Sunday, April 04, 2010

Mami's Been On Spring Break

You think you're in shape until you, on a whim, print out a free pass to a distant, fancy gym and take an Afro-Brazilian dance class. It's not like I am a stranger to these dance moves. The class said Afro-Brazilian, but it was Afro-Caribbean as far as I'm concerned and I know the basic moves of los santos. In fact, I used to be the dance, when I was younger, and El Conguero was the drum. At 21, I used to take a similar class where we came across the floor by two's dancing to live drums. My roommate Eva and I knocked the ballerinas off the front line because those poor girls couldn't unlock their hips and me and Eva couldn't keep ours still. El Conguero was a guest drummer for the class now and again and I would sway and switch up the floor while he played and stared holes in me. Eva would swing her hair around in big sweeps and laugh deep. She was a big girl who wore tight leopard catsuits and red lipstick to class without an open care though sometimes she got secretly hurt when the stiff dancers looked at her wrong. I swore I'd slash a ballerina who talked shit on her. When the teacher told us we belonged on the front line - technical training be damned -- we swished our way through the others, Eva flinging her long dark curls, and me fixated on the drums. So I know the dance, but it had been a long time. The teacher of the class I took last week had a perfect energy, a woman who at first glance looked like a middle-aged fifth grade teacher with glasses and a big behind. But I wouldn't have trusted a little booty lady leading this kind of class. She put on samba music for the warm up, but one drummer showed up with a conga and percussive toys and I felt relieved. When the fifth grade teacher circled her hips like they were not connected to her waist, I was convinced we were in great hands. I know the etiquette of a dance class and even if I connect with the music personally and instinctively know the movement, I know to keep my ass in the back and not try to show up the regulars. That's rude anyway. But after two trips across the floor, the fifth grade teacher pointed to me and told me to get my culo front and center. The older woman whose place I took was gracious and welcomed me. The two women who flanked me, not so much. Didn't matter. I was in direct line with the drum then. I closed my eyes, mainly, and went. There were two men in the class, which apparently was rare, so the teacher concentrated on more masculine moves, dances de Chango; kingly and strong. So I stomped barefoot and squatted low, twisted my torso and flung my arms back with an arched back and an upward tilt to my chin. Queens know the dances of kings too. Over and over and back and forth, we got low for Chango and I yelped for the shy dancers and slapped five with the older woman and a beautiful blonde zaftig woman who put herself in the back. God, I wanted to tell the curvy blonde that these dances were made for her and F any person who ever made her feel badly about her body including herself, but I just slapped her five instead. After the class, I was exhilarated and nostalgic for sure, but the day after it felt like the whole back half of my body had been dipped in pain. I was crying every time I made a move for three whole days. Move it or pay is the theme here. You never lose it. That's a myth.

The girls have been out of town while school's out for spring holiday. They are at Maya's BD and Sanne's house, who first generously took them to Big Bear and then easter-fied their lives for the rest of the week.

And I've been inflicting myself with adventure and free-for-all fun.

I went to the Hollywood Farmers Market, to which I had never been, and without any disrespect to the prestigious Santa Monica Farmers Markets, this is my new favorite. The thing is to connect with farmers and well, the produce, and I try hard in SM but frankly over the years I've only clicked with the incense guy, the walnut oil girl, I'm digging the new desert flower guys out of San Diego, oh and the apple girl, but most of the time I wander around feeling disconnected. Most of the time that's ok because it's the farmers market and wandering a farmers market is still better than most things. It's just that at the Hollywood FM, I instantly found an organic greens farm that had everything I wanted in terms of lettuce and kale and leeks and beets and carrots, and it's run by young farmers, vibrant and flush-cheeked, hats and dirt jeans. Yesss. I found a fav strawberry guy and a raspberry guy and a mushroom guy and an orange lady all on the first visit. You know what got me too? The trio and solo music acts tucked between the stands. Old bluegrass and berry sampling seemed to solidify my feelings for this market. There was an older bluegrass group near the oranges and there was a hipster -- but still traditional -- bluegrass group near the entrance. There was an ancient Japanese man with long white hair and beard singing in Japanese. A pan flutist. A lone mariachi. A jazz duo. Man, these people got to me. The crowd is very hipster-turned-parent, very hipster-local-just-rolled-out-of-bed which whatever. But it's hard for me to hate on a guy who wears a top hat at nine in the morning sporting ankle pants and Artful Dodger boots while sniffing kale. I just can't. I mean, a top hat!

Husband and I went out on a Wednesday night (gasp!) and caught a comedy show. We've had a couple other dates too. And we hung out and talked a lot and watched a lot of college basketball together, which swoon. I'm so in love with this guy.

I made a green ginger soup with homemade veggie stock from my farmer's market bounty (chard, spinach, sweet potato, ginger, onion, leeks, lemon), which was deeply satisfying. Something about sorting and washing and chopping vegetables that makes me feel like I'm in line with the natural order of things; eating what earth yields. I shared my soup with Molly and we hung out a lot too, mainly watching Jamie Oliver's new brilliance, Food Revolution.

I cleared my system of coffee for five days. Felt good to do that, but it also strengthened my allegiance to the elixir.

Last Saturday, I went on a long trail run in the Sullivan Canyon Creek bed and I brought along my camera to show you guys the spring perfection going on in the SM Mountains.

The start of the trail A lot of the trail was pulverized by the rains we had a few weeks ago. Some of the trail still has a fire road intact, but much of the road is left with the indentation of a once raging creek that has since dried up. Like this: Sometimes it was like running in coarse sand.The flowers can speak for themselves. I don't know what any of the flowers are called, but I do know that this is wild Witch Hazel. More of the trail. I couldn't sop it up enough.The grass smelled like sugar could burst from a chewed blade. Y'know, it wouldn't be a Madness running post without a mishap. Though I took a good number of pictures, I did manage to run the most of the time. On the way back down the path, I felt exhilarated. I took a tiny side path because why not. It narrowed to a trickle of a trail. I pushed off some soft gravel to hop over a rock and I clipped my toe. Man, I flew to the ground! There is good trajectory when you land on an elbow before the knee. I hit elbow, hand, knee then turned my body to slide on my back. I laughed loudly. I'm not a faller. The last time I actually fell to the ground was in 1995 and I know this because I was eight months pregnant with Maya. I was wearing very wide legged pants and coming up the stairs to my apartment with a bag of groceries. I caught my toe on a pant leg and couldn't recover, I dropped the bag, wrapped my arms around my belly and in mid air turned my body so I would fall on my side. I was more surprised that I had fallen than anything else. Oh wait, I did fall on the road bike once when I got caught in the clips. I just relaxed completely then and went down with it. I laughed then too. Last weekend, I saw a mountain biker stop while I was laughing on my back on the trail. I'm sure he was asking me if I was ok, but I had my headphones in. I just yelled out that I was ok. I got to my feet and pulled out the headphones. I told him I was ok again while chuckling still. "I have a first aid kit," he yelled out. I put my earplugs back in and ran off, "I'm ok!" Dang. I have a cool bruise and gash on my elbow and some scratches on my hand.

The best part about the run was that remnants of the creek still trickled along side and across the path of the trail. I think an adult's instinct is to jump over a creek, but it only occurred to be to jump in it and through it. It all has to be both feet in for me. It felt amazing.


Wendell said...

The dance class sounds AMAZING. Love the green trail too. Thank you for sharing.

Lauren said...

Girl, there's a lot of awesome here, but this made my morning:

"My roommate Eva and I knocked the ballerinas off the front line because those poor girls couldn't unlock their hips and me and Eva couldn't keep ours still."

HAHAHA. Wooooo. Brought me back to many an African/salsa/anything where you have to shake your ass master class during my dancing days -- except in my world, all us un-bootylicious ballerinas cowered in the back, horrified that someone was asking us to not be 100% vertical. Early, intense ballet training is a fantastic way to ensure you will never be able to break it down on the dancefloor.

Also, I covet that trail you got there. Gorgeous.

madness rivera said...

Thanks Wendell - I know you know about beautiful trails.

Ah Lauren! No disrespect to the ballerina contingent. The ones from that class were so uppity and mean though. Eva and I just used the only ammo we had, like homeless women proudly combing our hair with cardboard combs in front of royalty. HA.

Lauren said...

None taken! You did the right thing. Especially if they were Mean Girls (of which there are a ton in the ballet world).

Marigoldie said...

I'm gonna start Googling this dance stuff because I don't know what it looks like! I've never heard of a class like that where people get picked to come up front, but damn, that sounds amazing. You and Eva do.

Also, I love that you put both feet in!

madness rivera said...

Lauren can attest more than I, but the pointing out is a teacher's prerogative and doesn't happen a lot. Only when the movement comes more natural to someone and others can kind of get more of a feel by watching the person in front of them. Here's kind of a feel of the format of this kind of class:

NOLA said...

Love your words! The make me happy.

Madame One Tree said...

That dance piece gave my stuff goosebumps. Oh,to be in perfect line with a drummer and on arthritis free feet! Zaftig women with free hips... yes yes yes that drum is made for us, too.

Your running place is so beautiful and your spirit so wild. I like it.

Anonymous said...

That was a great post, and you know how much I love your soup.

I chuckled to myself at the fall description. Great stuff. I've had a good one over a tree root.

And, I've got one on John. It's better when he does the reenactment. We'll have to do that one Saturday.


jagosaurus said...

This is all so great. Dang.

The farmers market stuff resonates with me so much. There is a nice farmers market withing walking distance from me but it is snooty. They periodically trot out a "No Dogs Allowed" sign and just generally act like jerks.

Meanwhile, Eastern Market in DC is everything you want it to be with the farmers and food markets, antiques market, arts and crafts, and always, always, always music. Last weekend we had sax, drums, recorder, and flugelhorn.

Not A Mountain said...

I like your purple shoe laces.

k-tan said...

I gotta say it; your life is so inspiring to me...I love reading your posts because it reminds me of all the things I aspire to be and do. I'm so glad you got completely "art drunk" in that dance class and just went with it...the pain is a reminder of just how in tune with the drums you were!