Category Archives: life

Happy holidays!

This made my holiday season. It has everything this blog loves: the adult beginner dancer (Stephen Colbert), Asian American ballet dancers (Hee Seo), and amazing technique (David Halberg). Stephen’s tours en l’air are not too shabby for a ballet newbie, don’t you think?!

In the other news category:

It’s been a zany past few months. I can tell you that I’ve moved in with Mr. Apricot, purchased and furnished an entire house, and acquired an adorable if exhausting puppy (Chewbacca). Some major life changes, but all for the best and things are finally starting to feel normal again. Today, for instance, was spent baking cheesecake, eating Christina Tosi’s astonishing corn cookies, and introducing Chewbacca to swimming for the first time. Which, of course, led to the obligate bath, and an afternoon nap.

I’ve been attending the intermediate ballet class at work (yes, awesomely enough, my employer offers beginning/intermediate ballet classes at its gym. Also, jazz!). But that’s barely enough to maintain technique. One of my new year’s resolutions is to start going to ballet again at least twice a week. Dear readers, do you have any ballet (or general life-related) resolutions for 2012?

All is not lost

All is not lost.

I’m moving into a new house in San Francisco. My boyfriend–to be referred to now as Mr. Apricot–is busily overseeing inspections, mortgage applications, etc. etc.–while I plot decor and the like. I am not finding too much time to dance these days (down to one class a week–egads!), but will make a better effort come close of escrow, post unpacking! There’s a small chance the purchase won’t go through, but it’s looking like we’ll actually be seeing the close of escrow on the earlier side, which will be mid to late September. So, my dear friends, I will see you in October!

Where I’ve been

It’s been awhile, eh? I know that my posting is sporadic at best, but I have a decent excuse. In the past two months or so, I’ve been interviewing for a new job. I was on pins and needles much of the time. That didn’t leave much time for dance class, much less blogging!

But all went well, and in a few short weeks, I’ll be working for this little company:

I’m excited. Partly because (aside from the whole best company in the world, etc. etc. etc.), I’ll be close to this place. And can start dancing again in earnest.

Here’s to new beginnings!!

A world of hurt; or, it’s amazing what the human body can do

Had been planning to go to Lines’ Dance Center’s all-you-can-dance ($5 for 4 1/2 hours!) with Lisa for a few weeks now. Sunday was the big day. Unfortunately, Saturday, I made the poor decision to down a 6 oz. serving of chai at about 4PM (I am extremely caffeine-sensitive), which resulted in me staying up for pretty much the ENTIRE NIGHT. I mentioned it to her as we were headed to Lines on Sunday that I had stayed up all night–oh, was it a hot date? No, I didn’t have a hot date. But my intestines had a hot date with my toilet.

So, on two hours of sleep, I barted over to SF with Lisa and stepped into class.

  1. Hip hop. I am not hip, and I do not hop. It was really enjoyable, though, despite the fact that the sight of myself in the mirror attempting to “look cool” was horrifying. Am soooo not a hip hop dancer, but it was super fun!
  2. Modern. Well, supposedly the day was geared towards beginning dancers, but this class was definitely much more a fast, fast, complicated intermediate, replete with slides and falls. It confirmed my hatred of floor work and therefore my firm commitment to ballet.
  3. Absolute beginning ballet. Not quite a real ballet class–no barres etc. Fine.
  4. Break! We actually munched on our sandwiches and bran muffins and chocolate in the conference room…it was kind of neat to try and imagine what kind of amazing, famous choreographers and dancers may have once graced that room…
  5. Musical theater. Fun!! Easy, not terribly strenuous except for the butt and thigh-murdering warm up routine, but cheesy. Very cute instructor with a beautiful tush.
  6. Flamenco cancelled…boo. But instead, a 45 min Chinese folk dancing class, which was really interesting. Not much in the way of explaining the steps…it was very much a follow-the-teacher-monkey-see-monkey-do class, which I suppose is quite right for these sorts of short, sampling type classes. Low impact, except for when I (accidentally) punched myself in the left leg.
  7. Jazz. I did maybe half this class, but was finally feeling the effects of no sleep and minimal food. So I sat down with Lisa and stretched for the second half.

After class we had a fabulously starchy dinner at a Chinese restaurant–three different kinds of noodles! Mine had roasted duck skin in it! Decadent and wholly satisfactory. I was flexing my legs under the table and thinking, gee, if I’m sore now, I’m going to be hurting tomorrow.

Today I feel like I have been run over by a garbage truck. Everything hurts. Still, I went to ballet this morning and am planning to go to class Tuesday and Thursday as well. I can’t even imagine how professional dancers do it…they do more than twice the hours we did, at a much much higher level. That, my friends, is why a few of my ballet teachers are still dancing and teaching class in their 80s.

hyperextension, and notes on ballet

***More detailed information in this more recent post!!!***

My ballet teacher told me yesterday that I have hyperextended legs, which makes it difficult for me to close my feet in fifth position. hyperextensionarabesque

See how their legs bend back at the knee? This is good and bad. It’s good in that hyperextension is considered aesthetically pleasing in that it elongates the line of the leg, and like having beautifully arched insteps (which I sadly do not also possess), it’s part of what gives ballet dancers that ballet “look.” It’s hard to find a professional ballerina who is not hyperextended. However, it also means that it’s much easier for me to injure my joints because they’re naturally extra-stretchy.

It’s good to know also because it explains why it’s so damn difficult for me to keep my feet in fifth position. And I thought it was leg chub this whole time.

Must be more diligent about warmups now. A girl snapped her achilles in class the week before last. You could hear the loud pop! and then a heavy thud as she crashed to the ground. Once you snap your achilles, that means surgery and 8-9 months of no dancing. And no walking without crutches, for that matter.

Overall, though, I am very pleased with my progress so far. Most people at the studio now assume that I had danced intensively as a child or teenager. But the greatest pleasure I’ve been getting out of ballet lately is the fact that it’s not academia. In reflecting on my what–3rd full year? in ballet, I realize what a relief it’s been as a stress reliever. Dancing is a wholly separate system of thought; it uses completely unfamiliar parts of the ole noggin. I can focus solely on breathing, movement, muscles, and music; there’s none of the achey immobile processing that rules most of my day.

It usually takes 3 hours for me to get to ballet, dance, and go home. I enjoy every second of the process, from the moment I climb onto the bus to my teacher’s corrections (“do it again”) to climbing off the┬ábus a few hours later. Next term, I hope to up classes to 4 a week, with pointe preparation classes.

I realize that I will never be “good enough” at ballet. To some degree, I will always suck. But it’s a refreshing reality check, because I don’t have to worry about perfection, as I do in my writing and academic work. Since I’ll never be good enough to be a professional, I can really just enjoy the challenge without the massive expectations of my adolescence (which hover now over my graduate studies).

Vive la danse!

experiments in self-medication

Sunday night, I felt an unwelcome prickle in my throat. By Monday, I was a snot machine on overdrive, and woke up every 30-60 minutes during the night to blow my nose and pound the mattress in frustration.

I am not one to use drugs; in fact, I avoid them as much as possible. If I have one of those rare headaches, I prefer to drink some herbal tea and wait it out (or sleep it away). However, this was a bad, bad situation, and led to a series of experiments with OTC drugs between yesterday and today.

1. Benadryl–left over from China trip. Expired in March 07…gave it a shot, in the throes of Monday night sinus headache + runny nose. No effect. Doubled dose; still no effect. Was that because they were expired? Or perhaps Benadryl does not work for me? I used them in China mainly to knock myself out during long bus/plane trips, so I can’t remember if it did a thing for runny nose and sinus shenanigans…

2. Sudafed–At teaching seminar today, a kindly classmate offered me a dose of the regular Sudafed (not the heavenly pseudoephedrine variety…more on this later). I proceed to leak and sniffle my way through class. No dice. Another friend sings the praises of the behind-the-counter version of Sudafed, which is locked away because meth makers like to use its active ingredient…hm.

3. Sudafed PE, Maximum Strength–Stumbled into grocery store after class, consult with pharmacist. Pharmacist suggests Sudafed PE, explaining that the BTC version of Sudafed recommended by my friend has been known to cause a racing heartbeat, nervousness, etc. He recommends the safer phenylephrine blend, and I dutifully purchase a box. At home, I swallow a tablet. Nothing really happens, though my headache subsides a bit, and my nose is as runny as ever. Argh! Frustration! Learn from my good friend wikipedia that phenylephrine is about as effective as a placebo.

4. Claritin-D–stomp into local CVS. Decide to throw caution to the wind and taste of the dark, heart-racing pleasures of pseudoephedrine. Select Claritin-D for its promise to resolve both congestion and runny nose. Head home. Check online for more information about Claritin, and learn about its tendency to cause massive, massive constipation. Ugh, no. Do a bit more research and come upon several positive reviews of some drug named Drixoral…

5. Drixoral–Return to the CVS and exchange the Claritin-D for Drixoral (and getting an irritated glance from the cashier–geez, what’s so bad about a return?). Go home. Decide to wait a half hour between letting the Sudafed PE expire and trying out the Drixoral. In that half hour, an intense pounding ensues in my temples, and my nostrils let loose. So I guess the Sudafed did something after all, though it didn’t do a whole lot (I was congested the whole damn day). I finally swallow a tablet of Drixoral. 30 minutes later, one side of my nose clears up, and the runny nose disappears. 1 1/2 later, and I am as clear as a summer sky. It is the holy grail of nasal decongestants, this drug called Drixoral. Sure, it makes me a wee bit manic, but look how much blogging I just did!

In short, if those Santa Ana winds are assaulting your respiratory system, look no further than Drixoral. Your nasal passages will thank you.

***update***

Woke up this morning with a slight headache, but the Drixoral was only supposed to last 12 hours…still, just a touch of congestion, and I can taste again! HuRRAH! Being a food lover, I must admit that the inability to taste is one of the worst parts of being sick :) I lurve Drixoral. Lurve it.