Adventures du jour! (May 2, 2023)

Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play…Ray’s new hair…Sarasota birthday jaunt

I don’t know where to start, which is a good sign that I need to dump a bunch of tangled thoughts. I tried to keep this organized at least somewhat, but toward the end it gets very long and thinky. I needed to write it, though, so I’mma leave it.


–Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play.

–Ray’s new hair with Katelyn Marie

–Birthday (49)/day where gods can’t see me, with outing to Sarasota’s Save Our Seabirds and Mote Aquarium, with mango key lime pie (Publix) and zombies.


Ray and I went to Josephine, a play about Josephine Baker starring Tymisha Harris. If you need to have the awesomeness of Josephine Baker explained, you’ll have to look elsewhere. As a famous man once said, “Let me explain…no, it is too much. Let me sum up.” Even summing up is too much. Josephine Baker was a woman of divine flaws, the sort of person the gods–tiring of perfection–fall in love with. And Ms. Harris does her justice.

No curtain, just the open stage with a bunch of props, including the famous banana belt. A microphone, a chair, a dressing screen, a few other things, and Tymisha Harris. And a small band, although she hardly needed it.

Ray and I sat at a cafe-style table next to a Black couple; one of them, Deena, volunteers at the Straz and was “taking the night off” to see Josephine. Deena told us an impressive number of things, including the fact that she’d always been so chatty, and the only thing her teachers had found to keep her quiet in school was letting her sell pens and pencils and notebook paper before class. They let her keep half the money IF she also wouldn’t talk in class; she is now an accountant. And volunteer.

I went to talk to Ms. Harris after the play to tell her how much I liked it (she was sitting on the edge of the stage and taking pictures with people), but right before I went up she broke out in tears, overwhelmed at something one of the other people said. So I faded out. I think she knows how wonderful the play is, anyway.

New hair:

Ray has had serious issues with hair for a long time; I’ll leave it at that. The fact that she allows our hairdresser, Katelyn, to touch her hair at all is amazing. That she goes back every six weeks and looks forward to it, volunteers to undergo time-consuming experiments, and chats with Katelyn every time–it melts me.

I can’t say enough about how comfortable Katelyn is around people. If there were enough of her to go around, I’d drop a couple of her in your area and say, “Go, go!” to all my neurodivergent lovelies. She knows how to provide care, if that makes sense.

Ray got her hair done in this AMAZING combo of purple, magenta, and orange that is just a joy to look at. Ray says she feels awesome with it. She’s glowing. As she got out of the stylist chair, she said, “I got *all* the head pets today.” I teared up a little.

When she was little, you couldn’t pry her away from people. People were her lovies. Any age, anybody. Then school happened and she shut down for a long time, internally terrified and torturing herself for not fitting in or really understanding the various flavors of bullshit going on around her. She’s blossoming now, at college and with friends and–getting her hair done. And she’s slowly learning to trust people and relax around them again.

These small shifts seem seismic to me.

After hair, we went out to Torchy’s Tacos, the new one in St. Pete. It was good. Solid. The atmosphere was off, though, and felt more like a Chipotle’s than the one in Littleton we were used to–too much daylight, not enough shadowy booths with curved seats. We ate outside, just stuffed ourselves.

It wasn’t perfect. But it was good.

Birthday/day gods can’t see me:

So if you’ve known me for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about days where the gods can’t see me; I take off one day a quarter to do planning and reflection tasks without worrying about the future, what is wise, or what anyone else thinks. I take down a bunch of internal defenses and limitations and let myself approach the world a little more openly than normal. If you gave me some kind of psychological survey those days, I’d probably come up as being sweet but more or less detached from reality on multiple levels. And yet the things I decide on these days tend to stick. I usually do these around the pagan cross-quarter holidays. My last one was on Groundhog Day.

Last time, I was pondering choices, trying to figure out whether I had made the right decision on a few things (particularly around writing). I cried myself out last time; it turned out I was still hung up on ideas around “how my life is supposed to go.” Like my life was supposed to have a plot outline or something. I think I let most of that go last time.

This time, I wasn’t really sure what I had to think about. I just knew that my subconscious was impatient to get started. I’ve been struggling to type and talk straight over the last few days. My thoughts are scrambled. I kept having to go, “Sorry, sorry,” to people as my mental leaps overtook my ability to communicate. Intuitive leaps yes; logic, no.

–On top of that, I’ve never really been excited about birthdays. As a kid my hopes were always high–for what, looking back, must have been a vain hope of being the center of attention for once–but never paid off. Being with the ex was worse; he would go out of his way to sabotage anything resembling happiness (usually by fucking up something financially). I had *one* good birthday around him, that was mainly due to the fact that I engineered it to be all about him. 2020 was a miserable year, and the bubble of illusions surrounding the relationship popped a few days after my birthday. (Tomorrow’s “bubble-pop day,” year three.)

So every year I got in the habit of buying my own secret or not-so-secret presents, quietly figuring out how to take time for myself, and expecting nothing from anyone else. The one time I had a birthday party that was actually about me, it was a surprise! Not the gathering itself, which was a scheduled smallish writer-group meeting (Tesla) at a Mexican restaurant, but the fact that Barbara Buffington bought me a CAKE and told everyone. I wanted to cry. I was ecstatic. It was wonderful.

Since leaving the ex, I’ve been getting better at birthdays. This year I did a theater thing, a personal spoilage thing (I got my hair cut too; it’s back to full-on floof and Ray laughed at it this morning–Bonnie Tyler level floof), and an exploring/nature thing. I spent money on myself, on doing what I wanted. I took time off. I didn’t let anyone else pressure me into doing something I didn’t want, or not doing something I wanted. I didn’t let anyone make me feel bad for inconveniencing them. I let myself be greedy. And then not feel bad about it. It’s taken a lot of work to get this far.

Sarasota stuff:

I got into town fine, then realized it was eleven thirty and there probably wouldn’t be much to eat out at the bird sanctuary, so I decided to stop early to eat.

I stopped early, all right, but at a curio shoppe, a place called Byron’s Curios. Byron looked to be about eighty and followed me around to talk to me as I looked at things. I had a flash of annoyance but gave up on it: if there’s a day when treating things as more important than people is a sin, it’s the day when you take down all your internal defenses and let the world just happen to you. In short I let him talk my ear off.

Among other things, he told me that he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t have the shop. Then he backed off and said he would have a different location. But I heard it right the first time. The place was his passion, or rather hunting beautiful antiques and making sure they found a home was his passion. Making connections with people, using things. A lovely way to live, even if he was kind of a smug brat about it!

He had two Chihuahua dogs the size, shape, and color of banana bread, and one of them finally let me pet him, doing the thing that cats and small dogs do, to ooze under your fingers until you hit the right spot.

I picked up an Art Deco resin statuette, a “victory”-type female figure with her arms upraised. It was appropriately, but kindly, priced, and I carried it rather smugly to the car.

Then I drove around with the GPS off, looking for a place to eat (it was a touristy area), got lost, turned around, got lost again, looked up, and saw an Indian buffet. I could not have picked a more self-indulgent place to go, barring some kind of upscale foodie place that wouldn’t open until five in the afternoon.–The kind where people look at the menu and go, “People EAT that?” But those places are few and far between. Indian food = MWAH.

Afterwards, I successfully made it to the Save Our Seabirds bird sanctuary, which is a place that Jamie Ferguson recommended to me when she first heard I was moving to Florida.

It is full of birds who are injured to the point of not being releasable. It’s a small place, but I stayed there as long as I could stand being out in the sun, because the birds were so friendly. At zoos, birds are often overstimulated, I think, and out of spoons for hanging out with humans. The ones here are bored and chatty, for the most part. A few of them were sad and stressed out, poor babies. I spent a long time chatting with a cockatiel who wanted to show me his entire cage, and his shy friend who wasn’t as chatty but still followed us both around and stared at me. I loved it.

When I got done, I went across the street to the Mote Aquarium. I hadn’t really noticed that it was there until after I got done with the birds: I went, “Hey, interesting buildings, wonder what those are?” and didn’t read a word on the signs. Got out of the bird sanctuary, went, “OH THAT’S AN AQUAAAARIUM,” and went in.

It’s a very good aquarium, and I plan to take Ray there sometime. She loves jellyfish and BOY HOWDY are these the best jellies I’ve seen for a while.

I talked to a docent at the shark tank about the sharks and the sardines in the tank, about what a lovely day it was; I talked to another docent near the giant turtles about my shoes, the rainbow Keens (she needed to tell me she was a colorful person). I sat down in a quiet back nook and wrote a poem, then read it out loud and recorded it. It’s been a while since I’ve read out loud, other than reading jokes off Facebook to Ray; it went better than I expected.

I was thinking about a few things as I wrote, including meeting a friend in Clearwater on the beach a while ago and talking about mermaids, and about a group of friends in college that used to walk down to the Missouri River after dark. Sometimes skinny dipping, if it was warm enough. If you’ve heard me talk about the big friend group, that’s them. It’s been a long time since I’ve been the person who went out to the river like that.–I *think* that’s what I was thinking about yesterday, about the person I used to be versus who I am now. Another friend recently led me to a song on the same subject, and I’ve been listening to a song titled “Who Are You Really” song off and on for weeks. I’m pretty sure the subject of the self has been on my mind.

How much of that old version of me is left?

None, I would have said a year ago. Everything changes, you can’t turn back time, no sense in trying to regain what is lost.

And those things are true, but may also be the things you tell yourself when you don’t want to face the alternative, mostly because it’s too much work and isn’t guaranteed any kind of success anyway. You’re going to get hurt, even if things go well.

I think what I’m trying to tell myself of late–what my subconscious is trying to tell my conscious mind–is that, while that version of myself is gone, so are a lot of other versions of myself, and I’ve managed to pick up most of the pieces that I found valuable before. So why not the versions that I had back then, before I was with the ex? In that breath of fresh air between my mom and my ex, there were *such* adventures.

That version of me is gone, lost to the hundreds of little “resets” that I’ve experienced to my personality, the feeling that I’m an AI that’s been shut down and rebooted overnight. (It often happens when my brain is overfilled and I have to either grow or fail.) Every time I start over, I have to do the hard work of picking up the pieces and putting everything in its place: *here* is how to speak in words, *here* is my name, *here* is how to see things as an artist, *here* is how to channel music so I don’t trip over my feet. *Here* are my memories. And so on.

Why not pick up the pieces that I lost *then* and see what still fits?–I’ve already been doing this. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself for whatever reason.

At any rate, by the time I got done with the poem and the aquarium, I was exhausted. I went back out to the car, drank a Gatorade and ate half a bag of pickle chips (I planned ahead for being sweated out, good thing too), then drove back.

On the way back, I kept seeing flashes of my feet in the bay. My subconscious often gives me flashes of stuff that I’m supposed to do. I can resist but it’s usually pointless. I pulled off at the rest area off the Skyway bridge and walked into the water.

As I did, I realized I wasn’t done yet.–The people I’m worried about hadn’t been woven in. I sent them prayers, which came down to:

walk thou too,

into these waters and then out again,

leaving behind other people’s garments

so only thy chosen self remains.

I suppose we’re all kind of having to learn, lately, how to build and participate in chosen families, which may or may not include our blood relations.

Who loves you? Who drains you dry? Who brings out your belly laughs, your unfiltered giggles? Who helps you bury the bodies? Whose affection always comes with a price? Who is always waiting for you to make the first move? Who is telling you that meeting you halfway is a burden to them, a sacrifice? Who tells you that you shouldn’t do that, you’re not good at it? Who tells you how good you are, without adding “to me” at the end of the sentence? Who do you wrap your spirit around?

But maybe we don’t just need to identify our chosen families. We may need to learn, too, how to embrace our chosen selves and not the ones that we got dressed in, way back when. Or that are still being shoved down our throats now.

–Huh. A phrase from yesterday that kept floating up was “Take it off and throw it in the fire, you won’t need it anymore.” A line from Sandman by Neil Gaiman, about Red Riding Hood (who subsequently gets eaten by the wolf). Not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

At home, Ray made me grilled cheese sammitches and tomato soup (with curry spices and honey), and we ate mango key lime pie from Publix, one of my favorite things lately for sweets. Then we played zombies (Left4Dead2) and didn’t die.

A good day.

I’ve been catching up on posting videos to YouTube, mostly thoughts about the creative life and process, but also the poem referred to in the post.

Here’s the channel:

Here’s the poem:

Here’s one of the better jellyfish photos:


And here’s a Midjourney roll for “a day when the gods can’t see me.”

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