The commune is like a ghost town today. We share everything, including germs. Someone went on a trip and came home with a nasty day-of-hell stomach bug, and it’s been cycling through the community like the plague. First one person had it, then three, then ten, and now at least twenty people are knocked on their asses in bed, puking and shitting and moaning. Just for a day or two, and then it’s over. But what a day… I had mine yesterday, and I feel fine, though exhausted, today. Puking hourly with a hurt back is one of the most hellish physical experiences I’ve ever had.

So, ghost town. Half of the community is off the farm visiting their families for the holidays, and the other half is either in bed with the plague or recovering from it. When I went up to the dining hall for lunch there was a card posted asking for someone to cook dinner tonight, because all 3 of the dinner cooks are sick. There were at least 5 other “open job” cards posted by folks who were too sick to do their work. Luckily, I had already cancelled most of my work for yesterday because of my back. Which, by the way, feels much better after a few days of rest and many massages with Tiger Balm. I have another massage scheduled this afternoon with our newest member, a funky young woman who happens to be a professional massage therapist (amongst other things — she’s amazing). Thanks for all the comments wishing me healing!

I just talked with my grandmother on the phone, and she was asking me about the holidays here. “Are there lots of decorations up? Are people getting together to sing carols? What will you do on Christmas morning?” I’ve had a few other questions like this from family members, and it’s made me realize what a different experience I’m having here today, compared with much of the rest of the country. We don’t have Christmas music playing on loudspeakers accross the commune, and we don’t have any stores to go shopping in. I’m oragnizing a “New Year’s Elf” game, much like “Secret Santas”, but beyond that there isn’t much gift-giving, certainly no expectation of it. This week doesn’t feel much different than last week, or last month, except that it’s colder. We had a nice small ritual and party for the Winter Solstice, and I put up some lights in my room on Solstice Eve. I also hung some ornaments from my childhood, mostly as a way of connecting with my family during this time that they’ll all be together. I thought about going home — I’ve gone home for Christmas the past 2 years that I’ve been here — but I travelled home for Thanksgiving this year and I’ve been feeling like I wanted to stay put for awhile. I like not being out in the hubub of it all.

The biggest excitement for me right now is that the theater scene here is practically exploding! I’ve been working on a play (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds) for about two months with a small group of people, and we’re getting ready to perform it in two weeks. It’s a show unlike anything we’ve done here before — straight drama, no Twin Oaks jokes, intense, kind of depressing, and only involving a few people. Most of the other shows (besides the Vagina Monologues) have been big silly musicals revised to be set on a hippie commune, and injected with references to life at Twin Oaks. When we’re done with Marigolds, we’re going to jump right into the big musical for this winter: Cabaret. No revisions on this one either; the contemporary political paralells are compelling enough. I was in the show in college and loved it, and right now there’s a poster up in the community with some of the photos from my college show, with a “guess which one is TickledSpirit” game. I love it.