After the first course this beautiful woman walked into the room. I say beautiful to describe her essence not conventional good looks, though she is a total babe. I believe an expansive definition of beauty liberates us from what the media tells us is beautiful. Lili, our host for the evening, was robust in her generosity of spirit and it glowed from within her.
It was pretty bananas trying to herd animals with a bunch of people you only just met. Our strategy was to create a semi-circle and move the herd that way. It kind of worked, we were ultimately successful. I only got hit by a ram in my leg a couple of times and only got scratched up by Biblical thorny plants a little bit, but I barely noticed because it was so thrilling to get to hang out with animals.
Being fat on an airplane is a nightmare. There are plenty of places fat people go that remind us that the world is built for people who are small, even though in the US the average size is 14 and considered “fat.” Those tiny airplane seats with the arm rests are awful. The leg room doesn't allow for tall people and the seat belts are not at all consistently sized. I can be on the same airline with two legs to a flight and one flight the seatbelt will fit me fine and on another I’ll need an extender. Same exact body, inconsistent seat belts.
The trip itself was a fifty-person tour group made up mostly of participants, who came from many walks of life. There were way more Christians with no ties to Judaism on the trip than I thought there would be. (I would be considered “strong ties to Judaism” because of my partner and my Grandfather.) Maybe it was roughly third Jewish folks, a third strong ties and a third no ties? The Storytellers were from all types of Storytelling, political speechwriters, broadway performers, actors, social media managers, TV and movie producers, journalists, novelists and more.
Our schedule was packed early morning to late night with activities. Sometimes lectures at the hotel but more often out and about seeing things and hearing about them from our tour guide. We had a panel of journalists, tons of leadership development activities, tours of villages and went all over Israel from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea, a big ol’ crater in the desert to Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
I feel like I got a Master’s degree level immersive coursework about Israel, the conflict with the Palestinians, the war in Syria. Old and New Testament Bible stories come to life. Israel was nothing like I expected and the trip completely blew me away, creatively, emotionally, politically, and left me more curious than ever.
On that trip of a lifetime earlier this month, (I've been home a week/can't believe it's already been a week!) the first group go around we said our name and something people could talk with us about. I have been in a lot of facilitated groups; this was the simplest and most effective go around for sparking individual conversations! Some people picked silly stuff and some people went more serious. I chose strategically because I knew the folks with whom I would engage with were global influencers, it was a rad opportunity to get to talk to them about body liberation activism!
What I did not expect was how sharp and quick my 2-5 minute spiel about body liberation activism would get when I delivered it 20 times! Sometimes it was one-on-one sitting next to each other on the bus, sometimes it was at dinner to a few folks, and then that time Jenna asked me about it I gave a full five minute workshop about it with a tiny cluster of curious Storytellers. Jenna and I continued a lengthy conversation about it for almost a whole day.
In spite of all that, we decided to push forward and apply for a grant Dara heard about to throw an EPIC Seder. If a regular Seder with 11 family members was such a beautiful disaster, what could we do if we had FUNDING? I want you to know that as I write this I understand the logic is missing but we didn't really see it. We had the Spirit about it, wanted to do a big fun thing for our friends in LA and consecrate our house as a gathering place for meaningful rituals and karaoke.
Last summer Dara went on the trip of a lifetime with the Schusterman Foundation that works to incubate a new generation of leaders. Part of their work is funding cool stuff that their incubated leaders come up with. My perspective on the grant application was threefold: yay to Dara wanting to explore her Judaism by hosting Seder, yay to getting funding to throw a party but also OMG what are we getting ourselves into we just moved to LA and are both starting small businesses.
We got the grant and we pushed on.
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Friends! I just got back from one of the most inspirational and fulfilling weeks of my life. Intentional community, dream trip, deep emotions, deep caring, connections, luxury bathtubs. It was such a surprise to me that the experience was so deep and so much of what I needed.
I was blogging through the process of my transition to LA from Brooklyn, but things got pretty derailed for me as I have been affected both by the de-stability of the transition and the effects of the mental illness and substance abuse of a close friend. Shit has been rough.
How blessed I feel to have had this experience. Intentional community is incredibly healing for me. Summer camp did that for me as a kid and a teen. The Femme Conference did that for me for awhile, so did performing with my drag king troupe in the early 2000s. Now I have this new experience to reflect on. I’m excited to dive in and tell you all about what I saw, heard, learned, felt and experienced. But first, I think I need to paint a picture of what’s been going on in my life for context.
Dara and I have been so hard at work expanding Dollypalooza, the epic fan tribute to Dolly Parton I started in 2014.
First expansion: we moved to a bigger venue in NYC and doubled our capacity! We sold out last year and hope to get even more Dolly fans in the door. Tickets are on sale now for the September 3rd show (Labor Day weekend) and if you buy them by August 10th (Wednesday) you'll get a free Dolly for President poster! Pick it up at our merch table, it will be under whatever name you give when you buy your tickets.
Second expansion: we added an LA show! October 29th, we're calling it "Dolloween" because we hope people will dress like Dolly or related Dolly characters/country cuteness. Tickets are not yet on sale, I'm still booking it out. If you know a performer in LA or willing to come to LA, send them the online form to apply! I especially want to curate a diverse cast, so folks of color, queer folks, older folks and folks of size are highly encouraged to apply. I cast drag queens, burlesque artists, performance artists, tap dance, puppetry, anything campy or fun and in the spirit of Dolly Parton. Application deadline is August 23rd.
I got the following question in my comments about a topic I'm very passionate about--thigh chafing aka chub rub prevention!
What about swimming? How do we go swimming with bikini bottoms but still prevent the chafing?
I'm so glad you asked! I've never actually found swimming to cause chub rub for me, but I have definitely had moments at pool parties and beaches where I needed to surreptitiously apply chub rub prevention for out of the water wandering and socializing. It's hard to find a clandestine spot to rub something between your thighs out at the beach, and you don't want to wait until it's too late!