Tuesday, July 25, 2006

dang, this is a really long post

Contents of this post are, in order of presentation:
1) a fiber question
2) some dance photos
3) the second installment of the return to work saga (so stop after the dance photos if you aren't interested in more muck/emotional content)

The Fiber Question

I have some thrift store sweaters that I want to both dye and felt. My plan is to then cut them up into parts and start playing around with them.
Do I:
a) dye first, then felt?
b) felt first, then dye?
c) felt it as I'm dyeing it?

What would be most suited to my project would be to felt first, cut shapes out of the felt, then dye those in all sort of colors. More than likely, I'm using Kool-Aid, by the way. But I'm not sure how felt takes up dye. I'm a rookie. I've never felted and I've only dyed things a couple of times in my life.

Any thoughts?

The Dance Photos

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Sabah Ensemble...

So. There are two narratives that go along with these photos, the most important of which explains the reason for this dance.

Ten years ago, the Sabah Ensemble lost our beloved Eszike (pronounced like Jessica, without the J). It was a car accident, and it's unclear how it managed to actually take her life. There wasn't a lot of wreckage. Reports were that something inside the vehicle may have flown forward from the back seat of her car and struck her head in just the perfect spot for shutting her life down. It was quite a shock for all of us, as she was just embarking on some big life transitions and was full of excitement.

Eszike was one remarkable woman. Among her many talents, she was a dancer, musican, body worker, textile artist, creatrix extraordinaire, and all around Wild Woman (I mean that in the Goddess sense where being wild is good). Eszike touched so many people's lives so deeply that ten years after her passing people are still feeling called to create rituals in her rememberance. On June 1st (her birthday) some of her friends held a celebration and a sharing circle. The Sabah Ensemble concluded the evening with a bellydance in her honor. I just got these photos of the performance last week.
Eszike...love you and miss you!

The second narrative for this photo series is a technical one, in response to questions I am often asked about how I manage to bellydance on one leg. There are many ways to achieve success with physically integrated dance (dance that includes both able-bodied dancers and dancers with disabilities). One tool is to make use of level changes within the choreography. I can, and do, dance standing up. But if I decide to employ the use of floorwork, it may (or may not, depending on the piece) look out of place for me to be on the floor while everyone else is standing. One option is to play with level changes. If there is a multitude of level changes happening with all members of the troupe, the difference in level changes appears to be more part of the choreographic structure, and less borne out of the need to accommodate someone choosing to be on the floor. Even though it really IS borne out of the need. But tinkering with the way that need is fulfilled creates different effects.

This series of photos actually begins in the middle of the dance (no photos were taken of the first half for some reason). Our actual individual dance movements were completely improvised around the constructs of a set structure involving a plan for travelling though the space as well as our each having an opportunity to dance with Eszike's veil. The plan was that the piece would begin with us dancers sitting together on the floor as a group on one side of the sharing circle, directly across from an altar created for the evening's ritual. The structure was to travel in a straight line across the sharing circle towards the altar, stop mid-way at the center of the space to connect and create a standing circle together under the veil (the veil was brought into the center by the last dancer to ooze from the starting point). After connecting in the center, we would then travel out again from that circle in a straight line again towards the altar on the other side of the circle from where we had started. I think we practiced this maybe twice (we rock hahaha).

When the performance began, I was the first to travel out of our seated group and begin the line. I oozed (bellydance is oozy) out onto the floor using bellydance floorwork. I used floorwork also to travel towards the center circle, and then I stood up (this is where the photos begin).

I'm on the left of the group (see my nose and my belly and my left boobie?? hehe). Note the casually placed hand I have resting on the dancer to my left which was needed for stability because not only was I the first to take the veil, which is in my right hand, but we were also undulating and doing belly rolls. I went back down to the floor with the veil and had my time with it, and meanwhile the other dancers recreated the line outwards from center towards the altar. The veil was then passed down from dancer to dancer, each having their moment with it, until it reached it's resting place at the altar.

(thanks ladies for permission to post the photos)

The Muck/Emotional Content
(returning to work, part 2 of...who knows how many)

Alrighty. Before I launch into blogging and processing about my fears about returning to work, I feel like I need to give the background story about what my last job was, and more importantly, what it took for me to get there.

Right out of high school I took a job with the phone company. I held a few different positions during my 14 years there, all office jobs, beginning as a phone operator and ending as a marketing and sales specialist. Although working for the phone company was awesome for supporting the rest of my life (union pay, 5 weeks paid vacation, full benefits, reimbursement of college tuition, 401k, etc…), and although I was really good at my job. I hated it. Hated. It. The phone company is one very large, scripted and regulated place, and I felt like Robot #4852. I was unhappy with my job maybe 5 years into my 14 year stint there, but the job was so secure and I was so well compensated, I didn’t dare dream of quitting even though I was miserable. It took a long time for me to get burned out enough to quit, and it took even longer for me to then get the balls to do it.

Right before I quit the phone company, I took myself on an amazing, in depth, introspective process to explore what would truly make me happy to be doing as a career for the rest of my life. I had no belief in myself that I'd be able to do it once I figured out what it was, but I jumped in and looked inward anyhow to see if I had some sort of "calling". I read a couple of books by Barbara Sher around that time, “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was,” and “Wishcraft.” I was also working through Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way.”

Barbara Sher’s work was a real mind blower for me. Her suggestion is that you completely ditch your resume and list of job skills. You instead embark on these exercises where you look at what makes you really super happy to be doing just for fun. And I'm not sure if the instructions were to go all the way back to childhood and research what made you happy as a little kid, but that's what I did.

I always came up with cooking. More specifically, cooking for people. Looking at what always brought me the greatest joys of my life, it was always feeding people. I had lots of memories of being a young adult out in the world in her first apartments and having potluck parties on a more than regular basis. But my earliest fond memories of cooking were from about age 7 or 8 and playing “restaurant” with the babysitter. Menus, beautifully appointed tables, and all.

So figuring out my true joy in life was great information.
And I had no idea how to turn that into a career.
I had no skills or formal training.
Around that time I had a friend who catered weekend long workshops, so I helped her out a few times. There was also this woman in my spiritual group who was a career counselor...and in one hour she drew me a map that had me quitting my job the next day and starting a catering business. I freaked out and shoved it away in a drawer somewhere.

Not longer after, I quit the prison sentence at the phone company. But not to cook. To be a mom. It took me another 4 years or so and getting fed up in another corporate office job to get up the courage to make a move.

And I did it.

When I was in my mid-thirties I got a wild hair up my ass, quit my job, refinanced the house to pay for living expenses, and enrolled in a full-time two year culinary arts program.

School kicked my ass, and I kicked it right back. I was in school five days a week, some days starting at 6am to prep in the kitchen before classes…and some days I’d be in school as late as 10pm. I was also taking night classes about the management/business side of the house, completeing a Restaurant Management program at the same time as the Culinary Arts program. On most weekends I worked for a catering company, or working alongside an independent caterer friend of mine, and I also spent some time working the line in a Mediterranean restaurant.

While in school, I worked like a dog...but it wasn't hard because I was doing something I loved and absolutely could not believe I had allowed myself to pursue. I aced all of my classes (only got 1 “B” the whole program), and because I was so dedicated, I got sent out of the classroom for several bonus experiences. For a week I catered the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Monterey, I got to spend a week being an assistant to star chefs up at Napa’s CIA, I got to go to France for 2-1/2 weeks on a culinary exchange program, and many more things...too many to list.

Upon graduation, I immediately got a job working at Whole Foods Market as the Catering Director. I barely got up to speed in time for the holiday rush which was intense (understatement), and was happier than a pig in shit.

I did it.
I had arrived.

During my time at Whole Foods, I got a small promotion, a couple of raises, and was working myself onto a management track. That’s important in the food industry because being a chef is sort of like being a gymnast or an athlete. It’s physically grueling work. There were some days that I’d spend 10 hours or more on my feet and working with 35-50 pound quantities of food that needed to be moved contstantly. Burn out or injury is almost a given, and I wasn't going to end up there. I was moving forwards and upwards, baby.

The accident happened about 9 months after I had started my dream job (which was also about 2 weeks or so after qualifying for health benefits there--thank god). Like I said, at least I don't have to live with the sadness about never having accomplished my goals (thank you god for that, too).

Now don't start going on and on about the fact I can return to my chosen profession...I already know I can. But the thing I need to ask myself is: what that is going to look like? Because I assure you, it is NOT going to look like standing on my feet for 10 hours a day and carrying 35-50 lb boxes. And the other questions is...do I really want to return to that profession. I've got some ideas that maybe there is something more suited to me out there, and maybe it's linked to my pineapple-upside-down-cake turn of life events.

This is just some background for you…next post is how that all relates to needing to figure out what job to do next.

Thank you all for your comments...you guys are great...I'll address some of them as I go (like what is up with my arm and surgery and how that all factors in, too).


strangelittlemama said...

hmmmm, I will give this some thought and see if my mind comes up with a brilliant job idea for you. I was just starting to plan my move away FROM the food & bev industry when life got in the way a little bit, as you know.
Love the dance pictures.

Mouse said...

gorgeous dance photos!

Anonymous said...

Wow. This being the anniversary of the death by freak car accident of a woman so important to you at such a similar stage in her life as you were when you had your own accident must really be playing a big part in what you are going through emotionally at this time, especially with all that's been going on with your dancing life. I send you a big hug, even if it makes you queasy. (Suck it up, girl. You're getting hugged. Deal with it.)

As for your career, of course, I can't wait to hear your ideas, but really I think you should be a celebrity chef. You clearly have the performer's personality. Instead of the Galloping Gourmet (remember him?), you could be the Hopping Gourmet, or something that sounds a hell of a lot better than that which I can't think of right now.

I think you should talk to your local PBS station about this. Really. Not joking.

JohnK said...

What a post.

Dyeing the thrift store stuff. I would dye first then felt. The thrift store stuff might not be the best felting material. It has probably been washed a lot (I hope).

Thanks for the photos.

Career, yeah, celebrity chef.