Just beneath the surface of normal

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There’s a Tribe For Everyone

Last Friday night, for the fourth week in a row, Corinne and I went to belly dance class. It’s not for performance, and it’s definitely not pretty; it’s just a group of women who wanted to learn to dance and enjoy fitness when it’s getting together and trying to make their bodies follow directions for 90 minutes a week. Mostly it’s fine, because there are no mirrors so we don’t have to look at ourselves, thus never knowing whether we actually manage to look graceful or like robots trying to move around on a single wheel. It’s probably for the best.

Me belly dancing. Only with a lot more belly and a whole lot less balance.

But sometimes you just know that you look absurd. There’s no question, because your body knows the movements from elsewhere.

Take, for example, doing hip circles while walking. Hip circles by themselves are fine; I know how to hula hoop and it’s a pretty comfortable motion. Walking I’ve been doing for the better part of forty years, though admittedly there are days when I forget how, or else some days the floor becomes particularly aggressive. Together? I recognized the move immediately:

Me bellydancing

Hip circles + walking + arms up = zombie. Look, he even has those graceful belly dance arms down better than I do.
(credit: Shambling Zombie by Jim Pavelec)

Like most things that cross my mind randomly, I said it out loud, and within minutes we were planning a troupe dance with full undead costume. Nobody else in the room is particularly enamored with the zombie craze either (personally I agree with Chomsky), but you have to admit: dressing like zombies in coin belts makes all the newbie woodenness look totally intentional.

You know you’re with the right group when instead of rolling their eyes and wishing you’d shut the hell up, your classmates up the ante and suggest a public display of this absurdity. Is it any wonder I look forward to Fridays so much?

[I swear this is not a non-sequitur] So there’s this thing I’ve noticed with middle-school aged kids: when they do something unexpected and funny and you laugh, they will proceed to try to do it again and again, looking for the same response they got the first (and maybe the second) time. After awhile it just gets annoying and you sort of wrestle with whether or not to shatter their fragile self-esteem by explaining that once is funny, but ninety times is seriously fucking annoying. This is me. I never entirely grew out of it. If I can get one laugh, I can certainly get more. I don’t usually grasp the concept of quitting while I’m ahead — at least not in time.

Which is how I found myself talking about vibrators in belly dance class.

I swear, it was totally germane to the conversation. See, one of the women has a boyfriend who is a massage therapist, which of course inspired envy in everyone else in the room, especially the one whose husband can’t figure out where to rub even if she’s pointing directly at it.

Which led ME to say, “which makes you the only person on the planet who uses the Hitachi Magic Wand for its intended purpose.”

See? Totally relevant.

But then I imagined being the teacher and dealing with someone who has to say something silly every two minutes, and giggles whenever she makes a mistake (by which I mean both me and our teacher) and I think that I would drive me up a fucking wall. Which, in truth, I often do. And the rest of the class was spent with me wondering why I ever open my big mouth at all, and whether Corinne was embarrassed (hard to tell standing behind her), and focusing on trying not to be intrusive for the rest of class.

After class, I approached our teacher and just straight up told her: “Look, if I talk too much or joke too much or am in any way obnoxious? Please just say so. I don’t want to disrupt the class. Sometimes these things just pop into my head and slip out before I can think about it. But my self-censor does take requests.”

Luckily she’s got a good sense of humor and insisted that she appreciates my little remarks because they make class fun. Corinne likewise swears she wasn’t embarrassed, which pretty much makes her the only almost-seventeen-year-old in the universe who isn’t embarrassed by her mother.

Uncensored weirdness AND complete acceptance. Am I lucky or what?

My tribe

There are no photos of my own not-really-a-troupe, but I found this online because evidently zombie belly dance isn’t an original idea. Which actually says a lot about how awesome the world is and probably gets me off the hook for actually having to create a costume or something. Point is: as alone as you may feel, there is always someone out there as awesomely odd as you in exactly the same way. Usually more than one. (photo credit:

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DST Should Probably Wear a Cup

If Daylight Savings Time were a person, I would kick him repeatedly in the balls. I don’t know why I think DST is a guy, except that it was totally designed by men and exactly the kind of coercive fuck-over is very reminiscent of some of my poorer young adult choices. “C’mon, babe, it’s just an hour – what harm would a little hour do? You’re not a prude are you?” See? DST is totally a douche.

I’m not exactly the kind of person who condones gratuitous irritation-based violence, either. I have studiously avoided the whole “makes me stabby/want to punch ___ in the face/etc” meme that won’t die. Eight years of therapy has me all seeking to understand like a graduate of the Ivan Pavlov Institute for the Harmlessly Insane. And yet, there is no bell loud enough to keep me from actively and violently hating the week after our clocks are randomly shifted in either direction. People didn’t talk this way when there were still violent cartoons. Thanks a lot, Children’s Television Act.

My entire ability to act as a functional member of society is predicated on carefully moderated routines regarding bedtime and wake-up-time and light therapy and medication and eating. In one fell swoop the whole thing comes crashing down and I’m essentially jetlagged for a whole damn week (I’m horrid with jetlag – inevitably I adjust to the new time the day before it’s time to go home).

This past Sunday was especially crappy because Jim has pneumonia – well, technically it’s almost-pneumonia, but that’s too complicated and everyone’s so sympathetic when I just say “pneumonia” so I may have just discovered the magic word for martyrs. Anyway, he’s been all coughs and moans since like Friday and I’ve been fetching 90,000 cups of tea and delivering food in bed and picking up lozenges at the store, etc. So last weekend was kind of the weekend that wasn’t. Which is fine, it’s not his fault (though we did have to cancel my fancy birthday dinner, about which I think I’m being a remarkably good sport, though I’m pretty sure Jim is still testing his tea for poison just in case). And for the record? I totally told him it wasn’t Whooping Cough.

Anyway, so I was already exhausted on Sunday. Monday I staggered into work like a hung-over junkie. I don’t actually remember what happened, it was a mostly haze of intravenous tea and whining and a supremely awkward and territorial interdepartmental meeting (WTF is it with universities and territoriality?).


“No, Bob, you listen to ME!”      —       Actually both of you can listen to me, because you know what? We’re bureaucrats. And not even important ones. If ever there was a group of people who belonged on Golgafrincham Ark Ship B, it would be us. How ’bout instead we work together for the greater good and celebrate the outrageously good pay & benefits we get for what is ultimately a ridiculously low-pressure job?

Afterward, there were naps, in direct and gleeful defiance of my doctor’s orders. Yesterday was only slightly better (mostly due to the lack of meetings), and I only thank my lucky stars that I got to use Jim’s pneumonia to get out of going to Secretary at the PTA meeting.

Today I was pretty sure was going to be better. It’s in the 60’s and gorgeous and I decided to wear a skirt. I miss skirts – and there’s only a short window when they’re enjoyable to wear, because once it gets hot then there’s thigh chafing unless you wear pantyhose or those spanx shorts things, which nobody wants to do because a) pinchy! and b) sweaty. Do you think antiperspirant would work on inner thighs?

Wait, you know what? Forget I just said that.

But so I was all ready to be springy and pretty and un-chafy today, and I had a delightfully temperate stroll from the train to my office. At my desk, I went to change from my walking shoes into my little black ballet flats when I made the sort of discovery that causes tight zooms and tense music in horror movies: no flats in the bag. Evidently in my Spring-Ahead-induced fog, I somehow forgot to put them into the bag despite having had them in my hands right before I left. It’s like a lost moment in time where anything could have happened. I guess I should be glad it was just vanishing shoes.

Which means I spent my day wearing a skirt and sneakers, like an old commuter.

skirt & sneaks

Skirt & sneakers: even less of a chance of becoming a trend than Panty Hats.

On the bright side, one of our student workers was having a really bad day. To cheer her up, I got up from my desk and showed her my outfit. She laughed for a full minute, y’all.

So see? Looking like a dork is a public service. I am truly a woman of the people.

Joke’s on you, Daylight Savings Time. The week’s not over, though, so I wouldn’t take off that cup just yet.