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Zombie Run

There are a lot of things I could focus on today – the hearings in the Supreme Court these past two days and the movement toward marriage equality – all of the emotions brought up by a very moving Passover Seder I attended last night –  I have all manner of business and personal work competing for time.  Of course I do have my attentions on these things, in reasonable measure, but what am I really determined to buckle down and tackle today?  The Zombie Apocalypse.

On April 7th, I’ll be up bright and early in FDR Park, where a toxic spill will begin the city’s descent into chaos.  If I were an unsuspecting person attempting to run a regular old 5k, I’d be in for a big surprise. Apparently, zombies will start the chase after the first kilometer, liquid vaccinations will fail, and we’ll all run for our lives through a military zone thick with creatures back from the grave and up to no good at all.  Luckily, there’s a Quarantine Party at the end for everyone, whether you make it through “dead” or alive.  I’m definitely getting psyched for, and a little nervous about The Zombie Run.

This time last year, I decided to take on a sprint triathlon with my friend LauraLynn Jansen who was training in Panama City, FL.  We formed a small support group and scheduled phone conversations to stay motivated and to learn about things we could do to best prepare for the swim-bike-run.  I wound up deciding the trip to Florida wasn’t the best for me at the time, but that I’d stay with the two-month training, find the best places for me to do the distances, and complete it on the same day and time as the official event.  It was intense and exhilarating, and I found myself enjoying running more than I’d ever imagined.

The inconvenient trip to FL was my stated reason for not attending the actual race. In truth, I was pretty intimidated by the thought of racing against other people. I am way into fitness and pushing on towards personal best, but not so much the competition. Yes, I did hear all the anecdotes about how so many other people do it all in fun.  I guess I just wasn’t ready.  Apparently, I’ve discovered what will get me over my exercise self-consciousness.  Just add zombies!  I’ll be running away from the undead while trying to prevent them from popping my (optional) latex-free “life-balloon.” Why worry about looking silly?  If I’m going to take comfort in fitting in, I’ll do it with flair.

I have to admit, I don’t really get the fascination with zombies. I am a geek about other things to be sure.  I guess I’m zombie-curious.  My old friend Betty definitely gets it. I may ask her for advice, as my knowledge of zombie culture is shaky.  So I’m kick-starting my workouts, and I’ll run as a participant, but also an observer and journalist. Who are the people who are drawn to dress up in torn clothes, blood, and decay?  Who are the ones, like me, who’d rather run through the craziness and stay relatively unscathed? So far it’s about the theater of the absurd for me – and basically, if it involves costumes, I’ll probably like it.

I am looking forward to writing about my workouts and my experience of the event.  Fitness, health, and the creative spark are still incredibly fused within me.  I keep searching for the coming out party for the next burst of inspiration, songs, and newness – The undercurrent of excitement I have about The Zombie Run hints it could be the thing.

I’ve started working on getting faster, training on the street and treadmill, alternating with speed walking, exercise bike, and yoga.  Two Saturdays ago, I took on my first outdoor 5k of the season.  40 minutes 6 seconds.  Yikes. I’ll have to do better than that if I want to survive.

Philadelphia is only the first city to be affected by the zombie problem. They’ll apparently be visiting a lot of other cities across the U.S. this year if you want to join the fun.

Still dizzy after the sprint triathlon, 4-28-12

Still dizzy after the sprint triathlon, 4-28-12

www.robinrenee.com

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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.

I’d been searching for a while for a succinct way to describe the essence of this blog, when I mentioned it to my friend Bill Lutz (author of The Shark Tank).  Personal impressions, contemplations, general stuff of life, and of course, the music is its vehicle, but it needs to speak to all those who travel the in-betweens – those not necessarily gay or straight, black or white, of one particular gender – those who skate easily through spiritual paths and feel integrated through the journey.  I talked for a while about life other than the culture of either/or.  Bill cut to the center of my concepts with “Welcome to Tweenerworld.”  I like it.  I think this recasting of “tweener” could be to blended and both/and culture what queer is to the growing alphabet soup of alternative sexualities.  The Dream Between may have a moving target of a tagline for a while and might not really use “Tweenerworld,” but I have to thank Bill for getting to the point.  Not a bad summation.

Sara Parks of Great Balancing Act (“It’s no secret I love that band”) recently posted a Facebook status regarding feminine hygiene and caught some flak from guys who thought it was not only TMI, but actually inappropriate.  In response I was duly inspired to show my support for frank conversation and the demystification of women’s (and everybody’s) bodies by reporting this “tweener” moment:

So there I am at the routine gynecologist appointment last month.  The nurse practitioner goes through the basic questions.  No new medications, no surgeries, nothing particularly new happening.  Breast exam.  No problems indicated.  I mention that as a matter of routine I like to have all the STI tests.  She makes a mental note to send me down the hall for blood work.  Then she asks me to lie back for the rest of the exam.  Just when the speculum hits, I look up and see a picture taped to the ceiling.  It is someone who looks very much like this guy:

 

 

What the heck?  I was stuck in a processing loop.  I can at least now begin to sort out what was wrong with that picture.

Here are a few of the assumptions in operation:  It assumed that the woman having the exam is straight.  It assumed that this particular masculine expression is a universal turn-on to women.  It assumed that the woman having the exam is uncomfortable with the exam and in need of a distraction.  It assumed that nudity and genital touch in a clinical context is conflated with erotic or sexual feelings.

All I could think, after the disconcertion brain delay, was – Wait, why did you think I wanted to see that guy?  Was I supposed to be having a sexual moment?  Personally, I had been feeling neither nervous nor sexual about having a PAP smear.

I get the humor.  At least I think whoever decorated that office figured a hunk on the ceiling would be funny.  The surrealist in me finds it more and more amusing.

It also tells me that they weren’t expecting me in that office.  No one imagined a queer-identified bi woman who prefers feminine to androgynous or interestingly gender blended people.  No one imagined a person who prefers not to be asked psychologically to feel aroused in the middle of a simple exam.  It was invisibility in living color.

Being one who naturally falls on the in betweens means it’s rarely ever you who people expect to show up.  They’ve mostly prepared a place for someone else.  But surfing through and between the spaces where others see hard lines drawn is a sweet, layered source of creativity and the place where I find the deepest expressions of love.  I would never trade it.

It has been unbelievably quiet here.  I am not complaining.  Mornings begin around dawn and I land my butt on the meditation cushion before the monkey mind gets too busy.  Exercise has been mostly swimming and yoga, though I hope my body will like the weight training once again before too long.  My body has reflected the break from health and happiness I took this summer.  It feels good to be back, present, and ready to rock, as it were. 

 My personal ashram is coming along nicely.  Oppressing myself with ultra strict time constraints has not felt useful.  The intention is what’s important, and that is sticking.  I am awake hours earlier.  I find center.  I work with diligence and new shows for 2011 are beginning to get booked, which promotes a sense of accomplishment that keeps an entrepreneur going. 

I open up time to clean and organize.  It is hard to explain how a freshly polished dresser in the bathroom (“The Amber Lounge,” as I like to call it) that was once my Grandmother’s translates to a mind at ease, but it does just that.  Seeing that the basement will soon be ready to receive much-needed repainting is exciting. 

 I have been eating moderately and well, loving cooking once again.  I tend not to cook when I am living in a space that is somehow energetically off.  Rediscovering the process and simple enjoyment of making fresh, vegetarian meals is one joy of no-housemates that I had forgotten would re-emerge.  In the evenings, I’ve been making sure there is leisure time.  I mostly catch up with my friend Brian, and I’ve been reading the brilliant book by Heidi Durrow, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.”  Heidi Durrow along with Fanchen Cox are the hosts of Mixed Chicks Chat, a podcast where I have found an emotional home and sense of cultural identity in so many ways.  Lights out has been purposeful and a bit earlier on its own accord.  No more falling asleep trying to make one more connection or watch one more thing on You Tube.  There is a tomorrow for that. 

 All this personal ashraming is absolutely positive.  I am also aware of it as a state of preparation.  The mind is rediscovering focus for the pursuit of spiritual awareness and wisdom.  The stability of quiet joy that is emerging will be the bedrock that allows the new songs to come through – the ones that hold all the anger and feelings of loss that I’ve been avoiding.  I am preparing for the inevitable birth of those, and the light that comes after. 

 I am preparing for family.  What I said about the wighead knowing more about her family than I do is true.  She is certain that she wants the man and the woman who she loves to form a poly triad.  I would love such a scenario, though the partners are not evident.  For me, three doesn’t have to be the magic number.  All need not be lovers.  All need not live together.  I do believe that my friend Brian is one of us. 

The polyamorous family of my dreams has an unequivocal heart connection.  We are friends and partners who know in our deepest selves that love and freedom are not incongruent.  Queerness and gender fluidity weave a wide swath of our tapestry.  We explore the divine, creativity, and intellect.  We give each other space.  We have each others’ backs.          

Last Samhain, a woman who came to my ritual asked me if I wanted a family.  I didn’t have a short answer for her, sensing her likely cavalcade of assumptions.  Yes, I really do want a family.  And today, I am enjoying incredible near silence. 

 How will I find enough singlehood and enough togetherness?  It is one of my lifelong quests to find and stay in this balance.  The living room will soon ring with my current favorite sound of OM.  Today, I am happy and serene.  There is no need to chase after answers.

Meditation is a practice of remembering.  It is taking the time to sit still and get quiet enough to have the memory of peace.  We all have it.  True peace rests waiting in the center of our beings.  I picture the quiet, expressive eyes of a gentle child watching all the bustling and working and posturing and passion that whizzes constantly in circles.  Peace just watches and waits.  Waiting, tranquil enough for the world to stop spinning is good practice, but sometimes more is necessary.  Sometimes taking it back—active reclaiming—is the essential next step.

On Monday, November 29th I took my annual silent retreat.  It is a midnight to midnight time for no speaking, no music, no news, no flashing screens.  Entering into the cone of silence is walking full aware into the echoing voices. When you get quiet, which voices echo for you?  Mine tell me about how I ought to be so much more efficient.  They worry about the winter heat bill.  They ask me if I’m crazy.  They wonder if I’ll ever be worthy of love.  They show me pictures and sing me snippets from the vast and ridiculous catalog of rock, folk, new wave, and punk that lives in my head.  Then they quiet down.  Gratitude and meditation happen.  I notice the warmth in my room created by altar candles.  The touch of the air on my arms and chest feels so much more physical than in the chattering times.   

The only word I’ve been able to come up with to adequately describe the silence, once it really settles in, is delicious.  It gets easier each time to enter into silence, and if it weren’t for outside demands clamoring to get in, I could let it go for days.  There may have been moments of delicious this time, but that was not mostly the case.  This was a difficult silence.  I did not have the usual tools to stuff down what had been circling in — nervous tears and caged-animal uncertainty.

My friend Elisa once said “Whenever I come to your house, I feel like I did yoga.”  I loved that observation.  That was the problem.  My home had lost its yoga and it needs it back.  In the midst of the erratic every day, I was forgetting the essential yoga in my being.  Showing up again on the zafu to sit still more and more often is a first step.  I have discovered that the Universe is fond of placing obstacles in the way of those who ought not to forget to meditate. 

I have other more physical actions in motion:  changing the current living situation, managing and releasing old family items, honoring my need to be free of disarray.  Depression had its hooks in deep this summer, and I am letting go of punishing myself by lack of exercise and stupid food.  It’s back to Ballys for me, and I love it.  I will chant and play guitar and boogie oogie oogie openly in the living room again.  It doesn’t always take a seismic shift to take back what you need.  Sometimes we dwell just a half step to one side of our essentials.        

At the Integral Yoga Institute holiday party in Princeton this Saturday, Jayadeva told the crowd that we are never alone.  If we are all One and all Love, how can we ever be abandoned?  I wonder if I made my cameo at their Holiday Hoopla just to hear that message.   It was another moment of returning focus. 

There has been chaos in my household over these past few months, but that will be changing.  I am taking back the yoga.  The Christmas cactus by the kitchen door is blooming right on schedule.

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