Allez, venez et entrez dans la danse

sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love
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[This first part typed between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and edited just now.]

It's lunchtime, and I've finally made it over to "Hot Kabobs," a Persian restaurant that opened in Nashville within the last year or so. I am sitting at a square table draped in navy blue fabric, with another square over it with a flower-star-motif in the center consisting of cream satin, blue and gold brocade, and gold mesh stitched together with gold thread. There is a clear plastic square over all this.

The items currently on the table: glass-and-metal salt shakers, and a sugar shaker containing a red powder I can't identify. (It doesn't taste hot enough to be a pepper, or at least not at the moment.) A glass of water with a slice of lemon. A plate of flat bread with tiny square containers of whipped butter. A small dish of chopped cucumber and tomato ["shirazi salad"]. A mug of hot Persian tea (quite good, and my bronchii are thanking me). A ramekin of small sugar cubes. The kashk o'baemjan appetizer (eggplant and garlic spread) has arrived, and it's enough I could have made a meal out of it -- I'll be taking half of it with me... and probably half of the lunch special as well, a plate of chenjeh (sirloin kabob) with basmati rice. (I'll have to take another look at the menu later to figure out whether I should have specified "flat bread" for the cheaper version of the entree -- although the rice is quite tasty, so I don't mind having missed that step today.) The chairs are red vinyl on black metal frames, and the carpet is maroon industrial with Persian area rugs n top of it. The decorations on the walls (a deliberately uneven mustard-colored plaster) include an ornate square clock, several metal dishes, some more patchwork circles, a pair of heavily, glitterily embroidered skirts, and a molded plastic combination place setting/clock above the entrance to the kitchen [on closer inspection, the setting includes a bottle of red soda, a plate of rice and meat, and a ramekin of yogurt]. This is one of the many Nashville restaurants that has the look and feel of having been a house before it was converted into a cafe. Business appears to be good - it's not packed, but there are an assortment of other couples and trios of various ages and ethnicities coming, dining, and going (and conversations taking place in multiple languages). It'll be a good place to meet my own friends for lunch -- ordered by itself, the special would total less than $10, and parking is adequate. There are slatted wooden tables and chairs outside on a brick patio -- today would actually be a good day for that.

I've been meaning to come here for ages (the BYM likes food like this, but he found the name offputting). Another place that had been on my list that I finally got to this morning was Tea Time Nashville, a store on 12th Avenue. It is in "The Paris Building," and while it has a few French things (a nifty build-a-carousel greeting card, for instance, and tins of Paris tea), much of the merchandise is British and Japanese. There are numerous varieties of tea candies and mints and several racks of British foods (including mushy peas and sponge cake mix as well as curds, jams, and a very good selection of biscuits (Hobnobs, etc.). There's currently a half-off sale on some of the summer overstock, so I came away with ginger nuts and ginger shortbread as well as the birthday gifts I'd stopped in for..[ETA: Also a packet of Penguins. Which I left in the very hot car during lunch. Durr...] The sample of the day was a "honeydew" green tea that was very nice (not too fruity). The proprietor used to work for non-profits and I gather creating tea-related events was a part of that; she was tying ribbons onto teacups to be sold as Christmas ornaments when I was ready to be rung up, so we had a nice chat about the challenges of being a retail buyer.

I seldom get over to the 12th Avenue area, and there are always new things to notice each time I do. Today I passed a store called "Two Elle" -- judging from its window display, it's a boutique for plus-size women.

I did mentally noodle a bit more with the poems last night, but didn't get as far as typing anything down. Instead, I cooked dinner (a chicken-rice-mozzarella combination in spicy red sauce, with zucchini-portabello-onion on the side), sipped sake, answered some e-mails, and spent too much time trying to track down a Francis Cabrel tribute I'd seen some time ago (Zazie leading a Rockollection-style medley of his songs with les 500 choristes). I had no luck there... but I did come across a bonus clip of les Enfoires rehearsing Quelqu'un m'a dit, which tickles me on multiple levels [the stage performance is here, Carla Bruni's video is here, and there's a Star Academy performance with odd staging that I like anyway because the singer has given thought to the words she's singing, even though her voice has a harsher timbre to it than Bruni's].

On my drive here, I passed the synagogue I used to attend semi-regularly. More "Save Darfur" signs have appeared on its front lawn. I do have the times for tonight's Kol Nidre service pencilled into my planner, but I also realized just this morning that, for the time being, I need to let go of the desire to reincorporate participatory Judaism in my life. Part of it is the ever-present crowdedness of Friday nights -- much as I love the service, I also like simply going home to my man and my dog (which, over the past year, has won out when I've actually left the office before sundown, which has been rare) when there isn't some event or dinner to attend; also, Friday nights is when the contradancers gather, and actually doing something about getting more exercise would improve a host of other things. Part of it is balancing spiritual electives with spiritual obligations -- at present, it's enough of a challenge finding time to stay involved with the congregation I actually belong to without overextending myself. That, and the synagogue's internal politics apparently took a turn for the worse last year -- I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know it makes me all the more hesitant to re-involve myself. They are currently rabbi-less, and when the cantor leads services, he likes to ask the congregants lots of questions to which the answers are in Hebrew. Which I would totally dig if I were actually conversant in Hebrew and/or taking classes there, but as things are, it underlines the fact that at my level, I am merely dabbling rather than truly participating.

Put another way, with Judaism, I'm basically at the point where I need to study more on my own (or make time for classes) before returning to congregational worship, and there are too many other things higher on my list in terms of potential usefulness (either in the realm of self-care, interaction with people already in my life, or professional payoff). I'm reminded of a college classmate who told me how he'd stopped playing chess when he'd reached the point where he needed to commit to much more study if he wanted to reach the next level; that's an oddly close analogy to how I feel about participating in synagogue life -- it may not be a competition or career, but in terms of mental engagement and emotional satisfaction, that's what the choice (not) to go to services feels like. (As does not auditioning for certain shows/ensembles,

Separated from the context of the rest of my life, that would sound depressing, but given that it's because there's so much else going on -- well, no one said there wouldn't be pangs along with the pleasures. The weekend's going to be a combination of writing (where the question of "more study" isn't a question at all but a compulsion), housework, celebrating (13th wedding anniversary), and working [and kidnapping a friend for pastries, puppets, and posters, all at the public library]. The manager of the restaurant turned up the lights in my area a while ago, with a nod to my laptop (very nice of him -- I hadn't asked), more people have come in and seated themselves, and I have finished both my tea and water. Time to pack up and return to the to-do list. :-)

[Now wrapping up at the office...]

More good things:

  • Nashville's Channel 4 did a feature on the Nashville Calligraphers' Guild show at Centennial Art Center this morning. It's currently online at, and you can glimpse closeups of one of my pieces at :46 and 1:42. [The entire clip is only 1:53 (one minute 53 seconds) long, but it took my computer about six times as long to load it, unfortunately.] It may please the UUs reading this to know that the text of the piece is "Come, come, whoever you are..."

  • The editors of Dwarf Stars 2007 have selected one of my scifaiku (from print issue 13 of Scifaikuest) for inclusion. *happy dance*

  • Didn't make much progress on the things I'd actually intended to work on, but I finally dealt with most of the "I Don't Want to Deal With It" pile. Go me!

  • Just found out there's going to be a huge puppet festival in Nashville next summer. *glee*

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