Make a spark, break the dark
Find a light with me
Who we are chasing stars
Won’t you dance with me?

“Lose It”
Downtown we let it go
Sunset high and our bodies low
Blood rush in the hazy glow
My hands, your bones

 Loose up we break the scene
One step deep as you fall to me
Heart clap, we skip a beat
Count one two three

And don’t you stop the music
Get into it
Won’t you dance with me?

Find a place and lose it
You can do it
Won’t you dance with me?

Move your feet and feel it in the space between
You gotta give yourself a moment, let your body be
We gotta lose it
We gotta lose it

Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it
Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it

Your name I’ll never know
As we get down in the world below
Caught up in an overflow
My hands, your bones

Wide eyed, you look at me
Set on fire in a silver dream
Spin round you can feel the breeze
Count one, two, three

And don’t you stop the music
Get into it
Won’t you dance with me?

Find a place and lose it
You can do it
Won’t you dance with me?

Move your feet and feel it in the space between
You gotta give yourself a moment, let your body be
We gotta lose it
We gotta lose it

Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it
Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it

Make a spark, break the dark
Find a light with me
Who we are from the start
Won’t you dance with me?

Make a spark, break the dark
Find a light with me
Who we are chasing stars
Won’t you dance with me?
Won’t you dance with me?

And don’t you stop the music
Get into it
Won’t you dance with me?

Find a place and lose it
You can do it
Won’t you dance with me?

Move your feet and feel it in the space between
You gotta give yourself a moment, let your body be
We gotta lose it
We gotta lose it

Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it
Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it

Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it
Lose it
Lose it
Lose it
We gotta lose it

Move your feet and feel it in the space between
You gotta give yourself a moment, let your body be
We gotta lose it
We gotta lose it

2015…WTF?  I have never been so glad to leave a year behind me in all my life.  I wish I could say I came out of it all stronger or braver or with more compassion or wisdom or something. But right now in reflection of the year as a whole, “WTF?” is all I got.

December started out pretty rough, but the last two weeks were a wonderful balance between alone time and family time. There was plenty of time to recap the year and to chart the course for 2016.  I made good progress on all the resolutions.  I’ll spare you the boring stats. You’re welcome.

 

 

Back in July we got a couple of new hens.

Hobbit (left) was named for the feathered feet.  Chicken Little (right) was named for her catastrophic reactions to treats being dropped on her head.  By “treats” I mean spinach stems or strawberry caps – nothing at all that should cause a concussion or “end of the world” behavior.   Hobbit would *always* be the first to snatch up the treat. This would instantly send Chicken Little into “the sky is falling” mode, in which she would chase Hobbit around the cage in a panic, all the while peeping frantically. Hobbit wouldn’t even eat the snack at first, preferring instead to run around with it taunting Chicken Little.  If I dropped another treat in for Chicken Little, Hobbit would drop the first treat, snatch up the second treat and take off running with it.  Rather than taking Hobbit’s discarded treat, Chicken Little would act like it didn’t exist at all and continue her incessant peeping and chasing.

The silly little birds grew and grew and it quickly became evident that they were nothing like the dignified Myrtle, Pearl, and Gertrude, or even crazy Freebird. These two chicks were friendly and more than a little nuts. They’d practically jump in our pockets each time we opened the door to their cage.

At some point Chicken Little stopped growing, but Hobbit kept getting bigger and then began developing iridescent greenish black feathers like a peacock.  I was in denial for a long time even though the evidence was before my eyes.  The day after Christmas when we opened the back door to let Moon Pie out for her morning routine, our little Hobbit announced to the world his manhood with a “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!!”

Hobbit

Hobbit demanding a close-up and Chicken Little in the background

The links I’ve included in the titles refer back to previous blog entries on the books or topics.

 

1. The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult

There are at least three stories embedded in The Storyteller: The individual and interwoven stories of Sage, a baker, and her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. There’s also an intriguing fairytale interlaid between the two.  On the whole, it’s masterfully written — an intricate work that is simultaneously beautiful and horrific. It’s hard to leave a Picoult novel without feeling jarred.

2. Plain Truth, Jodi Picoult

A newborn baby is found dead in a barn in an Amish community. Jarring already, and that’s just the beginning. A secret teen-age pregnancy, lawyers, cops, and…ghosts? …and ghost hunters?  Somehow it all seems plausible.

I did not like the ending. I saw it coming and I did not want to go there, but we went anyway.  Oh well.  I still loved the Amish world.  I could live there, sans the murder, drama, and ghosts.

3. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins

Dawkins describes at length all the irrationality inherent in the belief in God and warns of the danger of such beliefs. I enjoyed reading the science in this book, not so much the theology.  The haughty “voice” he writes in is a bit distracting, especially when he’s unnecessarily churlish, which he so often is. He could dial it down a notch and still get his points across.

 

4. Push Comes to Shove, Twyla Tharp

A life devoted to dance —  I got to live vicariously through Twyla’s autobiography.  It was an engaging and fun read.

5. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic was fluffy and sweet like cotton candy. It was the complete antithesis to Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.  I prefer Gilbert’s metaphors to describe her relationship with  creativity  better than Pressfield’s. I’ll take the fairies and magic version any day over the bleeding and tortured artist-warrior.

 

6. Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much, Tony Crabbe

I’ve had a lot of busy in the last year, so I definitely needed the tips and reminders on how to deal with it. Specifically, the shift to managing attention instead of time was good advice. Also, I needed the reminder to “practice the pause.”

 

7. The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself,  Veronique Vienne

This book was a gift from El-D.  He knows me so well. :) Again, another good reminder.

 

8. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain

Gee, notice a theme in the last three books?  Yeah, I read this one at the least quiet time in my entire life. Cain taught me why introversion is my superpower and why I need to appreciate that gift and protect it. Lesson learned.

 

9. Gabriel’s Inferno, Sylvia Reynard

I didn’t particularly like this book. I am not a fan of the romance genre. Both the heroine and the hero annoyed me. The professor-student love affair was creepy. However, there was a superficial smattering of Dante stuff embedded in the story that interested me and kept me reading.

 

10. The Inferno, Dante Alighieri

I figured I’d just go to the source himself – Dante – to see what the fuss was about.  This read was research for a choreography composed earlier this year.

11. Whatever After: Bad Hair Day, Sarah Mylnowki

This the fifth book in a series, but the first one that I’ve read. Each book centers on a different fairytale that gets thoroughly messed up after a brother and sister enter the fairytale world through a magic mirror. This particular book was Rapunzel’s story.

I read it over the summer with a couple young friends. Cute, safe kid-lit.

 

12. Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is a young adult novel that features a coming-of-age love story with homosexual themes. It has received a lot of awards, which is baffling and which probably has more to do with the zeitgeist than the story’s merit.  It wasn’t terrible. But it also wasn’t great, especially considering the next book I read…

13. everyday, David Levithan

Everyday was also intended for the young adult audience. It handled gender and identity issues in a very intelligent and creative way. I loved the story and finished it nearly in one marathon sitting. I would have given the awards to this one personally.

 



14. Naked, David Sedaris

David Sedaris, hysterical as always.

15. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things, Jenny Lawson

Another memoir from the author of Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. This one focuses on dealing with mental illness.  It was a quick read.

16. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project is a memoir chronicling a year’s worth of resolutions that Rubin made to create more happiness into her life. It was aggravating and inspiring in equal measure.  After reading it I finally got around to setting up my 2015 resolutions/goals (in July). I’ve been tracking progress on these goals on a daily basis and summarizing the results monthly. OCD, I know. Earlier this week I read that people who write down their goals are nine times more likely to accomplish them than people who do not.  I can attest that writing out my goals down has helped, but a system of tracking them has been even more beneficial.  So, in the final analysis, this was probably one of the more life-changing books I read this year.

 

17. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell uses stories, examples, and data to uncover the strengths hidden inside what appear to be disadvantages. Chapter 5 alone is worth the price of the book.  It details the life and work of Emil “Jay” Freireich, a physician who helped develop a successful treatment for  Leukemia.

18. Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage it Takes to Create a  Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, Parker Palmer

It’s become my habit to read at least one Parker Palmer book a year to renew my faith in myself and in humanity. He never disappoints.

19. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper Kerman

Another memoir. Aside from the backstory, it’s quite different from the Orange TV series. Piper is front and center in the book.  The other women steal the show on TV. Both good in their own way.

 

20. The Circle, Dave Eggers

The Circle is a story about the unimaginable evil lurking in dark corners of the world’s most powerful Internet company. It was so very different from Dave Eggers’ memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  The writing style was very dry and on the surface the story seemed shallow, but underneath it was scary as hell. I highly recommend this one.

 

21. The Midnight Witch, Paula Brackston

I rang in October with some witchy reading.  All three of Brackston’s books were perfect for the month. The Midnight Witch is about a secret coven of necromancers who mingle in high society of Edwardian England. The young Head Witch, Lilith, who governs the coven creates all sorts of drama when she falls in love with a mere mortal.

22. The Winter Witch, Paula Brackston

Morgana is our witch in this story. She doesn’t speak, which makes her all the more endearing. She is married off to a man she just met and is whisked away to live at his home. There’s a powerful old  witch there who has her own agenda for Morgana’s husband and his land.

23. The Witch’s Daughter, Paula Brackston

The story of the hedge witch Elizabeth spans nearly 400 years.  A mean old warlock has been stalking her for centuries. I won’t tell you why.

24. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life, Judith Hanson Lasater

This year’s reading list was heavy with dark themes and I really needed to end the year on a positive note. This was a good book for that. Each chapter was devoted to practical application of yogic philosophy, with topics like Compassion, Truth, Love, Patience, Relaxation, and Courage. Lots to work on here.

 

The last two weeks of December are deliciously mine, mine, mine. (Well, mostly). To celebrate I decided I wanted to do something crazy and luxurious. I wanted to watch TV. Not Youtube or something on the Internet, but actual TV.

Sounds easy enough…

Here’s the thing: we don’t have cable and our antiquated television is one of those big, bulky contraptions that requires a converter box to receive a signal. It’s not at all user-friendly even though El-D acts like it’s incredibly easy to operate. Despite the many “How to Turn on the TV” tutorials he’s provided over the years, I remain mystified. All I can tell you is that poking the “ON” button on anything on or around the device never works. From my lessons, I have learned that there are least three steps required to get the thing going, yet there are four different remotes with an outrageous array of buttons, none of which do what they claim.  Believe me, I have pushed them all to no effect.

Why does one need this many buttons and switches to operate the TV set? I am not trying to fly an airplane here; I just want to watch…well, anything at this point – a rerun of Gilligan’s Island maybe? Or even a good old fashioned hemorrhoid cream commercial. I have a Ph.D., surely I can figure this out? Instead, like a chicken playing the video game Portal, I go flapping around, pecking at things and squawking…and the Portal never opens.

So I sit on the couch staring at the blank screen, longing for the good old days when the world was made of tangible, sensible things…back in the days when there was just one “on” button and it meant business – you had to physically get up and turn a knob to watch Johnny Carson…back when you were part of the reception process and that process involved things like antenna, aluminum foil, and perhaps an old pie tin.

Finally, El-D appears and by the wonders of his modern wizardry, the Miss Universe Pageant lights up the screen. Who even knew this sort of thing (i.e., televised beauty pageants) still happened in the world? I am instantly transported back to those “good old days” when we – Kiki, Roy, mom and I – sat in the old rockers in the den as we judged beautiful women parading around in swimsuits.

And that is how, against incredible odds, I wound up watching the epic mistake Steve Harvey made in crowning the (wrong) winner.

November came and went in its usual exhausting way.  The year after year ebb and flow of academic semesters has given November a near-but-not-nearly-near-enough-to-the-finish-line-of-a-marathon  sort of vibe for me. November makes me tired, tired, tired.

Here are the goals and what I managed to accomplish on them in November:

1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.

Somehow I managed to throw together two mediocre dinners by sheer force of will in the name of this resolution. Go me!

2. Eat dinner before 7:30.

All-time high here — 80% success rate.

3. Tend the garden.

The 7 hours I spent in my yard was by far the most enjoyable part of the entire month. I raked and raked and raked and raked and raked and raked and raked oak and sycamore leaves. Other people came over to help push leaves around the yard, which made me beyond grateful.

The crepe myrtles and rose of Sharon are pruned, the dead plants are mostly out of the beds. I harvested some of the arugula and lettuce and planted more. The indoor plants were repotted and the amaryllis bulbs were pulled out for the season. They are happily sprouting in the window seal.

There is still more raking to be done.

4. Write a book.

Har.  I got 80 minutes of writing done.

5. Meditate 15 minutes a day.

I accomplished just over 2 hours for the entire month.

I realize that most people probably think other people’s resolution reports involving statistics do not make for interesting reading material.  I get it, I do. But whatever. It’s my blog. I do what I want!  If I want to whip out a t-test or a flowchart, I will!  Just try and stop me.

Actually, October is not a month for t-tests. October is a month for life beyond spreadsheets; it is a month for magic-y magic and wild, wily witchery.

subdued witches

subdued witches

not so subdued witches

not so subdued witches

Poetry Witches5

I might have been on a bit of a witch kick.  I tore through three of Paula Brackston’s books:

The Midnight Witch

The Witches Daughter

The Winter Witch

I haven’t bought The Silver Witch yet, but it’s on the list. I love this author! Necromancers, hedge witches, and warlocks, oh my! Each story was set in a different period with unforgettable characters. The language was beautiful and the magic strange.

And as if by magic, I did manage to make some progress on the resolutions…

1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.

I did! Four times fabulous with varying degrees of complicated.

2. Eat dinner before 7:30

I had a 61% success rate here — up 8 points from September!

3. Tend the garden.

I spent over 9 hours out there planting mums and pansies, pulling weeds, removing dead flowers, picking arugula and planting Brussels sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, and lettuce.

MoonPie smells the roses

MoonPie smells the roses

4. Finish Inferno choreography.

Done!

5. Write a book.

I got a whooping 5 hours in his month.  Better than last month, but I need to invest way more time here.

6. Meditate 15 minutes a day.

Not even close. Only got in 2.5 hours.

****

What were your happy accomplishments in October?

In the middle of our life journey, I found myself in a dark wood. I had wandered from the straight path.  It isn’t easy to talk about it: it was such a thick, wild, and rough forest that when I think of it, my fear returns….

Dante, The Inferno

Dante's Inferno

On Saturday, October 3rd, the Inferno choreography was released into the world.

Inferno (2)

The idea for this dance has lived in me for over nine months. In the last trimester alone I poured out over 20 hours of zeal and profound love on just the physical creation of the 4 minute and 23 second dance. That doesn’t include the hours I spent reading, researching, and thinking about Dante’s heroic verses.

Inferno

Before this conception there was a courtship, of course.  My notes date back to August 15, 2014, when I responded to Dante’s call to his Readers:

O voi ch’avete li ‘ntelletti sani,
mirate la dottrina che s’asconde
sotto ‘l velame de li versi strani.

Oh you with sound intellects,
Observe the doctrine that conceals itself
Beneath the veil of these strange verses!

–Dante’s Infeno, Canto IX

Inferno 01

That’s when I began studying Dante’s work in earnest and trying to interpret the mysterious verses. It’s astounding how a 700 year old poem continues to resonate through the work of contemporary musicians, painters, writers, singers, and other artists.

By the time of the performance, most of the choreography was set, but there were unnerving parts I had to improvise.  I haven’t seen the video yet, so I don’t know how well the improvised parts went and whether I was able to express what this dance with Dante meant to me, but I do know that I learned a lot through the process of making it.

IMG_4916 (2)

If you’re interested in seeing the images I collected to guide the choreography, they may be found through the link here on Pinterest:  Inferno inspiration board

Inferno Finale

 

The poets leave hell

I have a new one-eyed Turtle friend named Sprout.  He has taken up residence in my garden.  We’ve been hanging out together.

Sprout being shy

Sprout being shy

IMG_4942 (2)

Sprout in a rather distinguished-looking pose

Nickel seems threatened by this new relationship.  Last week while I was cleaning out the veggie beds he persistently intercepted my reach, sticking his silly cat head between my hand and every weed I was trying to pull.  It was a sad and desperate attempt to force me to pet him, which of course worked.  And while I was taking pictures of Sprout, Nickel jumped up on a rock between us and he went all “Zoolander” on it, in a “look what I can do” sort of way.  It was a sad and desperate attempt to force me to take pictures of him…

Nickel Posing

“I’m too sexy for my shirt”

"I'm too sexy for your party - no way I'm disco dancing"

“I’m too sexy for your party – no way I’m disco dancing”

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