Saturday, January 30, 2010

Would you like to Dance?

Because I do. Like to dance, that is.

I'm taking a formal dance class for the first time in my life. It's introductory social dance, and the number is Dance 180, which I like because it reminds me of 180°, whi
ch in turn reminds me of Poetry 180, the collection which moved me from reading poetry to writing poetry.

Dancing itself reminds me of the Indian weddings in California where I first learned the rythyms and movements of Bhangra, and of the times in my childhood when someone would just turn on some music and before you knew it the whole family was there, in the living room, dancing like crazy, throwing our arms and legs all over the place. From a technical perspective, none of us were very good, but when the music moves through you that doesn't matter.

Dancing reminds me of the night I got back from a Model UN conference and went straight to a concert, and ended up dancing all night long in my three piece suit. It reminds me of last night, when I went through the same foxtrot steps again and again, trying to make the movements part of me, trying to make them even more fluid and natural than my daily walk.

It reminds me of my friend J, who once told me that he does ballroom dance because "there are two kinds of contact sports, and really, which is better, the ones where it's me and twenty other sweaty guys, or the one where it's me and one beautiful girl?"

The thing about dance is that it takes your whole body and heart and mind, and when you're willing to put it all in it's magic, and when you're not it's nothing.

I love to dance.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's in a Name?

Nearly every time I'm asked my name, my answer is immediately followed by another question, usually "Where's that from?" or "What does that mean?"

Recently, I've answered the first question by saying, "It's the Latin transliteration of the Hebrew name which Matthew is the Greek transliteration of" which is more honest than saying "It's Hebrew" but also may be more than most people want to know, and doesn't really give them much that's useful to go on.

When I have more time, I tell the story of Mattathias of Modin and his sons, the Maccabees. The way I tell this story has also changed considerably over time, and changes with my audience.

I don't think I've ever satisfactorily answered the second question, and I don't think anyone else has either. What does it mean that I am named Mattathias (and not perhaps Matthew or Methuselah)? Has the name become a part of me? Have I become a part of it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What If none of the answers is right?

A while back, I had to take a grammar tutorial, which also included a grammar quiz. The rules were fairly simple: just choose the sentence with no mistakes. I was doing great until I got to a question where this was the only grammatically proper answer:

"Because it is a Catholic country, its government is a democracy modified by authoritarianism."

I don't know about you, but I have some trouble saying that there isn't a problem with that sentence. It may be grammatically perfect, but there's definitely something fishy going on there...