Friday, December 28, 2012

What's Your Thing?

Is there something you feel like you missed out on when you were younger? Some path you feel drawn to that you didn't take the chance with back when you had developing talents that could have been harnessed? I think everyone has something like that.
It's not ballet for me. Sure, when I was six or seven I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up, but I have yet to meet the six year old girl who doesn't want to be a ballerina when she grows up. I was dissuaded when my mother told me two things (they say that the way you speak to your children becomes their inner voice. With three very different parents it's quite the cacophony in here, sometimes). She said 1) that ballerinas have junky feet. Which seemed important at the time but that was before I grew up and realized I have junky feet anyway, so what the hell is the difference? and 2) that they have to go to class every day. I hated school, I always did. (From grade one through college. I just never enjoyed it the way that some people seem to. I was not interested in what they were saying, or at least not in the manner in which they were saying it. And the other kids were dreadful and the teachers were too overworked to attempt to engage the smart kids. I figure it's probably even worse, now, with the horrible state of modern education. Anyway.) There was no freaking way I wanted to go to class even when I was a grown up. PSSH! Of course, now I realize that going to ballet class is not even remotely like going to school.
But oh well, because I know now, intellectually, that I am a super-perfectionist who gets easily discouraged and fatalistic when I feel like I can't do something perfectly right away. It would have been totally awful if I had been put in to a high-stakes competitive environment as a kid. I would have torn myself to shreds and would never have continued doing it long enough to be any good at it. I just wouldn't. It takes all the adult strength of will and disregard for looking stupid that I can muster. In the end it's better that it worked out this way (though I may, of course, still bemoan the fact that my creaky 31-year-old body simply can't do the things I want it too all the time.)
No, for me, the great skill I passed up on that I really think I could have pursued professionally is voice work. No, really. I think I had a certain innate vocal talent when I was younger and I knew that quite well at the time, too. I adored singing. But, as a kid I was utterly convinced that I could basically do anything I wanted to without having to work at it and so I never took voice lessons. I have a miserably flat and raw singing voice, now, because it's never done much of anything, but I think with proper training I totally could have been a singer. Opera, baby, that's where my money is. I freakin' LOVE opera. And when I was a kid I could mimic words in other languages really well. If I could pull off Enya at 10 then I totally could have wrapped my sh*t around the queen of the night's aria from the Magic Flute.

Okay, maybe not. But still.
(Only click play on this is you are prepared to hear the most alien sounds that a human vocal system can produce. 2 minutes in, give it a try, you'll die from the awesome.)


Or, I could have been a groovy lounge singer! GROOVY! When I watch old movies where women (maybe draped over a piano, I don't know) do a little sultry song routine in a club? Total pangs of regret. That is my ideal job, right there. I basically wanted to be Jessica Rabbit when I was growing up. But I thought I could totally pull that stuff out of a hat whenever I wanted it and oh no, you have to actually practice! Sigh...
I'm not saying I could make a respectable living that way (but I don't make one now, either) but I could have at least fronted a band dedicated to covers of Billie Holiday songs on weekends or something.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Crackin' Those Nuts

So, how are the holidays progressing for you? My family gave me several ballerina-related gifts and we all got together in the bay area to visit my sister and her children. On Christmas eve we all piled on the couch and attempted to make an eight year old girl and a six year old boy sit still long enough to watch the Maurice Sendak version of the Nutcracker (it's on Netflix, FYI) which I hadn't seen since I was a little girl. At one point I picked up my nephew and rolled him bodily on to my lap and tried to pin him to my chest so I could watch the TV rather than him. This worked for about five minutes. You do what you can.
When the first "doll" hops onto pointe my niece said "wo, how did that happen?" and I said "magic". My mother offered "practice" but I insisted. No. It's magic.
I remember watching this version of the Nutcracker on TV with my mother and being kind of confused because the story is so different from the usual Nutcrackers. Clara morphs in to a grown-up and then lots of weird things happen with Drosslemeyer wearing a series of great big hats. But, you miss out on the best stuff, like the candy canes, Mother Ginger, and the Arabian dance. And, in my opinion, the Sugarplum Fairy is not a suggestion, it's a requirement.
Clara's tutu seems so strange to me. Unreal. It looks like it's injection molded. Totally unmoving. I am sure it's just a condition of the plate/overskirt being so wavy (like a cartoon tutu) and the whole thing being tacked very firmly together. But still, weird.
Also, I'd forgotten that the mouse king in this one has a varying quantity of heads, a nod to the original. I am pretty sure that this company is still doing a variation of this production.


Next year we're hoping to get all the girls in the family together for a trip to San Francisco's production. They aren't shy about declaring themselves the best in the country, and you have to admit: it is certainly shiny!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Looking For Ballerinas in All The Wrong Places

Well, I've done it. I've finished off Nutcracker and Mouseking, the story that the Nutcracker was based on. It was interesting in a few ways. For one, the mouse king was this terrifying 7-headed rodent creature that was obviously inspired by the German folk legend of the rat king. If you've never heard of it before I am terribly sorry to introduce it to you, but it gives you a certain understanding of the story we are working with, here. The little girl (named Marie, not Clara) sort of vaguely helps the nutcracker (Drosselmeyer's bewitched nephew) defeat the mouse king (VERY vaguely) and then she marries him, despite the fact that she is 8 years old. There you go. There is a brief trip through the land of sweets, but they don't stop to talk to anyone on account of the residents all being terribly grumpy (because they all have sore teeth, naturally). Why did we make this story in to a beloved ballet classic, again?

Random write-up in mental_floss magazine this month:


not particularly informative or anything, it just caught my eye.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Brief Briefing

Well, I had my second acupuncture appointment at the beginning of the week. It was dreadful and they crammed needles in my ears and in between my toes and other awful things. It hurt and I bled and I was terribly happy to go home afterward. My knees hurt like the end times for the rest of the day and I spent most of the afternoon lying on the couch watching anime and feeling sorry for myself. The next day, though, class was not nearly as painful as I had feared. Perhaps it just takes a while to have a positive effect? Or is it just that I felt so dreadful the day before that a change back to the status quo seemed like a blessing? I suppose we shall see in time.
In more interesting news I recently downloaded a copy of the original story the Nutcracker was based on, and so far it is a total hallucinatory crazy-fest. I will report back after I've polished it off.

Anyway, in case I don't hit the blog again until next week:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's All Good, I've Watched the 11 Year Olds Do It So I've Got it Down

So the other night in my level three class (after an exhausting adagio and break-neck marathon pirouette session) the teacher lined us up in the corner and told us to (in groups of two) turn across the floor in whatever way we chose. Now, the only turns I've really been around for are chaînés and pirouettes. And I hate chaînés. But I was ALL OUT of pirouettes for the night. So, after a brief moment (which was all I had) of contemplation I thought to myself "screw this for a lark" and did piqué turns across the floor. Now, you may or may not recall this, but I have NEVER done piqué turns in class, before. I did preparation for piqué turns once... and I sort of popped a couple off in my kitchen the next day, but I have had no actual experience doing them. Not even in slippers. Only a couple of times in baseball socks (my dance footwear of choice, of course)
BUT I DID IT.
And it wasn't beauteous. And it wasn't technically proficient. I didn't even know which direction I was supposed to be turning in when moving from stage right to stage left... And maybe the teacher sort of looked at me like I was insane and maybe even declared that next time we would be working on piqué turns as a class...
BUT I DID IT ANYWAY.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Two-Parter

In my ballet world:
I'm starting to champ a little on the proverbial bit. I'm certainly struggling with my level 3 class but I feel like I could do better faster if I could work on the level 3 stuff more than once a week. Because let's face it, my kitchen floor is something like 3-4 feet across. Tombé-pas de bourré-pirouette combinations aren't happening in here. Especially when there is a great big box taking up half my floor space that is filled with everything that I can no longer put under my sink because my landlord never fixed the gaping hole the plumber punched in the cabinet floor. BUT that is another story.
Anyway. So, I am feeling a little held back in my level 1-2 class, but there is no other dedicated level 3 class. The only other option is a level 3-5 class on Thursdays that most of the girls are taking as a pre-req for pointe. I've talked to my classmates about it and they all agree that it's way more advanced than my level three class. And so I am a bit terrified about it. I'm sort of working myself up to asking about it. I almost fell over doing pirouettes on Tuesday, so maybe I will ask about it later.
The level 1-2 class has so many new students that we don't all fit at the barre, anymore. We don't even all fit at the barre plus two portable barres with some people hanging off the ends. It's crazy. I guess ballet is the hip new thing for grown-ups? It's a little difficult getting through everything in an hour and a quarter, now. And sometimes people just plain get on my nerves. Don't get me wrong, I think that it's great to have new people! And, of course, I am thrilled that my studio is able to support itself and my wonderful teacher (she said "I don't know why we have so many new students! Is it that Black Swan movie?" I, for one, don't know why the hell anyone would watch that movie then WANT to learn ballet. UCK.)

****at this point you may stop reading if the health stuff bores you****

In my rheumatism world:
I hurt. Like hell, to be honest. I am not pointing fingers and saying that the acupuncture was to blame. I do think I tend to flare up worse right before my period (Retaining water? More inflammatory whats-it in my system? More sensitivity to pain?) so this could have a hormonal component, and it was already starting to act up before I set foot in the clinic. But it sure hasn't helped, either.
This particular flare-up is coming with much more intense pain smack-dab right in the heart of my knee joints. I often get a lot of the worst pain as a kind of peripheral action all along the connective tissues that hold your kneecap in place. But, I fear this is a new development that will continue to vex me. It's keeping me awake a lot at night which sucks because one of the most unmanageble parts of this whole thing is that flare-ups come with this overwhelming exhaustion. I eventually have to drag myself out of bed at some point in the day, but I could quite easily sleep past 1pm, no problem.
*sigh*
I talked to an old family friend (whom I recently realized I have known since I was FIVE. Holy crap!) who has been having acupuncture for years with great success. She said she didn't get any results for a while, either, so I should hang in there. I figure I have nothing to lose, and for 15 bucks I can't beat the price of a treatment, so they can basically try anything they want. I believe it was sterling author Terry Pratchett who, when questioned about the lengths to which he would go to beat his debilitating Alzheimer's disease, said "Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Acupuncture: Step Three

SO. I had my first acupuncture treatment today.
I had to drive to this place that was half an hour away and totally unfamiliar, but I survived. I feel like each time I successfully navigate the freeways around here is cause for celebration. Did I tell you that I only started driving on the freeway in October? Because I did. In two months I have blossomed in to a veritable freeway-driving adult. And stuff. I wasn't terribly worried about the being poked with needles thing, I was more worried about the not killing myself on the road thing.
I found the building and went in for my inpokination. Do you like that word? I just made it up. If you couldn't tell. The ambiance of the room left something to be desired:
Hmm. A slightly dinged-up exam room with elderly paint on the walls. This should not be surprising. There is probably a protocol of some sort. You probably have to make every single Kaiser exam room look like every other so that no one feels left out of the fun. I don't know what I was expecting, though. probably dim lights, soothing music... maybe the tinkling of a (digital) waterfall. A smouldering incense burner in the corner. I don't know about you, but I am relaxing just thinking about it.
My acupuncturist was quick and easy to deal with. She bumped (most of them don't feel so much like being pricked as they do like being tapped on) fifteen needles in to my knees and wrists and then left me to sit in the dark under a heat lamp while I recovered from my sudden rush of dizziness (I always get dizzy in doctor's offices. Even if all they do is take my temperature and listen to my heart. Sometimes it's great because it makes them think you are in bad shape and really need some help. Other times it's not so great. Like when you have a bossy OB nurse practitioner who wants to lecture you about how you aren't living right)
It gave me time to feel sort of like taking a nap (that heat lamp is da bomb) and to study the acupuncture chart on the wall. There is one acupuncture point, for guys, that is ... well, I don't know what condition it treats, but you have gotta be in MISERY before you ask for that treatment, is all I'm saying. I don't have a picture for you because I am being mindful of your delicate sensibilities (and because, you know, my camera phone only got half the picture in the frame. Dang.) In 20 minutes she pulled out the needles, while accompanied by two auditors who were apparently there just to count how many needles you were stuck with? Uhm... useful, how? I'm sure it's some silly internal cost-effectiveness thing. Like Kaiser doesn't want them to use more than three packs of needles per patient or something.
I have a few tiny red spots now, but I don't think I even bled. Which is nice, because I was a bit concerned. I take a daily anti-inflammatory and it sort of thins your blood. So, when I poke myself while sewing (oh, two or three times a day at least) I bleed all over the place and it's awkward if I forget to have a pack of band-aids on hand.
Three hours later I can tell you that I don't see a bit of difference so far in my knees. They still hurt, as they did all night. Maybe my wrists are a liiiiittle bit better? Time will tell. Tonight I sew, tomorrow I dance, and the proof will be in the pudding (but not that birthday cake flavored pudding cup I just attempted to eat, which tasted like pure evil coated in artificially colored sprinkles). 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pilates and You. Now on Home Video.

So, I am muddling my way back in to trim, but the fact remains that I need to work on my core strength because it will improve my balance. And I am crazy-interested in improving my balance. On a related but side note my teacher recently realized that I stand a little funny because I have an (not insignificant) curvature of the spine. I've known this since I was 16, at which point it required several trips to various doctors and x-rays and etc etc. The verdict was that if I had come in when I was 11 they would have put me in a brace or something, but at 16 it was too darn late. Which was totally okay with me. I haven't really experienced any serious problems with it. It means I sometimes have to fit my clothing very slightly differently from left to right, but it's usually not noticeable if I don't so mostly I just don't bother. Anyway, my teacher said she's going to work on making me "pretend" to stand straight, and that makes absolute sense. 
ANYWAY. Back to the subject at hand!
The best thing I've found so far for working your core/abs is pilates. I can't say it's a heck of a good time, but I suppose it's better than just doing crunches or sit ups. Boring exercises don't get done, you know? In the past (that is one time in the past. Yeah, yeah, so sue me) when I got interested in trying out some pilates, I just fired up netflix and ta-da, hundreds of videos to choose from. But, this time I discovered that OH NO! Netflix has discontinued ALL of it's fitness videos that were available to watch instantly. Aw man. What are the rest of the unemployed/self employed/stay at home moms/etc going to do now? We are all going to get fat, is what we're going to do.
I eventually decided to gird my proverbial loins and check out the stuff available on YouTube. I did this one, which has left me aching noticeably for the past few days, even though there were moments when I just threw my hands up and said "forget it, lady!". It's dang hard to do the stuff while watching the screen, even with my laptop on the floor with me, but I suppose it has to be done. I thought the instructor was okay on this series, not as good at explanations as some of the sleek crunch and burn instructors, but also a bit less plastic. I love her manner of speaking ("Up you come!" and "butt" instead of ""bum" or "rear" really won me). Next time I am planning on trying out this one, which might be a bit less confusing, but we'll see.
I'm doing this for you, ballet. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.

Of course, like most people, I never seem to follow through with my big plans for at-home work outs.  This is why you have to go to classes or a gym or something. So you feel guilty if you don't want to bother with it. We'll see how long I hold out before "forgetting" to hit the pad once a week. I'm giving myself three weeks. Hey, at least I have realistic expectations!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Acupuncture: Step Two

So today I had my orientation and introduction to acupuncture class at Kaiser. Waaaaay the hell away in another city, because that is the only place they do it, apparently. I drove there in the absolutely POURING rain and gusty wind, on unfamiliar roads. I took the freeway there, and it was raining so hard I couldn't see, so on the way back I took surface streets. Which was just as bad because everyone insisted on driving exaaaaaactly 30mph. Which is basically the sweet spot for hydroplaning. I cranked up my stereo and powered through, though.
Was it worth it? Oh, hell no. But that isn't too surprising, right? The orientation class basically consisted of forty people trying to cram in to a conference room that was designed for about twenty people. Then we all watched a YouTube video together. And then I sat there and thought about how I am pretty sure that this building is the one that my pediatrician's office was in, back when I was a kid. And, what ever happened to good old Dr. Koch, anyway? He was pretty nice. And this building! What a perfect example of ... uh ... I guess I will call it "Industrial Prairie" architecture. Which is to say it is obviously inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright except without being actually inspired. 1960s architecture at it's most squat and grey... and half-listened to an obviously flustered and unprepared clinician answer bitchy and/or snarky questions from aging baby boomers with entitlement issues about how long it takes to get an appointment.
What did I learn? Well, I learned that Kaiser's acupuncture department is something of a cruel joke. They have an acupuncture department but they don't actually want you to use it. After three appointments they decide if it's helping or not. If not, no harm no foul, you go on to find something else to try. If it does help you can come back with limited appointments for about a year. Then you are on your own. I guess I am glad I even have the opportunity to try it out for cheap. If it helps maybe I can try finding someone local that isn't too woo-woo for me. Though goodness knows how I would ever be able to afford it.
I still think they could have saved us all a lot of trouble by emailing us a link to the stupid video and maybe mailing a small packet of the paperwork they handed out (they send out appointment reminders anyway, right?). On the way there and back the weather probably killed a few of us off, though, so maybe that was their plan all along...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rheumatic Supa-Hoe, Nahmeean Biatch?

I ran the blog through gizoogle because I couldn't resist the temptation. I'm utterly fascinated by what I would sound like if I was writing about ballet and rheumatism through the veil of gangster rap. For one, the blog is now named "Rheumatic Supa-Hoe" which is fantastic. My favorite bit so far is "Yo Ass know dat hyped paintin of Lady Macbeth bustin a chronic dress, biatch?" but I have to admit a certain fondness for "I be frontin cheezy-ass exhaustion, PMS, n' snow, nahmeean, biatch?"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

En Deshabille

Ninth in an occasional series of ballet paintings that are not degas:

  Ballet Dancers in the Dressing Room
Serebriakova, Zinaida, 1923

I quite like the use of shading on this one, especially the back of the dancer in the middle.

Back in the Saddle

AW MAN. I am still recovering from my first day back in class on Tuesday. Of course, to compound everything I went to class last night, too. Look, when you fall off the horse you've got to get right back on, yes? Unless it steps on you I guess. Anyway.
It's mostly my legs, aching and sore as if I hadn't used my muscles at all for the past three weeks. Not fair! I totally did! Remarkably, the three weeks off class has made my knees considerably happier campers. It's darn near comfortable. But, I am also apparently completely junked up posture-wise, as I was continually corrected last night. I have to say, though, that when my back hurts and my shoulders/neck are all tight nothing makes it better than going to class (nothing makes it worse than sewing all day). Stretching, moving, standing up straight. It's like we are supposed to do that stuff. Pssh!

In other news I've decided that I need to work on my core strength. This is all part of the posture thing (and the I'd-like-to-not-fall-over-while-turning thing). The problem? I hate crunches. No, no. I HATE crunches. That's more like it. So, go back and try to tackle that crunch-and-burn pilates video again? The time may well have come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Apathy Patrol

So I was dreading going away for a long time because I knew that when I came back home and once again faced going to class twice a week I would have to deal with my old enemy: complete apathy. It's just that... when I am dancing a lot then I want to dance a lot. But if I'm not? Then... I would just rather sit at home and eat smarties and watch Mythbusters. When I get back in to it it will be fine, but until then I know that it's going to be hard, and hurt, and make me all sweaty, and I will probably get a migraine afterward. And I'll  have to sit around with ice packs all over my body when I get home. And I have to drive ten miles to the studio through rush hour/Christmas shopping traffic and/or take the train through the ghetto in the dark. And. And. And. The point is that my brain is telling me it would rather just stay home if it's going to be so much trouble to go to class.
But. Tonight I am back home (may be gone again next week, but only time will tell) and, like a good girl, I went to class. That would be my level 3 class, by the way. In case you were wondering how badass I am. I answer is: totally. I am totally badass.
Class... kicked my butt. Pretty much. I can definitely feel the fact that I didn't do anything for three weeks. Well, that's not true. I shoveled snow. Was it hard work? Yes. Did it help me remain in ballet-condition? Not even a little bit.
I had to learn how to stand again, and where my feet are supposed to go. And then I flailed around badly for a while while we attempted combinations that I had never seen before. Also, apparently, while I was away they started some new stuff. So I just had to fake it through those parts. HA. Did I mention how badass I am? Because it's a lot. It did put me in mind, though, of that time in elementary school when I was out sick while they taught the whole class the multiplication table and then when I got back no one noticed and so I spent the next two years trying to learn how to multiply and divide ALL BY MY SELF. Ahem. But, you know, with enveloppe* at the barre instead of actually important stuff.
Not that I am bitter or anything.

*I'm sure enveloppe should have an accent mark in there somewhere. But I'll be darned if I can actually find it online.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ballerina Music Box

So, for some reason I got inspired to rework a ballerina jewelry box. You know, the kind every five year old girl has? So I poked around until I found one with a sound enough structure to repaint, decoupage, etc etc.
I ended up with this one, which I got for super cheapy online:
Isn't it awful?
All told, it's actually nicer than the one I had when I was a kid. But, seriously? I think the ballerina had probably broken out of mine before I ever got my hands on it. I don't really remember, but that is the sort of class act my childhood was.
Here is the horrible pink inside with the ballerina mechanism. She's going to be getting an entirely new paint job and the pink faux velvet is going to go far far away.


Since it plays Swan Lake I am sticking with the theme. But for grown ups.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Of Tutus and Beetle Wings

Like any crafty person I have what I think of as "lifetime" projects. I suppose you could call it a sort of creative bucket list (but I hate the term "bucket list". It sounds so stupid. I always visualize carrying around some big metal bucket with a leak in it). There are a lot of them. I want to complete a puff quilt (I started one years ago but then broke up with the guy I was making it for so PPPPBBBBBTT!) Build an herb garden growing wall. Stitch some ridiculously complicated  needlepoint version of the unicorn tapestries. One of my biggest lifetime projects has always been to put together a classical (pancake/platter-type) tutu (the whole thing. Bodice, skirt, plate/basque). I mean, I know how to do it, right? I just don't have any real reason to do it. I might at some point get stuck doing some horrid and disgusting alteration and/or repair work to one at the theater, but I really want to make one from scratch. Always have. Even when I wasn't dancing.
Recently, though, I was at a Renaissance faire with my peeps (yo) and saw a jewelry booth that reminded me of one of my other lifetime projects: beetle wing embroidery. If you're not familiar with it it's basically what sequins were invented to replace. In Asia (particularly Thailand, India, China, and Japan) there are these brilliantly iridescent wood-boring beetles. They only live for about a month, and afterwards you are left with their gorgeous exoskeletons. They've been used for ages as decoration, and pieces of fabric and clothing embroidered with them was always highly prized. You know that famous painting of Lady Macbeth wearing a green dress? This one:
That is actually a real dress. A theatrical costume. And it's entirely covered in beetlewing embroidery. you should click through here to see the real deal.
So anyway, I got to thinking about beetle wings and realized that my tutu project is going to need beading anyway... so... why not combine the two?
As this post is already too damn long I will try to wrap it up briefly.
Beetle wings come in lots of pretty color variations to choose from:
and my immediate thought was to sew them on to a black or dark green fabric. But, I am also quite taken with these antique pieces, where the wings are placed on a pale background:

So, now I have even more things to think about. Hmm... I'm pretty excited about how this tutu is going to turn out and I haven't even designed the silly thing yet. Of course, I have no one to make it for (excepting myself, and my weight is so unstable I certainly wouldn't want to do it now) and no room in my little apartment to store such a thing. But. I won't always live in a tiny apartment (hopefully) and as soon as I move I am buying some freakin' wings, 15 yards of diamond net and gettin' my groove on!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Self-Motivation for Dummies

In all honesty I've been having a terrible time self-motivating this week. It's felt like the longest week in recent memory, and now that I think about it, it's probably almost two full weeks since I went to class. I'm claiming emotional exhaustion, PMS, and snow. Yes, it's snowing. I live in central California, which maybe hails briefly once or twice a year, but snow (especially vast accumulations of snow) is totally beyond my realm of experience. But here in the woods, oh yes, it snows. I have also been stymied in my attempt to occupy time by sewing stuffed bunnies for the babies in the family this xmas (six!) by a sewing machine that is on the fritz. I brought dance slippers with me, and even wrote myself a little list of things to work on in my spare time. Pirouettes, headlines, double frappes... but I just haven't worked myself up to it much. Not that the time isn't available, just that I feel like folding in to a ball when the opportunity presents itself.
*sigh*
Self-motivation...
So terrible. Hopefully posting this will make me feel so guilty that I will actually get on with it.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Career Aspirations of Five Year Olds


No, I don't want to be a ball. I think it's pretty obvious that I want to be a ballerina, not a ball. You are not a very good kindergarten teacher.

PS: I actually remember this project very well. There were blank pages for us to illustrate along the lines of "my favorite food" (something green, apparently. Maybe a cucumber?). For this one the page said "I want to be a ____ when I grow up" and then the teacher's aid filled in the appropriate word. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she got distracted halfway through on mine.
Hopefully.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Turning Point

I've been on the lookout for ballet movies lately, but aside from The Red Shoes and Black Swan I don't really know of many. I almost considered watching Phantom of the Opera in hopes that the ballet chorus would make an appearance (the only trouble is... I don't really like Phantom of the Opera...). So, when a girlfriend recently told me I had to watch The Turning Point I made a mental note and stored it for a rainy day. While the weather is only intermittently rainy right now, it is preeeeeeeetty boring while I'm away from civilization (did I mention Daddy lives in the middle of effing nowhere?) and my dad sleeps for at least 18 hours a day. I've been stretching, I guess that is something. I did some really lousy pirouettes in the kitchen this afternoon. But, let's face it, I'm bored. So last night I brought out The Turning Point and had myself a sad little watching-movies-in-bed moment.
If you are in to ballet then it is definitely worth the time to check it out. There is a LOT of dancing in it (much of it done by real honest-to-god dancers) which really redeems it from some otherwise annoying traits. The plot is pretty much a string of ballet movie clichés (I'm not sure why the idea that dancers have to choose between ballet and family is so often waved around. Lots of dancers have kids. Maybe more now than in the past, but let's face it until QUITE recently women were pretty much expected to give up their career so they could raise a family no matter what their job was), and the acting felt oddly flat to me, the characters that are supposed to be sexin' each other up have no chemistry whatsoever. BUT. Dancing, right? You get Baryshnikov showing off (while I can't say much for the likability of his character I have to admit the man had amazing balance) and lots of those weirdly skinny Balanchine-style ballerinas of the era (thankfully scarce these days) that at least make me feel better about my total lack of bosoms. None of the characters were at all sympathetic to me, the construction of the film was kind of random and clunky, and the title sequence dance is a perfect example of what ballet should NOT look like (boring!) but I certainly enjoyed the frolicking around and the honest poverty. Homosexuality and the cultural expectations of male dancers is also a plot device here, and honestly I think is was handled fairly openly for a movie made in the 70s. Maybe not in the sort of way we would do it now, but hey. Props for being frank about it in 1977.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dying of Boredom Swan

Well. There's that, then.
My dad had his surgery today, and I am now playing the good daughter and taking care of him (and cleaning the bathroom because dad, you need to clean your bathroom sometimes) until he's back to driving again. Unfortunately the surgeon quadrupled his recovery time estimate as soon as he got in there. So, I will be here for a good long while, yet. I will try not to whine about missing ballet too much, but it's already taking a back seat to missing my husband. I am basically trying not to think about it. I am physically wrecked (six hours of driving, plus not getting much sleep the last few nights, plus sitting in the hospital lobby for about five hours will do that to you, even if you don't already have janky knees and hands. I eventually had to stand up in the lobby and walk around for a while just so my knees wouldn't seize up any worse than they already had. I caught myself absently doing a little tiny lunge-from-fifth-tendu-back-weight-transfer-tendu-forward and kinda cracked myself up.) and emotionally exhausted (oh god, you mean it only gets worse as they get older? *whimper*)

So, what is stranger? That my dad just fell asleep to the sound of The Dying Swan on his stereo, or the fact that it wasn't playing my music collection? Or, better still, that I recognized it within about three notes?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Girl Crush

This is Nina Baratova, the ballerina I was totally in love with when I was a pre-teen girl:

As Juliet when she was a principal with the Sacramento Ballet.


Hamming it up as Lady Capulet this year.

What eleven year old girl wouldn't want to be her, am I right?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

California is Kinda Just Like That

The studio where I take class is in a strip mall (aren't they all?) and fronts on to a parking lot. The back door opens in to the alley between our strip mall and the grocery store behind it. When it gets really hot in the room, but is nice outside, we leave the back door open.  Usually with a fan in the doorway blowing in.
Today.
Student: *sniff sniff* "uhm... does anyone else smell that?"
All the other students: *sniff sniff* "uhmm.... yeeeeeeah."
Teacher: "what? What do you smell?" *sniff sniff* "oh my GOD"
That's right folks, the studio officially got hotboxed by some teenaged grocery clerks on their break. Thanks guys :-/ Our pas de boureés were a lot less proficient, and yet somehow much funnier thanks to you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pretty Pirouettes Preface Parental Predicament

*sigh*...
Well, I've taken my last level three class for the next month. I am taking my 1-2 class on Friday and dropping in on another 1-2 class on Monday and then that's it. Tuesday I drive for four hours and then I'm off taking care of my dad until he can drive again (shoulder surgery). They are saying at least a month, up to four. I doubt it will be longer than a month because my father will climb the walls and drive both of us insane if he can't work for much longer than that. If I didn't have to work for a month I would take it easy, but this man is not going to be having it. Not that I am going to be too thrilled about being away from my job, my husband, my cats, and my bed for that long, either. I have four new books to read (plus Don Quixote on my iPhone, which is quite the slog, but it's one of those books you have to read. It's actually got some really clever bits to it, and some quite funny moments that are the prototypes of modern parody.) and six stuffed bunnies to make for Christmas, so I will at least keep myself occupied.
Tuesday night I took class without the splint on my sprained wrist for the first time in over a month! It wasn't all peaches and cream, but it sure made barre easier and I could actually find my balance a few times, which for some reason my wrist has been screwing up terribly.  Also, it means I didn't have to sweat all over the splint, which is good news for everyone.
Head lines are still killing me (so I will be attempting to practice them in the kitchen at Dad's house) but I'm starting to get the hang of pirouettes to a certain extent. It's quite exciting, of course, as pirouettes are so integral to what most people think of as the essence of ballet. At Romeo and Juliet on Sunday I was thinking, though, that pirouettes are actually kind of odd looking. They require a definite gearing-up moment and almost look best when performed by a man, or in an energetic period piece. Maybe piqué turns are more girly, I'm not sure. I think most people are just using the term "pirouette" to mean a ballerina twirling around, and of course there are so many different ways to twirl around! Anyhow, I shall be practicing those, as well, because I am damn well going to have something down pat by the time I drag my wobbling, squodgy self back in to the studio!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Never Was a Story of More Woe

Ballet! YAAAAY! Kermit flail!

For the past several years I have attempted to get my husband interested enough to go to a ballet performance with me. Our wedding anniversary and my birthday are right at the start of the ballet season, so there are always great shows going on that I would love to see (you know, for the occasion). But, my husband, bless his soul, while he's a wonderful man and happy to attend live musical performances and even some of the plays I work on, is not a dance man. He wasn't really raised with it and to a certain extent it's an acquired taste. So, while he is totally willing to attend the ballet with me he views it as taking one for the team, if you see what I mean. He imagines his boy parts will fall off as soon as the curtain goes up or something. I tell him (repeatedly!) that ballet dudes are super athletic stud-muffins who get to feel up the girl dancers like constantly, but OH NO it's still too girly for him (thank god he isn't a sports guy. I am willing to take almost anything in a man provided he doesn't watch sports).
But this year I decided TO HECK WITH IT and so I bought tickets for my mom and a girlfriend and we went to see Romeo and Juliet! YAAAAAY! Awesome!
I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I probably haven't seen a live ballet for ten or eleven years, at least. Either they've put down some new and fascinating material on the stage or modern pointe shoes are SO much more quiet than they were 11 years ago. Squeaking and thumping was a constant component of the ballets I saw in my youth (eh, sonny!) and those gals in their pretty pale peachy Freeds were really super quiet. I know, because I got front row seats, yo. The better to appreciate the panting and sweating of the performers, right? Right.
Another cool thing: when I was ... maybe 11 or 12? One of the principal dancers with this company was a ballerina that I was SO in love with, named Nina Baratova. I got to see her dance the Sugar Plum Fairy, and it was totally the highlight of my year. She retired quite a while back but today we got to see her as a guest artist dancing Lady Capulet. I recognized her face on stage before I read the program, and that kind of amazes me. I have a miserable memory for names and faces.
Anyway, a lovely time was had by all, I tried not to fixate on the underarms of that purple dress that was obviously made with a dye that was no match for ballerina sweat, and I've had Pretty Piece of Flesh stuck in my head all evening. It's from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, almost the entirety of which (in fact, I hardly ever played this song, I didn't care for it) I used to listen to on infinite loop when I was in highschool, and that probably tells you exactly how old I am. Oddly enough, I didn't watch the movie all that much. But I still have that album on my iPod.

PS: It must be hard to die with your feet pointed so prettily. Twice.

PPS: Forget boys, I am going to the ballet with my girlfriends from now on.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pretty Pictures

I just found these photos online and thought I would share them here, as there is at least a tenuous ballet connection.
The photographer is Gregory Maiofis, and he has lots of great (and sometimes pretty weird) stuff out there. As for the ballet-related ones I was particularly taken with these two, of a ballerina and bear (you can get down with the symbolism all up in yo bidness or not, up to you):

Taste for Russian Ballet

Figurative Painting

I love them both for different reasons. Anyway, check him out!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Hippo Birdy Two Ewes

I turned 29 years and 24 months old today. Yay? I held off on posting this because I had plans to make pink cupcakes with pink frosting and a pink candle and eat one while wearing a pink frilly thing but my cupcakes turned out ... well... horrible. My ballerina dreams were dashed on the rocks of artificial strawberry flavoring and being too lazy to use a piping bag with a star tip. So, you don't get to see them regardless of how pink they are, sorry!

Anyway.

I feel like I am starting to get the hang of this double frappé business. I'm not saying I'm whipping them out like it ain't no thang. It's a thang. Trust me. And they are still kind of confused. But, at least I am not totally randomly flailing around for the entire combination. Small steps. Small steps.
Head lines are confusing me to death, though. I KNOW which way I should be looking while my foot is in a particular position... I just can't actually hook those things up together, yet. At least not in rapid progression. Left, front, right, front... bam bam bam. Forget it!
Other things to work on: not tipping over during chaînés turns, not deflating halfway through adagio, not getting migraines after every single class.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taking the Plunge

A few years ago, back when they discovered that the problem in my hands wasn't carpal tunnel syndrome, they sent me back and forth to half a dozen specialists in an attempt to suss out the culprit. None of them had any real idea what was wrong but one doctor, a hand specialist (the one who finally did the test that determined a predisposition for rheumatic conditions) suggested that I should try acupuncture for the pain. He put through a referral to the acupuncture department for me, but I never followed through with it because A) It looked like we were going to get a real diagnoses soon, B) it's all the freakin' way in another city, and taking the bus to get there (we only have one car) for orientation would be a TWO HOUR trip through unfamiliar territory, and then require a half mile walk. And C) WHATEVER DUDES. I have a pretty low opinion of the pseudo-scientific "chi energy" rigamarole, and don't really want to listen to it.
But, things have changed in the last few years. For one, I hurt a lot more. And also, I don't appear to be getting any actual medical treatment, here. I'm just about at my wit's end, and at this point I would do darn near anything if there was any actual chance it would help me feel better, especially when I'm dancing. So, I looked in to it. There are real honest-and-for-true clinical studies that support the use of acupuncture, though of course no one actually knows why it works. They have theories ranging from triggering immune responses to counter-irritation to just plain old positive thinking. But... you know? At this point? *sigh* I don't even care WHY it works, just so long as it does, you know? And everyone I've talked to that has first-hand experience with it has been 100% sure it did something good for them. Of course, these are also the people who claim that it's painless and that you'll blissfully frolic through the experience with no blood loss. I have a friend who used to be a dogsbody at an acupuncture clinic, and among her grosser chores was cleaning up the large quantities of blood left behind after a session. UCKA. Fellow rheumy and blogger extraordinaire Jenny Lawson's book Let's Pretend This Never Happened contains her own account of acupuncture treatment. She lays it on the line and tells it very much like it is, pain and blood and all. But at this point unless they want to ram the damn pins in to my EYES they are totally welcome to give it a shot. So I'm signed up to take Kaiser's acupuncture orientation class at the end of November, and then we'll see how it shakes out.
Honestly, I am not amazingly happy with the idea because I don't like getting poked with needles, much. And I STILL don't want to listen to anyone regale me with wisdom about my chi. For crying out loud, people, you can't just make up something when you don't understand how it works!
I asked my (deep skeptic of a) husband what he thought about me trying it out and he has been supportive. Not that he's the sort of jerky husband who isn't supportive of most of my decisions or anything (he even lets me smudge the house, so long as he isn't there while I'm burning the sage), but I do so like to not make him think that I'm a crazy person on a regular basis.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This is Halloween

Okay! So Halloween is coming up. And that means women in far too skimpy "sexy" costumes getting rat-faced all weekend. And we all know (or SHOULD know) that I am kind of a clothing construction and costume geek. It's what I do, darlings (read that "DAHlings" and remember to sound as snooty as possible. Or at least like Edina from Absolutely Fabulous). Anyway... so last year I was expecting mountains of ladies in their gigantic "Black Swan" costumes to be hogging the club floor, but in reality Halloween was on a Monday so the evening's entertainment largely consisted of my husband and I, and about half a dozen other working slobs dressed in comfortable shoes and drinking conservatively while watching bands play and checking our watches every few minutes because duh we have to get up in the morning. I saw pictures from other people's Halloween nights, though, so I know the skanky Black Swans were out there (I was a fully clothed white rabbit from Alice. Very very clothed. Not even a little bit sexy). I think there will be more this year, though, because companies have had an entire year to get their designs sorted and their stuff produced. Out of curiosity (okay, because I felt like making fun of something) I checked out Trashy.com's ballerina costumes. Because Trashy (despite it's awful name) is known for it's elaborate and fist-clenchingly expensive "sexy whatever" costumes that are then ripped off by everyone else in the industry. Wait, wait, wait... is this a sexy storm trooper costume? Sigh...
Anyway, here is their "Black Swan" costume:
All things considered, aside from the unfortunate amount of visible butt cheek and a certain wobbly shapelessness to the skirt (and the stripper heels), it's not that bad. At least, considering some of the things that are out there. Of course, since this getup tops the charts at about $600, the fact is that you could buy a REAL tutu for less money. Not that it would be the crème de la crème or anything, but sheesh, it would at least be shaped properly, and probably cover your butt cheeks. You could even wear stripper heels if you want, though really if you're going for ballerina you need to go all the way. Heels do not equal ballerina. At least get some flats and tie a ribbon around 'em.
On a different, ranting note: am I the only one who thought it was seriously annoying that the movie refused to used the names Odette and Odile and dumbed it down to "black swan" and "white swan"? Any real dancer would already know those names. But then, real dancers have lives, and real ballet directors live in one bedroom apartments with cockroaches, so what am I doing splitting hairs?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a horse is a horse, of course, of course

Pas de cheval: because if it's supposed to make you look like a horse then you KNOW it's gonna be all kinds of elegant and graceful.
Actually, pas de cheval is at least one of those steps that is easy to see how it got it's name. Yeah, okay, horses kinda do that. Have you ever seen prancing ponies? You know, show horses? They sort of do weird little steps like that. And all horses kind of paw the ground, right? Anyway. At least it's better than pas de chat which doesn't quite capture the "cat" feeling to me. Everyone I have demonstrated it to tells me it sorta maybe looks like when you startle a cat and it jumps straight up in the air like "WO! DUDE!" and then quickly goes back to pretending it owns the place.
On the subject, sometimes you find the funniest things when you google the names of ballet steps. For instance: this Yahoo! question and answer. What does pas de cheval mean, guys!? It means you ought to ask in context, because maybe you wanted to know about a song that your boyfriend played you or whatever but I'm guessing not. And if you went to ballet class the next day and told your teacher that it means "I have no horse" then I bet it was pretty amusing for everyone else in class.
Silly rabbit.

Friday, October 5, 2012

the toes know... s?

My first ballet-related toe injury, my ring toenail (is there a ring finger equivalent on your foot?) tore up my middle toe during class tonight. And thus a lesson was learned about cutting your nails before class.
At least it was an honest ballet injury. A badge of honor if you will. At least I can clutch my proverbial fist dramatically to my bosom while sighing about sacrificing myself for my art. Which is more than I can say about my badly bruised and formerly bleeding big toenail on the same foot. 'Oh no. That one was accomplished via the most physically graceful moment of my life.
I... stubbed it. On the floor. While I was sitting down.

Sigh...

Proceed only if you want to see the gruesome evidence (and you promise not to judge how callusy my toes are) I'm also not entirely sure if my baby toenail is bruised or what the heck is going on there. Edited to add: after seeing this entry pop up in the blog aggregate site I use, I noticed that it doesn't protect the innocent from the picture of my yucky toes. So I added a photo of my cat's tummy in an attempt to rectify the situation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's hard to dance with a devil on your back

While checking in with my PC doctor this morning (he made me get a different type of splint for my sprained wrist, one that immobilizes your thumb. I don't think I have ever worn anything so sexy in my life) I mentioned the rheumatologist's "diagnoses", even he thinks it's BS. He said, sure, in chronic pain depression is always a possibility, but not the first... or second, third, fourth... or FIFTH diagnoses he would pursue. And he told me to call the rheumatology department and ask to see a different doctor. I may well do that, but for now I am going to sit here and not deal with them. Because nothing is healthier than a solid dose of anxiety and avoidance, am I right?

In much more pleasant news: piqué turns! So much fun! I've actually figured them out on my own time by watching the other girls in my level three class. As I am the only new student in the class my teacher modifies things for me so that I can work on the basics a bit while the other ladies are whipping stuff out like it ain't no thang (I pretty much look like a total spaz attack in comparison, and she feels bad for me, I guess?). So on Tuesday I just learned to do preparation for piqué turns, but it wasn't too complicated so I just came home and BAM piqué turns in my kitchen, yo!
I can do a new thing!
That makes everything better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rheumatologist FAIL

This post is going to take me a long time to write (it's taken a full 24 hours to even work up to it) and not only because I have to type the whole thing with one hand (turns out? I am pretty quick at it, which probably means I mostly type one-handed anyway. Sorry, Mavis Beacon.). I will have to write it and then let it settle for a while and THEN go back over it to remove most of the swear words (I am drawing the limit at six uses of the word "fuck", but it going to be an editing nightmare.) So, without further ado...

I visited the rheumatologist again, yesterday.
The first time I went, three years ago, they put me through a battery of blood tests and then brought me in to the office to poke at me and basically tell me to stop whining and suck it up. I avoided them for as long as I could, but the past three years has brought such a rapid increase in symptoms (and changes in my medical history, for example I now have evidence of a family history of rheumatic conditions) and such a flare-up of the attendant inflammation that my primary care doctor has been left feeling helpless and annoyed and my physical therapist has given up on me entirely until my inflammatory processes can be controlled with some efficiency. So. I went back. They put me through the exact same blood tests again which, aside from turning up a possible urinary tract infection (yay?), showed no changes from last time. But this is Kaisers standard operating procedure. After all, repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of sanity, right?... So, there was hardly any point in going to this appointment, anyway.
You see, with Kaiser, if there isn't a test result to point to then you are not getting a diagnoses or treatment unless your doctor is strong enough to demand it and, here's the kicker, gives a damn. It's what Kaiser is famous for. It's why they are so poorly thought of in the general medical community. But, anyway. My sister, you see, did not test positive for anything, either. They had to do an MRI to find her inflammation and bone fusion. Before that, they just didn't know what to make of her. Now, I am not saying I have the same thing she does, but I AM saying that some actual effort needs to be extended by your doctor, or your illness can slip right through the cracks. Luckily, she does not have Kaiser.
So I went to my appointment. My husband came with me this time, I don't think he believed me when I said that this rheumatologist was horrible and would just fob me off no matter what I said. Well. He knows now. I got there and filled out the forms : how many of these symptoms do you have (lots)? Could you walk three miles if you had to (no)? That sort of thing. Then the doctor came in. Now, let me make this as clear as possible, she had absolutely no intention of helping me, regardless of what I said. She refused to listen to my personal history, family history, or symptoms. She pointed straight to my blood test and said "look, it says that you don't have anything." That was lie number one. There are seronegative auto-immune disorders. And some that CAN be seropositive can ALSO manifest as seronegative. There are probably close to a hundred conditions recognized as rheumatoid-related. Six blood tests is not going to detect them all.
She then made me take off my wrist brace and proceeded to pull and manipulate my SPRAINED WRIST in to several unnatural positions "See? You are mobile. You don't have any inflammation. Anywhere. It's just pain. Nothing physical."
Lie number two. I think we all know that I was sent to her in the first place because I have CRAZY inflammation that my PC doctor can't figure out how to control. Regardless of the pain my body is constantly stiff, my joints popped audibly as she maneuvered my legs. My knees screamed as she bent them beyond their limit.
Then she looked briefly at the questionnaires I had just filled out and said, and I am not exaggerating, "There is nothing I can do for you. You probably just have depression"
It was at this point that I decided she wasn't even trying and didn't give half a damn about anything I said or did. You know what? Maybe sometimes I am depressed. Because I HAVE BEEN IN PAIN EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS. That is pretty mother fucking depressing.
My husband asked "what about doing an MRI to see if there is something we're missing"
And here, my friends, is where she pulled out her most egregious lie, yet. "MRIs only show you ligaments. They don't show anything else. They don't show inflammation. Blood tests are the only way to tell if you have inflammation."
Now. I suggest, if you don't know anything about MRIs already, that you go check it out online. Go ahead. Wikipedia it or something. I will wait.
Done?
Okay. She finished up saying "well, sure, you have Reynaud's syndrome, but that doesn't mean anything. You are totally fine, otherwise." LIE. Reynaud's is a rheumatic condition that is usually secondary to other, more serious conditions. For example: Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But, oh no! Let's not even contemplate the possibility of seronegative RA. Let's just tell the person who is in chronic pain to the point of no longer being able to work full time THAT SHE IS CRAZY and it's ALL IN HER HEAD. What an amazing treatment plan! Way to go, fucking idiot of a jerk of a complete twat of a doctor! Yay! Kudos for you! Another difficult case successfully deflected and another patient so disgusted and intimidated that she'll probably never get adequate treatment! WAY TO FUCKING GO YOU FUCKING FUCK.

I would file a complaint against this woman if I thought it would do any good. I might STILL file a complaint against her. It won't impact her much and it won't change the quality of my care through this HMO. But, I might do it anyway. Just so that she knows. Feels the ice cube of my distaste dripping down her proverbial underpants.

BITCH.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tights

There is a young (high-school age) student in my ballet classes that probably started around the same time that I did. Usually she doesn't wear the standard leotard/tights uniform but a few weeks ago she tried it out. She was complaining about the tights (kids these days! Hmph! When I was her age I wore tights uphill to school every day and liked it! Well. You know what I mean.) and our teacher said "yeah, well, that's ballet. Tights help with any number of things." And I (because I am a smartass) said "like when you haven't shaved your legs for a couple of days!" and she said that actually one of the main reasons we wear tights is because they help with partnering. If you aren't wearing tights and you get all sweaty and the guy throws you in to the air... and then can't get a grip on you on the way down... splat. You'll be making friends with the ground at an awkward moment. "Trust me," she said "I speak from experience."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skirts, Wrists, Boredom Setting In...

Apologies in advance if you get a ton of random and pointless posts for a while. This sprained wrist is driving me totally insane. I can't drive (motorcycle or car). Can't work particularly well (I have just spent three days pushing my hand to the very limit of it's ability, and I managed to finish one tiny little top with no closures or handwork. This SUCKS). Can't wash dishes (my male doctors may laugh it off when I say it, but for reals, guys. If I don't do the dishes they just won't get done. I think my husband has washed a plate and a couple of forks in the past two weeks). Can't read actual books because I can't hold them, even using my little clamp device (totally for old people, but it has saved my life). And having to do everything with my right hand has basically made the arthritis-y business on that side go crazy, so it hurts almost as bad as the sprained one!
ARGH!

And now for something completely different...
So. I have always been pretty resistant to the wrap-skirt-in-dance-class thing. I am not sure why, exactly, it just never rang my bells. About a year ago I made myself some little georgette tap pants to wear to class when I was feeling particularly in need of a little cover-up. But my big fat booty-boo has expanded so much recently that I no longer fit the silly things! I'm sure it's the Zoloft that is making me gain this weight, but if my choices are extra-booty-fat-but-hey-I-can make-it-through-most-days-without-crying or my-butt-is-still-pretty-big-and-I-want-to-beat-my-face-against-a-wall-all-night then I will take the Zolft, thanks. Anyway. So I figured something new (and more adjustable) was in order. A few weeks ago I ended up with a small stretch of black chiffon left over from another project (more on that later) and decided to piece it in to a wrap skirt and give skirt-wearing a shot.
This is how it turned out (or at least how it looks while I am improperly dressed and standing crookedly in front of my bathroom door with no lights on:
(As an aside, I saw this picture and had to do a little double take. 
Ballet has, apparently, given me some actual muscular definition, there. 
Hey! That is pretty cool.)
 Which isn't bad considering I was just winging it and my piece of fabric was way too freaking small and oddly shaped to use as-is. Honestly, it's okay. But if I tie it so it stays put I have to cinch it in super tight and then I can't port de corps forward all the way, and if I tie it loose enough to let me bend at the waist then it goes all flubbaly and bothers me to bits. I don't know. It's an experiment, I guess.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Speed Of Light

The most challenging thing about this level three class is the speed at which we are supposed to do things. There isn't any time to think about what you are doing! I can do that annoying glissade/assemblé combination forward and in reverse, but only if I have enough time to get my brain around each step. Last night we started doing this crazy frappé thing at the barre, doubles. I can do it, sure. Physically, I can do it. But without the time required for my brain to catch up to my feet it's going to look like a hot mess.

On a different note: trying to do barre work with my left hand and wrist all bundled up in bandages kind of sucks. Nuff said.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Toulouse-Lautrec

Seventh in an occasional series of ballet paintings that are not Degas:

 Ballet de Papa Chrysantheme
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892

Also:

Ballerina - The First Tutu
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890
 I kinda love this one because you just know what she's thinking, am I right ladies?


Friday, September 21, 2012

On a Scale of 1 to 10...

So nothing much is happening in my ballet world this week because A) I am on vacation celebrating my sixth wedding anniversary and B) I totally jacked up my wrist by slipping on the beach and planting my self face-first on to a granite boulder. In related news: "on an anemone" is a terrible tongue twister! Especially when you have to say it like fifty times in a row while sitting in the ER of an unfamiliar hospital. Try it! "I was trying not to step onananemone!" AWFUL!
I'm fine, it's been X-rayed and they think it's not broken, just sprained all to heck. I just have to keep it in my night-time brace 24/7 for a while. Anyhow, I don't feel like driving and I hurt and I am tired and I want to sit around and snuggle tonight. So. There. By next week I will be desperate to get back to the studio, and it will be great. Right now, though, I could probably use a bit of a break. Har har. I DIDN'T MEAN THAT LITERALLY, UNIVERSE!
Actually, it's darn-near miraculous that I didn't screw myself up any worse than I did. I could have broken an ankle so easily. As it was I got a couple little dings and scrapes, but I didn't even break my glasses. Thank heavens. Because (since starting ballet) breaking an ankle has become nearly as terrifying to me as breaking a wrist, which would keep me from working.
What I actually came here to write about was the horrible "how bad is your pain on a scale of 1 to 10" question that medical professionals always ask. It means NOTHING. It is totally arbitrary. My pain tolerance and your pain tolerance are not the same. My medical history and attendant experience with pain is a total unknown to them. Maybe you think something is a 3 and I think it's a 7. Or vice versa. I've had kidney stones, an IUD, and optical migraines. I've never given birth, broken a bone larger than my toes (though I have done that twice), or been hit by a car. What are you even asking me to tell you? If I am in terrible agony? Because couldn't you just say "are you in terrible agony?"
I said "background pain is about a 3-4, but when I touch or jar it it's maybe an 8?" so they kept wanting to give me painkillers. For a background pain of about 3? Really? I have a chronic pain condition. I have a background pain a hell of a lot worse than that constantly. Chill out. My 8 is when I start to cry. I don't think I have found my 10 yet. I'm sort of keeping it in reserve for some terrible thing that may happen to me someday. Maybe I'll be burned at the stake. You never know!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Balletversary

Hey! Guess what I just realized? Today marks one full year since I started taking ballet class! Aw! It's my balletversary!
Here is what I wrote in my private journal after my first class:

OMFG I am SO EXHAUSTED. Ballet was brutal, stone cold brutal. If you have never done it you should, if only to understand how hard it is to make it look effortless. How long you struggle just to get through it before you can even contemplate making it look beautiful. The instructor was great, though, and stayed after class to teach me a few things I should be doing to strengthen my thighs and take pressure off those sensitive knee joints...
Anyway, so I am in some kind of desperate need of getting in shape (about halfway through my legs started to shake, and didn't stop for the next 45 minutes) but we knew that already. It has been ten years, after all. Ten years, several inches of butt, a tummy poodge, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Anyway, I am going to go collapse now. 


There are still struggles, I am not gonna lie. But, I have really come a long way in this past year. I hurt but I always freaking hurt. I hurt when I am lying motionless in bed. When I'm walking to the mailbox. When I am sitting at my desk. If I am going to hurt regardless then I should at least hurt while doing something I enjoy, right? And that goes for you guys, too.
Happy balletversary, me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Day: An Illustrated Guide

Went to the doctor again. I've been there so often that he walks in to the room and says "hey YOU!"
Told him I flunked out of physical therapy. He made me have more X-rays taken. I swear I've been bombarded with enough radiation to mutate my own Godzilla. Didn't have to take all my clothes off, which was awesome. They gave me this bitchin' Tyvek wristband:
Which maybe means I can get in to the beer garden, now?
Then we looked at the images together and he said he didn't know what was wrong with me and referred me back to the rheumatology department. Oh, and he switched me on to a different anti-inflammatory.
That is what I call an excessive use of food coloring.
But, lest you think this day was all bad, these came in the mail today:
My 31st birthday present to myself. I'm taking my mom and our girlfriend out to see our local ballet's Romeo and Juliet in October!
Ignore the storks. I have something like twelve pairs of tiny scissors and they basically blanket every surface in my home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brains: You Have One

Some terrible alignment of the stars (particularly the stars tamponicus major and assemblénid hurtus) has pretty much knocked me over tonight. Anyway.

My balances at the barre were declared "fierce" tonight, though I'm not sure if it's because they were amazingly sturdy or because my latest method of attack is "goddammit I am gonna balance up here if it kills me" and it was showing on my face as a ferocious growling snarl.

I think I've decided that the real trick to mastering a step you can't seem to get in class is to think about it all the time. Like math. I have occasional bouts of sleep paralysis and while stuck in one over the weekend for some reason all I could think about was how dancing is like math. It all made so much sense at the time, but let's face it, vividly hallucinating will make all manner of things seem logical (this is why I have never done drugs. Why would I want to induce that shit? I can just ride the crazy train all on my own, thanks, and since it's usually accompanied by awful and terrible lurking creatures at the edge of your vision, all teeth and claws... NO THANKS.)
Uhmm... Where was I going with this?
Oh yeah. So. Thinking about it. Which seems counter-intuitive, because doing it is the important part, right? And doing is important, don't get me wrong. I've been hopping around my apartment all week attempting to Do, but let's face it I have a tiny apartment filled with too much stuff and so sauté arabesques ain't really happenin' up in here. I've also found that when I trip myself up it's because I get mentally confused or forget my place in a combination, it's a lot less the execution that foils you and a lot more that Thinking thing. In a way I wish I had a long driveway like the house where I grew up. I spent hours out there rollerskating in perpetual figure eights in a desperate attempt to learn how to skate. That is what I need now, a big chunk of space without obstacles (like, you know, my oven and sofa.) I could rock some dance sneakers and tra-la-la out there to my heart's content.

On a tangential note: check out the cutest sauté arabesques ever, dudes:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Assembly Required

Last night my teacher told me that my assemblés were beautiful.
I figure it's like working at Hotdog On A Stick and being told the hat really sets off your eyes. Reassuring in a way, but you're still not going to enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You and me and LEVEL THREE!

Last night I took my first level III class! Woo! There were a couple of things I tanked on, but it was SO nice to do some different stuff. Everyone was complimentary in such a way that I figure they were pegging my absence on nerves, rather than my stupid work schedule. But no! I would have been there months ago if I had had the chance! But, I had to earn money! To pay for class! It just works out that way, sometimes.
Before class I got to observe the children's level II class, I have never actually seen a kid's class at this studio before. There were only three girls, which seems amazing because our adult level II classes are running 12-14 right now. At the end of class my teacher talked to the girls about pointework, and getting themselves ready for it. HEY! I am in level three! And I already have a theraband! Let's get to the talking, woman!

I actually only decided to go to class about ten minutes before I had to leave. I had a bit of a tummy woggle all day and felt terribly dizzy most of the evening. I accomplished precisely nothing all day (finishing off the first season of Downton Abbey does not count as an accomplishment, more's the pity) But, I couldn't miss my first level III class! So I went, and managed to not fall over (my balances at the barre were even pretty good, I would say) but the trip home was dreadful and I thought I was going to lose it when I got home. I had Indian for lunch, though, and I would be darned if I was going to throw it up. I wouldn't have been able to eat Indian again for at least a year, and that is not acceptable.

In light of the robbery on my last train ride I have started leaving everything of value that I usually carry at home while on my way to class. I don't even bring my license or ipod, just my dance clothes and a bus pass. It makes for a boring trip, but I would rather be safe than sorry. Now, if someone steals my dance bag and makes off with my perfectly broken in Grishko slippers I will probably be pretty incensed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You have to admit, with a few rhinestones someone would think they were stylish...

Inspired by Get In Shape, Girl! (which, for those not in the know, was a ridiculous line of children's workout gear that all the girls were desperate for in the eighties. Someone gave me a book and tape that were pretty useless because I didn't have all the crazy pink plastic accessories that were required to actually do the exercises.) and the fact that my ballet teacher believes that room temperatures below 80* would make us all cramp up in to a wad on the floor or something I have created these little guys:

Cell phone photo taken at 3am with a grocery bag
background. Because I am just plain classy like that.

Sweatbands! Because I can't always be within reach of a towel while we are doing center work. Will they be useful or will they just be an annoying thing sitting on my wrist and heating it all up? We shall find out tomorrow night!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kickin' It Old School

I think what I love the most about Old School ballet dancers is that they just sort of look like regular people. They aren't waifishly frail and thin. They aren't devastatingly pretty. They are just ladies who rocked out in a difficult field.



Bonus:
I don't know what is going on, here: