Happy Jew Year, you luscious hunks of readership you. On the first mewling day of this baby-fresh year I went to visit Sime and Lovely Wife Julia. Armed with a bottle of bubbly and a screener of a Very Important Movie which we never got to because of the yakking and the noshing and the sipping and the kvelling, I plopped onto their comfy leather couch and launched into a tale of Just Where I've Been for the last week.
I told you before about Esalen, the shiny butterfly paradise by the sea – so replete with Human Potential. The week of Xmas, I slid up the 101 and back into the arms of my Big Sur hideaway for seven days of organic food, crazy hot springs action, sleepless nights whispering with my NYC Shiksa Queen roomie "P", and several hours a day of dancing my ass off. Not just any dancing - ecstatic dancing. Dance as a spiritual practice. That's right, I said it: when I get jiggy, I'm not just being Very Hot and Jewish, I'm also being Deep. I'm Tapping In. I'm Communing. I'm doing loads of stuff just begging to be capitalized and hyperlinked.
Man, dancing is the shit. Not, like, choreographed dancing. That kind of dancing is, well, hard. It makes you feel stupid if you can't get it right, as Sime will tearfully confess if you ever get him started on his adolescent "performance workshop" phase. It might make you look stupid even if you do get it right. Britney Spears spent a lot of time with choreography, and we all know what that led to.
My kind of dancing is more about gettin' loose to the beat at hand. Sweating it up with like-minded revelers who just want to reach that feeling of not being in their heads for ten or fifteen minutes of the long and harried day. Grooving like I'm alone in my living room, except with a bunch of other people also jigging their way through their own private Idaho. Like the Classic Rock Singalong, 'cept you don't even need a lyric sheet.
Maybe you want me to say I've found the cure - the cure to stress, and feeling separate from one's peeps, and loneliness, and sorrow. Maybe you want me to say the cure is dancing. But I am not here to lie to the Very Hot. Therefore I will tell you the truth. Here is the truth:
I have found the cure. The cure is dancing.
This is especially fortuitous as Sime and I have been endeavoring to come up with a good catchphrase for the new year. A curmudgeonly writer friend of mine, a Spicy Hebe With Dreadlocks, fired me an email declaring he was "all about the Hate in '08." His first target: Diablo Cody. You might be next.
This alarmed me. Because it is easy to slip into the hatin'. Not just when a chick with the hipster-ironic version of your backstory nails a massive hole-in-one with her first screenplay (worry not, dear reader; I live by the golden rule: don't hate the player, hate the game. And, since I don't hate the game, we're right back where we left off in my admittedly difficult to follow train of thought). It's easy to reach for a big bloody bag of O, Negative in the absence of something to hold onto. Hence the need for millions of Starbucks, one on every corner. The cynical bastards of the world require a black, bitter cup o' overpriced joe to nurse along with their vehement disdain.
The Very Hot Jews wish for you to avoid the Hate in '08. We love you too much to see you flail down the shame spiral of mysanthropy. So we're sharing our new slogan with you - Simon declared it, after I told him of my mystical Esalen adventure (which, by the way, also involves being busted by Institute authorities in the middle of the night for doing something I cannot tell you about on this blog because, well, I'd rather you use your imagination but I will say:
- It wasn't illegal but was definitely frowned upon in that location and context, and
- The other busted individual was another dancer and even Jewish, which I know would matter to some of you if you knew what we were doing which you don't so go wash your brain out with soap).
Seriously, my brothers. Obviously, my sisters. We Jewy types can talk a thing to death. Poor horses - maybe if they were kosher our people wouldn't spend so much time beating dead ones. If you're like me, on any given day you can Freud yourself into a self-reflective stupor before your first hit of latte kicks in. You can Jung yourself silly. You can dive into your worried mind and turn every damn stone, then freak out over each tiny pillbug of insecurity revealed beneath.
A certain amount of this is a good idea. The unexamined life, etc. Also, if you didn't worry at all, something bad would surely happen that could easily have been prevented if you'd just let your neurotic imagination run wild for a few minutes. Sure, Joan Didion would call this magical thinking. But as your mom will gladly remind you, the worrying brain acts as a giant backwards magnet that repels disaster.
Plus, some of us – like for instance both halves of this here blogging duo – need to camp out in our hot little minds so that we can produce scripts and ad copy and other written things that pay our mortgages. Our calling requires extended rappelling into the scary, solemn, Stygian reaches of the grayest of gray matter. Not to get all neo-Cartesian on your ass, but, as Simon likes to say: We think, therefore we are ... paid. (Or, if you like, Cogito ergo fork over my sum.)
So, yeah, I'm not entirely disparaging the notion of living like a hermit in one's own head, as Death Cab For Cutie so alterna-rockishly put it.
But. You have a body. You're in it right now, like it or not. You may regard it as a brainstand or head pedestal, but it still requires loving care. You don't get to dump it for a sleeker model. You don't get to leave it and go flying around visiting Jennifer Love Hewitt, at least until you get hit by a stray bullet and die without getting to tell your family something real important. It is sitting there right now, a dumb lump of muscle and bone and possibly THC-saturated adipose tissue, listening to all your thoughts. I'm sorry, but it is. That's why your back does that ow-y thing when you're stressed. That's why your shoulders have meandered up into your ears and why when you can't pay your bills you weirdly discover you also can't take a shit ... look, enough examples, I don't really want to get quite this into your business.
I'm just saying. Your body is a wonderland and you're totally missing the ride.
2008 is unlikely to be quiet and contemplative. There's an election coming up - you can tell by the look of horror on Simon's face. Gas prices are still zooming (and you know by now I mean that less in terms of shelling out at the pump and more in terms of all the kids coming back from the war minus limbs. Or not coming back at all). Most of L.A. is gonna be out of work soon if this strike doesn't resolve. Apple will come out with something new and shiny you need to have. Beyoncé will release something loud and cursedly catchy. JLo will have her babies and the ruckus caused will only be superceded by Jamie Lynn having her baby. (BTW, WTF with THAT story? I leave civilization for a week, and when I come back not only is Benazir Bhutto dead, but Britney's sister is preggers by some old, disgusting fucktard who is inexplicably being protected from public stoning?!)
Hey, at least it isn't a picture of John Mayer.
Anything could happen at any time, people. And everyone I know has this uneasy sense that in '08, if it can happen, it will. Get flood insurance. Get fire insurance. Get meteor insurance.
Or hey, maybe I'm projecting. Maybe 2008 is merely unlikely to be cool, calm and collected for moi. My industry is in a supercalifragalistic clusterfuck; I'm elbow-deep in a bunch of time-consuming projects; I'm suddenly, out of nowhere, developing crushes on living and eligible humans in my close vicinity (as opposed to comfortably rolling my eyes at every dude I meet, because when you're as busy as I am it's easier to apply your idle crush-ology to that pillhead doctor with a limp on that show where he's all mean and sexy all the time); the gaping maw of the VHJ blog will never cease demanding wordy sacrifice; my goddaughter is orbiting ever closer to adolescence, a situation which requires constant vigilance; I don't want to fall behind on the Y:The Last Man comics; and if I don't stay on top of things with Mojo, he'll eat something that makes him fart like a hurricane.
So, shit's gonna happen. And when it does (and when it doesn't, even) I'm gonna Dance It Out. So is Sime, and if you're lucky you'll get to watch, because his "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dance is legend. Most of my friends will be Dancing It Out too. Are you one of my friends? If you are, do this for me: pull up your iTunes or go to your radio or whatevs, and play that funky music, Person Of Whatever Race(s).
It doesn't matter if you're tired, if you threw out your back chasing your diabetic cat around with a syringe in your hand, or if you're in a wheelchair and can only dance with your arms and your eyebrows. It doesn't matter if your only prior experience on the dance floor was swaying imperceptibly between chugs of Heineken.
This isn't a competition. It will not be televised. No British suckwads will wittily deride your efforts. It's for you. It's a way to be down with reality for a hot second. Reality feels like loud sounds all around you that you cannot control so you might as well enjoy. It feels like that noise's percussion vibrating your soles. It's other people's smells and their secret vulnerability that peeks out to say yo when you move with them. It's the stick of sweat on your nape, the ache in your knees, the jagged impulse that wants your pelvis to swing thataway, ASAP. It's a world populated by lots of other ordinary miracles like you, moving through their days in the best way they can, trying at worst not to cause bodily injury and at best to feel pretty damn great. You don't want to dance, you say, because your dance is lame? Let me rephrase the question: You think you're the only one of us trying to be all perfect? I sympathize, but you oughtta know - perfection is sooooo '07. In '08, we dance.
You will likely feel self-conscious, at first. Even if you've knocked back a coupla gin fizzes or called in your ancestors with a wand of white sage or whatever you use to launch the rocket of disinhibition. You'll be hyper-aware of your "stock" moves. Nighmarish recollections of teenage embarrassment might caper before you like red-eyed demons. But gradually, the part of you that really wants and needs to move will show up and go all Saturday Night Fever and your body will take it from there. And the euphoria that rushes out of the center of your being? That's the real hotness, as opposed to the coiffed, airbrushed and artfully scented substitute the world tries to sell us 24/7.
Dancing is the human equivalent of pressing Ice Crush on your blender. Juices get stirred. Everything blends and gets smooth. And, yes, you become more and more delicious.
That's your mandate. Go forth and Dance It Out. You're not allowed to be cynical of it till you try it twice. When have we led you wrong? The VHJs exist to aid you. We're bringing you gold here.
Happy 2008. Batten down the hatches. See ya on the dance floor.