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.
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

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!


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'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.


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.
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.