Monthly Archives: August 2010

Settle, Gretel…

you know, I’m rather comfortable here…. the food is excellent, there is always entertainment, classes are quite awesome so far (I started Thursday), and all the while, Australia seems to be going to hell in a hand basket! (politics wise, at least)

not very much incentive to come home. no siree.

My agenda today is an interesting one, but has been stomped on thus far by the fact that it is really quite hard not to stay up until 3 am talking to the people who pretty much seem to be constantly hanging around in our common room.

for the meantime, things that have happened are;

I moved in to my new and proper room for the semester…. things are in DRAWS. it is MAGICAL!

behold, my corner of the room thus far (I plan to paint it all different colours. if anyone has any ideas, stupid or otherwise, let me know :))

glow sheep are up!

as are love letters that I have been sent…!

and this is the other sie of my space. check the awesome hat that I got in the free pile!

a great thing that this house has is the free pile. They’re all about the recycling, the reusing, the not throwing things or people away. So whenever you need something, the first place to go is not Target, or Walgreens! No sir! Go free pile hopping! Every co-op has one. Trash or treasure, opp shop style, they can be alternately awesome and completely unhelpful. Im simply pretty sure that they will help me accumulate clothes quicker and more cheaply than I had ever thought possible!

Today I went to Lindy on Sproul, Cal’s weekly swing dancing event. interesting, dancing on concrete, but lots of wonderful people there! I immediately set to work teaching them things like “TOV“, how the opposite to concrete is anti-concrete, and “hooray!”

they perhaps didnt learn as quickly as S.C.U.M* would have, but they were most enthusiastic, so joy abounded! Also, I have had an offer to help teach the Berkeley swing dancing subject, also known as a Decal Course. isn’t that ridiculous! they get ACTUAL UNIVERSITY CREDIT to learn swing dancing. as a SUBJECT. the jealousy! if ONLY! amazing 🙂

later on: my first cleaning challenge…. the BATHROOMS. *dramatic music, wails of terror*.

I got my scrubbedy dub on 🙂

and fulfilled a challenge from home :D!

see if you can spot my excellent sharpie pen work! 🙂

so the bathroom is sparkly, and tonight we have room to room! this is a party where everyone opens up their rooms with a different theme, and people go from floor to floor, acting like responsible adults, meeting each other in a non rowdy and drunken way. then we all sit down and have tea and biscuits that are not dodgy!

hooray! now I’m going to go make some jelly (jello) shots 🙂

if anyone wants to send me anything, the official address is:
Vivi Kalman, room 301, Casa Zimbabwe, 2422 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA, USA 94709

*Swing Crew UniMelb

My drug den home :)

so here is a story that I was told today about Casa Zimbabwe, aka, the drug den…..
long, long ago (last fall) the residents of CZ were divided up into two sects. the democratic-y sect, and the anarchists. the anarchists would sit on the smokers balcony hating life and being hardcore and organizing parties for the house. the other group would go about things pretty much regularly, partying here, going to uni, getting drunk there. All in a days work.

Each group had its affiliates; the people who would vote for its policies at council meetings, support it in house decisions, hang out with it at parties. Much like a mucked up situation in Australia that I know of, there were those independent parties, free rangers, one might call them, who swung from group to group, never realizing their affect on the politics of the co-operative drug den.

Then came a new group decision. the anarchists put forth the motion that CZars should be able to break bottles and glass in the common living space. If any member wanted, they should be able to smash a bottle, and create mess. or chaos. which is what the anarchists believed in. Free autonomy. The ability to do whatever one pleases, as members of a free society and democratic house.

However, there was conflict. the liberal co-opers did not agree with the obvious, nay, necessary notion of broken glass shards all over the floors of their kitchen. They put forward arguments that people could get hurt, that glass is indeed, rather sharp, and that smashing and breaking things promoted violence in the house. These opposing views had house members at odds with each other for months. Bottles went unbroken, floors remained suspiciously clean, but workshifts too, were done slackly by the anarchists, who felt crushed by a higher authority who did not care for their needs.

eventually, the co-opers of yore (last fall) came to the mutually beneficial agreement to reserve an area of the courtyard specifically for the smashing of bottles. Many co-opers will go there daily to get their smash on. It is a much beloved facility that Casa Zimbabwe has to offer.  And those who do not partake in activities involving broken glass do not have to be involved, which keeps a light an cheery atmosphere for all!

isn’t that wonderful?


This is how things work in the house I have moved into. Co-opers put forward motions, about aspects of life they feel need changing, for the good of all. Eventually, we come to group decisions about them. As well as cooking and cleaning co-operatively, people try to live co-operatively, and that involves some serious politics. better than anything I think I could learn in a political science class 🙂

Joking aside, though, this is a wonderful place. I shit you not that that story is 100% true (with my dramatic embellishments, of course), but this is a colourful, loud, awesome place to be. Right across from campus. And the community feel and culture of the place is unlike anything i’ve ever experienced before. It’s run by students, therefore noone here is older than, say, 26. very different from kibbutz, with many a responsible adult deciding what is right, and what should go. The system here is constantly changing, and adjusting as people move in and out. First council meeting is tonight, and then I am signing up for IKC, intensive kitchen clean, my first shift.

YAY!


p.s. congratulations to all my lovely AUSTRALIAN JITTERBUG CHAMPIONS! you rock my socks. especially one particularly awesome SHOWCASE event. 😀 😀 😀 😀 :D!

Sleepless, in Seattle

I love Seattle. I could live on Capitol Hill. it is beautiful and green and well thought out, with views, and parks and dancing and meteors.

and they dance FAST. brilliantly. until 5 in the morning. oh yes, I was sleepless. dead on my feet, in complete and utter heaven. happy like a bee in honey.

not to mention it was 40 degrees sunny the entire weekend. not ideal dance weather for a city which should promise super amounts of gumboot rain. everyone looked like sea monsters approximately 30 seconds after they entered those sweltering ballrooms. and even then, the band and djs were merciless. 200 bpm an average pace. STFO heaven for Vivi.

the live music made my weekend. dancing to live music is so much more real. It is just so much more… dancing! the give and take of energy between dancers and a band playing the music you want to hear makes the room feel a little electric. zingy, in the tips of your fingers.

But I especially love Seattle because of the people. what a warm, welcoming, down to earth bunch. I felt so immediately at home, and most importantly, able to chillax and be my wacky self 😀 a far cry from LA where the number of superstars and competitions lent a tense atmosphere to the dancing. this was just about the lindy hop…. and boy can they hop!!

so three days of intense dancing flew by, leaving me sleep deprived, on another plane with muscles not talking to me….

but here I am in the east bay of San Francisco!

expect many a post on the beauty of Berkeley and how ridiculous this whole shenanigan is, but for now,

here is our stadium…

and here is a group of us relaxing n the sun in front of the Campanile (giant clock tower thing with views like heaven.)

Berkeley is something else…

so, on another note, they have this idea in the bay area that science learning should be joyful and fun. (Harris: “but science IS fun!!!”) they express this in the form of several museums around the place, in which they teach weird and wacky magical/science things in awesome ways. I play in there for hours.

today we hiked up a RIDICULOUS hill, 3 new friends and I, to this museum. I will have thighs of STEEL upon my return, I swear it. the landscape here never considered a naive australian tourist, used to miles of flat flat flat.

one of my new friends is Nathan, whose favorite sandwich is chicken salad. the other one is Joy, with whom the reason for my friendship is self explanatory 🙂

on the way up the hill, I found cherry plums, fresh off a tree, and nearly broke something scrambling to pick them. they were warm in the sun. there was juice on my fingers. 🙂

A second attempt!!

so I think i’ve jinxed myself up and down….: its friday the 13th, I slept through my alarm, my vital visa form almost did not arrive, I told a whole lot of people that i’d probably be back in 2 weeks, and to top it all off, I walked the dog last night and forgot to being a plastic bag, so was unable to pick up some dog business, so major bad karma as well as jinxing.

but my theory is, I am currently SO jinxed up, that the jinxing has counteracted itself and I am back to neutral. yeah? does that make NO sense whatsoever?! I thought so 😀 hooray!!!

as much as I whinged the whole week, it was really wonderful to see you all again, especially it was amazing to spend so much time with the family. being together really makes me happy, and even though it was under terrible circumstances, I feel very blessed to have you all.  and that goes to all the friends who showed themselves to be so much more than expected this week.

Zaida Arie taught me to keep taking on new challenges and to keep learning new things about life and yourself even after everyone else seems to have stopped or slowed down.  so America should freaking watch out! (in a non threat-to-homeland-security-way.) last time I was nervous to go, but right now, GET ME ON TO THAT PLANE. 😀

other than that, heaps of excellent things came of coming home, full list to come later (or likely, not, as I hopefully wont have time to write it.)

but in the end, nothing is really lost, Im still making it to the Seattle Lindy Exchange tonight!!!

YAY!!! what could be better?!?!!!!!

zaida arie passed away

I will be back in melbourne on friday morning for the funeral, and for a week of shiva. the will probably be going back to san fran.

Post Camp Hollywood JOY!!!

wow. i mean, wow, man.

not sure where to start, but to keep this short and sweet, I just had one of the best dancing experiences EVER. ever!

status of any dancing ego I might ever have had = DEAD.  seriously.

I left melbourne thinking ‘yeah, i’m a vaguely competent dancer! I might even be pretty good at what I do!’

LIES! the number of super super uberstars who live in LA is almost unreal. there are 5 or 6 troupes here, each one rehearses at least twice weekly, and man, it shows. these people can DANCE, like ive never seen anyone dance.

it blew my mind!!!!!

dancing in between band sets in the big ballroom. this is a relatively empty floor!

just to summarize the highlights of the 4 nights and three days solid basically without sleep, I have to say, the Saturday night was the craziest thing i’ve ever seen.

the pro lindy comp, the showcases, they were INSANE. yes.

but none of them had ANYTHING on th UJC. the underground jitterbug championships. 2am. in a dim back room.

this was the nastiest competition i’ve ever ever seen. it was DIRTY, CRAZY,  think hellzapoppin type war. its not judged on skill, timing, technique.

this was pure entertainment. 😀

even before it actually got crazy, one couple flipped 14 lampposts in a row. in a row! everyone was yelling and counting them….

people were throwing money into the circle, and the music was jumping-at-the-woodside fast, and the crowd and the dancers were going nuts. people were just pulling out the most complicated and spontaneous areials ive ever seen, and STFOing like freaking CRAZY!

I kept expecting someone to pull out a knife 😀 carla heiney was in her slip, and kevin’s shirt was off, and laura keat was bleeding from her lip, and they were swinging out into each other to try and push each other off the floor, or trying to steal each others partners.

it was unbelievable. insane. freaking hardcore!!!!!!

and then it was 3am, and I was dying of exhaustion, but after seeing that, how can you NOT dance???!!!!!!

every night there was a gypsy jazz jam circle with jonathan stout (swing music god, plays weekly here) and mike faltesek and others, including this 17 year old clarinet player who is one of the most talented people ive ever met. (which, after knowing one bonita williams and others of her excellent calibre, is saying something!!) and every morning before class there was yoga warmups.

so, can anyone actually think of a way to make me happier? I challenge you! ive been here a week, it feels like a lifetime. LA is an amazing place.

In other news, i’ve made some new friends who are letting me stay with them, about to meet up with some old ones, am off to venice beach today and to seattle tomorrow afternoon!

this whole thing is a little too amazing for comprehension.

hooray!!! 🙂