The storm blustered from the south last night, a hard balmy storm that made the windchimes ring, waves of wind buffeting the houses and trees, making the lights flicker so I lit candles in each room. We could hear the gusts howl and moan over the rooftops and whistle in the branches and this morning saw the detritus on the ground.

At three in the morning the devil took his chariot for a ride, rumbled across the dark sky in a fast charge, and then unleashed the rain which came pounding in great sheets on the roof, rapping against the southern windows.

The storm blew itself out with the rising sun, streaking the wet clouds pink and orange, the light rosy through the fading cat-whiskery rain. The sun shines now, making shadows with the trees, a bright break in the grey clouds.

The river rolls high.

Jeong-A kicks ass. Literally.


"Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da; three three seven, walk with it, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven; left-and-right, left-and-right, left-and-right-and-left-and-right."

The feet keep the eight count beat in a simple march tempo, left, right, left, right, the zills ring with a different rhythm, small brass cymbals strapped to middle fingers & thumbs, hips draped with coins and beads swaying with each little step, a constant drum beating an ancient rhyme.

We walked in a circle, sidestepped, turned directions, walked back to our starting point, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven.

My Belle & her tall lovely friend Elle came to class last night and it was nice to see them both. Belle has cut her hair & dyed it some flaming orange color. When I first met her it was black underneath and some wicked dark burgundy on top, and thick and long. Her natural color is dirty blond, but after knowing her four years I can't imagine her with normal looking hair at all. She wears silver jewelry. A lot of silver jewelry. I had forgotten about her beautiful cheekbones and green eyes.

Elle had her wild black mane tamed into two braided pigtails but soft escaped wisps brushed against her forehead and neck. They often pass for sisters, although where Elle is long and lean, Belle is petite and voluptuous, and they don't look much alike except for similar facial expressions often acquired by people who spend a lot of time together.

Belle was my first dance partner, and I love dancing with her. We're very empathic towards eachother, & although my arms & legs are longer we're essentially the same size & our bodies move in very complimentary ways to eachother.

Elle is a foot taller than either of us & with her hair unbound looks like a banshee, a lush large mouth and an incredible long lithe body. The sort of girl who stops traffic. The three of us together all dressed in black was delightful to see, and I would love to work on a dance with the two of them. One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven. Powerful numbers.

After class we exchanged hugs & made arrangements for meeting on Sunday, & Elle insisted on driving me to my car even though it was less than a block away. I climbed into the backseat & Elle drove around the corner & parked behind my car. I squeezed Elle's hand & Belle leaned back between the seats with her lips all puckered so I kissed them, which made us both giggle. We're often very flirtatious with eachother & will cuddle & hug & I've kissed her cheek but never her lips. It was nice and I will have to do it again. It was comfortable, and although I hoped I didn't have stinky post-dancing breath I didn't worry about the meaning of the kiss beyond the fact that I adore her. Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da.


A flood warning was issued for the Willamette Valley. It's a slow steady rain, a soaking rain, the kind that drenches the ground and creeps up the walls of the house and up the bases of trees until everything is saturated. It's like bitterness, it slowly fills every empty place.

The pineapple express came breezing into town last night, a wet storm rising from the South. In the dusk when we were walking from the grocery store to the car S asked what was wrong because I was squinting, my face all pinched against the stinging droplets of rain that the swirling wind blew against my face. I pointed up at the clouds and told him, "Nothing." But it may be something. I've felt like something grey slowly approaches.

The temperature has held steady since last night, right around fifty degrees. Warm rain melts the snow, and there is a lot of snow in the mountains. It melts blue and rushes in a cascading torrent down the rivers and rills, providing the name for the mountains.

The Willamette Valley lies between the Coast Range mountains and the Cascades, and the Willamette River rolls north from its mountain tributaries. As it travels north it is joined by hundreds of rivers and creeks the length of the valley, until it reaches Portland, where it runs into the massive Columbia River and heads to the Pacific.

Some years the river jumps its big banks, a muddy and dangerous occurrence. I hope this is not the year when all the little river towns long the valley watch the water rise with dread. I hope the rain stops soon.


The words don't always come easily or quickly.

The words fly away like the hundreds of blackbirds in the elm trees that were shaped like tall severe wine glasses, branches draped above our first home next to the slough between the corn and the rice fields. I didn't notice the birds until they flew away, such were their voices and such are words.

Small, chattering, and when they fly there is a great rush of tiny black wings and then deafening silence.

I'm listening.
Once years ago at the large animal veterinary hospital where I worked as the receptionist, animal handler, and lab technician, I had a woman come into the office requesting an appointment to receive shipping papers. This wasn't an unusual request; we often provided papers for horses and cattle and sheep to ship across state lines.

The woman was quite the sight, dressed in tight black clothes that puckered around the lines of her bra, bulges of her body straining against the clothing that was just a little too tight, slicked-back black hair bleached red on the ends, nails long and purple, rings on every finger, gold bangle bracelets and a big watch. She also had about twenty fine gold chains of different lengths dangling pendants between her ample breasts, little gold charms of roosters and pot leafs and the number 4 and a cat, and I didn't want to stare but I wanted to see them all.

She wanted shipping papers for Mexico, she said, and I asked which animal and since I hadn't seen her before asked if she were a client, she said roosters and no, which made my job easier because the practice worked only with livestock mammals. Horses, cattle, llamas, goats, sheep, pigs. No chickens. No fowl of any kind.

She asked how could she ship these animals through California to Mexico, she needs papers for them. They're fighting cocks, she said with a touch of pride, and California has strict rules about that.

Sorry, no chickens.

And then I felt a sense of responsibility, because I recommended she take them to the clinic in town that does treat birds, and maybe even chickens. The Cat and Bird Clinic, downtown, in the big old Victorian. The place that treats parrots and Persians, and the staff that would surely be appalled by the mere mention of the word "fighting cocks." When I got home and related the incident to S he laughed hard and said I was funny. In truth, I was just trying to help, I swear.


The waves churned so hard against the rocks they looked like milk, and the foamy spindrift flew over the tidepools. It was incredible to see the setting sun's light backlighting the wave crests, water shining like jade and saphire and iolite. The storm fronts marched up and over the beach, headed inland, pausing to unleash the torrent of water from their pregnant dark bellies in order to make it over the headland, which rises straight up from the sea in a sheer cliff nearly one thousand feet tall. Trees grow stunted and braced against the wind on Cape Perpetua.


Sun and brilliant light shines on my cheeks, the air is cold and I think of you while the river churns green below me. The cottonwoods are up to their knees in the water, bare except for pale yellow catkins in tufts at the ends of branches.

You came running and laughing away with me, our mouths open and smiling and we run hand in hand. Here we are, on the verge of getting our second wind but still miles to go, and I know even some of it will be uphill and in the rain, but we can pause here to reflect and catch our breath with the sunlight on our hair. Last year was the hardest, not because of us but because of our circumstances. It was a steep and rocky ascent and we failed to make the summit, but we're both stronger and wiser now. I can trace a thumbnail sketch on the smooth metal rail that spans the river, my toes sticking out over the rushing deep cold water.

I never thought I'd be married. I never thought I'd be married seven years. People warn us, say, "Uh-oh! The seven year itch!" but they told us the first year was the hardest and then they told us the third year would be hard and then they warned the fifth year would make it or break it and we have gone rushing through, not something carried by the water but the water itself. I can feel you, I can hear you, I can see and touch and taste you and you're miles from me right now. If we are made by the memories we keep then I am in love with you, because I can still feel the press of your body and the lemon and clove scent of you with my back to the refigerator, your breath on my cheek and your strong hands in comfortable places and then the train came pounding and whistling in the dusk, twenty feet from the paper thin walls of your kitchen in the little cabin behind the tattoo parlor on our second date and I knew I'd spend my life with you.

What is this thing, this comfort, this stability and strength, this clarity, hope, and desire? I do not doubt it is that elusive and fragile thing called love. Seven years doesn't seem long at all. We have been and gone so many places, changed our shapes and continue to match eachother, burn eachother, the electricity between us almost visible, a tangible thing.

I am interested to find out what will happen in the next seven years, my love. The water rolls clear and deep, a rushing shush and a subterranean roar, constant and far to travel.

Last night we had two journalists and Anne Tyler's nephew eat the most incredible chicken enchiladas & chile rellenos S made at our house, & in no time they all discovered Chicago and New York in common. These are places I haven't been, but my Mom is from Chicago and still has that big city sharpness about her I can't quite touch. It was interesting to hear the city creep back into their voices, a rawness, an edge, something hard like pavement as they talked of rats and sewer steam and subways and muggings and bars and brawls and made much use of the word "fucking" as an adjective.

Rana & LT live in the steep hills south of town, & when we had the ice storm two weeks ago they were stuck. LT said he found it amusing to toss an ice cube out the front window, hear it skitter down the steep embankment they call a front yard, down their driveway, and then down the steep street, everything coated in two inches of ice. B said it was the worst storm he'd been in, simply because the town was unprepared for such weather. Nobody even owns a snow shovel.

The tall and lovely Rana, with her butterscotch voice, who collects macabre stories often envolving legal issues, told of an event she covered that cold icy day, when a man on the next street south of theirs fell and impaled himself through the thigh and abdomen on 2 feet of unguarded rebar in a building site. In shock, he stood up. She said she arrived about the same time as the monstrous reticulated firetruck, huge tires chained and grinding for traction into the ice on the narrow steep street. The firemen had to improvise with a pulley and a basket to get the man up the hillside. Rana said nobody knew his name other than that he was "Bob the Digger," which I guess is how we all got those family names in the first place. She said the worst thing about what she does is letting the story go; sometimes it remains unwritten, and often unfinished.

The conversation rolled around, and through constant vigilance S made sure nobody's wine glass was empty. We talked about the ladybug swarms in late summer; the first time I experienced it I was happy about it, the small red good-omen bugs were all over the outside walls of the house, and flying around in a great cloud of benevolent charm. I had gone outside because I'd never seen such a thing before (other than a swarm of bees five years ago, and they had gone bustling over my head as I ducked beneath a bush in the garden). Soon I had about a hundred little beetles on my arms and legs, in my hair, on my back. It was summertime, and hot and sunny, and I was perspiring slightly so when they started biting me I didn't notice, but within a matter of minutes I realized my mistake in cavorting with the little carnivorous beetles with jaws and claws. Or, as Rana growled with indignation last night, "Ooh I hate them! Ladybugs are fuckin fucks!"

We had a good time last night and I even managed to get to bed at a reasonable time, which pleases me greatly.

Tomorrow after teaching my dance class S & I are headed to the beach to celebrate our anniversary. There's a winter storm warning for the weekend & the hotel overlooks a small inlet where the waves churn and crash white against the black rocks. It promises to be delightful.


Ladies, walk like you are moving through waist-deep water, through wet sand, walk like you are Aphrodite with pearls in her hair and eyes that can see into the hearts of others and love them still. Walk strong, like the woman of the mountain with her silver hunting hounds at her heels, balanced and poised and lifted and the energy flows into you from the ground.

Make a statement with your body because it is the only thing you have, the one thing that truly is yours, and there is no such thing as too short or too scrawny or too fat or funny shaped or ugly; wrinkles are the marks of travail and sunshine, scars are proof of life, stretch marks are maps of love, and callouses are hard work done well. You are beautiful. Breathe.

Be advised, ladies, that it is all in your eyes and your hearts, and the energy dissipates only if you forget about it. Remember too, that the body is a shape, and the most pleasing shapes are curves, whether they are big or small, whether it is that curve of the neck between your head and shoulder, the curve of your wrist and fingers, the curve that runs from the base of your ribs in towards your waist and back out over your hip. Some curves are secret, and deserve to be seen only by those who love you. Some curves are begging to be seen.

All curves move, and this is the magic and energy from within, your breath, your life, your soul. Take a quick breath and notice the depression where your neck and your shoulders meet, there in the center, the supra-sternal fossa, shaped deftly as by a thumb print in clay. With a fingertip feel the pulse of your heart, the blood that travels circular and continuous because all things want to be round, the yin and yang, pearls from the sea, the earth, the curves of your body.


I had to write back to my Momma. An exerpt from the incredibly long email she sent me today:

"... but my brain was on hold all weekend. I know. I can blame it on the Krispy Kreme donuts daddy said he needed Sat am! We just had a donut orgy and this whole weekend he slept many hours..."

Momma retired this last year & Dad's retiring the next. I hope they don't get fat...


Thursday night we heard the Grasshopper band play some very cool music at Luna. It was quite a night; Tebone busted a guitar string and JJ cracked her voice and a paper fell in front of the bass guitar's amp and popped and crackled but as always it was a great show. JJ looked like the moon goddess seated on her stool, dark eyes and high cheekbones and effortles voice in the pale blue lighting. I could look at her and our eyes met and she asked me later if I knew what she was thinking and I said yes.

After work on Friday I got drunk and don't recall much at all but I know about midnight S decided to play his violin, some wild-sounding old songs.

Saturday morning I woke up and drove to the dance studio feeling shaky and with the sunlight too bright hurting my eyes regretting that third bottle we had opened. I unlocked the door & turned off the alarm, made my way up the stairs. The stark dance floor glared at me in the light from the windows and I thought Oh my aching head, but I turned on the music and moved around, stretched, relaxed, and by the time the ladies arrived, ready to move. We did a lot of things strangely familiar and altogether foreign, stretching, working our shoulders and hips and arms and legs. They were panting and concentrating, learning the way the body can move, remembering how to be flexible, finding muscles they didn't know existed. It was a fun two hours and I forgot completely about my hangover.

After class I got my hair cut. I hate getting my hair cut, and do it once every six months. I think it's about the same as the dentist, and the beauticians always say "Oh what beautiful hair," and then later joke, "So you're sure you wanted this all cut off?" Ha ha ha, yeah and you wanted the back of my hand, bitch. S got gold stars because he noticed I had... done... ?something different, and when I told him I had it trimmed by four inches he expressed appropriate appreciation and disbelief that it could still be so long. All the better to grab, he said. Oh yes.

Sunday morning we visited JJ & Tebone, who cooked an amazing breakfast and went with us on a hike along the river and to the top of the butte. We watched the clouds swirling around the hills on the other side of town and down below in the river bottom. The river is high and looks like blued steel, hard and cold and smooth. The woods we walked through smelled fresh and clean, sweet and crisp. We were all pink-cheeked and our breath came in plumes in the damp cool air. At the top of the hill we sat in the brief sunlight and talked about annoying songs that get stuck in our heads and B sang "Saturday in the Park" so I cursed at him and he laughed. S sang his "Ring of Fire" to trump all. The walk home was warm and easy despite the mist.

In the afternoon I met five other ladies at Miss Lola's house because she has a dance studio in her garage, and we took turns leading the group. We're putting together a dance troupe, no leader but democratic and drawing straws. It was thrilling to see all the ladies I've known for three years now working together, not in a class, but as a group. The level of communication we've reached already is amazing, and we are all very supportive of eachother. I love having them all to bounce around ideas, answer questions, puzzle through problems. We get stuff done, too. It wasn't all fun and games, but at the same time that's exactly what it is. As always after time spent dancing, I drove home feeling slightly hypnotized.

On Monday, to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, S & I walked in the park with the dogs. We ended up gleaning the wood from a cedar tree branch that had fallen during the snow and ice storm two weeks ago. He chopped it up for kindling and brought some inside to make the whole house smells like cedar. We talked about civil rights and liberties and police records with B, whose legs were aching. He said the methadone stays in the bones, and even though it's been a year they still hurt. He's starting to look healthy, he's gotten over his bronchitis and has gained weight, but he's still painfully thin and I suppose he'll always have that hollow and darker look about him, along with the long scars that travel the length of his arms. He spends a lot of time on the couch, reading and petting the big orange grub S calls his cat, who is only too happy to have company.

It was a busy weekend, a weekend of fun and consideration, time for laughter and wine and breathing cold winter air. I don't recall all the details but they fit within the hours and minutes of the day like sand between stones on the beach, grains neither important nor unimportant but missed when the waves churn or the wind blows them away.

I have been delving deep, finding some hidden treasures, muddying the water. There are many stories to tell, and I find myself in a quandary about what and why. I talked about the past and about sleeping dogs and about holding onto memories like touchstones with my girl JJ as we walked beneath the branches of cedar trees in the muffled woods on the north side of the hill. I told her some thoughts and some of the things I have changed in my life. This LICK magazine intrigues me like an accident, like someone missing a pinky finger, like a scar. What's the story there? What demons my memory holds in check. What memories are my own, not to be shared.


Sex McGinty kindly displays some of my artwork.


When I got home last night S informed me we had no wine, and it was a near emergency since he had worked cleaning the garage all day. And since it was dance class night for me, and we were headed out for necessities anyway, S recommended we stop at the fish market next to the grocery store. Sure, I said, let's try it.

It was dreadful.

The man behind the counter with the enormous brow and tiny little eyes shook his head and blinked and whistled through his teeth as he tried to find the appropriate keys on the register screen. He ogled at me and frowned at S and made a huge deal about the twenty dollar bill I gave him to pay for our hot fried shrimp.

We sat near the door and found ourselves overpowered by the horrific pop music, cheesy synthesizers and Paula Abdul with her raspy voice that could etch glass screeching about wanting to get married. We didn't speak but ate as fast as we could and then ran to the car, where we finally vented about our mistake in restaurants, but at least it was inexpensive. And then S poked me in the leg and said, "That was your boyfriend in there." I growled at him and he said, "Yeah, you know you like him." When I swatted his knee he laughed and apologized for teasing me.

We bought two bottles of Syrah, which S informs me is one of the oldest type of grape. I like the dark color, close to garnet, and the sweetness that lingers on my tongue. When we got home we had some wine, mostly to assist in the digestion of the fried shrimp that had been strangely uniform in size and shape. Then I dressed all in black dance clothes, grabbed a coin belt and my zills, and headed to class through the light drizzle of rain.

Any doubts I may have had concerning the woman who took over my dance instructor's class were dismissed last night. She's wonderful, sassy, sexy, and very knowledgable. H & I were the only two students who showed up for class, which meant a semi-private instruction, and I enjoyed it. We worked on posture and stretching out our hips and waist, looked at the curves of our bodies as we undulated, focused on the curve of the hips and where the neck meets the shoulders, rolled our hips around in figure eights, and I felt great although I barely broke a sweat. It was play, not the workout to which I'm accustomed, but that's just fine.

We also looked at arms and hands, at grace, at positions, and she talked about energy and chakra and paintings and sculptures of anitiquity, Aphrodite, Cleopatra, Shiva. She's an older woman and I was ready to dislike her because she can be brassy, and she's still a bombshell and knows it, got the va-va-voom going on, but she's telling us her secrets, how to walk like you're in wet sand, let the hips settle a little, how to roll the shoulder back and then step, graceful and with intent. The grace comes from strength, from a long strong spine, from the hips solidly beneath the body and the center of balance.

I learned a lot, and was still buzzing with thoughts of dance and motion when I returned home to find S in a comedic discussion with B, who is staying with us indefinitely. Usually their conversations are political and all-consuming and they'll discuss the problems of the world, find the common threads, make suppositions, inform each other of books and theories and controvery and conspiracy and generally I stay out of it.

But last night the fires were burning and conversation rolled towards ridiculousness, Kermit the Frog, Madonna, and Britney Spears' initials. We came up with two reality tv shows, and since none of us watches television we all thought they sounded truly hilarious: "Your Elected Official On LSD," and, "The Osmonds vs. the Osbornes." And S quoted me again, from a ridiculous night with my girl R, on how laughter is better than a bag over your head.

If you're hyperventilating, I meant to say.


I love the rain. The river is a milky jade green from all the snow that's melting in the mountains. The water is pretty and deceptive, it looks smooth as stone but it is deep and treacherous. Places along the river where in the summertime there are white rapids are now churning ridges of water, like ocean waves that hold constant.

I walked over the bridge and could feel the massive thrumming rush of water against the steel supports and girders. The water is high against the bank, and halfway submerged riverside trees stand bare and slumbering, scratchy branches dark against the lavender sky that is now fading to dusk. I can feel miniscule saturating droplets falling from the luminous clouds.

I think I might try writing a murder mystery.
The 12 pound splitting maul swings so gracefully in his hands I never think about the weight of it until he begins the descent of the arc and with a thick whump the big wedge of steel lodges itself into a chunk of fir as tall as my knee and big enough around for us both to have a seat.

Three summers ago he sold firewood that he had split, nearly fifteen cords of wood that took him four months working every day to split and stack and shuffle, and his neck and back and chest and shoulders turned into those of a bull. He is frighteningly accurate with swinging heavy things.

He knocks the handle sideways and it doesn't budge so he reaches into the woodshed for the 8 pound sledge hammer. Again the arc, and again the descent, his strength aided by gravity, a clean swift motion and the black steel rings bright against steel, a spark, the maul head settles in an inch deeper.

He rises and falls, true each time, an eye and a motion and the wood creaks, cracks, groans and with four strokes, and on the fifth it splits wide open, cloven in two. The wood is pink inside, a stark contrast to the dull grey of the seasoned exterior, and the clean smell of fresh-cut fir permeates the air. He grins at me, his hair culry and wild in the cold damp air and sweat on his forehead and eyes all twinkly.


Last night I took a shower so steamy I couldn't see my feet. Twenty votive candles on the sink counter shimmered light through the dark damp hot air, reflecting against the mirror, tiny halos around each flame. The water absorbs me, cleanses me, drenches me and covers me in a constant rush. It swirls from my head to my shoulders, my chest to my belly, my back to my legs, down down down, drips from my eyelashes and chin, plasters my hair to my skin. It follows the path of least resistance, curls against my curves and finds intimate places before it rushes, hot and dispassionate, down the drain.

Bastitch cleans house.

Dr. Sex tackles a Clear Channel c-o-n-spiracy.

TRUE defines new artists.

Muscle 68 lives life and doesn't drink.

Kool Keith doesn't mow the lawn.

Fishfry buys a very cool poster.

Bobby has a life change.

And IDEA tells it sweetly.


Saturday morning the sun smashed through the grey clouds and slammed into the buildings, bright and blinding, every shade of yellow and gold and high wide blue refracted and magnified by the rain-slicked red brick buildings. The streets, wet with rain and melted snow, steamed in the sunlight. Clouds wisped high by the hills and the tall trees, and a fog belt hovered above the river bend to the north. Later in the day the smudging wall of grey came rolling over the rest of town, but in the morning the sun shone brilliant, reminding me of the possibility of spring and flowers.

I parked and walked three blocks to the dance studio, the sun on my face and the air crisp and cold. Five students would be attending, according to the roster I received, and I was nervous but also excited about all the possibilities. The dance studio is huge, and it's above a furniture store downtown. There are mirrors everywhere, and that smell of kung fu and ballet classes, dance shoes and sweat, dust and tinted windows, high ceilings and flourescent lights, the hum of the heater, and a giant poster of Bruce Lee watching our every move.

Ladies filtered in over the next half hour. One student has studied as long as I, but with a different instructor and after class I talked to her about whether she felt she could learn from me. She said she was excited about what she had learned, and would be sore in the morning, and that's a good thing.

I have four students who have taken some sort of dance class, mostly Middle Eastern dance, and they seemed to understand what I wanted them to do. This was something of a relief. It alleviates the challenge of all new, inexperienced students for me. It unfortunately also means they want to learn more before they're all ready to progress, but I think I'm better at holding the reins than applying the spurs.

There are two women who couldn't move their bodies to do what I was saying; one is extremely stiff and inflexible, the other looks like she could play ice hockey or kickbox. She wants to dance, my goodness she wants to dance. She was taking what I showed her and moving her body all around like a snake and I found myself saying, "Okay, we need to work on muscle isolation..." to no effect. She'll get it because she's a wiggle worm, and the other lady will get it once she learns how to move again. It's just a matter of time. Which is the thing I love about bellydance.

I love it like sunlight.

It's kicking my ass, and not in a good way.


In September the dawn comes roaring, full of blue and indicative of the ending summer. In June the dawn comes lazy like iced tea and lemon, singing birds and roses. In January the dawn comes creeping, a vague hint of light through the grey silk shroud that imperceptibly increases.

It's a pale light, a cool dull light, the sun barely filtering through the wisps of fog and tendrils of mist that rise from the ocean and creep along the rivers and hollows. Just when consciousness recognizes the apex of January light, the dusk comes smoothly and silently, darkening the world again.

Sometimes I think of the word "bleak," and other times "introspective," to define this month. It's like the wings of a moth.
Last night we went to a nightclub S decided was "overly swanky" although he was tickled by the black cushioned recessed booths and the little red star stamp on his hand. The band played better than I've heard in a while and I think we all fell in love a little with the beautiful woman who played her jangly saz and sang Turkish love songs. The place was packed & S ordered a bottle of house red & some tapas dishes, roast artichoke, pepitas, bread with tomato and mozzarella. I saw familiar smiles around the room and we shared our corner with Jesi & her folks, out celebrating her mom's birthday.

The first dancer hit the floor like a flame and flickered through the three songs played for her. I'd never seen her before but she was a vision in her red and orange beaded costume that matched her fiery mane of hair, pre-Raphaelite and pale, hands like graceful birds. Her skirt was a long flowing drape of wine-colored velvet that swirled and swayed with her movements and I caught exciting glimpses of her bare feet. She exited with grace and a kiss for the crowd and much applause.

My instructor danced next, as always with great drama and seduction, exquisite timing, beautiful expression. Her movements, always so controlled, leave only grace and beauty to accident. She commanded attention and filled the floor with her shimmying presence, doing best what she does best, matching the music to her soul and magnifying it with her physical being. She's also a huge flirt, and charmed us all with her wink and smile.

I love the part when she matches the drum beats with her hips, the taps, the booms, the rolls of fingers across the tabla drum's head and the roll of shimmying skin across her hips, the picture of stamina and embodiment of rhythm. She feigned looking at her watch, she pretended to mop her brow with her hand, she crossed her arms and cocked her head at the drummer, who also happens to be her husband, and she never stopped the shimmy. I love the playfulness with which she approaches the dance, and her sense of fun.

Tomorrow morning will find me with my own beginning bellydancing class; I feel some minor stress and a lot of excitement about this endeavor. Teaching will teach me much, I know. Driving to work this morning I considered my education and where I am now... if, after I received my English & linguistics degree, someone had told me I would attain the equivalent of a Master's in Middle Eastern dance I would have died laughing. But here I am, four years into it and beginning to teach. Strange how the world goes rolling. I hope I'm a good teacher. Wish me luck.


The little black bird has flown to Spain and the star heads to Egypt and I'm stuck here with these damned incontinent clouds.

I found a picture from my last day of hell aka high school. I was seated at a picnic table beneath a tree waiting for my friend. I had five trustworthy good friends in high school and the fellow who came and sat across from me was not counted among them. He was one of those guys who had peaked in looks and popularity in junior high; water polo player, track and field jock, super tan and he knew the grapevine had carried word of his big dick. I once sat behind him in a junior high history class and he would rub his finger behind his ear and then smell it. My most wicked girlfriend and I called him "Ear sniff" and he dated a cheerleader for a year and thought he was a chillin bad ass. I was not charmed.

He smiled his affected crooked grin at me and said "Hey cutie!" which aside from everything else, with my big ugly glasses, butched hair, combat boots, and suspenders was definitely not a compliment I appreciated.

Being the last day ever of high school, I had carried a small camera with me for photos I knew wouldn't be in the yearbook, and being pressed to make conversation I offered to take a picture of him even though it was not exactly a photo I wanted. He smiled his doofus grin & I took his photo, then he offered to take my photo as well. The look on my face in the photograph is one of utter boredom, and in my eyes, somewhere left of a smile, remains the look of disdain.

Last night's dance class was the last one with my instructor, mentor, friend. She is headed for Cairo, dusty days, long nights, dancing horses and night clubs and river boats on the Nile. She won't be back until March, and I will miss her terribly. The teacher who will substitute for her was in class last night. She's an older lady and has lots of personality and incredible stage presence but I feel like she's going to have to prove something to me. She kept up with the drills we did last night but I wasn't impressed with her form, and she even had the audacity to ask my instructor, in front of the class, some 30 women stretching and warming up, "Did you gain weight?" which I found inappropriate and bordering on rude. I don't expect her to be as kind a person or as good a teacher but I hope she at least can hold my interest until my instructor returns. I don't prefer to be so demanding but it happens sometimes.

I feel it coming through today, hard and dark like the shadow of a shotgun and I'm not tired but I can feel it. It's a sore spot a little lower than I like, left of center, left behind, left to my own sinister devices. I have many wonderful friends, but two of them are leaving this week for indeterminate time, to worlds unknown to me.


The ice clings so treacherous and glistening, like knife blades or razors, honed and sharpened by the rain. Yesterday we stoked up the fire in the woodstove and prayed for warmer weather or less precipitation.

I have seen freezing rain and an ice storm. It came in the night, sealing the world in a hard glassy shell, each individual twig on each individual branch, each rose hip, each pine needle, each wire and each grass stem that had managed to stand above the blanket of powdery snow were encased in clear frozen water. I felt an urge to suck on icicles, to stomp holes in the ice coating the snow covering the grass.

Never have I encountered the strange sensation of freezing rain. The temperature read 25* but it was raining, and as soon as the droplets hit the snow they crystallized into ice. A terrible combination, especially since the previous snow had been light and powdery, and the ice formed an inch-thick crust with a hollowness beneath it.

We have a house guest, and in a most good-natured way I'm blaming him for the inclement weather. He spent New Year's Eve with us and the following day we had four inches of snow.

B lived in the upstairs of the building we leased for the coffeehouse, & he & S engaged in wild long discussions about politics and religion. B moved away in June and we heard from him on occasion, but he fell out of contact until his girlfriend's mother called the day before Christmas & asked if we could put him up for a few days. In October he had contacted a crazy aunt and asked for help, and didn't know she was crazy or a scientologist who would essentially kidnap him and put him in a detox center somewhere in Oklahoma. In the detox center they tried to brainwash him but he said the framed pictures of "that fat freak cult leader" kept him grounded and despite the terrible food and psycho-bullshit babble and withdrawal sickness he managed to keep his head together.

His girlfriend's mom got him bus fare to Oregon, but because of the weather he got to stay in an unheated Red Cross shelter in Redding for two nights.

He slept for eighteen hours straight when he finally arrived. He's thin as a rail and has a rattling cough and big circles beneath his eyes but we're working on that. Eat, eat, S says. Have more, I says. He's healing.

The sun came brilliant this morning, shining through the spindles and spires of ice, glittering against the cold white slick of snow on rooftops and roads. Steam is rising from the storm drains and car hoods and tires leave wet tracks in the slush, but it is melting and the temperature is rising. The river is rising too, and if all this snow melts today then we'll have a problem of another sort, but for now the earth and trees are sighing with release from their icy encasement.


I have neither time nor inclination to put photos up on this weblog, but I just received pictures of my dance class dress rehearsal, and if anyone would like to take a peek at them please email me: sahaliefalling@yahoo.com

Hope everyone had as wonderful and relaxing a vacation as I did. We got snowed in and built a six foot snowman who later fell over on his head. I found it quite comical.

And I promise to write more, soon.