On Enthusiasm

If you want to break open your heart (and your world) in the best of ways, go to clown school.

I just finished day two of a five week journey into the craft of the comedic world – the world of physical theatre, clown and Commedia del Arte.

I went to clown school once before, in 2014. It changed me and the way I live and act in countless, invaluable ways.

And I have taken a few clown weekend intensives between then and now.

But the thing is, you have to keep using the muscles that clown requires, or they atrophy. The wonderful clown you have freed from inside you descends further and further back into the recesses of your heart. Back into the darkness.

One of those clown muscles is enthusiasm. That excitement and wonder for people and things that give you pleasure, that make you laugh. That thing that males your eyes sparkle and your body happy.

That thing that gets bullied out of you around junior high (maybe earlier these days.)

That thing you learn to flatten to seem cool to the other kids.

The thing you learn not to show to protect yourself from ridicule.

The thing you betray in yourself out of fear of becoming an outcast.

The thing that gets beaten down into adult cynicism and suspicion.

(That thing you forget how to feel after while.)

It is a delicious sensation!

Day two of clown class, and I feel that muscle pinking up again. When enthusiasm is allowed its space to inhabit your body, all kinds of good begin to happen. And fun!

I double-dog dare you to find yours. Shake off the cobwebs and try it on for size. Take it for a walk.

It may feel a bit scary to let it be seen again by others. A part of you may be afraid and want to keep it under wraps.

I say: Go ahead. Be subversive. Be a part of the revolution.

Be enthusiastic!

Lost Treasure

All that I held dear

Was washed away

By the tsunami that was you

My heart, my mental health

My easy laugh, my joy

My positive outlook

My belief in goodness

My trust in my own body

My trust in my own soul

The winds have long since died down

My body has healed from the twists and turns she rode

I sit in the quiet aftermath

And wait to see what of me

The tide will wash ashore

Will I recognize my essential parts

Or will I pass them by as detritus

Not knowing their inherent value

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: tide

Astral Travel

I feel the life drain out of my body

Depleted of my life force, I wane

What has triggered this self-abandonment

Where do I go inside

It feels like part of me just leaves

Drains off into a void somewhere

Leaving behind a shell

My skin hanging over my bones

My mind tangled and blank at once

My breath contained and compressed

The familiar iron wall in my gut

Shut, closed off from the world

Only my breath can bring me back

I breathe, slowly, in and out

I feet the iron wall begin to melt

My brain softens, tight thoughts dissipate

And I feel me begin to fill in

The caverns of my self once again

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: deplete

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

It is a fact: I am not a big fan of selfie-taking. I wish to put this disclaimer right out there at the forefront. (See my previous post “On Selfies and Vulnerability.”)

Nonetheless, I recognize that it has become a part of the fabric of our culture today, and I have tried to make my peace with it since it is clearly here to stay.

However, can we please, as a society, draw some lines, people?

Today, after my run at the gym, I was half-naked, air drying, when I noticed a fellow gym member taking a multitudes of selfies in the dressing room.

Now I know that people, for whatever reason, have come to believe that bathrooms are the ideal place for self-taking. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I even took one myself, which I never posted as it just seemed absurd to me.) It is a standard selfie location nowadays.

But, seriously, the dressing room at the gym?

I wondered as I watched her taking photos in front of the mirror – both aiming in to the mirror and also with the camera flipped standing in front of it – which meant that there was the possibility that I, in my half-nakedness, stood a chance of being in the background of aforesaid selfies, either in the reflection of the mirror directly behind her.

I have to say that I immediately felt my privacy had been invaded.

As calmly as possible, I walked over to her after I dressed and said I’d noticed he’d been taking selfies and that I was concerned that I may have inadvertently been in some of the shots topless. I was going to ask her to delete and retake if so, out of courtesy to my right to privacy.

Well, you would have thought I had demanded her phone and then smashed it.

She quickly swiped through the 8 shots she’d taken, none of which I could properly see because she as going so fast, though I did see that the top I’d been holding was in the background of 1 or 2, as it was a very colorful print.

She starting yelling at me then, telling me that she wasn’t taking pictures of me. I said I didn’t think she was taking pictures of me, but I feared my naked torso was in the background, caught accidentally.

She got even louder and angrier, and told me I was crazy. I asked to see the pictures again, she refused and continued to yell at me.

Someone intervened and asked us to stop yelling. She also tried to explain to the lady what I was concerned about, to no avail.

I went down to speak to the manager, who wanted to go find the lady, but while I was waiting to talk to her, the woman left through the side door. (I know this because when we went to look for her, another woman came forward and said she had seen her leave.)

All I really wanted from the manager was perhaps a sign to go up in the dressing room that selfies were not allowed in respect to the privacy of other members.

(Of course, as I asked for this, a part of me wondered if anyone really takes anything a middle-aged white lady says with a grain of salt. It is embarrassing to bring up in a world where so many are fighting for equality, but I will say it: women over 45 are, for the most part, invisible and/or treated like we are crazy much of the time. I am not saying we need a movement like many other much more maligned parts of society; I recognize the advantages and the privilege that my being a white, American, middle-class woman have afforded me. Still. Just saying. But I digress.)

To her credit, she listened and gave my concerns attention.

What I wish to propose here is that we, as a culture, recognize/remember that there are still places where photography is not legally welcome. Even in the Age of the Selfie.

Don’t believe me? While it is legal to take pictures just about anywhere, there is a line drawn. “Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes.”*

*Reference below.

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I think that a dressing room is a place where I can reasonably expect privacy, am I right?

Yes, legally I am. I am not just another crazy middle-aged lady ranting, it is illegal.

Now, I know this lady had no desire to take a pic of me. I have no fear that she is now circulating the photos on the Internet! (This has actually been a big thing and prompted Congress to address the issue of privacy by enacting the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004.

According to the West Virginia State Privacy Office website: “The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act prohibits the photographing or videotaping of a naked person without his or her permission in a gym, tanning salon, dressing room or anywhere else where one expects a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Violators can expect fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to a year in prison. This doesn’t necessarily make it illegal for someone to snap your photo without your permission though. For instance, if you’re just walking down the street and someone takes a picture, they’re well within their rights no matter how violated you might feel. If you see someone taking your photo without your permission, it’s your right to ask him or her to stop. Never take photos of people without their permission, and try to be aware of your surroundings.”)

So I do have the right to not be those photos, and I could (and perhaps should) have called the police. Now, not if she had been willing to have a discourse with me. But as she felt no social obligation towards my concerns or privacy whatsoever – perhaps.

After all, we are all living on this big ball together, right? We do have to work together to some degree, don’t we?

How about this: I’ll put up with your self-taking everywhere else if you respect my privacy in restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities and inside my own home. If you just HAVE to get that shot of yourself in one of these places, just make sure that no one else is in your background, okay?

Sound good?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: fact

SaveSave

Wasteland

What you did to me

The position you put me in

Contaminated my insides

Deposited sludge in my veins

Dark, thick and foul

Could not be contained

A pollutant infesting my waters

Every time I think I’m clean

I feel the slime come again

It catches in the corners

The nooks and crannies of me

And heaviness sets into my bones

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: sludge

Lost and Found

That black night

That night he came into her room

A part of her soul flew out the window

And left a hollow space inside her

A forever-empty place

A place as dark as the night

A hole that held shock and horror

In place of her innocent, free-flowing love

There can be no recompense

Nothing can ever make up for that loss

Even calling that piece back to her

Reuniting with her crucial center space

Cannot change the moments, the hours, the days, the years

Of being without her essential self

Yes, there is healing

Yes, there is repair

But the shape of the heart is forever changed

On a good day, she feels she is stronger for it all

On a bad, she wishes she’d gotten the chance to find out

Who she’d have become without his interference

That black night

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: black