For someone who starts worrying about winter in September, obsessing over how I’m going to get through four months of cold weather without getting depressed or having cabin fever, I have to say that so far it’s been an interesting winter. I guess the tremendous excitement and anticipation of the inauguration carried most of us through the end of last year through late January. And the inauguration definitely surpassed my expectations.
As far as what President Obama is going to do for the four years, I guess we’re just going to have to see how it goes. I’m not going to judge his administration for at least twelve months. (Although according to Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times today, this stimulus package he and the Republicans in Congress have bargained over is not going to be effective at all.)
In spite of that – besides enjoying the snowstorms and the warm days (which we may be experiencing this entire week) – I’ve been busy having some interesting adventures. I spent one full day working on a documentary that a friend of mine is directing about envy. She asked Matt Hoverman, my monologue coach, to bring together a group of performers he’s worked with, to create a ninety section monologue about some experience they’ve had with envy in their life. We developed the pieces with a partner (I was lucky to work with Matt’s wife Katie, who is a wonderful actor and writer), and then we all performed them for the camera and each other. It was challenging and fun. And painful. Who wants to look at envy? Who doesn’t experience it? As a friend of mine said, when I told her what we were doing, “I feel envy almost every day.”
And then the following night, a group of women I met during my Mama Gena experience all came together to take a dance class with a guy named Alex Tschassov, who moved here from Russia seventeen years ago and was in the film “Mad Hot Ballroom.” (Which was about the young kids from NYC who study ballroom dance in their schools.) He and his wife Sally taught thirty-five of us, all standing in a large circle, the basic steps for several dances: the meringue, the waltz, the fox trot, tango, salsa. And then we had a gorgeous demonstration by the most beautiful young couple who dance together professionally and are also a couple. They were amazing. Then Alex brought in ten male dancers and for an hour, so we each had an opportunity to practice all the dances we learned.
What I learned was that I was great at the meringue, which simply requires moving one’s hips and taking small steps to the side. No problem. Loved it. But all the basic steps I could easily do while standing in the circle, were much more difficult when someone was leading me. Especially the salsa, which was too fast and I had a really hard time keeping up. The dancer we all liked best was a small, dark haired young man named Xavier from Bolivia. Whenever we danced with Xavier, it seemed easier to follow. It’s my job to call Xavier and see if we can get some more lessons from him.
This past weekend I went on a winter retreat to Connecticut with my Unity gang, and that was great. We stay in West Cornwall, at the Trinity Conference Center, which sits along the banks of the Housatonic River. We did a lot of meditation, talking, writing, and eating. It was perfect! For exercise, I walked in the woods and played ping pong with my friend, Helene. I hadn’t had any sugar for about a month before I went on the retreat, so I allowed myself dessert at every meal and every break. I think I’ve had enough and I’ll be heading to the gym this morning.
On the way home, about ten of us were waiting for the train, and someone asked a woman named Sheila Barash (who I’ve known a bit for over two years) where she grew up. She said, “Long Island.” And I was immediately curious, since I grew up on Long Island.
“Old Bethpage, Plainview, that area.”
“That’s where I grew up. Where did you go to high school?”
“John F. Kennedy High.”
“That’s where I went to school!” Sheila graduated a year ahead of me and we knew all the same people. And now I am convinced that I have early Alzheimers, but since she didn’t remember me either, what difference does it make? Coincidentally, half my high school discovered me on Facebook last week, so it’s been rather intense, catching up with people in cyberspace and now in person.
When I returned last night I emailed my old boyfriend Warren, who had a band in high school called “The Lost Chords” that I know Sheila. He said, “She was the Grace Slick of our high school.” I have heard Sheila sing recently and she still has a beautiful voice.
So after all those adventures I’m happy to be home, except now I have to work on gathering all my tax information.
I think I’ll call Xavier.