Blind Café, Samba School & Other Adventures

5 03 2013

Written on 3/2/13

When not working on Jewrotica, I’ve been busying myself with all sorts of interesting experiences.  My cousin Lauren visited for the week and it was grounding and wonderful to have family – someone who has known me since I have existed – in Austin.  We participated in a blind café experience where we dined, listened to music and danced – all in pitch dark.  The waitstaff was blind, the musicians were blind and there was a Q&A panel where guests had the opportunity to ask questions – all under the anonymity of the darkness.

My table was fairly lively and, once dessert was served, I decided to make mischief and walk around the room.  I dubbed myself the chocolate fairy and took my plate of truffles around the dark room to find strangers to feed.  Most of the feeding went without a snag, though one conversation went something like this:

Ayo:  Hello!  I’m a chocolate fairy from table 9.  Would you like to be fed chocolate by a stranger?

Woman’s voice:  Sure!  (I feed her a truffle.)

Man’s voice:  Me, too!  (I feed him a truffle.)

Ayo:  Who else is at this table?

Woman:  It’s just the two of us!

Ayo:  Oh, cool!  Is this a date?

Woman:  Not exactly…

Man:  (In a very high voice)  I’m 12!

Meeting My New Friends Outside After The Event

Meeting My New Friends Outside After The Event

Oops!  When we were back out in the light, I kept looking at the 100+ faces and wondering which ones I had fed!  A couple of them saw me looking while holding my plate and asked with big smiles: “Were you our fairy?!” I wandered the lit foyer a bit more until I saw a young boy and a woman, and realized that I had identified my “table for two” as well.

The Q&A was informative, the music in the dark was beautifully focusing and one of my acro friends even goaded me into doing headstands in the dark!  I was asked to give a testimonial at the end of the evening, and popped up in their new promo video here:

Just three days later, my friend Daniel and I had another of my favorite kinds of adventures: detecting beautiful music and following it to its source!  We were in northwest Austin to attend a community soup party and were driving to Thailand (…on the playground’s ship in a nearby park) when I heard what sounded like incredible capoeira music.  I decided to follow it, and the music took us out of the park, through a small forest and all the way up to a mansion in a nearby neighborhood.

“What now?”, I imagined Daniel thinking as we stood at the bottom of the driveway.

Well, we go in!  I saw a woman getting out of her car in the garage and proceeded with: “Excuse me, ma’am, we were just in the park and heard such wonderful music that led us to find our way over here.  Could we join you and listen to a song or two?”

And that is how we met the owners of Austin’s largest samba school!  There were tens of drummers, singers and dancers creating and moving to Brazilian rhythms in the backyard in Austin’s spring-like air and we received a return invitation to their Sunday evening jams, to study (for free!) with the school and to perform with them after we have a few classes under our belts.  Cool!!

New Friends: Austin's Samba and Marimba Group

New Friends: Austin’s Samba and Marimba Group

In other news, last weekend was likely the best Purim of my life.  It was also my first real non-Orthodox Purim and I wonder if that is mere coincidence.  Hundreds turned out for megillah reading, everyone (including the adults) were in costume and there were Purim-related polls with live Tweet responses projected onto a screen in the sanctuary for each chapter.  (Example: Just before reading a section of the megillah that mentioned eunuchs, the screen lit up with this gem: “Eunuchs – Should they be accepted into the CAA Brotherhood?”  Poor folks!)  The whole evening was followed by a synagogue after-party that people actually stayed for with music, dancing, skits and… jello shots.

Since the Purim party theme was super heroes and super villains, I raided my housemate’s closet and dressed up as “Super Circus” complete with hula hoop and acro demonstrations.  Though I’m not much of a drinker, I nursed my first ever jello shot over a half hour (and was promptly made fun of for it!) and danced my butt off with old and new friends alike.

At Megillah Reading With Friends

At Megillah Reading With Friends

Bat Mitzvah Girl - On Purim Day

With Bat Mitzvah Girl – On Purim Day

In more serious news, the co-op caught fire… and Grandma passed away.  First, the fire: Thankfully, no living beings were hurt though the front of the house is burnt and we lost our electricity, heat and so forth on a night when the weather dropped to the 30s.  I was temporarily homeless as the RV was going to get cold, but I was able to take the co-op down the street up on some couch hospitality.  Thank God for community, right?

And Grandma – there was a lot of cognitive dissonance there for me.  It’s Yair’s Grandma technically and she lived an amazing life, 100 full years of family and love.  She passed peacefully and a couple of months after her gala 100th birthday party where she got to see almost all of her family and descendants, so that is pretty remarkable.  That said, I haven’t fully absorbed Grandma’s passing and I think I’m probably still a bit in denial about it.  When I first heard the news, I found myself asking the question of “Where did she go?”  It felt like such a childish question, but also a deeply profound and relevant one.

So, THIS is What a House On Fire Looks Like A Few Hours Later... Smoky.

So, THIS is What a House On Fire Looks Like A Few Hours Later… Smoky.

I have been putting a lot of focus into being present.  I find that – in addition to being a powerful coping tool for life’s challenges much like meditation – the act of being present is centering in an important way.  When I ride my scooter to Hillel or take a walk outside, I try to focus on the temperature of the air, what I see around me, how I feel, what I hear – and that act of being present is a welcome reprieve from a sometimes overwhelming to-do list as well as a second list of big picture decisions that await me.

With SXSW just around the corner, I imagine that some of our RVer friends will be coming through town and I hope to see you all!  Til then, keep your fingers crossed for the Jewrotica kick-off and I’ll try to update on the unlimited month of aerial training (2-3 hours daily) that I just completed at Sky Candy in the coming weeks.  Exciting!

Update: Ate a snowflake in New York, Jewrotica kickoff at Columbia was a success, attended my dear friend’s happiness seminar, visited with Yair’s family in Riverdale and connected with two dear friends.  A good trip thus far.

posted by ayo

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