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I like to think that the things I do matter.  I like to think that I’m operating on some sort of ethical system that allows me to think rationally and make decisions that will effect some sort of change for the better.  About a year ago images and text and a protest started going up around the Barbra Barker Center for Dance at the University of Minnesota.  Colloquially known as the “This” protest, anonymous dance students of Color commented on and critiqued institutionalized racism, white privilege, and issues surrounding casting.  This protest grew to include images of “invisible” bodies and stories ranging from dancers with disabilities to GLBT identified dancers and more.  After an incredibly heated post-University Dance Theatre discussion where I brought up the issue of race and casting particularly in Sarah Stackhouse’s restaging of Jose Limon’s Missa Brevis, the floor was taken by students of Color and white students alike.  Due to the insensitive and what could be read as inadvertently racist way of reacting to such allegations, dance students of Color began said protest.  As the instigator of the conversation I whole-heartedly supported the cause and the protest and tried fervently to further incite the conversation, stop the silencing, and raise new questions around GLBT issues in the building.

Because I don’t really want to recount the entire semester, I will give a link to the timeline provided on the protest’s website, which was used to document everything.  It is important to note that this timeline is infused with thick, critical language which is naturally biased and perhaps too myopic to serve as a sufficient history.  One day I would like to go through and add to the timeline, creating a multiplicitous reading of the happenings.  That day, though, is not today.

The reason I’m writing is because me, along with 2 close friends, removed the protest materials after what we believed to be a shift in the focus of the protest.  Moving away from issues of race and white privilege, the protest became exceedingly about U of M curriculum and faculty abuse of power.  What I find interesting is that nothing on the walls but for the occasional open letter addressed issues of abuse of power.  It’s impossibly easy to locate abuse of power in dance, notably choreographers like Balanchine forcing his dancers to become coke fiended anorexics.  What irked me the most was the spouting of inflammatory accusations toward the dance program’s Faculty of Color, three of which are world-renowned dance scholars who focus on issues of race and dance, without the positionally of referencing oneself.  I understand the threat of claiming a claim that is made to your superiors and in this specific case one of your bosses, but it seems less than ethical to me to put these professors who work diligently to fight racism on the line without properly self-reflecting and pointing out possible biases.

I feel like I’m getting nowhere with this post and all I’m doing is throwing myself back into the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts I was encased in last year.  I still do not regret my decision to take down the materials.  With the help of my 2 friends, we attempted and succeeded to set up two white privilege workshops free of charge for students, which were sadly poorly attended.  It’s hard for me to look back and say that what I did was affective.  It’s harder for me to look at what the protestors did and say it was affective.  True, the Office of Equity and Diversity came in and “worked their magic”, which proved to do nothing but put everyone on the defensive and to serve as a model for “these types of situations” (an actual conversation with a high-up in the OED.)

My question is what has been done?  A majority of the students who were so incredibly invested in this protest and these happenings graduated and have moved on to fight new fights.  What is being said now?  How has this protest affected other schools?  The protest was up during the regional American Collegiate Dance Festival last year and students from across the region witnessed the protest and what were their reactions?  What did they learn?  In one case that I won’t really share on here I found the reaction to be the adverse, pushing people further into racial ignorance and removing any sense of context or effectiveness.

I think what bothers me still is the inability of the protestors to build community.  In their “year later” post that I read today they wrote of growing tired and not being able to do it.  I guess what proves to be the truth is that we cannot fight the fight alone.  We must build allies, inform and educate newcommers to the program.  It cannot be completely up to the faculty and staff do this job.  And if it is up to them, perhaps a student-teacher coalition or alliance needed to be formed with this group to develop strategies.  I am  one hundred percent sure that it’s impossible to create that much change and sustain the fight with just 4 or 5 people.  Energy is required to stay that strong.

I hope that the students at the dance program will truly think about the messages of the protest.  I hope that they will take what has been done and learn and change the system.  It’s practically impossible for me to do anything from here.  I feel really helpless, though.

I hate getting pulled back in to these things.  I think I have to be done talking about this.  I don’t know if I was right anymore.  I can justify it, but I don’t know if it’s really done anything.  I don’t know what will.

Annotated timeline:

http://thisbyus.blogspot.com/2009/02/annotated-timeline-of-dance-program.html

So I’m at a coffee shop right now.  An attempt to break up my day a little and a need for coffee, obviously.  Yesterday we ran out OH NO.  Haha. Anyone who knows me well knows that coffee has become sort of my blood.  I am probably a coffee vampire…i don’t like that scratch it.  They’re playing something that sounds a little bit like the Beatles here.  You know the kind of music that plays at coffee shops that you’re never really sure what it is but you just want it to keep playing so you can drink your coffee and write your blog.   It’s that kind of music.  So yesterday I sent a proposal in to CORD again.  This specific conference is on “Embodying Power: Distance Over Time”.  My issue with this conference is that it’s a joint conference between CORD and a theatre studies thing.  I mean, it’s not that I don’t like theatre studies, but it’s not what I do…and I don’t know about it.  We’ll see I think my abstract was strong and pretty doable.  Here’s to another year of impossible goals and expectations.

I had this idea for a blog while I was sipping my strong Voltaire coffee from Alterra with the music playing the almost Beatles music that I could do something like ‘A gay and his dog’ or something like that.  On Friday we’re getting puppies and GOD KNOWS I will be stressed about that but in a good way.  I just think it would be cute to document me and the puppies and Ra’ and the puppies.  It wouldn’t always be about the dogs, obviously, more about me.  Like this one except with more or less focus on a given day.  I’ll probably just keep doing this one and make some about the dogs.  That’s a more feasible, doable thing.

Speaking of the pups we’re gonna go to Petco today, you know where the pets go?  We have to prepare the place for them.  Puppy pads, dog food, KONG toys, blankets, a doggy bed.  I am so ready to love dogs again.  It’s been hard since Penny died a few years ago for me to open up to an animal like that, but it’s time.  Penny would’ve wanted me to do so (Penny was my dog from 1st grade who had to be put down 3 years ago when she got lots of cancer in her body and couldn’t see or really walk anymore.  She was the best dog a boy could ever have.)  I will make them my family and miss them whenever I go anywhere.    Why is it so much easier to write 500 words in a blog than 250 in an abstract?  I suppose an abstract has goals…this blog clearly doesn’t.

Well with that I am probably going to stop this post.  I look forward to Friday when the babies come home and meet their daddies and fall in love forever and steal our hearts.  Ra’ has already said that I’ll have to be the disciplinarian, so I’m reading up on lots of training tips and watching “It’s you or the dog” like constantly.  Remember when I said I was gonna end this post?   Well it’s not often that  I feel the need to keep writing so I figure I might as well keep going.  (Most people would delete these sentences)  OK now i’m really done.  BAI.

So it’s 2010. Woh, right? When did that happen? Not sure. Well I guess it happened at midnight on Jan 1st…but yeah. I spent NYE at International Market Square dancing and partying the night away with Jessica and Ra’mon. It was probably the first NYE that I haven’t been upset and I can genuinely say I had an amazing time. It was my last big night in Minneapolis, at least as a full resident. That’s correct, I have finally moved away from the Minni apple. Weird, no? After 6 years or so in that city I’ve graduated further east. I’m in Milwaukee now living with Ra’mon and LOVING IT. OK, today it’s snowing, but I’m looking for jobs and emailing dance companies right now. It’s sort of exciting to get out and actually take control of my future. Does Milwaukee have a bigger dance scene than Minneapolis? No…but it probably has more opportunities. I wasn’t getting what I wanted/needed out of the Mpls dance stuff, so hopefully here I can dance and choreograph a little more. Maybe show my stuff some places and start my own company, or at least my own dance collective. That’s the plan at least.

I am slightly concerned about the whole dance world, though. I’m not 100 percent sure it’s what I want. I feel pretty strongly that the sort of dance I want to do is not as radical as my political mind would like it to be. It’s hard. I don’t want to do the super post modern, basically physical theatre dance that is stereotypically political. Why can’t physical, “pretty” dance be political? It can…I will make it so.

So I’m GOING TO BLOG MORE. I don’t have much else going on right now anyway. I saw this yesterday on my friend Kara’s wall after our friend Amy posted it on hers. It’s a mashup of the top 25 songs of 2009. It’s pretty damn brilliant. It took A LOT OF TIME. HOLY SHIT I JUST HEARD THAT WE LIVE IN A POST FEMINIST WORLD. Please don’t watch Tyra Banks…it’s AWFUL. OK…sorry for that tangent. Ok, here is the link. And I think I’m gonna be done blogging for today.

You know when you’re so close to something you want that you can taste it?  It’s significantly difficult.  It’s a precarious matter. It’s a slippery slope:  maybe not in the conventional usage of the phrase, but you feel like you could fall over at any given time.  Life is like that for me right now.  Too close to the untouchable, to the unchangeable.  I’m roughly 2 weeks away from escape, though.  I thought I’d be thrilled to get away, but now I’m not 100 percent sure.  I feel a little weird, not ready.  I never really feel ready for anything I’m doing though. Practice practice practice think think practice think think practice.  How can I get through days like this?  I’m not trying to be emo or angsty.  I’m really just wondering. So much is at stake right now in so many ways.  How do you know which way to go?  Follow your heart, your head, or your dream?  I guess it seems like sometimes you when you want to do all 3 it becomes increasingly difficult to do any of them.  I end up sitting here, not really moving, not really taking any chances.  I’m pretty sure I want to figure it all out, to go away for a weekend to think, to escape to the woods and just be without any distractions to clear my head, heart, and hopes.  It isn’t enough just to think that everything’s clear right now because I’m pretty sure that none of it is.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I should write more, vent more, eat more, read more, live more.  I should do so many shoulds and I hate shoulds more than most other things. I’m incredibly annoyed too.  I wish people would grow up, or get a clue, or open their eyes.  I wish I weren’t so veiled.  I wish people knew when I was being serious.  I wish so much.  I wish, I think, I dream, I hope.  Do you see a trend?

Fall’s a good time of year.  I like it the most.  I’m excited to be in a new place for it.  To fall madly in love with a city I know very little about.  I’m scared to leave everything behind.  I’m terrified of coming back and it all being changed, or maybe worse for it to be mostly the same but feeling not right because I can’t figure out what’s changed.

Anyway, I’ll write again later. Maybe tonight but for sure tomorrow.  I don’t know if writing is good for me, but I’ll do it.

Life seems to be a matrix of choices.  How we decide to choose is our own problem.  I think for the people who realize this, life becomes a lot more fragile.  Sometimes I get lost in my own head for hours just because of all the millions upon trillions of different scenarios, lives, minds, and forks in the road.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how other people make choices.  It’s not that complicated, really.  We’re conditioned to make choices in the manner that we do, it seems.  It gives a bit of predictability to life.  The room for error decreases the more you get to know a person.  It seems that the number of choices can be limited to a few thousand instead of a billion.  What does it really matter if you can predict, though?  Should it stop me from acting, from socializing, from following my fucked up mind?  I really don’t believe in fate.  Destiny is an easy way out for people too afraid to realize their agency.  The moment you open your mind to the possibility of self-control of the future is the same moment you realize how incredibly important and at the same time incredibly unimportant everything is.  Nothing and everything matters.  It’s all in the words, it’s all in the moves.  In 2,000 years history will have been decided by an uncountable number of different choices made by an infinite number of people.  Take some fucking ownership of your life.  Or sit and freak out about it for a while.  That’s what I do.  The longer we sit and lie dormant, the less of an impact on anything we make, which is more of an impact.  I’m talking in circles and making no sense.  I’m writing to get things off my chest that I’m not writing because I don’t know who reads this.  It’s all in the words, in the thoughts, in the moves, in the emotions.  Emotions are another thing altogether.  Love is a powerful thing, but that doesn’t mean it actually exists.

I’m ready for it to be fall. I am ready for summer to be over.

in the end it all doesn’t make sense.

who gets to have a happy ending? who gets a silver platter? i am anxiously awaiting november. it couldn’t come any sooner. the contract should arrive in the mail soon. i’m gonna sign it right away and send it back without even blinking.

how did i become so mediocre?

today i feel like lying in bed and eating ice cream and oreos.

it’s cold and summer’s almost over. finally.

Things I have realized in the past 24 hours.

1. I don’t need or want a job. (this is false, at least the first half.)

2. I want to wear this every day for the rest of summer.

3. Hedgehogs don’t look like sonic, at all.

4. I’m starting a book and my lack of job will help me in writing.  Maybe I’ll get an advance. ha.  If you want to be in my book, you better be cool.  I take bribes.

5. It’s really hot in Minnesota during August and I don’t do well with humidity.

I haven’t written in forever. I feel like I have lots to say but not really sure how to say it. I guess I don’t let people in.  I guess maybe I should.  I guess this is maybe not the place to let it all out.

I’m 25 now.  Weird.  I feel like I’ve been getting noticed on the street though.  I always thought when I turned 25 I would have everything figured out, where I was going, etc.  I’m sure I already said this before.  Here I am, 25, with nothing figured out.  I don’t really think anyone has anything figured out though.  I’m pretty sure if someone says they do, they’re really just lying to themselves and others.

I want the world to stay mouldable. I hate when things start to harden, to cement themselves in place.  I think it’s an immaturity I don’t want to let go of.  I don’t want life to solidify or become fixed.  The only fixed thing I want is for things to stay not fixed.  Fixed as in static, not repaired.  I think once something is fixed it’s much harder to repair.

Summer seems to be going by quickly.  I’m trying to take tame to enjoy it, but it’s hard when work demands so much.  I’m not even full-time, but I feel so crazy half the time.  It’s good though.  Keeps me busy and my brain engaged.  I think that’s about it for now.

It’s pride weekend in Minneapolis.  There are gays everywhere.  My entire neighborhood is being taken over for a few days, getting all glittery and sparkled up.  This is my third year going to pride.  Last year was blah, the year before was a little more fun. I hope this turns out to be fun.  I’m not overly optimistic.  I just get really uncomfortable in such huge crowds.

I’m ready to be back in the North Shore. I keep having dreams about it.  About seeing the eagle, sitting around the fire, eating marshmallows, singing songs as loud as possible in the wilderness. haha.  I’ve learned of some really great places to eat on the way there since.  I wanna eat at the Scenic Cafe and Gunflint.  There’s just something about escaping that always seems so appealing.  I still have to figure out how I’m going to write about the trip. It’s hard to way to start these things, you know?

This past week has been insane.  Good and bad and inbetween.  Simple doesn’t have to be easy.  I’m often perplexed by some people’s inability to really examine their own problems.  Maybe I really am one of them, but I tend to think I have a pretty good idea.  I just want another vacation.  Another weekend of being completely lost.

I feel semiconscious. Real in a sense of reality that is not real. I could play word games, go in circles for hours.  Maybe disconcious is a better word for it.  I’m fully awake, alive, present, yet my brain is playing, imagining, dissing any sense of conscious reality.

I’m ready to light this world on fire.  I’m reading postcolonial theory for leisure. Normative I am not, but I really am.  Life is too short to follow the rules, the laws, the boundaries (read frontiers).  I don’t want to reproduce my own frightening brand of Manifest Destiny, i want to learn, learn a new pedagogy.  My geopolitcal locationality allows me access to almost every part of the world.  What can I learn from it? I’m not an anthropologist, and collecting empircal data is nt my objective.  I want to live. Move. Breathe.

Nomadic.