So this year my friend and I have gone to see stand-up comedy a handful of times, and each time we were noticing there were only men in the line up. It got us both wondering...but it got me thinking about my material. What would I talk about if I ever did stand up? Would it appeal to both genders? (Some of the guys, while funny, were only relating to guys...) I don't know if I will ever have the courage to actually stand up in front of a group of people and try to get them to laugh. (That's a lot of pressure, people...I mean I can say something funny spontaneously and get a response because humor is unexpected and so on. But when you go to a comedy club stand-up show there are Expectations!)

But if I did, here's a little piece I've been imagining:

"I'd like to give a little disclaimer here, folks. It's my first time trying stand-up and I'm a little nervous you might not laugh. But it got me thinking (I do that a lot) about all the professions you would never want to know it was their first time. And yet first times must be had by all, n'est-ce pas?

Here's an example; Welcome aboard flight 9723 on route to Chicago, folks. I'll be your pilot today and it's my first time!
Or how about when your anesthesiologist has you counting backwards, and you overhear the surgeon telling the nurse it's his first time.

So anyway, at least the worst thing that could happen if I bomb this today is you won't laugh and I might cry and nobody dies so yay.

I already mentioned that I think too much, so here we go. I'd like to have a chat with the programmers behind the automatic flushing toilets in public restrooms. First because it is not very environmentally sound, but also because if the damn thing is so sensitive that it flushes before I am even done hanging my purse on the hook why on earth can't I get the sink to flow for me to wash my hands after without doing a new dance called "wave every angle under the faucet?!" I mean, let's go there. I'm hanging my purse and it flushes, I'm hovering delicately, hoping it won't flush again until I'm done and it flushes, and then I have to wipe down any splash back. I know, I know...but let's get the people who made *those* censors to help the faucet people. PS I hate not being able to adjust the temperature on the faucet.

Men do have it easier. I'm not gonna lie, I'm jealous about the peeing. Y'all can write your name in the snow. That's one of my favorites. But also it's so much easier and faster for you to pee in the bushes, into a cup in a moving car, or even out the window. And you never have a line. And let's talk about the easy access clothing, zippers, slits, everything is designed to make peeing fast and efficient and convenient and comfortable. We have things like bathing suits, leotards and ball gowns, all of which require complete disrobing in order to pee. Not to mention if the floor is  wet, and we're hoping it's water people, the disrobing is complicated by efforts to not get said clothing dirty. Then there's all the aforementioned hovering, and getting nylons back on and getting dressed, and the stupid faucet dance, so guys now you don't have to wonder why it takes us so long anymore.

Alright, well we all survived my first time, so remember to wash your hands...if you can."

So there you have it. Hope it made you laugh, dear reader. :)

Studio Culture

I'm sure others will nod along as they read this one because you don't have to be a dancer or teacher to understand. Being a part of a dance studio is nothing short of having a big extended family. I had a small family unit as a child, so this is a rich environment for me.

In a family, there are members who don't see eye to eye, people who disagree on important topics, avoid one another or fight, and some who are quirky or a little "out there." At the end of the day, lucky families manage to at least gather for holidays and break bread. We have some tensions, we have some elegant topic changes, we dance around certain issues. At a studio, we are full of colorful personalities ranging the entire spectrum from introverts and extroverts and closet extroverts and varying degrees of confidence in life and varying degrees of confidence in their own dancing. We see and engage in so much interaction both verbal and non-verbal each day. And we talk over interactions that happen, analyze and mine for meaning. We joke, we laugh, we cry, we tease. We are sincere, and we care deeply about each other, each client. If we hear someone ever sounding unkind, we try to help build more context so compassion can thrive.

We have a daily routine, and then we are flexible and in the moment make adjustments based on who calls or walks in. I joke to all my friends and family who ask, I often say "It's never the same day twice, and yet it's the same old same old" because there are rhythms to studio life. I'm sure I will share more about this in future.

At the basis of the whole thing, human relationships are what sustain any studio. Or perhaps they are the underpinnings of society in general, and I've just been blessed to experience the whole thing in the context of a ballroom, to see both literal and figurative dances in my professional environment.

If I choose to share specific stories, I promise I will change names, and might change or combine events to protect the innocent (and the not-so-innocent) involved...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Salsa Clubs; A Dancer's Rant

I'm on a ranting here we go...

Mild stuff to begin:
While I appreciate good hygiene (some guys need deodorant!!) my overall impression is that most guys are wearing more than enough cologne. In some isolated cases I didn't mind smelling his cologne even after I showered...but as a whole, TOO MucH of a good thing is just Too MUCH! Save some cologne for next week, too!!

Next...the pointy shoes. I don't really get it, but ok, they are the current "it" trend...and I don't mind them UNTIL you insist on holding me so close that I have no option but to kick my bare toe against your pointy shoe. Know the dimension of your shoes, and budget enough space for them so I don't get hurt, please...or wear normal shoes!

Next...thumbs...heaven help the next man that uses his thumbs to leverage/lead/squeeze or rub! Opposable thumbs are amazing and useful, but not necessary to lead me!


Next...the tricky subject of timing. I HONESTLY would rather do basic patterns and combinations on a steady timing (123,567 Or 234,678...I'm still learning On2, it's hard for me to move my slow) consistently...rather than be on 1 until the spin combo you picked up in class and suddenly we are on 3, and I have to keep switching the timing.

Do I sound mean? Demanding? Snobby? I really don't mean to...

Last little thing...realize that she may be tired, off balance, drenched in sweat, have wet shoes, a strapless shirt/dress, forgotten to wear dance pants, had one too many drinks, had a bad day at work or broken up with her DON'T ASSUME it's you. If she doesn't smile, telling her she should smile won't cheer her up, nor will her fake smile soothe your bruised ego.

It could be a million things, and if 5 months later she smiles and asks you to dance, that might not be the time to exact your revenge for one bad dance.

This will need some editing in about an hour...but it sure feels good to publish (even just for a little while)

*Confession: I actually wrote this rant about three and a half years ago...Most if not all of it is still valid, which is why I'm posting it as is for now. Also I'm told it makes for funny reading, so I hope that is true. :)

Ode to West Coast Swing

West coast swing,
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...

Each song we dance
Presents a chance
To be a different me!

My inner pop&locker
Can visit for a song
Then my hidden rocker
Can do no wrong

Another could arrive
And my sensual side will come alive
And together we slide...

My inner Bobby Brown
Can mingle with your Michael Jackson
We came to get down
And now we are relaxin'

One moment can inspire
A lyrical dance expression
Another can require
A physical digression

A hop, a slip, a hip, a rock,
And stop. (Musical break)

Besides each partner there is also each song,

Before too long

You feel like Robin Williams doing stand-up...!!

How many ways are there I can say,
This dance allows me to be all my selves and also play.

It is more than just *a* dance...

It allows for the plurality of humanity...and through connection with each partner (and maybe performance art too) it unifies us.

Dancing Subcultures (A general guide is begun)

I am a pretty seasoned dancer at this point, and have a lot to say on the subject.

I will share some disclaimers along the way, but the biggest disclaimer is that these are my opinions, perceptions and thoughts based on my experience. I reserve the right to be educated, open-minded, and above all I reserve the right to change my mind.

I'm sure I will say some offensive things in the process.

Ok, so I will talk about at least four subcultures:

West Coast Swing
Argentine Tango

It's possible I might throw something in about the country scene at some point, but less likely.

I will try to describe them each in very unforgiving broad strokes this first post, but the first thing I should share is that I absolutely respect and love each culture for different reasons and they have all added to my colorful life.

Ballroom needs to be divided in my mind into three categories. There is studio life, which of course has both students and teachers. There is social scene in the Real World. And there is the competitive training scene, which again is divided in my mind into pro/am and pro/pro categories.

Salsa will mostly be about the club scene, both the dancing and the social aspect though something about the shows and congresses might sneak in.

WC Swing will mostly be about the conventions I've been to, which all have both social dancing and competition plus many classes...

Argentine Tango will be about the scene and the teaching as well...

Actually teaching styles/methods/personalities will be a thread anyway, I can't help it. And so will lead/follow.

I will tag the dance topic posts as "adventures in dance" until I learn a new or better way of sorting...but for now I suppose I will just let you be warned that I have a lot to say on all these topics!


The hole is endless, timeless--a void which can never be satisfied, only mollified and then only temporarily.
a movie,
some candy,
a cigarette,
greasy. salty. crunchy.
any numbing agent,
another movie,
binge watch a tv series online..."just one more episode" at a time
writing--the newest addiction...

the void yawns, stretches, contracts, laughing at all the empty attempts to fill or satisfy

no appetite, this thing.
appetite ebbs and flows.
there is only ignoring the void for a while, not any escape that is more than just a temporary --


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


In February, I found myself in the most extraordinary house in a tiny German village called Denzlingen. I mean that in both the normal passive sense, that I literally traveled there but also in the more profound sense of finding and reconnecting to a deeper sense of self. I don't think I was lost before, exactly...but in a way I was disconnected from important aspects of my being.

Since my return, I have made a few adjustments...I am trying to be patient. It is not as easy as I'd hoped. I wish I hadn't lost my notes, but seeing the photos I took has helped a bit. I wish I had taken more pictures than I did, but I am trying also to remain connected to that self I rediscovered.

It is funny (strange not haha) how it is both comfortable and uncomfortable to slip back into the same role and same routine that was before. Comfortable only in the way that it is so familiar and we all know our lines. Uncomfortable because I have outgrown certain patterns so doing them feels awkward. Uncomfortable because there is more that is unknown.

I think I will choose to be uncomfortable for a little longer, because maybe I am still learning something valuable...

uncomfortable is not fun or relaxing...

Second Sight (the walk and talk)

They fell in step with Lucas unconsciously taking the side closer to the street, thus protecting Samantha from traffic, or who knows what all.

She was hyper sensitive to the unspoken conversation, but decided to ignore that for the moment. Keeping her eyes on the ground just a few paces ahead, she took a deep breath and dove in:

"I was hoping you could shed some light on these visions I sometimes have. You are the first person I've met who seemed to know on some level what it meant, and also it sort of seemed like you knew someone else who had this...ability..." she had let the words tumble out a bit like rapid fire, a habit of talking faster when she got nervous taking over. She took a sideways glance toward Lucas and saw his aspect had become thoughtful and he looked almost like he was reminiscing.

"I have met one other person with this skill, her name was Raven and I met her about three years ago. Come to think of it, she was very matter of fact with what she saw and shared openly with every person she encountered whether they were open minded and receptive or not. It was a little awkward even going to a restaurant with her because she would read whoever she came across without hesitating. Quite a few people rolled their eyes and wrote her off as nuts. She never seemed to mind, in fact it seemed to give her a sense of freedom to say whatever she saw."

Samantha could hear in his voice how much he liked and respected this Raven lady. A tiny flame of envy flared in her heart and mind as she couldn't help but wonder the exact nature of their relationship. She nodded, and found herself wondering how far away this lady was.  Samantha didn't know whether or not she'd have the courage to go meet her knowing Raven might be able to read her, and yet the need to learn her craft to be able to interpret or control or even understand what it was had been buried until the possibility existed of answers. Now that the possibility had surfaced her need for guidance had awoken an insatiable thirst in her and she couldn't let it stay latent much longer.

"Does she live close by?"

"It's maybe a two hour drive, but I haven't seen her for about a year and a half."

Samantha hadn't realised she was holding her breath. Two hours away, someone lived ...someone who had Second Sight...someone who might be able to guide her. A wave of emotion stopped her in her tracks and Lucas walked three or four paces alone before realising she had stopped.

Lucas turned back, concern on his face. Samantha felt her color rise, and a tear slid down her right cheek. When had she started welling up, anyway? Lucas took a tentative step toward her and she tried to shake away her emotion.

"Sorry," she mumbled "I don't know where this is coming from..."

Lucas came by her side, and put his left arm around her, steering her toward a park bench.

They sat quietly, as Samantha's tears softly fell, leaving silent salt spots on her blouse.

After a while, she found her voice and he listened with his whole body, enjoying her authenticity, her smell, and finding an unexpected kinship as she described a profound loneliness with her strange visions. She described the fear the first time she saw things no one else saw. A fear of going insane, of being locked up, or having hallucinations. A fear of being strange or different, a fear of being isolated. This ability which could be a gift had also become a silent burden and a curse. He found himself drawing parrallels to his own affinity with wolves, how the blessing had also isolated him, but he didn't want to interrupt her as she shared her vulnerability. His heart went out to her, and he knew he wanted to introduce her to Raven soon. It was the first thing he told her into the long pause once he felt she had said all she intended to say, and he almost regretted it, because it brought a fresh fountain of tears, this time of gratitude.

When they stood to walk back toward the parking lot, he wanted to hug her, help comfort her, take care of her, protect her. They walked in silence side by side, and Samantha found a hopeful spring in her step she hadn't known was missing. She turned to him once they got to her car.

"I thought I was going to be able to help you!" Her eyes were wide with surprise. "I had no idea how much you would be able to help me. I didn't even know I needed help of any kind."

He grinned. "All in good time, I imagine...first things first. Let me try to contact Raven and see if I can track her down. Let's exchange phone numbers, so I can keep you posted."

Samantha fumbled in her purse for her phone, typed in his number and hit send so he would have her number too.

She looked up from underneath her lashes, feeling a little embarrassed about crying earlier.

"I'm glad we met at Moe's the other night!"

She wanted to hug him, but thrust her hand out for a handshake at the last second. He took her hand gently, no longer trembling, and pulled her closer. She held on in an awkward half handshake, half hug until they both broke away.

"So I guess I'll hear from you sometime about Raven..."

He nodded, and then turned to walk away.

She got in her car, shook her head, and glanced at herself in the rearview mirror. She had an ex-boyfriend who only ever told her how beautiful she was when she cried. At the time she resented him for saying it, but today she kind of hoped it was true, just a little bit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Second Sight (the meeting, Samantha)

Her mind tripping over itself, her heart pounding, her fingers cold, she put her car in park. He was just standing there, eyes intense, feet planted and she took a deep breath and a long blink.

She gathered her frayed nerves along with her purse, and got out of the car. As she walked toward him, her eyes slipped into Second Sight and she saw above his head a beam of light through dark gray clouds that weren't there in true weather. She glimpsed a troubled lonely past he just left behind. He bared his teeth and in her current view she saw a wolf with its tail between his hind legs, head ducked, tongue lolling to the side from exhaustion.

Her hand might tremble in his, but she felt safe with him, and her curiosity overcame her nerves.

He said 'Hi.'

He said so much more with his eyes, and she felt something uncoil inside her.

"How do you feel about taking a walk?" She was still keyed up and couldn't imagine sitting still.

'Good, yes let's'


Melting Together

Her head rested on his chest, snuggled next to him on a comfy couch. A movie played, but it was only an excuse for closeness. Her breathing began to match his, and their bellies rose and fell at the same pace.She had discovered this ability years ago, and felt its impact many times. On airplanes with total strangers, with lovers, with friends. She could merge with others, barriers would crumple, and she knew matching breath was crucial. Even if his breath halts at the top, she will halt with him. As his breath quickens, so does hers, almost imperceptibly immediate, her breath following his, her head on his chest rising and falling with his breath as well.  Where her face meets his chest, the warmth begins to build. It is almost as though there is no shirt between them, only heat. In her mind, she can almost lose track of where her face ends and his chest begins. They could be melting together on a cellular level, merging, becoming one...

Second Sight (the meeting, Lucas)

Lucas sat nervously on the curb, and schooled himself against looking at his watch again. He knew he was early. He wanted to be first, so he could set the tone, and also to get his bearing. He tried to slow his breathing and did a slow inhale to a count of five and a slow exhale to a count of five. He thought back to his days living with Anand who had taught him so many things, including this breathing trick. It always seemed to work and today was no exception. The summer of joy, and Lucas hoped to return and revisit the peaceful home of Anand one day. He heard a car approaching the parking lot and his heart went into hyper-drive once again. He stood up, trying to appear relaxed, and felt his heart drop as he saw that it wasn't her in the driver's seat. He decided sitting wasn't working, and looked at his watch again. 11:52. Torture. Being here first was supposed to give him the upper hand, but waiting was driving him a little nuts.

She pulled into the parking lot six minutes later.

He felt himself standing as though his feet were mired in eight inches of mud, and reminded himself to smile. He wasn't sure if baring his teeth in a grimace would serve well enough as a smile or not, but it was all he could muster at the moment. He waited as she stepped out of her car, and felt frozen in place. Her smile and the kindness in her eyes had a calming effect and he shook himself free, stretched out his hand and said hi.

He wasn't sure, but he thought he felt her hand tremble as he shook it, and somehow her nerves calmed his. He swept his gaze once around the parking lot and was a little surprised that she had triggered some protective instinct in himself. He knew she was nervous about meeting him today, but something inside his blood made him feel like keeping her safe was now his priority on some primitive level.

He liked her smell.

He trusted her, and he didn't know why...but now it didn't matter anymore.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Second Sight (Samantha continued)

Samantha tried hard to focus, and found work a welcome distraction from her meeting with Lucas looming in her mind as tomorrow drew near. She's not the big cheese, but she is kind of important without going into the dreary details. Her day is spent deflecting, delegating, finding solutions, making connections and she is often drained at the end of the day, though she does find satisfaction knowing she has helped...someone...

She has to be reminded to come up for air at lunch, and she spends a few minutes taking a walk outside which does two things; it gives her a much needed reprieve, a chance to clear her head, and as a result, a chance to remember about Lucas. Her stomach does an unexpected flip at the thought, and she remembers why she didn't want to come up for air after all.


She's not sure whether she would be more nervous about actually getting answers about her little vision trick, or more nervous if she was meeting Lucas for the simple reason of getting to know him.

Perhaps they are inextricably entwined at this point, so she shrugs to herself.

The afternoon seems to slow to a snail's pace as she keeps glancing at the clock, noting each time that a mere ten minutes had passed when it had felt like an hour. One foot in front of the other. By the time five o'clock actually arrived she was exhausted. Any thought she might have had about going to the gym flew out of her mind with a heavy sigh. All she could think about was getting home.

She slogged to her car, and poured herself in, feeling wiped. She sat for a minute behind the wheel, trying to become alert before trying to tackle Friday rush hour. It galled her that a drive that would take 20 minutes at 10 pm would probably take her more than an hour now.

She decided to throw on a CD for the drive, a mix of up-beat music that she could sing to if she got tired.

When she got home, she popped a bag of popcorn for dinner, and plopped in front of the tv.

She knew she was avoiding the question about what to set up for tomorrow around 1 pm. Part of her knew though, that she would rather leave it open ended...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shedding Layers

I suppose on some levels, the pseudo-anonymity of the internet (i.e. blogging) lends itself to more confident displays of inner thoughts, creative outlets, baring of deeply buried secrets, true vulnerability becomes a little less daunting.

On other levels, I find myself even more shy.

So here I go, virtual psychic strip show has begun, soundtrack could be anything from Tina Turner's Private Dancer to a pumped up volume Pour Some Sugar On Me or some throaty Jessica Rabbit singing Why Don't You Do Right.

Maybe there doesn't have to be a true virtual burlesque imagining...

But you know they really get into the act, and they seem so bold and daring, comfortable and confident in their bustiers and fishnet thigh highs.

So what is the blog equivalent? I feel like the new kid at open mic night, fumbling over her poem, oh wait, I switched imagery hang on...right, it's amateur night and some of the audience will get a kick out of seeing those nerves, and some will get a kick out of boo-ing her off stage.

So here I am.

Nearly naked, nervous as hell, sweating palms, and the hot lights making it worse and also better because I can't really see you, audience. I can't tell if you're with me, against me, bored, waiting for your drink or your friend or just killing time until the next act.

In the meantime, I might as well make it worth your while.


Right. Vulnerable.

So in third grade, here in the US, I was new and this one girl (we'll call her Judy) reached out to me. She was the only friendly face at all my first day. At first I was so relieved anyone wanted to make the effort, and we became friends. Sort of. By my second week, I began to get the drift that she was an outsider, and so had of course recognised a fellow outcast and made me her friend. So then I began to resent her. Perhaps if she had been less kind I would not have been lumped with another outcast. Maybe a more popular kid would have decided I was cool or something, and it would have meant a completely different social experience. I know. I'm evil. I hated myself for even thinking it, but I did. And I hated Judy for making that choice impossible for me, for eliminating the option for me or for them (the 'in' crowd). I also hated her for being too nice to hate, and for making me hate myself for thinking these things.

There. I'm a closet mean girl. How's that for vulnerable?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

recurring dreams

Since I can remember there are a handful of dreams that keep coming back...

my flying dream is where I run and run and then take off like an airplane, and even in the air I can go higher by running harder, and have to to clear buildings while others are far below in the crowd is not without danger, thrill and excitement, but it is mostly exhilarating and fun. Not to mention useful.

my chewing gum dream is strange, because the gum is unending, crowding my mouth and also sort of falling apart, and I am half gagging on it and I start trying to scoop it out of my mouth, but it just keeps regenerating...but this dream is better than the one where my teeth start disintegrating into chewing gum though sometimes the dreams are connected and I'm left gagging and toothless...

and of course the diving dream, where I am enchanted below the water and have overestimated my ability to hold my breath all the way back to the surface...inevitably this dream has me waking myself up with a giant gasp of air...perhaps mild sleep apnea is involved, though I'm not sure.

I already shared my car dream, where I hydroplane, or slip on black ice, and lose control...and let go of the steering wheel.

as a young girl I also sometimes dreamed that my teeth were brilliant white, I mean blinding and bright so that if I smiled it would scorch someone's retina.  I had to be so careful to cover my teeth when I smiled to protect loved ones...

I wonder what they mean...?

What kind of dreams do you have over and over?


I suppose we are all seeking validation on some level, so maybe I should ease up. Right now I'm filled with judgment that I seem to place such high value on something so beyond myself, my control, my influence. How could my self-worth be puffed up or deflated by my perception of how I am received by another? Or whether I feel acceptance in general from a certain group that I admire or respect? How dare I place so much weight or meaning on an external judge?

shouldn't self-worth be intrinsic and unshakeable?

Why isn't mine? Is there something wrong with me?

Are others equally riddled with self-doubt, insecurities, fears of rejection and just much better at hiding them? Because it looks that way from here...actually from here it looks like they are confident so maybe they really aren't plagued by these questions or they are better actors.

Aren't I a good little actress too, though?

I smile, I laugh, I suffer in privacy not in public...perhaps I have some of them fooled, but not me.

How can I turn this around, remember to fall back in love with me-ness, forgive the weakest parts, embrace my whole self -- "warts" and all?

I ebb and flow into and out of ease with these thoughts...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tug of War

She's so stubborn, willful, bossy and filled with confidence in her point of view. It makes my blood boil sometimes with rage and fury and the need to prove her wrong, prove a point, or even just in opposing her prove my strength too. She is a worthy adversary, because she is often right.

I get small satisfaction as a young girl, when she has chided me for talking with food in my mouth, as I catch her doing the same. When you are so filled with righteousness, it is important not to be caught violating those same principles. Her knowledge of language and words is so vast, it is truly a challenge to find fault or correct, and when I begin to score she half-admiringly says my new nick name will be William Sapphire, which of course is a reference that is new to me and she once again has the upper hand.

Much of our time together was peaceful, don't get me wrong. But she stirred in me a beast that breathes the same fire she does, with iron will and stubborn grit, and a streak of independence a mile long. She was judgmental at times, and also sometimes a little unkind. I found my voice in fighting back sometimes. She tested and quizzed and helped me define my stance.

I was staying at her place once and trying to decide what to have for lunch, and there was jelly or tuna, and I decided to combine them in one sandwich. I insisted I would eat it and she told me it would be disgusting and I shouldn't waste food. I ate every bit of that really gross sandwich, and it took me almost ten years to admit to her how gross it had been...when I did she giggled and said she knew.

We were thick as thieves, and shared secrets sometimes. She was a great ally in life, talking sense about saving for the future, and without her help I'm not sure I could have gone to the college of my choosing. She supported me and cheered my successes, she was there for me in times of stress. The first phone call I ever got from my father happened in her kitchen, and she was there to offer her support.

I know she was proud of me. I hope she saw a little something of herself in me. We had a special bond, for sure. Our complex and layered relationship meant so much to me.

I love you, Grandma...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


My Grandma is a special lady. Fiesty, fierce, independent, smart, inquisitive, bossy, passionate, the list is too long.

In some ways, she was like a second parent to me during some very important years, and she has been a beacon-like guiding force. She taught me about investing, volunteering, and so many other things. She demonstrated how to live a little like the frugal ant in Aesop's fairy tale, but also to enjoy the good things in life.

She went back to school when she was in her 50's to certify as a social worker proving it's never too late to follow your next adventure.

My heart is full of both joy and sorrow, joy at knowing her, sorrow at losing her. She was 98. I know she is with me, in my thoughts, still guiding me on some level.

I'm a lucky woman with her as a role model.

This week I will indulge a million thoughts and reminiscences. Some funny, some frustrating, some serious. I'm not sure how much of them will worm their way onto a page, but for now it is important to me to share a little of her awesomeness.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Reflect means to ponder...but it also brings to mind the still waters of a lake mirroring the image of the mountain and sky.

I don't mean this to become reflexive, which means both a knee jerk response and also a binary flow of referring to oneself/itself.

Too wordy.

If I accept that the things around me that I dislike are reflecting parts of me right back at me, it is quite uncomfortable. It is also when I learn the most. Someone famous said no one can offend you without your permission, so if I am offended by something someone says or does is it because I'm invested in opposing that behavior?  Or does it trigger something inside me?  It can only upset me if I allow it to upset me.

So I revisit the ages old dilemma (at least in my life) of whether to try to detach and how to do it without becoming a shadow of myself.  I was fascinated by stoicism in college years, and even made an attempt to be stoic as described by Epictetus. To no avail, of course. I am dealt a heavy hand of Empathy by both nature and nurture and trying to detach from feelings was like trying to divorce myself from myself.  I have studied a little here and there also about meditation, letting go of ego, and read among various religious and non-religious meditations things that encourage me (us, humanity) to allow thoughts to flow through the mind as clouds do through the sky without becoming overly attached to their meaning, significance, importance, etc.

On some days I'm in tune with letting go.  Like sandcastles built all day and flushed away by the tide, or chalk drawings washed away by rain, so too flow by the dramas of daily life.

My soul may be old, but I still have many lessons to learn.

Perhaps I will one day let go even of trying to do it right, this letting go business.  Maybe one day I will be content to be.

In the meantime my head goes round and round these circular reflections, enjoying to challenge, enjoying to ponder, enjoying to chase deeper meanings in things around me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Second Sight (Samantha on her way to work)


6:05 AM
Hit snooze.
6:15 AM
Roll over and hit snooze one more time.
6:25 AM
Eyes blinking awake, Samantha grimaces, cringing inwardly at the day ahead, and cheering the fact that it's Friday anyway.  Then it all comes tumbling back in vivid recall and she sits bolt upright, as one prominent image is unshakable: a wolf.
6:27 AM
She starts the shower water, waits for it to heat up and chews the inside of her cheek.  Noon tomorrow.  What was she thinking, agreeing to meet up with a total stranger?
6:42 AM
She has dressed, run a brush through her hair and is impatiently waiting by the coffee pot.  Should she cancel?  How would she?  She didn't get his phone number or anything.  She would never just not show up...damn integrity...but of course if she stood him up it would make running into him so much worse...fine, she resolved.  We'll meet at noon, have the quickest cup of coffee known to man and then dash.
7:03 AM
Bagel in hand, she set her coffee to go cup in the cup holder of her car, and got ready for her hour long commute.  She wondered how she could arrange for this meeting tomorrow to be short, and wracked her imagination for plausible Saturday obligations or engagements to tell Lucas.  She started her car and then sighed, remembering belatedly that she needed to put gas in the car.  She was going to be at least 10 minutes late.  She debated calling to let someone know, but then decided to wait and see how long the line was at the pump.
7:14 AM
Three cars deep, she gave a quick call to the office, expecting to leave a message. To her surprise, Gina picked up.  "Hi Gina, I didn't expect you to pick up! It's Sam, I'm running about ten or fifteen minutes behind."  Gina chuckled and said "No problem, I'll let them know to start the meeting topics you don't need to run first."  "Thanks, hon.  Now let's hope traffic isn't worse than usual..."
7:43 AM
Gridlock, but so far no more than usual.  She was still distracted.  Should she pretend she has a date? Tickets to a matinee, hmm...she wondered what was playing at the local community theater.  Should she actually get tickets? She chewed on her bagel.  A tiny voice in her mind started asking her an uncomfortable series of questions.
What if you're enjoying the talk, and maybe he can shed light on these visions you've been having since puberty?
What are you afraid of?
Well, admit it, you think he's ruggedly handsome...when was the last time you went on a date anyway?

She shoved the questions away, determined to focus on getting to work in one piece and finishing the week strong at work.  Besides, it wasn't a date -- was it?

8:07 AM
She was grateful once more to have an assigned parking spot, and she raced into the building in a flurry of apologies, diving into her office role full tilt.


Enchanted ivy-covered castle-like walls beckon to the imagination in the quaint real-life village nestled in the hills above Santa Barbara.

My high-flying adventure had to be post-poned due to Santa Ana winds so instead I brought my dad to Solvang for an afternoon of browsing through antique stores (the highest single item price I saw was $64,000!!) and visiting the Hans Christian Anderson Museum.  We topped off our afternoon with samplings of many different kinds of Brats, and a couple of beers.

On our way out of town I took a ten minute detour to find the miniature horses.  It was closed, but I still managed to snap a photo with something in it for perspective:

There's a four-wheeler in the background so you can see how tiny these horses are.  I know a Great Dane that is bigger than these horses...

Anyway, perhaps it wasn't an adrenaline pumping thrill-seeking kind of day like hang gliding would have been, but it was a fun day nonetheless.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Her body seemed to sense the moment he entered the room. Even without looking, she knew and could feel his presence.

Silently, she would find herself tuning in and even though she did not look him in the eye her body positioned itself almost without her awareness or consent in a way so she could sense him.

When he spoke, her ears perked up and she found her mind focusing more on his conversation than on her own.

Like a heat seeking missile, she found herself drawn...

By the end of dinner, she was hoping her flush could be explained merely with wine, as she pushed back her chair and started clearing dishes. Their mutual friends protested, but she felt a thrill of adrenaline rush down her spine as she reached for the same plate he did. Their fingers barely brushed, but it was electric. Luckily the whole group was lively bantering about some pop culture reference she didn't quite get so no one seemed to notice her flush even more.

He seemed just as intent on not meeting her gaze, which only made the air between them thick with unspoken tension. Does he feel this same heat, this same tension, she wondered for a moment, but then she couldn't imagine him not sensing what she sensed to the very tips of her fingers.

Together they cleared the dishes to the sink and the rest of the group started trickling into the living room to gather around the television with their drinks.

Trying to compose herself she decided to dig in and start washing, filling a bucket with warm soapy water. This might keep her busy and out of trouble for a few minutes, and then she stiffened...he was standing at the ready with a towel to dry the first dish she rinsed.

Side by side, they worked in silence, an undeniable flow of warmth existing between them.

She felt like she could sense even each follicle on her head, her whole being thrumming and aware of this man. As she neared the last few dishes, a tiny thread of regret came over her, with no clarity or promise of this proximity in the next room once they finished these dishes.

Some part of her wanted to simply drop all pretenses and wrap her arms slowly around him and tilt her face up to his, her lips tingling with anticipation of a slightly scruffy kiss.

Her breath caught, the project was done, and he had already walked halfway across the kitchen.

Her heart racing, she slowly followed, picking up her wine glass and really hoping her hand would hold steady.

Everyone was already sitting so she found herself on the floor. Alone. In fact he was no where to be seen, and his absence made the room feel colder...she turned her attention to the screen.


A pillow landed next to her, and then a second one. She accepted the offer and readjusted.

He sat down still inches away, but she could feel heat building between their elbows.

A smile crept over her being, and reached her eyes, which though pointed at the tv screen saw none of the show at all. A tiny twitch tugged at the corner of her mouth, and she lifted her glass to hide her smile...

Nooblogger = noobie + blogger

I like puns, which some of you already know. I also enjoy wordplay in general, so when I was thanking a visitor for her support, I ended up inventing the above word. Nooblogger. It works both as newblogger, with a slight pause before the b...and it sounds funny in my head since noob-logger is nonsense unless I start chopping trees down. *But* if you say it just right to where the b clearly belongs to both words, it means what I want it to mean.

You're welcome, blogosphere.

Of course now I'm gonna Google the word to see if no one else already thought of that combination, since for a while stuff like Bennifer was rampant...

Friday, April 4, 2014

About a Father

My father and I met for the very first time when I was 20.

Through a lens of each parent, I have pieced together by now that in their own minds they each felt the other partner left the relationship first.

I'm not casting recriminations, and perhaps one day it would be interesting for me to write down my perception of each perspective. But today is not that day. Today I will share a sliver of my own perspective.

So when I reached out to this unknown entity, my father, initially it was partly because the summer before his father (my grandfather) had passed away. I decided after reading the obituary that this was not how I wanted to meet my father, but I had been composing a letter to him for more than seven years and I didn't want to have the stress of this major life thing on top of school stress so I composed and waited until May to send it.

Seven years I had been starting letters to him "Dear Dad, My name is Jessica" because I thought it was tragic that a daughter might have to introduce herself to her father. I even thought that should be the title of my first book. Maybe it will become something one day, because it seems like (sadly) a more common experience than not in this day and age that a family is divided by divorce or something. All I mean really is that my experience is not unique, and therefore relatable. Perhaps one day something I write about my experience might comfort someone else in a similar situation...I would like that.

On some very deep level, irrational or not, his absence made me question my own worth or value. Even the fact that I had to initiate contact, be the brave one to put my heart on the line and risk rejection, still leaves scars on my self-worth. I wish it wasn't the case, but I'm afraid it runs deeper than my awareness somehow can.  So my first seven years of letters were often attempts to summarize my self in ways that might intrigue him, convince him, sell him on the idea of me. I would start, and then give up because maybe he's right, maybe I'm not worth the reaching out, the time and effort, getting to know. Maybe he's happy and content and I'm a disruption. Also writing to him was an outlet for me when I was fighting with my mother. I wrote to him when I needed an ally or a friend or just someone to listen to my side.

In the end it was a college professor who unexpectedly advised me on the nature of the letter I was trying to write. He heard all the anguish of trying to squeeze 20 years of me-hood into a convincing letter, and he made a suggestion that I am quite sure facillitated sending the first one that year. He said, "You know you could start with just an invitation to correspond, maybe keep it short and see how he responds..." Mr. Sageng, I will forever be grateful to you for your insight that day. The letter I ended up sending was so short...and it said something to the effect of 'please respond to this either way because not knowing is worse than rejection.'

We have had our ups and downs, but I am a lucky one because he welcomed me into his life enthusiastically. In fact, so much so I withdrew a bit because it was overwhelming.

My graduation from college was dwarfed by the fact that it was the first time in my life (and so far the only occasion) where I posed for a picture with both of my parents. I'm afraid that in every picture I was weeping, because of the enormity of this simple fact. I imagine if I have a wedding ever that might be the second time in my life they might both pose with me for a photograph...

I will surely talk more about those intense seven years (or more) before sending my invitation to correspond and the first few years of building a relationship out of nothingness, but for now I fast forward.

We've been 'friends' now for almost 17 years. Father's day weekend is the anniversary of our first face to face meeting. My letter to him was postmarked (he told me) on his father's birthday. Pretty wild coincidence.

This weekend he's flying here for a visit from the east coast, and among many fun things we have planned he is treating me to a long time dream-come-true birthday hang gliding adventure (!) on Sunday. Tandem flight from 3500 feet...I'm so excited!! It will be such a thing to share with this man, this friend I have come to love and forgive, this flawed father of mine. A memory to cherish for a lifetime. Nothing can replace those formative years, but now we are making new memories that mean a lot...

Second Sight (Lucas)

Lucas was trying to start fresh here in this new town, and he couldn't have someone interfering with his efforts. Not already. Samantha seemed sweet somehow, but he couldn't afford to trust a total stranger.

He fidgeted with his napkin and stared at her again, unaware that each time he did her voice tapered off.

She was pretty, or maybe cute was a better word...but he couldn't let himself lose focus. She had asked him point blank about wolves. How could she have known?

He was inclined to believe her about the visions, he had heard of someone like that back three homes ago. Inwardly he cringed.

Would he be doomed for his whole life to be nomadic?

In some wilder moments he enjoyed his freedom, but sometimes he yearned for a pack life he had no memory of. A loner, but not by preference.

He saw fear and concern mingled in Samantha's eyes, but he didn't know what to say anymore.

"Wolves are my spirit animal," he said gruffly. "They are a major guiding force in my philosophy of life and I have always been drawn to wolves." He cleared his throat and saw she only waited patiently for him to continue. "In most ways, it's the biggest blessing. But when wolves are drawn to me in real life, sometimes it causes...trouble...for me."

Samantha blinked and then a small smile crept over her face starting in her eyes.

"This is extraordinary. This may be the first time in my life that a vision is explained to me!" She sounded almost giddy, though she was clearly trying to contain herself. "I have so many questions, but I don't even know where to start."

Lucas was a little surprised, not only because she took the wolf thing in stride, but also because she seemed so happy.

She became quiet and thoughtful.

Lucas was worried she was sorting through a litany of questions to ask him so he seized the moment. "It was nice to meet you, Samantha, was it? I hope to run into you again soon..."

She was dismayed.

"Wait, can't we talk more? I mean we barely scratched the surface..." his eyes were boring into hers again, with that worry crease etched in his forehead.

Lucas awkwardly thrust out his hand across the table in an effort to close the conversation. Samantha stared down at his hand for a moment. Then she finished her martini and fished the last olive out since it had fallen off the toothpick.

She somehow wanted to extend her conversation with this wolf-man, but was at a loss as to how.

As she sat, she heard him say "Are you available this weekend?"

Lucas looked almost as surprised to find himself saying that as she was to hear it, but she was pleased, and the color rose in her cheeks as she nodded.

She took his hand which was still outstretched, shaking it felt funny.

"Shall we meet here?" It sounded lame, as soon as she said it she wished she could retract it.  To her surprise he seemed relieved at the suggestion.

"Yes, how's noon on Saturday?"


Samantha stood up unsure whether she was a bit tipsy or in a daze from the conversation or the second sight, but she drifted out to her car slowly wondering why it was still only Thursday...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Second Sight (Part the First)

She sauntered into the dimly lit lounge feeling listless after her whirlwind day at work and caught the bartender's eye. It was relatively quiet, and with a simple nod she knew Moe would bring her the usual slightly dirty vodka martini with extra olives. She waited patiently while he shook up her drink thoroughly so that there would be tiny shards of ice. Her mouth watered at the thought of the olive she would bite into first and she licked her lips in anticipation.

"Keepin' the tab open tonight, hon?" Moe's question floated across the bar above the jazz song playing softly.

"Can't tonight, Moe. I have another crazy day tomorrow so it'll be just the one this time."

Moe shrugged noncommittally as she handed him her card to run.

She scanned the room with First Sight and took a sip of her drink.  Then she allowed her eyes to unfocus and slowly tracked the room with Second Sight. She couldn't remember when it had first begun, but now she found herself using it unconsciously to gather more and more information about her surroundings. Sometimes Second Sight showed her odd things about people or left trails around things. She couldn't always interpret the meaning of what she saw either.

Tonight her eyes found a shimmer hovering above the man sitting at the other end of the bar, turned half way in his seat so he could watch the game on one television and still chat with Moe.

Moe startled her out of her musings by handing her the bill and her card, so she asked him

"Hey Moe, who is your new friend?"

"That's Lucas, he's kinda new in town...want me to introduce you?"

"Uh, you know I've had a long day..." she trailed off.

Moe decided for her; "Hey Luke, c'mere and let me introduce you to one of my regulars. Samantha, this is Lucas, Lucas, Samantha..."

As they shook hands, their eyes locked and she slipped into Second Sight again. This time she couldn't deny seeing far more than a mere shimmer. Her eyes force-focused into a startling image of a lone wolf. Though she could see his ferocity, there was also contentment and good nature there.

"N-n-nice to meet you," she managed and she shook her head and refocused her eyes.

"What just happened?" He asked, trying to catch her gaze again as he pulled up his barstool.

How could she explain to him that she saw his wolfish nature in the actual form of a wolf, with its tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth?

More importantly, how had he noticed that anything was different about her greeting?

She shook her head and said "I'm not sure...I've had kind of a crazy day."

"Do you want to talk about it?" He seemed genuinely interested.

She laughed and took another sip of her drink.

"Not really." She felt a little nervous. Something about his candor made her feel quite sure if she started talking she'd want to tell him the absolute truth. "Are you a big sports fan?" she asked, indicating the tv.

It was his turn to laugh.
"My buddy bet me lunch on this game so I'm only watching to see if he owes me. Otherwise I'd probably never keep up with any games."

His grin was reminiscent for a moment of that wolf again and she ducked her head to concentrate on eating her olive.

Why did she have to see weird shit? Why couldn't the meaning at least be more clear?

She felt him looking at her and felt herself blush.

Out of nowhere she heard herself ask him "Do you like wolves?"

He started and then turned his full attention on her, forgetting his bet, the game, his drink and Moe.

His eyes burned into hers and he asked her in a low voice "What have you heard? Who are you?"

For a moment she felt threatened, but she felt her eyes slip into Second Sight again and in his countenance she saw fear like a cornered animal and her heart melted a little.

"I haven't heard anything, I promise" she said and returned his gaze. "Perhaps we could talk somewhere a little more privately?" She gestured toward a nearby booth and she saw his shoulders relax a smidgen.

He followed her stiffly and slid into the bench across from her.

She allowed herself a moment to take in his scruffy sandy brown hair, his unshaven beard and the crease in his forehead worn in place by worry. Handsome in a wild and rugged sort of way, Lucas looked to be in his early 30's.

"What do you know about me?" He hissed tensely across the table.

How could she just come right out and tell him about Second Sight? And why should he believe her, anyway? Half the time she didn't believe it herself...

"I sometimes get these visions...or flashes...I must sound crazy to you. I don't usually even know what it means, so most of the time I just keep it to myself. I'm not sure what even made me ask you..."

His frown deepened as she talked and she trailed off again. He looked fearsome in her First Sight, but fear-full in her Second Sight and she was torn between her instinct to shut up and protect herself and her instinct to reach out to him and comfort him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ode to the Blank Page and the Blinking Cursor

The imagination skips, delights, stymies.  
There are untold realms of thought, flights of fancy.  
There is no limit.  
Where to?  Where to?  
Now what?  Now what?  
Innocently blinking all the possibilities and yet none.  

There can be depth, there can be tall tales, there can be truth, or falsities.  
There is only all of forever and no time like the present.  
This one blinking moment, this one blank page, 
These empty moments of reflection, these echoing vast chasms of randomness, 
The long hallway of elongating possibilities, the daunting thought of choosing just one path, 
Laying one brick down, pulling one word at a time.  

The action of typing, deleting, a thought begins and is erased, 
In the span of time between the thought and the key stroke, 
Self-doubt creeps in and you remain…
The forgiving, patient, unjudging blinking cursor…
If only I can learn your lesson.  

Seize the moment, type away, type nonsense, type gibberish.  
Type profound insights, type myself into existence, 
Reinvent my spirit with charming skills, 
Reinvent and co-create a fantasy more delightful and more engaging, 
Escape my personal eye and accusing finger.  
There is no should here, only could. 

Type what you will, at your own risk!
Beware the joy!  Beware the bliss!

And whether you share it or keep it tight, 
You and I know there is an infinite blinking abyss…
Fall into myself, discover what’s been left behind, 
Uncover the hidden fears and invent solutions to made-up knots and problems. 

Self-indulgent, perhaps.
Or perhaps in all senses it is touching self.  
What are we if not ideas, dreams, fears, fantasies, and goals?  
We can only articulate to some degree, but in whatever degree we can articulate, 
Thus we embrace another wrinkle, another layer, and an alternate real self. 

There are dark and light aspects, 
Yin and yang, 
Joy and sorrow, 
Fear and courage, 
Shame and guilt, 
Pride and weakness.


Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it…
What is the space between the blinking line?

Beat. Line. Beat. Line. Blink. Beat. Line. Beat. Blink.

There is…a parallel universe…hidden among the blinks.
For every word that can be typed, as it is typing, there is a parallel alternate keystroke.
What is that other girl day-dreaming tonight?
Is there a mirror we can both touch?
Just on the other side when I see a line, does she see a blank? Is she a half-sec ahead or behind?
Would she giggle to see me?
My sister in possibility…

I hope someday we meet…

Out of Control

I'm driving and the snow begins to softly fall. My hands which usually are casually confidently relaxed find their positions at 10 and 2 and I sit up more straight in my seat.

I take a deep breath and try to relax, but the curve coming up in the road is a bit too sharp with a mountain to my left and a guard rail to my right and a sheer drop cliff on the other side of the guard rail.

I try to gently slow, and then it happens.

The tires start to slide, and I'm in a slow motion twister. I see the mountain side slide by first, and then the guard rail, and I can't remember what I learned about which way to steer the tires, into the skid but which way is that? The snow is still gently falling, mocking my panic in its calm beauty and I lift my hands entirely off the steering wheel. A tear slides down my cheek and I brace myself for the impact giving up any pretense of being in control...

and then I'm awake, safe in my bed, wondering what the symbolism might be, trying to calm my breathing and heart rate.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

a simple question

In normal conversations, people ask a simple ice-breaker question sometimes.

"So where are you from?" they ask, expecting a simple answer.

some days, I just say 'Upstate New York, how about you?' and that is where I spent the longest chunk of time consecutively, from age 9 to 18.

Where am I from is a discussion most people wouldn't want to start in the context of a cocktail party where your one word answers are met with smiles and nods. So I lie, to spare us all a much more involved conversation that only prompts more questions.

why do people ask that anyway? what does it generate? is it about categorizing by coast/state/education/accent/religion/what? is it about finding common ground? like oh, my college room mate was from there so now I feel somehow like I know you because I knew her?

In any case, I was born in Colorado where we lived until I was three and a half. Then we moved to India for six months. After India we lived in Germany for three years. For one year we lived in northern California, and then we bounced on back to Germany and then Austria. We did a bit of other travel too like a trip to Italy and a bit of time in Oregon, but those were trips.

no, my father was not in the military.

My father will take a different spot in this story entirely.

Once we moved back to the US, being the new kid on the block was not a thing of the past either...starting in one school for 2 years, homeschooled for a year, private school for junior high and then public school for the last three years of high school meant I was still a new face fairly often.

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. These are just facts about my life, and they are all experiences that have taught me incredible things. I am grateful I speak German, and lucky to have such a colorful background. I have met so many interesting people.

It taught me empathy, or maybe just enhanced my natural ability in that department.  I connect with awkwardness in others.

I'm intimately familiar with awkward. Not knowing the language somewhere teaches humility for sure.

Anyway, it's still broad strokes, but even the shortest truthful answer to the simplest question 'where am I from' is sometimes longer than someone wants to hear and sometimes longer than I care to get into so it's just faster to say where I grew up and be done.