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It looks like I’ve waited a little too long to blog about my experience at Zombie Run. A week ago Sunday, it was exciting to run though the campy horror-fantasy, but today posting pics and going on about death at a race event does not seem the thing to do. So, another time for that. My 6k run in Berlin Park yesterday evening could hardly approach the impact and dedication of a world-class marathon, but I ran it as an offering of love and healing to everyone affected by the madness in Boston.
This has truly been a season of Monkey Mind for me, but Monkey Experience has been keeping pace. New romantic curiosities, absurdly awful (non)communications, another easeful friendship deepening. There was the closing of Fluid Nightclub, where I rediscovered essential bits of my being. Played at a great event last week, the first Hub City Music Festival, and got to share the stage with old friends who I admire hugely. I’ve been asked by a friend to write a song or poem about the problem of transphobia, so I’ve been letting those thoughts percolate. There isn’t a whole lot on the official schedule, but that is actually a good thing right now. My brain is busy catching up to a thousand details.
I keep trying to find words to express how I feel about the Boston Marathon bombing, but they don’t show up. It seems as if I couldn’t say it any better than the compassionate internet memes that are already trying. Petty concerns of all of the above – and just about anything – are snapped way back into perspective. I am recognizing more than ever how music and art soothe and teach, learn, respond, and heal. So, yes. More of that, please. At this moment, I am much more a listener than a maker of sounds. I will, however, be chanting kirtan this Sunday in Langhorne, PA – the more voices the better: http://rainbowsofhealing.com/kirtan-with-robin-renee/.
I want to be sure of what I think I believe and how I behave that I believe – that by living quietude we can have a small part in helping quiet the angriness in the world.
Getting the word out on the new chant CD, This., has so far been a gradual, but purposeful process. The official press release is finally here. I have been sending some info out myself as well as finding more efficient, mental health-conducive ways to let people know there’s new music about. The business of music had me down when I last wrote here. Now I find a great deal of optimism in new approaches, and so today you (and I) have a happier me. It’s a buzzword, but true – I feel incredibly empowered to make different and better decisions, having decided to dispense with the status quo.
I listened to “Keshava,” the first song on This., today, and it made me smile. It is one of my favorite kirtans to share live. Having not been on the road much at all in recent months, I am looking forward to singing this with others for the first time in a while tomorrow evening near the Jersey shore. Another of my favorites on This. is “Blessed Be, Namaste.” It is one of those songs where the lyrics seemed to show up fairly miraculously at the right time and in the right order. Bridging and blending spiritual traditions is important to me, and this one does that. It feels good to enjoy the music again, after a bit of time away from hearing these recordings.
One common frustration I’ve heard other musicians talk about is the need to perform and publicize the current project while the creative impulse has already moved onto the next. I have been taking an easeful approach to the new songs. They are in there, but not yet clamoring desperately. Interesting phrases and definitely some wild dreams have been showing up. I’ll court the REM stage influence for a while longer and find instrumentation I’ll love. Today it felt comforting – not at all a frustration – to immerse myself again in the sounds of This. and embark on finding more ears to hear it and souls to sing along.
New Year / New Order – 1/4/13
Dancer’s invisible hand, this time
did not push me to the platform
No particular synth rhythm
tonight is motion, sex
shiny with silver fleck sequins
‘wish you cud see the glitter’
the ones not here
on stage, suddenly
leading pristine, sweaty, t-shirt, gender bent ball gown crowd
in a chorus of electric
she joins me
hips hair arms miming the instinctual
I pretend not to see DJ’s camera
as saving grace
She is taller than I
I wait for kisses
to take them
we draw a small crowd
of admirers – I know the beauty
is in every face mid-lyric
with favorite song
in silver-painted spikes
in blue luminescence
in every joyous dance floor grind
as much beauty here
as on renunciate mountaintop
and the living-the-moment
make desperate, impossible love
right here, in public
just below the balcony
until which is which, a memory
for armchair gurus.
I was ordained by sound before the womb
into the Order of Bodylight
Dance trance rishi has spoken
and this is my mantra.
♪ I know, you know, we believe in a land of love
I know, you know, we believe in a land of love ♫
Too-drunk chick yells above edgy guitar thump
“YOU… are a PARTY girl… and I DON’T take that LIGHTly!”
Nor do I.
I posted these lyrics on Facebook yesterday and am happy that quite a few people are enjoying them. I was just about to post it here earlier this evening, but started watching the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief that is going on at Madison Square Garden. Just then Adam Sandler came on and sang a Sandy-ized rendition of “Hallelujah” which was… well… interesting. So, it felt like pretty much perfect timing to share this here.
Here’s my perennial silliness meeting my love of celebration – a parody for the Pagan folk. And of course, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Joyous times to all! Perhaps there’s a holiday album in my future… I am apparently accumulating the tunes.
The Yule Song
- to the tune of The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler
Lyrical adaptation by Robin Renée
It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
Why not play the fool again and have some fun at Yule again
Yule is the holiday of returning light
The sun gets stronger after the year’s longest night
If you feel like the only one with no Nativity,
Here are some Pagan people just like you & me:
Robin Gibb’s wife Dwina was a Druid Priestess
Alice Walker knows what the Sabbat feast is
Do you wanna hear a Pagan while you’re driving in your car?
Tune in to Margot Adler on NPR
Not sure if his mom served tofu pups or brisket
But who was raised a Wiccan? Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit!
You don’t need Silent Night or The Chanukah Song
‘Cause you can rock with George Takei around the fire all night long (Oh, myyy!)
It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
It’s like a shiny jewel again, the sacred time of Yule again
Barack Obama – not a Pagan – It’s easy to perceive it
He’s not a Muslim either, but some people won’t believe it
And yes, she spent a lot of time speaking out for PETA
‘Cause Chrissie Hynde’s one badass vegan Pagan mamacita
Not everyone’s a Pagan who holds nature dear,
But I think Captain Planet is, and every Planeteer!
There are so many holidays that people find pleasin’
But remember Winter Solstice is the reason for the season
So don’t be a hooligan
Just spread the love at Yule again
And tell the kids at school again
It’s the lovely time of Yule again
I’m like a stubborn mule again
Determined to do Yule again
So feel the inner fuel again
And sing the songs of Yule again
The season is so cool
So have a happy, happy, blessed, happy Yule!
Robin Renée December 2012
It’s actually happening. The finishing touches are finally being put on the new chant recording. A very brief post about it yesterday caused a little ripple on Facebook; in a way it served as a first bit of encouragement from outside the project. While working on This., I felt much more in a vacuum than during other recordings; I am not being coy to say the response was an honest wake-up moment about the coming of interaction with others again around the music. Soon I’ll be touring my way down to Florida and back. I’ll be inviting more people than I ever have to take part in helping the music to be heard. Possibly the most exciting and daunting part for me is that I’ll be working on the second half of the follow-up project, .. and everything else.
Back when I became completely immersed in kirtan, I spent almost a year listening to nothing else. Life was a constant meditation on the drone of harmonium or tampura. I absorbed mantras and melodies and the stories of Hindu deities at such a rate that when people asked me where I learned this or that, I truly had no idea. During that time I wasn’t sure I’d ever write another song. It only seemed relevant to talk about the totality of things. Life stuff was happening, but Om was the only relevant response.
Somewhere it became clearer to me that my path continued to be one of staying engaged in the day-to-day and writing down the stories. But by then I’d been through a kind of vortex that made it a strange exercise. I was frustrated over this for a while, but now I am giving myself a break over the times I wasn’t writing. Yes, some of that time away has probably been about avoiding pain or focusing on the minutiae rather than any larger project at hand. I suspect most of us do those things. But even more than that, I’ve been in a relearning pattern. Life feels a little different having been through this particular spiritual vein, and I am ultimately grateful for the shift. While grasping onto stories is still not as easy, they do feel rich and relevant. Lately, I’ve been in a primordial soup of happenings:
My home ashram has been steadily coming into fruition; there was an intense weekend with visiting Tantra teachers (Ran Baron and Monique Darling, with Edie Weinstein on Cuddle Party duties) and more and different events are in the works. Friends have been around sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the space. Some old friends seem to have left my life unequivocally, while others remain stuck in uncomfortable balance or misunderstanding. Other old friends have been reappearing in wild, wonderful, wacky, sexy ways. There are stories to fill a volume or two in these changes alone. I’m startled at how physical I want daily life to be these days – I can groove on hours of yard work with pruning, hauling branches, mowing, then swimming or running or tennis or hiking – it’s nearly all I really want to do. That is, if it weren’t for booking the upcoming tour, hopefully through D.C., Raleigh, Asheville, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Meanwhile I have kept an eye out to see if there’s any way in the universe I can get to the UK for Robin Gibb’s memorial service, and I have met online friends who get why this continues to mean so much to me. I was sad to learn that I will be in FL on the day of a plaque dedication, but there may be another time to gather. I’ve been true to my promise to self to not let summer fun pass me by. Rocking out (well, blue grassing out, anyway) with The Mutant Mountain Boys in oppressively hot Southern Ohio on the 4th of July was a blast, as was rediscovering my love for the strangely wise absurdity of the Church of the SubGenius. I have had some joyful days at Gunnison Beach and a good peaceful time at this year’s Northeast Naturist Festival. Oh, and my friend LauraLynn Jansen and I are planning to co-lead a chant and yoga retreat in Nicaragua, January 2013.
At first, I thought it was ironic that the chant CD is on its way as I feel itchy for a full band, wanting so much to step back into the role of rocker chick. Really, it’s just typical artist stuff, I think. Project done and my being is moving onto the next, to be painted in singer/songwriter/rock sounds and maybe some spoken word. I do ultimately trust that when it’s time to be in the midst of any of these expressions, I’ll show up and be present. I hope This… and everything else together will tell more of the story as an exploration of life – or at least as extrapolated from this particular life – in something close to 360o.
I began this blog last night. It was going to be something very different. As I woke up on this warmish, misty Ostara morning, it was as though all the things I was poised to worry about in writing had put themselves in order. Whether coincidental or a function of syncing spirituality with the seasons, I do feel balance on this Equinox.
The making of the new chant CD has happened in about as opposite as fashion as the last one as possible. The kirtans and other spiritual songs on Live Devotion came quickly, jumping into my head as I worked, drove, or sang other songs—anytime, and when least expected. A few rehearsals, one long day in studio, and it had arrived. I already knew that what we were affectionately calling “Studio Devotion” would be a more traditional recording experience, but I didn’t think it would be a year in the making. Given that a lot of the year was pushing past emotional obstacles ad absurdum, I am happy to say that the gestation period for what will officially be called This seems just about over. I would like to release it well – with some traditional and innovative promotion and viable distribution. I’m open to suggestion from all quarters on how that may best happen. In the meantime, it is a wonderful feeling to be just about through with recording and mixing and to feel the emergence of new spiritsong on the first day of spring.
A recent blog by my friend LauraLynn Jansen inspired me to reflect on “What is yogic?” Today, I believe it is the practice of remembering, of coming back to center, and living a life that allows all sorts of activities and interactions to be the instrument of balance. Music, when I lose myself in it, does this work. Lately exercise – especially swimming and biking – are just as much music to me, just as much a journey toward Center. I am undertaking a sprint triathlon training, also inspired by LL. I keep finding more and more depth in meeting the challenges. I have considered the workout to be a form of meditation before, but it is new for me to think about fitness as art. The metaphor of Oneness meets the day-to-day.
April is coming, and that means NaPoWriMo. It may make me very busy, but springtime is emergence is yoga is staying in the flow of writing.
I am feeling like a fully erotic being again, after too long a hibernation.
Well, look at the time… It has been ridiculously long since I’ve written here. I’ve written a few poems, done quite a bit of ghostwriting work, finished most of the forthcoming kirtan recording, and I still have fantasies that tease of a novel. For a lot of the time I’ve been absent from this blog, I’ve been thoroughly sick of my own navel-gazing. I never could quite bring myself to share it with everybody else. The CliffsNotes will be much better, trust me.
Since I’ve written here, I’ve tried hard to think of myself as a semi-retired musician. Many months of a seemingly lost ability to tell a story that matters, an economy that ceased to even kinda-sorta support traveling singer-songwriters (at least this one), and a couple gigs in a row too absurd to mention were all contributors to this shift. I asked myself if I am neither making ends meet nor having fun, why am I doing this? “Because it’s what I always do,” wasn’t a good enough answer. So, I set upon the exciting adventure of not doing what I always do.
I’ve discovered that I can’t retire from music. Sounds show up. Words show up. They will become something even when I resist. I decided I wouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing performance and traveling without focused assistance. It felt good to take off the bookings hat. I decided I would respond happily to requests while I re-imagine possibilities. Offers do arise while I work on other things. The forthcoming chant CD that I’ve been recording at glacial speed has come back into my heart. I feel the spirit that sings through those mantras and songs again. It will emerge of its own volition.
Casting off the have-to’s has led to more rediscoveries than new discoveries. I am dancing again. Not only at the Sex Dwarf dance party off of South Street, but as much as possible. The beach last summer. Latin Heat class at the gym. When I wake up and Jonathan Richman’s “Roadrunner” is a leftover earworm from dreamland. I used to walk for miles everyday and it made me inherently happy. I have been taking a lot of that back from the suburban abyss.
I used to write for the absolute love of it. Age-old wisdom would indicate that making the thing you love your business will alter it, perhaps not for the better. More wisdom would indicate that if you do what you love for your living, you are truly blessed. I’d say both are correct.
There will be more music, more concerts, more creative surprises, and new approaches. There will be art for love and art that matters, at least to me. I have begun to write through the gunk and the fear to get to the center, the heart of things. I am reminded of Om Mani Padme Hum – the jewel in the lotus. No matter what whirlwinds I spin around it, there is that.
Eyes strain open above water
Lukewarm, then too warm to escape
This is the science
of my regularly scheduled life
the art of evolving
from surface tension
The memory of arms flailing
to seek the winter sunlight
and keep moving.
The wild, scary, beautiful storm kicked up by taking on 30 poems in 30 days is still very much alive in me. Expeditions for love, for cord-cutting and letting go, and for spiritual center run through it all. So much is going on in ideas and emotions that it can begin to bring on a kind of paralysis. I am not allowing that to take hold for long. There is too much to do. All of my projects – Robin Renée singer/songwriter, Robin Renée kirtan, The Mutant Mountain Boys, and various other creative drives are all clamoring for time. Plus, some character named Devo Dan keeps bugging me to work with him. ;- ) The many hours’ drive to and from Ohio this weekend for Mountain Boys rehearsal and kirtan at The Yoga Place was a welcome time for contemplation and decompression.
Writing daily forces me to get through my own crap- the lies it is convenient to tell myself- and I eventually have to get to something real. This is where I want to live. It is the middle of the well from which these creative impulses seem to spring. I can’t say that I wouldn’t welcome a stable ledge on which to rest in this period that feels like a long project in unconditional truth-seeking. Right now I am tumbling in the midst, and I choose to be ok with tumbling for now, capturing bits of the experience along the way.
April 21, 2011
The New Trees Take Their Places
Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
Summer will contend for the witchiest season of them all
With festival love and people who really like drumming.
I wonder what happened to the pissed off trees
And shame-riddled women clutching towels to hide themselves,
persecuted Pagans and the winter that never goes home.
No such luck for the erstwhile King and Queen of Angst.
Some of those folks never lived here, and the rest have flown back
to their lovely realms.
There must be words spoken
like tsunami, earthquake, and revolution.
I wonder what happened to those words.
They must have moved beyond the property line,
but they are remembered daily.
Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
Holding gallant space for solid ground,
Keeping watch over quiet growth and loud passion,
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
April 22, 2011
Face the sticker-splattered wall,
part mural part disdain.
I would have endured.
Finding empty letter,
noting missing friendship ring
would have been too hard.
You’ve done me the favor.
April 23, 2011
The bit part
One toe in the drink
A pen still mightier
The listening corner
The open ears
A reverent envy
In the side of
Whatever it takes
To dive in
April 24, 2011
Toes recall wild grass,
Bare skin, sun, and air make love-
Nature’s Easter prayer.
April 25, 2011
A Different Ring
Regarding the ring:
You must wear it well
as you wear shifting speech.
Once your head is turned, flowery protest? Useless.
White gold or semi-precious, I don’t know. I’ve not seen
your finger or your face
in almost long enough.
Who would I be to stand
in the laced path
of the marriage of crisis to victim?
On the New Hope bridge,
you asked for my blessing on a ceremony.
It was another love, declared before meat-eating
Straight-acting, and the face of tradition
Took you on, a code of opposites.
Teacher, point your own way home.
Who would I be to stand
in the overgrown path
of separation, mind from knowing?
Bodies- yours and mine
are not to touch again.
I take up scissors to cut the barky vine
can’t help but drop them still
thinking “Have it your way.
See you next life, then.”
I remember, to those who leave
I wave goodbye.
Somewhere in the dredged earth
is the reason to thank you
with a smile.
April 26, 2011
Which pointed buds give way to splayed white flowers,
Which dots will soon be leaves-
On the outside, there are teachings.
Inside, the chair before the desk-
Which wall needs waterproof steel blue paint,
Which bent-page piles most urgent.
Love released, received among proud dandelions,
First order of business.
April 27, 2011
If Found, Do Not Return
left for traveler
willing to give up
for hollow-handed love
or for king’s horse
of sight gag.
April 28, 2011
Chocolate, Wine, & Porn
First thing I see are bed covers unraveled, like they’ve just enjoyed the ride, then there’s you, crimped brown hair, as avant garde undressed as in leopard print and vintage clogs,
I wonder if you’d let me really see you this way were I not imagining your story and you were not hiding in the arms of academia. I may be deep in the house of mistrust still
at least I imagine you, alone with dark chocolate, red wine, grainy porn, still-no-silicone video, hairy, hot and real. My brain stops here, I want to know what you do by yourself
and what with, times I’ve known you there is love and doors that close
on making love, sudden, no warning, no formula to break barriers.
Still, I believe you, once mistress of three classic pleasures, exciting
and dulling nerve endings, in your endorphin cocktail haze, lover,
may you have remembered me.
I remember your backpack at the bus stop, what your intent eyes knew,
your sleeping beauty on post-collegiate futon, how the three of us, that one time,
barely fit in the shower.
Want to fast-forward this stuck cassette, see what is now, what unstuck passion together might come beyond memory, beyond numbing, beyond the endorphin rush of running.
Pour me a pinot, I’ll bring the raw cacao.
April 29, 2011
Chant and dance move this night
Circular motion time intended
A love not actionable
Comes back around
A slow burn
Toward flame or fizzle
At any point
There is a straight line
April 30, 2011/May 1, 2011
Garden earth green and floral
or warm city rhythm
If we do not drop our armor
on the eve of Beltane,
we lie by omission.
I plan to wed the summer
hand-held or solitaire,
make love in the field
of clover and thorn
This month began with my taking on some overdue spiritual work. I have needed to release old energies – angers, fears, the psychic remnants of people no longer in my life for good reason. The first steps to opening wounds in order to heal them are scary ones, but I am appreciating the journey of the aftermath. Music, poems, passages from books that need be written are moving through me at a rate that allows me to tap what I can as it floats by and to hope the rest comes back around. Some good work was done this weekend on the forthcoming chant CD. Other ideas are at least making it to notes here and there, to be gathered when possible.
My work of release and healing began on April 1st, which corresponded with the beginning of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I decided to observe the writing expedition, and the poems so far document and explore this inviting of rapid progress. For now, I am calling the collection-in-progress Cord-Cutting. I am remembering my love for language and my openness to love.
April 1, 2011
Cheese and Buttons
Phone number paper scrap
Cheese and old buttons tooth-scraped pithless orange peel
think they have won the war by a show of sheer numbers.
I am no suburbanite in hipster camouflage,
not as lost in the details as the inanimates think I look.
The carnelian in my belly
Glows out beyond the fuzzy edges, my skin.
I remember lost chips among the ticket stubs and dishes,
regain them in bursts of confident orange.
April 2, 2011
The Other Side of Chaos
On the other side of chaos the vines grow all through winter.
Ensnared by one foot, caught before struggle,
it is easy to wonder how many years
of vines alone would erase all evidence.
There are stacks of board games
for the loneliest trek
of Monopoly or Clue in a crowd.
The everyday staircase
is worthy of a panic display
And the bathtub, of quiet avoidance.
Fear of stairs and water
cannot stop the spring.
Silence is kept at bay
With fluorescent light and Headline News.
No wonder the ones who whisper stories at night
bring Pride parade molesters
and dismal surgeons unexpected from the basement.
On the other side of chaos,
tired bones still arrive hopeful.
There is breakfast.
Cream of Wheat and honey
And time today to start again.
April 3, 2011
Nervous stomach knows more
Than any other part still reasoning
Cord-cutting is a business of releasing
lead from soft muscle
What falls away might land hard
If you don’t get out of the way
Lead into gold, an old goal
And a good one
Cord-cutting, with breath and vision and incantation and
Ghost whisperer’s kinder, gentler “Get the fuck out.”
Lead falls from soft muscle
Lead into gold, coins
Tonight, to spend alone
April 4, 2011
Welcome Home, He Said
Babylon Sisters shake
Any other day, ambrosia,
Today, comfort like salt substitute
Ultra-smooth sound food,
Alone can be poems, mead, meditation, resolution
Alone can be mute, horny, & patternless
For a Brian Wilson descent
One first needs brilliance
My dull non-response to evening
Gets a break, caught
In a basket of Earth, Wind, & Fire
Seven more pages and love lost
Sorted and filed today
A meal of figs and seltzer
May be Charlie Parker chill
Or hanging on the words
Of the audiophile who will send XTC
Could be the firefly spark
Of it all reimagined
Alone can be mute, horny, & patternless
a grand welcoming home
April 5, 2011
When I meet my lovers on the edge of the brown clay shore
I will join a circle, not a crowd
The river will carry its weight in lotus blessings
And the trodden park grass will know the sound
Of three or four or five hands clasped
In holy union
The sun will warm our skin to its most sacred state
Beneath sari or skirt or handsome butch pressed slacks
The sun will reach skin that knows
Our bare feet will thank between-toes pebbles for being
And there will be a noisy picnic in the next grove over
With a swing set I would jump on were I not taking vows
When I meet my lovers by the oaks and pines
It will be summer and the air will smell of ginger and sweet tomatoes
Charcoal and soccer and the purple petals strewn on every blanket
I will look out and believe in the power of colorful friends
I will become a partner and believe in the power of confidence
Stillness will multiply ninefold and there will be a kiss and a kiss
and a kiss and a kiss and a kiss