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Why I Don’t Fit Into Society

Blocks-1I have always felt like the triangle block being forced into a round hole. It might be due to my conservative, Pentecostal upbringing, or possibly because while my friends were praying-through, playing sports, or working on figuring out the fairer sex, I was oblivious to reality. I was off in my own world somewhere else, having the time of my life. Of course, maybe I was born this way.

I had a good childhood, and my parents were “normal” and loved me, so I don’t really blame anyone. I just ended up not pursuing my creativity. My teachers complained about me daydreaming and having difficulty focusing, but diagnosing and understanding someone with ADHD was not common in the 70s. I was always reading. I read every book I could get my hands on whether it was the KJV Bible, The Lord of the Rings or Lady Chatterley’s Lover (weird but true). When my nose wasn’t buried in a book I enjoyed watching Night Gallery, Kolchak, or Twilight Zone marathons.

However, an interesting turning point happened to my appetite in 1978. One of my uncle’s collected Old Time Radio shows and gave me a box of cassettes for Christmas. I discovered programs such as Suspense, Escape, Lights-Out, X-Minus One, I Love a Mystery, Dimension X, Mercury Theater, The Hermits Cave, and dozens of others. These shows introduced me to a variety of twisted and macabre adventure stories written and directed by people like Orson Welles, Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, Rod Serling and others. I suddenly found the theater of my mind on site in far away places, way beyond my middle-class church community. Daily, I bounded into lost cities in the jungles of Africa, or fought crime in smoky bars to rescue breathy redheads from the mob, or sometimes I rocketed to newly discovered planets in search of aliens. But my all-time favorites were the ghost-hunter stories when they investigated haunted houses or dark, native cults, preserved for thousands of years on hidden pacific islands.

This combination of sci-fi, Gothic fiction/horror, noir, fantasy, and adventure produced the off-center person I am today. It is kind of like my view on sexual orientation, it doesn’t matter if I learned this behavior or if I was born this way, now that I’m here, the mental concrete of my brain is pretty much set. After the economy crashed in 2007 I found myself jobless, with an obsolete telecom resume. Since I dropped out of college my first semester as a young person, I wanted to return to finish my education, so I took the leap to re-invent myself to pursue my creative side. It took insanity, courage, and a lot of support from people I love, but I have never looked back. I have done social media and writing web content now for four years, and although my ADHD still kicks my tail, I love what I do.

While society may reject my dark and out-of-sync tastes, I have found a place where I do fit in. My writing friends are my people. They give me honest criticism, they get my jokes, and most of all, they accept me for who I am.

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Swing Dance Baby Steps-Avoid Alzheimer’s Through Muscle Memory

Jump Session Jitterbugs

The Jump Session Jitterbugs

Back in 2003 I broke my back in a car crash. Ever since, I have tried to stand when working at a computer. This now gives me an opportunity to train my brain to do new tricks by practicing triple steps at my desk. So far, I have had no complaints from my customers hearing me chant, Rock-step, triple-step, triple-step… in the background.  This basic move, is the first thing most swing dancers learn, and it needs to be so ingrained into the mind, we don’t think about it on the dance floor.

My desk at home.

My desk at home.

Jumping into the Lindy community has been fantastic, but also, a little painful. People come out of the woodwork sporting hats, bow ties, suspenders, vintage dresses, and flowers. When I saw all the women running around with flowers in their hair, I knew the Lindy Hop style originated in San Francisco not in Harlem. While some of these traditions are cool, others are complicated and unexpected. Quality Big Band and jazz music is an important part of the scene, but difficult to find. If you want to start a riot, try to play some neo-swing or rockabilly songs at a Jump session.  It will get bloodier than adding an electric guitar during a chorus of Amazing Grace at a church of Christ revival. But I digress…

Basically, dance moves are just like riding a bike, or driving car, your brain is capable of transforming cognitive thinking skills into muscle memory. Once this happens, you can concentrate on other aspects of dancing such as, what to do with your arms, hips, and face while trying to keep the beat.

Another potential benefit is exciting new research connecting muscle memory and music to Alzheimer’s prevention (Do not watch if you don’t want to cry). If I can survive learning this, anyone can. Go buy some new shoes and meet me at the Jump session Friday night.

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Swing Dance Baby Steps-The Journey Begins

As many of my existing readers know, this blog is kind of like a journal into my fishbowl life. If you want predictable dribble, go somewhere else, but if the voyeur in you wants to peep in on me “Living La Vida Loca” then stay tuned. It won’t be long before you will witness the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Check out some of my friends swing dancing in beautiful Nashville, TN for iCharleston Nashville.

Check out some of my friends swing dancing in beautiful Nashville, TN for iCharleston Nashville.

Much to the chagrin of my friends and family, I have never lacked for overconfidence. In fact, delusions of grandeur have been a daily part of my life as far back as I can remember. The main reason I chose not to become a rock star, professional athlete, or blockbuster movie producer was not due to limitations in my voice, body, and brain, but because I had other priorities. **Roll eyes here**

Although I consider myself a musician, one area of music always eluding me, is dancing. I understand rhythm and accents in a song, but I can never get my body to cooperate with my head. Recently I discovered there are a number of reasons I never followed in Fred Astaire’s footsteps:

  • No Muscle Memory
  • No Practice
  • No Teacher
  • No Plan

Is it possible for a 45-year-old dog to learn a new trick? I am about to find out. I went to my first dance class about three months ago, and it has probably been painful for everyone but me (I’m having a blast). However, even though I’m out of shape, and maybe I look like Chris Farley on the dance floor, I am excited to see what happens when I turn this page of my book.

The experience has been quite rewarding. I get free exercise, while listening to vintage big band music, and the Nashville Swing Dance community (specifically NSDF) has been incredibly supportive and friendly to a noob, like myself.