Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

*This Post May Contain Nuts

I was watching my classmates rehearse for the recital on Monday night. It was great fun to watch! I think choreography just makes my brain short circuit. The only choreographed dance I ever had to attempt was as a 16 year old drama nerd. Myself and two equally silly young things had to perform a weird little song and dance number smack in the middle of a play. And, to make it all even better? We were dressed as mermaids so we couldn't move our feet! Which subtracts a HUGE part of dancing, y'know? And therefore remembering your moves is a whole lot easier. Anyhow. In a way I am glad to not be attempting any of that crazy choreography business right now, but in another way... ooh! Pretty dresses! And twirly twirly twirling! Ooooh!
In class recently I manged to hold a balance for ages. Demi-pointe on the left foot and the right off the floor in coupé. It was a total fluke, but it impressed the heck out of my teacher (I then totally failed to be able to do anything similar at all for the rest of the evening). I heard her saying something a bit later, about needing to advance some of the students in to the next level of class. I find myself desperately hoping she didn't mean me.

Oh, and PS:
In case you thought I was joking about the mermaid suits...
 I refuse to say which one I am.
Also, my 30-year-old self only keeps this photograph 
as a desensitization tool in case someone
tries to blackmail me later.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Darn Near Degas

Part three in an occasional series of ballet paintings that aren't Degas:

Danseuse, 1874
 Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Friday, May 25, 2012

HMO: Huge Mutha-effin' Ordeal

I think there is something going on with my knees. No, okay, I mean there is something going on with my knees that is not rheumatism related. I don't know. It's just that my father, bless his heart, was just diagnosed with a ligament injury after being treated FOR TEN YEARS for arthritis in the joint. Though Kaiser had done CT scans in the past that showed the problem, their right hand has never been any good at figuring out what their left hand is doing. So it sat there, mis-diagnosed, for ten years. And now, after additional injury and a damn-near malpractice case he is going to be needing surgery.
What I am saying is that my TOTALLY CRAPPY HMO couldn't figure out that you had a paper cut if you stood in the office sawing at yourself with a business card. They would probably give you vicodin and an antidepressant and tell you it's all in your head.
So, I am not feeling terribly confidant in the sort-of-diagnoses they sort of didn't quite almost give me but not really. They just want to shut you up, so you go home and leave them alone.
ANYWAY. I have made an appointment (it's over a month away, because this is Kaiser we are talking about. Anyone who thinks socialized medicine would result in waiting lists and rationed care has obviously never been to Kaiser in their life). I am drawing schematics (sorry, no, diagrams) and preparing index cards with a speech. I seriously considered bringing my laptop and setting up a PowerPoint presentation: These are my symptoms! Here is a list of common injuries that can cause these symptoms! Here is the standard first-line treatment for these conditions! Here is a long-term prognoses! Take notes! There will be a quiz afterwards!"

I'm also kind of a hypochondriac. But I have been thinking that this might be ligament or tendon related for a few months, now. Ever since I discovered that there is a lump in my knee just to the upper inside edge of my knee cap. It goes THUNK when you touch it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Everybody POLKA!

So, let's see. A few months ago I noticed that the vicodin I occasionally have to take to get to sleep wasn't working as well anymore and asked to be switched to something else for a while while my tolerance died down. They put me on Ultram (tramodol) which... Well. Hmm. There isn't an obvious pain reduction but it does help me sleep. Unfortunately it gives me such vivid - but vividly mundane- dreams, that I often don't know what I dreamed about and what really happened. For example, I have a distinct memory of purchasing two crates of bubble mailers online for my business. But after a month of waiting for the damn things I went back and checked through my email, both bank accounts, and my PayPal account... and there is no record of the purchase. So, I guess I had a dream that I bought bubble mailers? I guess?

We started doing polka steps in class last night and they look super easy but I was having trouble making my feet do what they were supposed to. Or maybe I was swinging when I should have been hopping or... I don't know. I am going to have to try practicing this around the house over the week. I think I will put on my Dolly Parton collection (DON'T YOU JUDGE ME!) and prance around the living room for a while.
Provided, of course, that I didn't just DREAM about doing the polka in class last night...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh Dear, I Discovered Another Thing to do With Polyvore...

Princess Grace: flower fairy

Princess Grace: flower fairy by iwillfly

You may as well just hook me up to an IV, because I don't think I am ever going to get up from in front of the computer again...

Snake Oil Pulling

So, I am not totally opposed to naturopathic medicine or anything. It's interesting, my family is 50% crunchy-granola-hippy-flower-child-new-age-touch-therapy razzmatazz but also 50% science-minded skepticism. A firm background in the harder-core sciences coincides with a strong belief that we don't know everything there is to know. But, when it comes down to it, we just aren't gullible enough for most of that crap.
Now, I am not saying that trying the natural methods to fix something that is wrong with you is a bad idea. I successfully treated a moderate flare up of my chronic depression with St John's wort for a while, and I have had luck using garlic oil to help an ear infection (I didn't have health insurance for a while, can you tell?) and hey I am still willing to take valerian and flaxseed oil and whatever. But, the point is that this stuff has been subjected to actual clinical trials. I didn't start taking the flaxseed oil until I had read the extremely dry scientific papers about omega-3.
Anyhow, the point is that having a chronic health condition is like painting a target on your forehead for people who have read about a guy who read about a guy who had an aunt who tried something for her arthritis and wow now she is cured. Wow, guys. I am super impressed. My neighbor tried telling me that my problems would all be solved by drinking a glass of water with a spoon full of baking soda in it four times a day. That is basically like chugging a whole tube of Airborne every day. Which might feel like a scouring-pad of blessings when you are catching the sniffles and have a sore throat, but otherwise? Really? Yeah. But, this was also the neighbor who asked me what natural methods I was using to treat my cat's hyperthyroidism. I am using the method of giving her the drugs she needs to take twice a day for the rest of her life because it's proven to work and hyperthyroidism is fatal, thanks. I won't dick around with my pet's health even in cases when I might dick around with my own. Your cat/dog can't tell you that your tricks aren't working.
So, anyway, the latest-greatest in the world of treating your illnesses (whatever they may be) naturally is "oil pulling" which is benign enough that I suppose it won't do you all that much damage if you are in to it. But, that is about all I can say for it. If you haven't heard of oil pulling yet it basically means you take a bunch of (vegetable or seed-based) oil in your mouth and swish it around for twenty minutes every day. Now, I can see how this might be good for your oral health, okay. Because it rinses off some of the crap that flossing leaves behind (and nobody really flosses enough, right?). But there is no bloody freaking way in heck that it will cure my rheumatism, give me crystal-clear skin, and change the spark plugs in my car all at the same time (you know what I mean).
Now, if you have conducted a double blind study and have proven that this works on everything in the whole world, then great! When you have that paper published let me know and I will buy a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine that week. Until then, I don't really want to hear about how it "draws the toxins from your body" because dude, seriously? That is not how your body works.

(Also? It triggers my gag reflex just TALKING about it! Gross, dudes!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wadding Goes in After the Powder and Ball, Guys!

So, tonight my ballet teacher learned about the phrase "shot my wad". She had said it in some ballet context. Discussing the timing of port de bras for balancé or something. And then she said "I don't even know what that means! Is it about slingshots or something?" and as she looked out at thirteen silent faces that were suddenly trying desperately not to make eye-contact realization slowly dawned. "OH MY GOD!"
at least we all had a bit of a giggle.
In reality, though, I am pretty sure the term originated with muzzle-loading muskets (truthfully, I am a bit of a etymology nerd. Did you know "the cat is out of the bag" originated in the navy, and has nothing to do with felines?). 
However, it doesn't matter where something actually came from if that isn't the association that most of the people who say it intend.
You really do learn something new every day.

I Don't Want To Become An Aggregate Blog Or Anything, But...

I don't think I have ever been more certain that I want to be cremated...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red Soles and Satin

Dita Von Teese's custom-made Louboutin pointe shoes.
No, really.
I ... I think I need to go lay down for awhile...

Is it a bird? A plane? A ninety year old lady? No! It's INFLAMO-WOMAN!

So this is how I began this blog post:
"The theme for the week is "inflamo-woman". Or no, that sounds more like a super hero. A lesser known Avenger who mostly just whines so much that the bad guys give up and go home feeling a bit annoyed and slightly depressed.
I think every time..."
And then I had to stop.
Because then this happened:
Mightily she faces down evil doers with her formidable powers!
The omnipresent wrist braces OF JUSTICE!
The grocery store knee brace OF POWER!
The unflattering leotard that hits at juuuust the wrong place on her butt OF ... UH.... uhm... POWER again because I can't think of anything else!
SEE how she defeats her enemies while wearing pink tights and ballet slippers!
MARVEL at her ability to have at least three things wrong with her on any given day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hardly Workin'

Did I really just arrange my Summer work schedule around ballet class? Yes. Yes I did. I guess I just like ballet a lot more than my punishing theater job.
I can't say I feel bad about it. Last Summer was awful enough that I was not sure I wanted to go back at all. But, I could use the money. So, there you go. I figure if I'm going to be working 11 hour days in a windowless black room then I at least want to be able to dance, too.
Last year they talked about promoting me to a much more impressive position, but that would mean 6-7 days a week, sometimes 10 hours a day. Forget that, dudes! Ballet is way more fun than that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yoga For the Elderly, Decrepit, and Infirm

So, many moons ago (back in August, after my Summer job ended but before I started taking ballet) I was in the worst shape of my life and was seriously having trouble with the little things. Pain had become a constant in my life and I had just folded in on myself. Along with everything else, rheumatic conditions come along with a physical exhaustion that was not helped at all by the medications I had been prescribed, one of which is a sedative. And, my Summer job is HARD WORK, it's terribly brutal to my wrists and hands. I bring wrist braces to work and coat myself from the elbows down in Icy Hot two or three times a day. So, exercise? Not even happening. But, I decided that I was done looking sadly at the ballet studio's class schedules and that it was time to DO IT.
I knew I was out of shape and that it was going to be hard for me to get back in to the groove of regular exercise. So I decided I was going to do yoga every day in preparation for this whole ballet business. When I was in high school I came home every weekday afternoon and did yoga on the living room floor. My favorite things to do were shoulder stands (woo!) and sun salutation. I knew I couldn't put any weight on my hands and wrists anymore, so those were probably out. I looked around on Netflix and found "healing yoga for aches and pains" by these people. They aren't too annoying considering what else is out there (I have a preeeeeetty low opinion of most video exercise instructors).
I did it for a few days and I was feeling good! It was seriously difficult, though. I mean, really hard work. Now, this is what I affectionately call "old people yoga". Most of it is done sitting in a chair. Everything is modified for stability. But even so, MAN did I have a hard time with it. GEEZE. At one point in the video there is a modification of "eagle pose" (in which you cross your arms over each other at the elbow and link your hands to one another with your palms together) and it was so impossible that I quickly did a screen grab and this happened:

Anyway, so it was hard, but I was feeling progress. Unfortunately by the end of week one something was terribly wrong. My knees hurt. And so I stopped doing anything that could bother them. No weight bearing poses. Nothing. But then... they kept hurting.
They never stopped.
I started ballet class not long after that. The knees slowly became a part of my life. My doctor increased the dose on my pills. I learned to sleep with a heating pad and ice packs and spend as much time as possible in bed on any day when I knew I was going to be dancing. And yoga? I kind of forgot it.
So last week I decided to try out old "healing yoga for aches and pains" again. After all these months of ballet the entire thing is easier in a major way. It's not something you would notice if you were doing it consistently, but after a break for several months the difference is obvious. I still can't do anything that places my weight on my knees, though, so I have to skip the one posture they teach that involves that.
I was feeling pretty cocky about it after a few days and decided to try out another one of their videos, "yoga for common conditions". And boy howdey, that was a mistake. After the first three postures all involved either kneeling or folding the legs, I gave up. I can't even sit cross-legged on the floor anymore. So, my search for a new and gentle yoga program for ancient old codgers continues.
Updates as they become available!

The Perfect Outfit For Those Future Pointe Photos?

graveyard ballerina

Oh yes, I think so.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I like the cat especially...

Part two in an occasional series of ballet paintings that aren't Degas:

"Ballerina With a Black Cat"
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse