There’s an App for That, Temperance, & Set Building


There’s an App for That

Friday: After dealing with my recent health issues, and learning that they are all rooted in stress, I started to pay more attention to the daily activities I thought were indulgence, which are in fact actually stressing me out. The no-brainer was my inability to unplug from social media, the news, and the endless mindless clutter that engorges my phone. I had a thought– what if I changed my habit from doing something mindless into something productive? My habit flared at night before bed, which is horrible, even with my phone in night mode, because my head would end up spinning about the ills of the world right before I was supposed to be sleeping. I thought about how I might better spend that time in between saying goodnight and actually sleeping. I thought about what I’d like to accomplish. My family is Greek, and is hoping to visit Greece in the new year. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been last, and in each time I’ve been lucky enough to get there, I haven’t spoken hardly a word of the language. Being less self-conscious to make mistakes compared to eight years ago, now seemed like a good time to try. I decided to look up any apps to learn Greek casually on my phone. Fortunately, I found an awesome app that is very user friendly, starts out as free, and then charges for upgrades (hopefully it’s less expensive than Rosetta Stone). I figured, with approximately a year before I’m out there again, I could at least be able to say Good Morning. Fortunately, learning a couple words before bed means I remember them in the morning, and conveniently, it helps me fall asleep.

Temperance

Saturday: Today we had an unconventional rehearsal for the playhouse, rehearsing in our set designer’s back yard, in bathtubs, in the 90s, due to the fact that our surrealist set is comprised of three claw-foot bathtubs, which are too large to store in the theatre during a production in progress. We rehearsed under a party tent to shield us from the sun, and ran around the set, in and out of tubs, wishing they had water in them. After the rehearsal, the cast was invited to a mutual friend’s house for a welcome-home get together. Realizing I was in desperate need of a night out, I couldn’t refuse. Having just been diagnosed with IBS, I knew that drinking would have to be minimal, minimal by the extreme. So today, happy meant practicing temperance. I spoiled myself with one full cocktail, made special by our host with homemade honey simple syrup, called a Brown Derby, a prohibition-era drink associated with speakeasies past.  I sipped on that derby the entire evening, and indulged in a sip of a friend’s cocktail for a taste. Temperance paid off tenfold that night digestively, and again in the morning, which could not be wasted.

Set Building

Sunday: Up bright and early to contribute to doing what I love: A Set Build. From ten in the morning til three in the afternoon, we hauled, lifted, dragged, stacked, and dumped everything from the closed show into it’s designated place, and then hung, screwed, pulled, lifted, and pushed everything for our next show onto our stage. Our show is starting to get its feet!

 

 

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Line Dancing & the Flip Side of Happy

The bar was packed with women– not one, but three bachelorette parties were taking place simultaneously. Mini-veil hair accessories, and a hot pink cowgirl hat with tulle in the back could be spotted bouncing in the crowd, penis-straws spotted in the occasional cocktail denoting friends of the soon-to-be brides.

Of two women in my company, one is single, and the other has mingled, being in a relationship that is close to being ‘official.’ I’m single, and happy. I wouldn’t say I’m not looking– I can’t stand it when people say ‘it will happen when you stop looking,’ because it’s over-simplistic, and sounds like it’s better to not know, or even to deny what you want, so you can invariably ignore it, and then it will just pop into your life inconveniently or by accident. However, the essence of the advice stands, and that is to accept my status, and live my life without postponing things I want to do, or who I want to become while waiting for this dream man.  For instance, I used to want to dance more, dated a man who danced, he dumped me, but I kept dancing!

My single friend is less than at ease with her status. In spite of being soft-spoken about her status, it is over-apparent to the rest of the world, in her coy demeanor and actions. I speak openly about my life, as it’s cathartic for me to let my friends in to alleviate the feelings of being alone in my challenges, if not also because it bears the benefit of giving others permission to open up, which it has in the past, to find that solidarity and catharsis for themselves in me.

I let the line dancing be my challenge for the evening, being more uniform than swing, with less room for error. Each time I managed to get a dance nearly seamless by the end, we’d high-five and move on to the next one. I felt awesome. In spite of my jagged missteps accompanied by the occasional smoothly braided grapevine, I was in my favorite pair of jeans, and cowgirl boots, my hair up in  high-pony, read to sweat.

“IF YOU’RE IN A BACHELORETTE PARTY, MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”

We stared at each other, and laughed awkwardly. I could tell this bothered her. Shortly after the third time during the night that we couldn’t “make some noise” we called it a night, mostly because it was nearly 1:00am, and we had been dancing for the last four hours. But, I couldn’t help but notice the expression on her face had changed. She doesn’t usually show distress. She’s an educator, and keeps her negative emotions concealed expertly. Tonight was different. She’s a little older than I am, and last night must have distressed her more than I anticipated it would. It occurs to me now in reflection that she even suggested, jokingly, that we leave in favor of an event in what looked like a circus tent nearby.

We aren’t close friends, and I’m really only now getting to know her in the last couple months, in spite of knowing of each other for the last 9 years. She’s starting to make more sense to me as time goes on. I hope she opens up to me, or to someone she feels safe with about her un-pretty emotions. But, tonight she helped me see, externally from myself, the flip-side of happy.

I was able to enjoy these humorously endearing bachelorettes because I’ve found peace in being single, which was not the case a few months ago, or ever before that. That peace comes from a few factors that take consistent work to keep at the forefront of my thoughts. My peace comes from (a) knowing what I want in a relationship, which means that when I turn a man away, it’s my own choice, and that when he leaves, it’s not rejection, it’s a bullet dodged, because if he doesn’t want me romantically, I shouldn’t want him either; (b) knowing I can live a happy life full of adventure without a man’s romantic company, because I’m acting on those choices and living that life right now, and (c) my faith in knowing I’ll meet him when the time is right, when he and I are both ready to create a life with each other.

After a conversation with a psychic stranger that happened serendipitously earlier in the day, I was told I’d meet him once I’ve embraced my own power, my power to assert myself, my power to be fully myself wherever I go and with whomever I accompany. For the first time yesterday, I truly felt he was waiting for me. I don’t know where he is, or what he looks like, or even when I’ll meet him, but I know that he’s there, and that I need to work on myself more before I meet him, even though I don’t know when, or how long it will take.

I’ve come to peace with the idea that I may not get the chance to have children, which I’ve been told is cynical for my age, but it’s not. In fact, it’s been incredibly helpful in taking the pressure off. If I’m meant to bear biological children, I will, if I am meant to pursue other options, I’ll feel the inclination intuitively to do that, if I am meant to make the world my child, as in contribute a non-human project to add to the multitude of human efforts to progress existence to a better place, I will. My contribution to the world, whether the product of my relationship with a man, or the product solely of my own heart, will be the product of love, with or without a romantic partner.

I hope my friend can find this peace within herself, as it’s the only way it can be found. Words are only words until we feel. I’m relieved I’ve tackled these uncomfortable questions by the young age of 23, and didn’t let the opinions of others stymie my coming to terms with the unknown. I have to work on maintaining my peace, it’s a project every day, but at least it’s intellectually available. Moving the peace to my heart takes work, but at least I have the means to try.

The flip-side of happiness is that happiness can only be achieved, it seems, when what is making one unhappy is addressed, completely acknowledged, felt and overcome with a change of mind and heart. If only it didn’t sound so simple.

 

Go Swing Dancing!

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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.”