Clearly, the cat was never the problem. But we all knew that.
There are a lot of things that have kept me from writing. But now it’s a new year, so happy happy! In an effort to get myself back into the habit, I’ve signed up for an online blogging course. Taking classes is a good way to make myself actually take the time for things I like doing but am not disciplined enough to do on my own. So, technically, this is an assignment, even though it’s three days late. But the seeds have been planted, and now we will see what grows.
We? Who? Me and… who am I writing to anyway? That’s one of the questions they asked. I don’t really know. Friends, I hope. I initially started blogging after an online friend in a remote area asked me what it was like to live in Hollywood. As a native, I’d never really given it much thought. Though I’m an artist, I never had a goal to work in the entertainment industry for which my town is famous. So when I set out to blog, the idea was to write about everyday life in Hollywood from the perspective of an insider, who’s also kind of an outsider.
Of course, the gods love irony, which is why, just as I’d begun to make myself comfortable as the Hollywood Hermit, I was yanked out of my shell by the cocktail fork of fate, dipped in glitter, and set on a plate. Well, stage. I danced more in the first ten months of 2013 than I had in the previous ten years, up and down the coast, at festivals, showcases, and parties at the rate of about twice a month.
I’ve written before about how dance, specifically bellydance, changed my life. But there’s a dark side to it that I’ve never fully explored. Although I had originally thought blogging about my year of bellydance would be interesting, it turned out to bring up a lot of personal stuff I wasn’t ready to write about publicly. Getting all gussied up for a show is fun once in a while, but it’s a hell of a lot of work, especially for someone who’s not naturally girly to begin with. Also, while this art may reflect an integral part of my personality, it’s only a fragment of who I am. A small piece, scratched and stained, that reflects all its colors only in certain light, and only to the right person. When I dance, I am not putting on an act. It’s fun, but I don’t actually need all that eyeliner or fancy costume to look the part of the Exotic Other. I’ve actually been trying to get away from that stereotype all my life. My given name is already the perfect dance name, which makes me as much an anomaly backstage as it does in my day to day life. In fact, my true personal history is as mysterious and (though I loathe the word) exotic, as the best Orientalist fantasy. Or worst, depending on your point of view. My problem is, I’ve never been able to figure out which is mine. Probably both.
To say I have a love/hate relationship with bellydance would be reductionist and miss the point. The dance tears my soul wide open, laying bare my unresolved identity issues and other squishy things and no, I am not referring to my belly (or any other physical parts). I have a lot to sort out. So, I’m on hiatus from bellydance for the time being. But I am not done dancing. I still make it to jazz class regularly. There have also been some really great random improv dance events popping up around L.A. recently. I’ve been meeting dancers of all different genres at these things, and am looking forward to taking classes from a few of them in styles that are completely new to me.
I’ve been singing a lot, too! When I auditioned to join a choir two years ago, I had no idea what I would be getting into. When you hear “community choir,” you think of holiday sing-alongs at the nursing home. At least I do. But recording on an album by a Grammy-winning composer? Traveling to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall? Serenading a major cultural icon on national television? I managed to do all those things in 2014 (plus the nursing home). I also began two new recording projects with Mr. Koz, including lots of new material as well as some cover songs.
In addition to the singing and dancing, I spent a lot of time last year in the studio, painting. Last fall, the Kozlet started middle school, and thus my role as Super Volunteer Mom came to an end. Finally! Not that I didn’t enjoy being “Mama Z” and teaching ceramics to grades K-2, but it was a massive amount of work to do, especially for free. I did it because I felt it was my duty; elementary schools wouldn’t be able to survive without the invisible parent tax. I don’t regret it at all. But it was a relief when, for the first time in seven years, I was able to put my energy into making art for myself. A project I had been playing with in my spare time for several years is now beginning to take shape as a series of paintings.
Well, now that we’re all caught up, I guess my task is to keep writing in real time. I haven’t really decided what my purpose is yet. I think there may be several. I may end up needing more than one blog to cover them all. But I will stick with this one for the time being since it’s already here, and besides, it’s comfortable.