Naps, Food, & Embracing the Silence

On Thursday, after a successful conference, I napped for three hours. Is that a semi-sleep? I’m pretty sure I hit a REM cycle….

On Friday, I had to come to terms with the fact that, nearly 24, I cannot eat the way I used to anymore. I’ve been put out of commission by food too much to tolerate lately. Happy is hard when it’s Mutiny on the HMS Digestive System.

On Saturday, I was mulling over something a friend told me at breakfast the previous day. With children of his own in my age range, our friendship often blends with mentorship, from which I benefit from a paternal protectiveness not often found outside of the home. We met in theatre, and with a similar dark and off-kilter sense of humor, became fast friends. At breakfast, he told me I differed from others in that I had found the comfort in silence, elaborating on the observation that I am comfortable wherever I go, in my own company. On the way home from working at the theatre that evening, I decided to literally find comfort in the silence, and turned my car radio off.

The effect was surprising. Nighttime, the lights popped out from their black backdrop, and the music playing out of cars passing by sounded like sonar humming past my ears. The moon caught my attention, its recent fullness now waning, but the remainder glowed bright white. My thoughts didn’t quiet down for long, but their intensity was quelled briefly by being sucked from pop music distraction into the present moment.

It was rewarding to turn off the noise for a drive. Maybe with practice, I’ll be able to tune in and out of the noise in my head as well.

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Go Swing Dancing!

swing.png

Finally, Friday. After a gratifying day at work, I tepidly looked forward to an evening of swing dancing. When the time came, like most with a leaning towards introversion, it took some doing to jazz myself up for the evening, but once I had rolled up my white dress shirt’s sleeves, and tied the tails at the waist in a knot, I felt instantly sexy, and instantly ready to enjoy myself. All it took was a little retro glamour and some winged-tip eyeliner.

I arrived downtown early, and took some time to sit on a city bench on a bridge. The moon hung over the river, glowing white, and trickling down into the water. After placing myself in the present moment, I approached the theatre.

I tentatively stepped into a darkened foyer that led into a hall, dimly lit by a popcorn machine. Beyond the dark were double doors that led into another concert room. I looked for a way upstairs, as that was where I needed to be. I was directed to the end of the hallway, where I found a greeter in a bright red vintage uniform, and an elevator emblazoned with an Art Deco design, “1926.” I was told the password to get into the Speakeasy, and was sent to the third floor.

As if synchronized, the elevator opened and my jaw dropped. The reception to the speakeasy was glowing bright reds and golds, relics from the 1920s scattered lovingly on end tables, couches the femininely curvy aesthetic from a beautiful and tumultuous time, heavy port red curtains cascaded from high windows. As the uniformed staff, in glitzy flapper dresses and sharply cut velvet jackets welcomed me, I felt rude to be speechless in return. I apologized awkwardly, and was directed to my table.

The Rockabilly band had already started, and they were electric! The band was costumed in their 1950s and ’60s throwbacks, while the dance floor was a blend of eras, ages, and nationalities. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Awkward young ones new to swing, and new to courting, coo’d sweet ‘oopses’ to their partners, elderly couples letting completely loose, low kicks and twirls, bright smiles glowing with old memories and present happiness. Everyone was dressed up, some to the eights, and some to the nines! Some in hoop skirts, others in flapper dresses, and the men looked dapper in shirts and ties, some in vests, and even oxfords and winged-tip shoes.

I sipped on the signature Prohibition Red, one of my two required items with no cover charge to see the band– and what a sweet deal that was! Later I followed it with a classic dirty martini– don’t forget the bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Between dancing, I chatted with friends old and new, five fantastic people. We all have our unique crazy, we’re artists, and we accept each other, one of the most genuine acts of love. I danced with my girlfriends, my guyfriends, and new friends, laughing and tripping and spinning on the dancefloor.

A new friend I’ve made in the recent weeks reminded me the importance of forgetting the oppressive ‘how’ in dancing. Our first dance, I felt stiff, and afraid to disappoint him, he a born dancer. Afterwards, when I voiced my lack of proper steps he reassured me that proper steps were over-rated. Our next dance was the exact opposite, the gentle reminder to relinquish control all I needed to lighten my touch on his hands, and let him gently angle my wrist in the direction of a spin, the movements coming naturally to the beat of the music. I shook my hips and raised my arms above my head, like a scene from Dirty Dancing, barely able to withhold the same chutzpah in a public place.

This community of dancers more than welcomed us. With a deceptively young twinkle in his eye for a man in his fifties, one patron enthusiastically approached us saying, “You two were a joy to watch!” And, upon formal introduction, he inquired as to what dance we had been doing, “Was that the Jitterbug or the Lindy Hop?” We laughed, it was apparent we knew the basics, but tonight we had been overwhelmingly making it up as we went along. He smiled broadly, generously adding “Well you two are great! Hope to keep seeing you around!” As the night wore on, everyone in that Speakeasy was on the same page, the audience whooping and hollering decibels inspired by liquid and unified courage.

“God, I love humans,” I whispered as we sat at our table, sipping our reds. “Yeah?” He asked, seeming to already understand. I crescendoed, “I love them so much that I HATE them when they hurt each other.” He laughed, endeared at my passion. He nodded. Breathy, I sighed, “When I can’t dance anymore, I’m gonna be the old lady sitting in that corner, sipping my martini, enjoying everybody.”

Day 6: Coming Home to My Body

After the last couple days of feeling helpless to the whims of the Universe, I was ready to take back some control. I needed to feel empowered in some small, easily accessible, instantly gratifying way. I needed to ground myself, and get back in touch with my body: the most tangible present moment.

After two months of haphazardly maintaining an fitness routine, I finally started up again with a 35 minute workout incorporating weights and basic calisthenics. I turned up my acoustic pop tunes, and began with dead lifts, moving down a list of exercises for a full-body shake down. Literally. By the end I was shaking. And it felt so good. The late afternoon made no difference to my sleepy muscles, weakened from two months of neglect, who started to peak out from their hiding places, and yawn broadly with a quivering stretch. It’s a new day, Katrina. It’s time to take yourself back.

After my final rep, I limply dropped onto my yoga mat. When I’m at my most exhausted, it’s time to meditate. For assistance, I usually simply search “meditation music,” and get some recordings of chants, and light bells, and a deep sounding wind instrument combination that I’m told is Tibetan in some way. Today, I felt like something different. So I tried some American Indian meditation music, which I found aesthetically beautiful, but didn’t calm me, or help me relinquish my mind to let it wander. It occurred to me, I should try some meditation music from a culture I relate to on a personal level, not just an intellectually artistic one.

I’m half Greek, raised by a Greek “off the boat,” who grew up on an island, and emigrated here as a student. My mom was born in the USA, and is northern European, with little connection to any of the cultures she embodies, except for her love of folk music, based in Celtic traditions, which I’ve definitely inherited. In spite of being essentially raised Greek, I feel a kinship with my under-expressed ancestry in music, even deciding to learn the banjo at a considerably late age for learning music.

In knowing this, I realized that meditation, though famously Eastern Indian, is a concept that also transcends cultures. The concept is to free the mind, and then gain better control of it. It’s an exercise in self-awareness, self-acceptance, and a greater understanding of the world. From what I can tell, most of the spiritual traditions I’ve learned at least a smattering about, incorporate these ideals to an extent.

For the first time, it occurred to me to search for Celtic meditation music. The familiar bittersweet birdsong of the tin whistle, in tandem with cascading waterfall harps, and light drums soothed my skull. I laid in Savasana, a Sanskrit term also known as ‘corpse’ pose, my palms up, focusing on sinking into the floor, grounding myself. I felt my mind empty of its contents, like it was being poured gently from a basin into a stream.

I started to cry, a single tear rolling down my right cheek.

And I let myself cry, gently, a release of the last week. I intellectually had made sense of the events. But, neglecting to empty myself emotionally meant the pressure had surpassed the limits. The levee had to break.

As I breathed deeply, and small tears rolled down my face. I thought of his name, perhaps naively hoping I’d be able to see him, or hear him in my mind’s eye, and find out how he was doing. I couldn’t impose too much via text, unsure of how much he’d even want to talk to me anymore, but I needed reassurance he was indeed at home, like everyone hoped. Finally, I relinquished control, and went back to finding that open-minded peace.

Shortly thereafter, I rose from Savasana to join the living, and checked my phone. The alert glowed in the darkness of my room– a message from him. One I’d been hoping to receive for the last several hours, with reassurance. Maybe he heard me call him, or maybe just coincidence, either way I sat with my legs crossed and surrendered heavy tears onto the floor. Relief, acceptance, gratitude, and grief. I let it all go.

I arose feeling less confused, more at home in myself, and at peace. My mind needed to unify with my body in order to feel more bravely me. The mantra I see is often the trite Instagram triptych, “Mind, Body, & Soul,” but in spite of its overuse and tendency to underwhelm, today it made complete sense. We can’t have one without the others. As physical existence is comprised of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire, so too are we incomplete without all of our elements. I’ll spend my life trying to unite them, the gains in the trying itself. I’ve come to terms with the truth that there is no one-size-fits-all “right way,” there’s only the individual’s “right way” to find the balance. Whether yoga in a brightly lit class, or taking a walk in nature, we all need to find unity within ourselves, to find the solidarity we have with the rest of humanity. Then forgiveness becomes easier, and hurts become easier to overcome. Love is the invaluable remainder.

This song makes more & more sense every time I’m drawn to it.

“Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons.

“How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free
Har har, har har, har har, har har

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show
Har har, har har, har har, har har

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker”

Written by Benjamin Walter David Lovett, Edward James Milton Dwane, Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group
Source: https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tw7jb6m5w6dgkdw25hqxvjkio5y?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics

 

 

I’m Wrong & Worried Sick

An Update: I Was Wrong

The last day has been draining. After not hearing back from him in 24 hours, no reply to the answer to a question he had asked, I started to worry. I messaged him ironically, “It’s been 24 hours, please let me know you’re alive, and I’ll leave you be,” assuming he was sick of me.

Last night I found out he is indeed ill, and in the hospital even. I got woozy. I feel I should set the record straight. I don’t know what to think anymore… Were the two prior postponements due to feeling ill? Have the precedents set by other men before him ruined my ability to be objective? The one time I refrain from granting the benefit of the doubt, he turns out to be telling the truth.

I’m far more jaded than I realized, the hurt from the past deeper than I thought. I quickly judged a friend, who, in my defense, has withheld what’s been happening in his life from me in general, only adding to my lack of trust, but my judgement made in fear of another rejection weighed the most in mind, in spite of perhaps emotionally knowing better. My prior hurts the loudest voices in my brain.

Why did this time have to be different? I wish he was lying. Right now, I wish he was like all the others. Instead he’s sick, and I’m worried sick.

How did I choose to be happy today? Well, before I knew he was telling the truth, and the prognosis, I danced while no one was watching, releasing the emotional pain, and the stress from work. Disjointed movements, and pained gestures, lyrics to “Somebody Else” by the 1975, and “One” by Ed Sheeran both felt like painful fantasy, the fantasy that I meant more to the people who’ve left me than I know I do.

In spite of feeling like hell, I managed to feel a release. I let go, I stopped caring about what I looked like. I just moved with the music, my sweat a cleanse of toxic emotions.

The evening took a turn upon the news. I’m still in shock. I’m still worried. I don’t really know how I’ll choose happy tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow will have to be measured distress. I’ll try to stay calm. I don’t think I’m capable of more.

Take the Long Way Home & An Update– I Was Wrong

take the long way home collage

Every man I date comes with his own soundtrack, each one starting with a repetitive impending percussive intro, each with the potential to become his own song, only to resolve himself in Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust-ah.”

Today, I got subtly dumped (as in postponed for the third time in a row, this time with no alternative date in mind), his excuse seeming disappointingly unimaginative and irreprehensible. This excuse delivered via Snapchat Chat, the impermanence of his action stinging. I finally made our status clear, wishing him good luck in his future endeavors, asserting we wouldn’t have enough time for each other, joining the ranks of his exes.

Now to choose happy.

I was dumped this day at work, at 2:00pm, my bagel from lunch still not completely digested. Now, certain indigestion wasn’t a good enough excuse to duck out early, as tempting as that was. Having dated briefly by most standards, I was not irreparably broken-hearted. He was a friend first, we thought we ought to try, having agreed mutually that as soon as we felt our friendship was at stake, we’d end it. Now I think I fully understand why we are advised not to date friends, for fear such a choice will ruin or change the friendship. As much as I wanted to avoid that, it happened. How quickly we jeapordize happy memories in greed for more happiness.

I knew to manage my expectations with him. Still in college, I knew he came with a disclaimer. In fact, as the summer came to a close, knowing he had barely enough time to see me while he was in the state, I knew a long distance relationship was impossible. I could just see myself driving out to the boonies only to be told that Game of Thrones had hijacked our date night yet again. In short, I wanted to end it kindly, and in person. I truly wanted to retain this friendship. Where I went wrong was to provide warning.

Before our first opportunity to hang out, I had mentioned I wanted to talk with him, nothing was wrong, just wanted to “check in.” He seemed to clumsily circumvent the topic, saying he was in a place with “bad reception,” and could he call me later? Of course, I agreed. And finally the dreaded conversation had no choice but to take place essentially via text, old news for me considering this has been the case for not the last one but THREE guys. I expected more from this one. He wasn’t a Tinder date, he wasn’t a set-up, he was a friend. And I didn’t even merit a phone call. I played dumb. We will likely have to work together in the future, we’re both in the small village that is theatre, and I don’t intend to ‘salt the Earth’ here. I’ve tried that in the past– weeds still insidiously grow on that land.

Choose happy.

I left work later that afternoon, having finished my full day in spite of my disappointment. As I drove, I tried to think of what I’d do today to make this better, to make me happy. A workout  felt like too much to ask of myself, even though it had been my original thought from the morning. I turned up the radio, and let my hand slice through the impending fall air. Judah and the Lion came on, “I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket…,” then the mandolin, “I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status…,” the mandolin crescendos, “‘Cause everybody I know, everybody I know, is growing OLD, is growing OLD too quickly, and I don’t wanna go… No how am I supposed to slow it down, so I can figure out who I am?” By this point, the music is blaring, and I’m impassioned. I’m young. I’m free.

I take the long way home.

I drive a mile out of my way, and choose to pull into a forest preserve. I love being in nature, but I rarely manage it by myself. I intended initially to only park and listen to music, but when the DJ switched tracks, I was inclined to step out, and take a walk.

The local high school a mile away had a pep rally, blaring horns and drums echoed through the trees from the distance. Cheers broke through as I landed on the edge of a prairie swamp. Surrounded by life, cicadas and crickets competing for the loudest choir, bees swarming a bright yellow congress of flowers, and a hasty frog, startled by my imposition, dashed across my feet off the trail and into the tall grass. A sapphire blue dragon fly hopscotched across fat green leaves, and not one, but two monarchs sucked on bright pink wildflowers. The temperature dropped five degrees as I moved deeper into the trail, shaded by a thicker canopy of trees. The Earth awoke from its afternoon siesta with the gentle grumble of thunder, enough warning for me to start heading back to my car.

I felt peaceful. Happiness today meant contentedness, and a comfort in knowing this isn’t my last chance at love. With every exit, I learn the same message. Like the bumble bee once in view, and in a moment is lost to distraction, so will people love and leave. It’s in our nature. I will know I’ve found the right one when he stays. And in the meantime, I won’t regret my steps deeper into the trail, if even though more often than not I ‘get caught in the weeds.’

An Update: I Was Wrong

The last day has been draining. After not hearing back from him in 24 hours, no reply to the answer to a question he had asked, I started to worry. I messaged him ironically, “It’s been 24 hours, please let me know you’re alive, and I’ll leave you be,” assuming he was sick of me.

Last night I found out he is indeed ill, and in the hospital even. I got woozy. I feel I should set the record straight. I don’t know what to think anymore… Were the two prior postponements due to feeling ill? Have the precedents set by other men before him ruined my ability to be objective? The one time I refrain from granting the benefit of the doubt, he turns out to be telling the truth.

I’m far more jaded than I realized, the hurt from the past deeper than I thought. I quickly judged a friend, who, in my defense, has withheld what’s been happening in his life from me in general, only adding to my lack of trust, but the judgement weighed the most in mind, in spite of perhaps emotionally knowing better. My prior hurts the loudest voices in my brain.

Why did this time have to be different? I wish he was lying. Right now, I wish he was like all the others. Instead he’s sick, and I’m worried sick.