Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Follow Me (and I Will Follow You)

Just a quick plug for my new "followers" widget on my left side bar. I'll take you to some fun places, and I'd love to have you!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer in the Berkshires, Prairie Home Companion, and Mosquitoes

Today was a glorious day in the Berkshires.

In general, I love everything about summer in the Berkshires except maybe...summer itself. Summer itself = the heat, the humidity, the bugs, the finding the right summer attire, the bugs, and, then, finally, the bugs. But today has been an exception.

People flock into our hamlet-y towns (I say "our" like I am of this place, when in fact I sometimes walk right by my Subaru because of its new Mass plates...Honestly, I miss my old plates: New York, CDT 8981, oh where art thou?, but I am making the best of it) and aside from the annoyance of increased traffic and more people, it gives one some perspective, that goes a little like this: "oh, I live in the Berkshires. People come from all over just to be here and bask in its beauty, its pastoral magic, all the green lushness...it's a place where people literally summer." I mean to live in a place where "summer" is a verb is pretty...weird. And cool.

Saturday night, I went to Tanglewood with my friend KD, who treated me to an awesome seat at Prairie Home Companion...loads of FUN! At one point during the show the following people were on stage at the same time: Garrison Keillor, Martin Sheen, Steve Martin (go here to watch a YouTube video of Steve Martin playing banjo while a guy from the Steep Canyon Rangers—you can't see much but the audio is good), Heather Masse, and Arlo Guthrie...I mean, C'mon, that's pretty amazing. Both KD and I were lamenting the fact that neither of us brought a camera. But we clapped and sang. I felt like a true blue American by the end (and even a little wholesome...which is just...rare).

The woman sitting to our left asked us where we were from. And we said, "here". And she just shook her head, and said, "Wow. Lucky."

Lucky enough to be scratching my first ankle mosquito bite. Oy. My body's not a fan. Mosquito bites on my body are events. My skin is generally itchy and rashy anyway (that sounds scarier than it actually looks), so a bite adds a significant rise in the landscape. (Dr. Magic Pettus and I were hoping going gluten-free was going to help with the rash epidemic but so far, nada. It's only been three weeks so keep your fingers crossed).

But I certainly can't complain (even though I just did)... I've got it good.

Happy summer, everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting off the Couch: Part 2

The thought of not doing something that a huge part of me (that doesn't even feel like "me" necessarily because the desire isn't manufactured or dreamed up but just there) became more awful than the thought of doing the "something" and doing it badly.

Ryan Kasprzak on So You Think You Can Dance was interviewed right before he got cut (his brother, Evan, made it and is now in the top 14). [You can go here to watch highlights of their auditions from this season...really fun!]. Ryan does Broadway tap. He said that he heard over and over from teachers, producers, choreographers that he was too short, too chubby, too bald, too whatever to be successful in the kind of dance he wanted to do. "That shit kept me on the couch for four years," he said. He's done all kinds of things since he got off the couch. And he just auditioned for the next season of SYTYCD and will be going to Vegas for another shot.

At the end of graduate school, during my thesis defense, which marked a four-year MFA endeavor as well as a major shift from writing fiction to writing mostly poetry, one of my professors told me and the committee and those friends who'd gathered for the event that she almost fell asleep reading my thesis (a collection of poems).

Once you start, you have to deal with that who-are-you-kidding-anyway voice—and not always just from inside yourself. Then you have to actually keep doing the thing you got off the couch to do. You have to do things badly and deal with that. You have to hear criticism and experience rejection.

It's good for the bones is what I say—because you discover (or I did anyway) why you are actually doing something (i.e., Not so a certain professor will like your work). You find the you you are doing it for. You find that there is no Ultimate Final Approval. There are moments of glory—when you get published, do the performance, etc. But like artist Mike Mills says (see video on "outloud" blog June 19):
You just work your hardest and you do whatever the best is that you can, and you don’t like it...you don’t think you did very well so you do another job to prove that you're better than the last job you did and then the same thing happens and you do another one and then all of a sudden you're 41...and then you think I’ll do better on the next one and I’ll totally prove to everyone that I’m okay and you keep going and going...
It's more a lifestyle than a means to an end I guess is what I'm saying.

And the only way to get confidence—creative confidence—is to make things and keep making them—muscles, books, blog postings, photographs, dances, WHATEVER. And stick with the people who will cheer you on while you do it—but do it even if you can't find those people.

The best things I've heard from people after I've read my work in public are 1) they were moved and 2) it made them want to write and make things. That's not why I do it of course—any of it. I do it because when I'm not doing it, I sink deeper and deeper into my couch, wonder why I'm here, forget what the point is... Participating in the way that I do is the point. It's what gets me up every morning, makes me eat, post to my blog, go to work, see films, write poetry, go listen to live music (and exhaust myself in large rowdy throngs of other participants), be an extra in a video of your favorite band (see opening picture above)!

My friend KO was clearly inspired in a new way by Every Little Step. We had coffee Friday night and I saw it in her eyes. Something is changing and it's a beautiful thing to see.

Getting off the Couch: Part 1

The couch being whatever that place is, that magnetized, attractive, comfortable metaphorical piece of furniture that keeps you from doing what you know you want to do...

The other night I got an e-mail from KO who was talking about a movie she'd gone to see, Every Little Step*, a documentary which follows the journey of several dancers through auditions for the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line.

Here's what she wrote in response to seeing the film:
When I was about 13 to 16 my dad used to take me to Broadway shows, and when I saw A Chorus Line (I think in '77 or '78)—that's what I wanted....It was so great to see these dancers that weren't all tall, skinny, flat-chested ballet types. I started taking jazz classes...I used to play the parts of the show in my basement, I had the album and would sing the songs when no one was home. But, being horribly shy, with no self esteem and certainly no one at home encouraging me—I shoved it to the back of my mind and whenever I thought about it—it was with the thought of 'Who were you kidding anyway?'
That last sentence is the most moving to me and the most important. I thought this for years after I quit gymnastics (and I even got to have a little bit of glory before I stopped competing). I didn't get to live my Olympic dream. I considered myself a failure for not staying with it. I don't think that now because I have a different perspective (ie; my body would not have held out), but I do know intimately, as a lot of us do, the sometimes-painful realization that "you can never go back." The really getting that you won't be 15 again. Or 18. That my right hip hurts if I move it a certain way...like in any direction besides straight ahead. That whatever I'm going to be or do has got to start right here with whatever I have and am.

Having said that, the present tense version of "Who were you kidding, anyway?" comes with the territory of living a creative life. For years, that phrase stopped me from doing anything. Writing. Dancing. Keeping a blog. Moving forward with creative projects.

I look at people who are successful—publishing books, performing, getting pieces broadcast on This American Life (ie; Things I Would Like to Do One Day...) And I'd get frozen in the mindset that that success, or even the "doing," was what other people did.

The belief is so specific that I used to imagine that those people all knew something that I didn't, that they got together at secret meetings, that they knew the "special people." But when I cleared all that shit away, I knew the only difference between me and them (in most cases) is that they got off the couch and did it. While I, more less, sat around just wishing I did.

This big, drastic couch period I am talking about for me was after a relationship ended. I was watching television, yup, on my couch, and it was some commercial with hip-hop dancers in it. And I felt the ache I usually did seeing amazing dancers. I want to do that! I could do that, too, if somebody just showed me how. But then "it's too late. I'm too old. I missed my chance." I heard myself. I thought: is that what I'd tell a friend if she told me she was aching to dance? No, I would tell her: go take a class! So that's what I did. I took a hip-hop class. The class led to being asked to be part of a group which led to rehearsing and dancing and competing and performing... it wasn't MTV. But there it was. The dream. (Did I mention I was not 18 doing this? I was 35. Just an FYI).

"Getting off the Couch: Part 2" tomorrow!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Seventies, My Eighties, My Icons, My Stories

Oh the fairest Farrah.

Story: My sisters and I used to play Charlie's Angels. We had walkie talkies and everything. We'd circumvent our house—while one waited on the deck for our mom to come into the kitchen to stir the soup, the other two would wait on the other side of the house, watching her put fresh pillowcases on pillows. We'd report back and forth: "Mama has arrived in the kitchen. She is now stirring the soup. Do you copy?" "We copy. Oh...Mama has now entered the bedroom. She is removing the pillowcases..." High-danger, high-intensity spy work. My older sis always got to be Farrah. I mean, it wasn't something you could argue since she had the ultimate in feathered bangs....

You're just a product of loveliness,
I like the groove of your walk, your talk, your dress.
I feel your fever from miles around,
I'll pick you up in my car and we'll paint the town....

Story: About five years ago, going through some old boxes at my dad's place, I found my first diary...in it was a short paragraph I'd written during an overnight with my family in San Francisco. I'd been listening to Thriller on the drive up—my first cassette on my first Wakman, and I had what I think was my first musically inspired spiritual experience. We were crossing a bridge or a large overpass where all of San Francisco was spread out before us. And "Wanna Be Startin Something" was blasting in my ears. In the diary I wrote, "On the way here, I listened to Michael Jackson really loud and looked out over the big city. I felt so powerful!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I'm in the process of writing a short proposal for a Master's colloquium presentation out west--a thing, as a grad advisor, I am asked to do. I'll do something in the spirit of Learning to Love You More--the creative assignment (take a photo of two strangers holding hands, write about a scar and send a picture of it, videotape a reenactment of a favorite scene in a movie, etc).

Having said that, and as practice, I have an assignment for you:
Interview yourself about a memorable date you went on. Take on the persona of an interviewer. So you are not necessarily "you" interviewing you. You are an interviewer who knows nothing about said date. And who finds the subject matter (and you) endlessly fascinating.

Send to me at: lauradidyk1@yahoo.com and I will post right here on outloud (anonymously if you wish).

What are you waiting for? Go interview you. I can't wait to read it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bad Boy

When I was 14, my best friend dated a guy who smoked Camels, wore black Converse high tops and a leather wrist band, and while the wanna-be cool kids like me wore their backpacks slung over one shoulder, this boy didn't even have a backpack. Since I'd never had an actual boyfriend, I was used to being the third wheel. In this case, I didn't mind in the least. I adored him. Eventually, my best friend tired of him and told me, in not so many words, that I could have him if I wanted. He was getting high too much (who wasn't?). He was on the verge of getting kicked out of school (who cared? He sure didn't seem to). "I think he really likes you," she told me. "He always asks about you."

I knew an opportunity when I saw one, so I quietly, without words, made my desires known (we each communicated so many things without actual words, in hindsight I wonder if communicated anything at all). I was just discovering psychedelic drugs. He was one of my guides, and the only one I knew who could ingest enormous amounts of LSD and still carry on a conversation--about the lyrics in that Doors song we loved in which *Jim Morrison crooned about “the end”* or *Janice Joplin and all her hair* or what we’d say to *Jimi Hendrix* if we got to meet him in the afterlife (“S’up,” is what he joked he’d say, with a casual lift of the chin). I worshiped this boy so much that I, a competitive gymnast at the time, failed physical education. After finally getting kicked out of school (for too many absences if I remember right), he'd rebelliously wander the halls, and then linger at the chain-link entrance to the pool smoking, waiting for me to get out of last period--no way was I going to act like I cared enough to don a bathing suit for a grade.

The weekend of my birthday, there was a big party at a friend's place that everyone was going to, but my dad was taking me and a friend to see *Howard Jones* (it was 1986 after all, and things could definitely only get better). The Friday before my birthday, on the stone wall that lined the park where a crew of us hung out, we had our most romantic moment yet. He didn't kiss me, but he gave me his watch to wear for the weekend. It had a Velcro band (again, 1986) and the watch face was big and digital. But I wore it through the entire weekend like the declaration that it was: "S & L 4Ever."

When I got back to school on Monday, I heard from a friend that he got drunk at the party and hooked up with another girl. An older girl. Who wore lots of make up. And denim skirts. Neither of which I could pull off. I was devastated. That was the end, "beautiful friend, the end" (Mr. Morrison had already warned me). We never got to kiss. Or hold hands. Eventually I gave him his watch back along with a note telling him how much I'd liked him and what an ass he was, but then followed it with: "but if you ever change your mind..." Even when my family moved from California to the East Coast at the end of that school year, I hadn't given up. I wrote him a long letter expressing all my unrequited feelings. No reply. You'd think a girl would get the message. I fantasized about the finally that I was sure we'd get to have one day.

In the last dream I had about him in my mid-20s, I was back in California, and we were sledding together in the woods down a snowless hill, cracking up the way you do when you're stoned, or in love. I saw him once more in real life on a return visit. We ran into each other at the park, on the stone wall. He was kind and polite but unromantic. He was nice enough to give me a ride in his truck to the bus stop outside of town. I can't say this for absolute certain, but it's possible that's the most alone we'd ever been, the two of us inside the cab of a truck with eight months and a gear shift between us. The conversation was awkward. I thanked him for the ride. And that was that.

Until today. While I didn't see him in real life, it's as close as some of us get these days: FaceLife. There he was. And wasn't. Staring at him through my computer screen, a fine man with a wife and children, it's hard to really get that it's the same person. Not because he looks different--in that, like me, he's no longer 15--but because I don't worship people now the way I did then. Or if I do, it last for 10 minutes, not 10 years. I kind of miss it, the deep knowing that yes, someone actually could be that perfect. There's an exhilaration to it. Like emotional bungee jumping. But I understand what that kind of worship really is. Then, at 7+8, it was all about him.

Now, I know that there's something almost harmful (albeit necessary?) about that vacuous, yearn-y feeling that can open up inside a person like an elevator shaft. Some of us spend a good part of our adult lives building the elevator, in the basement, so we can get on the thing and take a trip up to ground level...somewhere around our thirtieth year. At least that's what happened for me.

I'm not sure I wanted the guy as much as I wanted, like a friend recently wrote about an artist, to be him. Pure cool. Seemingly confident. Owner of a bad-ass watch.

Seeing his picture today put a period at the end of a very strange ellipses I didn't even know was still trailing after his name. I'll go sledding again with someone in real life. Someday. One day. In the meantime, solo sledding is pretty damn fun.

*Supplemental material*

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Night

This is the night of the week when I want to squeeze all I didn't get to during the weekend into these final hours before bed. When I wish there was another weekend before Monday. When my resolutions to go to bed early for once begin to seem unrealistic. And, sometimes, tho I hate to admit it, I start to panic a little. Not enough time, not enough time....

Last night I read this great passage in The Possibility of Everything, a memoir I'm currently reading by Hope Edelman (who has a lovely blog). (The book doesn't come out until September, but I got my hands on a review copy and I haven't been able to stop reading).

Here's the passage about time:

"I heard an interview with an excerpt on the Maya calendar. He was talking about the concept of time acceleration...We use a base-ten system for calculating time, but the Mayans used a vigesimal system, meaning base-twenty math. According to their calculations, each of the Nine Underworlds lasts for exactly one twentieth the time of the one it's built upon. For example, as the man on the radio explained it, the Seventh Underworld, which started in 1755, is 256 years long. The Eighth Underworld, the one we're in now, started on January 5, 1999, and will last for less than thirteen years--which is one twentieth of 256. The ninth and final underworld starts in February 2011 and will last for only 263 days. This is why, the man said, it took 15 billion years for cells to develop but only about a dozen for the Internet to take hold. Because the shifts between periods of light and dark happen twenty times faster in each new underworld, the amount of change that used to take place in a lifetime now occurs in a single year. If it feels as if time is speeding up, the man said, that's because it is."

From The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman, pp 112–113, copyright 2009. Random House.

Now I must go read a paragraph or two of E-Tolle. Come back to the Now, baby.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Testing the Waters...

So last night was my first time taking my new eating intentions out into the world by going to a friend's most amazing underground dinner-party (a.k.a. "pirate restaurants," "ghetto gourmet," "underground supper clubs,"...if you haven't heard of this movement...coolest thing EVER...an individual event includes gourmet-leaning food with local farm-fresh ingredients. And as one collective in Austin, Texas, describes it, these dinners fuse "the intimacy of a dinner party with the ease of a restaurant." Private residence. Elaborate, excellent food. Reasonable requested donation. And new friends!)

So I was at one of these coolest-eating-things-ever events and once I soaked up the coolness of being part of one of these things, it was, I admit, a tad difficult. When I'm home in my own world, cooking my own food, just for moi, it's pretty easy to stay within the lines. And I actually did quite well at the dinner as far as what went into my mouth (though I did have a spring roll the wrapper of which was made out of white rice and had white-rice noodles in them, and I did, accidentally, get some of the main course's white coconut rice onto my fork when I was digging into the string beans).

Some people might say: why deprive yourself? Enjoy! It's just white rice for god's sake, we're not talking about a fish fry. And I know that some people might say that, because I am some people, and I was saying it to myself all night.

It was difficult. No way around it. When the fruit and triple-creme cheese came out and when the lemon cake with berries appeared in front of everyone but me, I felt like crying over my fruit, over my very beautiful, very colorful healthy dessert that was, in the end, just fruit missing that was missing its cake.

But I had to remember why I was and am doing this: Not to be good or pure or even to lose weight. Not so people will think well of me, or feel sorry for me, or so I can feel sorry for myself. I was/am doing it because making such a change is to feel powerful (instead of powerless). It's saying: I'm going to do this for myself because I don't think I can do it, which makes me want to do it even more because the seemingly impossible always exhilarates and motivates and, eventually, in the doing, astounds.

What I've been doing up to now in regards to sustenance wasn't working. Finding out what does work will mean life can be more effortless and my head won't be busy with: Do I have a migraine because I drank too much coffee? Or not enough? Did I not drink enough water? Or did I just eat too much salt? Am I dizzy because I have a tumor or because my adrenal glands are fu'd up because I ate only a scone for breakfast, like, five days in a row?

I'm an appetite in transition so my head is filled with different questions: Can't I just have one bite of that lemon cake? Why deprive myself of something so beautiful made with the loving and skillful hands of a dear friend at this cool event called an "underground dinner"? How much decaf do I have to drink before it actually equals a cup of regular (and, whatever the answer, isn't it just better to have a whole cup of regular and call it a day?)?

When I decided to try this out, I was very clear about why I was trying it out and it made sense (especially paired with a rigorous weekly yoga class and my Friday session with my charming but villainous physical trainer). So I'm just trusting that that me knew what she was talking about when she got us into this. And I guess I owe it to her to see it through, see what's waiting on the other side...

Tonight what was waiting at the end of my drive home from Albany was the 1 ounce of 70% dark chocolate that Dr. Hyman signs off on. Every now and then. Holy yum.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mike Mills on the Creative Process

My steadfast creative partner put this on his blog yesterday and I'm copying him by putting it on my blog. Miranda July of No One Belongs Here More Than You (see my blog, Tuesday, June 13) and Me and You and Everyone We Know (my second entry on Thursday, June 15, the Tyrrone Street video) is married to this guy, Mike Mills, who makes album art and directs off-kilter music videos. Here he talks about the creative process. If you can hang in for the last few minutes...I love how he talks about the arc of his creative life. It's so honest and emboldening.

He also says this great thing that I, as an immensely kinesthetic person, so relate to, that when he's making something, he just tries things and tries other things and then eventually something feels right and he just goes with it..."it's a body thing" he says. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From Ballroom to Modern...

Had to watch the beautiful Russian Max Kapitannikov get cut from So You Think You Can Dance tonight. A most amazing ballroom dancer (and apparently a lot more...though he didn't show his colors enough on the show...here's a clip of him doing some funky hip-hop Latin fusion...).

Last night, I swooned over Jonathan Platero and Karla Garcia's duet. Jonathan is also a ballroom dancer (Latin) but this is a contemporary piece. What makes it so amazing is that he's never done modern dance in his life. Some gymnastics. But no modern. It's a subtle, quiet performance, but the lifts are gorgeous! Just wade through the first few minutes where they do this silly "get to know" segment, and I'd recommend stopping the video after the routine ends so you don't have to endure the obnoxiousness of the judges...they loved it, but still...the gushing almost ruins the performance:

Needless to say, they made it into the top 3 couples so were safe from elimination.

The Ultimate Goal

Someone asked me about my blog today. They asked: “What’s your ultimate goal with it?” And it’s a good question. Because I’m a word person and a totally shameless Gogol Bordello fan, the world “ultimate” is what stuck out to me (the title of one of their most, well, ultimate songs). I gave the person a very short, admittedly insincere reply. Not a lie, just an I-can’t-explain-it-really answer. Half-embarrassed that I didn’t really know. And half-resistant to saying what was true since what is true isn’t really a goal so much as a whole bunch of stuff I don't know yet and can't explain.

The real answer would have been to blast this:

Or play this:

Or read the last several lines of Maurice Manning’s poem “Three Truths and One Story”: "There are words and there are deeds, and both/are dying out, dying away/from where they were and what they meant./God save the man who has the heart/to think of anything more sad."

Once, when I was very young, I had to walk the final bottom stretch of El Caminito Road to get to school. Something had happened with a ride, and to wait would have meant being late. So someone’s mother directed me down the road. “Just walk. And watch for cars.” It was a short stretch. But I was small and there was no sidewalk, just a big intimidating fence to my left that lined our town’s private airstrip. On that walk, I became very aware of the sound of my feet in the dirt. The crunching of my sneakers. And then I became very aware that I was aware. And I began to think about death, as I often did, and about infinite which usually scared me, but didn’t on this particular morning, and I thought about what I would be like when I was old, very very old, and I saw myself there. Old me. And young, small me was filled with a certainty that my life was going to be somehow extraordinary. I didn’t have those words then, but I knew.

In other words, the ultimate goal is, y’know, that.

All of it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making the Decision

When I'm not doing what I know I need to do to get and feel better, I totally suck. As a former athlete, I am just not wholly Laura when I am not physically involved in Life. To not suck, I need to be Healthy, or at least need to be heading in the direction of the Top of My Game. I am a crazier lady without strength and prowess. Without them I suffer from a kind of spiritual anemia; it's subtle and chronic so it's easy to get used to.

Making these kinds of changes, getting off the couch and "moving around," are hard. But when I consider the alternative (ahem, not getting off the couch), then easy or hard just can't be part of the equation. The pushing myself up from the cushions just becomes Law. The same way that not drinking is a Law for me. It's powerful to act on your own behalf. Powerful for me to make my bed every morning. Wash my dishes. Get my oil changed. Keep my life going in a way I wasn't able to years ago. And it's been powerful, very recently, to have enacted into legislation the following:

1. Exercise: vigorous yoga classes and a personal trainer.
2. Quitting caffeine and surviving.
3. Cutting out gluten. And sugar. And dairy.
4. Throwing myself into cooking and shopping and cooking some more (and oh, the dishes!!).
5. A new and exciting creative project with a Dear Friend and excellent collaborator.

Even so, yesterday morning, I had a mini-meltdown on my bed before work when I couldn't decide what to wear. Which wasn't really about what I was going to wear or not wear, but about how I'd been exercising, and giving up stuff, and spending all my time washing and chopping vegetables and cooking grains and pretending I like soy milk, and YET, my pants felt no looser.

But I threw on jeans and heels and a pretty top and got in my wagon and drove to work anyway, because I gotta make the bacon.

I went back and forth all day about whether or not I should go to my regular Monday yoga class. I wasn't losing weight after all. Why bother? Until Dear Friend reminded me via an e-mail that bore the subject "pep talk," that weight loss or no, I was getting healthier, and spending more time writing and creating (even when what I'm creating are amazing, healthy meals and not always amazing, healthy essays or stories or poems). Would I rather eat badly, have no energy, and not be creatively inspired? Or be the same weight (especially when the weight I am is really just perfectly fine) and be healthy and more comfortable in my body?

Thankfully, my yoga feet carried me to class. Thank GOD they carried me to class. I broke through the seventh-chakra wall, or something like that. I don't know chakras. Or what #7 is. But I know now that my body is changing. After the class, my body looked different to me. Felt different. Is different.

Here's the deal: I'd been wanting to do yoga for more than 6 months before I actually went to a class. And I'd been wanting to turn my diet around about 1 year before I actually started doing it a few weeks ago. There's power in the suffering it takes to get to the jumping off place. And there's even more power in jumping into a better spot. In making a decision to do it. Like, really do it.

My next decision: Bed. This chick is toast. Actually, she can't be toast...she can be...a sprouted corn tortilla, which sounds ridiculous, so this chick will just simply head to bed. Or be that acorn sprout up there, heading to bed. An acorn sprout in her pjs and socks heading for the covers.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Not only have I been watching So You Think You Can Dance but, yes, my please-be-non-judgmental friends and readers, The Bachelorette. I can't help it. I like to watch it. Like driving by an accident. You can't help but look.

I know it's a shallow thang. And I know that there's no way Jillian (or any woman) could know if someone is "the one" in two dates, or in one date on top of a glacier, or on a couch in two minutes at a cocktail party. And I know that it's sort of weird when you think through the whole thing: like how could your soulmate be in a group of dudes that a network has chosen for you? And where's the racial and ethnic diversity? Obama did just get elected right?

There's something about watching the show that feels like a weird kind of practice...What would I do? What would I think about that dude? The wine guy from my hometown in California? Or the bartender from Texas? And why is no one asking her about her? And why doesn't she notice that? My favorite guy decided to leave tonight because he was going to lose his job. Sad. Ed. I'll miss him. (Yes, I have gone as far as thinking about what it would be like to be on such a show. Laura's version. The Thinking-Outloud version. The I'm-37-and-fun-and-single-and-a-whole-bunch-of-other-things version)

Thankfully, I don't really need my own show (tho I'm not completely against it). I go on dates. I have sushi. I go to coffee (well, I go to decaf). I make tentative plans to go bumper boating. I just say yes when I want to, and I go, and I see how I feel. And if I'm not feeling it, I say so. Which has been the hardest part but the best thing to learn how to do in a kind, clear, unapologetic way.

There are always the guys I wish would ask me out, and they are probably the ones that won't ask me out, ever. (And they are the ones that probably shouldn't, for my own good, because they are too busy with their careers or just plain not fit for the phenomenon that is moi. So says a woman who made herself the most amazing Salmon, asparagus, sweet potato, lemon and rosemary dish and wanted to cry for two reasons: 1] because it was so damn good, and 2] because there wasn't anyone to share it with.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

3 lists and 2 recipes


1. UltraShake* (thanks Dr. Hyman)
2. Decaf Americano at Haven with K.
3. Lunch with K.O. at the GB Co-op (the company was awesome, the food, so-so...when you're not eating gluten, sugar, or dairy...there's surprisingly little left to eat, even on the Co-op buffet)
4. Took my turn cleaning the apt.
5. Made some Detox Broth** (#2 thanks to Dr. H)
6. Dinner: leftover cashew coconut chicken (with lime and cilantro), baked kale, and a spinach and avocado salad with lemon vinaigrette made from scratch.
7. Digested on the couch and watched Mean Girls and contemplated the redesign of the NY Times Magazine (here's one reader's take)
8. Knew one answer for certain in the Sunday Times crossword: Eno.
9. Posted to my blog.
10. Now going to see what else I can cram in before bed. Choices: a) balance checkbook (which will free up some space in my brain's 'must-do' center), b) nail down my dates for my August Arizona trip (more space freed up), or c) dishes (which actually isn't a choice...now that I have a roommate it's a must-do-now).

Things I didn't do this weekend that I wish I had:

1. Worked on a story I'm in the middle of.
2. Got ahead on my grad student's evals for this semester.
3. Done another yoga session.

What I did do (and am glad I did):

1. All of the above 10 things.
2. Grocery-shopped my ass off and cooked a lot, which is actually a lot for one weekend.
3. Continued to not drink caffeine (at least not the full-powered stuff) or eat sugar.
4. Realized once again that the number of things I think I can get done in a day is usually pretty unrealistic.

*How to make an UltraShake

• 2 scoops rice protein powder
• 1-tbsp organic combination flax and borage oil
• 2-tbsp ground flaxseeds
• 1/2-cup frozen or fresh non-citrus fruit, such as cherries or bananas
• 6-8 oz. filtered water
• Ice
• 1-tbsp nut butter, such as almond or pecan butter (optional)

Blend all ingredients together to desired thickness.

**How to make UltraBroth

Chop up 6 cups of vegetables including sweet potato, dark leafy greens (I used kale), onion, turnips or parsnips, carrots, and add spices (I added: oregano, lemongrass, a couple bay leaves, and a bunch of fresh ginger).

Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours. Drain into a container. 2-3 cups a day. Keeps for about a week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Miranda July outtakes

After a little viniyoga with Jason Brown in my bedroom (seriously...yoga, with JBrown on my Ipod dock, on my yoga mat next to the bed with just enough room to do a sufficient vinyasa series). Mucho sweat. Ocean breathing. Crazy crazy tight right hip. Like, it's-never-been-this-tight-ever-before tight. I'm sure one or two manifestation psychologists would tell me this means something intense...I'm up for that. I'm always up for that.

Instead tho, I'm going to follow yesterday's thread (read: creativity, inspiration, getting off the couch and just doing it) and offer some of my favorite words from No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, the ultra-creative, you-almost-want-light-but-clunky-things-to-rain-down-on-her-and-cause-her-just-a-little-discomfort-because-she's-so-damn-original-and-brave-and-talented-and-relatively-young-but-she-inspires-you-so-much-in-her-creative-experiments-that-you-have-to-thank-her-instead-for-leading-the-way writer, performer, and filmmaker. Even when she has what the NY Times called "the cringe factor," I still love her because no matter what, she is sincere. To who she is. To what she does. To her imagination. Her weirdness. And that's what I want. To break through that 75th wall into a place where I just try stuff and never give up. Reading Miranda J, watching her films, etc, helps me remember that if I don't experiment, I really will end up on the couch watching TV and eating one baby ice cream sandwich after another.

So here's some MJ:

From "This Person"

Somebody somewhere is shaking with excitement because something tremendous is about to happen to this person....Possibly there is some kneeling, such as when one is knighted....Math teachers are saying that math was just a funny way of saying "I love you"...and the chemistry and PE teachers are also saying it....This person feels the sudden need to check her post office box. It is an old habit, but if everything is going to be terrific from now on, this person still wants mail.

From "Something That Needs Nothing"

We were anxious to begin our life as people who had no people.

Everything we had thought of as The World was actually the result of someone's job. Each line on the sidewalk, each saltine.

[re: a bad cockroach situation]
He said he would send someone over but that we shouldn't get our hopes up.
Why not?
Well, It's not just your apartment; the whole building's infested.
Maybe you should have them do the whole building, then.
It wouldn't do any good; they'd just come over from other buildings.
It's the whole block?
It's the whole world.

From "Making Love in 2003"

[re: an older woman with a younger man]
We learned to be discreet. It helped that nobody really cares about anyone but themselves anyway. They check to make sure you aren't killing anyone, anyone they know, and then they go back to what they were saying about how they think they might be having a real breakthrough in their relationship with themselves.

...I felt hunger. The body's expression of hope.

From "Ten True Things"

She seemed to have room for me; she never turned away in the pauses that allow for turning away....she never recoiled...This is a quality I look for in a person, not recoiling. Some people need a red carpet rolled out in front of them in order to walk forward into a friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them....

From "How to Tell Stories to Children"

It may have been in self-defense that Lyon's aggravated preteen body replaced itself with an unaggravated, rather amazing woman's body in the summer after her freshman year of high school. I thought this elegantly bubble-bottomed response was brilliant; I could not have said it better myself.

Nor could I. So I will stop blogging and go make some food courtesy of a Mark Hyman recipe and see what else the night has in store.

Namaste...and shit.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shut up and dance

Last night was a Bhangra class that Albany-J and I went to. Unfortunately, we didn't get to wear the awesome outfits [I picked the following video off YT for its homespun flavor.]:

Tonight? Salsa on2 [I will not be rocking the back-strapped shirt...and nor will Frankie Martinez, a sizzly figure in the mambo world whose upper body looks like he could be checking his mail while he's dancing but his lower body is like a whole other story, be teaching; I think it's a 60-year-old guy with longish hair and a penchant for multiple turns...if it's the teacher I'm thinking of. Laura will be taking half a Dramamine before class]:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Attack of Movement

Real, unadulterated, unmanufactured inspiration comes when I least expect it--the cliche of all cliches. But, contrary to what the heart says, inspiration heats up the more one follows the ache--the exact thing we [read: I] want to avoid.

For example, I have a difficult time watching gymnastics on TV. When I watch the little ones flipping and spinning and balancing, my entire body remembers and longs for that kind of strength and control again. It makes me wish I were 15, not 37. (Here's young me in my golden years of competition.)

My body--and I suppose I'm talking about the creative impulse within the body--doesn't know that it's been 22 years since I've been able to move like that.

I've been watching So You Think You Can Dance. It's a two-hour ache fest. I don't want to watch it. Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way lady, she says that particular type of ache means something--creative envy most of all. Not watching the show would be avoiding what I know is in me. And it happened, by the way, the inspiration, the white horse, whatever you want to call it, when I watched 17-year-old Nathan Trasoras' audition. I was completely caught off guard and found myself half-weeping on my couch:

So I looked him up on YouTube and found more. And watched more. And cried more. Just like how Gogol Bordello has lit a fire in me--in a way that can't really be accounted for--Nathan's dancing has had me crying, and writing e-mails to friends, one to Nathan on Facebook, and another to my college dance teacher (now friend) who, dancing strong at the age of 49, reminds me that it's never too late and, bless her, pointed out, from having choreographed for me and danced with me and seen me move, that she could see me in Nathan's dance, his "attack of movement, clean lines, the feeling behind what he does." So Laura's going to make a dance. Even if the dance turns out to be some big creative mess. Face everything, avoid nothing. Isn't that the spiritual warrior's credo? Something like that...

Here's Nathan again. I'm fine if it doesn't move you like it moves me. Every time I watch this, I'm inexplicably filled. And, as we know with creative fire, it can't be explained or manufactured, which is what makes my reaction so awesome:

We have bodies.