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Entries in music (9)


How to Look Ridiculous (But Not Care At All)

One from the archives: a suggestion from Center Camp at Burning ManA short list of things that don't usually go together:



a large room of people

a DJ spinning electronic music


sobriety (bears repeating, since it's so unlikely)

I list these as justification for my anxiety about attending Rhythm Sanctuary last week.  My brother has attended this weekly ecstatic dance gathering for about a year, and has been inviting me for nearly that long.  Which is to say I have resisted going for almost a year but finally, last week, I could think of no good reason not to go.

While I'm on lists, here are some fears I had:

I will look stupid

I will feel stupid

I am not a good dancer

I am not one of those people

I will hate the music

The dance was already underway when I got there so I nervously kicked off my shoes and took note of the guidelines posted outside of the dance floor.  My favorite: no talking on the dance floor.  I relaxed a little bit, knowing that I wouldn't be expected to try to socialize, sober, while dancing.

Here is who I saw when I walked in:


a guy in a Burning Man t-shirt

a white-beared man, probably in his 80s, sitting in a chair with a cane


families with children (an infant with a glow stick around his ankle)

a guy in a wheelchair



a guy with an oxygen tank in a backpack

Most everyone was dancing, a lot alone, some in pairs or groups.  Some sat around the edges watching.  Some sat in meditation or prayer at some pillowed, futoned areas. The music was loud and rhythmic, which meant there was no reason not to at least try to dance.  So I did.

Here is what happened:

I got my heart rate up

I noticed my judgements rising up, and noticed they were mostly about myself and my fear of being ridiculous

I noticed that everyone else seemed to be dancing without fear of looking ridiculous and let my self-judgment fall away (though in the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that the judgment came and went in waves)

I started to move according to what my body seemed to want to do - oh my ankles really want to stretch.  oh I kind of feel like jumping. oh that bass line makes me feel like doing this - instead of moving according to what might look cool

I didn't talk to anyone

I didn't dance with anyone

I stopped thinking

The combination of blood pumping, ankles stretching, and suspended thought helps me understand why my brother calls this gathering a medicine.


Coming Back

The snow gods have been unkind to our favorite mountain spots so far this winter, but Saturday brought our first few inches of the new year.  A few inches of snow is the difference between what's the point? and wheeeee!  A few inches of snow makes everything new again. 

Here the snow is too dry to even make a decent snowball.  Every single flake holds its distinct shape.  I was the first one on the cross-country trail yesterday morning, and the snow fluttered and parted around my skis as the sun broke through the morning clouds.  The snow is still too shallow to cover the remains of the summer grasses, and it's too light to weigh them down.  How much does a snowflake weigh?  I skied past a dead tree that fell last week.  Was there one snowflake that did the deed?  The tree just couldn't take the weight of one more snowflake?


I wonder if this is how moods work.  Life piles on, and you're strong, but one imperceptible thing you probably don't even notice gets added to the load and suddenly you're sinking under the weight of it. 


For a while now I've craved silence.  I've turned off the radio, except for the classical station occasionally.  I put all the CDs away.  The cacophony of kids over the holidays actually hurt.  I sit every morning and meditate in the dark, feasting on the quiet.

But I noticed this weekend that my ears are hungry.  I want headphones, and dancing around the house, and singing loud. 

This feels good.  This feels like coming back.


The Magic Number

Gratitude project: Day 6Everyone tells me three is worse than two, if you're using terribles as the unit of measurement.  It's true, sometimes.  But oh my, when it's good, this three-year-old thing is really good.

So grateful this weekend for

giant cardboard boxes that turn into weekend-long mural projects

the miracle of crossing the potty training threshold

balance bikes

the fact that he finally, finally speaks the English language

the discovery that, like his mama, Ez is a lyrics person.  (thump, thump)

Also, while I'm on the magic of three, let me say just how comfortable it feels to be a family of three.  And how grateful I am to finally feel that clarity.  Here we are, a small, sturdy love triangle, ready to take on the world.


One Weekend, Two (Incomplete) Lists

First, things to let go of:

  • the compulsion to prove myself the Life Of The Party
  • the disappointment that I'm not
  • the urge to dance with 10,000 weirdly dressed freaky people at the Thievery Corporation show at Red Rocks
  • the anxious stomach, at the thought of Doing The Right Thing
  • the one remaining ticket to Burning Man, to be mailed to a deserving soul in San Francisco today
  • the vivid Playa dreams I've had for the past 12 months
  • the fear that I'll never be able return to Black Rock City

I chose the quiet space this weekend, though the fleshy little crescent moons dug into my palms betrayed my fight to release the Showy, the Loud, the Fun.  It is possible that the fact that I was too busy all weekend to write proves that I still have a way to go toward the quiet space.  But never mind that.

So, List #2.  Also known as, steps toward quiet satisfaction:

305.365 50mm f1.4 1/60 ISO 1600

  • Is it weird to profess moving toward a quiet place and then immediately show a photo of a DJ?  Baby steps.  But when your brother -- who has excellent taste in intelligent music and who is really getting the hang of matching beats -- invites you to dance... and when the dance is in a dark room with no alcohol and no expectation that you'll even speak to anyone and only the impression that you'll let the music move you...  well, at that point it becomes kind of like a late-night yoga class.  With big speakers.

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  • Come to think of it, toddler birthday parties are not famously quiet either.  But being the world's Least Organized Mom (manifested this week by my inability to plan Ezra's birthday party more than three days in advance) does have occasional advantages.  No Chuck E Cheese.  No pool party.  No Children's Museum mayhem.  Just a couple picnic blankets, some cupcakes, and a small gathering of the kind of long-time friends and family that let you know you've arrived at Community. 

Ezra will turn three this week secure in the knowledge that he got his birthday cake.  And I will keep from him the secret that there is still a vat of homemade cream cheese icing in the fridge.

307.365 50mm f1.4 1/60 ISO 800

  • Finally, I had been torn between an invitation to a salon my long-lost friend Marjorie was hosting last night (quiet) and the Thievery show at Red Rocks (loud).  I met Marjorie in a writing class years ago.  She has been cultivating a writing life ever since and gathered a collection of some of her favorite writer friends for dinner and readings. 

Wow.  Just, wow.  First of all it was incredibly flattering to even be invited to the same gathering as these people, under the guise of being a Writer.  I mean, they were reading chapters of novels they're working on and memoirs and poetry.  I took the out offered on the invitation and read the work of someone I admire, Kate Inglis.  Seemed a better option than reading aloud the glorified journal entries I post here. 

But here is what I have to say about this: the food was delicious, the people I met were talented and fascinating, the variety and quality of their work was inspiring, and I could have stayed to talk for much longer if we had not already been on the verge of turning into pumpkins by the end of the night.  I did not wish for a moment that I was instead dancing among the throngs at Red Rocks.  Thank you, Marjorie, and all your writerly friends for including me in a completely nourishing evening.  It was exactly what I needed.

(But feel free to keep reports of Thievery Corporation to yourself, people.)


Red Rocks

297.365 iPhoneSummer is not summer in Denver without at least one trip to Red Rocks.  Last week Krista sprung on me the good news that she had an extra ticket to My Morning Jacket.  It was a divine way to end my kid-free staycation and a classic Red Rocks night: warm, windy, lightning in the distance over Denver, rock 'n roll, shiny happy Coloradans embraced by the incredible sandstone monoliths. 


I think it's fair to say that I've never been to a bad show here.  There's something about the space that elevates the senses and inspires the performer and the crowd to connect.

Thanks Krista.