Saturday, July 30, 2011

At the Denver County Fair

Sadie Found

E. had to leave for Switzerland the day after I got back from Bogota, which was its own special form of torture.  Anyway, he was gone for almost a week, and about half way in, Sadie disappeared.  She was gone for three nights.

We have lots of coyotes that live over the fence from us.  And a neighborhood fox.  I figured the worst.

Miss Fluffy McFlufferton, otherwise known as the Suzanne Sommers of the Cat World.  Also Known as The Marmot, or "That Fucking Cat."

I wasn't sure how I felt about this, to be honest.  I mean, we just lost Prudence this spring, which sucked.  You know how I felt about the Pru.  It would have been sad and odd to be catless all of a sudden after having these two cats for ten years.

But I confess to some other thoughts crossing my mind.  Sadie is one of the more annoying felines on the planet, to be frank.  She pulls her hair out in huge chunks because of some anxiety disorder she developed as a kitten as a result of being left alone, unbeknownst to me, with a heroin-addicted housesitter (long story).  We really only adopted her to keep Prudence company.  Which I know makes us some sort of awful people, this privileging of one animal over another.  I'm sorry.  I'm just being totally honest here.  We just never have really bonded with Sadie the way you might with a pet you love, like Pru or Milo.

And she has bad habits.

She wanders around the house at 3 in the morning, mewling as loud as possible, until we call out to her and remind her where our bedroom is.  We've lived here for four years now.

She wants to be petted constantly.  She bites you when you pet her.

We had her on valium and it mellowed her out a little.  But not much.  Plus, who wants to keep their cat on valium?

She is constantly bloated, making it a little icky to pick her up.  Think "Hindenberg."

She scratches the furniture.  Even the wood furniture.  I may have dreamed, if only for a moment, of buying a new couch.

She misses the kitty box frequently.  And we're talking turds.

But other than that, I like her okay.  So when Eric got home from Switzerland at 10:30pm at night, after I texted him that Sadie had disappeared and we were catless, and I opened the door to greet him, and in one arm he had a suitcase and in the other arm he had Sadie, I had two thoughts:

One:  My hero!
Two:  Shit.

Dancy Pants

I love dancing.  I just do.  We went out dancing in Bogota, just like we did last year in London, and like that one amazing night of oneness and total delightful humanity in Venice when I was 20, it counts among my best lifetime experiences.

I feel a little silly writing that because I'm not a "dancer" in the way you think of dancers, usually, their bodies long and lithe and their posture just right.  But I dance all the time, and it's part of our family life and part of how I express and live in the world.  There's Nia, which I haven't done much of lately because of my long Saturday runnings prepping for this crazy race, and then there's a whole lot of just silly dancing around the house, and there's just lots of random, spastic movement.  God bless it.

My friend Ellen asked me what the name of the girl is, that girl I turn into when I get to go out dancing, that girl who has no trouble expressing sexuality and who stays up late and drinks too much and laughs and forgets herself totally.  I said I didn't know, and she said I should ask her next time I see her.  I will.

Anyway, I say all this because I hope that, in some small way, my amazing love of dance has been passed on to my daughters.  Or, at least, to one of them.

Yeah, that's my kid.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm baaaack ?

I haven't been sewing.  For months and months.  I don't know why.  I just had no desire.  I was getting worried that maybe it was just a little hobby I had for a while and now it was gone and I'd better figure out to do with all this sewing stuff I've collected.  And then, this weekend, out of the blue, the longing to make something with my own two hands came back.

Out popped a little dress for Nolie, modeled on a little dress in Carefree Clothes for Girls:

An adorable book illustrating how I would dress if I was five.  Or thirty-five.  It's Orphan Annie chic.  It's torn-up, raw-edged goodness.  I love it.  I wish I was a wee thing who could make myself these little whippets of fashiony delightfulness and parade around in my sweet lineny unfinished swirlypants.

Rhapsody over.

So of course I didn't follow the pattern and just cut up a shower curtain and a table cloth.  I don't spend much time making clothes for the girls because they are rotten little stinkers who spill chewed up cherries on everything and screech at the tiniest little thread sticking out to scratch them, and the garment you spent hours on ends up wadded on the floor.  Then you think criminal thoughts for a while before going and eating the last Dilly Bar.  But I did kind of get into making this and, lo and behold, it's Nolie's new favorite dress:

Wee heart fashioned out of antique quilt top.  Thank ye.

Nolie wouldn't stop doing this pose.  It's her "I Love Justin Bieber" pose.

Also, this pose.

Pics thanks to Addie.  Not bad for an hour's worth of fun on a hot Sunday afternoon, right?

Anyone want to guess how long that dress is going to stay white?

I am also a little enamored of a knock off I made of this skirt:

Here's mine:

It's a blue flowered jersey, and my ruffles aren't finished as nicely (I need to break out the surger).   And I need to do some work on the shape.  But I actually kind of like it otherwise.

You might also be wondering about that large wet stain on the front.


That might be where I spilled some chewed-up cherries.

Just keeping it real, people.

Anyway, I'm going to get some gray jersey and try again for the look and I'll let you know what happens.

Addie, Self-Portraits

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Post-Bogota Blues

I'm dealing with a serious post-Bogota hangover.

Honestly, I wasn't that excited about going, at first.  I'd never been to South America, so I knew it would be interesting to go, but we had just finished a bunch of little trips here, and my summer felt like it was already half gone, and I just didn't know how difficult or fun or sad or whatever the trip would be.  I was tired, too, and wanting to just relax a little and get into some writing.

But, the trip was amazing.  Way beyond, on every level--personal, spiritual, professional.  And now, I've got the stuck-in-America blues.

Here's the thing:  There were a lot of bummers about living in Bogota for a week.  In a new city, I love to be able to go out and walk all around by myself and explore and that kind of thing and, well, that just wouldn't have been smart in Bogota (though, for the record, I never once felt in danger).  Also, because of our conference schedule, we had to get up really early in the mornings and, because of my drinking schedule, I went to bed very late at night.  So I didn't treat my body so great while I was there and it led to me feeling everything a little extra much and maybe being a bit weepy and sentimental.  This was amplified by the fact of so many Bogota residents coming to our conference and sharing their stories, honestly, authentically, and beautifully, with us, who normally do everything we can to not be ourselves in academic settings.

Also, I ate a lot of white bread and drank a lot of coke.  And wine.  And beer.  And I wore skinny pants out dancing without a tunic, just in a regular old shirt.  A gringa pretending to salsa, big old booty out.  All while speaking what my friend calls unethically bad Spanish.  Without a care!  Hola!  Buenos dias!  Dos minutos, por favor!

But Bogota felt alive to me in ways living here doesn't.  It's got the big-city excitement going on, for sure, but the people also seem more alive, more part of the communal.  Food comes slowly, one plate at a time, and late at night.  There is fresh-squeezed juice with every meal (god bless lulos!).  There is music coming from every window.  Buildings are painted bright colors.  Cars careen around corners.  People talk loudly in the streets until late.  Fat, happy dogs, teats out, roam all over the place.  People juggle, people yell, people bike, large pieces of furniture balanced on the handlebars, up hills.  Everyone hugs, everyone kisses.

Above all, there is a sense that you are not alone.  For example, we visited one of the poorest parts of Bogota.  There were some serious security concerns because of gang activities, so we could only go to certain parts.  But while we were visiting one of the safer parts in Soacha, I had to pee, and my friend Juan took me into a bar to do it.  The owner personally cleaned the bathroom before letting me use it, and sent his kid out to buy toilet paper, using money they really couldn't spare.  And they wouldn't accept any money for it in return.  I threw some on the counter anyway, and then felt like an asshole for it.

People steal each other's stuff in Bogota, even if you're just inviting them over for a party.  You can get mugged.  You can get kidnapped.  But you can also be deeply cared for.  And seen.  And you are part of the people.  For me, this was the largest truth of that city.

I think, sometimes, I find living here lonely.  Or isolating.  Or alienating.  Something like that.  Not all the time, but maybe now, in contrast to life there, for sure.  Here, I'm one of those people stuck in a car, in traffic that doesn't move, in Fellini's 8 1/2.  Bogota was my floating out and above.

I realize I was only there a week, and my perceptions are no doubt skewed toward the tourist side of things.  There is no question there is a great deal of sadness and injustice in Bogota.  It just felt more real, less simulacrum, than life here.  I don't know how else to put it.  And that dissonance is giving me the blues.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Great Risk of Something Essential Perishing

I had to end a long-lasting and productive but increasingly difficult relationship at work lately.  I struggled through it for a while, trying to figure out how best to do it, what leaving would mean, how to maintain my integrity through it.  It was so clearly the right decision from where I sit now, but wasn't always so clear at the time.  I was glad to read this from Nepo's The Book of Awakening today:

Despite all consequence, there is an inevitable honoring of what is true, and at this deep level of inner voice, it is not a summoning of will, but a following of true knowing.  My own life is a trail of such following.  Time and again, I have heard deep callings that felt inevitable and which I could have ignored, but only at great risk of something essential perishing. [...]  Courage of this sort is the result of being authentic.  It is available to all and its reward, far more than respect, is the opening of joy.

Isn't that cool?  Of course, the inner voice often doesn't speak clearly.  It doesn't even speak English, in my experience!  It shows up as back pain, weight gain, sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, frustration, mindless shopping, overwork, illness, and resistance, all of which can be explained away as other things (and they sometimes are other things, of course).  Finding the "authentic" me isn't easy, either.  But when you don't listen to it, when you don't express that essential self, it sure finds ways of making itself known, and that usually isn't pleasant.

Futzy, that inner voice.