Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh My God, Becky...

I used to work at a store. I used to work at several stores but there is one store in particular that sells the materials I use to make my living so I visit them pretty regularly. I worked there for five years.
When I went in today my old boss was there and she said "you look like you've gained weight!" And I thought
"Ooooooooooooh guuuuuuuuuuuurl. Oh no you di'n't! You did not just tell me I have got my fat pants on today! FEMALE!" but I was prescient enough to just mumble a bit and move on with my purchases.

This is relevant to the blog because that drug I am trying to have changed because it's making me crazy (Dr is on vacation until the 3rd, but the email is already sent) is also the reason I have porked up in the past 8 months. I mean, I'm a small person. I always was. And I don't even own a scale (no, really) so I can't give you poundage but I sew for a living and the way that I realized something was amiss was that I was making a mock up of a very simple new sheath dress I was designing and tried it on to check how it hanged (hung... hangerated... let us just seize the word "draped" here) on a real person as opposed to a dress form (you would be surprised at the difference a bit of articulation and squish can make) and when I pulled it over my head it slid down my torso and then made a DEAD STOP when it hit my ass. HOLY COW! I pulled out my tape measure to check what was up, but OH NO it wasn't my drafting skills to blame, it was the fact that my full hip was now two complete sizes larger than it had been just months before! Two sizes! I am sort of (totally) flat chested and I have always been a bit on the pear-shaped side, but the only word for me right now is "BOOTYLICIOUS".
God only knows what will happen when I switch on to a different medication. Like a thirty year old doesn't already feel self conscious enough about wearing a leotard in public :/

Friday, December 30, 2011

Denying Dancers Pointe Shoes Will Make Castro Relent

So I found out what the sack of pointe shoes on Monday was about! My teacher used to collect them to send to Cuban dancers. The embargoes were such that it was difficult for them to get pointe shoes imported in to the country. HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT? I mean, I am a business owner, I am as big a capitalist as the next relatively poor liberal Californian, but I don't think that the citizens of a country should ever be penalized for the bad choices their governments make in their stead. God knows I wouldn't want to be held accountable for what MY government does. Even on a good day a million bad decisions get made. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I just finished the first season of Princess Tutu. It seems to have gotten a lot less surreal with time, which I suppose is inevitable. You can't maintain that level of crazy forever, I guess. Anyway, it's actually kind of interesting and obviously written by people who are familiar with classical ballet. They reference and deliberately call back to some of the more famous ballets (swan lake, la sylphide, giselle, etc) and dancers (Marie Taglioni, Nijinsky, there is a rather amusing cat impresario called "Meowzinski" or something of the sort.) and the whole thing just has a kind of dreamy fun quality.
Since there is nothing new and exciting to say right now I will leave you with another one of my paper doll outfits from back when I was *mumblemumble* years younger. This is Cinderella (pre-ball).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Missed Opportunities

When I walked in to class yesterday evening there was a big sack of pointe shoes sitting in the lobby with a great big "free pointe shoes" sign attached to it. I fumbled for my phone so I could take a photo, but no. Along came my teacher and swept the bag away so as to not tempt her pathetic adult first-level students toward the path of self destruction. So sad. It would have made a lovely photo. Like Santa's sack, all laid out for dancers.

Remember how I said my studio has at least as many adult classes as it has children's classes? It's actually about 1.5 times MORE adult classes than children's classes. I'm impressed. Of course, I think my poor teacher is responsible for teaching almost all of them. I imagine she probably gets a day off... now and then.

I'm taking two classes this week! Because I can't do any next week. We are traveling to my husband's granny's house. The city where she lives is... it's a hole. It's the least beautiful and least comfortable city in Northern California. It has a lot of good medical facilities so it attracts hordes of really old slightly ill people. The entire place smells a bit off. It's the home of the worst Superfund site in the country. It is SO MUCH FUN. I don't know, I am not up on the slang these days, it's probably not cool anymore to say "NOT!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bury Him For Ninety Years, Then See If He Talks

So I started taking one of my prescriptions about... 8 months ago? Something like that. And it messes with your brain chemistry so for a few months I was REALLY TETCHY and grumpy all the time and could not suffer fools terribly gladly. Then a couple months back they doubled the dose on this shiznit. I am pretty much INTOLERABLE to be around, now. My mom gave me a Happy Light for Christmas. No joke.
Christmas with family was... oooooh yeah. So I had to travel by car for a couple of hours in the same vehicle as my parents. Who had an ipod hooked up to their car stereo, so I have to give them credit for that. But the speakers weren't all actually functioning? Or something? And there was this song playing that I didn't recognize, by an artist I couldn't pick out of a line up but it went on for something like ten minutes and all I could think was that it sounded like what you would get if you shot an angel, and then chained it to the wall in your basement, and forced it to sing at gunpoint. I told my husband this when I got home this evening and he said "oh man, you really need to get off that medication"
Anyway, that is my plan for this week. Researching other nerve blockers and their side effects and then pointedly emailing my doctor about what he NEEDS TO DO before my family locks me in a box.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Shopping Cart In Ballet Slippers

There's a new blog picture ----------->
Check it out!
My best friend asked how I was doing in dance class. And my reply?
"Like a shopping cart in ballet slippers."
 On a related note: do you know that there just aren't any high-res photos of shopping carts out there? Google images brings up several options, but they are all so tiny! I think I may have swiped the shopping cart there from some wholesale distributor. Let's just pretend I got it totally legit. Say nothing, act casual.

Look Me In The Eye When You Say That

Tis the season for everyone on Facebook to post youtube videos of Nutcracker! I know I have said it before, but I just HATE it when the camera zooms in on the dancer's faces. AUGH! Dancers do not intensively study facial expressions for twenty years! Show us the whole picture! Arms, legs, even fingertips are probably doing something more interesting than their faces.
A few weeks ago in class my teacher said something about "you know how when you watch a ballet you see the dancers do [whatever it was]. Oh, well you probably don't because you are watching their faces."
What? Who goes to a ballet and focuses on facial expressions? I understand the need to look toward the audience so that they will continue watching you, but... what. Of course, I am nearsighted and have been known to forget to bring my glasses while attending a ballet and sitting on the grand balcony. So... bigger is better for me! I have also attended ballets while sitting in the orchestra pit, and honestly I still wasn't looking that hard at faces. *shrug*

Probably because I was looking at pretty shoes and pretty costumes. Speaking of which...

In the spirit of the season (or something) I went through a bunch of old folders and notebooks from college and dug out some ballet costumes I drew when I was about 18. I have quite a few! These were paper doll clothes, obviously, so they aren't as detailed as they might have been, and after all these years I can find lots of things to nit pick about, but they are still kind of fun. Here we see that I was still groovin' on the candy cane design I came up with at age 11ish. I am going to account for the lack of seams by saying it's super stretchy.

Should I nit pick? Should I? It's my natural state of being to nit pick at clothing designs until I turn blue. If I was doing this today I would make the candy cane stripey things at the hip fuller so that it covers your ... area. If you catch my meaning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sun Rise, Sun Set

We had a huge class last night. 11 people! We have new folks every week, it seems. I am desperate to start taking more classes per week, but I am going to be stuck taking the train and walking, which I don't want to do until the sun is up longer. Not that class is in the very worst part of town... it just isn't in the best part of town, either. The walk will include walking on a busy road with no sidewalks and passing not one but two no-tell motels. Classy with a capital ASSY!

Anyway, the Friday class will start at 5:30, so I have been waiting patiently for this.

FEBRUARY. I have got less than two months to get this inability to walk thing sorted out. Knees! We need to have a heart-to-heart.
I kind of just wish they would start the other class at 6, like the Monday class. I hate driving, but I would much rather do it. Public transportation in this town is a total joke.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Single Most Dangerous Thing You Will See All Day

I admit, I have a soft spot for technical drawings and off-beat inventions. Which is why google patents is like, the new love of my life. You can literally kill hours and hours there, just popping random junk in the search bar and seeing what comes up. I love finding stuff that I then see for sale. Stuff that I thought WHAT THE WHAT when I saw the patent.
Anyway, "ballet" is always a fun search term to use. Or "pointe". Because so much of this stuff is soooooo crazy. Here is the single most dangerous thing I have seen all day:

That is right, it's a crazy-ass pointe shoe with metal spikes on. You know, so you can do POINTE ON THE ICE. Because... uhm... because you haven't been in traction any time recently and it sounds like a great way to pass some time? Anyway, the full patent is here, so you can see the full-on insanity for yourself. I am LOOKING AT YOU Leo's!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crackin' Those Nuts

Tis the season! I was inspired to dig these up when I was over at my mom's house last weekend. These were supposed to be for the Nutcracker, which I had just seen performed live for the second time. I was maybe eleven. JUST eleven. I don't remember exactly but I do remember that this was the year I saw Nina Baratova dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy and I had a huge girl crush on her at the time so that was pretty awesome.
I was at an in-between phase where I had decided that no, actually I did not want to be a lawyer when I grew up, but didn't know what to fill in the blank with. I had always spent my free time designing clothes, but this was right around the age when I decided that it was a viable career option. I hadn't learned much about sewing and clothing construction yet, so you have to give me a break. Also, I don't have any idea who most of these were supposed to be for.

This was for the candy canes, though. The ones who dance with a hoop. I remember this one very distinctly, it was supposed to be white and the stripey bits were, of course, white and red. I dig that it's so unconventional.

I have no idea what this one is for, though. All I know is that my note on it says that it should have white bishop sleeves (I didn't know they were called bishop sleeves then, so it says "big poofy sleeves"), a green bodice, and a darker overskirt thingy. I honestly don't know what shape the skirt was supposed to be. Bell-type tutu?
 No clue on the wearer of this, either. But, the note says it's probably pink floaty chiffon, with rhinestones where all the dots are.

Another for who-knows-who. BUT I had to include this one because I thought it should be made from a fabric that my mom had a skirt made from. I am all about reduce-reuse-recycle, and I STILL HAVE some of this fabric. 

See! There it is!--------------------------------->
This one is obviously the snowflakes, which were always my favorite part when I was a kid (excepting Mother Ginger, my other favorite part). I am still not entirely sure why snowflakes traditionally wear long floaty romantic tutus rather than classical tutus, which are, you know, snowflake shaped. Anyway, I guess 11 year old me was a rebel. I still think this is a cute idea, if poorly drawn. It would take unconventional materials, but that is the rage these days anyway. 

Also, it totally reminds me of that scene from Fantasia! You had better believe I was influenced by that, too. -------------------------------->

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

She Takes Her Pills, Careful And Round

Here is one day's worth of the crap I have to take. This doesn't include my multi-vitamin or calcium supplements (which I am having a hard time psyching myself back in to taking again). The big ones are actually flaxseed oil. I read that omega-3 supplements were supposed to help with rheumatoid arthritis so I tried taking fish oil pills for about a week. HOLY CRAP IT WAS AWFUL. The side effects are nasty, the pills are stinky, and besides, it is depleting our already over-fished ocean reserves. I gave up on the horrible little things and instead tried the flaxseed. No gross-out side effects at all. More omega-3 per pill than fish oil. And a super renewable resource as well. Take THAT fish oil companies! Also, it does seem to help the stiffness and creakiness in my joints. It doesn't do anything at all for pain, but you have to take your victories where you can find them.
The other crap is prescription medications. The little guy is a kick-ass anti-inflammatory (they want to try something else, but all the others I have tried are huge, require at least two doses a day, and don't work worth a damn) and the one with letters all over it is a tricyclic which blocks pain impulses from nerves. Or anyway that is the theory. The plain one is the same thing, only they prescribed me 75mg a day and gave me 50mg capsules. Yeah. So I got some empty ones at the co-op and I just sift my drugs in to them like a coke head. It's kind of funny, but also not.
Also not pictured: the two vicodin I usually take so that I can sleep. I try to only take them once or twice a week, but that only works some of the time.

I DID take a mile-long walk today, without a cane! I am certainly feeling it, but I am also just impressed that I did it! Go team me!

Whatever, yo!

I had a dream last night that I was dancing, en pointe, in new shoes, with no padding, all day long. At the end of the day I took my shoes off and all my toes were squished and stuck together.
I mean, other stuff was going on in the dream. There was a play or a parade or something. There was the Queen of England. There were people I was interacting with. But all I remember is my squished little toesies!
Maybe it's my subconscious way of dealing with the anxiety of the upcoming holidays. OR NOT.

Edited to add:
Oh yeah! Now I remember some more! I had to somehow produce 9 princess gowns (which were really more like over-dresses) for a show that started in an hour or something insane like that. TOTALLY an anxiety dream!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Port De Bras Forever

I could do port de bras all day long. Like, seriously, all day long. It is that one moment in class where I am standing in front of the mirror and I actually think to myself DAMN I LOOK GREAT. And there are precious few moments in life that make me feel that way. It's all about the port de bras. And also the fact that we are standing in croisé, which is sort of at an angle and makes you look narrow and tall. If you don't believe me look at the models in Vogue. Croisé
Also, port de bras sort of short circuits my brain a little so that I focus a lot less on what I am doing with my feet. Chassé with port de bras is way more fun than chassé with arms in second. It probably looks like a hot mess, but at least you can focus on something other than HOLY COW I HATE THIS PART.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Of Gray Tights

Nylon. It is an interesting fiber. It is man made, synthetic, and has a unique property whereby it attracts and absorbs dye readily. Which is great, because that means it is one of the only synthetic fibers that can be dyed at home. BUT, it also means that if you wash a nylon garment, let's say two pairs of pink tights, in a washer which also contains dark colored garments, let's say two black leotards, then your nylon will suck up as much of the dye the dark colored items shed as possible.
Which I know, because I was the first person in something like five years to graduate from Textiles class with an A. And also because I was a total idiot yesterday and washed all my delicates in the same load. And now I have peachy-gray tights to wear to class.

Thoughts at 2 AM

A few days ago over at the Adult Beginner blog (which you should read!) there was a post that has inspired a pretty interesting conversation in the comments.
I, also, get a twinge of sadness when I think back about how I totally missed the dancing boat when I was young and healthy. I can understand, intellectually, why I didn't study ballet as a child, but my heart wishes it was different. Also, I started ballet ten years ago! When I was younger and hardier and didn't have rheumatoid freakin' arthritis that floors me so effin' bad! I mean, what is my excuse? Why did I stop? What did I do in the last ten years that I couldn't have done better and stronger and happier if I had been dancing? It feels like such a waste.
There is also a comment from another rheumy, who explicitly states pointe as a goal. I know that I shouldn't feel weird about admitting it, but pointe is absolutely a goal for me. I don't need to be a frolicking ballerina, I just want to try it out. I want to cross it off my bucket list. If I give it a shot and decide it is sucky and painful and I feel no connection with it, no big deal. At least I gave it a try. But I hate to think of spending the rest of my life wondering why I never tried at all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

YouTube Has Failed Me

I cannot for the life of me find a youtube video that demonstrates waltz steps like the ones I have been struggling with the last three weeks. I can find super pro choreographed performances and I can find people sort of dancy-walking (up, up, plie, up, up, plie) but that is what we were doing in pre-ballet! The closest I can find are these 12 year olds kicking my ass serious style. Also, promenades! We just started promenades this week! They are awesome! Everything is awesome when you are me, I guess.
ALSO: Check this dude out. He is totally doing a pas de bourree. Dudes on the street! You are doing ballet!

Not Recreational Drug Use. I Swear.

There are a lot of different ways for adults to take ballet class. You can take a class for PE credit if you are enrolled in college. I am not. Nor did I take any PE classes while I *was* in college. Because I totally lucked in to a career degree that meant I only had to take fashion classes. For The Win. But anyway. Not the point.
You can take classes at a community center. The community center out where I used to live in the suburbs had classes. I took a belly dance class there for about a year. It was fun, but it was Not Serious.
You can take classes at a gym-type place. After all, everyone wants a body like whatserface in Black Swan these days (girl is too old to be that bony, though. I mean, I was crazy bony all through my teens and early twenties, I only weigh like 115 pounds right now, soaking wet with shoes on, and that is the heaviest I have ever been and includes two extra inches of butt fat that I have gained through the power of tricyclic medications. Also Not The Point. What was I saying? Oh yeah. But girlfriend is too bony, yeah? Even I think she's too bony and I am the queen of not telling people they are too bony. Because I got it ALL THE FREAKING TIME when I was growing up. People would straight up take my mom aside and tell her I had an eating disorder and she would be like "dude, no way. She eats like a million pounds of candy every day and ice cream for breakfast and then we go out for dinner and she's totally all over the second helping of mac and cheese. I think I know when my kid has an eating disorder, yo." Okay, still not the point.) ANYWAY. There is a place about a block from my house that has this sort of class. Also a $160 registration fee! And there is only one class! And it's in the middle of the day on a Wednesday! Also they have an ugly website that makes me feel icky! No, really! Your online presence is important!
OR you can find a dance studio and hope for the best. I have been through two ballet studios now. I took a year of ballet about ten years ago (I hate admitting it was that long ago, because it feels like I was a fresh-faced twenty year old full of promise just yesterday, but NO. It was totally TEN YEARS AGO. You are OLD MOTHER WILLIAM) Uhm... I lost my place again.
Oh yes. It was okay, but they were not terribly serious about the adult department. AND I was the only one who stuck with it for more than a few months, so the class kept resetting itself. The teacher was nice. A deeply handsome young man with blonde curls all up in yo' bidness. But he actually ASKED before he would touch you to make corrections. Dude, that is what I am here for. Touch all up on me, it's okay! I have janky posture, show me what I need to do! Anyway, after a year I wasn't progressing and felt annoyed by the whole thing. I tried the next level up, but it was obviously way beyond me and I actually had to leave the class early before I fell over.
My new studio. IT IS AWESOME. I didn't really know what to expect, but I love it! They have a full schedule of adult classes. Probably as many as they have for kids, almost. My teacher is very careful with our bodies and our restrictions. She is strict about posture and placement, but that is a good thing! I have two left feet, so sometimes she makes me redo things a million times. But that is okay! I won't get better if I don't practice, right? I kind of have a girl crush on her, because she is so freakin' awesome.

I am sure I had a point when I started this post.
Almost certain of it.
I probably should not have taken a vicodin before blogging :-/

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Art of Distraction

I was browsing through when I came upon a link to this story. It's about a guy with rheumatoid arthritis so advanced that he has to type his novels with a chopstick. I couldn't even get through it. I just skimmed. I am sure it is supposed to sound like an inspiring triumph, but to me it is utterly terrifying. I already know my time may be more than a bit limited. It's why I quit my retail job and took up dancing again. If I only have five years (ten years, two years, six months...) to live the way I do, then I will be damned if I am living it not dancing and stuck behind the wrap desk at a craft store.

I just try to distract myself. So I was thinking tonight, as I drove home from class, about the myriad ways ballet is a lot like sex.
You work up a sweat and get out of breath
You might think that make up will help, but you will just sweat it off anyway
If you haven't done it for a long time you are worried you'll be rubbish at it
Sometimes, no matter how much you like it, you just wish it was over
It's a little hard to pee afterward (TMI but you know it's true)
If the people you usually do it with aren't there you feel a little awkward
If you only do it once a week it's still better than not doing it at all.
the list could go on!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Neighbor is Awesome

You remember my foil ballerinas? A few of them ended up in arabesque, but let's be honest, I am not that creative so most of them were just doing pirouettes like the five year old in me thinks they should. Another bit of back story: I happen to live next to a person who is associated with a professional dance company.

Well, after Thanksgiving I finished putting up the decorations on the ugly faux ficus tree in the foyer and called it good. A few days ago my husband came home and handed me a few ballerinas that had fallen off the tree. I went back out there to reattach them and it looked like someone (perhaps someone's small and rambunctious dog), had smashed in to the tree, knocking it over and tossing most of the decorations off-kilter. It was standing again, but the garland was a little askew, and a few ballerinas were just hangin' on by whatever the ballet equivalent of a wing and a prayer is. As I was putting things to rights I found this:
GRAND JETÉ! That is just showing off! LOVE. IT.

By the way I finally figured out how to make accented Es on a PC without cutting and pasting:
Hold down the alt key while inputting this code:
0201 = É
0233 = é
0232 = è

Sunday, December 4, 2011


My husband and I have been watching a show on Netflix, and whenever a particular character whom he hates says anything the hubby says "SMACK!"
You know, because she's so stupid you want to smack her? Hey, at least he's not all hot for every pretty girl on TV, am I right?
Anyway, so a couple of weeks back I was in such terrible pain and was so stiff in the knees that I could hardly walk. I frantically e-mailed my doctor and begged for help. Anything. A different pain killer or anti-inflammatory. A referral back to a rheumatologist or physical therapist. ANYTHING. He responded by sending me in for x-rays and said vaguely that maybe he'd think about steroid injections if he saw whatever the hell he was looking for on the x-rays. Okay. Fine. I was pretty sure that the x-rays would show NOTHING, because I have had every part of my body x-rayed already. So it was just a day that I had to spend in a silly hospital gown standing next to a pole with the words 'left" and "right" written on it in lead, and feeling self conscious about the holes in my socks while getting bombarded with radiation for no reason. But that isn't what annoyed me.
I heard nothing from my doctor for two weeks, and then last week I received a letter in the mail. It said "x-rays unremarkable. No damage or  defects found". Signed sealed delivered. Not a word on what that means to him, or why he made me take the stupid x-rays in the first place when all evidence points to a problem that is not related to my bones in any way. I should write back to him, but I am too livid to even deal with the man right now. I don't even care what the condition is anymore! I just want a treatment for the symptoms! But every time I say a thing to a doctor within this shitty HMO all I get is "we don't know what's wrong with you".