Friday, June 29, 2012

Gymnastics, etc

So, the Olympics. Anyone excited? I am not a sports person, but I will usually watch whatever Olympic event happens to be on, just for the hell of it. Though I am more of a Winter Olympics gal, really, for the figure skating. Do I think figure skating/ice dance is a sport? Not really, but it's certainly the only thing that interests me! I never claimed to be a sports fan. Anyway.
Because I don't have access to an actual TV anymore I have to put a certain amount of effort in to watching Olympic events, and that means I am not going to bother with anything that is boring. Like beach volleyball. Or whatever.
I am really only interested in things that are choreographed and musical. But, the only Summer event I could think of was ballroom dancing. And everyone knows that ballroom dancing is an Olympic event now, right? It's been the butt of every Olympic joke for YEARS. I couldn't recall ever seeing it listed on events calenders, so I went looking for it. Guess what? It isn't going to be an event this year. Because it has never been an event EVER. The Olympics committee okayed it, so it could theoretically be included, but it never has been and quite probably never will be. Geeze! How about that.
After a sad disappointment with Olympic fencing a few games back (it's actually super boring and no one even buckles their swash or anything) all I can think of that might be vaguely interesting and fit my above requirements is synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics. 
You know, rhythmic gymnastics, the thing with the ribbon that we all wanted to do SO BAD when we were five. Cuz it looked cool, right? And pooking around online brought me to this video, which is probably the closest thing to ballet you can get without any of the grace, beauty, or expressiveness:
Which is not to say that the girl hasn't got some mighty impressive business going on, here. It's technically really amazing. It's just... lacking the emotional prettiness of an actual ballet. Also, is anyone else super irked that her tutu isn't tacked tightly enough to keep it from flopping all around when she does those wacky back flip things? Tacking guns exist. Tacking guns are your friend.
I did go and look this gal up on YouTube, though. And there are some great videos of her doing the ribbon thing. No wonder every five year old girl in the 80's was excited about that! It's kind of distracting, though! Also: just watching that makes my wrist hurt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Damn You, Tendon!

So something is going down in ankle town. I felt a twinge around my ankle on Friday evening as I walked home from having a nice dinner out (which I then got a stomach flu and threw up. Awesome.) but it seemed to have gone away by the next day. Or maybe I was just distracted by feeling gross. In class last night I was fine until we left the barre, at which point my entire right foot/leg started to swear at me most vehemently. I got through class by going easy on it, but it was obvious there was an Achilles tendon thing going on. It's still with me today, though I have iced it and babied it all day. Looks like I won't be going to the more advanced class this week. Unless this chills out I may not be going to any more classes this week at all. Or next.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Big Week

Last week felt like a big week for me.
Thursday I had my long-awaited and much-anticipated appointment with my doctor. I explained what the situation was with my knees and while the whole thing is basically tied in to the rheumatism (everything is tied in to the rheumatism, including the stupid little skin rash I have developed) he thinks it looks like something called Patello-Femoral Syndrome (PFS). It basically means that I have to keep taking anti-inflammatory drugs (which I couldn't get through a day without, anyway) and start going back to a physical therapist to try to get my leg muscles even stronger to stabilize the connective tissues in my knees. I always forget why I like my doctor, so a visit every year is important just so I don't go on a rampage and kill everyone at Kaiser. My doctor has a very good bedside manner (and if you know Kaiser then you know how rare that can be) and is always willing to take longer than the allotted ten minutes to talk to me. He might not always hit the nail on the head, but at this point I think he's the best I am going to do while using this HMO. We looked at my x-rays (from way back in November) together so I could actually see what was going on in there structurally. The bones look good, still smooth and round in the places they need to be smooth and round. Connective tissues do not show up on x-rays so the rest of it is kind of conjecture. Looking at the symptoms, though, the diagnoses is at least closer to the mark than anything else we've tried in the past ten months.
Anyway, the good news is that (as of November) there didn't seem to be a leap toward degeneration in the joint. Only time will tell, but there it is. I can deal with pain. What I can't deal with is fusing in to a solid lump that cannot move at all anymore. They will undoubtedly tell me not to do a lot of jumps in ballet class. But I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Friday's class was terribly small. There were only four of us for barre, and then just three for center work! It felt very strange. The Friday class is usually packed beyond capacity so I am not sure what was going on there. Summer vacations? Because we were so low on students the class was extremely intense and exhausting. We did grands jetés, which was fun and new, and I think I may be getting very slightly better at chaînés turns, though they are still sort of hit and miss. I asked about class schedules and my teacher thinks I should try out the level 3-5 class (because I can't make it to the regular level 3 class until September) and see what I think. I may give it a shot, but probably not until late in July. Until then I am totally happy where I am and still feel challenged enough not to be bored.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starring Emma Livry as Herself

At work we are staging a production that requires the leading lady to "fly" up off the stage and through the lighting array above. Which is all well and good in a show that doesn't involve actresses with copious swathes of floaty and highly flammable silk fabric draping artistically off their bodies. We are pretty much all cringing and whispering furtively amongst ourselves about flaming actresses and the much-less-than-impressed audience's reaction to same.
"What an amazing special effect! And the acting! The way she screams like that! So realistic! GIVE THAT WOMAN A TONY!"
Anyhow. I am certain that one way or another (vats of industrial strength flame retardant are being ordered) we will not end our sad theatrical careers with a horrible and dramatic tragedy. But, it's part of our consciousness, isn't it? Everyone you meet will know that people have died when their costumes caught the oil lamps used to light stages back in the day. It's mostly thanks to this ballerina:
Emma Livry who, in 1863,  burst in to flames on stage and later died from her injuries. The most frustrating part of the whole ordeal is that she would have been fine if she'd stopped, dropped, and rolled like a good girl. But OH NO she had to be the drama queen and run flailing around the stage for several minutes. It must have been quite a show.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Who just got promoted?
That's right.
Level THREE like it ain't no thang!

On Friday I will ask about schedules and such. With luck I can start going to one level 1-2 and one level 3 class next week. If I am not so lucky it will have to wait until September, but I am feeling pretty chuffed one way or the other.
NOOOOOOOoooooo! I still feel like the world is out to get me when I hit a particularly long stretch of fondues and I can't hook chaînés turns together quickly while still being able to spot my way out of a hole. And what about balancing? I feel like I am total rubbish at balancing. So I will give this a shot but I MIGHT DIE, GUYS.

In reality, when I look at where I started last September (in the very worst physical condition of my life) I am pretty impressed with myself in spite of everything.

The future is here, it's bright, it's now.
(That was a Regina Spektor reference. In case you were lost, there. Sorry. That is what happens in my brain, sometimes.)

image of an old lady with a bad knee

The search term "image of an old lady with a bad knee" now directs Google users to my site. Not just one but two people (or one person twice?) have visited Rheumatic Princess after searching for the term. Is it Inflamo-Woman? Sigh... I should have known that my claim to fame would someday become the fact that I am ... an old lady with a bad knee. *Pout*
You can see all your referring search terms in the back-end statistics application that Blogger provides. I always check it out. Sometimes it's pretty strange what turns up in there. Some of them are pretty obvious (rheumatism and ballet related searches, even "rubber flamingo" makes sense), some are kind of random ("fly blink"... maybe they were looking for the opening sequence from Aeon Flux?).
Some are downright kinky ( I refuse, I just refuse, to list them here. Let's just say that Princess Leia's... uh... popular, and James Dean pulls in a pretty weird crowd these days.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Doctor's Appointment: Preparation

Well, I have an appointment with my primary care doctor this week. There are a couple of things I want to discuss with him, and the biggest is (probably quite obviously) my knees. I have learned from a lifetime of Kaiser's brand of medical care, and so I am spending a little time tonight brushing up on my anatomy and such. Seriously guys, patients should not have to do this. I am capable of it, you are probably capable of it, but some people aren't. And those people will just slip through the cracks in the system. It's rather frustrating.
Anyhow, I have discovered (this was a huge surprise to me, though it really shouldn't have been) that tendonitis can be caused by rheumatism. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before. Rheumatism equals inflammation, and tendonitis is definitely based on that same mechanism.
Anyway, the good news is that I have some ammunition to take to my appointment, as well as a ten month record of trying and failing the regular first-line treatment. So, maybe I will get some suggestions?
I have very little faith in the medical establishment right now.

Ow. TMI alert, but I am hurting a lot right now, in my feminine regions. The timing is all wonky and totally wrong which means I am probably just having a bout of mittelschmerz, which I have experienced off and on since I was a teenager. It's been more off than on since my mid twenties but it used to be clockwork-regular. It occurs to me, at this late hour, that mittelschmerz is an inflammatory condition of unknown origin. Just like every other damn thing that is wrong with me. Why don't doctors look at the big picture and tally up all these things once in a while?


Anyway. No feeling sorry for myself! I have a new ballet classmate with artificial hips! Talk about moxie!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

For One Thing it Won't Fit Over My Diaper.

If a grown-up is wearing it it is a leotard. Or a body suit. Or SOMETHING. But it ISN'T a "onesie". I don't wear bunny suits, either, guys!
Here is a onesie, for reference:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stupid Sun, Who Needs it Anyway?

So several of my medications have photodermatitis warnings. Photodermatitis is when your drugs make you super sensitive to UV light and you burn easily. It can be bad. Like, BAD bad. When the western US was being settled and farmers were first raising cattle here they discovered that their cows were basically burning to death in the fields because they had been eating a native plant (which we now call St John's Wort, and use as a tranquilizer-type antidepressant) which caused this type of sun sensitivity. I bet they were some mellow cows, though. Anyway. it's not usually that bad. It usually just means you need to be really careful about wearing sunblock and a floppy hat or you'll get extra crispy on a fine Summer's day. My forearms tend to get tanned and freckled and in the past I have had the freckles stick around for a year or more. But I am usually pretty careful about it because I am so horribly pale, anyway.
But I totally forgot about all that this weekend.
It was Sunday and I was thinking to myself "aw man, I am super pale. These legs here, they are so pale that shaving doesn't solve the problem. These legs need some sunshine if I am going to wear skirts in public this season." so I popped out on my patio and had a little half-hour break reading mystery novels and magazines and letting my legs catch the sunshine.
And now my upper thighs are bright flaming red! Half an hour, guys! Half an hour.
Also? Not even at all comfortable to wear tights over a sunburn.
Not even at all.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Two Posts in One

I have been stuck using the portable barres at the studio, lately (which is a story that involves me being annoyed with someone else for not understanding ballet etiquette, and this story is SO bitchy that I am refraining from telling it) which is irksome because a) sometimes there isn't quite enough space on them so you get stuck hanging over the end or trying not to grab on to the hand of the person on the opposite side, b) sometimes they get set up sort of wonky so that they aren't at a 90* angle to the mirror (or the seams in the floor) so I spend the entire time feeling off-center, and c) they are metal so I create a loud CLANG! every time my left hand touches the barre. Either I am just super-conscious of my own clanging or no one else is having this problem. This is grown-up class! Where are your wedding rings? I am not dissing anyone who takes theirs off, it's just that I am lazy and forgetful and so I basically never remove mine. In the bath tub, doing dishes, digging around in the garden, changing the oil in my scooter, baking bread... whatever. There are reasons I do not wear fancy diamond things with bits all sticking out.

 Cemeteries are one of my great passions (I have a lot of great passions, okay?) and in the world of Pinterest I recently discovered this photograph:
Which claims to be the grave of Marie Taglioni in the Montmartre cemetery. And I thought : "OOOH AWESOME!" It's kind of gross but also very beautiful. It's become a sort of shrine for dancers, the pile of decomposing shoes an offering to the memory of the first famous modern ballet dancer. Definitely something to see someday, a pilgrimage site for the future.
But, I was intrigued enough to do some research online and discovered that there is some confusion about this particular grave site. It actually isn't Marie Taglioni's grave, but the grave of her mother (who was a dancer, though not the kind of celebrity her daughter became). So... all those shoes are in the wrong cemetery. In fact, Marie Taglioni's actual grave is in the Père-Lachaise cemetery (where all sorts of other famous dead people reside). Here is an article but it's all in French. My own French is pretty rusty but I can work out the general gist of it.
This is what Marie Taglioni's actual grave looks like:
Much less dramatic but at least there are some shoes up there! If I ever visit France I would definitely make this a destination and add a shoe to the site.
The downside to living in the western US is that our history goes back about 150-200 years and then drops straight off. We have some really interesting cemetery history, but it's nothing like the incredible history of Europe's cemeteries.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

god save the queen

So, who else thinks that Queen Elizabeth II is awesome? And how many of you are like "Woot! Diamond jubilee! There will be big hats!" or is it just me?
One of the things that HM did for the occasion is release the complete digitized collection of Queen Victoria's rather exacting private journals. If you are in to that stuff you can check 'em out right here.
So anyway, I've been reading them here and there when something in particular grabs my attention (though, to be honest, her handwriting is pretty taxing) and eagerly waiting for any mention of the big exciting news that was the world of ballet in the early to mid 1800s. I was hoping there would be some written mention, but instead we all lucked out, because she was an artist:

Pauline Duvernay in Sleeping Beauty. March 12th, 1833

 “The Viennoises”, at Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket. 1845

Marie Taglioni as La Bayadère, 1832

"Mlle taglioni as she appeared in the ballet of Le Pouvoir de la Danse, ou la Nouvelle Terpsichore" 

And closer because it's prettier that way: