Today was certainly not the average “day in the life” at Amara.

The workday started at 7:30, when one of my esteemed supervisors, Megan, picked me up to drive through the fog to the deserted and industrial SoDo district, where all that roamed the streets were hungry, lethargic dogs, and plastic bags tumbling in the wind. We silently pulled up to a nondescript warehouse, which appeared to belong to some sketchy sounding “construction company.” I was nervous. Megan stopped the car. I nervously got out…

What ensued may not be what you expected, but was the coolest, most creative day of work ever. For seven hours, in the most cutting-edge office space I’ve ever seen, a team of five of us from Amara listened to four of the foremost experts in the circus, yoga, marine biology, and gang violence prevention, respectively, discuss the critical concepts of (1) tracking, (2) survival vs. wellbeing, (3) attachment, and (4) recruitment. But this was only for the first two hours. In truth, what we did at work today warrants another blog post entirely, and I’m here really to talk about my weekend. So stay posted for more on today’s creative process later this week, and here we go..

At the beginning of the roundtable the group facilitator asked us to sum up our weekends with a metaphor. Mine came to my head quickly; for these past three days I have been one of those blow up figures on the top of warehouses as you go by on the highway, dancing and collapsing with the wind. Starting with work on Friday, and ending at eleven last night, I really learned to “go with it”, in so many contexts of the unexpected.

Interview with David*

            For the past two weeks at work, my supervisor and I have been waiting to interview David for our blog. David is a man whose girlfriend’s daughter had a child many years ago. The birthmother was very high-risk behaviorally, and it was not a safe home for the child. He has since become almost like the adoptive grandfather of this little girl, who is now eleven years old.  That little summary is all I knew about David’s story prior to the interview, so I had no idea what an emotional experience it would be. Laura and I called him, put him on speakerphone, and what followed was an hour of an unadulterated testament to the power of family and the love one feels for an adopted family. Hearing how much parenthood and family has meant to him was so unexpected, and his generosity in allowing us to use his story for our blog was such a gift. His now-granddaughter had a rough first couple of years under the care of her troubled mother, and he helped his girlfriend take the reins on her upbringing. He must have started tearing up four times in that interview; he was so moved by the profound impact she’d had on him as his granddaughter. After five weeks of development work, it had been easy to lose sight of the daily reality of the good we do at Amara, so David’s story really reinforced how much the power of family means to our world.
*Name has been changed for privacy.

Capitol Hill Block Party

Block Party is an annual music festival in Seattle’s hippest neighborhood, CapHill. It lasts for three days, and this year featured acts such as The Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, the Dirty Projectors, and Purity Ring. Three of us girls bought tickets for Friday, and the festivities commenced around five o’clock. The major area of Capitol Hill was fenced off for Block Party, and four of us danced among the crowd for DJ Dillon Francis. I’m not usually one for concerts, but the experience was inspiring. With my hands swaying in the air, jumping up and down squashed between a sweaty frat guy with the Space Needle tattooed on his shoulder and Christine on my left, and smiling with the Seattle sun on my face, it was the first time that I really felt like part of this community. Later that evening, after lying in Cal Anderson Park and indulging in some gourmet artisan food trucks, Victoria and I stuck around to see STRFKR and Girl Talk, dancing and screaming to the overwhelmingly cool visuals and beats. I ran into several people that I have met in these past five weeks throughout the city, and the experience really opened my eyes to how loving, creative, and dynamic this city is, ultimately marking my transition from “visitor” to “Seattlelite”. And swaying and jumping like that, I totally looked like one of those blow-up dolls on a warehouse, but trust me, it was the cool thing to do.
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Pack Forest

On Saturday morning, we all headed out for Pack Forest near Mount Rainier. It was like driving back to camp…I was so excited about the rustic cabins and the hikes to be had. I knew we would only be there for a day, but the experience was so wonderful; from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, we weeded the forest trails, explored the old-growth forests, got very lost hiking, were almost chased by guard dogs, and played poker in the evening. It’s so easy to get in the pattern of checking our emails, planning out every hour of our Saturdays to fit in as much as possible, and using Googlemaps to get everywhere. At Pack Forest, so much went unexpectedly, but adapting to the circumstances and letting go of expectations was both freeing and fun.


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Om Fusion Dance

My weekend ended with a spontaneous visit to the Center for Om Culture, a space right on the water by GasWorks Park. I was told about Om Fusion on Sunday nights during my Jet City Improv class, and was very intrigued. From what I’d googled, there seemed to be this nebulous cult-like following for these four hours on Sunday evenings. I went on a whim, as social dancing is one of my biggest fears. After a thirty-minute walk on the sunset-lit Burke Gilman Trail, I arrived at the “Center.” The space is expansive, with bean bags, candles, artwork, and tapestries throughout, with a backdrop of the downtown Seattle skyline. For $5 I watched the 7 o’clock intermediate class taught by instructors from Salsa con Todo, and at 8 I took the all-levels class on the Brazilian Zouk (youtube it…it’s so amazingly cool). And then at 8:30, probably thirty more people came in, and the DJ started playing The Weekend, Gotan Project, and then some Swing. For three hours Om Fusion’s dance floor is packed with people of all ages (and smells) doing dance improv…a fusion of traditional styles of tango and swing with newer moves. Everything you do is made up on the spot. It was one of the most terrifying but freeing experiences I’ve had in this city, and I really can’t put it into words…you have to try it to understand the sensation of “just letting go.” I’ll close with this: the highlight of the night was being asked do dance by a beautiful man in a black button down tucked into his high black slacks, which fell delicately over his (I’m not kidding) black alligator skin shoes. I tried to ask him his name while looking unfazed by his appearance and clear dance acumen, to which he literally tilted his chin up and pronounced loudly, “I am Zaaa.” There were no more words, and for the next three minutes I was a doll as he forcefully twirled me and dipped me to the sound of Shakira remixed with some electric guitar soloist. I promise this is not a joke.

Wow.

So, in conclusion, there are three morals to this story: (a) I’m very uncomfortable writing blog posts, (b) getting out of my comfort zone and just “blowing in the wind” was the best part of the weekend, and (c) I never want to leave…ever.

Madeleine

 


Comments

12/16/2013 6:03am

You danced with Za Thomaier! An amazing dancer who began coming to Om Fusion this year. He is so incredibly graceful and incredibly talented.

By the way, I took the liberty of swiping your image of Om for my FB timeline. Awesome night at Om Sunday night!

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