Susan's Blog

Thursday, February 8, 2007

On Obsession

The May bellydance performance has taken over my mind, blooming like my garden in June. It is fueling all sorts of feelings for me, that I haven’t had in a long time. This obsession reminds me of when I bought my electric guitar, around ten years ago. Back then I was obsessed with Eric Clapton, (I mean, my God, look at him in that picture! Still makes my mouth water; plus he plays the guitar pretty well, too.) who filled up our CD collection and blasted from my car (which was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, now my most hated vehicle next to a Hummer, but for personal reasons, because it broke all the time; the Hummer Hate is more political about how f***ing big and army-like they are).

I bought a Fender Stratocaster and amp and everything, as well as music books. I already knew how to play the guitar because I had been playing folk and classical since third grade. So I decided it wasn’t enough to just listen and sing to Clapton; I also wanted to play like him! I bought those Hal Leonard books, that give you the tablature, the diagrams of the fingerings of many of Clapton’s solos. Unbelievable! I felt like I had the key to the universe. I couldn’t play a lot of his music very well, but the Hal Leonard books demystified them and made it possible for me to approach his solos. I mastered one or two of them, especially from the Unplugged album, where most are acoustic, the style to which I am most accustomed.

My boys were thus raised on Clapton, Dylan, Beethoven, Mozart, Beatles, and Allman Brothers, rather than Raffi et al., although every now and then I did play kiddie CDs for them. I rarely played them in the car, however, because I hate kiddie music and I figured my kids could be exposed to real music, all sorts. Although I do have a few very lovely memories of Nat shouting “Robin in the rain, what a saucy fellow, Robin in the rain, mind your socks of yellow…” and “Where is Thumbkin? Her I am,” (he said, “Her” instead of “Here!”) right in the middle of the T! Shouting! I remember being both burstingly proud of him and at the same time, mortified. I think I’d give my right thumbkin to have that moment back, however; it was so cute, so dear, so innocent. Young parents: heed my words!!!!! As odd as your little guy appears now, you will one day miss his wonderful little self!!!!!

At any time during the day I could be found getting out my guitar, plugging it in, and cranking something out. This lasted for years, until finally I guess I moved on. Or I went back to acoustic, because it was my first love and frankly, I am much better at it. I never really got the hang of improvising lead guitar solos. I never jumped from the memorized Clapton solos to my own. I could only imitate really well, and that was not ultimately enough for me. Sometimes I feel like I’m Yertle the Turtle, (minus the whole Nazi-fascist allegory), always wanting to get closer and closer to a particular adored thing until maybe I collapse. It is Yertle’s yearning I am fascinated with. It is a classic tragedy, wherein the seeds of his own self-destruction are present throughout. Which leads me to wonder:

Are obsessions based on self-destructive impulses? Or are they somewhat misguided acts of self-fulfillment?

I think that the Obsessed would say the latter, but those who observe the Obsessed would say the former. There is a small voice I hear every now and then, when I embark on an Obsessive Journey, that, not unlike the Fish in the Cat in the Hat, warns me that danger is near, or that my obsession is going too far in some way. Is this a voice to heed, or is it just my fears speaking up? What’s wrong with pursuing the lust for a hobby as far as I want it to go, as long as I’m still able to do my other jobs? Why does that Fish worry so much? Is he a destructive force, or a caring force?

So every day — Fish be damned — I have been dancing. Sometimes twice a day. I have been trying to stretch before and after, to truly warm up my muscles, but sometimes I just can’t wait. In the middle of the night, I feel my hips aching. When I get out of bed and my feet first touch the floor, all muscles ache. So far nothing feels like a dangerous ache, not like my knee used to feel during the summer. So I figure it is just the pain of newly awakened muscles.

I am determined to gain full control over my moves by the time May rolls around. Last night when I practiced, I was able to stay lifted and do that Choo-Choo shimmy, with a lot less auxiliary jiggling. I had already done a workout that morning, but around 8 pm. I heard that music in my head and I told Ned I had to dance. I practiced until 9:30.

I can’t stop for now. I am in the throes of a lovely obsession and I just hope it lasts a long, long time because it makes me feel beautiful and powerful, and just a touch worried about myself, which is better than other states of mind I’ve had.


Keep dancing Susan. The joy it brings you shines through your posts.

Don’t ignore the ax though, don’t leave it behind 🙂

— added by Someone Said on Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 7:09 am

Dancing is good for the soul.

But don’t you go dissin’ my man, Raffi. Baby Beluga rocks!

— added by Club 166 on Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 10:42 am

Sure, sure, Baby Beluga! Oh, my poor heart remembers that one, too. Okay, Raffi rules.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 11:27 am

Susan, are you hurting anyone with your dancing? No. Are you filled with a sense of accomplishment and creativity with your dancing. I’ve gotta go with yes on that. Haven’t all your family members noticed how fufilled you are with your dancing? I’m going to guess yes on this. From my perspective, you are living what you are teaching your boys, and you MUST dance. Now, if you can hurt someone with a choo-choo shimmy, I need to know how that’s done, for defensive purposes of course.

Rhythm-less in New Orleans, Lisa

PS: Check out the Imagination Movers on Disney Playtime. The band consists of a bunch of musicians who became dads. I have this cd on even when the kids aren’t in the car.

PPS: I too lusted after Mr. Slow Hand in his Journeyman phase, and met him on my 23rd birthday in Antigua. I had puke-breath, but that’s another story.

— added by Lisa on Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 3:20 pm

I know what you mean about the music.

I’m just trying to figure out what Tom Lehrer songs are OK to play in the car with a 3-year-old with echolalia.

(And I won’t be commenting much through the end of next week, probably not e-mailing you much, either — mom visiting, we’re doing lots of stuff, less computer time. We’ve only hit 4 of the 7 bookstores she wants to go to, for example.)

— added by Julia on Friday, February 9, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Update: 1 bookstore left! Yay! 🙂

(Now, we just have to do that, the Sam’s Club run, lunch with a friend, and whatever grocery shopping needs doing, and we’re good on the errands here. Lunch with the friend includes taking him somewhere that will be a trivial detour for me, but over an hour if he has to take the bus.)

— added by Julia on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at 8:12 pm

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