Burn Baby Burn

It’s pretty hard to explain how or why a white girl growing up in a small farming community in Oregon loved Donna Summer so much, but from the first time those eighth grade, older and much cooler girls pulled the record player out into the hallway during lunch and played “On The Radio,” I was in love with the Queen of Disco.

There was something naughty about her, but innocent at the same time. She had a big voice, and you could hear the joy there, the sense of fun and of self and of pain–it was riveting, and so beautiful. She was everything I wanted to be, but didn’t even dare hope, certainly didn’t wish out loud. But I had so many private dance parties in my room, imagining being as big and as beautiful as she was, believing for at least as long as the song lasted that it was possible. At ten years old, she sang the magical and secret soundtrack to my dreams.

It made me so sad today to find out she’d passed. She was only 63, and apparently battling cancer, (stupid cancer).

 

I already felt off kilter today. Sam was fussy last night, woke me up around 2 am licking his nose and doing this weird swallowing/gagging thing, so I lay awake on the edge of the bed, leaning close so I could hear him breathe, and stayed like that, tense and attentive, until the alarm went off at 4:30 am. I tried to practice tonglen, tried not to panic but when I’m worried and it’s dark I almost can’t stop myself, felt sick to my stomach, took deep breaths, didn’t fall back asleep even when he did, and wondered for the millionth time how moms do it.

And Hewlett Gulch, one of my favorite places to hike, is on fire, growing from 900 acres to almost 6000 over a single, windy night. On and off through the past few days, the smoke has blown in to town, making the nearness of the fire clear. I don’t think humans can smell fire, unless maybe it’s a campfire, and not feel fear, that deep and old anxiety that lives in our DNA, that panic, that instinct to run for our lives.

It’s only my second day of vacation, and I’m already giving myself a hard time. I made a list of what needed to get done this summer, what I wanted to do, called it my “summer mondo beyondo list” and wrote it on a piece of scratch paper with the picture of a baby bunny on the back to dispel any yucky to-do list mojo it might generate, but it didn’t really work. I kept adding to the list until I’d filled one whole side of the paper, every inch of space, and looking at it was making me sad, making me feel like I wouldn’t have a vacation at all, but also I know this is a stage, a transition I have to go through. I knew it would happen. It most likely will take me two weeks to settle in, to let go.


In a guest post on Kind Over Matter, Angel Sullivan shares this poem:

daily forays into the tangled undergrowth of my mind.
slogging through the muck
tripping
falling
up again
over and over
finally (finally!) recognizing that it’s time to set divine fire to the whole damn thing and watch it
burn baby burn

I feel myself standing in this moment, tired and afraid, knowing that it’s time.

Disco inferno…

2 thoughts on “Burn Baby Burn

  1. pittsburghphd

    I had a day like this today. I kept focusing on all the things I need to do this summer and feeling their weight. I got all caught up in the *need* to do these things and how they were going to take up my whole summer. I’m still working on calming down and allowing my emotions to know what my mind already knows–I am the only one putting this pressure on me and I can make it stop.

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      After this weekend, I was going through the list again, the characteristics of wholehearted people from The Gifts of Imperfection, realizing that the two that I still need to work on, (besides self-compassion, there’s always that), are calm & stillness, and rest & play. I think those should be the focus of my summer, not the mondo beyondo to-do list I made myself.

      Reply

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