Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

So. It's that time of year again. I am not a big Thanksgiving or Christmas person, but I have always enjoyed New Year's and it's promise of clean slates and fresh starts. Even though the year always turns out to suck anyway, at least for a few hours we get to hope for better things to come. I probably made some resolutions for 2013, though if I did they were the kind that you don't admit to anyone and maybe forget after a few months, anyway. This year I resolve to... uh... well, you see, if I resolve to do anything then I will just disappoint myself so it's better not to bother with it. Maybe I will give up reading the comments on online news articles, again. That was the best resolution I ever made.
In real life I have had a really huge (and not always in good ways) year, with moving in to a new apartment, spending an evening in the ER, and setting my kitchen on fire being just a few of the highlights. In my ballet life I advanced from my level I-II class to a level 3 class once a week and a level 3-5 class once a week. I repaired, altered, tore apart, and otherwise worked over a billion bedraggled recital costumes, and I started pointe.
It's all been a bit hectic, really.
2014 I am sure will surprise us all, as they tend to do when you think about it. I am going to be launching a new blog to keep track of a sort-of-ballet-related art project I have been gearing up for for a while now. It'll happen eventually, anyway. There have been problems involving space issues, lighting, and camera remote controls. Stay tuned.
How about you guys? Any resolutions for the coming year? Pull off that triple pirouette you've been dreaming about? Write an in-depth history of the rise and fall of... something or other? Yes? No?

PS: I ordered myself a "nude" bra (there is only one company on the planet that makes bras that fit me, so it's always an ordeal and they have to be ordered sight unseen) which is the most boring but useful color of underwear. It showed up yesterday and it is totally not beige in a nude kind of way. It's ballet pink. Absolutely identical to my pointes. Totally hilarious, and now I wish I had bought the matching panties. 

This picture is probably not safe for work but too freakin' bad. You shouldn't be reading blogs at work, anyway.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wrecked

ARGH. My calves hurt! ARGH ARGH ARGH!
Thursday's classes, like any class directly after a big travel-oriented holiday, were short on students. As a result technique class was abnormally exhausting (very little if any down time while waiting for your turn across the floor) so I was already panting and Over It by the time pointe class started. There were even fewer pointe students, and those of us that were there are all fairly new at it. So we got serious one-on-one attention and lots of corrections that otherwise would have been lost in the shuffle. The good news is that I now have a much clearer idea of what I have been doing wrong (which has been annoying the bejeebus out of me whenever I have to look at myself in a mirror) and how to correct it (I finally understand what she means by "push against your ribbons"). The bad news is that I am now so totally wrecked physically that there is no way in hell I can use those corrections and get in some practice at home (which has now been officially sanctioned). The transition back to a regular schedule after my month of bruise-induced confinement has been tough on me physically. I basically spend every weekend cursing and whining every time I have to walk downstairs.
Remind me why I do this to myself? Ballet, guys. It hurts.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Men, Listen Up

Woo! We have a dude, again! It's just that they are so rare, you kind of have to celebrate when they show up. And now we all get to bow like ballerinos* at the end of class. Oh yes, my adoring fans, I bow to you like a lady. And YES, the rest of my adoring fans, I nod my head to you and look down my nose upon your worthless selves because I am also a dude, now.
Dudes: we need more of them. Don't worry, guys! We aren't all nervous and judgmental about you! Well, I mean, yeah... so maybe we give your butt a passing glance (JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY, MIND YOU) but we are actually perfectly happy when there is a representative of the other half of the species in the room. Well, no, only if they are in class and jumping around like idiots with the rest of us. Because that boyfriend guy who was taking videos on his iphone last week? Pretty creepy.

PS: RA flare up of amazing proportions going on. There are no words for it. My ankles are officially in on the deal. If I could have saved any of my parts, it would have been them. Class continues, come hell or high water.



*actual word

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just Say No to Christmas Music...

Christmas music. Why is there always that one student who requests Christmas music for the entire month of December? Two and a half straight hours of Ballet-arranged Christmas music.
Thank whatever god you've got that at least you don't have to listen to the lyrics (if you do then I am SO SO SORRY).
I worked retail for years and December was just a non-stop 8 hour loop of what felt like maybe ten Christmas songs (several different versions of each, but let's be honest: whether you are Sinatra or Jessica Simpson there is only so much that can be done with "Winter Wonderland".) One year my coworkers and I actually started a tally sheet. Every time we heard a song we would add a tick to the list. I think the most repeats in a single eight hour day was some horrific "classic" tune played a total of 12 times. It's pretty much enough to make you want to kill people. Especially after hearing "Christmas Shoes" for the tenth time in a shift. Argh!
And, is it just me or does Andy Williams sound totally wasted in this song?



Maybe it just seems that way after a full day listening to it incessantly. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Inspiration and Defeatism

Honestly, I had a really awful ballet week. I suppose there are just stretches of time in which you feel overwhelmed, unprepared, incompetent, and just plain lost. There are times like that in any pursuit, I suppose. Even in real life. I know there are days when I feel like I have no idea why I am considered so great at my job (brag brag) when holy crap, I have struggled all damn day to do something ridiculously easy. Eventually the feeling passes. Eventually you bang out a string of perfect buttonholes or land a double pirouette. But while you are feeling the slump there is very little you can say to yourself that sounds positive.   My teacher has been stepping up the complexity of our center work to the point that I now feel like I am utterly floundering and starting to question how I have spent the past year + in level three classes and still can't dance my way out of a sack...

Anyway. So that is how I have been feeling this week. Yesterday I ran across this post on a tumblr blog called Brilliant Broad. It was inspiring and I asked if I could share it with you guys, and she graciously agreed. I am going to let her post speak for itself:


Anyway, it reminded me of the good things about dancing and I needed that. Way to go, Brilliant Broad. Way to go all of us adult beginners and awkward/unlikely dancers. Long may we ronde de jambe.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back en Pointe and it Feels So... uhm...

This has been my first full week of honest-to-goodness classes since my foot bruise incident. I even did a full two and a half hours of class last night, including an hour en pointe. It wasn't as bad as I had feared! The bruise feels fine, astoundingly. The end of my big toe is still sore the next day, and I can still feel my calves, that's for sure. But I think I owned it pretty hard, all things considered. I was just exhausted by the end of the day.
My teacher was amazed I made it through, and I have to admit that I am pretty amazed, as well.

Several times now my nearest and dearest friends and relations have grumped at me pensively "I've never even seen you dance!" as if for some reason they would actually like to witness such a thing. I was reminded of these comments last night. While attempting a ridiculous (everything is ridiculous in pointe shoes. It's like wearing cinder blocks on your feet) waltz turn combination across the floor, my teacher announced that she was giving us tougher combinations because she wanted to get us to actually dance. And I thought "Pssh! Woman! If I wanted to dance I wouldn't be in ballet class!" 




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spotty Spotting

I can't spot. Or, no, I can sort of spot. Like... I can look at that thing over there while I'm turning and whip my head around so that I appear to be spotting and travel in the general direction of my gaze. But it doesn't work, you see. I'm nearsighted.
Everyone in my family has completely whack vision, so it's not like this is something I don't know how to live with. My eyes really blew out on me to the point that it was noticeable in high school. I was awkward and bullied, though, so I scraped along with my shitty vision until I graduated. I insisted on getting glasses before college because I actually cared about college. Still, I only really wore them in class. The last time I had my eyes checked at the DMV (at age 29) I somehow managed to pass the test. Well, no, I failed the test. So then they gave me an easier test and said I was fine to drive with no corrective lens requirement on my license. Which really explains some things about California drivers, but anyway. As soon as I hit 30 it was like switching off a light. I have worn my glasses full-time for the past 2 years. Except in ballet class.
Because they get all sweaty and gross and fog up and when you turn they fly right off your face and across the room. It's just not worth it. It's not like I am reading any road signs in there, right? There are big neon colored sheets of paper taped to every surface in the studio, to give us something obvious to spot and aim towards. But... uhm... yeah... it still doesn't work. I can't quiiiiite focus my eyes on anything so my spotting is effectively useless and I end every turning combination dizzy as all heck.
So far my solution has been jumping up and down gently after each pass and hoping that straightens it out before I have to attempt the turns from the other side of the room. Very professional, I know.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Snip snip

(possibly) eleventh in an (very) occasional series of ballet paintings that are not Degas:

  
Ballet Girl and Dressmaker (1930)
Laura Knight

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If you're in the States:


and if you're not then happy Thursday! I know, right? Almost Friday, that counts for something.
But seriously folks, did you think there even was more than one vintage turkey/ballerina pin-up picture in the world? Well, there you go.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I begin to think the fates just don't want me to go to class

Okay, guys, so guess why I'm missing class tonight. Because the HVAC unit on my apartment has died so completely it can't be fixed and needs to be replaced, instead! Current indoor temperature: cold enough to wear a coat and fuzzy socks and still be cold. PLUS my sick rheumatic cat? She was doing swimmingly last week! But now? Not so much. So I am waiting for her vet to call. Soooooo....
No class this week, then.
Since I have missed so much class I've gained weight! I have no idea how much, but enough to make putting pants on an interesting struggle. Tomorrow I am cooking for Thanksgiving. The menu? Puff pastry/cheese hors d'œuvres, chocolate and cream cheese stuffed strawberries, truffles, and pumpkin angel food cake. Yes, sir, that right there is a great way to lose some pudge.
Aaaargh. 

check out these awesome thigh-high rainbow socks I have, though.
 (or you may have already, but that post got lost and I am out
of ideas so whatever) 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Injured and Complaing About It, Thank You Very Much

My little ballet world has been pretty frustrating, lately. After the horrible "cat + laptop Vs. my poor naked foot" incident I knew I was going to have some bruising. But, did you know that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs, in other words: first line treatment for RA) medications can cause excessive blood pooling and therefore bruising? Which can take a really long dang time to heal? Yeah, I didn't know, either. I have now missed five whole classes, and had to sit out center work for three more. I am pretty unhappy about it.
But here is the weird part. I always bitch about ballet hurting me, and it's true! It does hurt me. It gives me shin splints and broken toenails and foot cramps and you get the idea. But while I've been taking a bunch of time off I've noticed all the ways that ballet makes me feel BETTER. Without class my back hurts. My knees hurt even worse than usual. I thought my shin splints were coming back but it was actually some thin little muscle running along the front of my leg cramping up. My ankles hurt! My toes on my foot that ISN'T bruised!
Geeze!
So, I have decided to just take barre until I am ready to use my foot properly, again. I tried doing center work on Tuesday and it did not work out for me, but OH! The pretty combination we got to do before it all went to hell! Balancés and waltz turns, swishy port de bras... and I felt almost competent for a few glorious moments!
And then my foot was like "what do you even think you are doing, woman?"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Krill Oil Pills. So Yummy.

So, I take an omega-3 supplement every day, because it's supposed to be good for RA. I find it helps a little with the stiffness in my joints so I keep it up. At first I tried fish oil pills. They are huge, smelly, and make you burp up the taste of rancid fish ALL DAY LONG. It also did some other really disgusting things that I can't mention in mixed company. I switched to flax seed oil pills almost immediately. They are huge, too, but there isn't any lingering nastiness.
Well, the problem is that I keep hearing that flax seed oil isn't a terribly great source of omega-3 because it's harder for your body to process/access it. A friend (you know the kind, the kind that wants to talk your ear off about the latest diet/exercise routine/supplement) has been trying to convince me to try krill oil, instead, and she brought me a bottle to try out a few weeks ago.
From the get-go there were pros and cons. The pros: one tiny little pill per day. No fishy burps. The cons: smells like satan, basically. If satan smelled like rotting fish, anyway. RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Like $36 per tiny bottle expensive. Comes in a bottle covered in snake-oil advertising.
Do I think it's doing me any good? Mmm... maybe. Maybe not. When the effects are subtle enough it is awfully hard to tell. I'll kill the bottle and switch back to flax seed for a while and see if I can feel any difference. I have major environmental concerns about krill oil, probably even more than I do about fish oil. That alone is enough to make me think seriously about how willing I would be to take them long-term.
Okay, but here is the funny part. The friend who gave me these things has a long-haired cat. She punctures the pills and gives a little to her cat every day and it greases the proverbial wheels enough that they live mostly hairball-free. And of course the cat just laps it up because it's sooooooo tasty and stinky and fishy and all the things cats love, right? So tonight I cut open a pill and offered it to my cats. One of them (the one who ISN'T picky) sniffed it and then walked away. The other cat sniffed it with interest, gave it a tiny lick... and then spent the next five minutes doing the bleh-bleh-gross-yucky-get-it-out-of-my-mouth-patooie thing.
Yeah. That worked well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don't. Do. It. No. Don't.

A particular dance wear retailer (ahem) posted this photo to Facebook this morning. You have probably seen it on Pinterest already, it's been around for a while:

It's a little girl having a dance with Anna Pavlova in an art gallery. It's quintessential childhood. It's precious. It's nostalgic. It reminds you of the things you love about dancing.
And this is the comment that someone left on the post:


It is a jerk-bag being a Douchey Larue for no discernible reason. It reminds you of the things you HATE about dancing. It highlights two of the problems with dancers (and people in general) communicating via the internet. First, it's almost impossible to truly grasp a person's intent via the written word without any obvious social ques ("he said laughingly", "she said while rolling her eyes"). It is especially hard to grasp sarcasm. Is this sarcasm? There is a happy face, that could indicate sarcasm, I guess. But a winky face would be more indicative of jest. I used to know someone online that would say the most horrible things to people because he thought a winky face would make up for it. I no longer associate with this guy, for obvious reasons. But anyway. Soooo... this commenter really is just being an asshole?
The second problem of course is that people really do this. I have talked about this previously. Multiple times. When you see a photo or video of a dancer online your first reaction should not be "oh here, let me tell you everything you are doing WRONG" regardless of the air of perfectionism inherent in ballet. It is not okay. Do not do this. To anyone for any reason. I understand the urge (lord knows I have seen a few too many porcelain ballerina figurines with dreadfully awkward posture, thankfully pointing this out is not objectifying and insulting an actual person) but if you are not the teacher in a classroom full of students then you need to check your corrections at the door.
And for the love of god, if you MUST be a dickweed? At least end with a winky face. ;)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Bruise to End All Bruises

So here is why I am only taking barre this week:
My cat stepped on my laptop, which was precariously balanced on the side table, and the rest is history. It's not broken or anything, it just hurts a might and looks like the end of the world. I probably would have made it through the entire class tonight IF I hadn't had to stand up in the train all the way to class. Urgh. As soon as the time changes everyone and their mama wants to ride the train for some reason. I'm hoping to get through it on Thursday, though I am guessing pointe is probably a bad idea.
So, while my classmates got on with center work I got to sit and observe them. It's interesting, actually, to watch a class you usually participate in. For one thing you get to admire how pretty it is (well, except grands jetes, but you get to see how badly everyone else does them so you don't feel so bad) when normally it just feels like a hot mess. And you get to wonder at how easy it all looks when you know that in reality it's damn hard work. And you know when you hit the wall? I mean figuratively speaking. And you think "oh god, just make it stop" because you are exhausted, dripping sweat, panting for breath, and just DONE? Well, the one time I get a chance to actually quit after barre and sit out all the hard stuff all I want is to be up there dancing.
What the hell, ballet makes you a crazy person.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crazy Tutu Day

Well, Halloween class was pretty dang fun. There were costumes, and crazy rock and roll accompaniment, and I didn't even run over any trick-or-treaters on the drive home. Woo! My teacher was wearing a full-body bear suit, which was basically adorable during EVERY SINGLE exercise. Dance class should be like a high school and have crazy hair day or pajama day (or more likely tutu day) once a month.
You know, when I was in high school I never (never EVER) participated in those "spirit days" but to this day I have nightmares that I go to school with no clothes on because it is supposed to be naked day and no one told me it was canceled. And then I have to pretend I am not naked and hope no one notices? Ugh. Never mind.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All The Grace of a Cantaloupe (Not Antelope)

I am the clumsiest and least physically graceful person on the planet. How clumsy am I? Clumsy enough that my husband worries about and teases me for my clumsiness. He has an autistic spectrum disorder. Like, he was in special clumsy kid classes in elementary school. No, really. We joke that it's a miracle we haven't killed each other yet, and that it's only a matter of time before one of us accidentally stabs the other while cooking and goes to jail.
Ugh.
I mention my utter lack of grace to illustrate the fact that I am sort of frustrated with class these days. And my teacher is straight-up frustrated with me, as well. Last night she made me re-do tombé pas de bourrées across the floor about four times in each direction. She has been giving me special instructions when we are preparing for a combination "if you want to, RPrin, you can just do one piqué turn." while everyone else is supposed to do two. Standing directly in front of me during petite allegro and obviously getting flustered with my inability to make it look effortless. The problem is that I can do the steps, I just can't do them quickly. It doesn't help if I only do one piqué turn, you see, because by the time I am done with the preceeding waltz turn I am already half a beat late.
Just... just argh.
She often wonders at my strength en pointe and my weakness on flat, but it's not strength that I have trouble with. It's speed. When I speed things up it just becomes a mess, more akin to badly executed tap dancing than classical ballet.
Sigh... anyway. So it's all been rather disheartening lately and my motivation levels haven't been at their peak. The fact that I just smashed my head against the corner of a bookshelf is not helping.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Dream

So, I have class on Halloween, this year. In fact I have 2 and a half straight hours of class. And everyone at the studio wants to wear costumes!
I am a BIG fan of wearing costumes at every opportunity, but I seriously doubt the ballet potential of anything in my closet.
What do I have all ready and waiting? Let's see.
There is: Dr. Horrible
Alex Delarge
the White Rabbit (from Alice)
my Renaissance Faire garb (yes, I am one of those people)
Mime
Death
Dinosaur
And these aren't "sexy" costumes, either. Well, Alex has a miniskirt because there was no way I could pull off a jockstrap and I had to embody over-sexed violent youth culture SOMEhow. But otherwise we are talking full-body costumes, here. With accessories and goggles (and a bitchin' dinosaur hat complete with feathers).
Choices, choices.
In seriousness, though, I'm pretty sure that almost anything that goes on my head would fly off as soon as we hit that first flic-flack, and anything that requires face painting or makeup would just end up dripping down my face and getting smeared all over the place because dudes, I am old and it is always 80 degrees in the studio. So, I will probably just bust out the one dance-proof costume headband I have (tiger ears). But, oh, what fun we could have. Now I wish I had tiger striped tights! I could totally rock that.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Too Legit to Quit

So I have this toenail. And it gives me guff when I forget to trim it really short, but it's usually no problem in regular shoes. It's only when it's squeezed up in ballet slippers that I remember "oh yeah, I should cut that nail". Sometimes I cut it shorter than usual, and then it gives me even MORE guff, and feels like an ingrown toenail just waiting to happen. So I always knew this was going to be a problem when I started pointe. There was never any question of that. I was trying to trim it in various ways, hoping that I would find the right solution and not end up with something nasty and ingrown.
And then yesterday it broke off.
Well. I guess that is one way to solve the problem...
This makes me a super legit ballerina now, right?

PS: it didn't break all the way off, just the end bit. It didn't hurt, and I taped it up for class tonight, which was fine. I certainly won't be wearing any open-toe shoes any time soon. Not that I do, anyway. Blech.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mr. B! Mr. B!


 Meet dancer, actress, and opera singer (triple threat, boo-ya!) Betty Luster, primarily known for her staring role in a weird little promotional film for a musical instrument company in 1956. Mr. B Natural. The film is famous for it's featured appearance (and later running joke) on the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which was basically a huge part of my childhood). The joke being, of course, that "Mr." B was considerably less convincingly male than Cathy Rigby in any given performance of Peter Pan. Considerably. After watching the short with my hubby recently I was inspired to look her up on the vast and fabulous internet.
When she wasn't gadding about as Mr. B she was actually a very cute ballet dancer. Here she is (in the weird 50s high-low costume and pointe shoes):


And, for the uninitiated, here is the full-length un-riffed version of Mr. B Natural. Just, you know, in case you are aching for a little awkward mid-century surrealism. It also features some pretty darn adorable dance moves of the sort you make pre-schoolers execute in "creative movement" class:


PS: I always thought I would, if I ever went to a comic or sci-fi convention, go dressed as Mr. B. I have the figure for it, and the hair, and everything! Sadly, however, it has already been done. A lot. So never mind. On the other hand: Mr. B Natural pony!



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Defiance

I don't have a lot to say right now because, let's face it, at the moment the whole ballet part of my brain is still excited about my acceptance to MIT (the Moose Institute of Toe-dancing. It's a Rocky and Bullwinkle joke, and I am terribly sorry if you are too young and/or not cool enough to get it. Netflix streaming, guys.) and my slow and steady progression in class. Two classes in I could already feel the difference in strength during technique class and three classes in I am starting to find my balance, though it is still pretty shaky business. I am also pretty sure I will NEVER get tired of hearing my teacher say "RPrin! You look so god en pointe! I just can't get over it!". I wanna hear it, babe! Don't get over it on my account! Flattery and compliments are a very strong motivating influence in my life, so keep it coming.

I shall now change the subject, because I know you are tired of hearing about pointe class, pointe shoes, and pointe EVERYTHING. Geeze, girl, get over your silly satin shoes and talk about something else for a while! Okay, okay! You don't have to be so grumpy about it, sheesh.

It occurs to me that it has been a bit over a year, now, since my last disastrous appointment with my rheumatologist. It took months to work up the nerve to file the complaint about it. It has taken me this long to even contemplate calling Kaiser for another appointment. I sometimes wonder if that is their goal: to make you so angry, depressed, and otherwise emotionally exhausted that you just give up and leave them alone.
Anyway, I am trying to psych myself in to it, but I think it's going to take me a little while.

My new goal is to combine these two topics by having someone photograph me standing en pointe and holding my cane. Ballet is my defiance.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Are You There, Taglioni? It's Me, RPrin...

So. Before I had taken my pointe test one of my classmates (who had recently started pointe) was asking me about my plans in that direction. She was very encouraging but also assured me that I would probably wonder what I had been thinking as soon as I actually got up there. And I said "oh yeah. Like when you're 11 and you can't wait for your period to start, right?" and she said "EXACTLY"
You see, if you are a dude you totally don't get this. If you are of a certain age (say, 55+) and your mother was tight-lipped about that sort of thing you don't get it, either. But for women of my generation there were secret girls-only classes once a year in 5th and 6th grade. And there was "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" and as soon as we hit ten we were standing around like "OH MY GOD I SO WANT MY PERIOD TO START IT'S GOING TO BE SO FREAKING COOL". And you talked about it with your friends, and you thought about it constantly, and it was this major obsession (I think we have purposefully moved in this direction, culturally, because so many women pre-1950s never talked about it AT ALL and were kind of confused when it hit). And then it happened. Like, say, while you were walking home from school in the rain after a completely dismal day that included chocolate cravings so intense you spent all your lunch money on See's candy bars. You know, just as an example. And suddenly it was like "Oh. Crap. Well. You mean I have to do this, now? For, like... ever? Fuck."
And while I wouldn't say anything ballet-related (and therefore fun) is exactly like that, let's say I do see the similarities.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Raisins are Gross Enough Already

I was browsing Pinterest when I came across this:

Gin soaked raisins will cure your RA, guys! Or, you know, you could cut out the middle man and just DRINK HEAVILY. That oughta make you feel better. Aw yeah.
Sorry, sorry. But really? I will tell you what else will make your rheumatism feel better: competent medical care (I am working on that one, myself. BUT I hear it does wonders if you are lucky enough to find it).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pointe Class!

Pardon me if I use a lot of exclamation points!* Because I had my first pointe class tonight! Woo! It was... exciting. When I was told to take my shoes off after half an hour I was THRILLED. My left foot is slightly longer than the right one, and HELLO I became aware of that left big toe in all new and exciting ways. Next time I guess I will cram some lamb's wool down in there. Or, you know, just amputate my toe like the ugly stepsisters after the ball.
I have been informed, though, that I am better on pointe than on flat. The teacher sat on the floor directly behind me at the barre and asked "are you sure you've never taken pointe before?"
Nope! I'm pretty sure I would remember that.
Anyway. I am glad it's over, and I never want to take my fuzzy socks off again.
But dude. Achievement unlocked (as the whippersnappers are saying these days. I assume it's some sort of video game reference but I don't know because I only play Katamari Damacy and Tetris.)

* !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fox Walkin', Yo

from an interactive display of "your first memories" in the social
sciences department. My first memory, BTW, is of building a
snowman with my mother OR possibly of taking a bath in our
purple bathroom.

My husband and I have been on "vacation" this week, in celebration of our seventh wedding anniversary. We usually go to the redwood coast for the week, but the sick cat is keeping us much closer to home this year. Three trips to the vet in just one week. Yeah, I know, right? Anyhoo... I took the week off from ballet. I know what you are thinking. "A whole week? And when you just got promoted to pointe? GASP AND SCANDAL!" Yeah. Well. Sometimes we all need a little bit of a break to remind us of why we do something in the first place. Ballet is not my job, and it shouldn't feel like it!
But don't think that it never crossed my mind. Aside from the constant reminder of class while wearing my pointe shoes under fuzzy socks and attempting to help my husband install bookshelves in the stairwell (DANG those suckers are slippery! I am lucky I didn't kill both of us.) I also made sure to strike a lot of ballet poses while visiting museums.
We took a day trip to San Francisco to visit the new Exploratorium. Which, if you don't know, is probably the best science museum in the WORLD. No, really. Like, it's been voted the best in the world pretty consistently since it opened in 1969. It's really pretty great, if you like or are interested in science. Hell, even if you DON'T give a crap about that stuff it is totally worth the time, effort, and money to visit. It's entirely hands-on and interactive. I think the Exploratorium is solely responsible for me having any faith in humanity, these days.
So anyway. We were at the Exploratorium and in a quiet corner we found an exhibit that involved walking across a stretch of gravel while the noise you make is monitored and scored. The idea being that you were supposed to walk as quietly as you could. I did pretty well at it by always stepping in the footprints of the person who went before me (where the gravel will be more compressed) but then there was a video about the best way to silence your steps. It's called "fox walking" and apparently is a big deal amongst people who do the whole survivalist thing (for very little reason that makes sense, other than hunting in close quarters, I suppose). But here is how you do it (or at least the version of it they showed us. Honestly there appear to be other versions floating around on the internet but WHATEVER):
You step on to the ball of your foot, then roll through the rest of the foot and place as little weight on your feet as possible. So, in other words: walk like a ballerina. Anyway, it kind of cracked me up (PS: it worked, too).



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Papier Mâché and Related Nonsense

I splashed (a tiny amount of) water on my pointe shoes while lounging on the couch this evening (they were close at hand because I am supposed to be wearing them around the house to break them in. I made it for about three hours today and then my ankle went "BITCH, PLEASE" and I knocked that shit right off.) and I went "ARGH ARGH ARGH OH NOOOOO! MY PAPIER MÂCHÉ SHOES! THEY MUSN'T GET WET! HOLY CRAP! BRING ME SOME TISSUES AND A TOWEL AND PERHAPS ALSO SOME SMELLING SALTS BECAUSE I THINK I AM GOING TO PASS OUT OH MY GOD"
and my husband was like "What? I thought you were kidding about pointe shoes being made out of papier mâché."
And I was all "NO OH MY GOD WHY WOULD I EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT?"
Maybe next time I will get modern plastic shoes and save myself the horror. After all, I am pretty damn clumsy.

Also: sort of ballet-related only not really? I was watching the ancient 1955 TV version of the Scarlet Pimpernel at the time, which stars Marius Goring, AKA Julian, AKA the Love Interest That You Aren't Sure Whether You Like Or Not in The Red Shoes. See? Sort of ballet-related. 
But not much.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Second Balletversary (+ pointy business)

So. Today is my official two year balletversary. Two years! And I haven't given up, yet. That is pretty astounding. I get frustrated sometimes. Hell, even my teacher gets frustrated with me sometimes. My posture is horrifying, because I have scoliosis and arthritis and I-was-raised-after-parents-stopped-telling-you-to-stand-up-straight-itis. And for some reason I could pirouette four months ago, but now I cannot. It's like you hit a plateau... except sometimes you don't just hit a plateau. You hit a downhill slope. And suddenly you are over-thinking everything and things that used to work out okay are now a hot mess. Like chaînés turns. CURSES upon chaînés turns right now, guys. In fact turns in general can basically bite my shiny metal you-know-what right now.
Oh god, that was a Futurama reference. I apologize. I swear that I have never said that before in my life.

Anyway.

So, it's been two years. And there are things that I can do today that I could not do a year ago. There are sure as hell things I can do today that I couldn't do two years ago. I was in much worse shape, back then. While I often regret not getting around to it sooner, the fact is that I am just happy to have gotten around to it at all. With the body I have been given, and the questions that I have to live with every day (what's going to be the next part that catastrophically fails? When am I going to deteriorate to the point that I am confined to a wheelchair? This all sounds very fatalistic and silly and you have my permission to ignore it) I am just proud of myself for not folding up and calling it quits. I'm going to use this body, as awkward and clumsy and ill-suited to dance as it is, as much as I can while I've still got control over it.

To that end I took the pointe test on Thursday. My teacher had said "in a couple of weeks" but then a few days later she said "this week". Which was unexpected and alarming. I hadn't even had a chance to buckle down to the relevés and duck-walking I had intended to! But, once I knew it was coming I just wanted to get it over with because I HATE TESTS. So when she forgot about it I timidly said "hey, let's do this thing so I can get it over with and go spend the rest of the night sitting in a small dark corner of the room and shaking slightly." Well, okay. Maybe I didn't say exactly that.
Anyway.
And so then this happened:

You are asking yourself how comfortable they are. The answer is "not" as in "not even at all comfortable what the hell was I even thinking oh crap now I guess I am stuck with it"
But aren't they pretty?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Big News Tomorrow, Guys

But for now I will leave you with this fascinating purchase I made at the grocery store today:
Astute readers can extrapolate for themselves.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shit Just Got Real

For the past few weeks I have been failing horribly to keep up with the relevés/calf lifts/basically anything at all with any potential to increase strength. I've been going up to brush my teeth at night and just feeling so exhausted that the entire concept of doing anything more demanding than sitting on the toilet lid while my electric toothbrush magically cleans my teeth for me is just TOO much. But there is no choice, now, dudes. I had better double down or GTFO.
Because tonight my teacher looked at me pointedly and told me she wanted to test me in to pointe within the next few weeks.
To which I say: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Basically.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chalk and Excuses

Oh, I know, I know. It's been a few days. But I have a good excuse! In the last four days I have taken my cat to the vet three times (including once at midnight) and my car got broken in to. Sigh... I am still going to class, though! And still being rheumatificated. So, I can count any down time as research and development, yes?

Anyway. This story is vaguely ballet related:
Over Labor Day weekend my city holds an annual chalk art festival that is a lot of fun and usually means that I will be spending at least two of the three days eating massive snow cones and listening to indie music. My husband and I have gone every year since we met (awwwwww).
This festival involves a lot of people creating large works of sometimes-art-sometimes-I-just-don't-even on the sidewalks around a park. The art is sponsored by various businesses and organizations around town. There is almost always a ballet themed piece because the local professional company is a sponsor. Sometimes the final piece of art is really cool. Sometimes... errrr... not so much. But it's chalk, dudes, you don't have to feel  bad about it. When we stopped by on Sunday afternoon I didn't see any ballet art being made, though, and I was kind of bummed. So when we went back on Monday to check out the now finished (or nearly finished) art I didn't bother bringing my camera, or even my phone. Which I immediately regretted when I saw the three or four adorable teenage dancers in (now horrifically covered in colorful chalk dust) dead pointe shoes over ankle socks gridding out their tardy but quite ballet-themed hunk of sidewalk. It would have made for some really amazing close-up cropped photographs, I am sure.
I contemplated going back home and getting my camera... but then the sky opened right the heck up and suddenly it was POURING rain. And all those lovely, ephemeral artworks... trickled away in to the grass.

To my infinite disgust I have been unable to find a single freaking picture of it online. How is it possible that  of the hundreds of people wandering around taking photographs at the drop of a hat not a single one of them thought "hey, this would be a cool picture!" when they saw those girls. It kills me, it really does.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pros, Toes, and the F-Bomb

Ballet season will be starting soon, and professionals will be heading back to their studios. So, where are they now? They are taking class with the variously challenged adult ballet students at my studio. What is it like taking class with a real dancer? Well, humbling. I certainly won't be dropping down in to those perfect splits anytime soon, or kicking in to a high and strong faille* with total grace and ease. On the other hand, watching some of our more advanced girls alongside the pro gives you a real appreciation for how far you actually can go as an adult recreational dancer.
I also felt good about doing my fondues on flat rather than demi-pointe because she was doing it as well.

PS: we spent our full hour of pre-pointe last night at the barre. You might think that doing a whole class of relevés would be easier than normal, but you'd be wrong. In fact, I think my feet hurt more than they ever have. Apparently my teacher recently brought home a copy of the Pointe Book and now she's all excited about trying out the exercises it recommends. I can't imagine how the girls on pointe are feeling today, I was on demi-pointe and I feel like a train wreck!



* this word is usually pronounced "fye-ee" in ballet but "file" in most fabric situations. I bet in France they don't say it either way! In fact, I just looked it up! I was right! Check it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hardly Workin'

I chickened out of master class on Tuesday. Well, it wasn't really so much a chicken-outing as a "there is no way in hell this is going to work out for me so I think I will just skip it"-outing. So I spent the night at home with my husband and kitties. An evening of reflection and family togetherness, if you will. Mostly what it means is that Thursday's back-to-back classes kicked my ass six ways to Sunday (of Sunday? from Sunday? I've heard it so many different ways. Almost SIX ways, I would venture.) I'm still sore. My shin splints, thankfully calm the last few months, flared up right as we were starting grande allegro. And then my foot chimed in after pre-pointe class like "what the crap do you think you are even doing, woman? This foot was made for walkin'. Walkin' not goaty-footing around like Miss Thang. Knock it off."
Why the heck does taking a few DAYS off of ballet make going back feel like the longest, hardest slog on the planet? I can't even imagine attending a studio that gives it's students the entire season off. I would just turn in to a big blob of goo over the Summer and when I came back I would probably have a heart attack.
Someone I work with often tells the tale of working at a ballet company during a Winter storm. The studio was shut down due to flooding or something and the dancers freaked out because they couldn't fathom not going to class. I can sort of see that, actually.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Small House of Uncle Thomas

The theater where I work recently (like a week ago) staged the King and I. I think I saw the movie once when I was 17 and staying at someone's house to watch their cat while they were out of town. That was back when I was terribly industrious and used to get house sitting jobs to earn extra cash. At night I would sit around with the cat and watch my employer's video collection (remember when we all watched videos?) or read their books (Memoirs of a Geisha SUCKED, by the way) . Anyway. So, I saw it ages ago and aside from "Shall We Dance" (buh-dum-dum-dum) and the king dropping dead at the end the only part I really remembered was the ballet version of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the middle. Because it is SO freakin' weird, yo.
So. I went to see the dress rehearsal and found to my surprise that the crazy ballet is actually the best part of the entire show. Maybe I just have a greater appreciation for the dancers and details now, or maybe the antiquated /romanticized/borderline racisty stuff is just more glaring at 32 than it was at 17.
There is a bit when Eliza and the angel are walking across the frozen lake that involves all these little scootchy foot movements across the stage. As I watched all I could think was "I bet people think that is easy, but that shit looks HARDCORE to me". I totally had to try it when I got home. It TOTALLY IS hard! Dang!

This isn't us, but it's the best production I could find on Youtube. The scootchy feet are about halfway through.

PS: am I the only one who really only knows the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin through this movie? Sure, we talked about it in history classes when I was in school, but it's not like people actually READ the darn thing these days.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Master Class

My regular Tuesday class was replaced this week by a master class taught by a former NYCB dancer. I tossed the idea around all weekend before finally deciding to go for it and attend the master class. It was ... quite a thing.
Barre went well enough. We had something like 22 students in attendance, so there were a lot of people smushed in to nooks and crannies. With four portable barres of various sizes all set up at once I mostly spent the latter half of barre trying not to smack or be smacked by my regular teacher, who was taking class along with us (and showing us up, mostly. It was adorable, though, she was having a really great time and was so very excited) and the person standing behind her. Center was... well. It was. Mostly it was an exercise in futility. I did a lot of flailing around and very little to impress anyone. We weren't going for any new steps, really, but my old enemy (speed) was working against me in full force.
At the end of it all I was quite ready to be done, honestly. Not that I didn't learn some things. I definitely have some new food for thought. For example: petite allegro (never my strong suit, but improving slowly) should focus on pushing down in to the floor rather than bouncing up. I hadn't thought of that before, so as soon as I have an opportunity to actually think about ANYTHING while attempting petite allegro I will try to keep it in mind.
Will I be taking master class again next Tuesday? The jury is out on that one, check back after I've recovered my pride a little bit.
When I got home I googled our instructor for the evening. Here he is in all his professional glory:
Intimidated? ONLY IN RETROSPECT.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How can they see with SEQUINS in their eyes?

For the past several weeks we've been doing this horrific dégagé combination at the barre. It involves counting and it's ridiculous and no one ever gets it right. Well, last night I freakin' NAILED that son of a bitch. That is right, STONE COLD NAILED IT. Well, on the first side, anyway. The left side will get there in it's own sweet time. Which isn't to say the rest of class went beautifully, but you have to seize your triumphs when they present themselves.

Last night I actually saw my teacher wearing pointe shoes! It was pretty astounding. Usually you won't catch ballet teachers within a mile of a pointe shoe, regardless of the class they are teaching. In fact, I could have sworn I once heard her say she wouldn't be caught dead in them (I believe the exact words were "wild horses could not drag me back in to pointe shoes") but there she was! Also: girlfriend straight up uses scotch tape on her toes. That ranks up there with folded up cheap paper towels, which I have also seen.
While she and the pointe students (I am the only person on flat in that class, now. Don't I just feel special) were all sitting on the lobby floor putting on their shoes I was standing alertly in the corner, absorbing their ribbon-tying instructions on the not-even-at-all sly. She looked at me and said "aw, RPrin. Do you feel left out?" and I was like "naw, naw. It's all good. I am learning from you guys" and she mentioned that she did not want to put me en pointe while I am still working at the theater (the season ends next month, and I go back to maybe-sorta earning a living from home for the next nine months) because it would be "a recipe for disaster". I wonder, do I really seem that harried and out of it right now? I mean, I AM harried and out of it, because I have to tube feed a cat at 6am and midnight every day. But STILL. I like to think I present an image of having my shit together.
It makes me think of one of my favorite songs (which, holy crap, we are staging at work this Summer. I am pretty excited.) I try to live the dream, man:

Obviously I am not doing such a great job of it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shut Up and Dance

Sometimes, invariably at the barre, the teacher will show a combination and it all looks simple enough. UNTIL. Until someone has a question about it, and the answer confuses someone else, and the explanation of the answer confuses the first person again plus four or five other people. And the teacher says "okay, enough! Let's just do it and see what happens!" and someone who is More Serious Than You argues that without understanding the proper choreography the entire thing is wasted... and by the time we actually get around to attempting the silly thing no one has any idea what is going on. EVEN THE TEACHER. And now everyone at the barre is doing something different and all you can hope for is a quick transition to the next exercise. Because DAMN.

Also: PMS

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Splits

So. My teacher recently instituted a break between barre and center work where we are all supposed to stretch. Which sounds great, because I really miss the guided stretches at the end of my level 1-2 classes and have no self discipline so nothing ever gets stretched at home. But we are all supposed to be using this time to work on our splits. And I decided a few months back that A) There is basically no way in hell I am ever going to be able to accomplish the splits, and B) I am okay with that.
Now, hear me out.
I did try at it for a little while (okay, for a week or two back in November), because I was all inspired by other adult dancers and their splitty achievements. But... I realized it wasn't really a goal for me. A Goal with a capital G.
You know what I really want to be able to do? Fold in half. Like this:


or like this:
from I Have No Idea Where. Let me know if you do.

It looks easy, but it's not! Try it! I (occasionally, you know, when I remember) work on this and I can get my hands flat against the floor but closing that distance between the chest and the legs is a lot harder than it looks at first blush.
To heck with your splits, man! I couldn't even do the splits when I was a kid. And I was a super flexible kid! I was one of those that can hook her feet behind her head FOR NO REASON KNOWN TO MAN. But still! No splits! In class tonight I actually heard (and FELT HOLY COW) something in my hip go TWANG! while doing these split-achieving stretches in class. Can't we do stretches at the barre? I am okay with stretches at the barre that make my parts go twang. But on the floor? ARGH.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Understanding Your Limitations

Knowing and understanding your limitations has been on my mind, lately. While stretching at the barre at the end of class the other day one of the students (we've been in class together since the very start) was talking to our teacher about taking more classes. Two days per week just isn't enough! Etcetera. And the jealous little demon whispered to me "I love dancing. I want to take class more, too! I am just as dedicated! I want to advance like she is!" but really...
The fact is that I enjoy spending some of my evenings at home with my husband, going out to see shows, or visiting friends. Class every day would be too much like a job. No one wants that. I have a job I actually love, which is more than most people can say, but you know what? Sometimes (a LOT of the time) I don't want to do THAT, either. I don't want to feel that way about dancing. I want to look forward to it. Because seriously? Sometimes? I get a little worn out and have to drag myself in to class. I am always glad I went, after the fact, but getting there can be a real struggle against my lazier and more fatalistic tendencies.
And then there is the physical stuff. I want to push myself. I want to get better as quickly as possible. But my body is old and broken and requires a certain amount of TLC just to get out of bed on some mornings. It gets exhausted really easily (really really easily). Things get pulled or thrown out of whack at the least provocation. That toe joint on my left foot is prone to flare ups. My knees, my hips, my shins. I have so many parts that don't work properly anymore.
So, while it's hard (or annoying, take your pick) to watch people that I started class with lapping me at the barre, it's also not really anything I can fix. I can't push too hard physically, or I might mess myself up or speed the degeneration of my condition to the point that I can't dance at all. I don't have to prove that I am dedicated by giving up my myriad other hobbies and interpersonal relationships. My BFF isn't in to ballet. I'd like to go see shitty movies with her once in a while. My cats need petting. My husband needs snuggling. There are rose bushes to prune, blogs to write (hello, yes, this is one of my hobbies), corsets to sew. I have a whole art project that I have barely started on, moving boxes that have yet to be unpacked.
Know your limitations.
Understand them.
Accept them.
Keep dancing. Keep writing. Keep working. Keep going.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pre-pointe: how it went down

Okay, so pre-pointe class. How was it? Brutal. Stone. Cold. Brutal. But I lived to tell the tale! After a full 1 1/2 hour technique class I limped in to pre-pointe. It was pretty fun, actually. Lots of strength building. Relevés at the barre. Piqué arabesques. Chaînés. You get the picture. Lots of stuff where you are hanging out on your toes. Which is good, because I actually really enjoy that strengthening stuff. Whenever the teacher says "time for piqué roll downs" or "okay, put your leg up on the barre" everyone else groans and I go "awesome! Let's do this thing!". By the time we hit that last set of continuous relevés on one foot, though, I was ready to call it a DAY.
Today I feel it in my hips more than I had expected. Probably because I was focusing really hard on proper placement when we were at the barre. Holding turn-out properly and rising directly over my second and third toes rather than wobbling up there like (let's face it, ladies) we usually do.
Today I feel like I've been in some sort of accident, only I paid for the privilege and I'm raring to go back and do it again next week! Ballet, guys. It's hard.
I gotta tell you, though. Do not pick a fight with a ballet dancer. All that tininess and fragile grace is a total illusion. She can probably kill you with one swift kick in the junk.

Related: ballet class is probably the only place where someone you don't know very well can walk up to you and stroke your inner thigh and be like "that is great, RPrin!*" and it isn't even awkward at all.

*new abbreviation for this blog's title. Because it takes too long to type the whole thing and I am king lazy bones. Looks a little like a celebrity couple name, but I promise not to divorce myself so it's okay.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pre-pointe!

So, I am going to take pre-pointe on Thursday. I've decided. I asked and it was okay. I think 3 solid hours of class will probably kill me but I am going to give it a go.
On Tuesday I got to witness the pointe "test" for a couple of my classmates. 32 relevés on each individual foot, one at a time. 32! No barre. And balance/placement count. I died just watching it. Four people took the test, two passed it. I think I will go sit down with my compression socks for a while and just pretend I don't know what is in store for me.
I have a bunch of make up classes that will carry me through the next two months+ without paying extra tuition for the pre-pointe class. Because FO SHO our vet bills right now are STUPID expensive. This cat can start eating on her own again any old time. I found myself working overtime today and thinking "hmm. Well. Two hours of overtime equals three pointe classes." which probably says something.
Also, I guess I am going to be doing relevés every time I go to the bathroom for a while.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DOLLIES!

One of my many (many MANY) great loves is paper dolls. I was poodling around online reading an article on the subject when I came across these: antique Marie Taglioni paper dolls.

Here's the one in the article.

And here is a link to many more fabulous costumes, as well as back story type stuff. It's pretty great.






Sunday, July 14, 2013

Selfies Because Tutu

I apologize, but the following post is pretty darn gratuitously narcissistic. You have been warned.

I didn't want to put the tutu on. It just happened. You know how it is.
Decent posture, kid, but you look pretty grumpy. Also: pinky fingers WHAT.

I'm coy because I am leaning against the wall.

Channeling Anna Pavlova (ignore my foot in coupé, it knows better than that. On the other hand
I would like to send this image out into the intervoid
with the title "SUCK IT, RHEUMATISM AND SCOLIOSIS!"
I know it's not that amazing compared to a lot of dancers, but I
am pretty damn impressed with myself)
 OH THE TRAGEDY! (don't look at those feet, either)
This is probably the most honest picture of myself I have ever taken.

PS: those sequined straps suck and itch like the devil.
And they aren't even cute. What a gyp.







Friday, July 12, 2013

Commando Like a Ballerina

This week was a grand experiment in underthingies. I am an underwear girl, I just am. But, dancers don't do the underwear thing. I decided to try it out when I had to skip a week of laundry and was down to one pair of Spanx to wear in lieu of proper shorts or a leotard. Well, I gave it two classes and I have a verdict: meh.
With regular tights it was pretty much standard operating conditions down there, but with mesh tights it was a lot less cozy and a lot more wedgie-making. I refuse to search for the proper word, there. Wedgie is as wedgie does.
Anyway, so that is how the experiement went. You know. In case you needed to know that for some reason.

In other news: our car got a flat tire yesterday and I only got to class by running to catch a commute train and squeaking in right as the previous class was ending. I would probably have just skipped it and stayed home but I have missed my Thursday class for the past two weeks (one because it was Independence Day, the other because I was an emotional wreck after dropping my cat off at the vet for 48 hours to have god-knows-what done to her) and I was in no mood to miss another. Annoyingly, I also had to take the train home afterward. Which I didn't have time to think about in advance. So I rode home in a sweaty leotard and pink tights. If I had thought about it I would have at least brought a sweater to toss on. As it was it was pretty embarrassing.
It reminded me of the pizza place. There is a pizza place that is on the way home from class so we only ever stop there when my husband has picked me up and we are going home. And we have been hitting it pretty hard the past couple of months because we've been all stressed out. But I only ever go in there in cutoff yoga pants and pink transition tights rolled up to my ankles and a sweaty leotard. They must think I just dress that way.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The courage of men TOTALLY fails

Sitting up late nursing a headache and waiting for the cat to calm down so I can administer subcutaneous fluids (YUCK, guys. Yuck.) and watching grainy and slightly (okay more than slightly) crooked videos of our studio's ballet recital (last Saturday) on YouTube. Thinking to myself oh how pretty they all look! And also OH I am glad I didn't try to do that. Seriously, guys. I get lost during tendus at the barre, trying to remember an actual ballet variation would be an exercise in ridiculousness. Especially right now with the moving and the cat stuff (and the gas tank on my commute vehicle being drained on two out of the past 3 work day mornings, and the plumbers in and out of the place every other day, and the having to work overtime several days a week, and and and...) I don't think my brain has room for choreography.
Maybe someday (as Aragorn once said) but it is not this day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Catting Around

I've been a bit scarce lately because life has been stressful to the point of overwhelming. Along with my ulcer, my Summer work schedule starting, and moving to a new apartment (which has neighbors that party loudly until about 5am on work nights. So great.) one of our cats has been deathly (not exaggerating) ill. She was our big fatty fat pants, but as soon as we moved she promptly stopped eating and dropped a third of her body weight within a few weeks. After many MANY trips to several different vets (and a whole damn lot of money. But whatever, we totally didn't want to buy a car anyway, right?) she finally came home with a feeding tube (temporary, thank god) and a diagnoses:
SHE HAS RHEUMATISM.
I will now give you a moment to let that sink in.

Done? Okay.
So, the good news is that it's totally treatable and when she starts a course of medication (to treat the inflammation in her digestive system) she should start feeling better pretty quickly. And this explains a lot. For example, she has always been slightly bulimic and has a pretty obvious lack of flexibility that we have often wondered about (cat rheumatoid arthritis?).
Now. Can we talk about how it took five thousand dollars and a team of five dedicated veterinary specialists two weeks to diagnose my cat's rheumatism... but after 8 or 9 years and countless visits to my human doctors Kaiser still refuses to even perform the tests necessary to properly diagnose my own rheumatism?
Ahem.
Yeah.
You would think that being a human being who can talk and describe symptoms and provide family history would make it easier, not harder.
You'd think.

(on a totally tangential ballet note: we were discussing grande pas de chat in class on Tuesday and someone translated it as "really big cat". So. Uhmm... there you go.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

What's Up? CHICKEN BUTT!

So, last week at work we were working on tutus and leotards for a play that opened over the weekend. The tutus started life as very generic and plain little white classical rehearsal tutus that we added trim to and fitted with pockets (for holding the confetti. They were snowflakes, you dig?). What we ran out of time for before dress rehearsal was tacking the layers of netting together (because for some reason the shop doesn't have a tacking gun? Really? How hard is that?). I sincerely hope the other people in the shop managed to get them tacked properly before the show opened because at rehearsal they were causing a serious case of "chicken butt".
You know. Chicken butt. Where an untacked tutu flips up instead of standing straight out from the hips and makes you look like you have a little birdy bottom. I searched on Google for hours trying to find a photo of this phenomenon, but to no avail. For some reason the search term "chicken butt tutu" simply does NOT bring you the kind of images I was looking for.
It was with some amusement, then, that I saw the incomparable folks at tutu.com post this photo over the weekend, of a person wearing an untacked tutu and suffering from chicken butt syndrome:
Chicken butt.
Maybe you need to have seen a lot of chicken's butts for this description to make sense.
Funnily enough, though, I was just searching for a picture of a plain white rehearsal tutu to link to above when I came across this photo on Ebay of a model trying desperately to pretend that her tutu hasn't got a case of the chicken butt. But we aren't fooled:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dancers Do It In (Sweaty) Tights

Things I have done in pink tights and a sweaty leotard:

Go grocery shopping (but who hasn't, amiright?)
Pick up pizza for dinner (in fact, I only ever go in to that place in ballet clothes, they must think I just dress that way)
Perform the art of motorcycle maintenance (no zen, though)
Force feed a sick cat (my husband asked "oh no, are you sure you want to do this in your ballet clothes?" and I'm like "seriously? They can't get any grosser than they already are. A little critical care cat food and a soupçon of cat nausea medication is not going to make much difference.")

On a similar note: last week I was trying to close my car door without using my hands because I was carrying a big old pizza, and I smashed the back of my leg really badly with the bottom corner of the door. 9 days later I still have a massive rainbow-hued lump on my leg. But the ballet tights I was wearing that took the full force of the blow? Not a scratch on 'em.
Best garment ever? I think so.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Saut de What*

22 students in class tonight! Good grief! Where did they all come from? It was the single largest class I have ever attended at this studio. We made do, but there was a certain amount of careful avoidance of other people's legs involved.
Tonight I finally nailed (once in a while, anyway) saut de basque. I've been struggling with it because apparently you can't teach me a damn thing without a certain amount of struggle. Which is nice, I guess, but seeing me successfully pull it off got my teacher back on the kick of encouraging me to perform. I don't really want to perform! I don't have a head for choreography. You can tell me a sequence of three steps and I will successfully only remember one and a half. Aside from being awkward and shy I simply don't really want to be on stage at this point in my life. That ship has sailed, honey. Let me make some new recital costumes or something, I am good at that.**

I would also like to say: Assemblé and cabrioles? A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!



*see what I did there? Eh? Eh?

**by which I mean that I did all of my struggling with it many years ago. College: it's awesome except that it isn't even at all. There is a lot of coffee involved and you cry a lot because you aren't perfect at everything. OR MAYBE THAT WAS JUST ME.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

So, what did you do at work today?

I did this:

I have the best job.

That is what a classical tutu looks like from underneath, in case you didn't recognize it. It's also EXACTLY as much of a pain in the ass to wrangle through a sewing machine as you would think. I also made little white leotards with sparkly business to go along with it. I am going to rehearsal tonight specifically to see what the heck is going on with these things.

I also shared a nice conversation with one of my coworkers about starting ballet as an adult. She started pointe at 38! That is my goal: pointe before I'm 40. At first my goal was "pointe before Jenny" Jenny being my young niece-in-law who was taking ballet lessons (name changed to protect the innocent), but I'm not sure she's stuck with it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

praise in high places

E-mail I got from my teacher this morning:
"You are looking stronger and stronger in class. I'm really impressed by your progress. I keep forgetting to tell you this when you are in class, so now I've done it and you know what I'm seeing."
WHAAAAT?
Girl, you know I am one of the worst people in class, but thank you anyway.
It all went to my head a little bit and I found myself volunteering to alter and hem four slippy-slimy satin circle skirts by Tuesday. That's right, people, the way to make me volunteer to do gross chores for you is to say nice things about me. As a particularly ill-contrived* ex of mine used to say "flattery will get you everywhere".

* the relationship was ill-contrived, not him. I mean, maybe he was, I don't know. I didn't feel comfortable asking his mom those kind of questions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

No.

No, foot. No no no no no. I do not need another body part to be in constant pain. Especially not my foot. Knock it the hell off, foot, I want to take pre-pointe on Thursday.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

You know it happens

There are times when you find that perfect balance. It just sticks and you feel like you could hold that position all night if they asked you to. And you're like:
Look at me! I am a mother fucking fairy, bitches!
That's right, people! I can SO balance in coupé derriere. For like, EVER. And then for the rest of the night you can hardly even stand upright on both feet.
Sigh...

Monday, June 3, 2013

NSAIDs: A Cautionary Tale

So. How have you guys been? I spent my weekend feeling like death on toast. The NSAID (anti-inflammatory medication I take twice a day for my rheumatism) that I've been using for the past 9 months or so landed me in the hospital on Saturday night.
Friday morning I was fine. I even ate a sensible salad for lunch and took a short bike ride with my dad. But at about 2pm I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming feeling like I'd just been speared through the chest, right at the base of my thorax. I tried to wait it out but I couldn't sleep at all that night and after a short stint at work on Saturday morning it was quickly becoming evident that it was here to stay. I immediately figured it was probably an ulcer but couldn't get any over the counter remedies to help. I called the Kaiser advice hotline to ask if I could get in to see my doctor any time soon. I got transferred around for a while and they told me they'd call me back later in the day.
So I talked to a very twitchy little doctor on the phone at about 5pm. She was the kind of confused and baffled doctor that instills a real sense of security and faith in a patient. Regardless of the fact that the Kaiser website states that "ulcers can cause nausea, dizziness, and intense pain radiating in to the back" she urged me quite vehemently to hurry down to the ER, which I did. Well, sort of... because FOR REALIOS WOMAN it is an ulcer not a heart attack. Yes, I am dizzy. Probably because I HAVE AN ULCER. I should not have to guide you to these things. I actually had to reassure her at one point that stomach bleeding goes along with the whole ulcer thing, so even if I was dizzy I probably didn't actually have a terrible ruptured whatever-the-hell.
Sigh.
I did eventually get to the ER (about 5 hours later), mostly because I know that the regular clinic would take several days to run labs and the ER would run them in less than two hours. And the sooner I got this you-know-what over and done with the better (theater season just started. Ain't nobody got time for that.) They hooked me up to an EKG machine and put so many stickers all over my body that I am still not sure if I got them all off. There must have been six just on my left boob. I felt awkward, not for myself but for the poor nurse who had to cover me in boob stickers. Obviously it's her job and all, but it still must be contrary to your sense of social propriety. My own sense of social propriety ends at the point when I have to hold a little plastic barf bag and wear a gown with the butt all open, sorry. The doctor came in and we had a brief conversation about how it's basically almost certainly an ulcer (or gastritis, the precursor to an ulcer) and you can point your finger straight to my shitty rheumatologist for refusing to TREAT my ACTUAL condition and instead leaving me hanging on high doses of particularly nasty NSAIDs for several years running. He scrunched up his face when he laughed and he was terribly young. I felt old and silly and wished that my husband was there (they forgot to tell him it was okay to see me after the EKG, so I was basically hangin' out there in my boob stickers by myself for an hour) because otherwise my ER quiet room wit (which consisted mainly of pretending my large penis-shaped barf bag was, in fact, a large blue penis while trying to interpret the oddly coded ER intercom announcements) was utterly wasted (hey man, it was late and I felt like hell, okay?). I eye-balled the spare rolls of exam table paper in the cabinet. Because you know what exam table paper is great for? Pattern making.
Eventually they made me drink three small shots of tutti-frutti flavored lidocaine (they tasted like Satan, basically) and sent me home. Two IVs for nothing, man (one in my right arm that didn't work out properly that has left me with an aching blue bruise the size of a golf ball, and one in my left by a slightly more competent nurse). I tell ya what, guys. IVs suck.
I still feel non-stop nauseous, hopefully the heavier-duty acid control pills I now have to take (every morning. That makes 8 pills PER DAY, now) will do me some good. I'm not allowed to have caffeine or chocolate (I think I might cry, guys) or tomatoes or ... well. Anything good. I can eat oatmeal (without milk, naturally) and brown rice. I guess I can add some thrilling tofu in there for protein.
I already had a chocolate chip cookie. One a day can't kill me.
My husband brought home Mexican for dinner. It was a very sweet gesture. But for reals.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

tututututututu too two to

I spent all yesterday (and all this morning, too) working on recital costumes.
Well, you don't just have a tutu around the house without trying it on, do you?
yes, this picture was taken in front of a door. WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Liebster Post. Finally.

Okay, okay. I will finally post this Leibster award entry before anyone else can nominate me and thereby give me more questions to answer!
Here is how it works: A blogger "nominates" you and you have to give 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions given to you by the blogger, and nominate another 11 blogs (that have fewer than 200 followers). While I am far too lazy and mainstream to actually have a list of 11 up-and-coming young blogs to link you to, I will at least give you 11 blogs to check out, that (as far as I know) have not been Liebstered yet. Thank you to Mercie et Chatons, Barre Barre Black Sheep, and The Traveling Dancer for the nominations and questions (the rest of you may skip this ridiculously long post if you want, I won't judge):
 
11 random facts about me:

1) If I could only eat one type of meal for the rest of my life it would be fresh fruit and french bread with butter. But if I could only eat one THING it would be raspberries.
2) I honestly do not care which way round the toilet paper is facing. For heaven's sake, why do people get so uptight about it?
3) The topper on my wedding cake was a black Dalek and a white Dalek.
4) I can float well enough to stay alive, but I never learned to swim.
5) I have no problem with creepy crawlies and have been known to gently nudge a rattlesnake with a stick to get it off the road, but I will NOT touch cockroaches and I will only take horn worms off my tomato plants via the "clip off the entire branch they are sitting on and throw it over the fence" method (but that is mostly because they make that awful noise! SO GROSS!).
6) I can juggle. I taught myself from a book when I was a teenager. It impresses the hell out of people and hey! Party trick!
7) Except in cases of unusual or extreme circumstance (camping, staying at someone's house, hotel, new apartment that I haven't had a chance to clean thoroughly yet...) I only take baths, never showers. I HATE showers. They make me feel cold and you have to go through all sorts of contortions just to wash all your bits. Forget that.
8) I have nearly no sense of direction. I still need a GPS to get to ballet class if I take the freeway instead of surface streets. I can get home just fine, however.
9) My middle name is Marie, after Marie Curie. Back when I was working retail I once wore a T-shirt with Marie Curie on it and a customer asked me if she was "that famous hooker" (tangentially, my sister was named after a botanist. Sadly, neither of us pursued science. We are both artists. Sorry, Mom!)
10) I wrote two novels when I was a teenager. They are both so bad I shudder to think of them ever being read by another human being.
11) My favorite bands of all time are They Might Be Giants and the Magnetic Fields. But I am pretty sure I'm not a hipster because I never do anything ironically.

from Merci et Chatons:
  1. If you could ride any animal fictional/dead/alive what would it be? A velociraptor. Obviously. I would keep him in my yard and paint his talons with sparkly nail polish and he could eat intruders. I would ride him to work and I would never be stuck in traffic again.
  2. If money was no problem, where would you vacation in the world first? Well, it's not an exotic dream locale, but I would like to just explore up and down the coast of California for a while, then up through Washington and Oregon. Eventually I would like to visit England/Scotland, Switzerland, and Sweden.
  3. Do you like sparkly things? Who doesn't like sparkly things? I mean, come on.
  4. Can and will you draw me a picture? I'm on my laptop right now, so sorry. 
  5. If you have to fart in public how do you go about doing it? a) crop dust b) go into seclusion c) blame it on the innocent. I didn't realize these were all such carefully planned options. I guess just hope no one notices?
  6. If sharks could talk, like in Finding Nemo, and you only got one question, what would it be? I don't really have any deep personal questions I need to explore with a shark, really. And I am pretty shy, so it would probably be something like "hey. Nice weather we're having?"
  7. If you were asked to perform a dance in space, would you? I was actually just thinking about this while reading Packing For Mars, (which is a pretty interesting book, actually, and not nearly the epic drag you might expect from the description.) And I was thinking about how, in zero gravity (or the approximation of zero gravity as induced via freefall) all your muscles would have to work in very different ways. You could finally achieve that glorious extension, because you wouldn't have to work so hard just to hold it up there. Of course, there are some really interesting possibilities with tippy toes and graceful launching of oneself off of stationary objects. But also, even a regular person's body gets pretty jacked up in space, and I imagine that a dancer's body would be doubly so. Luckily, if the trip was a short one it wouldn't be too much of a long-term problem, but otherwise we are talking possibly irreversible bone damage (not to mention exposure to much higher levels of radiation than you might think). And then I read that they don't take showers up there, they just use moisty wipes. And then I said never mind.
  8. What are your favorite barre/floor combinations? We usually don't do combinations more than a time or two before switching to something else, but since the class is working on recital stuff right now we've got a few routines. The bit from Les Sylphides is probably my favorite, but mostly because the Raymonda thing requires a partner and my partner and I keep shocking each other whenever we touch. ZAP!
  9. If you could slap a celebrity for their idiocy, which one(s)? Jim Carrey and Jenny McWhatserface. Mostly for their outrageous and ill-informed anti-vaccination crusade. Seriously, people, celebrities are not doctors. Do NOT listen to them.
  10. Salad dressing on or on the side? Side. Because I don't like very much of it.
  11. Glass half full or empty? Half broken.
From the Traveling Dancer:
  1. What is your best recommendation for new bloggers? Find a theme and stick to it. You'll be amazed how many topics you can cover in the course of exploring your theme. Also? You have to choose a theme that you WANT to write about. That you will write about regardless of whether or not anyone else bothers to read it. Your blog should, first and foremost, be for you.
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Mendocino, CA. Does that sound horribly boring? Because it probably is. But, I love it there and spend a week there every year. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that moving away from my ballet studio would be traumatic, and there aren't any really amazing ones down in that area if my internet research isn't steering me wrong.
  3. What types of posts and blogs do you tend to comment on the most? Ones that I actually have something to say about.
  4. Favorite youtube dance clip? Definitely the parotia bird.
  5. Would you give up your day job to dance? Professionally? No, I know what a professional dancer's life is like, and I wouldn't be interested in that so much these days.
  6. What is your favorite dance studio? The unassumingly named Ballet Studio.
  7. Do you like being corrected in class/what type of corrections work best for you? Hells yes! You won't improve if no one corrects you! Gentle physical manipulation is good (note: not running behind me shoving me forward or grabbing my leg and hiking it up waaaay past my ability to actually hold it in place. Both of which I have experienced from some teachers) and spoken explanations are also good. Even just standing next to me and demonstrating.
  8. Favorite book? Favorite quote? I read a lot so I can't really pick out just one. My favorite series are the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Diane Duane's Young Wizards novels. I have a particular fondness for classics, as well as fun and fluffy books that do not follow the "modern lit" template of a deeply unlikable main character and an awkward sex scene that serves no purpose within the plot. Favorite quote: always changing. 
  9. Best snack between class? Peanut butter toast with honey. Plus lots of water.
  10. What’s your favorite leotard? (brand, style, color) totally not any of the ones I actually own right now. I am really drawn to the ones with mesh or lace bits, but I can't stand the kind that have super open backs. And I prefer black, because I am boring.
  11. Best advice you wish would have known when you were younger? It doesn't matter. Seriously. Let it go. No one will be less proud of you. (I'm still working on that, though)
And last but not least, the questions from Barre Barre Black Sheep:
  1. What do you hope to get out of blogging? I created this blog as a way to continue writing non-fiction prose (which is one of my great loves) after my regular personal blog at LiveJournal.com basically went under. Everyone abandoned ship to Facebook. At the time the only things I really wanted to write about were my health problems and my new ballet class, so that is what I did here! I eventually went back to my personal blog, as well. Mostly for bitching about stuff.
  2. What is your dream job? I would like to do exactly what I am doing now, only it sure would be nice if people would give me money for it.
  3. Do you bulk-blog and schedule the posts, or do you post as you write? Sometimes I write more than one post in a day so I schedule the second one to kick in a day or two later. I often start writing something three or four times and let it default in to my drafts folder before I actually figure out what it is I am trying to say and how I would like to communicate that.
  4. What three words would your best friend use to describe you on your best day? My best friend is delusional. She thinks I have my shit together in a way that I most decidedly do not. She would say that I am cool and wise and funny or something... and I so am not those things.
  5. What is the one thing you want to improve on before the end of 2013? I would like to improve my productivity. HOWEVER, my shop business has been painfully slow over the past few months, so I am taking a bit of a break right now. There is no use making all this stuff if no one is buying it, right? It's all very frustrating.
  6. What's your biggest regret in life? I do not regret choices I've made or things I have done. I do not regret people I have loved or places I've been. My only regrets are my personal reactions and emotional responses to those situations.
  7. What do you think is the best way to increase readership of your blog? Reading other people's blogs and commenting in useful and thoughtful ways. Don't just go to someone's blog and leave a totally unrelated post comment saying "visit my blog to see what I wrote about cat food, today!" That annoys the hell out of me.
  8. What caused you to start blogging? My first blogging experience was with my personal blog. I started it as a way to connect with people during a particularly painful and difficult phase in my life.
  9. I'm obviously a fan of your blog; have you ever read mine? Just curious. I do! In fact, I just read it, which inspired me to get off my butt and post this before the questions section could become any longer than it already is!
  10. What's the best advice you've ever received? My father once told me to never hesitate to apologize.
  11. Where do you hope your blog will be one year from now? Oh, just like it is only I'll be telling you all about the amazing craftsman house I just bought and the incredibly lucrative design contract I just signed and, of course, the fabulous new treatment for rheumatism that my doctor's have designed just for me. Haaaaaaa.

Okay, here are my questions for other people, I suspect most of them will not answer, but there you go:
  1. What is your musical guilty pleasure?
  2. A movie or book you liked but no one else does?
  3. A musician/artist/etc that everyone else thinks is amazing but you just don't "get"?
  4. Do you read any children's/YA books now that you are a grown up? Which ones and why?
  5. What is your favorite board game?
  6. You've just inherited 10 million dollars. What do you do?
  7. What is your favorite holiday? Season? 
  8. What modern amenity or technology could you never live without?
  9. What is your snack food of choice?
  10. A period in history that you are particularly interested in?
  11. You can travel back in time and give your younger self a hug. Would you?

OKAY. Now. For blogs that I "nominate".
To be honest, I don't even know how I would find out the readership numbers of other blogs, so I am just going to pretend that the rules state "nominate 11 blogs you like" rather than "11 blogs with less than 200 readers".
So.
Here are some good blogs, guys (ballet blogs in bold):
  1. Linnea's Garden (she's my sister and a botanical illustrator)
  2. The Ornamented Being (costuming)
  3. Dancing Over The Hill
  4. The Offbeat Chronicles of a Tutu With Tea
  5. Enchanted Doll (dolly related, do not click if you think dolls are creepy)
  6. The Inner Ballerina
  7. Little Girls R Better at Designing Heroes Than You
  8. Knit Two, Pointe Two, Bake Two Together
  9. Fashion in So (Star Trek and fashion)
  10. EPBOT (geeks and girly stuff)
  11. Leotards and the Buns in Them