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dancing up a creek

February 24, 2014

Even though I haven’t written anything in days that’s directly connected with the writers’ residency application, something about the things I’ve been blogging and thinking about . . . seems to be connected.

Maybe growing up in a family where everything is tangled up with everything else uniquely prepared me for the life I find myself living. How can my long-ago past be part of the same fabric as Chesapeake Bay and as figuring out what’s possible for my life in 2014? Where on earth is the nearly constant stream of new health issues coming from? Could they be a symptom of psycho-spiritual issues, not just for me as an individual, but me as part of a larger, nested system? One of the larger systems I’m nested within is my watershed, which itself is nested within the Chesapeake Bay region.


Ever since writing my long post yesterday, I feel emptied out. Occasionally there are sparks of anger. But mostly, I feel overwhelmed. I feel oddly blank.

Yesterday Havi wrote about needing to release and disperse physical energy. She usually does that through dance, or yoga, but she’s been laid up with illness and then injury for close to a month.

I write often about how I need to move, but for me that generally means walking, especially walks through my neighborhood, often at night.

I think I need more movement, of a different sort.


A month or so ago, I read poems written by someone I follow on Twitter, and one of those poems inspired me to write a response. It got very long. And I knew it didn’t work, although I wasn’t entirely sure why. I shared it with the person whose poems I’d read, hoping for feedback that would tell me something I didn’t know. It took him quite a while to get back to me, which gave me enough time and distance from what I wrote to figure out what my poem was really about.

I think I’ll have to eviscerate my poem, keeping only the middle, but then how do I begin? And how do I end? I don’t know.

The poem is ostensibly about a party. And while I was trying to figure out how I could rethink and rewrite a poem about that party, I started thinking about parties in general.

I don’t like parties. I like the idea of a party. I want to love the execution, but in practice, I haven’t. There’s too much of stuff I don’t want, and very little of stuff I do want.

Is there a way for me to create my own kind of party that has only what I want?

The surprise party for my 30th birthday prompted the poem I wrote. Spouse made other arrangements for my 40th, and many of them were excellent. But not the party-ish parts. I don’t want anyone-who-isn’t-me to arrange a party-like-celebration for my 50th, because they won’t know what parts I consider essential.

So, what are the right parts?


Wearing fun clothes. Good food. Really good dessert. Music. Dancing (but not with partners). Interesting conversations are optional.

I was intrigued to realize that my favorite parts of a ‘party’ are not social.

With rare exceptions, I just don’t really enjoy ordinary social interactions. The conversations I found myself immersed in at my 30th birthday party were drudgery. Mostly with people I didn’t even like.


The person who gave me feedback on the original poem said it was strange, but that I should preserve the strangeness. If I rewrite that party, or maybe just write the poem showing the contrast between what actually happened and what I wish had happened, I’d have to use magical realism. And I’m still not sure it would make sense to anyone else. Isn’t there a threshold beyond which ‘strangeness (In A Good Way)’ crosses into Uncanny Valley territory, and just becomes disturbing?

I think I actually live in that kind of Uncanny Valley territory pretty much all the time.

But I’m getting far afield of where I meant to go.


Under what circumstances could dance in an environment in which other people are dancing too, without anyone expecting me to partner with someone? I definitely don’t want anyone directing my movements (i.e., a man leading a woman). I also don’t want someone I’m dancing opposite to think I should copy their movements, or that we should synchronize, or even play off each other. For me, dancing is not directly social. I like other people to be around (although I also enjoy dancing when I’m alone), but I need to do things my own way. Also, other people are often copying someone else’s steps, so following them means I’d be copying third-hand moves, which is just So Wrong. I need to express the music as I feel it flow through me.


Since I resolved to spend much less time on Twitter or other people’s blogs, so I could concentrate my energies on my own writing, I’ve been writing. A lot. But no poems, or even poem fragments. Should I be concerned about that?


I don’t want to still be writing this at 3 a.m., which happened yesterday. However, it’s already 1:40. Why am I writing about any of this? Does any of this tie together with anything else? What connection could there be between this and the writers’ residency application?

Maybe answers aren’t what I need right now; maybe I need still more questions.

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