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."
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.


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.
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.

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.