two-step

Going salsa dancing sans partner usually involves me standing in a corner, nursing a glass of top-shelf water in between dancing with men at least twice my age, who have zero concept of personal space, or alternatively, with boys who smell overpoweringly of thyme and superbly make zero eye contact during the entirety of a 6-minute number.

But I keep going because the music moves me. Because I feel alive. Because I can laugh at my taking the cues that weren’t given, and my partner laughs at his stumbling feet. I am far less self-conscious, or feel the sense of incompetency, when I move to something bigger than me. When it empties me out and fills me over the brim.

Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet.

Camille Paglia

I went to the Viennese waltz hosted by the Duke Woodwind orchestra for this year’s Valentine’s day, and my escort readily agreed to go even though he knew nothing of ballroom dancing. I thought him incredibly brave, because most guys shrivel from the prospect of being on the dance floor having no idea what’s going on.

Things have been pretty rough lately. I’ve stopped writing, made little time to read, dance, or even make music. And my spirit is dry: I have been losing who I am to be more acceptable in someone else’s book. And the harder I tried the more brittle I became: tired and small. I’ve forgotten–or at least neglected–the machinery that makes me tick and tried to re-vamp the entire system to please others who cannot be pleased. And the harder I tried the more vehement the accusations became.

I know I am imperfect. But no one should have to be perfect in order to be loved and accepted. And I only have one of me.

Writing after a hiatus is kind of like using a leg that’s been in a cast. Awkward and floppy and lacking all neuromuscular coordination. The sentences buckle when I put weight on it. Reflexive twitching of quasimodo thoughts. But writing helps me think and waters my spirit and word by word I walk back toward God. A funny two-step.

A dance of one in body. Two in Spirit.

on dying

Last Thursday, May 2nd, I took the cat in to have her teeth cleaned since her bad breath has reached biohazard level. Any time we have a vet visit I feel like I’m subjecting her to systematic torture, like enrolling children in Russian ballet training. The vet called me in the middle of the morning while the cat was under anesthesia: three of her back teeth were loose and she had swelling in her gums. They recommended removing her loose teeth and getting X-rays to assess the extent of the issue. While removing her loose teeth the vet found dead and blackened tissue and sprawling tumors on her gums, and the jawbone and tooth sockets where her loose teeth had been have eroded away.

The biopsy came back yesterday. Squamous cell carcinoma. Invasive.

When I got the call while she was still in surgery I started to Google oral squamous cell carcinoma, then stopped because I couldn’t remove myself from it all and say objectively, yes, prognosis is 30-90 days of survival time, and yes, invasive OSCC will metastasize quickly. Yes, she will die, and very soon.

It’s a strange thing to watch someone die, even if she’s a cat.

I forced myself to work through last Thursday on auto-pilot, then took her home and cried, through her post-surgery stupor and lack of appetite, and I cried harder when she perked up and came to cuddle with me because I knew how much I will miss her love. How much I will miss her.

But I am glad that she doesn’t understand the mental duress of having cancer and perhaps only feels that her jaw hurts, and I am glad there are drugs to alleviate her physical pain. Meanwhile I am the one having episodic mental breakdowns and getting incrementally psychotic and asking all the Why’s and How’s and What If’s. But better I than she. And I am glad that I get to say goodbye.

Even though I am horrible at it.

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Two Majesties

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Two Majesties