Dr. Footloose dance church November 22 – and a brief history of my last six months.

I started writing this piece on Sunday morning the 22nd, in the Weaverville Walmart parking lot – and am completing it on Tuesday evening the 24th, in the (toasty warm) café at the Ingles in Burnsville.

Welcome to Dr. Footloose Dance Church!

Rather than simply being a weekly dance that is held in a church or on Sunday morning, this is a “kind of a (virtual) church” with a special focus on movement and dance.

Our maiden run today is gonna be a little rough. I had big dreams of packaging this thing kind of slick, but that would really violate what this is all about, wouldn’t it?

My now-17-month journey into discovering who I really am was launched – on June 26, 2019 – with really a pretty strange experience, walking my sick dog at 3 a.m. on Patton Avenue right out the back entrance of Jubilee.

I “woke up” to the realization that I had gotten seriously depressed by betraying my own integrity.

It was a hop and a skip from there to realize that I have actually been selling out my integrity for 30 years by accepting the judgment of a bunch of doctors that I’ve had a mental illness.

(“Bipolar disorder” – for which I took very strong cocktails of drugs for 30 years. After a six-month, psychiatrist-supervised process of getting off of them, I have now taken none for a year. After being in what I now think of as a psychiatrically-induced coma for 30 years, being free of those drugs has given me my life back.)

My quest to discover my integrity led me to flee the comfort and security of the Battery Park Apartments subsidized senior living facility in April. I took off convinced that the building was about to become quarantined. (That actually happened two days later.)

Me and my doggy Panchita and my buddy Eric – who had been already sleeping in my little Suzuki for two weeks – spent the next week parked just on the north side of 240.

I’m thinking now that this two-block geographic relocation represented my first step towards the “north country” of Western North Carolina.

Then my friend “Petula” (as I have been calling her to protect her privacy) – who had been following my misadventures on Facebook – texted me, “Get out of the city, with its boarded-up buildings and Covid infections. Come up to my house in the mountains, where my little ‘mother-in-law apartment’ has just been vacated. Stay here for a while and figure out what you’re going to do next.”

Little Panchita and I actually did stay at my friend’s sacred preserve in the mountains for the next six weeks. Pancho and I almost instantly got happy – and I realized that a lot of my problem in the city was the city itself. Much as I love Asheville, I was clearly meant to live in the mountains.

When – after four weeks at Petula’s house – an initial plan to move out fell through, Petula (who is one deep woman), said to me,

“Yes, I would kind of like to have my privacy back, but I think my mountain is not through with you yet. The spiritual property of this mountain is grounding. You clearly are a lot more grounded now than when you came here four weeks ago, but I think the mountain is not prepared to release you yet.”

Petula also encouraged me to check out Marshall, with all its artists who moved out of Asheville when studio rents in Asheville started to climb. It was love at first visit – in spite of being officially greeted to the town by the 75-year-old senior sheriff, who caught me pissing behind the county courthouse.

(I could easily write a whole blog about places I have peed and pooped over the last six months – and the handful of times that I have been busted doing it. For this blog, I might go light on photos.)

This old codger sherrif’s greeting to me set the template for so many encounters where someone from the north country has greeted me to their property by saying some variation of “What the fuck are you doing here?”

And – also parallel to so many other encounters – it proved to be the case that my old working-class Irish Chicagoan gift of gab saw me through and he and I kind of got to like and respect each other.

After six weeks at Petula’s house, my absolute time for leaving there happened – because her husband was moving down to join her. They absolutely needed that first floor apartment for storing their stuff.

So Pancho and I headed for Marshall.

Our stay in Marshall lasted until 1 o’clock the next morning. We were parked for the night in the first of many Ingles parking lots.

We will be staying in our new camper van in the Ingles parking lot in Burnsville tonight. Brrr – cold! Narwal’s heater throws nothing but cold air.

My next $100 it’s going for a propane heater like the one our new friend Abbie “The Spoon Lady” uses in her little “schoolie” (school bus converted for living in – see video below).

The night that poncho and I watch the election results with her in her bus, I said,

“I thought propane heaters weren’t safe indoors.”

Abby: “is your very older than actually airtight?” Hardly.

“You could crack one of your little side windows while you’re running the heater, if you want to be really safe.”

So it will be very cold in the van tonight – as it has been several nights lately. But I scored a great new 0°-rated down sleeping bag for $10 in a retail store today.

On our first night sleeping in our little Suzuki in Marshall, I had called the Madison County sheriff’s office to get permission to sleep in my car, and had been told (basically) “If you sleep in your car anywhere in the county and we find you – if we cannot find some reason to arrest you, we certainly will run your sorry city-hippie-Covid-infected ass out of the county.”

When I made the same call to the Marshall city police, I was told, “Yeah, sure, we have no problem with you sleeping in your car anywhere in the city. But you probably will be safer parking someplace like the Ingles parking lot.”

Attempting to sleep in the driver’s seat of my little Suzuki was never anything less than a torture chamber. In two months of this little exercise, I don’t think I ever got more than two hours sleep in one night. I became toxically exhausted by the end of those two months. I treated myself to one good beer maybe once or twice a week, but I was staggering around like I was drunk most of the time.

When I woke in the Marshall Ingles parking lot at one in the morning, I remembered the words the previous day of a kindly social worker at the ABCCM North food pantry:

“If you want to rent a little house in the country, head north to Burnsville – where rents are cheaper.”

After that encounter with the social worker, I had said to Panchita in the car, “At some point we’re going to have to check out Burnsville.”

When I woke at one in the morning – rather than struggling futile Lee to go back to sleep, I said to her “Pancho, we’re moving to Burnsville!”

I will soon post the video I shot that night, at 3 a.m. (warm back then in June), of me and Pancho wandering in and around the Burnsville Town Square.

I had no awareness at that point that we had parked and spent the night just outside the abandoned building, just off the Town Square, which I would later envision buying as the new site of the Dr. Footloose Nightclub and Dance Hall.

The part of that decision that involved a “very soft-opening” of that club on September 26 (my birthday) never did pan out. But I did, on the afternoon of Sunday the 26th, shoot a very festive toast to the still-surviving dream for the Dr. Footloose club. The video is set on location on the huge expanse of parking lot behind the building – the proposed future outdoor dance hall.

At one point, I shared this vision with the Burnsville police chief, when he was coming back to that parking lot to see if we actually were going to stay there more nights.

He said, “That might be good for this town. Five years ago, when the whole county was still dry, I never would’ve predicted us selling alcohol by the drink – like we do now.” The rest of Avery County, outside Burnsville, is still dry – never did roll back prohibition. It’s the same situation with mitchellcounty, where our beloved Bakersville lies. Only Spruce Pine has opened up alcohol in that whole county.

What Burnsville and Spruce Pine have in common is that they are on the newly-widened and straightened 19 E, which brings lots of tourists, vacationers and affluent retirees. These new monied people do want drinks with their meal.

A couple of weeks after that first night in Burnsville, we had moved even further north to Bakersville. My dear friend and 20-year men’s group buddy Tom had pitched in some money for me to get a better vehicle – one in which I could potentially sleep.

The morning when I was screwing up my resolve to drive 90 minutes down to Hendersonville – to go to Camping World and look for a vehicle – I looked across the small parking lot of the Thomas General Store (which for months now has been our primary base just outside of Bakersville).

Glistening in the sun was the ’88 Ford Econoline cargo truck camper van which later that afternoon became our new mobile home.

Pancho was, at first, afraid of this big vehicle with its really high stairs. Greg Thomas and I tried to rig a board for her to walk up into it. That didn’t work, but within a few days she had found within her self the capacity to jump up the stairs.

By that point, if I asked her did she want to get into “the car” (our little Suzuki mini SUV, which she was very used-to after 13 years) or “the house” (the camper van), she started consistently choosing “the house”).

Our new name for the van, Narwal the whale, came a few days later. That big 6000-pound vehicle intimidated me also for a few days. It does have a turning radius like an ocean liner – and drives totally different from the little Suzuki with handles those mountain roads so well that I started calling it “the fighter jet”.

And I also really liked winking at the dry Mitchell County establishment by naming my car after my favorite Sierra Nevada seasonal imperial stout beer.

Narwal actually has only 57,000 miles on it, after 32 years of life. I’m guessing it was owned by some old farmer who thought he was going to take a lot of vacations and never did.

A lot of Narwal’s components have rotted away from age and – over the course of four months of driving it- it has been off the road almost as much as on. But I have learned the hard way that I can’t leave any lights on without the motor running – and we have not had to call roadside assistance to jump us for over a week now.

I have agonized at times about the idea of – at some point – “trading up” to a newer vehicle. But that old truck is a fortress. I have taken it places and done things with it that you probably don’t even want to know about.

One day a few weeks ago, a very reckless driver attempted to merge four lanes on Patton going west from the bridge and crashed into the side of us. I heard lots of shattering of glass and crunching of metal, but no screams – so I knew right away that nobody had been injured.

At the moment of the crash, Narwal was solidly coasting into a stoplight in the far-left lane. The collision had jostled my passenger-side mirror, so there was no way I could see what was on my right.

But when I examined the car later, holding my breath as to what I would find, I think I maybe found a new scratch on her.

If I am as prosperous as I hope to be a year from now, I may drop a new engine in it. And/or I may take it out to Vanlife Conversions in Marshall and have them either do some light work like putting in insulation and stuff – or do their whole number: gut it out completely and turn it into a lovely new house.

As we wandered further north – through Bakersville, the sacred Roan Mountain, And then down the Tennessee side of Roan Mountain to the sleepy little hamlet of Roan Mountain, TN – I kept thinking that eventually we would rent a house somewhere, for “the rest of the summer” – before heading south for the winter.

I actually have strong dreams around four houses in the big stretch of northern western North Carolina through which we “ride circuit” – one each in Asheville, Burnsville, Bakersville and Roan Mountain TN.

The quite fabulous and extremely historic house in Asheville is very much occupied – and most likely of all the four to be a total pipe dream.

The very nice house in the mountains north of Bakersville is not abandoned, but shows no signs of having been used at all this year. The owner, who lives in Florida, may just be laying low because of the virus – or may have passed away altogether.

The very old, very stately house in Burnsville – just four blocks north of the town square – has been abandoned for 20 years. The neighbor tells me that he won’t even give me the name of the owner: “You have no chance of getting it. 100 people have tried. The owner doesn’t want to sell it because it might raise his taxes. He is fine with just letting it sit there.”

But I have, in fact, found out who the owner is – and I’ve had a very brief conversation with him. He told me that he is, actually, wanting to sell it. He is working on it now and said it would be fine for me to talk to him about it next spring.

The house in Roan Mountain TN is way at the end of a holler, right next to the huge Tennessee Roan Mountain State Park. It butts up against the National Park leading up to the Appalachian trail. It has been abandoned for several years.

One of the neighbors there told me that the owner lives in Hawaii and “wants to keep the land in the family” (a very strong motivation out in the Appalachia) – even if she never does anything with it.

But when I saw that neighbor a week later, he said that she had actually been around to look in on her property. When he told her that there was a guy interested in buying it – or simply being the caretaker while it is fixed up to look like it did when her family spent time there – she said she would be willing to talk to me about it.

I still have never caught up with her – and don’t even know how to reach her. But who knows?

If I have learned anything from this six-mon

journey, it is that I sure can’t control what’s going to happen – and do a lot better if I happily let go when Life says to me, “Nope, you’re just not getting this thing or person you have been dreaming of.”

The other principle – that I have learned just as clearly as the first – is that all things are possible.



Entropy (8/10/04)

Fresh start?

Who are you kidding?

This is not going to work

You can’t make something new work

By running away from what has not

You need to hunker down in therapy, heal the old

And pray that somehow that will make some difference

 

It’s entropy, man

It’s all winding down all the time

Don’t you see it?

You can’t start something new at all

Just struggle mightily against the dissolution of the past

A virus will take your computer

And a virus will take you

 

Face it

It’s not working, hasn’t worked, will not work

Bottom line – you don’t work

And that’s what you will carry with you

Wherever you go

This is what therapy cannot fix

What no number of geographic fixes will ever mend

Well, but”

No well but’s – it’s just the truth

I say it to you for your own good

 

But, I think new things have happened –

Sometimes life feels new”

Bullshit – what happened to it?

What do you have still to show?

Where is all that newness now?

 

Well the very fact that I want to go

That I could somehow emerge a vision of something new

The part of me that believes I could

Take off without a plan and trust what is ahead

The part of me that sees you

This voice within me that

Certainly speaks for entropy

And is not totally cowed

That yes has feared you

Has feared, does sometimes fear

But will not live in fear

Will not back off from my truth just

Because you say ‘face it’

 

Somehow ‘face it’ from you does not really mean ‘face it’

Does not mean look at the whole truth and take it straight

It means, ‘listen to my right-now mean and nasty version of the truth –

Listen to my painful, limited, destructive picture of the real,

Emerging honestly from my own pain’

 

OK, I’ll face it – on my terms

I’ll face your despair – and mine

I’ll face the call of the new

Which comes to me from more sources than I will ever know

I will face the love of those who love me

Which I know that I would sometimes dodge

I will face the energy and aliveness

Present in this world in more forms and places and people

Than there are words to tell

And I am going to go see some of them

And see what they do for this aliveness in me

Which, yes, has suffered its share

The slings and arrows

And all manner of psychological crime

Which sometimes therapy can help

And sometimes maybe not

I will go face this energy outside of me and inside me

Why might not some new place

Help me find and see and face

That source of new life sleeping always within me?

Perhaps this is my testimony of faith

That there is something new

Over that hill I have not yet crossed

Something might be calling me that I have never seen

And that things are present within me that perhaps

Can never find life except in that next place

 

Or not –

But if I do not climb that hill I will never know

And so I gotta go

And that voice inside of me and you

And in the air we breathe, it seems

That says that change can’t happen

That risk is wrong

That I can’t, we can’t – and shouldn’t try

I love that voice, because it speaks so poignantly to

So much of what we have suffered, do suffer

But I gotta respectfully submit

Entropy this!”

 

“How Can I Write of Transformation” – need a djimbe tonight, 9:30 open mic, Jack of the Wood

Gonna rock this poem at Jack of the Wood tonight – 9:30 open mic.

John L
Wish this guy was in town – he rocks the fuckin’ djimbe.

But it really wants a djimbe accompaniment – and so far I only kind-of have one. This guy at THE BLOCK off biltmore Friday night said he would bring his drum, but he’s not too confident of his skill level and I’m not sure he will actuallyshow.  I’ll do it without – and will totally blow it out by myself – but without the drum I just can’t take it to the total fever pitch it is trying to reach.

I put out a call to the guy who helped me with the poem at my poetry concert last spring – and that worked real well for both of us.  (Him, after: “there was one place where I kinda lost the beat, but then I got it back.”  Me: “I never was aware of you losing the beat – you pumped me up just the way I wanted you to.”)

The djimbe part is really easy – see the yellow-highlighted djimbe cues.

Intro

Back in the Spring, Lynn Rosser asked me to write a poem for the Singers spring concert. I was honored – and asked her about the theme. She told me that it was, “Transformation – Awakening to the New Consciousness for Our Time”. I said, “Cool” – then went away and realized that I didn’t have anything to say about transformation, or about consciousness, old or new. So I got back to Lynn and said that, for me, the theme for the concert and the song list were just a little too relentlessly upbeat – and that I would need to contribute something that would be more “grounding”. Lynn had the intuitive wisdom to not immediately warm to this idea: “Uh, OK.” Then I went home and proceeded to completely act out: I wrote the darkest poem I could possibly write – and had a total blast doing so. Needless to say, you did not hear that poem at the concert. I think Lynn might still find it horrifying, but I still kinda like it. It’s called “How Can I Write of Transformation?”

HOW CAN I WRITE OF TRANSFORMATION? (Majo, 4/28/09)

How can I write of transformation

When I am so angry?

How can I speak of

My better angels

When today the demons run the show?

(Djimbe enter, softly)

Life,

By beating me into submission

By a thousand humiliations

Has lowered the bar for me

So many times

And I still can’t help but to

Keep going under

How can I speak of expansion,

Of transcendence

When I am so contracted,

So depressed?

I want to expand within, not without

To go to the dark heart

Of that black hole within

Which is not just mine

But a human thing

How can I speak of my higher self

When I have just screwed up again

And hurt you as I did?

And then you told me how that still somehow worked for you

The sweet thing that for you happened next

(Djimbe picks up pace and volume through whole rest of poem, until right at the end.)

May I screw up in all the just-right ways

If I must be an ass

Make me Life’s holy ass

May others ride on my mistakes

To where they need to go

Lord, help us –

Make me an instrument

Make me an instrument of your divine chaos

Let me surrender any claim

To be evolved, to be further down the path

Make me Life’s great

Role model from hell

If others may not want to be like me,

Then let my screwed-up example

Make them want to be

More and more like them.

If even he can keep moving,

Can put one foot in front of the other

And trust that they will take him somewhere

Then so can I”

May I lead the troops

Further into the swamp

Than man or woman has ever gone

And trust that somewhere

In this gooey, putrid mess

There lies an orchid

A magic jewel that transforms

The mud in which we are encased

Into the heavenly armor that allows us

To fight our way to the gates of hell

Crash through

And be burned alive

Into the phoenix we were meant to be

If my road must be the low one

May I not settle for just

Both feet on the ground

Life, make your drill bit

To the center of the earth (Djimbe quits)

It may hurt like hell going down

But I want to see what’s there

The perfect Christmas gift!

The perfect present for your loved ones or special friends – a gift they will treasure forever.  A custom poem – just for them!  Have they ever had a poem written for them?

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TWO OPTIONS:

Poetry on Demand – can be done face-to face, or over the phone, Skype, email.

You give me a topic: their (or your) dog, grandmother, career, dream job of the future, perfect lover, the key to success of their marriage, most valuable focus for your spiritual life, etc.

I ask a couple of questions about that topic, to get myself focused.  I clear my mind and surrender to Spirit, which writes the poem while I transcribe.  I read the poem to you – and arrange to get a copy to you.

You are completely amazed – and pay me some amount that feels right (recommended $10-20, but no one turned away for lack of funds).

Will read the phone to your friend or loved one over Skype or phone for $10 – in person somewhere, charge according to where.

My specialty is affirmative poems: you or your loved one will feel fully seen – and powerfully validated (Healing validations blog).

Commissioned poem – you and I dig deep and come up with a finely-crafted jewel.

I interview you for 40-60 minutes about you (if the poem is for you) or your friend/loved one.

I go away and spend as long as it takes to come up with a poem I am happy with.  I read it to you, send it to you, read it to your giftee over the phone or Skype for no extra charge (but an extra charge to meet them somewhere).

$100 when poem is commissioned (rate after 12/22)
$80 Christmas rate (until 12/22)

typing in EFR cafe, with Pancho

I will be writing on-demand poetry face-to-face at Earth Fare Westgate (in the Cafe).  Call for an appointment.

  • Tuesday, 12/17: 5-7 p.m.
  • Friday, 12/20: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Saturday, 12/21: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Monday, 12/23:  5-7 p.m.

Reach me at:

  • phone or text: 828-582-9822
  • email: heymajo@gmail.com
  • Twitter: @MajoMadden

 

Gift certificates for a poem

Write Me a Poem gift certificates are great for lovers of poetry, for friends or family with a special creative or artsy streak, for people who are hard to find a gift for – or just for that last minute gift or stocking stuffer.

GIFT CERTIFICATE: One “Poetry on Demand” customized poem from Write Me a Poem! by Majo John Madden, Ph.D.

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Here’s how it works – or actually two ways it can work:

  1. You buy the poem, tell me the topic (“my sister Louise”, “my brother’s dog woofy” – whoever) and a couple words, sentences or paragraphs about that person, dog (whatever, but I do specialize in dog poems).  I write the poem and send it to you through some medium – or meet up with you and give you a hard copy (or mail it, if time is on your side).
  2. You send/give the gift certificate to the receiver. They get together with me – in person, by Skype or email, whatever – and tell me what they would like the poem to be about, and I write it for them.  Then I read it to them and follow up by emailing it to them.

The cost is whatever amount over $10 feels right to you – something that reflects the value of the poem for you.  Keep in mind that these poems regularly make people cry and can significantly shift how they think about something in their lives – or how they think/feel about themselves!  So far this holiday season, the rate people have paid me has ranged from $10 to $60 (for his troubled grandniece – he just knew it was going to be helpful to her).

Call or text (828-582-9822) or email (heymajo@gmail.com), Facebook (heymajo) me – or catch me at church or something – if you are interested or have questions.