Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meow, dancing cats, litter box digging and "putting out fire with gasoline" again

I sat down last Sunday to write an entry but was in such a funk, that all I managed was a whiny near miss of nothing but sheer pathetic crap. I'll most likely never post it. Anyway, we all have those days or weeks and hopefully not months or years like that. Thankfully my super introspective, melancholic moods are very short and I can usually laugh myself out of it with a good dose of inappropriate, raunchy humor mixed with self deprecating hilarity.

Anyway, one of the things I want to talk about today is something I think other smart, talented and fearlessly offbeat women also go through. I know that amongst my friends, I am not the only one and that's the cattiness of women towards women which stems from I think jealousy, envy and the dark side of competitiveness when the competition is hidden rather than friendly and out in the open.

I never understood this pathological need to not just keep other women from bursting out of the cage we all share but to utterly destroy any female who dares to even try. I have zero patience or tolerance for it at all. And as an adult nothing brings the bitch in me out faster than some other woman feeling threatened by me or any other woman or offended by our very soul shining because they fear letting themselves shine as well and mistakenly think that if one of us shines then it will interfere with their success somehow. As women, especially now when we are under a fierce political backlash by the extreme right, we need to stick together and support each other. We are extremely powerful and we really need to stop participating in the suppression of our own power, strength and beauty. At the very least we need to get out of the way of those who have the courage to attempt to even begin the work of severing the bondage we convinced ourselves we need to be in.

The other thing I wanted to start exploring is my passion and obsession for dance and performing as well my competitive drive which is very much there but not in a dark way. I truly want other dancers, performers and artists to succeed. I think these two themes will weave together and my hopeful re-emergence into one arena in a particularly ultra conservative part of the United States has dug up a need for healing and letting go broken dreams of the past as well as this idea of the war on women by other women and how we are really, and I apologize for the cliché, our own worst enemies when we behave like junior high school "Mean Girls" towards each other.

I'll start with dancing any my personal history in dance. A few years ago I wrote an essay that appeared in http://poeticdiversity.org about where my writing urge stems from and while being mostly complete, I conveniently skipped over my first artistic passion which is dance. But that's because my initial urge to write came from my desire to escape some horrific aspects of my childhood and has now evolved into the opposite which is the desire to dig up, unleash and explore as honestly and in as raw a way as possible the very things my ego naturally tries to bury and hide even from itself.

Anyway, I started performing probably before I could really talk or walk very well. There is a photo from me when I was only two years old, standing or dancing on top of a miniature, wooden, red piano while singing into a pink rattle to a song on the Mike Douglas Show. Indeed I knew for as long as I could remember that I was going to be a dancer and/or a singer. At the same time I was both profoundly shy and extremely uncoordinated. I never crawled which at the time, pediatricians didn't know was a problem but which experts now know is a crucial part of childhood development. I also was a "crib rocker." I would rock my crib so hard as a baby that I could it traveled from one side of the room to the other and made a noise so loud, that it sounded as if it would break the floor and fall through. I guess one perspective would be that all of the above could be a sign of possible autism and another would be that I was dancing my crib. I don't know if one is more correct. I actually think both are true, but that the latter is more helpful and the former is more limiting but makes other more comfortable because it's a nice superficial explanation. I do know that my oddness disturbed my mother who loves me profoundly and who is pretty free-spirited herself. She told me I came out of her womb with eyes that looked ancient and like they could see into the void and how calm I was frightened her and that my crib antics also disturbed her. I think she knew from her own experiences that I would have a tough time because I was female and different, even more different than she was growing up.

The reason I mention all of the above is because it might explain why at the age of six I was enrolled in a small ballet school in Kennewick, WA which in a bit of interesting synchronicity happened to be in the same former church that the preschool, then already defunct, I had attended had been in. I wish I could remember the name of the school and it's owner/teacher. I can remember the name of the establishment I attended next but not my first. Although I do know that the proprietor was not Russian but trained by a Russian ballerina who had defected to the US and that she was training us in the strict Russian style. This meant we had to force our turn out, do posture drills that meant sucking our stomachs and butts in as far as we could to attain a desired flat as a board look. It also meant that she carried around a long wooden pointer, read stick that she banged on the floor in time to the music and also hit our legs and feet with it, but not hard as she would wander around the large room, inspecting our technique. As a result, I was both terrified of her wrath and in love with trying to please her. I would practice my posture and technique obsessively at home. But I would beg my mom not to make me go to class, yet always returned from lessons glowing and happy. The latter I know is what made my mother insist I continue.

At that age, because I never got much praise from her or my next teacher, mistakenly assumed that I was not a very good dancer but I still loved dancing. My self worth was very low anyway because perhaps I knew I was "strange" and also because at this time I remember that my parents were having really terrifying arguments and indeed this was the beginning of the end of their marriage. About nine months before they finally started divorce proceedings and separated for good, we moved to a condo in a sub division of the next town over, Richland, WA and that's when I began attending the Lundgren School of Ballet where Madame Lundgren did not carry a stick but she also did not give praise easily. She did however correct me often and tell me at age nine that I needed to lose at least ten pounds. I was not fat. I may have still had a baby fat belly but I was also an early developer. Therefore, I did not have the zero curves body of the still slender, non-pubescent girls who also attended the studio. I think it was here that I first developed a real loathing of my body and an obsession with being thinner while fighting extreme hunger from working out with the intensity of a young athlete because contrary to what the ignorant thing, dancers are athletes and dance is a sport. I now know that, in reality I probably was one of the better dancers at both schools, because I got so much correction and advice from both my first teachers. In the Classic Russian style of ballet training, if you aren't any good, the teacher either ignores you maybe sometimes lightly compliments you if it's a small studio because it's a business and they need a certain number of students.

Don't get me wrong, I was not a dancing protégé by any means, and I did not have the in fashion and still in fashion Balanchine Ballerina physical aesthetic. I had breasts and hips from the age or ten. But looking back at an early recital photo of me in a very form fitting white satin leotard and tights, the costume of a playing card for a performance of "Alice In Wonderland," I was not fat. I was a normal, healthy girl. I was also still extremely terrified. I loved dancing, but I hadn't grown into it yet. Then my mother and her new fiancé decided to move the family to the Bay Area, specifically Oakland, CA where Madame Lundgren recommended my mom enroll me in the Oakland Ballet Company School of Ballet. It was at this large company school that also had a thriving professional company where I got to mingle with "real" working dancers and where my main teachers were the then artistic director, Ronn Guidi and Sally Streets. Guidi taught in a very non-Russian style. His style was both extremely encouraging and also very fun. He often sang silly rhyming songs about the steps during barre work and about the proper technique. He also constantly told us to never ever compare ourselves to other dancers but only to ourselves and to judge our talent, ability and progress only against ourselves because we were all unique and all dancers.

I blossomed and quickly progressed there. I went from being in the beginning class to the intermediate class which was taught by one of the female stars of the company who I idolized. Her teaching style was more strict and classic. I continued to take both Ballet I and Ballet II classes. I was extremely driven and I stopped begging my mom to let me stop dancing. I studied books on the history of dance, especially a book by Dame Margot Fonteyn where I became curious about other dance forms like Modern and Jazz. Remember I also loved singing. So parallel to all the ballet, I was doing, I was also constantly listening to the soundtracks of classic Hollywood and Broadway musicals like "South Pacific," "The Sound of Music," "Singing in the Rain" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." I would choreograph song and dance numbers to my favorite songs and to the rock and pop songs I liked. I would also constantly tweak my choreography to the Peer Gynt Suite.

The Oakland school had a regular recital which I was in. But the most exciting thing to be chosen for was of course the annual professional production of "The Nutcracker," which I was in two years in a row. I suspect it would've been three because there was a mix-up in the audition groups and the group I was in the first year got mislabeled as alternates and the alternate group got mislabeled as one of the performing groups but once the announcements were made and rehearsals had started, the goof could not be undone. I never complained. I was too shy and it didn't seem fair since everybody wanted to be in "The Nutcracker." I also had been beaten down by my parent's divorce and remarriages. Plus my mother's second husband had begun to display his abusive side towards both my mother and I.

After I was in "The Nutcracker," the first time, I was one of the few younger dancers to get permission to advance into the advanced ballet class, Ballet III. Ballet III was the class that the company dancers also attended. So for the first time I was in a class with mostly teenagers and adults. I was probably eleven or twelve. Shortly after, I finally got approved to go "en pointe" which was both excruciatingly painful and exciting. Wearing point shoes is a right of passage for a female ballet dancer so the pain of corns and blisters was never unpleasant or at least not too much. Wrapping my toes in tape, gauze and cotton was like preparing for battle, exhilarating.

I loved dancing so much, I would when we lived in Oakland, ride a public bus, by myself across town, then a year or two later when we moved to the suburb of Orinda, I rode BART, the subway system and then the same number bus to get to lessons. My mother and ex-stepfather turned my bedroom in the new house into my own private practice studio with hardwood floor, an entire mirrored wall with a ballet bar attached. I was in heaven. I could spend hours in my room perfecting my technique and making up my own dances.

Then when I was thirteen, the Oakland Ballet expanded it's school and opened a small studio in Orinda which was much easier for me to get to. At first I didn't want to go because I thought it would be a "lesser" studio than the main professional school in Oakland. But I soon settled in and continued to take advanced Ballet classes, but also began taking tap, jazz and modern dance, as well as a Mime class that was offered as part of a summer dance camp session there. By that time I was taking two to three dances lessons a day, six days a week. I was sure I was either going to be a professional dancer or a singer/dancer on Broadway. I hoped I would be a ballerina and my lack of ballerina body didn't bother me because the Oakland Company did not just employ the Balanchine ideal and they performed both classical and modern style ballets. However, one teacher, a semi retired professional dancer who didn't have the ideal dancer body either, began talking to me about expanding my dancing and about being careful because she noticed that like her, I had small joints, but powerful leg muscles and larger bones than my joints. She also had this issue.

Around this time, Ronn Guidi decided to try forming a Jr company of the better advanced dancers at both schools who would perform at half time shows at sporting events and possibly at school assemblies. I was chosen to take part. We would not be paid. I think it was considered a professional training and testing ground for future company corps dancers. I was extremely excited to be invited to take part. We began our first rehearsals and they went well. Then during a floor combination in class on a Saturday morning, my knee popped out during a double pirouette turn in which my teacher said, I had made no mistakes. It just gave out. My mom picked me up and took me to the ER where the dr didn't do any tests beyond an x-ray and who diagnosed me with a stretched or torn ligament. I wore a stiff brace for several months while it healed. I was not prescribed any physical therapy at all. When I was told, I didn't have to wear the brace any longer and after I had gotten some knee mobility back, I tried dancing again but it was just too physically painful.

This was the early 80's so nobody would've thought to have me do physical therapy or to recommend forgoing ballet for at least a while and instead focusing on less joint traumatic dances like jazz or modern dance or to switch to something like Ballroom which was beginning to resurge at the time. In fact I had to take ballroom dance for six weeks, twice a week, two years in a row when my mother enrolled me in "cotillion" at my Jr. High. I think it was taught by teachers from a ballroom dance studio in the hopes of recruiting young students. But because I was shy, considered weird and it was dancing with boys when I wasn't "popular" and didn't care to be, plus it was all just box steps that we learned and therefore to a trained dancer like me, very boring, ballroom didn't ever click. I think if they'd showed us a video of a ballroom competition, I would've taken notice. But I'll get to social dancing later.

Before I hurt my knee, I was in the best shape of my life. If you look at photographs of me at this time, I look like a young woman who could be a professional athlete and I say woman not girl because I was at my full height or very nearly and fully developed. I as I already mentioned was obsessed with dance. I danced. I read about dancing. I watched every dance performance on PBS. "The Turning Point" was my favorite movie. I was "in love" with Mikhail Baryshnikov and I wanted to be Leslie Browne. After I hurt my knee, it was like a light switched off in the dancing part of my psyche and I seemingly lost all interest in anything dance related. I stopped dancing. I stopped reading about dance. I couldn't watch dancing. I tried but I couldn't. I'd either change the channel or turn the television off. I know now, it wasn't that I lost interest. It was that it was too emotionally painful to face giving up being a professional dancer. I now know my injury just meant giving up the dream of becoming a ballerina and not dance in general or even ballet as a training method to strengthen muscles and flexibility for other dance forms. But again it was the 80's and I was a girl. Plus the extreme turmoil and chaos is my home life was more than enough for my mother to manage and handle so even if times had been different, she had more than enough on her hands. And at the time it seemed there was no other adult to step in and tell me, "Annette, there are other things you can do. Don't give up on dance." But because I was extremely independent and mildly autistic probably, it's possible I didn't ask or didn't know I could ask and even that some dance teachers tried to give me advice but I blocked it out. Soon after the injury and recovery, we moved to a then rural area outside of Seattle and because I didn't appear interested and I didn't ask, I didn't go to any dance school. I just buried the entire experience. If you read or have read my essay on writing, you'll see maybe why that was so easy for me to do.

No I wanted to be a singer in a rock band and an actress. I had played flute before but I sold it and got an electric guitar and guitar lessons. Here's the thing. I was still very shy. Also no boys in my high school even boys I thought were my friends, wanted a girl singer or girl in their group. But that's another blog entry. I want to focus on dance. And don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the female self loathing of ourselves and how we prey on each other in very cruel ways as a result. Just let me finish the background and the back-story and then we can stitch in the dark side of female competition.

As far as the rest of my dance history goes, I think I can make it short. Other than regular punk, new wave, Goth and death rocker style nightclub dancing in my late teens and throughout my early twenties, I didn't do any formal kind of dancing until I transferred from the University of Washington to San Francisco State University to study film production after taking a year off and working for Karl Krogstad, an avant garde and independent filmmaker. I also participated in an independent avant garde fringe theatre troop that I had started with some artists, musicians and dancers I knew in Seattle. We did one crazy performance.

At SFSU where one of the dancers in the theatre troop, a former roommate of mine had studied dance, I decided to try dancing for fun and exercise again. I still buried a huge chunk of myself and my love for dance, I think mostly because by that time I had severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from abuse in my childhood, on top of the mild autism/aspergers. While I was there, I took Ballet and Modern dance from Dr. Susan Sandri. One of her teachers had also been Sally Streets. Another piece of synchronicity. She is an amazing teacher but I was so locked in, she couldn't fully reach me. She once told me that if I would bring outside everything that was inside, what truly powerful and strong performer, dancer and person I would truly become.

After I left San Francisco State, I took time off from dancing to work on a documentary that never got finished for technical reasons but within two to three years, I was dancing again after moving to London to figure out which direction I wanted to take my artistic pursuits and to work as an au pair. First I briefly took salsa classes but quickly with a good friend, Nathalie tried and then became hooked on Argentine tango. I studied tango for five to six years in London and then Seattle after my then husband, who I met at tango, and I moved to the U.S. Our marriage fell apart due to issues from abuse in the marriage which compounded the other usual marital issues. I went back to tango and quickly became part of an inner circle in that community but got spooked away when my ex-husband began stalking me at tango classes and events.

By then I was writing poetry and making visual art again. Once the divorce was final, I moved to Los Angeles and thought about exploring tango but focused exclusively on poetry and other writing. I think knowing me, because that way I could bury some things about my marriage that dance might bring out. Because dance digs up everything. It truly does. It's a physical act, that unleashes a very powerful healing and transformative force, if you let it.

While I lived in L.A. the bottom fell out of the economy. My hours at work were cut. That made my income go down. The apartment building where I lived, was infested with bedbugs. One landlord said he had it fumigated properly and replaced all my infested furniture. But he only sprayed my unit so the bugs just infested all the new furniture. He sold the building to even worse slumlords who wouldn't do anything. They started eviction proceedings against me and then I broke my foot at work and couldn't walk for six months. My apartment was on the 3rd floor. I stopped fighting my landlord. I first stayed with a friend and then moved into a series of motels and finally a hostel while I was healing and later recovering from surgery. That whole period is another blog entry or series of them.

By the time I had mostly recovered, a job had fallen through, my unemployment claim was denied and I was out of money completely. I had been living in the living room of some friends' house so I swallowed my pride and very reluctantly moved to Arizona to stay with my mother and her 3rd husband. Who happily is a wonderful, non-abusive man. It was very hard. I'm very independent and very much an eclectic, free-spirit with an extreme rebellious streak. My mother is also a very strong personality but again, another blog.

I had three screws in my foot and had become extremely heavy. I could barely make it around the block without being completely out of breath. But I kept walking and I joined Jenny Craig at my mother's insistence and with her financial support in the beginning, until I found a job a couple months later. My mom is an avid fan of Dancing With The Stars so when it was on, I started watching it. I became hooked and then inspired. I could relate to the stories of the stars and if they could at varying ages and with varying degrees of past injury, dance and some of them become extremely good dancers, then what was stopping me? I also was inspired by some of the professionals on the show. I could relate somewhat to some of the stories that Maksim Chmerkovskiy told about a past injury and also to him putting his foot in his mouth, which I can do. I sometimes can inadvertently upset or offend a person or people without meaning to. Again, sort of a another blog but it will come up when I finally get to the catty portion of this bloated blog entry.

I really owe my return to dancing and my choosing ballroom dancing specifically to that show and to Maksim Chmerkovskiy (who I don't know). But also as I have mentioned before, I am extremely fortunate in finding Arrowhead Arthur Murray where I get really amazing instruction and encouragement from all the teachers there. I'm picky about dance teachers and dance studios so I thank the Universe for sending me there without having to ramble around. I also am amazed at their patience with me because dancing has dug up all of the above memories and associated emotional baggage. I know if I was ten to fifteen years younger and at my goal weight already, I would be begging them for a job. But at forty-four, almost forty-five, I'm trying to be happy with focusing on performing and eventually competing in Arthur Murray events and as many as I can afford. I work with special needs kids and it's Arizona, so it might not be as many as I'd like but I'm going to do it. And who knows, maybe I'll found a seniors dance troupe. I'm sometimes pretty fearless and even I don't know most of the time what artistic goal I'm going to tackle next. If sixty and seventy year old celebrities can dance all day, five to seven days a week and get really good, why can't I?

But besides my broken professional dancing dreams and other personal self worth and issues with shyness and insecurity, dancing has led me examine the who catty attitude us girls can have towards each other. It happens in a lot of environments. I've of course had it for most of my life. So I'm familiar with being the "odd girl out" or in the group of eccentric kids. I was a happy drama and dance nerd for the better part of my childhood after all. Plus I read Shakespeare for fun when I was eleven, before it was ever assigned in school.

I was the victim of extreme cattiness on the part of girls and women since I can remember. I don't remember it when I was studying dance, but I was so into dancing that it probably was there, but I didn't notice it. I do remember some girls at school who weren't involved in dance, bullying me at school about being a dancer. I was graceful on the dance floor but extremely clumsy in P.E.

In high school when we moved to Maple Valley, for awhile I was the only girl punk rocker in an area where even the girls chewed tobacco and everybody still wore clothes and had hairstyles from the early 70's, including bell bottom jeans. Girls there threw rocks at me and many of the boys made sexual taunts towards me. One boy who was gay was nearly beaten to death by a group of boys who used baseball bats and another of my close male friends was routinely beaten up for being different. So boys can be cruel to other boys. I want to be clear that I know that goes on. I am just for now focusing on how women are not supportive of other women and how some to a lot of us view each other as a threat when that's silly and counterproductive for everybody.

When I was an exchange student to Australia, my first host-mother, an American herself was threatened by me and told me I was like no teenager she had ever known. She didn't mean that to be complimentary. I got along really well with her husband and at the time I didn't understand why that would be a problem. Partly because I was extremely naive, being only seventeen and partly because he never leered at me or made any sexual pass at me ever. And I had been leered at by men since I was eight or nine because I looked like I could be at least sixteen if not eighteen. But that's a future blog topic.

As an adult, in the artistic crowd I hung out with in Seattle, I didn't notice too much cattiness. Most of the women in the group had also been outcasts and were also not catty. We all couldn't understand what the point of being cruel to other women was. The thought never even occurred to us no matter how mad we were at somebody. Occasionally, one of the male members of our circle would date an extremely catty woman which bugged us. I suppose then we were a bit on the feline side towards her, or maybe by contrast bitchy. I did date a guy in the group and a woman who worked at the store I managed had dated him before me. She was jealous and not nice to me but I thought that was funny. She no longer wanted to sleep with him so why did she care?

I think my lack of desire in taking part in any kind of malicious gossip or taking down of another woman in the work place when I worked in a series of office jobs, didn't help me professionally. I always wanted to do a good job and to make every place I worked better than it was before. Most of my co-workers and bosses were more concerned about office politics and less concerned with actually any quality of work. I wasn't popular and I was frustrated that working was no different from high school or even in some offices and retail stores, jr high.

When I began working with kids, I mostly work 1:1 and just have a supervisor and the child's parents to build professional relationships with. This was easier in some ways, and there was hardly ever as huge of an issue with politics and me being a threat to another woman. I'm not saying it never happened. It just wasn't as big of an issue. However in the poetry scene?! Yes, it's there to some extent. But again it's not a dominant part of the scene and it was easy for me to make friends with writers and artists who are supportive of each other and too busy for most of the petty jealousies and politics that can go on.

Now I'm in Arizona. Arizona is another planet. It's not like anywhere else I have chosen to live. So here I am at a dance studio but it's a dance studio in an extremely conservative state where some folks are very sheltered and also possibly evangelical, fundamentalists Christians i.e. easily offended or highly uncomfortable around a girl who has lived in a few different countries, once was part of a performance art piece that involved nudity, hanging raw meat and a gigantic paper Mache penis and that's probably one of the tamer artistic endeavors, I've participated in. I have friends from all walks of life and I don't care if you re gay, straight, bisexual, pan-sexual and/or if you enjoy rough sex, sex with food or sex with shoes or even sex while dressed up as a stuffed animal. As long as it doesn't involve animals or children and is both consensual and doesn't hurt anybody, it's none of my business and more power to you. I might be curious but I'm not judgmental. I really don't see how anybody chooses to love or live their life if it doesn't harm others, could ever offend G-d or whatever you want to call the divine. If G-d is love, how could it/she/he be upset by anything that is a loving act? Plus I'm single and I look about ten years younger than I am so I guess I might be a threat to some of the women. Not a real threat. I don't mess in other people's marriages. I don't date married or attached men. I've openly admitted to dating a couple of guys who were in confirmed open relationships. I know, I met there other halves and even socialized with them. But now, I am more into being somebody’s number one partner and not a second string player. My point is I'm pretty open-mined even for most places I've lived but for Arizona, I'm probably akin to a lot of folks to being the anti-Christ.

Oh and it's not like I go around announcing to folks here that I am this free-spirited. However my last boyfriend when he heard I had lived in four different countries and traveled in even more, even though I had been with a boyfriend or married for some to a good portion of my travels, said I must have slept with a lot of different guys since I'd lived in so many places. What the fuck!? huh? For the most part, people are nice here and especially at Arrowhead Arthur Murray, but I do keep a low profile as much as possible since moving here. Still I have experienced some times when I inadvertently caused offense or controversy or experienced mild to extreme cattiness. And no, I didn't announce any of my artistic experimentation or read any of my poetry, most of which would be rated R to NC-17 is it were a film and I didn't display any of my visual art, including a collage about my new found sexual freedom after I broke up with a long-term boyfriend of five years, in what was mostly a celibate relationship. I just dance and I want to get as good as possible and yes, I'm ambitious. I have fantasies about becoming a senior level champion someday. Seriously, but I want every student and every teacher at the studio to succeed, whether they are liberal, or wacky or artistic or conservative or yes, even extremely catty and threatened by us more open types. These people are my fellow team members. Plus if there's tension, then nobody's happy.

But yeah, I put my foot in it a couple of times because what happens with me and dance is, it opens me up even more. Sometimes it brings up really painful stuff like the broken dreams and the self worth crap or even the abuse baggage when male leaders over correct me for stuff that may or may not be my fault and then I'm probably kind of intensely moody and bratty without meaning to be. I even may be withdrawn in the extreme. I hope that part subsides soon. I don't like that. And then other times, I have a dance epiphany and I feel really connected and free and on fire in a good way so I get really comfortable and forget I'm in Arizona and that I need to hold my tongue and that people, especially women here do not like getting into friendly debates about art and music especially maybe if part of the debate is about sex or even more controversial homosexual references in popular disco music. My latest situation like that was Saturday and I hope I can iron out that one. I made a girl so upset, she went off in a huff. So I will apologize because my intention wasn't to hurt her. I just forgot where I was.

But therein lies a dilemma for me. I am finally facing my fears of dealing with the extremely painful and buried parts of my dark side and dance really exposes them. And I am finally reconnecting to my intense love and obsession for dance and music. I've found a really good place to study and participate in events but if I forget myself and where I am which I do when I'm having a really awesome dance day, then just by being myself, I seem to be an extreme threat to a couple or few of the other women there and I don't want to cause any problems or jeopardize my studying there. But I don't want to feel so buttoned up, hidden and repressed either. I want artistic freedom (read with Russian accent please)! I'm sure there is balance to be found somehow. I will apologize to this person and I will be more careful about which people I get into discussions with here in Arizona and at the studio. Because there are people at the studio and in Arizona who do like to talk about deeper things and who are more artistic and open-minded. We're just more of a tiny minority here than lots of other places. It's important for me to remember that I am not the center of the Universe and everybody is not exactly like me before I open my mouth.

But I am sad not that I have to try to avoid offending people. I'm an artist. I work in several mediums. I'm published. Artists are supposed to be allowed to be odd and open mindedly quirky because we're "those arty people." Sometimes as an artist, I have to push boundaries, or I'm not really an artist. And then why should I have to repress myself and keep myself caged to keep some immature, catty, jealous women from being shoved out of their comfort zones? Why do us women who are fearless, strong and powerful have to hide it? Why can't we as women hold each other up, be happy for each other's successes and if we aren't comfortable being in the vanguard, at least not try to tear down or get those who are into trouble? It's bothered me since I can remember. I don't think there is an easy answer.

I appreciate in my current situation that not everybody who is a student at Arrowhead, is there to be an artist. Some are there for stress release and to relax. They aren't there to have art challenge their comfortable worlds. So I will work really hard to consider their feelings. Who knows what ballroom dancing is going to out of me next or where it will take me? But I hope I can stop getting into these little dramas. For my part I am stepping up my efforts to not make waves either inadvertently or otherwise.