Tuesday, January 31, 2012


So I was like "doctor dude, this medicine is great and all but it makes me shake all over. And, ballet, dude." and he's all "so just don't take it on those days" and I'm like "oh"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture

So in class today I learned that my impressions of last week, that the Zoloft was making me shaky, were correct and have not improved. It's not so bad when I can keep a death grip on the barre, but even balancing on flat on one foot is difficult in the center. So I looked at the information pamphlet that came with the bottle when I got home. It says "contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these unlikey but serious side effects: easy bruising/bleeding, decreased interest in sex, decrease in sexual ability, muscle cramps/weakness, shaking or tremor"
So. I got to send my doctor yet another email when I got home tonight. It's a real pity, because this stuff really is making my brain feel better, and really does seem to be smacking down the pain a little, too. But, I will probably end up on something else yet again.

In other news:
We started spotting tonight. Which is good, we really need to learn that. We get all loopy and stumble around after chaînés turns. There are newly taped-up pieces of brightly colored paper on the walls so that we can focus on something easy.
I felt really terrible at our ever-present glissades. I mean, worse than usual. Must be the shakiness.
I stood next to a person at the barre who was AWESOME, though. I haven't seen her before, so maybe she was just visiting from the more advanced classes, but she really was amazing, and following her was a pleasure. Probably made me look ridiculous in comparison, but MEH.

Stop The World I Want To Get Off

Don't get me wrong, since I started taking the zoloft my general feeling of well-being has shot through the roof. My husband says I am back to my old self again, and he should know, right? The pain managment might be a little better than the nortriptyline by itself, as well.
But, uh... there are some... um... side effects. Yeeeeeah. Ones that you don't really want to discuss with your doctor, if you catch my meaning. Or, your mother. Or... anyone. But, in the name of full disclosure and helping out people who are frantically googling in hopes of learning more about their diseases or medications, I will tell you about it. Well, sort of. I mean, I will imply it. Because IT'S EMBARRASSING, GUYS!
So anyway. The information that came with it mentioned that men might have a bit of trouble with... this kind of issue. But, there isn't really a direct female equivalent of... the problem. Because girls are equipped differently. If you see what I mean. But anyway. So the ... trouble was a bit unexpected. And I am not sure what exactly you are supposed to do about it, either. I figure that they didn't warn me about it because the doctors involved in the study were all DUDES and they just didn't figure that it was terribly important for the ladies. Or, perhaps the ladies involved in the study were too embarrassed to mention it?
No kidding, guys, this is totally awkward.

ANYWAYS. Let us discuss something else so that you can stop thinking about it, okay?
Here is Odile. I find it interesting that of all the costumes I designed for this dolly, not a single tutu is constructed the way actual tutus are put together. They are usually two pieces (though I have seen ones like this, too) a bodice that is sort of bustier-styled, and a skirt which is a netting tutu with a decorative "plate" over the top of it and a matching basque, which is the top part of the skirt (it covers the territory between the plate and your waist.
This was some sort of maribou-trimmed concept. Also, that thing where the netting is white under a black costume is pretty common. It irks me as a designer, but I understand why it happens from a construction standpoint. 

How Do I Loathe Thee?

Oh Kaiser, no, that's okay. That extra 80 bucks a month was totally just lying around the house. Sure, you can totally take it. That would be great. Hey, while you're at it? Could you make my coverage suck a little more and my prescriptions a bit more expensive? Super. Thanks, guys.

You know what the kicker is? I was going to start taking more ballet classes this week. But now? Totally can't afford it. Awesome.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pink is Not That Hard

So I used to work at a fabric store. And you always knew who the dancers were, because they would come in and ask for pink elastic. And we were like "sorry, lady dudes. We've got black, white, and beige sometimes if you are lucky." but I felt their pain.
And then several months ago I was at a (different) fabric store with my mother and I was grumping about how I didn't like the single pre-attached strip of elastic on my leather slippers and wanted to replace it with criss-crossed elastic like my canvas slippers have. And I happened to be standing next to a Dritz (it's a brand of sewing supplies) display board and I looked it over and.... holy crow! It said they made ballet elastic! It said "pink specialty elastic for ballet shoes and slippers". I was THRILLED! But then I looked at the actual item on the rack. And it was beige. Not pink. Not ballet pink. Just... beige.
I thought maybe it was just this store's shipment, or this particular batch, but NO. Everywhere I looked it was BEIGE.
 You can buy this Freed elastic or some Bloch elastic in bulk online, but what the razzafrackin' heck would I do with that much pink elastic?
I think the elastic manufacturers of the world are missing out on a sure bet.

He Flies Through The Air With The Greatest Of Ease

Speaking of leotards, here he is. Mr. Jules Léotard. For whom the article of clothing is named. Apparently he was a dashing, revolutionary, and terribly famous trapeze artist. He was also the muse about whom "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" was written.
And now you know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Leotard! Oooooh! Aaahhh!

Sunday night I couldn't sleep. A storm had rolled in to town that was loud and windy and made the gate at my neighbor's house clonk every few minutes. And there were raccoons in the attic making a ruckus. Anyway, long story short I gave up and got out of bed. I figured that I would be sleeping all day Monday, so I needed to get something productive done so I wouldn't feel guilty. I made myself a new leotard.
I had seen some really cute shorty unitard type things online, but none of them met my stringent specs. So here is what I ended up with. It's navy blue, because that was the ONLY fabric at the local fabric store that was primarily cotton and had enough stretch. I tried dying some of it black in the washer, but that was an exercise in futility. Anyways.
I will probably make another one that is identical to this, because I already have the materials and finally have a pattern that fits me (you don't want to know how crazy the pattern pieces have to be shaped to fit me), but last night one of the girls in class was wearing this AWESOME red leotard with matching sleeves that were made from power net (stretchy, sheer, you have seen it) and it inspired me to do something similar at some point in the future. I heart it. This one is super cute, maybe I will rip off that idea.

this picture speaks. It says: I am a grown woman
and I can take pictures in the bathroom if I want to!
Also, it says I need a haircut.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just Goes To Show

I am SO BAD about exercises. Especially foot exercises. Which I really need to be doing so that my feet don't ALWAYS cramp up just as we are doing reverence. Nothing looks better than a dancer bowing with her foot all bent up in front of her, am I right? Anyway.
And there are all these things I should be doing, but I get a good week or so in to a routine and then I hit the weekend, forget about it, and never go back to it again. For example I was trying to do these toe lifting exercises every time I took a bath (I don't take showers, because I have a claw foot tub. Also, I hate showers.). And It was going along just fine for a couple of weeks. And then... yeah. Therabanding my feet when I do stretches lasted a little longer. But then...
So yesterday I was reading up online about stuff I Should Be Doing to work my feet a bit more, and I ran across this article by a podiatrist recommending exercises to dancers. There was one specific move* that he recommended that cracked me up. Because, you see, it seemed like a natural thing to do so I had been doing it now and then. But it felt HORRIBLE so I assumed it was doing terrible things to me and that I should knock it the heck off! But no! It's a thing! And you are supposed to do it! OMG!
Anyway. There you go. You learn something new every day.

* the move goes like this: You sit in a chair (which I am doing 70% of the time anyway) and put your (bare or slippered) feet in demi-pointe on the floor. Then you point your toes against the floor, which pushes your feet up in to full pointe. Rinse and repeat.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shall I Compare These Shoes To a Summers Day?

Okay. So I have a not-so-secret unrequited love for pretty shoes. You may have noticed a theme. Anyway.
Especially dance shoes and/or ridiculously expensive shoes.
It's kind of funny because, while I do not dress by anyone's standards of "fashionably", I am eXtremely picky about what I wear. Like, for example, with shoes. The toe has to be rounded (I bought a pair of ankle boots with squared off toes last year, I am only now starting to come to terms with them) and the heel has to be 2 1/2" or less high (less for preference now that my knees have gone out), and that heel has to be the Right Shape. Not too skinny. No protuberances. I mean, I love some of Fluevog's shoes, but I dislike most of their soles and heels and that overrides everything.
Anyway, this is all just background information so you understand how important and weighty my proclamation of perfection in shoe-kind is. There is only one perfect pair of shoes in this world. They are LaDuca Annies. They are dancing and theatrical shoes. They are ridiculously expensive. Every year my theater buys dozens of pairs of them for the actors. They sell them at the end of the season for Dirt Cheap. And not ONCE in the seven years I have been there has there EVER been a dancer with feet my size. It is enough to make a person cry.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Also a Tasty Beverage

Frappé! It's a thing you do! Because you have to! Even though they are awkward!
Think about it, won't you?

But seriously, frappé has been on my case the last few weeks. We've been doing them in sets of two slow, three fast en croix. But I can't seem to do them fast enough! It's like as soon as my foot is out there it's supposed to be back to it's starting position again.
Frappé. We need to TALK.

Oh but guess what? Waltz steps are finally starting to happen for me. It just clicked one day after a lot of trial and error. They need work but I am at least getting my feet to mostly go where I want them and I have finally figured out the step-brush-cross in front pattern that was killing me for so long. I mean, I'm pretty wobbly on demi pointe but how much of that is because I've just done an hour of ballet and my feet are getting tired? I can live with that. I feel like I have accomplished something.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not Complaining

OH NO! I don't only complain! I mean, I love complaining, it is a favorite hobby of mine and I consider myself something of an expert at it, but it isn't the only thing I do! I feel like two complaining ranty bitchy posts in a row makes that "cantankerous old lady" part in my byline pretty understandable, though.
Anywayssssss... I should post something not bitchy just as a palate cleanser, you know?
So here. Here is Odette from my ballet dolly of years past. I think the feathers kind of look like oak leaves now, but OH WELL. The neat part on this one is that it's drawn in metallic silver prismacolor pencils. Oooh. Aaahh.

Guess How Many Pills I Take Everyday. It is 7.

So. The next chapter in the saga of chemical substances that are being pumped in to my body.

I was feeling like the nortriptyline (a tricyclic used for treating chronic pain for those of you playing at home) was making me feel crazy and distressed. It has a suicidal ideation warning on the bottle, but the way I was feeling wasn't exactly depression. One of the symptoms of rheumatic conditions is depression, and it runs rampant through my family. Me and clinical depression are not what I would call old friends, but we are certainly old acquaintances. It was more like the sort of manic emotional state that you (okay, I) experience right before a period starts. You know, fine for a while and then tetchy and angry, and then despairing and fatalistic. Unable to concentrate on large quantities of anything. Extremely tired and unable to cope with people or things. Looking at the dishes like a mountain too high to climb. If you had never experienced clinical depression you might think that was what was going on.

Anyhow, so I emailed my doctor and said "get me off this crap, and make it snappy" and he emailed me back saying "no, we will just put you on another thing on top of it and that will solve the problem". I was FURIOUS. I actually spent a week or so sitting on it because I couldn't quite figure out what to say that didn't use curse words and would fit in the 1000 character limit that Kaiser imposes on it's emails. I also couldn't do research, because I would type something in to google and then look at the 11,735 related hits... and my mind would just shut right down and I would need to go take a nap and a shot. In the end I had to have my (poor sweet wonderful) husband research it for me and then cut and paste relevant bits of information, with highlighted sections so I would know what I needed to look at first, and send it to me as an email.
 Then I took about five hours trying to whittle down an email to a few talking points. And then I had my husband look it over to make sure it was intelligible. And finally, at 1am one morning, I hit send and off it went.
The bad news is I am now on ANOTHER !@#$ing drug on top of my original drugs. The good news is that I have been taking it for three days and feel a lot better (mentally, anyway) already. Cons: couldn't sleep last night which wasn't awesome. Supposed to make me gain even more weight. Can't wait to see how wide my ass can actually get before I snap in half. Pros: this is supposed to help with the pain as well as with the crazy. It's basically low-dose zoloft which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and interacts with the tricylic (theoretically) to decrease pain and smack down some of the side effects.
We shall see.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pet Peeve!

So on Yahoo! this morning (I know, I know, but my husband hasn't been able to figure out how to get my regular e-mail address to filter in to Thunderbird since we upgraded my computer, and I have to be able to communicate SOMEhow) there was a video about Miss America (which apparently just happened?) and a bit with Miss... something. Idaho or Wyoming or something (you can tell I am Californian, it's like other states don't even exist in my brain) doing a ballet variation for the talent competition. And the costume was ugly, just a really sickly color for TV, but what the heck, everything about pagaents tends to be ugly anyway. But the comments are FILLED with people bashing her technique. I mean every single comment.
It's funny, but you see this a lot online with ballet related stuff. If someone posts a photo to Flikr of their 12 year old in her first pointe shoes the comment section will be taken over by people telling her to soften her arms and work on her turn out. I saw a video on Youtube of a dancer who had to be about 6, and she was kicking my ass for reals, and the comments were all about how awful her technique was. SHE WAS SIX. I mean, I understand that ballet works for an unreachable level of perfection, and I know that correction is the only way to learn, but really? SIX. YEARS. OLD. If ballet people want the world to stop thinking of them as crazy and exclusive and likely to kill themselves by accident in the pursuit of perfection (HELLO HOLLYWOOD I AM LOOKING AT YOU) then people need to get a little more real.
Dude, Miss Montana or whatever still trumps me, and that is a fact.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Steppin' Out

Okay, this one isn't a ballet costume, though it was drawn for my ballerina dolly. I was dating a guy who was SUPER IN TO his Irish heritage, can you tell? AH the follies of youth. Anywayssss... I remember very carefully researching step dancing shoes for this outfit. You can tell I got bored when it came time to design the knot work.
I imagine that stage moms spend ridiculous amounts of money on elaborately detailed dresses for their daughter's competitions. I just went online to check it out and guess what? Things have changed in the last eleven years. A lot of the dresses don't look a thing like this anymore. They've changed but not in a good way, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, I have put this up because I am still enamored with the silhouette of this silly thing. And also, kind of pagan details, younger me! Way to go, kid!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

French for "stupid looking"

There are things that I don't like doing because they just feel weird. Or look weird. Assemblé is both of those things. It feels awkward and it looks strange. I can't imagine a character for whom assemblé would be appropriate. Except maybe a frog. It's a frog move. Like, Jeremy Fisher. There is a Beatrix Potter ballet. I bet it uses assemblé.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grands Battements, Bitches!

I was really enjoying grands battements last night. I don't know why, because my hips make this distressing *pop!* every single time I battement to the front. But, I was just really in to it last night. Like HELL YEAH I can grands battement! Check this OUT bitches!
I suppose my extension is slightly better than it used to be. To the side, anyway, I can even get to or above 90* (I think). Maybe that is it. Or maybe ballet is just FUN.

Ain't Nobody Lookin' At You

I'm naturally deeply self conscious. I am not pretty, which is probably a good thing because I would just spend all day looking at myself in the mirror if I was. The point is that adults taking ballet classes are super self conscious because they feel old and lumpy and uncoordinated and much less graceful than the image of balletic perfection in their heads.
Which is the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that most people refuse to wear a leotard without at least a skirt or shorts to cover up with. And a sweater, sometimes. It is WAY too freakin' hot in the studio for me to deal with all those extra layers so I am often the only person in class (there were 13 students tonight!) who is wearing the standard ballet "uniform" of pink tights and shoes, black leo, and nothing else. Aw man. I love clothes. I love dress up. I love having hobbies with accessories and shoes and special things to wear. It's fun! Come on ladies! Step up to it!
Face it, even when we feel extra junky about our body the simple fact is that no one is paying any attention to you because they are focused on what they are doing. Like, no matter how many times tonight I wanted to see what the lady in the deshanked pointe shoes was doing in releve sous-sus, I was too busy getting myself up there to check on anyone else!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Ballet?

Why did I decide to take ballet? Again? Hmm. Let's see. I love dancing, so I just really wanted to take some form of dance class. I have been looking pensively at studio web sites for the last six years or so (when I moved away from my suburban home and my community center belly dance class). I tried a few times to convince my husband (for whom, bless his heart, physical coordination is an afterthought) to take tango lessons but that was obviously not ever going to happen. I attempted to take a belly dance class with a friend of mine a couple of years back, but when we got to the studio the teacher and students were, and I am not kidding here, toking up on a bong in the classroom between sessions. I mean WHAT. There is another studio in my immediate area that does belly dance classes, but the instructor is an old nemesis of mine from back when I worked in retail. Woman is obnoxious. So I tried to find any kind of dance class at a community center or something... but there wasn't anything available for adults.
And then I went online and saw pretty ballet shoes.
It is my fatal flaw. I first decided I had to take ballet years ago when I ran across Gaynor Minden's website. I don't even know how I landed there. I just did. And then it was all photos of pointe shoes and pink ribbons and the logic center in my brain just turned right the heck off. This time I am pretty sure it was looking at the product photo for these Grishko technique shoes. I just died a little inside.
My natural dancing style is very unrefined. Far more Isadora Duncan than Darcy Bussell. I am particularly fond of dancing around to Florence and the Machine right now. In a sort of wild modern-slash-ballet hybrid. It's pretty ridiculous.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Self Defeat

I'm usually really good about stretching. I allow myself one day per week to be lazy about it but I really do try to keep up with a little stretching time every day. Except this week. In which I have sort of stretched kind of half way a little bit maybe on Monday. Ugh.
Once you stop you don't really want to get going again, you know? Stretching is boring and doesn't feel like it does anything for me and so I just... poodle around.
Poodle around. That should mean something, don't you think? You should be able to poodle around.
Also, I kind of want a shirt or something that says "dance because you can't" on it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yes Sir!

On Friday my teacher was trying to explain coupé derriere to someone who wasn't quite getting it. Because in front you are wrapping your foot around your leg, right? But in back you are angling your foot out all weird. So I said "pretend you are wrapping your foot around someone else's leg back there" and that seemed to do the trick. Teacher was impressed by the description, but honestly I only know what I am talking about because my first ballet teacher, a million years ago, was a very cute young man, and he stood directly behind me and told me to wrap my foot around his leg.
You don't forget that.