Sunday, September 30, 2012


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!

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


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

 Ballet de Papa Chrysantheme
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892


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


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.

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