Thursday, April 21, 2011

My own "dance diary"

A few weeks back, some colleagues and I drove to Tulsa to see a dance show, and one of these colleagues told me she keeps a "dance diary", jotting down the companies and works she sees.  I was terribly impressed by this. 

So I'm going to try it.  Mostly because I've been thinking about some of my travels lately, and I'm wishing I'd kept a diary along the way.  Most of my travel these days involves being transported by music or dance, so here goes!
Since my last post about Compania Nacional de Danza II, I've seen a few other shows, but the one I want to be sure I remember is the one I went to this past Sunday.  It featured the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Del McCoury Band, the former known for their swingin' Nawlins jazz marches, the latter as the granddaddy of bluegrass.  I heard these two groups play together in NYC a year or so ago.  I'd been waiting to see them since then.

They didn't disappoint.  I honestly couldn't tell you what songs they played, other than "I'll Fly Away" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." But they had the whole crowd (except the gentleman to my left who had clearly been dragged by his wife and was nodding off) tapping their toes.  It was such fun to watch the collaboration of two distinctly American music forms coming together, and the musicians were clearly enjoying themselves.  Someone said to me today "I don't think they needed the audience; they were having such fun playing together."  That might be true, but I'm glad we there.

It also helped that I was there with a new friend, who either enjoyed the show or was too polite to tell me otherwise.  :) It was fun to be a part of a crowd that was just having a good time, not thinking too hard, not worrying about much - just enjoying some swingin', trumpet blarin', mandolin pickin' goodness.

Reality life

Someone like me, who has built a life largely as a solo endeavor, learns to accept certain realities: slow dances will always be awkward, no matter how old you are or how fast your reach for your phone to start texting, 9 times out of 10 hostesses will look uncomfortable when you announce you're dining alone, and while there are lots of things that can be done solo, there are some things (rollercoasters and honeymoons, for example) that simply require an "other", significant or not.

(On the upside, we also secretly gloat about the hidden bonuses, such as always being in control of the remote and not being judged for spending 1/2 a day watching Dog Whisperer, but I digress.)

However, someone like me also, by necessity, spends quite a bit of time in fantasy worlds; on TV, in books or even just out and about, mentally trying to deconstruct the lives of my fellow humans.  Inevitably, the characters in these fictional or real dramas are more interesting, prettier, luckier or wittier than me (and they never worry about waxing).  In fiction, they're always getting "feelings" about people and situations.  In real life, they appear to glide through life without stopping to wonder if they are in the right place at the right time.  Neither of these idealized worlds are real, but they are easy to imagine and romanticize.

Lately, I've found myself feeling like something good is about to happen.  It feels like what novelists try to describe in their books.  I'm a little stunned by how distinct the feeling is, and how much I like it.

The problem is that I have no way of knowing if it's real.  It could very well be something my over-zealous self-analyzing psyche has drummed up to get me through whatever particular crisis my subconscious is churning over.  (Good grief, just reading that last sentence makes me want to slap myself).  Or it could just be that I'm in a good mood for whatever reason.

In a novel, in a situation like this, some wise best friend/mentor would say "good things will happen if you make them happen."  Since I've never asked my real friends, I have no idea what they'd say, but I suspect it would be something like "Get real, girl.  Whatever happens, happens."

I wish I could express how scary it feels to even write this down, because inevitably, someone will read it and ask me 6 months later: "Hey, did anything ever happen?"  And I'll likely have to answer "Nope."

But I wanted a record of it, because it's been a while since I can remember feeling like this.  And even if it does disappear, I'd like to try to remember the feeling, because it's pretty great.  And despite the fact that I know it's probably all in my head, I think I'm going to do my damnedest to keep it going.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today's lesson: Accepting "advice"...with grace

Today started off on an awkward, yet funny note, as the little tap dance known as "get your morning caffeine in the workroom" got all messed up and I had to start my morning with a radio interview and two impromptu meetings without my normal cup of tea.  I survived, and thus began another day of highs and lows.

The highs included the AR State Supreme Court declaring an adoption ban unconstitutional.  According to this ban, I'm unable to adopt or be a foster parent if I'm in a relationship with a man, but not married.  If I was in a relationship with a woman, civil union or not, same goes.  This law was passed by more than 1/2 of my fellow voting Arkansans, which goes to show that elections are not "the will of the people."  Not this people, anyway.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, I'm told by a friend who knows such things that we'll face a possible state consitutional amendment next year.  I think I'd like to send all those people who voted for this ban to a group home or foster situation for a few days and see how they feel about denying kids a chance at a loving home. Ok, stepping off my soapbox.

Except to say that another high point was learning that the Glenn Beck show is going off the air.  The only negative: Jon Stewart won't have as much material.

The lows came from the usual stuff; too much work, feeling like I'm not helping my staff enough, feeling inadequate and missing my friends, etc.  The lowest point came when I snarked off after being offered a bunch of unsolicited "advice" in an email.  While my reaction was understandable (maybe), it was certainly not noble. 

But I choose to take a lesson from it.  I need to learn to take unsolicited advice more gracefully. After all, there's never going to be a shortage of it.  I also need to ask for advice more.  I always feel better after asking someone for help or advice, as do they.  Virtuous cycle, right?   Can you imagine how much less drama there would be in life if we were all comfortable with being given unsolicited advice?

Well, this put me in a better frame of mind going into a dance concert by Compania Nacional de Danza II tonight (that's a mouthful), but I confess that I didn't take it from theory to practice as I chatted with a patron:

Me: Did you know this show is part of a series of performances that are only $10 per show?
Patron: Really?  I didn't know that.  You should run some sort of marketing campaign so people know about it. 
Me (silently counting the hours/dollars we spent on the campaign): Um, ok.


I should have graciously said "You're so right!  Tell me where I could advertise that might reach you!" or some such. 

Oh well.  Maybe next time.

But the show was wonderful, beautiful, soothing, calming, (insert therapeutic adjective here).  And now my pretty pooch is sprawled on the bed next to me, taking up more space than me.  Life is good.  Tomorrow is a new day, and if the government doesn't shut down, maybe next week a lonely kid will be able to find a home.  

So go ahead.  Hit with me your best "you know, have you ever thought about doing this?" advice.  I can take it.