A Return to Blogging – Austin, Jewrotica, Choir and Life

18 11 2012

There are many funny, thoughtful and unusual OurTake adventures to be shared from the past month and half.  Yet I haven’t made the time to write about daily life in a while.  It’s too easy to get out of the habit of writing and I really value the use of the blog as a reflection space.  So, with no further ado, what follows is a mega catch-up post:

The rest of my trip to Florida thankfully proved less eventful.  I visited with family and amused myself at jumping between worlds once again – going from RV living in an Austin co-op one night to posh accommodations on “Country Club Drive” in Aventura the next.  I discovered the most delicious vegan restaurant in North Miami Beach, owned by a super friendly and relaxing Caribbean guy named Hakin.  I splashed around on Hollywood Beach collecting shells, and met up with local friends.

Back in Austin, I have continued to play acroyoga and I even scored my first “professional” gig performing at a party, but I have been winding down my involvement in the practice as there have been few advanced bases available to play with.  I have, however, experienced some incredible live music on the original Austin City Limits stage and I plan to keep exploring the city’s offerings including the East Austin Studio Tour showcasing local artists in my neighborhood.

Double Bird - Three Person Acro

Double Bird – Three Person Acro

The Acro Performance Crew

The Acro Performance Crew

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the fact that a core group of my friends in Austin are hippies.  Just last night, we held a Garden Party gathering with potluck veggie food and relaxed folks sitting around on cushions on the floor in giant massage and cuddle puddles.  A camp fire burned in the backyard and as the instruments came out, we sang along beaming and smiling to the tunes of Leonard Cohen and… Pocahontas.  Yup, that’s right.  Colors of the Wind, Just Around the Riverbend…  Great songs.  My friends might be hippies who do things like organic farm, film, chiropractic, etc. but they’re still hippies.  🙂

On a project front, Jewrotica is doing exceptionally well with reviews in Jezebel, Gothamist, Ha’Aretz, etc.  But I had absolutely no idea how much work it would be at the beginning.  It shouldn’t have been so surprising considering that this is a start-up, but most days require hours of my time and it’s been challenging to train myself to sit in front of a computer (ick) even for something exciting like this.  I started a weekly column on the site and have been reading and editing submissions, so this may have diverted some of my writing energies from the blog.

Music, Massage, Cuddles and Love - I ♥ Hippies

Music, Massage, Cuddles and Love – I ♥ Hippies

Incredible Live Music on the ACL Stage by Mother Falcon

Incredible Live Music on the ACL Stage by Mother Falcon

The choir is still going wonderfully.  We have been invited to sing at several community functions (including a city-wide Thanksgiving feast this Tuesday) and just a couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to northwest Austin to guest sing at a neighboring church.  I was expecting that we would visit another black gospel church, but the place we walked into was white as could be in an upper class suburb.

Both choirs were seated on stage, one next to another, and the visual contrast was quite stark.  I kidded with my choir member next to me: “Now what do they think they’re doing? This is segregation!”, as – with the exception of me – the stage was quite literally separated down the middle between black and white.  My friend chuckled and shook his head at me.  But, it’s been really nice to feel accepted and comfortable enough for us to be able to tease each other about these things.

Dancers Prepping For Our Inter-Church Service

Dancers Prepping For Our Inter-Church Service

Segregation! (Kidding...)

Segregation! (Kidding…)

The performance itself should have been recorded as it was just like something out a movie!  The white choir got up and sang their angelic Hallelujah-like song and then we busted out the drums and piano and started rocking out with “How Glorious and Excellent is Our God!”, clapping our hands and swaying from side to side.  By the end of our song, we had the whole church up dancing with us and had even invited the white choir to join in – something that, in their words, they had never done before.  It was epic.  Not to mention the fact that this fancy church served challah for their communion ceremony, but that’s another story.

Beyond the singing, the choir continues to provide new insights and opportunities.  This morning our guest speaker was Anthony Graves, a black man imprisoned and held on death row for years only to be deemed completely innocent and released to his family eighteen years later.  His story was powerful and tragic but also gripping, and Mr. Graves provided fascinating insights into the judicial system while encouraging our community toward civic participation.

In lighter news, I tend to be a low-maintenance gal.  I’m not into shopping, I don’t wear jewelry and I only occasionally do the make-up thing.  However, I enjoy creative costuming and – though I identify with being a brunette – I have always been curious about what it would be like to be blonde.  (Would I be able to pull it off?)  So, on Thursday, I met up with my friend who is a stylist and went platinum blonde!  It’s kind of crazy and at first I hated it (it’s very light for my skin tone and was a pretty dramatic change), but it took balls to just go for it and I’m proud of myself for not being scared to give it a try.

Blonde! My Name is Svetlana, But You Can Call Me "Sveta"...

Blonde! My Name is Svetlana, But You Can Call Me “Sveta”…

A Nicer Photo After My Friend Sway Taught Me How To "Dress for the Blonde"

A Nicer Photo After My Friend Sway Taught Me How To “Dress for the Blonde”

The hair is some combination of Alice in Wonderland (when I wear a headband), mermaid (when I wear a long flowy skirt) and a Russian society woman when the lipstick goes on (my alter ego, Svetlana).

This morning, one of the church members asked what possessed me to go blonde.  I looked her sincerely in the eye and said “You know, I’m just trying to fit in more around here” and broke into a big smile.  She guffawed and retorted: “You suuuure fit in now, Ayo!”  So, I’ll probably start returning to my darker hair in the coming month, but I may as well embrace it and rock the blonde for now.

Otherwise and in “more serious” news, I’m going to be proactive in the coming weeks about processing recent events.  I haven’t entirely processed my near-death accident in Florida last week and I haven’t really begun processing the events of the summer.  Though I have been largely thriving over the past five months, I have also been in survival mode: focused on making sure that Yair was okay, that our families were okay, that our belongings were fairly and amicably separated, that we each had a place to live, etc. I haven’t allowed myself to talk about what happened or to react like a normal person would.  And –

– though I am still committed to maintaining both my and Yair’s privacy and avoiding lashon hara (which is why I haven’t spoken to any friends about the details of this major life change)

– though I still prioritize staying close to Yair (and his family) and look forward to bli ayin hara celebrating his grandma’s 100th birthday next month

– though I generally don’t find anger to be useful and tend to steer away from it

…there is still a lot to process and a lot to be legitimately livid about, so I am going to try and allow myself the space in the coming month to reflect and potentially feel anger in order to subsequently let it all go and move forward in the most healthy way possible.

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I’ll soon begin planning for a month-long excursion to Europe and Israel for this winter, and I imagine that there will be plenty of escapades to share from those travels.

So, that’s life.  Jewrotica launch, choir shenanigans, friends and adventures, and the processing of the past.  And I’m not entirely myself, but I’m feeling good, I’m doing good and I’m getting there.

posted by ayo




5 responses

19 11 2012

I highly recommend Mars and Venus Starting Over by John Gray. It was really helpful for me in my recent breakup, and it addresses how certain negative emotions need to to processed in order to heal the heart. It was really good to read and it was also uplifting. ❤

19 11 2012

Anne, it’s so nice to hear from you. And thank you for the book recommendation. I think that previously I felt “above” self development books in some way, but that’s a silly thing to think and I’m open to good reads. I have a few books in my “queue” right now, but will add this to the list.

Thanks again. 🙂

6 12 2012

Hi Ayo –

Here’s a book I think you’ll enjoy – it is a great read, and gets into the science of how brains can sync with and feel each other. I read it years ago and it was eye opening on many levels.

This book popped into my head a while back as something I wanted to pass on to you. I just reminded myself to actually go about doing so. Here’s the link:


– Chris

12 08 2013

Someone is using your picture as their own on FB


12 08 2013

Yikes. Thanks for the heads up. I just shot her a message and nicely asked her to take it down. Hopefully that will work. Thank you, Joan!

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