dance · direction · healing · intuition

Dance Dance Revolution.

The strangest development occurred last night as I was
falling asleep. Actually, I wasn’t falling asleep, having dosed myself with a
trough of sugar not long before bed. As raw as I was feeling yesterday, eating
for comfort seemed wonderfully acceptable, and I was permissive with myself around it.
That said, it was taking me a while to fall asleep with all
the sugar running laps around my blood cells, and my thoughts began to wander.
I began choreographing a ballet.
?? What? Yes. In the light of day, now, I see that perhaps
this is the mode of expression for some of the more raw things that I have to
“say,” – that writing actually is much too close a mode for me, and that when
I’ve tried to write about some of this, it comes off so cold and distant, or so
majorly personal that it doesn’t effect “good” writing. Or, maybe, dance is
just the mode this particular set of events in my life wants to take.
And, I don’t think it would be that bad. In fact, I sort of
story-boarded about 2/3rds of it last night; it wouldn’t be long, maybe 20 minutes. I can see the lighting and the
costumes, and the masks. Because there will be masks. The psyche always has
masks. It will be haunting, and breakingly beautiful. And, I believe, it will
be identifiable. As in, people will be able to relate to the experience, or if
not directly, they will relate to the emotions of the experience. Most people
have trauma. Unfortunately. And if not experienced at that level, most people
can relate to heart-break, or the cycle of addiction that draws us back to
recreate it again and again, attempting to change the outcome, or “make it
work” this time.
Perhaps pipe-dream. Perhaps not. It was so out of left
field, that it sort of feels divinely inspired – i.e. “not me.” Not my
machinations. I also happen to go to one of the best liberal arts schools in
the area, which has a phenomenal dance program. It’s not completely out of
range or reach that this could happen, in some way or other. Perhaps even an
addendum to my thesis.
My poetry thesis, I have decided, is a “tome.” When I said
that word to my advisor, I didn’t actually know what the precise definition
was, but it felt like the right word. I just looked it up right now,
and it means a volume, one book in a set. And although that doesn’t capture
entirely what I meant, it does make sense to me.
The thesis is basically a record of events and
experiences from the first 25 years of my life. I don’t really expect anyone to
particularly care about it. I don’t particularly care if they do. I said to my
advisor that much of the writing that I was doing for it didn’t feel current.
That it felt like this was old, ancient stuff, but that it was apparently
wanting to come up and out, and to be recorded, acknowledged, and then set
aside.
I don’t intend this book to be the thing that takes me
around the world on reading tours. But that’s not its intention. Its intention
is to be heard, seen, recorded. And laid to rest. This thesis (which per the requirements is to be a book of 40 – 80 poems), the process of this
thesis is like a burial ritual. This is the getting ready of the body,
preparing it for eternal and final rest. It will be the laying to rest of a
long and sad and manic period in my life, and it will effect an acceptance and peace in
me, that it will finally have been acknowledged, instead of stifled.
(Acknowledged by me, that is.)
However, like I said, there is some stuff which isn’t making
itself quite available to me in the written way. Which feels too big to whittle
down to a few words on a stagnant page (which, ultimately is why I may never
be a poet or writer by trade, I believe – or at least, strictly a “page poet.”
I want my work to live, to work on you – though, of course, plenty of people and
writers create the most enormous and powerful effects on the page, but it’s not
my sole medium).
So, ballet. How odd. And yet, I already feel myself moved by
it.
And by the purifying power of catharsis. 
direction · maturity · recovery · relationships · spirituality

The Life of an Asparagus

There is a story I’ve heard about bamboo once, and about
asparagus once, and because they were intended as metaphors, I’ve never
bothered to look up their validity, as that wasn’t the point. It goes something
like this:
Asparagus (and bamboo) germinate under the soil for years, months.
For quite some time, on the surface of the earth, it looks as if nothing at all
is happening. The land looks quiet, unproductive, fallow. Then, as if by
miracle, overnight, the asparagus sprouts up through the ground all at once in
a burst of growth and joy. (“joy” added by literary license) 😉
The metaphor’s intended lesson is that, sometimes, when it
looks on the surface that nothing at all is happening, when you begin to lament
that nothing is growing, will grow, that the land itself is bunk, suddenly,
sometimes overnight, suddenly there is the evidence of new life. The point is
that “nothing” has not been happening; there have been great somethings
happening, we just haven’t been able to see them in the way we’ve been looking.
But in fact, a great amount of life, growth, germination, determination, and
nature have been happening all along.
This story occurred to me this morning, having come home
from my annual New Year’s women’s meditation/spirituality retreat yesterday.
What I felt is that this is going to be the year perhaps
right before the sudden overnight growth, or the year I begin to see progress.
In all likelihood, it’s not going to look like “by the end of this year, my
name will be in a playbill,” but it will look like something. The beginnings.
Forgive me if this sounds vague or oblique, but it’s sort of
hard to concretize what’s beginning to feel like satisfaction. The last several
years, according to the above metaphor, have been a lot of laying of groundwork. There’s been a lot that has
been happening under the surface. And sure, it’s looked like a ton of busy-ness
above ground – moving, jobs, school, relationships – but, in reality, there
hasn’t been as much movement or change above ground as you might think. (Being busy and changing are two different things, I realize.) A lot
of it has been happening internally, subtly, and slowly.
I’m also just coming back from this intense, sort of
un-summarizable weekend, so honestly, I’m still getting my head around what new
knowledge, support, direction, I’ve gotten. And, truly, I imagine that a lot of
what’s happened this weekend will take months to settle. And that’s cool. And
that’s what I like about them.
The retreats become this sort of psychic wisk, stirring up
all kinds of stuff, and it takes some time for the pieces to settle enough to
examine and integrate them.
What I can say for semi-certain is that I am feeling more
confident than ever about who and where I am and am going in my life. I had a
sort of montage-y thing happen in one of my meditations where I was
fast-forwarded through all the work I’d done since I’d sat in that very circle of redwoods around that very fire 4 years ago. It’s a lot. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve excavated a lot, I’ve healed a lot,
I’ve been presented with some of the most frightening aspects of my past and my
fears and my blocks. And I was brought up present to what I have to do next.
It’s not surprising, and in fact, I’ve been preparing to head here, but it was like pieces falling into place. In order to move forward, in order to begin doing the work I want to do, this is what needs to happen next. It’s a very “If X, Then Y” scenario. I must address a very particular series of old and rather severe
wounds in order to really come out from the
side-lines of my own life — I have to address this long avoided and discounted pain. In order to “own
voice,” have voice, allow my voice to be heard, via song, performance,
presence, I have to unblock this constriction. A constriction which is and has been very
clear on saying, demanding, and indicating that I “shut the fuck up.”
Brightly, what was also indicated to me, and what I felt/feel
very strongly, is that I have allies. That I have the community to draw from
which I will need to get into, through, and out of this painful mutedness. And,
too, that any teacher or mentor I don’t yet have will become available as
I need it – and as I ask for and accept help. That’s been a theme for me lately
– about not being as isolated and fiercely independent as I’ve been. That I
don’t have to do this alone. I’ve begun walking into part of that process, and
it’s a lifetime thing.
So, asparagus. This will be a year of rubbing my hands over
the soil, brushing some of it back, and revealing the incredible tip of the
asparagus bounty that is about to happen.
I am grateful for the women who have helped me to come to
this place – and I’ll be reaching out to you for your wisdom, experience, and support as I move forward from here (if I don’t, text me) 😉
acting · action · courage · direction · faith · intuition · letting go · maturity · performance · poetry

Just Row, Darling, Just Row.

So, I’m feeling both immensely relieved, and a bit of an
emotional hangover from all of the worry and intense “gotta get it done”ness of
the school semester. I finally finished
my paper for my Shakespeare class, and emailed it to the teacher last night at 9pm.
Granted, it was
only six pages,
but this whole working plus school thing really walloped what I was able to
give to school, and squished everything else into weekends that wasn’t school
and school sort of got shunted along every day, moving down my calendar like a
shuffle board disc – I can do it tomorrow, I can do it tomorrow. Like Scarlet
O’Hara – After all tomorrow is another day.
Which may be true, but tomorrow has been another day of
intense activity, and not in any way better than the day before it.
So, the paper is done. My third out of 4 semesters of my MFA
degree is done. And again, relief but… a big dose of “uhhhhhh….???” aka now
what. I’m familiar enough with situations like these to not have to worry too
much about the “now what”, but rather to just show up for what’s next, even if
that’s do the dishes (which, duh, I do have to do), and also, as I’ve been
doing more of lately, follow my little internal nudges, cuz they seem to have a
better idea than I do about wtf is going to happen or is meant to happen, or
which way I should row.
It’s funny. I had mini-epiphany a while back which went
something like the following: I only need to row. I don’t need to know which
way the boat is headed, I’m not steering, I’m not making the waves do their
thing – I only need to row, and I’ll get there.
But that didn’t quite
sit right with me. Sure, I agree, do the next indicated action – which for me
at the moment is to wash up and get ready for work (I’ve decided – for now – to
do my blogs in the morning – I procrastinate them at night, and then end up
past my bedtime – plus one thing I really did learn from all this paper-writing
pushing was that I really do write better in the morning. I’m a morning person
– sort of. I’ve already had one cup of coffee! – I’m more of a “mid-morning”
person – catch me at 10:30 or 11, and I’ll be ON IT… perhaps that’s also cuz
the other two cups of coffee will finally have kicked in…).
In any case, rowing is great – I can row, and sit backwards
and still question where the hell are we going. But I also do believe that it
is sort of my responsibility to have some vague idea of which ocean we’re in –
to extend the metaphor beyond its bounds! Maybe that’s still just me wanting to
have some control, some idea of control if I know where I am, where I’m
heading, and more about what I need to do to get there. Maybe that it doesn’t
sit comfortably is just all part of the action and practice of this thing – to
sit in the discomfort of not knowing, but to do the work anyway.
I don’t know what will happen at auditions. What will happen
after school. What will happen tonight, even! I want to know – especially the
“after school” part. Somehow I’m way more willing to let the audition stuff be
how it will be – I’m way more que cera cera about it. Because I really know that I can’t control the outcome, I can only
control how I show up and prepare for it – how I do or do not do research, take
action, practice, and look for an acting coach, like my acting friend suggested
to me. Somehow, letting go of the results of this is easy. Partly because, to
me, it also feels fun. It feels like an adventure. Like trying a new ice cream
every time. Like, I wonder what this flavor tastes like. So, of course it’s
easy to show up more lightly to those. (But I will say, I’m sure I wouldn’t
have always felt that way – which is why it’s taken me so long to even get here
to stage zeropointone or wherever I am.)
But, “after school,” the looming deadline of “you ought to
know.” More lies. I don’t know. I know that school has been the best thing I’ve
done for myself in a while. Not cuz I get to study and write poetry – that’s
cool, but it’s not where my passion is – but cuz I get to have this time to
discover all this new stuff about myself. I said when I arrived that I wanted
the two years of school to offer me time to “solidify my foundation within
myself.” And I think I’ve been doing that. Concretizing who I am, how I want to
be in this world – to have the time to become someone who can show up to
auditions with a sense of fun.
I am uncomfortable not knowing. I am uncomfortable feeling
like I’m not taking the “right” actions (not writing a sample syllabus, not looking at
teaching jobs, not knowing where I will live or want to live). But, I also don’t
want to teach. … So, that’s leaves me with a WIDE field, and too many options
feels a little like none at all in my fear-brain.
So, before I talk myself out of the awesomeness that is my
ability to show up and let go of the results, out of the awesomeness that is I
FINISHED my semester, I’ll go get my second cup of coffee from my microwave and
pray that all this rowing is better for me than I can possibly see. 
adulthood · courage · direction · maturity · recovery · sex

Undoing Betty Crocker

Almost finished with week one of the end of school insanity
shuffle. Tomorrow i do my friend’s fashion show. Sunday I have my audition in
SF. and today I did my teaching demo for my Creativity and Spirituality
workshop.
It went really well – my professor almost cried as another
girl was sharing – and this all about a 20 minute collage. I felt really
grateful to be able to share that work with these women. It was good – I did a collage too –
and this one also had someone at a microphone. (In the spring when I
co-facilitated this workshop, I pasted a rockband mick jagger
cartoon yell/singing into a microphone).
But, to get heavy for a minute, that’s not really what’s on
my mind at all. If you’re not in the mood for heavy, read yesterday’s or check back tomorrow – I’m
sure I’ll regale you with something fun about the fashion soiree.
But, for now. This Calling in the One thing. An exercise of a few days ago was about
making peace with our bodies, the next was about peace with our sexuality.
I’ve used the terms before “Betty Crocker” and “Vixen” – I
vacillate between one and the other. Most of my Vixen happened when I was drinking.
It was like the side of fries. The cigarette with a drink. It was just known
that if I drank, I was going to sleep with someone – or at least make out – and
likely in public, to everyone else’s discomfort.
It was a continuation of “just fucking make me feel better.”
The more anonymous, the better, because then I never had to face the shame I
actually felt, or the reason I was running with scissors in the first place.
When I stopped drinking, it was like – well, not to be
crude, but if you put a plug in the jug, I sort of put a plug in me otherwise.
I had a friend around that time who used to be a male prostitute and he told me
that he didn’t have sex for a year after he got sober because it was just
associated with all kinds of other things. So, I became Betty Crocker again.
Here’s the heavy – add in to this damage and abuse I’m
already doing to myself the fact that like one out of six American women I’ve been raped and sexually assaulted, you can imagine the chiasma of all this creates a rather dark
misshapen understanding of what sexuality is, or what sexuality can be.
In CITO, she does say
that for people who have particular trauma to seek help around this as we move
forward, and I’ve been back with my SF therapist for about two months now,
since I started keeping track of my money and knew I needed it, and could now
afford it.
So, yesterday, I’m in her office, and loathe as I may be to
bring this up, I start talking about my feelings of ambivalence around sex – how I dissociate, or how my sexuality, locked in a box, comes striking
out in a ravenous bolt of acting out, and then quickly retreats before I can …
stop it? question why it…I…need to treat my sexuality like a, well, sin, i
suppose. Something you indulge in secretly, silently, shamefully.
We’d been talking about other things, my audition, my new
headshots, and then as soon as we begin on this, my body tenses, I stop
breathing (or breathe so shallowly, it’s like I’m not), and she says, well,
Molly, you have sexual trauma.  —
My brain goes SO WHAT. So do most people walking around. So What?? They don’t all suddenly go all fight or flight.
Therefore, today, when thinking about singing this song I
haven’t rehearsed for class – to prepare to perform in one of the most
vulnerable ways there is – to sing – there’s no hiding in that. It’s just your voice, your breath, what you are able
to pull out from your soul, and sorry lady, my soul is just a little too
rattled for that today.
I asked her if I could sing next week – and lovely woman,
she said yes. (She asked if I were well, and I said, “Physically” – she
understood immediately.) I’ve been a mess all day, the dragon at the head of the cave having been poked wide awake and sensing impending approach. So, yes, I rented a zipcar to
get to class (and to get, finally, to the grocery store and get much
yummy food) – but I needed the cocoon. I needed to not feel more jostled by the
world today. 
So, why tell you? Why “reveal” all this? All this hard, and
yucky, and “nobody wants to hear about this stuff” – Because that voice is the
voice of my pain and fear, and it has kept me a wounded antelope for years. Repression,
denial, they’re our natural responses, but this has outlived its usefulness. So
I’m seeking help; I’m giving voice.
I don’t want to be Betty Crocker, nun of the knitted socks
and rom-coms. I don’t want to be the Vixen, fly-by-night assassin of self-esteem.
I want to be Molly – human – with scar-tissue – but
preeminently, whole. And available for the wonderful thing sex can be.
abundance · action · courage · direction · faith · fear · finances · Jewish · joy · letting go · life · responsibility · synchronicity

Effective but Wordless Chant

So I did look at one SF apartment ad today. It was through
my old employer, a property management company, which is how I got my sweet
deals on my SF and Oakland apartments. Granted, it wasn’t a handout-out, I
worked well there – maybe not that hard, but it wasn’t that challenging or enticing, and
eventually I found myself overcome by the Ugly Cries (maya’s accurate term) in my car at lunch one Friday on the phone
with a friend having another job existential crisis.
That day I gave my two weeks notice, that night I threw my 1st pre-Valentine’s party, the following day, I went blonde. This was almost 3 years
ago now. My boss wasn’t pleased, but he knew I wasn’t happy –
that I wanted to do something creative, anything.
So that began several months – two, to be exact – of
job hunting. I remember I didn’t even tell my parents I’d quit my job and was
looking for work cuz I just couldn’t face their “Are you kidding me, in this economy??” spiel. It was hard then – I had notes all
over my SF apartment – “This is a world of grace and abundance and I am letting
go.”
A friend afterward told me to change to wording to “–and I
allow myself to receive” – more “open.”
Two years before that, I’d been “downsized” from a corporate
real estate firm, my first long term gig in SF, and was on unemployment for the
full 6 months. The first month? Awesome – yay paid vacation. By the end of six months? I was desperate. I began to
answer every ad. The very week my unemployment was going to run out, I had two job interviews one day, and I’m driving to one of
them, out somewhere near Bayview, and I’m in my car and I have this
mini-epiphany: I had every single thing I needed at that moment. I had eaten
breakfast, I had coffee in me, I had gas in my car – I didn’t need anything
else at that moment – no money in my hand, nothing. For that moment, I was
completely taken care of.
I forget what it was now, but I even began this little chant
while I was on my way to that interview. Something about being content and
caffeinated, or something? That afternoon, I had my other interview – at the
property management firm. And I got that job. The woman I was replacing
happened to be out sick that day (she was going on maternity leave), and so I
interviewed with the owner of the company – and we got along fabulously. (A big part of me feels that had I met the woman instead, I wouldn’t have made it through the door.) The
mug that I’m drinking out of now, he gave to me because he got tired of me
using the one that had a photo of his kids printed on it for my coffee (it was
the biggest mug!, What?). The one he bought has sort of colorful swirls on it,
and he said it reminded him of the tattoo on my wrist.
So, yeah, he wasn’t pleased when I left my job with them,
but, obviously still liked me enough to let me have parties in my SF apartment,
and to move here into the Oakland one on a slight deal.  – actually, it’s a really good deal, i
should be (and am!) really grateful – the rent isn’t that much cheaper, but I didn’t
have to pay security deposit, or pet deposit, so that’s quite generous.
Reminds me the theme of today’s CITO is generosity …
But, back to grace and abundance, and letting go – or
“receiving” rather.
I quit that job with the property management, and spent two
months looking for creative work, again. And finally what happened was I woke
up one morning and asked myself, still groggy from sleep and receptive to the universe, What else
am I interested in?
The reply came, Well, I like being Jewish.  … So I typed “Jewish San Francisco” into
Google, and applied to every position there was.
I got one of those positions. (Actually I applied to one I didn’t get, but my resume got passed along to someone else in this Jewish
education non-profit, and I got that job
– for which I was surely more well suited.) … 

Then, on a not so whimish been-looking-at-the-college’s-website-for-three-years whim, I apply to the MFA program, and get in. (Note, there: I actually intended to apply to the Master’s in Literature Program, but didn’t have a current academic paper, and am pretty sure none of my professors from college remember me … but the admissions coordinator for the English Department told me that the MFA program, I just needed 15-20 recent poems. How many did I happen to have recently? 16.) Nudgey McNudgerson, you sly Universe, you.
I dunno. I guess I’m feeling reflective about all of this –
about all of my “being taken care of” and steered into a more … “Molly” direction — because I have no clue what’s going to
happen when school is over in May. I quite imagine that it will work out well –
and I also imagine I’ll freak out a bit anyway.
But, if any of the above isn’t evidence that I’m being
gently but firmly guided, I don’t know what is.
So, Universe, Let me be receptive to the strange and unusual
nudges you have to give me. I sit here, in a heated apartment, with food in my
belly, electricity running, December rent paid, and I’m chanting the tune to
that chant whose words I no longer remember. Amen.