Thursday, December 29, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night...

...well, it was more of a grey and damp afternoon, but it turned into a dark and stormy night, eventually.  I dropped the boy off at a friend's, and set out, only an hour behind schedule, which wasn't so bad, as I'd planned for a half hour of lateness, anyway.  It was pretty damp when I got to my first hero's house, and we set off pretty quickly to pick up the second.  Not even five minutes into the ride, the windshield wipers start slapping out of time, got caught up in each other, and jammed.  We pulled over (I should mention that escort #1 had taken over the driving) and I got out into the rain to wrestle and separate them.  That fix lasted for approximately two more minutes, when it happened again, and I decided to just take the passenger's side wiper off, while standing in the rain on the side of the highway, because it was getting ridiculous, already, and we couldn't continue on like that for the rest of the trip when we had to be at the venue in two hours, and were running out of time.  Off we went, with my anxiety level increased from 'the brakes are shot and so are the tires, and there's a plastic driver's side window', to 'all that, plus it's pouring rain, and now there's only one wiper, and I can't see shit'.  Not very much further up the road, while pulling up to a toll booth, I was explaining to hero #1 how he had to pay the toll through the sunroof (plastic window), and while he was looking up at it, he rear-ended a Jeep and crushed the front end of my car.  Because the Universe thought it wasn't smashed up enough already.  So we pulled over again, to confirm with the young Jeep driver that, as per the norm, his vehicle had sustained no damage whatsoever, thank you, have a good day, and on your way, lad.  I attempted to pick the broken headlight glass out of my crushed fender for a minute, then gave in to the futility of the exercise, and moved our sad little train back on track to our next destination. 

Through the half-wiped, window of my suffering vehicle, we finally looked out on lovely, downtown Secaucus, New Jersey, having braved the bumper to bumper traffic of rush hour, out on the washed-down highway.  We pulled in sodden and weary, grabbed our second hero's luggage in a wind-whipped sprint from parking lot to front door and back to the lot, through the soaking chaos of the unrelenting rain, arranged suitcases in the trunk in a frenzied rush, stuffed our newest party member into the ruckus and flew on.  And then there was more traffic.  And more rain, and trying to figure our way into the City from this angle, and finally making it to and through the Holland Tunnel (which wasn't what we were going for), and then crossing over to the West Side Highway so we could bomb our way uptown to 78th, where the Triad Theater is.  Oh, it was a hell ride, all of us cursing and spitting, shrieking our heads off with laughter while pounding the dashboard with the Madness - me threatening to chicken out, and not even get up on stage, and screw it, we're in the City on a Hell Ride, and let's just go out and have fun, damn the Slam.  But no, they had brought me this far, they were going to deliver me at all costs, and I was going to have to Go Through With It no matter how unprepared I felt, no matter how unrehearsed and sloppy from the wet.  So we found parking, and the rates quoted were high enough for me to blank them out and say, 'whatever, we'll deal with it later, we have to GO.'  And the final two block hustle on foot ensuring the completion of my drenched-ness, where in the packed lobby of the theater I managed to let a guy who was yelling "$12 cover, 2 drink minimum.  Cash only, there's an ATM across the street" know that I was supposed to be performing, but was rather wet and late, and he saw me through a door.

I was approached by a woman who was strongly suggesting I go backstage.  "Should I tell my friends that I'm heading in?" 

"You should go in the back."

"Well, they don't have very much money, I should make sure they can get in to the show..."

"You should go in the back."

"Well, I mean, if they can't get in, they'll be stuck out in the rain until..."

"You should go in the back."

"Okay."  I went in the back, and figured my boys could take care of themselves, they would have to, and that I'd just have to get myself ready and do this thing, here I was, full steam ahead.  'The back' was a teeny room, with six or seven people squished in it, with a toilet-sized area that was separated by a door.  I shimmied my way in, made my way to the toilet-cubby, and shucked my swim gear for the elegance I had the forethought to carry along in an old, American Tourister make-up case.  Dressed and powdered, I emerged from the cubicle and finagled a place at the mirror to arrange all my hair (not very well), apply what I thought was stage/camera appropriate make-up (darker and more dramatic than usual), and accessorize with a few pieces of antique Bedouin jewelry on loan from my mother, from my grandmother's collection.  It was a blessed miracle - I had not only arrived in one piece, but was as 'tv ready' as I was going to get without professional help, to tell my story Remembrance, with (hopefully) a few friends in the audience cheering me on.  I attempted to read over the copy I had printed out and rolled up in my purse - crushed as it was from the many grab & stuffs it had been subjected to throughout the day as I tried to cram in that last bit of studying before go time - without much success, as I was more interested in hearing about my fellow tellers, who were they, where were they from, what were they telling, how prepared were they?  One woman had flown in from New Mexico for the occassion, which put my 6 hour hell ride in a certain perspective, as well as the Sephardic Music Festival as a whole, for me.  Then the hostess called my self-written intro 'adorable' and announced my name. 

I walked across the stage, stood still before the microphone which I was shy of, fidgeted with my shawl as I mumbled and lowered my eyes through a shaky retelling of my poetic memory that seemed much less entertaining, emotional and amusing than it was on the page, looked quickly out into the bright lights that hid most of the crowd, and retreated to 'the back'.  I felt...triumphant, embarrassed, stupid, elated, and free.  I felt great because I had done it - because we had gotten there, because I had been able to 'clean up' in time for the show, because I had actually walked on to a stage, and attempted to tell a story.  I was embarrassed because I was unrehearsed - I didn't act the piece as I would have liked, I would have needed a week's notice for that, not just a day's...and I attempted to qualify what I thought would be a lame performance to the audience by excusing it on stage beforehand.  Seems like a big no-no, huh?  A self-fulfilling prophecy, and a negatively self-imagined way to avoid dealing with giving the world little more than what is required to live in it, rather than reaching for joy.  Stupid, I forgot half the story!  OMG!  I left this out, and that out, and I flubbed that other thing, and did I say that?  Oh, lord!  But I was also elated, you know why?  Because once again, I immediately knew everything I would need to do it right the next time.  That this was just the beginning of something really fun and exciting for me, and for a first timer (other than the aforementioned coffee houses), I didn't do as bad as a tragic disaster - I did okay.  This was the final event in a week long music festival that coincided with Hannukah, featuring some of the biggest names in Israeli/American music and culture, with seasoned tv and theater pros.  This was a big event, as witnessed by the woman who had flown in from New Mexico for the Slam...and here I come, some chick off the street breezing into their club and doing almost well.  And part of what I knew was, had I done my prep work better (now here's the story of my life), focused more on the dramatic telling of the story rather than what I was going to wear, how I was going to do my hair, with what would I accessorize, I could have sewn that thing right up.  Well, I could have been a finalist, for sure, but it was a freeing experience, the whole thing. 

Then, after I had to spend the rest of the show in 'the back' because there just never seemed to be a good time to sneak out across the stage to sit in the audience with my friends, it was finally time to go find them (where no less than three people stopped to tell me how much they liked my story), catch up on our adventures, and find out who won the competition.  They did make it in, the one friend having to cover the other, and had a $50 bar bill for me to pay, because they had been required to have two drinks each (before the competition even started, the lady who had flown in had a friend stop back to tell her he was leaving because of a dispute with the bar staff over not having cash, and wanting to use his credit card).  Luckily, I had $51 in my wallet, not that the $1 would have done much, one of my friends had covered the $12 it cost us to go through the tunnel - there was nothing cheap about this evening, including the entire $40 tank of gas it took to get there and back.  On the way out, The Hebrew Mamita was hawking books in the lobby, so I got to stop and schmooze her a second which was wonderful (♥), then it was back on the street with the boys, where it had finally stopped raining.  Hooray.  At the parking garage, they wanted $48 for having stored my car for a few hours, ouch, and we trudged on home with a happy vengeance.  I believe there were even roadside cheeseburgers...all in all, it probably cost me about $160 to go down to the City and give a stuttered performance that didn't earn me a spot on the 11.5 minute video that got posted, featuring 'the highlights' of the show - every performer except myself and another woman.  Mostly fine with me, I was a bit terrified at the thought of a video being posted, and granted the quality is not good, but jeez, was I that bad?  I'd kind of like to know?  There aren't any pictures of me from the event, either, also serving up double-edged relief and curiosity.  Weird crowd.  But yeah, in the end, it was totally worth it - for no other reason than to have fun, and even with (partly because of) all the misadventure and expense, it gave me another story to tell, and so we are to the heart of it. 

I finally finished my Bachelor's project, and it's time to move out of that story and into another.  Add a few bits onto Nexus, get it printed up, show it off.  Saint's and Kakiat still waiting in the wings, and now that I've stepped onstage, can I facilitate a group?  I'm planning on heading back into academics over the Summer, how does that figure in?  Talking stories...file it under 'Things I Should Have Known', remember the words of the wise-woman therapist, and get back to business, there's so much left to do, and so much joy to do it with!

here's the video - I was there!  I stood on that stage and spoke, too!

*just a note about my two heroes - they totally had my back Tuesday night.  I want to acknowledge them for their driving, the emotional and artistic support, for not letting me chicken out, agreeing to come with me and back me up in the first place, and for bolstering my self-esteem.  You guys rock, I couldn't have done it without your help - I wish I'd won the celebrity judge's sister's cookbook so I could tear it in half for you to share!  (seriously, that's a joke, I adore the celebrity judge, and I hope her sister's cookbook makes the NY Times best seller's list)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sephardic Music Festival Story Slam!

Yay!  Look at that!  A poster with my name on it...truth is, I'm nervous as hell, because I got into this thing like I get into everything - in an offhand, tossed-off kind of way.  'Oh, I think I'll send in that short piece I wrote'.  'Oh, they invited me to come read?'  'Oh, it's a storytelling competition, and I have to not only memorize my piece, I have to perform it..?'  Oh...  Well, now I know.  I wish I had more time to prepare, but that's not the story of my life.  I got kicked out of more clubs than I joined in high school, and I was trying to remember if I've performed out before, because I know I rehearsed for a few plays I was never actually in, for not remembering my lines.  Or wouldn't, maybe, because I simply had no desire to be on stage.  I remember reading in Dan Masterson's poetry class, and on the Semester at Sea ship, but that's it.  I must have sort-of spoken at some point at Goddard, but I have no clear memories of anything other that my level 8 presentation (oh, wait, now I'm remembering some horribly butchered attempts at acting in a few short plays, as well...blech).  I read a piece at a workshop at Goddard last semester, another on the end of semester Skype conference call, and will read at my presentation in the Spring.  This is a storytelling performance in NYC at the Sephardic Music Festival, though.  Feels serious.  Professional.  A bit over my head, out of my league...  It's alright, even though I feel totally unprepared, I am going to follow through and do this thing, for better or worse.  It's like jumping in with both feet just before wondering, 'can I swim?'  At least I'll know, for the next time...

: )

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mythic Meditations

Another post that's been attempting to kick its way out of my head for at least a week, now...I've got so much on the brain lately, academically speaking, that it's actually blocking me from being able to write anything down - I need to be clear-headed and calm (or furiously angry) to be able to throw ink (or, in this case, pixels), so I'm going to force myself to get this out hoping that it will allow the floodgates to release the rest of my thesis unimpeded.

I've been thinking about intentionality quite a bit, lately, in terms of language, thoughts and actions.  Plenty of people much smarter and more prolific than I have written volumes on the subject, so I won't attempt to explain the theory or workings of it, but will offer my 'moron's-eye-view' as a way to establish some context for the subject I am about to dive into.  It is my understanding that by bringing focused attention to an object or thought, it has the potential to carry a specific sort of energy that we may direct in the way of our choosing.  It's the reason prayer works.  It's as simple as giving positive energy to the Universe as opposed to negative...the difference between YES and NO in a cosmic sense.

Now, here's where I'm gonna lose you with my woo-woo crazy mythological cosmic consciousness rhetoric, but try and hang in there (or go watch some tv, it's up to you), even though we may be headed over the edge of the map of what most people can deal with in terms of sacred shamanistic ju-ju.  Really, it's not that big or important, just some fun I chose to whip up to enliven my otherwise lonely evenings, based in/on an experimental synthesis of some of the stories/theories/practices I have come across in my wanderings/wonderings.  Come along if you will, go if you must, were off to where there be dragons...

Once upon a time, while wandering through a library wondering what my next step in life should be, a book jumped off the shelf and insisted I read it.  Truly.  It was the book that introduced to me to the wonderful world of labyrinths, and the mythology of Ariadne, High Priestess and Princess/Queen of ancient Crete.  (Interestingly enough, it was also this book that signaled the significance of my initial encounters with my darling child's father, but we'll get into that a bit later.)  I was instantly drawn to Ariadne's story - recognized myself in her words, actions, and even her countenance.  It was almost eerie, but to someone like me, an experience that lifts the hairs off your skin is one to dive into, and fully explore.  Most people have some knowledge of this myth by way of Theseus and a Minotaur, but I assure you, it goes WAY deeper than that, and what lies beneath is much more interesting than what it's been coated in for us to swallow.

Let's talk Ariadne.  It is said that when she was born, the god Dionysus claimed her for his own, though unlike that perv Zeus, he left her to her Earthly fate, and let her life unfold like any normal, High Priestess/princess in the matriarchal tradition whose Queendomly birthright was threatened by hostile takeover by power-hungry men who were raping and murdering priestesses on their altars of worship in a violent, blood-rage across the land.  The poor girl had the awful luck of becoming infatuated with the dashing young marauder, Theseus, and sailed with him when he left Crete, during the earthquake that destroyed her beautiful palace and city, leaving them in ruins.  They sailed to the neighboring island of Naxos, where Ariadne was received as the Holy Royal Highness that she was, and where she was asked to preside, as was her station, over the Dionysian ritual, the end result of which sent Theseus and his Athenians running scared, leaving her behind as they sailed for home.  It was at this point in pre-history that Dionysus is said to have claimed his bride, and given her the Crown of Stars.

You're all thinking, "Oh my god, that sounds EXACTLY like YOUR life!"  I know, it's uncanny, right?  Obviously, I'm joking, but where the significance lies in this particular telling - there are other synchronicities I could get into, but they're not as important to tell for what I'm getting at here - is the relationship between a mortal woman and a god.  Given the affinity I have for this myth, and the startling synchronicities I'm choosing to gloss over for the sake of space and time, there was a point in my life (after yet another relationship went sour and dissolved) that I lamented to myself how I didn't want to have to wait 'til I was dead to be claimed by, and joined with, my god.  (A month or two after that lament, my beloved baby-daddy, whom I'd been previously introduced to both in my meditations, and by his Timber wolf, walked into my apartment, and the sparks FLEW.  About a week later, the first time I went to hang out with him at his house, he showed me a cool book he'd found in the attic - wanna take a guess which book it was?  Yeah.  It's lived on my bookshelf ever since.)

Taking a step out of the mythology for a minute (but not too far, as you will see), let's talk about my dad.  My father was a man of epic proportion - not large per se, in fact, he was short and stocky, well-muscled, well-liked, well-loved.  He was the kind of guy you're lucky to meet once in your life, and I was blessed with having him in mine for 30.  His buddies called him the 'Bulvan', the Hebrew word for bull...wait, wasn't the Minotaur a man-bull?  Wasn't the Minotaur slain in the myth we were discussing?  Wasn't Minos, Ariadne's father, the one that was killed while trying to overthrow her country's centuries-old tradition of female rule to save his own neck from the Labrys, the sacrificial double-edged axe of the Cretan temples?  Didn't my beloved father die while I was immersed in the study of this mythology?  Didn't I find another thesis that had been done on this subject in my school's library - the author which's father had also died during her immersion in it?  Doesn't that raise the arm hairs?!

While baby-daddy and my father had little in common in terms of the lives they led, there were/are significant similarities in their 'personhood', or the ways they choose/chose to interact with their worlds - most likely, in my opinion, based on childhoods defined by pain, abuse, neglect, trauma, and any number of other horrible things that in a perfect world, would never be the fate of innocent children.  Perhaps that's why I was drawn to him.  That, and he's just so darned cute!  The man, like my father, has a certain epicness to him.  An immensity of Spirit.  While he is deeply broken, his light shines forth in a way that is unmistakable - and though I can get caught up in being angry with him for any number of Earthly issues, my Soul feels safe at home with him, and he remains the great love of my heart.  The gift of our child, after all, is the greatest gift I can ever hope to receive in this life.

So, getting back to our mythological pagan woo-woo love fest, it's important to note that I met a woman this past year who is probably the only person who can say she is 'married to Jesus' and not send me snickering off into the night muttering, "okay, crazy lady!"  In fact, it is most likely my interaction with her that helped me to understand the particular aspect of my relationship to my higher power in terms of how I relate the Ariadne/Dionysus paradigm to my own life.  As a result of this realization, I have undertaken to begin 'speaking with the angels'.  (Uh oh...this is where I'm gonna start losing those who've hung in this far)  It is a well documented...assumption...that there are these energies know as seraphim, cherubim, or angels, depending on what traditions you're familiar with, and I figured I'd give them a shout out, and let them know I was seeking a favor from my lord-god Dionysus, before bringing my request before the All One Itself.  And so I called - to them and to him:  "please, if you would, send me a worthy Earthly male which with to enjoy congress that I may honor you with the pleasure of my body."

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I realize that I should make clear, here, that sex, to me, is a form of worship.  A sacred act with which to commune with the Universe, the Original Source, or whatever you call that energy from whence we all came.  It is in this spirit that, about a week ago, I lay in my bed and invoked the archangels, cherubim, and seraphim - anything that would listen, really - and asked them to bring my request to the energy I was choosing to identify as Dionysus, if they would be so kind.  This is how they answered me - in a lucid dream, I found myself among the clouds, on the softest bed ever, being brought to pleasure by my high school boyfriend.  Funny that it was my high school guy, but I guess it makes sense in the way that he was the first man I had sex with that I had an actual connection to - we loved each other in the way 16 - 18 year old kids love each other, with the excitement and rush of discovery and wonderment.  Really, given my preference for a certain 'look' (I like a wide variety of men, don't get me wrong, here), they could have plugged in the hair/eye/skin color combo of 85% of my lovers, and any one of them could have fathered a child that looks much like the one I have.

The lucid sex was great!  It was like I had popped into the dream while my body was halfway to orgasm, and when I reached it, my high-school-honey and I looked at each other like the kids we were back then, with a certain surprise at how much fun this all was, and got really excited to give it another go in another way, when..."Mom?  Mom, are you awake?  I already cleaned my room and made myself breakfast, can I watch something?"  ...oh, you higher power, you!  With your sense of humor!  I told the darling little angel of my womb that he was absolutely welcome to do whatever he saw fit if he had the presence of mind to clean his room and make himself breakfast before waking me up on the weekend, before rolling back under my blankets and basking in the afterglow of a mostly-consummated congress with my god-love.

I intend to work further with this meditation, to see what else I am gifted with dreaming, and hopefully, to see what manifests.  It's ridiculous, at this point in my life, given the experiences I've had, to pretend these things don't happen, and that we have no power over the manifestations of our own destinies.  There was a time in my life when my day-to-day was immersed in the study and practice of the arcane, overly occupied by the occult, and engaging of the Enochian.  I have seen the results of focused intention first-hand on numerous occasions, and but for the wearing-down pressure of society to conform and make a living, and single-motherhood, still strive to remain true to the lessons I have been blessed to be given.  Living one's dreams is a hard road, but the more I grow, the more I see the importance of remaining true to one's Self, and the many pitfalls and pains that can be avoided in not having to look back and say, "I wish I had done this or that."

It is with intentionality that I ask you to go forth - to choose to see that which catches the edge of your sight, the snowball-sized flashes of light outside the window rising into the air as the radio that was off crackles next to you, to listen to your dreams and find peace in your hearts.  For me, this is the only way.  I think, for all of us, this is the only way.  My love attempts to cover us all - some days, I fail completely, but for the most part, if I choose to be more intentional about it, I feel that I can succeed.  That all of us can succeed, with the blessing of my love to carry us all home. ♥

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*the references are all pulled off the web, as it was convenient for me to do so.  if you have any further questions about some of the more esoteric information, feel free to contact me - wikipedia doesn't know everything!