Thursday, November 5, 2009
By the end of this week I will have taken nine dance classes and one workshop. I am pretty happy about this. Hopefully nine classes will continue to be my normal schedule for some time to come. I feel like I am finally getting to do something that I have missed out on numerous times in my life. My childhood and adolescence were mostly chaos with me being afraid of my own shadow which didn't lend well to ANY activities. I took jazz and ballet on and off until I was about 11 and never performed in anything. It killed me most of my life to watch dance performances. I loved to watch so very much, but I cried every single time because I wanted to be doing it not watching it, and I felt like a failure.
A few years ago we tried to sell our house so that I could spend every waking moment at Suhaila's. The universe said no in a rather massive way. In fact it kept saying no over and over again as I struggled to get to class in Albany/El Cerrito over the years. A failing housing market, death of my step-father, car accidents and major self doubt and depression just kept hammering at me over and over again. This year I was given a gift with Kitiera moving to my town, and now I am taking nine classes a week. Every class shows me something a little bit different and builds my confidence more and more. I feel like a dancer for the first time in my life.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
"I felt like a butterfly that summer
(A story of being pinned to the board)
I felt like a butterfly that summer, emerging from a cocoon of fear and pain. I was 15 and had just finished my freshman year of High School. Most of the year had been the same old struggles, but there were subtle triumphs that had me walking on air. Shelly and I were friends again. We'd managed to spend most of the year glaring at each other in passing, but at some point due to mutual friends we'd started speaking again. Everything was back to the way it had always been with us. We were like sisters, always together having a blast. I was conquering my fears and finally beginning to live.
We'd gone to the sprint car races one Saturday night, myself, Shelly, and her mother Rita. I was enamored with Rita at the time. I wasn't getting on well at all with my own mother and she always seemed like such fun. She let us drink wine coolers and smoke. I spotted the hottest guy while we were sitting in the car waiting to pull into the parking lot. I smiled at him and he waved and said Hi. My hormones were out of control and I was fearless. We sat a few rows behind him and his friends at the races. He kept turning around and looking at me. Shelly and I would go into fits or giggles every time he turned back around. I decided that I just had to talk to him. I kept watching him and when I saw him get up I followed. He went into the bathroom, and I stood outside and waited. He saw me as soon as he came out and came up and started talking to me. I was in heaven he was everything that I found attractive back then, blue eyes, and long blonde hair. He was also 22, I didn't lie about my age I told him I was only 15. He was surprised but it didn't seem to bother him much. I found out that he was in town working with a road crew and staying at a hotel not far from my house. I guess I'd been gone for quite a while, because eventually Shelly came looking for me. The guy's name was Owen. I took his arm and wrote my phone number on the inside of his wrist and ran off giggling with Shelly back to our seats.
Owen did call. I had him meet me at Shelly's house one night. The three of us hung out and talked, but that was about it. He told me to call him at the hotel the next day. I had decided that I wanted that boy. I was still a virgin at the time, and frankly I was getting pretty sick of it. The next day I got a ride to a friend's house that lived even closer to the hotel Owen was staying at. I called him up and told him to pick me up. He told me something along the lines of "my room mate has the truck I have no way to come and get you". I was instantly irritated.
"How in the hell am I supposed to get home?" I asked him.
To this he promptly replied "these boots are made for walkin"
I couldn't believe the whole situation. I was heart broken. I wanted to have an adventure. To do something that made me feel alive. I guess that I thought having sex with this 22 year old man was what I needed. Well that wasn't going to happen. My stepfather came and picked me up and brought me home. I moped about the house for a while. I Sat around and read messages on Prodigy. The phone rang around 9 p.m. I rushed to answer it as I always did. I thought maybe it would be Owen calling, it wasn't it was a wrong number.
I don't know how the conversation started. I told the guy he had the wrong number, but instead of hanging up he started talking to me. Of course I was the butterfly after all so I continued having a conversation with him. Turned out he was 17 and went to another local high school that I knew of. We talked for hours that night, and did quite a bit of flirting. I thought nothing of it. It was someone to talk to and I was bored. He told me his name was T.C. and that he was Puerto Rican. I don't remember what most of the conversation was about, but finally it ended quite late.
I was seeing a field therapist at the time named Valerie. Valerie would usually come once a week and take me out to a situation that caused me anxiety. It was a form of desensitization therapy, and had been working quite well. I had an appointment with Valerie the next day so I had not made any plans to go anywhere. Shelly was staying at her mom's house all the way across town so I was pretty bored. Shortly before our scheduled appointment time Valerie called and said she had an emergency with another client and would not be able to make it. I was bummed, stuck in the house in the middle of summer with nothing to do.
It didn't take long before the phone rang again. It was T.C. We talked for a while, and then he asked if he could come over and meet me. I knew in the pit of my stomach that I should say no, but of course I didn't. I gave him my address and started to give him directions, but he said not to worry about it he could figure out how to get there. That didn't seem strange to me at the time, it did later. When I hung up the phone I just sat there on the edge of my bed thinking what the hell are you doing Tina. I remember what I was wearing. Purple stretch miniskirt and my blue and purple tie-dye T-shirt. I loved that shirt. I wandered downstairs and sat there waiting. No longer did I feel like a butterfly I felt more like there were dozens of them flitting around in my stomach. My heart started pounding, all the usual symptoms of my anxiety attacks started to occur. I thought to myself "it's simple, when he comes I just won't answer the door". Oh why oh why didn't I follow through on that plan.
The doorbell rang and I jumped. I tried to be as quiet as possible as I looked out the peephole. What I saw set my heart racing even more. There on my doorstep were five (or was it six) rather large young black men. Of course that didn't mean anything to me. A lot of the guys that I hung out around that time were black no big deal. It was just not what I had expected. For one I thought he was going to be alone. So here is where I will never understand what I was thinking. I opened the door.
I stood there rather dumbfounded as T.C. introduced himself. He was the smallest of the group. I can't really even remember what he looked like. Except his eyes, his eyes were gold, they looked like cat eyes, and there was something in those eyes that scared the crap out of me. They all kind of walked in my house passed me and sat down on the couch turned on the television like there wasn't anything odd at all. I guess I knew right then and there that something bad was going to happen, and made a choice in my mind to take the path of least resistance. T.C. wanted to see my bedroom. I didn't know what else to do but show him. They all followed me upstairs and kind of stood around my room for a few minutes. Then one of them said, "let's let T.C. be alone with his woman". They all walked out and closed the door behind them.
As soon as the door shut he was all over me. He was kissing me, shoving his tongue in my mouth, and I was choking on it. His hands were pulling up my shirt, trying to pull my bra off. My mind was spinning. I didn't want this to be happening. I didn't want to have sex with this guy. I didn't even know him. I was horrified. The feeling of his hands on me and his tongue invading me made me want to puke. I didn't know what to do. I was paralyzed. I didn't know how to fight him. Somewhere in my brain I knew that there were five more guys in the house, and either it was just him or all of them. The only thing I could do was try to reason with him. I started telling him that my mother would be home that he had to leave. It wasn't working he was taking my clothes off and I just stood there. I started trying to bargain with him. I told him if him that I would give him oral sex if he just wouldn't enter me. It almost worked, but I couldn't do it. All I remember is laying there with him inside me and the door opening and one of his friends saying they'd be right back.
After it was over I got dressed and followed him downstairs. There was still one guy in the house. He was watching television. I kept telling T.C. "you have to leave my mom will be home please just leave" he wouldn't go, they just sat there. I was just standing there trying to tell them to at least go wait outside when there was a loud knock on the door. The other guy looked out the window and said it was cops and not to answer the door.
I yanked the door open, as fast as I could and there were two cops with their guns drawn pointed at me. They asked me if I lived there and I said yes. I think they put their guns away. They asked me if I had friends over. Out of the corner of my eye I could see T.C. and the other guy shaking their heads for me to say no. I said yes and then asked the cops if they wanted to come in. I was so relieved yet so terrified at the same time. I was in shock. In my head I didn't realize that I'd been raped. I thought that I had done something wrong and all I could think of was how much trouble I was going to be in with my mother.
I don't remember exactly what the cops said when they came in. They asked if my parents owned guns. I didn't know if they did or not. I think they asked about the other guys. They wanted to know where I was when they left. I told them I was upstairs. They asked doing what. I answered having sex. The next thing I remember we are in my room, and they are taking pictures. They ask if it was my first time having sex. I say yes. One of them says, "then where is the blood". They find a razor blade and ask me where the drugs are that go with it. I tell them I don't do drugs, I used it to carve on my leg. They say that all the people in the posters hanging on my wall do drugs. I say that doesn't mean I do.
Then we are downstairs. The phone rings, the cop answers it. It is Shelly. He tells her that I can't come to the phone. They make me give them my mom's phone number at work. She is not there they leave a message. I tell them I have an anxiety disorder. They don't believe me they just think I'm some sort of slut. The phone rings and it's my mom. They cop talks to her. I hear something about rape. They put me on the phone and the world collapses all the panic comes rushing in. I start crying uncontrollably. I can't talk I can't breath I can't hear. My mom is saying something to me. She is angry. I knew she would be. I sit and I stare and everything goes black.
My mother rushed home from work. The cops were talking to her. She is as hysterical as I am. I hear snippets of the story. While I was upstairs the rest of the guys were robbing the house. They took two old antique guns that my stepfather owned. The neighbor saw them leaving the house with them and called the police. There are VCR's gone, and jewelry, and I don't know what else. The cop tells my mom that they think that I am in shock and that I was raped. They give her number and address of the rape crisis center and a case number. I will have to go to the hospital and be examined. The police leave taking T.C and the other guy with them. The police believe that the car they came in with the other guys was stolen.
I think after they left, my mother called my brother. She needed him to drive to the hospital, because she was too upset. When he got there I was still out of it. I was no longer hysterical though. I felt this odd sort of calm, like I was totally removed from what was going on. My brother and I started cracking jokes back and forth in the car and I just sat there laughing. My mother was so angry with me. She couldn't understand how I could be acting like nothing happened. I think she believed it was my fault. I was stupid I'd had these guys over, I fucked up big time.
When we got to the hospital emergency we had to explain to one of the intake nurses what had happened. They took me into this kind of private waiting room. I think my brother or someone went to get me something to eat. I just sat in there with my mom. Eventually some woman came in, the rape counselor I guess. She talked to me. I don't really remember all of it. Then she left and we waited some more. Someone brought me Wendy's I sat there and ate fries.
We had to go to another building for the exam. At some point my brother's fiancé had come over. She told us that she heard the intake nurses talking about me and about how stupid I was. Another girl had come in who had been raped, a 12 year old. She was drunk. We went to this portable building for the exam. They had told my mom on the phone to have me bring an extra set of clothes, as they would have to take mine for evidence. She did an internal exam, and took swabs. She also combed my pubic hair and took samples. She swabbed my mouth, and told me she should have told me not to eat she hadn't realized that there had been oral sex. She gave me all sorts of pills to take. One of them was the 'morning after pill'. She told me that if I had gotten pregnant and for some reason the pill didn't work I would have to have an abortion because there would be birth defects. I already knew that there was no way that I was going to press charges. That would involve court, and testifying. I still didn't believe I was raped. I thought I brought it on myself. I thought that because I didn't fight it wasn't rape.
I was sick as a dog the next day. I couldn't even get out of bed from all the pills they had given me. Through the whole thing all I could think about was that I was supposed to be at the lake with Shelly and Zach. My mom wouldn't let me go. Actually I wouldn't have been able to anyway. It didn't stop me from throwing a fit about it. Valerie came over the next day. I think she felt responsible, because she had cancelled our appointment. I don't think I saw much of her after that. Life just kind of went on. I just tried to forget about it. I couldn't believe inside that it wasn't my fault. I didn't press charges. They told me that the county (or maybe it was state) might anyway, and then I might still have to go to court. I don't know if they ever did. There were incidents in the month or so following where there were messages left on my answering machine. All they were, were the George Michael song "I want your sex" playing over and over again. I became really scared to be alone in my room after that. There was a roof landing outside my window, It would have been really easy for someone to get in. That was pretty much the only area of my life that it effected. My night terrors, they lasted a long long time. Actually, I don't think I ever felt safe in my room again. I was determined not to let the whole thing send me back into my cocoon, and it pretty much didn't. Of course I don't think that I ever really properly dealt with it. I've done the same thing with plenty of other things in my life. Ignore it and it will go away.
To this day I'm not quite sure how I feel about the whole thing. Even while writing this I still think, "there must have been something I could have done". I feel some sort of guilt for not even trying to fight him off. Yet at the same time I KNOW it was rape. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had fought him. There were six of them and one little 15-year-old agoraphobic virgin me. It disgusts me that there are men out there like that. Not only was my body violated, but my home and my whole sense of safety. Up until that point my room was my haven, the only place where I felt completely utterly safe. To me the loss of that place was dearer to me then my virginity. Yes, I felt like a butterfly that summer and I still have the holes in my wings from being pinned to the board."
Friday, September 18, 2009
Four years ago my father died from bone cancer. Sadly, this is when I probably spent the most time with him. Not only during the cancer, but the whole year before that. To me the whole 'experience' started when I was on vacation with my mother. I was staying with her in southern California. We had been there about a week I'd say when we went to a small flea market with my then sister-in-law. When we returned to the house I caught what to me was the scent of vanilla pipe tobacco, which always reminded me of my father. It inspired me to make a call to him. When I called there was no one home, so I left a message, saying where I was so he could give me a call whenever was good for him. I basically forgot all about it for the night.
The next morning my mother woke me, telling me that Sandy was on the phone. This was my father's girlfriend. I remember thinking that was rather odd as I picked up the phone. Sandy proceeded to tell me that my father was in the hospital and that he was in congestive heart failure. I couldn't believe it. I rarely saw my father so I was just shocked. So thinking that my father was dying right there and then; my mother and I jumped in the car and drove the six hours to where he was in the hospital.
As we drove so many things went through my head. One of them was that if he was going to die, I almost wanted it to be before I got there. I didn't want to be there when it happened, and I had no clue how I would say goodbye. I felt that I barely knew the man I guess, and if you've read my 'letter to dad' you'll know a bit of what the relationship was like.
When we walked into the hospital room, I was astonished. There was my dad sitting up in bed talking with S, maybe he was even laughing. He didn't look the greatest, but certainly didn't look like he was dieing. All I remember was this barrage of things from Sandy. He had an infection in his heart, he was going to go home for two weeks and then have heart surgery and I HAD to come and stay with them and help take care of him. I believe I started crying. I'd like to say that it was purely out of anguish over him being sick, but truthfully it wasn't. It was for myself, I had finally just begun to stop having so many anxiety attacks, I had a job, I was doing great, and here was this woman telling me that I had to give it all up for a man who had never been there for me. I just felt this overwhelming anxiety at the thought of it. I couldn't do it.
Well, it turned out I didn't have to do it at that point, at least not exactly what S had said I HAD to do. The doctors decided somewhere along the line that they would send a nurse out to help or something. So it was decided that my dad needed to have open-heart surgery to have his mitral valve replaced. The surgery was going to be done at Stanford hospital. Stanford is only about 45 minutes from my house. S decided that there was no way that she could take of work to bring my dad to Palo Alto, so my mom (awesome woman that she is) went and picked him up. She also took him to all his pre-op appointments the day before. My dad stayed with us the night before the surgery (my stepfather is also an awesome person for not letting that bother him), and my mom and I took him up for the surgery at 4 o'clock in the morning. I was so lethargic that day I slept in the waiting room through the whole surgery. Everything went fine. Dad was doing well.
My mother went on vacation the day after the surgery I believe (it's amazing the things you think you remember until you try). While my dad was in the hospital recovering I continued working, and then I would drive up to the hospital to hang out with him. After the surgery her was very emotional he would start crying at times for no reason. This is when we started talking more and realized we finally had some things in common. Although it was a horrible circumstance for it to happen under I finally started to feel good about my relationship with my dad. Some days I drove back and forth to the hospital two or three times a day. I felt like I needed to spend as much time with him as I could. I was getting pretty exhausted but I felt it was worth it. On the day he was released from the hospital I drove him home, slept at his house for a few hours and then got up and drove back so I could go to work.
I had such great intentions after that. I really thought that I would continue to see my father on a regular basis, but as usual time kind of slipped away. I talked to him on the phone quite a bit, and I kept promising I would drive down to see him soon. Guess I turned out a bit like him, because I never did it, and after a while it got to where I realized I hadn't talked to him in a few months.
I must have had some sort of dream that inspired me to call. I felt some sort of urgency to speak to him. I called and got the answering machine. I left a message and went about life as usual. The next day I again got a call from Sandy, she told me that my dad had been having some pain in his hip and he was back in the hospital for some tests. She assured me that it was probably not a big deal and she would let me know what was going on. The next time she called she told me that my father needed to see an Oncologist and asked me if I knew what that was. I told her I did as I felt my stomach begin to tighten up. Again, she told me she would get back to me. The next phone call was the day before thanksgiving. This time she spoke to my mother first. I sat there and listened to my mom's side and waited. I can't remember if my mother told me. Or if Sandy actually got the nerve to tell me herself (she was very good at treating me like a child) but who ever it was the diagnosis was the same. My father had bone cancer, with tumors on his hip, his spine and others forming at various spots. She wouldn't give me any real details. Who knows maybe at that point she didn't know herself? It was very frustrating to me, I felt like I was being totally left in the dark.
At this point I had a new job that I absolutely loved, but there was no doubt in my mind at that time, job or no job I would do what ever needed to be done for my dad. I think the first time I went up he was in the hospital. They had him on morphine and he was loopy as hell. He proceeded to tell me about the little lion that lived in the painting on the wall next to his bed. There was some other thing he was telling me about the VCR in the room also, but I never quite figured out what he was talking about on that one. I think I stayed for the weekend, and he was released from the hospital before I left.
I think after that I began going down there every weekend, while working during the week. At some point he started radiation therapy. It didn't do much of anything, but make him sicker. I remember one weekend while he was still able to move around going into his room and telling him I was going to the store to buy cigarettes. It was raining outside. My dad always loved the rain. He told me that he wanted to go with me, and stop by the bank. I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but I did it anyway. I figured it would be good for him to get out. I went and got my cigarettes, and then drove him to the bank. He said he just wanted to go to the ATM, and that he would be fine on his own. I let him go, because I didn't want to totally ruin his pride. I sat in the car for a long time getting increasingly worried, until I finally decided to go make sure he was OK. I walked up to the building, and as I did I could see him just standing there staring at the machine. I went up to him and asked him if he was OK. He just kind of looked at me bewildered and told me he couldn't remember his PIN number. We stood there for a while longer while he tried to remember, but it was no use. I eventually helped him back to the car and we went back to his house.
My dad lived in this tiny single wide mobile home. He had a room that he had built onto the side that he slept in. I swear the thing was no bigger then a closet. S was a pack rat, so the rest of the place was cluttered beyond belief. The place was incredibly dark, and every time I thought of him stuck in there it made me sick. He seemed to really enjoy being out that day. I spoke to my mom about it when I got home that night. We both thought that maybe it would be good to get him out of there more often. She called S that night to talk to her about it, and to suggest that maybe she could come down there with me and take him out in a wheel chair or something. S stated that it was absolutely out of the question, that just being out for a short time that day had completely exhausted him. She never asked him what he wanted.
My mother did go down with me at one point to visit him. He was still slightly up and around at that point. At one point we were all sitting around with his computer. I can't recall exactly what it was, but there was something wrong with it. My father was amazing with machines. He could fix anything, but that day he just sat there and stared at the open tower in front of him like he didn't even know what it was.
The next visit he had seriously gone down hill. He wasn't able to get out of bed anymore, and was eating very little. I remember a day when S was at work, he told me he was a little bit hungry, so I fixed some left overs for him. I sat next to him and actually had to feed him like a child. I can't even describe how that felt here was my father, a man who I alternately loved, hated, was ashamed by, and sometimes just plain scared of, and I had to feed him. It was one of those things that just defied comprehension at the time.
I think it was shortly after that, that I decided to take a leave of absence from work. I wanted to go and stay with my father. I felt I really needed to be there, and I wanted to help. S was none too happy about it. Even though she needed the help, she really did not want me staying at the house. She had made it pretty clear during most of my visits that she resented having me there. This was the woman who never even drove up to see him in the hospital when he had his heart surgery. I began to have really mixed feelings about her. Around the time that I went down to stay, a hospital bed was brought in for my dad. He could no longer get out of bed. His bones were too fragile to support his weight. He couldn't keep any food down at all, and began to lose weight rapidly. It was arranged for someone from hospice to come in a few times a week. I can't recall the hospice people ever really doing anything.
Once he was in the hospital bed, he began to decline quickly. He no longer had control over his bladder. I spent many days at the laundry mat washing sheets. S and I would have to work together to roll him to change the sheets and place the mattress pads underneath him. A lot of times no sooner had we done this then it would need to be done again. Several times I watched S sit there and yell at him for it. She was clearly frustrated with the situation, and took it out in that manner. I don't know why I never said anything to her about it. OK, so I lied I do know why. I spent a lot of that period of time stoned. I guess it was a good way to escape. Hospice brought in those adult diapers for him. At this point he was very rarely fully coherent. Every time we would put one on him he would rip it off. They suggested a catheter, but were afraid he would also just rip that out.
They had him on a morphine drip, so I'm not sure how aware he was of what was going on. Many times he would look at me, and clearly not recognize me. For some reason every night when Sandy would go to bed he would get agitated and start trying to get up out of bed. I would have to go over and put his legs back in the bed and hold him down, and try to explain to him that his bones would not support his weight if he got up. He couldn't speak anymore at that point. One of the last things I heard him say was on a day the hospice lady came over. My dad and Sandy had this Schnauzer that had this very loud obnoxious bark, when the woman came over the dog started barking, and my father yelled quite clearly "shut that damn dog up"
During all of this Sandy would often leave for a short while, and then return. She was often on the phone a lot. At one point I started paying attention to the conversations she was having. She was speaking to people about selling my father's possessions! I couldn't believe it. The man was not even dead yet. She also started to seem even more hostile to me, so often when I was out running errands I would call my mom crying. I told her what Sandy was doing. At one point my mom made contact with Jan, one of my fathers ex-girlfriends (the one he left my mother for in fact) so that I would have someone in the area to talk to. It turned out that Sandy had threatened J that if she came anywhere near the house she would call the police. Sandy was very jealous of the fact that Jan and my father were still very good friends, and had still worked together. Well, Jan must have mentioned talking to me to another friend of my father's at work, because in no time flat S knew about it. I can't remember exactly how it went down, but I returned to the house after having spoken to my mother to have Sandy tell me that my mother was on her way down, and that's it. I sat there for the next four hours wondering what the hell was going on. When my mom got there Sandy proceeded to tell her that she needed to take me with her because she didn't want me in her house anymore. She accused us of spying on her or some crap and said that I was no help anyway all I ever did was sit around and read. This was a load of crap. She said all this while my father was lying there right next to her in the damn hospital bed. I pretty much freaked out, and all I really remember was standing outside the house yelling "you fucking cunt".
The next day my aunt and grandmother were down to visit my father, and kind of played go between with Sandy and I. Sandy claimed that the only reason that she had been selling my father's things was because she couldn't afford to pay for the funeral. Of course she had not discussed any of this with me. She said that she couldn't even afford direct burial. My mother (again being THE most wonderful person I know) told her that she would pay for the funeral if she would stop selling my fathers things. This was agreed upon with S saying that I could have all my father's things (she really thought in her tiny little head that that was what it was about things), but she still didn't want me staying in the house. Well, I was not about to go home, and there was no way she was going to keep me from seeing my father. My mom made arrangements for me to stay in a hotel, and Sandy said I could come over and visit him a certain amount of time a day. At that point my step dad went home, and my mom stayed with me in the hotel. We proceeded to make the burial arrangements. When S had inquired about direct burial she had neglected to find out any details. She had originally said there would be no service at all. Well, we found out that the cemetery automatically sets up a canopy and chairs for no charge. So we arranged for a Pastor to do a ceremony. I picked out the plot and signed all the papers two days before my father died.
At this point I'm not really sure how coherent my dad was. He would turn his head at the sound of a voice, but it looked as if he was blind when he looked at you. He was nothing but skin and bones. There was a tumor on his skull, and one on his spine that seemed to be breaking through the skin. His whole mouth and tongue were lined with deep fissures. He would often stop breathing for minutes at a time. Every time that happened I would think to myself ... is this it? I can't even really describe what he looked like, how horrifying it was. Whenever the image comes into my mind I think of those images of Jesus hanging on the cross. That is exactly what he looked like. I would just sit next to him and hold his hand. That was pretty much all I could do through the whole illness. I never knew what to say to him.
Then one day I went over to see him, and Sandy said she was going to go out for a while. I sat next to the bed as I normally did, and took his hand. When he turned his head towards me and those gorgeous eyes (my father had the most amazing blue blue eyes) looked at me unseeing all the silence within me broke. I just started talking to him. I told him that I knew that he was in there somewhere fighting and that even though he had done a great job with that fight that it was one he wouldn't win. I told him to rest, to let it all go. I told him how much I loved him, and how I had forgiven him a long time ago for everything. I just wanted him to know it was all OK, and that he could go. S came back shortly after that, I was still sitting next to him. I told him goodbye, and that I would be back a bit later on.
My mother and I went out to lunch after that. We went to Red Robin and shared some pasta. I was really exhausted and feeling awful, so we went back to the hotel (heh I didn't know I was diabetic at the time). I had planned on taking a short nap, and then going back to the house. At some point I decided that I was feeling to bad to go back, and I called Sandy to tell her. The first time I called there was no answer, so I tried again a few minutes later. She told me that she had been laying down also, and everything was fine she would see me in the morning. Round 10 that night the phone rang. My mother answered, it was the Pastor my father had died a few hours before. The funeral home had already picked him up. I don't remember if I cried. I think I did, but mostly I remember thinking he heard me, and he knew it was OK to let go.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Other times I get the fever. Now a lot of people including me know that the fever is really hypomania usually, but whether it is driven by chemical imbalances or not what it essentially is is the Creative Fire. I've been struggling with the fire this week. A large part of my house has been rearranged this week all because of it. It really just started with one little thought which just snowballed into a cacophony of ideas that did not really die down until yesterday. One after another 'oh do this.. oh wait and then this and I have to go over there and pick up this and oh geez no I don't like how that looks let's try it this way' and on and on it goes. It is both invigorating and exhausting at the same time, joyous and full of fury. I physically sweat through it, the fever burns in my brain and I feel it on my brow. It is madness and crazymaking and yet so essentially part of who I am that I can do nothing less than embrace it. No amount of medication has ever completely killed it and I don't really think that's a bad thing.
I just wish it didn't often interfere with the other art that I'm actually supposed to be making. I didn't dance once this week. Bad bad me hahaha.
Friday, August 21, 2009
The feel of the world has been playing tricks on me as of late. I find myself looking out the window and having the full feeling of October hit me, only to step out the door and realize that no, it is indeed August and it is 98 degrees outside. I'm sure it has something to do with the smoke in the air or even the fact that it's been an odd summer to begin with. I also may want to blame the fact that school starts earlier and earlier each year. I feel so bad watching those kids go back to school the second week of August. Horrible I say.
I have to be very careful this year not to rush along time. I keep taking calming breaths and reminding myself that I need to have the time in each day. I can't wish myself into October because there are too many important events between now and then. We have several weeks of rehearsals left before Desert Dance, and then some time before October and the Redwood Coast Belly dance Festival, and then comes Carnival of Stars the week after that. I don't want to get too excited wishing away the dregs of summer so that I wind up feeling completely unprepared. It's a habit I have. A bad one. Especially when it come to October.
I love October with every ounce of my being. October is not just a month for me but a complete state of mind. October winds come in and cleans away all the dust from the summer. I start to be able to breath a little bit better again. I watch the leaves on the Mulberry tree from my bedroom window. They sway in the wind with the fall sun glinting through them and they remind me of the sea. Before you know it there are more on the ground than on the tree. I've had bad things happen in October, but they've never seemed to be able to pull me down in the same way the bad things of other months do. October is my magic place and time between the worlds. October lets me forget it all and revel in the freedom that only a child can feel. A child running from house to house trick or treating in her wonder woman costume. Feeling invincible from head to toe and laughing when the rain starts to fall.
But this year I won't rush October, it'll make it all the more sweet when it comes.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I need to write something. This is something I often find echoing in my mind a lot. I am a rebel though and don't always take direction well, certainly not from myself.
Today I was folding laundry, something I sometimes enjoy doing just for the reason that it is such an "artist's brain" activity for me. It often gets the brain off and running. This time I started thinking about a piece of homework that had been given to us. List 25 words that mean Happy, Sad and Angry... do not use a thesaurus. So I kept a list for two weeks sitting next to my computer and anytime no matter where I was when I thought of a word I found a way to make not of it. So I had lists of synonyms for these words. Apparently when this assignment was turned in some of us did it this way and some of us listed 25 things that made us feel that way. The next stage is to flip it around and do it opposite of how you did it the first time. I know this exercise would be super easy for me. I mean who can't list 25 things that piss them off. Nifty. However as I was folding laundry I started to thing, what is angry? What is Happy? What is Sad?
I realized that these states that we all take for granted as being a kind of they are what they are thing are also highly subject to personal perspective just like everything else. I have never even taken the time in my life to ask these questions. I can't believe that I haven't since I am so highly fascinated by the concept that no two people ever experience anything in exactly the same manner. I mean how could I miss the fact that those three emotions (and how many others?) must feel completely different to different people.
Something that I found even more disturbing was the fact that I couldn't easily describe these states in myself. What does Happy feel like. What physical sensations are there? what emotional content is there at that moment? How is the world appearing to my eyes at that moment? Although, I am seeing the importance of these questions today I have not yet sat down and tried to answer them. I think perhaps this is the next logical step to take for this kind of work.
I think it's probably especially important when working in a group. What if a choreographer is asking for a specific feeling or emotion from a group, but yet each individual in that group has a different interpretation of what that emotion is? Perhaps then it's important to look at what specific emotion works with the individual to create a cohesive look throughout the group? Ten different emotions all creating the same expression?
All just things rattling around in my brain at two in the morning. It's not like I think this isn't anything that hasn't already been discussed ad nauseam. It's just something I personally haven't looked at too much.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
It's the middle of the night and probably not the best time to write an entry, but I do get the urge to do so quite often at these times.
I feel , as I believe I've hinted at, that this is a very trans formative time in my life. I think that beyond the obvious there are deep spiritual changed taking place. Little subtle energies working quietly and making big changes.
This month has been full of some beautiful time spent with Templo Guaracy da Terra. There were a few great Gira's last month and then this month started with the "Celebração da Linha do Oriente". What a beautiful day! Although getting to Santa Cruz early in the morning is quite the pain for us it's well worth it for something like this. As part of the festivities that day I danced. I always love dancing in that space because I can let go and move from the spirit, rather than worrying so much about the technique and oh no will they like it. It was great. We were also graced with a dance performance by Leah, a poetry reading by Mirriam and a beautiful a capella song by the awesome Larissa. The gira itself was beautiful also.
This last Saturday was the wedding of two members of the Temple performed by Iyalorixá Iya Darinlê (Mãe Tina) from Brazil. That woman carries such an amazing presence that I often find myself struck rather dumb when I am around her. Of course the language barrier is there and I feel lame for not speaking any Portuguese, but that's a small thing. I was so happy to be able to be a small part of the day. The wedding ceremony was gorgeous. I am continually amazed by the people that I have met through this temple and Umbanda. I find myself being closer to the person I want to be when I am around them and I am ever so thankful for that. Now wouldn't it be nice if we could learn to stay in that energy in our day to day lives. I'm certainly trying.
I keep saying I am going to talk about dance, and I want to, but a little part of me is enjoying all of the trans formative work I am doing in that area so much that I want to keep it to myself for a while. Half of it can't be explained anyway.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
This lady here is one of the reasons I have not had the brain power or the time to write anything witty and gay. For the last month I have been working on a project for the idea that spawned the following community http://community.livejournal.com/2xcreative/ . I got paired up with a young man from Turkey and it's been quite intesesting trying to communicate through, language, cultural and time barriers. At the moment my doll is waiting for her story. This is the project we'd come up with, I would make a new doll and he would write a story to go along with her. I am of course impatient and had to give a little sneak peak here and there.
What I really should say is that She is impatient. I'm found over the last year of working with these little creatures that they all take on a but of a personality of thier own. Often times when I am working on one I recieve instructions on how she will look rather than having to spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. Once the main fabric for the body is chosen it's on like donkey kong. So she got tired of sitting around on photobucket and wanted to show off a bit. It's her I swear, not my own artist's ego at all.
Either way you can also check out our collaboration journal at http://worktogether09.livejournal.com/ . I've added some photos that show a bit of the process of making the doll.
Next time I'll talk about wonderful dance things.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
There is too much good stuff going on right now to try and go backwards and recap everything. Let's pick the one on top of the heap, my mind is a heap. I got my Canon Rebel T1i last week! I have been lusting after a dSLR for quite a few years now. It's been at least a year since I got it in my head that it would be a Rebel. The T1i has not been out very long but I started feverishly obsessing over it a few weeks ago. I mean I was looking at it online for hours everyday trying to figure out exactly how I could come up with money I did not have or credit I did not have. I knew a way, it's called Bill Me Later and I was sooooooooo good for weeks convincing myself that it would be idiotic to have another payment to make. I lost the battle last Monday when I decided that I would be fine giving up some other things to have this camera. I have some fantasies about taking nice peectures someday and calling them photos. I have said peectures in my head all ready to go with no clue how to go about making them. I will learn. Sometimes it takes me quite a while but eventually I learn. I learn and learn and learn.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
That's a big issue for me you know, the driving. I hate the driving. I can do it, as long as Cyd comes with me (so far someday I'll fix that too), but oh my god my body is in pieces by the time I get there. Every inch of me is wound up so tight I feel like I'm going to break. That doesn't make for a successful dance class half the time. I'm already emotionally exhausted and panicky. Not that it isn't worth it, because once I get there it fully is. The problem is making myself get there. So I think for now I'm going to enjoy what's being offered to me for a while.
I'm going to try my best to reside in my body. I'm going to feel joy even when I make mistakes, and oh there are plenty of mistakes. It is called a class for a reason. I still can't get a combo or choreography to save my life. I think that part of my brain is missing. I will still try. I haven't felt this excited and empowered to dance in a long time. Blessed I tell you.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The truth is I was burnt out. It wasn't really dancing that I was burnt out on. I was burnt out on failure. I've gotten so very sick of the inner struggle and the outer struggle and the beating myself over the head with guilt for not being strong enough.
I'd gotten really close to being ready to test for my level II, but when it came down to it I wasn't ready. I'd spent half the year preparing for that week long so I'd be able to make it through well and strong. I just didn't spend enough time actually drilling heh. I had my little cry about it and then got over it a few days later and started to look at my next plan of attack. Two weeks later I got my new car which I was so sure was going to help me with being able to afford to drive to the studio more and blah blah blah. Two days after that the car was totaled and I had some lovely torn ligaments in my neck. I wasn't badly injured you know, but it was enough for quite a lot of pain and no dancing. It took four and a half months before I was released to dance.
That certainly wasn't the first set back. The major one was Vaughn. I'd just left my troupe because I wanted to spend more time training at Suhaila's and elsewhere. At that point I was driving up there three times a week and taking every workshop I could get my hands on. In fact I think I'd been to three workshops just in those first few weeks of February. Then after a workshop with DaVid in Santa Cruz, I stood in my friend (and first teacher) Colleen's house and called a number I did not recognize after and awfully weird message left by my mother. My step-father had been in a motor cycle accident and it looked like he was paralyzed. Well, a week later he was dead and every single thing about my life changed.
It's funny I took my first level II week long not very long after his death. It was already paid for and the hotel was already booked. Right before I'd been given and antibiotic for something and remember having a weird sense of foreboding when I read the side effect paper. I ignored it of course. I ignored it when I had debilitating intestinal cramps the whole week. I was so unprepared for that workshop that Cyd had to lift my legs into the car at the end of the day. I'd be standing and all of a sudden find myself bent over in pain. I tried my best to ignore it most of the week and when the cramps came I would just bite my tongue and keep going but the evenings and nights were excruciating. It never occurred to me to go home. The Monday after the workshop found me in with my doctor receiving several bags of IV fluids and later finding out that I had c-dificile toxin thanks to the antibiotic. What the hell was I thinking.
After that I decided we had to move to El Cerrito so I could be closer to the studio since the drive is a big part of the problem for me. I don't think I can actually write about the two years of drama and heartache trying to sell our house and move was. Needless to say it never happened and it felt like another death to mourn.
So after the car accident I couldn't get myself to go back. I went back for a few weeks and then we took a vacation to Maui. When we got back it was like all of the upheaval and grief of the last three years (2-2.5 at that time) just came plunking down on my head. I backslid back into anxiety not wanting to go anywhere really much less get my butt to class. After weeks and weeks of getting up every Thursday morning and then hating myself because I couldn't get myself out the door I'd finally decided to give myself a break.
I didn't step foot in the Studio until January of this year and that was really really hard for me to do. I had so much anxiety I had to go a few times and just walk in and hang out for a few minutes before I ever took an actual class. I was back a few weeks again until my mom started having some health issues that to me take precedence over getting to class.
That's what has been going on the last few months, and I am so freaking burnt out on it all. Because, for some odd reason I never see these things for what they are, life and things that happen, but somehow as failures on my part to be superwoman. It doesn't matter that I have a body that isn't always healthy, or a brain chemistry that doesn't always support consistency...no I need to be perfect so I can be an dancer damn it, and if I can't be that then I'm never going to get there right? Doesn't that just sound ridiculous?
So right now I'm feeling blessed and excited because someone I trust and admire is going to be teaching right around the corner from my house, and I have the opportunity to get back to doing what I love without the pressure that I have felt for so long. Not to mention the online classes! This is what I want right now. I want to dance.
P.S. No one is to blame for any of this but me. I put the pressure on myself. Also this is such an abridged version of life in the past few years I can't even begin to wrap myself around all of the emotions.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I'm quite excited actually and enormously happy that Tracy is going to be lucky enough to have Kitiera teaching here. For me it feels awfully synchronictic, like a new door opening. Hmmm.... I thought I could sit down here and explain it all, start moving it all around into the right places inside myself, it turns out I can't. Slightly disappointing all around. I've started several sentences and then pulled it back inside. Let's just say for now that it feels right, because too much has been feeling wrong both physically and emotionally. I need some right and to get moving again and to remember just how much I love it.
In the meantime some of my dolls are up at my Aunts' website AZ-SpiritWorks . I'm hoping to start working on some new pieces soon. I'm just waiting for inspiration to strike. I've been working a bit on a four panel acrylic for my bathroom the past few days. I started it a few months ago and realized I hated where it was going and just left it sitting. Now, I'm trying to re-work it and playing with some glass bead medium which is really fun. I am primarily a watercolor painter so this is all new for me. I'm very much trying to allow myself to play at all the artistic things the world has to offer up.
Friday, May 8, 2009
The thing is I haven't really had much rest, at least not of the certain kind I require (read restful and solitary) in the last few months. There have been friend commitments and family commitments and lot of worry over my mom's health and just general "I have tos" abounding all over the place. There is a general flaw in my thinking, or maybe it's my emotions a lot of the time. I often put myself in the mindset that things I really should be enjoying .. things I WANT to do , are actually obligations. I hear myself saying "I have to go to San Francisco for Cyd's birthday for a few days." as if that is some kind of obligatory torture I have to endure. Because really getting that $650 dollar a night suite for $99 dollars a night with the killer view, omg that was torture! I can always tell when I am headed for mental and physical burn out because everything becomes an I have to.
So today I feel crampy and exhausted. My eyeballs ache my skin feels tight and my hair feels dirty and ugly even though I just washed it. My house is dirty, my diet is horrible and my mind is unorganized. This is who I am today, who knows who I'll be tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Cyd snuck up on me with his cell phone yesterday while I was playing with the dirt. I was a huge mess, but I was a happy mess so I didn't really mind.
We just finished planting the dwarf citrus's today. I've got a Myer's lemon, a Mandarin kumquat, a regular kumquat and something else I have no idea what it is. We'll have to see how they do this year. Right now I'm running off to the store for a few more pieces to the drip line system. I'd really like to make sure the whole thing is in place and working before I'm out of town next week.
And when in the world am I supposed to dance?
Friday, April 17, 2009
A few years ago when we were trying so hard to sell this place all I could think about was having a real back yard to plant a huge garden in. Last year when it had finally set in that we were not going anywhere I started working on turning our little courtyard into a container garden. It really was beautiful for the better part of the summer until we went out of town one too many times and the plants couldn't withstand the heat. We even put up a misting system around part of the area because I was determined to sit out there even when it was hot. I wanted to be a summer person. I never managed it, but I will try again this year.
Today we put in a little fountain. Sometimes I think the most important part of the whole thing is just doing the work. It brings a special kind of peacefulness that I certainly could use more. Monday I'll plant.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I had one of those nights. They come around at least once a month. I thought I was going to bed at 2:30 am and was just coming down to turn off the computer, the next thing I knew it was 6:00 am. I don't really think what I have can be called insomnia, it's more like an aversion to going to sleep. It comes with the territory of not ever feeling quite awake until about 5:00 pm. Who wants to go to bed when you have energy and endless amounts of stuff you could be doing? Right now I feel like the walking dead, but will I go to bed early ("early" means midnight you know) probably not. I'll be wide awake by then. Too bad the world doesn't have more to offer us nocturnes save bad t.v. and the Internet. At least that's all there is around these parts. I am surely suited to a much different type of place.
So why did I have to get up at 9 this morning? My purple couch was delivered! The purple couch is special in many a way the least being that finally there will be a place to sit in the living room that is practical. Carved wooden benches and Victorian settees may be beautiful but they are far from comfortable. The other astounding thing about the purple couch is that i bought it on a whim. Me... I whimed. I did not travel to every furniture store within a 5000 mile radius and have kittens before I made my decision. No, I saw this couch in a very normal green color and though "hmmm that looks comfy". When the sales guy showed me the colors it came in I was a little bit dazzled. I took pictures of the couch and the sofa and told him we'd be back. Cyd looked at me and asked "what are you going to do?'
"oh I'm going to e-mail these pictures to my mom and see what color she likes and what she thinks I should do" I replied even though I knew that he knew perfectly well what I was going to do.
He sighed and replied "you do NOT need to call your mother. It's your house, your couch make your own decision!"
I sat there stunned for a second not only does Cyd rarely have an opinion about furniture he rarely attempts to tell me to stop being a dumb ass.
With wide eyes I replied "you're right" because he was, and then I bought the couch. Fantastic I say!
*note* those pictures...no the couch is not blue it's purple I say! My camera battery died so phone shots it was.
Friday, April 10, 2009
How could it be possible that my relationship with food could become even more dysfunctional? Whine whine whine, there is nothing left to eat poor me. Thankfully that's not really true and the things I love most , fresh vegetables, seem to be just fine.
Do you ever forget that you love healthy food? Sometimes I will get in these cycles where I eat tons of stuff that is "bad" for me, egg rolls happen to be a downfall, and sometimes processed cheese food. How embarrassing, but true. In these times (which I do believe may be hormonal, or perhaps bipolaral heh) the knowledge of my love for fresh veggies and fruits seems to have been dropped completely from my memory. I mean really pickles are vegetables aren't they? That's got to be enough. Preservatives can surely be substituted for vitamins can't they? I am currently coming out of one of these periods. It's both wonderful and horrible all at the same time. I'm eating all sorts of raw healthy goodness and saying yum a lot. On the other hand my body seems to be detoxing and vomiting and nausea have occurred. My face is pinker than normal. It's really not my color.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The last few years I've been strangled and silenced by my life. I stopped having anything to say. I've had conversations with the keyboard in my head, but they never quite made it out through my hands. So I'm starting again. the truth is I have a lot to say but somewhere along the way I just figured maybe none of it was worth saying.
I don't believe in hiding things in the corners or not saying things because they aren't pretty. What fun is that. I'm too honest for myself sometimes, but I'm learning to let myself be me. I am not fully defined by these things but they are a part of me ... I am bi-polar, I am diabetic, I'm overweight and spend a whole lot of my life in a state of high anxiety. I'm also an artist, a belly dancer, a doll maker, a partner and a daughter. I like to laugh but sometimes I can't even feel enough to smile. I believe in being good to people and thinking outside myself but I can be a bitch if you live with me.
I'm 34 years old now and I'm just figuring out how to be me.