Tag Archives: music

7 minute dance party

It’s been a helluva year. This Prime Project is nearing the end. I started it on my 53rd birthday last year as a way to remind myself that it ain’t over yet. I’ve still got a lot of juiciness in me.

My father recently wrote, “You only have a few more weeks as a particular prime number, but you certainly won’t be leaving the domain of prime numbers and the many interesting things that arise from consideration of them. (See class notes, Number Theory 445, Fall, 1964, Arizona State University, taught by Charles Wexler, PhD, one of the coolest instructors I’ve ever had in a lifetime of going to school.)

“54, of course, can be factored into 2 times 3 cubed, thereby making great use of the first two primes. Along a similar line of thinking, I hit 2 to the fourth power times 5 this year. Interesting things, them primes.”

So, evidently, we’re both still prime numbers.

On this year’s birthday, March 7 (fabulous prime), I’ve engineered a 7 Minute Dance Party. Wherever you happen to be on Tuesday, anytime between 12:42 a.m. and 11:59 p.m, get up and groove! Shake a tail feather! Move your booty, cutie!

(Yes, I was born at 12:42a.m on March 7, according to my birth certificate. At Luke’s Air Force Base outside Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America. John F. Kennedy was President.)

Here’s a list of some of my favorite dance songs, in no particular order:

  • Oh Happy Day by The Edwin Hawkins Singers
  • Happy by Pharrell
  • Trois Gymnopedies by Eric Satie
  • Chez Seychelles by Beausoleil
  • Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye
  • Respect Yourself by the Staples Singers
  • Everyday People by Sly & the Family Stone
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Aretha Franklin
  • Joy to the World by 3 Dog Night
  • Rock Lobster by the B-52s
  • Hallelujah Chorus by Handel
  • All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
  • Master & Commander soundtrack
  • Bach Cello Suites by Yo-Yo Ma
  • …and anything with bagpipes

a mighty fine day

A good day is one with an ocean in it.
A mighty good day is one with an ocean and a horse in it.
A mighty fine day is one with an ocean, a horse, and a whale in it.

Today was a mighty fine day.

Living on a horse ranch on the edge of the continent produces some mighty fine days. Today I greeted the sunrise and got a front row seat to the Dawn Chorus. Hummingbirds, jays, thrashers, quail, crows, and who knows who else sang the sun up. Hallelujah.

On my way out to hike down to the ocean, I stop to talk to Susan, who’s washing her horse Cisko. Shadow looks at me from his box stall.

“Time for brushing,” says Susan.

Shadow agrees, so I put my towel down and change into my stable boots (they’re rubber, so muck washes off easily).

Why is it so satisfying to brush a dirty horse? Well, Shadow in particular blisses out to the extent that his eyes close, and his head hangs low. Occasionally he smacks his lips.

Today I decided to see if he’d let me pick up his hooves and clean them. He did. Why did this make me happy? Schadenfreude, probably. His “owner” doesn’t do it, afraid he’ll be kicked. One point for me, or four, if you count all the hooves.

Found a tick in Shadow’s fur, drowned it. Found another one later on my Levi’s, flicked it off. Still a mighty fine day. Especially for the tick that lived.

Down on the dunes, I see spouts on the other side of the breakers. And then — breach, baby! A blue whale, I think. Many spouts are farther out, just these two close to shore.

After weeks of storms and rain, it’s delicious to lie in the warm sand. It’s mid-winter, but the temperature (for a few hours) feels like summer. A couple of boys play football, a family tosses a frisbee around, there’s a fisherman or two. A few brave souls venture into the water, only to come straight out again.

I hike to one of my swim spots and change into my bathing suit. After diving under a wave, I jog out again. The tide is receding. Yesterday I caught a sweet wave that carried me to shore.

Back at the ranch, I cook pasta with spinach and pulled chicken. I sit by the western window and watch the sun set as I eat.

My neighbor is downstairs. I overhear her talking about gigs. Eventually I hear music — a violin, guitar, voices. She’s rehearsing. I have not been invited. A few months ago, she started a band. “You’re part of it,” she said. Evidently not.

Exclusion sure feels shitty. This mighty fine day just took a nosedive. How do I deal with this? In the past — and rejection is a theme in the life of a writer-performer — I ignored it. Never let on that anyone had hurt my feelings.

“I didn’t even think of you,” this neighbor said a while back. Hmmm. Do I really need friends who don’t remember I exist?

No.

Probably it’s best if I’m not in this particular band. I suppose if I want I can start one myself. I’ve written enough songs for my own 30 minute gig. But is this really where I want to put my energy? Hmmm, let’s think about it.

It’s the exclusion that smarts. But what is actually best for me? As far as I know, this is only the second rehearsal in three months. When I was in Mozart’s Children we rehearsed weekly, at the very least. For dance performances, I rehearse daily. So, we’ve definitely got different work ethics, my neighbor and I. It’s not enough to say you’re in a band, you have to actually set aside the time and show up.

Besides, our musical tastes differ too. I’m tired of cynical sad songs. I don’t want to add to the collective misery of the planet, especially with Voldemort in the White House. Now is the time for rousing, radical renditions of We Shall Overcome, and as many love songs as possible. Joy, baby, righteous joy. That’s what I’m after.

So, I accept her exclusion. It still stings, but maybe I’ve been spared a bunch of nonsense and wasted time. And just like that, with the slivered moon setting after the sun into the Big Blue, my mighty fine day is back.

Hallelujah.

Montaña de Oro sunset
Montaña de Oro sunset

SLO March

It’s Saturday morning, January 21, and I’m nervous.

I’m on my way to the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo (SLO), in support of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. I don’t know what to expect. I’m a pacifist, but are the other marchers? What about the on-lookers? or the ones who voted for Voldemort? Will there be violence? Will I be arrested? Harmed?

I don jewelry from both grandmothers, a necklace for a dead friend, my red wool coat, my purple marching boots, and finally my cowgirl hat. I’m ready. ID, debit card, cash, and phone in various pockets, so I can march without a purse.

It’s easy to find Mitchell Park, the starting point. I can hear the rally from blocks away, and I follow the streams of people carrying signs and banners downtown.

“¿Allá?” asks a woman holding a Freedom! sign. She gestures down the street.

“Sí,” I say, and our paths converge.

“I’m Courtney,” says another woman in answer to my introduction. “This is my husband Kai.” We both admit to being excited.

Hispanic, Caucasian, Black, Indian, Native, Asian; babies, elders, teens, adults; hippies, veterans, bellydancers, students, poets, doctors — we are all smiling at each other, thrilled that so many thousands have shown up on this wintry day in central California.

The signs are fabulous:
Now you’ve pissed off Grandma!
We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn
Bridges not Barriers
We are PRO American
We the People are WATCHING

I drift away from the gazebo and the rallying crowds. I spy orange and pink feathers on several heads in the street. Could it be? Yes! A samba band! I make my way over there, and that’s where I am when the march starts. The band starts playing, and I start dancing. I danced the entire route.

This is my kind of revolution.

Women's March San Luis Obispo

Shoulda Done It Differently Blues

I began writing this song while walking the dunes in Montaña de Oro. When I catch me shoulding on myself, singing the chorus breaks up the critical racket in my head, and helps me stop. Note: work in progress!

Shoulda Done It Differently Blues

(Chorus)
I shoulda done it differently
coulda done it better
I got the shoulda-done-it-differently blues

(repeat)

Red-faced dad
shakes his head
“What were you thinkin’, girl?

Grandma says,
“Leave her alone
it’s a coulda-done-it-differently world!

(Chorus)
(repeat)

The boss is late.
So what’s new?
What were you thinkin’, girl?

Don’t you know?
It’s your attitude
in a coulda-done-it-differently world!

(Chorus)
(repeat)

Landlord calls,
“Your rent is late.
What were you thinkin’, girl?”

But he’s wrong
Shoulda checked his mate
in this coulda-done-it-differently world

The horse is strong
patient, and kind
What are you thinkin’, girl?

That we belong,
and soon he’ll be mine
in this coulda-done-it-differently world

(Chorus)
I shoulda done it differently
coulda done it better
I got the shoulda-done-it-differently blues

(repeat)

©Elizabeth Shé 2017

equality

I live on a small ranch with a number of other boarders, both human and equine. I recently got permission to walk Shadow, because his human is ill and hasn’t been out for weeks. So for the past few days, my morning routine is this:

  • rise before the sun (don’t want to miss the colors!)
  • dress warmly and eat
  • put on my knit hat, rubber stable boots, yellow windbreaker, and walk down to the corrals
  • remove Kady’s hay bin insert so P doesn’t have to struggle with it later
  • mix up Cisko’s pellets and vitamins with veggie oil and pour it into his bin
  • close Magic’s gate so he’s penned in
  • open the arena gate
  • halter Shadow and open his gate
  • walk him down to the arena and around

It’s wonderful! He’s a love, it’s quiet at sunrise, and usually I have the place to myself. Shadow sniffs around, and visits with the horses in the adjoining corrals. After he’s caught up on the ranch gossip, we walk around the arena, then I ask him to walk in circles around me, which is called lunging or longeing (pronounced lunge-ing).

But today, after several minutes of circles, I get frustrated. What I really want to do is ride. What Shadow really wants to do is graze, run around,and amble out into the state park that abuts the ranch. But he doesn’t “belong” to me. And he needs exercise, so we continue: circle circle circle — stop — change direction — circle circle circle.

When I hear humans moving around the ranch, we walk back up to Shadow’s paddock. I’m irritated, but don’t know why yet.

Back in my warm studio I realize that I don’t agree with how a lot of humans treat horses. It’s disrespectful. Whips and bits and ropes and scare tactics. Show ’em who’s boss! Make ’em do what you want ’em to do! Even some of the so-called “natural horsemanship” folks have domination on the brain.

How fun is that? Forcing another creature to do what you want, regardless of his/her desires or needs? Isn’t that Fascism?


The U.S. presidential election was a bitter disappointment, to put it mildly. I want a woman president! As a kid, I campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, which has never passed. We need ovaries in the Oval Office!

But evidently any dick will do. God forfend a better qualified, more intelligent, highly experienced and skilled woman take the job! Misogyny in action.

Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: unmarried women and the rise of an independent nation has this to say about institutionalized inequality:

“Men, and especially married wealthy white men, have long relied on government assistance. It’s the government that has historically supported white men’s home and business ownership through grants, loans, incentives, and tax breaks. It has allowed them to accrue wealth and offered them shortcuts and bonuses for passing it down to their children. Government established white men’s right to vote and thus exert control over the government at the nation’s founding and has protected their enfranchisement since. It has also bolstered the economic and professional prospects of men by depressing the economic prospects of women: by failing to offer women equivalent economic and civic protections, thus helping to create conditions whereby women were forced to be dependent on those men, creating a gendered class of laborers who took low paying or unpaid jobs doing the domestic and childcare work that further enabled men to dominate public spheres.”

These wealthy white men who constantly decry the “welfare state” have been the major beneficiaries of the good ol’ boy network (aka government assistance) for centuries!

One of my human neighbors just knocked on the door. “A and L are coming over Sunday evening, we’re gonna work on some songs,” she said, guitar slung on her back. She has an amazing voice, low and gorgeous. A and L are also talented musicians. We all sang together at the Halloween party.

“I used to be in a band,” I say, “in Seattle.” Mozart’s Children, we called ourselves, which strikes me now as highly pretentious. But we gigged. And I loved it. We did a cover of the Stones’ “Far Away Eyes,” with me singing lead. A highlight of my life.

“Great,” says my neighbor, “you’re in the band. Women only. Girl power. The Central Coast Women’s Rock Band.”

I nod in the affirmative. Action, baby. I’m ready for it.

writer Elizabeth Shé
writer Elizabeth Shé