Thursday, August 30, 2007

on housing

I officially have a place to live for a few months. I move in over the weekend. This means I won't be living out of a bag, and I can take everything out of my car!!! I'm thrilled.

In other news, I read my first western, The Quick and the Dead by Louis L'Amour, and I loved it. I will definitely be reading more. Also, I'm going to try to take some pictures of the area this weekend, so I can post them. Oh, and I had the best biscuits and gravy EVER yesterday. Who'd have thought they would know how to make biscuits and gravy out here? I could have banked on the south for that one. Otherwise, I'm eating too much junk food and not dancing nearly enough. I'm hoping I can change all that once I'm moved. My prospects in Portland are looking clearer and clearer. I finally feel like I have a solid goal that is not only practical and economical but also feeds the fire that burns deep inside. I can see myself getting pretty comfortable over the next year... not too comfortable, never fear, because we all know the danger in that.

I broke open a fortune cookie tonight that read, "you will soon get unexpected support." I hope it's true.

Mad love from your one and only cowgirl,
Leslie

Monday, August 27, 2007

on everything

Perhaps there's a whole lot to learn here. Perhaps I came here with the wrong attitude. Who knows.

Turns out the room I thought I was going to be moving into in two days fell through. The renter and I had already signed papers, and made a verbal agreement about my getting that room, but she called me this morning to inform me that she'd given it to another person. Just like that, in spite of everything, she just gave it to someone else with no warning. The least she could have done was let me know she was entertaining other possibilities and that it wasn't guaranteed, but she didn't even do me that courtesy. Thus, I wasted four days that I could have spent looking for a place to live. Such is life, right? I learned my lesson, though: do not trust someone's words. So that leads me back to square one where my life's belongings will remain in my car and I will continue to be a squatter for an undisclosed amount of time. Helas. I'm trying to be positive, here.

In other news I did enjoy several things this weekend. On Friday night I went to a local DJ show at Northern Exposure here in Ogden. I must say these guys were very talented, and I thoroughly enjoyed the music. Lots of people were dancing. At first, it was a little bit annoying because some girls were booty dancing to drum and bass (a bizarre combination at best), but later some b boys hopped on the floor and my eyes were in heaven. I tried to soak up a few moves because I really want to learn to break dance. One guy was doing the liquid thing with such grace, I couldn't stop staring. Anyway I made it onto the floor myself toward the end and tried to experiment with some break moves (none of them on the ground, mind you). Besides the several guys who asked to grind on me (at least they asked), I had a blast. I used some of the breaky moves that I learned from German belly dance superstar Leyla Jouvana, and they were a big hit. Furthermore, my bracelets were glowing in the blacklight to my immense amusement. Saturday, I went to fetish night at Area 51 in SLC. The entire experience was better than when I went to Goth night previously, in terms of music and set-up. Both dance floors were devoted to darker industrial beats, and tons of people were dressed creatively AND dancing. I was able to dance long enough to have to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, but the stomach ache I'd been nursing all night was irritated by the RIDICULOUS amount of cigarette smoke wafting through the club. I have to complain about this because it's not fair. I don't care if people smoke or not, but I don't, and I don't think I should have to breathe it... specifically indoors.... in a DANCE club. Don't you need lung capacity in order to dance? I do, and I find that I cannot dance for a long period of time out here because my eyes start itching, and I start feeling nauseated and unable to breathe. I was annoyed, and I left early. Too bad, so sad. I'm hoping to find some place that at least has a smoking section separate from the dance floor. Wish me luck.

I go to my hip hop class tomorrow night, so there's something to look forward to. Also, I'm trying to find a tribal fusion teacher close by, but so far the only classes offered are traditional belly dance. I might try it out, if only to improve my technique.

Furthermore, I'm looking for a second job. I have absolutely nothing to do with my time. I spent all day yesterday in bed, and I realize I can use that time to be productive and at least bring myself closer to realizing my goals. Ideally I'd want to snag a part-time job at Michael's or Jo-Ann in order to get the discount on costuming supplies and art stuff. We'll see.

It strikes me that this entry has a certain negativity that I don't want to perpetuate, so I'll leave you with this: Confucius say: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Namaste

Friday, August 24, 2007

on the prowl

Well, I have officially found a job and hopefully a room, but still no luck on the really great dance party. I started working on Tuesday at.... none other than.... The UPS Store. I hope this brings as many chuckles to some of you as it does to me. I thought I was finished with that place! There were a lot of positions for Preschool teachers and nannies here, but I was really hesitant to even consider any of them because I know my time here is very limited. I am still having serious struggles with being so far from the beautiful children who made my life so bright while I was in MA. There is a huge gaping hole in my being where those greasy little fingers used to cling on to me. I am so grateful that I was able to experience the love of so many children, and able to give back to them in my own way. I don't think I could handle tearing myself away from more kids in a few months. I opted to stay away from teaching and child care while here because I don't want to get attached again and have to leave so soon. What does that leave for me? An office job or retail (ideally I would have liked to find a position as a cowgirl on a ranch, but let's be practical). I defaulted to my 6 years experience at the UPS Store, and alas, I got a job in less than an hour with the pay I was asking. I believe the owner called me a 'God Send.' So be it. I'm highly entertained with this job. It's interesting because I have worked at four UPS Stores now, all at very different places in life. My attitude now is so very different from every before that I find I'm getting a lot out of the retail world. Nothing really stresses me out at all, and I find it easy to engage with people (which is one thing I missed about teaching- random interactions with random people). Needless to say, it works for now.

As for a room, I've been on the hunt, but people either want a small fortune for a room or they want you to be LDS (Latter Day Saints). Today, however, I found the ideal location and as soon as my background check clears (you all know what a villain I am), I'll be able to move in. This is vital to my well being. I cannot wait to have a space of my own again. It's big enough to dance in!!! I'm ecstatic to say the least.

At first I was feeling a lot like I was just biding my time until I could make it on over to Portland/Seattle. That's certainly my plan: to save money and move there as soon as possible, BUT I'm coming to the realization that there's no space in life where you are just waiting because everything has value independent of every other thing. I'm trying to absorb every detail of my experience here because it has a lot to teach me. Being in unfamiliar circumstances, far away from the people who know you the best will do a number on your sense of self. I can honestly say, however, that I'm happy because I am in a position where anything is possible. It's difficult for me to express what I mean, but this is good for me.

If I had a complaint, it would be about meeting creative/inspiring/intelligent people. Sure this might come with time, but my general sense of the area is that these people are few and far between. The conservative mentality is almost more prevalent here than it is in the dirty South. I'm going to steal some of Lee's words because he put it better than I can: "And yes- the west is a fickle area. So many gave up on the way to the coast, and settled to forge communities, it makes sense if you think about it... people that lacked vision and ingenuity (sp?) made towns and started breeding. That's why when you get to the end, you'll find that inspiration again, people who's heritage is based on fulfilling a dream." Thanks Lee, I totally agree (vive la rhyme). So, I think I'll just try to focus on my own creativity. I've been inspired to write a lot more. It's helping.

In other news, the mountains here are GORGEOUS. Google Image them: the Wasatch Mountains. The weather is dry but no complaints. Tomorrow night I will be attending Fetish Night at Area 51 in SLC. My feet have missed my leather boots, so it will be a happy reunion, indeed.

Signing out...
yours truly

Sunday, August 19, 2007

on the dance floor

I have now been to three different clubs in the good old state of Utah. What to say? I'm jaded because none of them are Diva's (nor do they compare). I'm a little disappointed, but at least there are clubs. To me, dance is oxygen. So, here we go...

On Thursday night, I went to Area 51 in SLC for Goth/Industrial. It starts off pretty interesting because there are two floors with two very different styles going on. Top floor is 80's night and bottom floor is Industrial. What a mix. You have young college girls excited to be able to crimp their hair and wear red plastic pumps mingling with these dark vixens in black lace and patent leather. I was thoroughly amused. When I'm running my own club, I think the floors will mesh a little better, I know for sure that 80's night is not something I'm crazy about. Anyway, back to it. For starters the dance floor is in the under 21 section, so the bar is in a separate room entirely, which means no drinks near the dance floor. I can handle that, though I usually start my first dance with drink in hand. It certainly cuts down on spilled drinks and shattered glasses that have caused me to bust a time or two. I'd rather have that, however, than the endless scattering of cigarette butts so negligently sprawled about the dance floor. It is going to take me a good LONG while to get used to the smoking inside clubs out here. Not only did the cigarette butts make the dance floor a little slippery (especially in my 6 inch heels), but the smoke filling my lungs makes it really difficult to dance for the extended periods of time that I'm used to. Thick air aside, I had a relatively good time. Right when I walked in, a band was just ending, so half an hour later, two or three people were actually dancing to the music the dj was spinning. She played two or three of my favorite songs, otherwise there was some stuff I hadn't heard, but I liked it. By the time I actually started dancing, there were a handful of people on the floor. I'm used to having a different style than everyone else, but I felt like I stood out more there than anywhere I've been. Maybe it was the amazing outfit I was wearing (skirt designed by the one and only Xandra- whose fashions can turn the eyes of even the blind). Who knows. This guy from Brazil started dancing with me (he wasn't half bad), and he told me I looked like a beautiful Egyptian, a compliment I'll take any day. It felt really good to dance since I hadn't had a chance in weeks. I got lost in my zone for a while, and when I became aware of what was around me, I realized that the dance floor had almost cleared, leaving me in a huge space to myself, and that eyes were on me from all directions. Feeling more like I was being watched than like I was sharing the joy of the beat with other people, I stopped dancing. Don't get me wrong, I love attention, but not like that. So, I left early, missing my girls to the utmost.

Friday night I wanted to groove to some hip hop. It was aching in me since I watched the last few episodes of So You Think You Can Dance (yay for Sabra, by the way), and since I started taking a wicked fun hip hop class out here. They took me to a sleezy bar/club called Teasers here in Ogden which was supposed to be the hoppin'-est place without driving to SLC. We got there and NO ONE was dancing. I bide my time at the bar, where the bar tender only gave me 2 cherries in my drink (man, Joe's hard to beat). Anyway, the music was groovin', so I hit up the dance floor in all it's emptiness. It felt good, and I was breakin' it down, and finally it started crowding up. The people there were certainly enjoying themselves, and that's my favorite part about watching people dance-- there's so much life in it. Well, I'm gettin' down with my bad self, and this guy starts to dance with me. I love dancing with new people, for sure. It was all fine, though he wasn't a great dancer, until his alcohol must have hit him all at once. He stopped reading my body language or respecting my boundaries. Grinding is NOT dancing, and if you don't give me enough space to do my thing (or thang, I should say), I will not want to dance with you. The next four or so songs consisted of him practically chasing me around the dance floor, to the amusement of some bystanders. I don't want to get vicious and push him away, so I gracefully just add movement to my dance which keeps me several paces ahead of his lustful eyes at all times. Finally, I get fed up and quit the floor. If it weren't for him, I think I would have had a little more fun. But the night's not over yet. We head to this other place called Kamikaze's where some friends of theirs are playing. It's this great jam band with dance floor in front, and everyone is getting funky. Funny sidenote: there's also another room playing top 40, so again we find the not so blendable juxtaposition of hippies and fergie wannabe's. Anyway, dancing to this band was a lot more fun, and I really got into my grooooooove (unfortunately, they stopped playing shortly after I started playing). The place closed (at one o'clock... these crazy Utahns aren't late nighters) and we had to leave. I say five stars for whatever the name of that band was because it was wicked fun. It'd been too long since I rocked out to a jam band.

Last night we headed back out to SLC to check out this place called Sky Bar. It's on the thirteenth floor of a hotel, with a view of the city, and it's talked up a lot. I was a little disappointed in its size. It was wicked crowded, and the dance floor was too small. It was also pretty upscale, considering they almost didn't let Stan in because he was wearing a cotton t-shirt. I have to give it mad props for the energy of the people there, though. From the time we got there until the time we left, the dance floor was packed with people gettin' down. I really adored watching them have so much fun. I danced longer here than at any of the other places because it was closer to Diva's (though still leagues away). There were seats all around the floor, and people blowing cigarette smoke into the dance area, which really frustrated me. Otherwise, the music was pretty good. They played a lot of my favorite top 40's. I danced my little heart out joined by my fellow club goers. This one random guy who danced with me was really fun because he knew all the words just like I did, and was just as excited when certain songs came on. He was also really respectful of my space, so it was fun. He couldn't dance, though. I think I'm in withdrawal from a man who can really really dance. I'll be hard pressed to find that here, I'm sure, but I'm on a mission. It's vital. Anyway, I danced until the very end, and the dj even had to say "okay, this song isn't for dancing, it's for getting you guys out of here," to which my only thought was that every song is for dancing. If you want us out, tell us there's a fire.... which I'm glad there wasn't because getting out of there was a mission. Imagine everyone in a jam packed club trying to leave in groups of 6 on three elevators that have to go 13 floors both ways... slow filtering. By the time we got down, the police and firefighters had surrounded the entrance to manage a fight that broke out (the beginning of which started on the elevator, believe it or not). Anyway, I was sweaty ('a little sweat ain't never hurt nobody') and sinking into a depression. Yeah, so maybe I had fun and danced with people who could move, but I MISS MY FRIENDS and Diva's and my dancers. It was a great experience, but the aftertaste is a little sour because it's all so new to me.

I will be checking out new places as often as possible, and I will be on a mission to find people who can dance with me, though NO ONE can replace my diva dancer. Anyway, I have to go polish my dancing shoes, but I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

on the road (volume 3)

I wasn't quite prepared for how much beauty is chocked into just the area between Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Driving along 89 came with so many great views.

I must give a shout out to all the people who live in tiny towns in the middle of nowhere, amidst canyon and mountain, thick in the desert. Honestly, the population in this area is so sparse. If it weren't for the people who ran the gas stations, restaurants, and motels in these towns, it'd pretty much be impossible to traverse the entire area. Did I mention it was beautiful? We drove through a chunk of the Navajo reservation where I got the chance to buy a beautiful turquoise necklace from a guy on the side of the road. He and his wife make jewelry to sell to passersby. It's beautiful (I think I'm overusing that word). We hop onto Scenic Byway 12 (the best kept secret in America), and the view only gets better and better. I don't have pictures of any of this, so here's a random one to keep your attention:
Anyway, it's getting to be dusk and the towns are getting farther and farther apart, so we start looking out for some place to stay. I stop in some town called Hatch and proceed to the first inn in site. It looks like it's straight out of some Western, log buildings and all. It's a motel, general store, and restaurant all in one. Eating dinner at the restaurant, we realize we are the only English speaking guests. Sitting at the table, I can hear Italian, French, and German around me (now, I dig this because I'm a major nerd, so I definitely tried to eavesdrop). We realize that the reason foreign tourists chose this place is because it seems to be real authentic American West- the cowboy dream, you know. It's really amusing. After a good night's sleep, Bryce Canyon is a welcome site.




I was way to beat to hike into the canyon, but next time I certainly will. After savoring this, it's back on the highway. Goblin Valley or bust. It takes quite a while to get there because the road cuts through canyon and mountain and is quite the process. Not to mention that we miss a turn and end up adding 45 or so miles to the journey. I actually snagged some shots of the view this time:





I particularly like this last shot because it's from the belly of Thel (that's my car's name, by the way). And in case I didn't mention it, I highly recommend a scenic drive along Route 12. You won't regret it. Several hours and a random diner stop later, we enter Goblin Valley. This place couldn't have a more appropriate name. If there aren't actual goblins living hidden away here, then the rocks certainly possess some goblin energies. These formations are so incredibly bizarre, and the valley is just eerie. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous... breathtaking, even. The silence and the vastness are pretty heavy. I couldn't stay in the actual valley for an extended time because the heat was so oppressive. I knew I would faint if I didn't find some shade, so I took it in from the observation platform. See all the faces?



We left the goblins to their own company, took 12 back up to 70, ate at yet another diner, and headed North. I was yet again astounded by the landscape... the subtle changes and the vast expanses with no sign of civilization. It's comforting to me that there are still such large areas in America that haven't been populated or taken over for industry. Late that night we rolled into Ogden, where I am now. My next step is to make enough money to head to the Portland/Seattle area. But in the meantime, I'll be posting my adventures here in Utah...
Until then, happy trails...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

on the road (volume 2)

We left the Petrified Forest with the intention of going straight to Sedona (I had been aching to finally get back there). To our surprise (and utter glee), our course turned out to be a little more exciting. An hour or so back on I40, and what do we see but a T-Rex dining on the side of the highway!! Not to mention several other species trying to hitchhike West. I wished James had been with me for this one.


Calming down from our near encounter with the Jurassic Period, I see a sign pointing me to Meteor Crater!! I didn't even realize it was in Arizona. It's approaching dusk, so I know we need to make haste to see this one. I follow the exits and head out into the middle of the desert, where we see that it is entirely gated. Apparently it is privately owned and they charge $15 a head to just look at it. Our budget doesn't particularly allow for this, considering gas prices and all, but what are the odds I'll get back to the middle of the desert, Arizona any time soon? I charge it on my credit card, and we're in. There is a definite cosmic energy lurking here still. It was pretty phenomenal and very difficult to grasp the fact that something so small could make this sort of impact. It was vast and beautiful. They had a chunk of the meteor on display as well.


We leave right as the sun is setting, back onto the highway. The view is absolutely gorgeous. We couldn't get a great shot of it (thanks to the semi-truck), but it made me realize what the song means by 'purple mountains majesty.'

We roll into Sedona around 8:30 (Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings, so it's pretty much pitch black). The highway from Flagstaff to Sedona is very mountainous and a little dangerous in the dark. Needless to say, I'd seen it before so I knew what the dark was hiding. Anyway, we walked around the streets of Sedona, had ice cream for dinner (yay!), and decided to find some maps of the area. We wanted to hike to the energy vortices the next morning. We found out that the cheapest motel room was not so cheap, so we drove south of Sedona into the desert lands, parked the car off some side road, and spent the next several hours marveling at the clearness of the night sky. There was no light pollution, and I was in heaven (or the heavens, literally). The arm of the Milky Way was incredibly clear, and I got lost in the beauty of the cosmos. It always boggles my mind to know that I am technically looking to the past by thousands or millions of light years. I regretted not having kept up with my knowledge of the stars. It inspired me to want to get back into astronomy again. Anyway, we slept in the car, waking up to the song of a pack of coyotes that sounded like they'd just made a kill. It was beautiful. The morning sunrise was the best surprise. I woke up to this:

It was around 5 a.m., and we decided to get an early start hiking because the desert heat is a little unbearable. We were off to Cathedral Rock. After a few too many wrong turns, and a really great view of some hot air balloons, we finally found the trail head, and up we went. One part was a little strenuous because it was just climbing up a rock face. It was all very peaceful and incredibly breathtaking. You could certainly sense the energy pulsating here. The hike takes you to the saddle between the 1,000 foot spires of the formation. Pretty impressive.






We were exhausted when we got down (the elevation rises 700 feet in a matter of .6 miles), but we wanted to do more, so we headed to the Bell Rock trail head. We made it to the top of that one (easy in comparison), realized how hot it was, and called it quits.

I snagged up some postcards, took a deep breath (I LOVE this area), and we were on the road again (sweat, dirt, and sunburn included). Northward bound, we hopped on highway 89 bound straight into Utah...

To Be Continued...

Monday, August 13, 2007

on the road

It has been one crazy couple of weeks. I've seen more beauty than I could have imagined, and I've learned many things about myself. The best part is that this adventure isn't over yet.

Friday, August 3, we headed to Boston (my entire life in tow- in the back seat of my car) to enjoy the city for the day and to celebrate Christa's birthday at Axis that night. Our hotel had a great view of Boston, and I had an amazing time dancing to psylab and bass nectar.The next morning, it was on the road. I didn't really stop much along my southern route to Tennessee, mainly because I'd driven it several times before, but mostly because I wanted to get back to Dixieland (the south will always run in my veins). The best surprise was that the city in Pennsylvania we randomly stayed the night in was only 20 miles from Gettysburg, so we woke up early and decided to check it out. It was such a dense place... dense with the gravity and the history behind it. It was certainly a town that had not let go of the death surrounding it.
My heart jumped as soon as we crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Dirty south, ya'll. How I'd missed it, crazy conservatism and all. Once in Tennessee, I realized how comforting the heavy blanket of humidity feels. Seriously, I knew what I'd been missing. Now, that is what I call summer. We rolled into Nashville Sunday evening, and I spent the next couple days reveling in the amazingness of my mom and catching up with all my friends. I got to visit the Parthenon in Centennial Park again, which is always a treat. For those of you who don't know, it's a full size replica of the Grecian Parthenon complete with 40 foot statue of Athena (gold plated), and casts of the Elgin Marbles.





Tuesday we left Nashvegas (or should I say Cashville) with the crazy idea to see Graceland. We got there after it had closed (which is alright by me), snagged some pictures, some postcards, and other Elvis paraphernalia and made our way West.

Traversing I40, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi after sunset, making it wonderfully lit, and certainly mighty. We spent the better part of the evening and the next day making a straight cut through Arkansas (having been advised that there was nothing much to see). We spent the night in some random town there, and headed into Oklahoma the next morning. The scenery was more interesting, and I started missing the hills as the land became flatter and flatter and the vegetation shorter and sparser.


We crossed into the Texas Panhandle, expecting the same old thing, when to our surprise we come across signs pointing us in the direction of the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere!! Enter Groom, Texas. You've got to love the Bible Belt.

As if I weren't getting enough kicks, we realize shortly thereafter that we are driving along historic Route 66. I proceeded to exclaim, "I'm getting my kicks on Route 66," as many times as possible. I also wanted photo documentation.

As the sun was setting, we entered New Mexico. My favorite at that point. We took in the scenery, the amazing architecture, and spent the night on Route 66 (yay!).



The next morning we hit up Old Town Albuquerque. It was deserted that early, so we headed toward the Rio Grande, a very beautiful, very red river, and to the National Petroglyph Monument where we hiked a mile into the desert to see some pretty awesome petroglyphs.





We headed back to Albuquerque once it was 'open for business,' and I met a retired school teacher who runs an antique and folk art store in Old Town. He spends a good part of his time traveling to Mexico and Peru, meeting local artists and finding local art, then he transports it back to New Mexico to sell. There were many Oaxacan pieces that were very beautiful. I picked up a Dia de los Muertos wooden dance mask for a friend. I also found a hand carved horn hair clip, and an Incan tiki fetish carved from stone from the Incan ruins in Peru. The man who ran the store was super nice, and the idea of running a business like that really appealed to me. Who knows... Anyway, if you want a unique gift, check out johnisaacantiques.com.

Leaving Old Town, we realized we were en route for the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Why not? So, we spent the afternoon/ evening inhaling the absolute gorgeousness of the National Park.





To Be Continued...