Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lots of New Things

You guys, it's been a crazy week of newness. Yesterday I did so many new, weird things that it made my head spin. I was exhausted-I slept for 10 hours! But let's start at the beginning:

New experience one: Two days ago I went to Lowes, that bastion of man-ness, by myself. I bought some sort of board/wood stuff (unfortunately I am not manly enough to remember what it was), had them cut it, and picked out and bought paint. Then I had them load everything into my car, and I had to put the seats down to fit stuff in (you can do that)!

I became a maven of hauling Big Stuff around. I felt pret-ty cool. And for the last two nights I've been working on my new GIANT ART PROJECT, which is also a new experience for me. (Oh wait-by the way, Yukes, if you're reading this, I'm going to make a giant wall hanging which will now take up a wall of our living room.)

New experience 2: I did voice-over work. I thought "this should be easy, I'll just talk and I have a nice voice. Easy money!"


It was really hard. They couldn't quite get the quality they were looking for, so I kept getting suggestions like "pretend you're talking to a 14-year-old about this thing that is just going to change her life." Then I had to look at a microphone and weird sound thing and say corny phrases that really made me want to gag, whilst pretending to be really excited and talking to an innocent young girl.

Thank goodness for acting classes.

In the end they got what they were looking for, and asked if I was available for more jobs. I was. Perhaps a new portion of my career looms.

New experience 3: My friend Katherine, of the ex-roommate and cat blogs, came with me to a devotional chanting thing at a yoga studio here in Ithaca. What's devotional chanting, you may ask? Well, I didn't know, but it sounded like something straight out of Eat, Pray, Love, and I wanted to be a part of it.

What it turned out to be was this musical ensemble who composed music set to old, mostly Sanskrit chants. The chants were either call-and-response or simple melodies that were sung over and over. The idea, as I believe the idea with most chanting is, is that the vibrations of the holy words when spoken over and over will set up a new vibration within yourself,.

I thought, "Awesome!"

Then it started, and that thought turned to "uh-oh." Maybe I'm overly sensitive from my childhood experiences, but I started to get a distinct Christian Gathering feel. You know, people talking gently and being a little too happy and contented and full of the spirit, complete with outstretched hands and closed eyes. The music was also of the mediocre, new-age Christian type (let's all sing with this guitar together in praise!). I wasn't expecting Mozart, but I guess I thought the music would be more...Eastern.

And the people were mostly of the Ithacan Hippie-type. It is very hard to describe this kind of person. Imagine a woman who makes and sells pottery and wears loose clothing with pastel watercolor prints on it and dangly earrings and is probably a vegetarian and does Yoga and meditates and shops at the local co-op and is always serene and happy and full of love. Now, there are a lot of things about the Ithaca Hippie that are good and positive, but get lots of them in a room together and my angry Jersey Girl starts to suffocate and...well, get more angry.

So I was skeptical, but then the music became less new-agey and sped up, and the room slowly became a whirling dervish of people dancing and singing and the drums got faster and faster and it was sort of fun. It was fun to watch the people dancing and see the joy on their faces. And joy is inevitably contagious. At one point I did feel the room sort of...thrumming. It was kinda cool. Plus there was this ancient man sitting on the floor in front of us who was so adorable. He couldn't dance, but he would rock back and forth and flap his arms up and down to the music. More than anyone else, his movements were full of pure delight, even though they were limited. He was so much fun to watch.

But then after each song had slowed down again and ended, people kept their eyes closed and were silent for a bit, I guess to really feel the spirit, and I again ended up thinking "this is a bit much."

We left after two hours, and they were only halfway done with all the chants on the sheet.

One more story about this: At one point the lead singer of the ensemble was thanking everybody who had made the CD possible, and she thanked "Hawk" for something and gestured to the back of the room.

I fully expected to turn and see a hugely-muscled, angry, steroid-filled bodybuilder with a blond crewcut and a white Gladiator unitard at the back of the yoga studio who would point and grimace at us all and say something like "I'm coming for you!" Then he would take one of those big exercise balls and pop it with his teeth. Actually, Hawk was a slight blonde woman with a perpetual smile on her face who said "thank you," and gave one of those namaste bows.

Well, there's a first time for everything.

And I actually did buy a CD, because I liked those long, intense whirling-dervish songs. But I think I'll dance to them in the privacy of my own apartment, for now.


  1. Kudos for braving Lowes by yourself! It's really not that intimidating once you get past that initial trepidation.

  2. You can put BOTH back seats down in the Cutlass??
    (You go, girl!)

  3. Carrie: I was thinking of you the whole time.

    Mom: Yeah, you just have to pull the left one really hard! Either that, or I broke it...

  4. good luck with your art project! i hope we hear more about your voice-overs - it sounds fun!

  5. It's Michelle =) Just letting you know 'cause I don't know if my comment will show my name.

    Sounds like an illuminating day! It glows power =) Filling your trunk with lots possibilities it sounds like, and I can see you so elegantly putting those planks (the word you were looking for?) of wood in your car.

    And voice-overs! I am so jealous, I love the idea! Ah but if we're going for a spiritual make over, jealousy shall not be part of our lexicon! I am more than jealous, I'm moved by the new directions you are going!....Do you enjoy reading poetry? It would be fun to go to poetry readings...maybe themed ones...or maybe you could hold your own, and have it be your own type of sanctuary, and incorporate opera singing!...then you could have control over the quality of the music =)

  6. Oh Michelle, you are my spiritual soul sister. I'm down with the poetry readings. Maybe I'll send you a few of my own! Not a bad idea...