Category Archives: balllet

Nine More Days

Yes, I’ve resorted to counting down the days until I’m cleared for all the things.

The problem is that I really want to do handstands for some reason. Like, right now.

Normally, when I want to do handstands, like, right now, I just do them. (Often, when this happens, it’s because I’m trying to think my way through a sticking point in my technique and my nonverbal mind thinks it’s on to something. Sometimes, though, it’s just for fun.)

I dream in grand allegro.

I may have done a few wee petit allegro jumps in my kitchen (which is far too small even for medium allegro) last night. It might have felt good.

I decided I was ready to get back to barre when I found myself doing turns in my kitchen. I don’t think I can justify doing allegro of any kind (excepting the occasional step in my kitchen) until I’m 100% cleared.

So, needless to say, I’m antsy.

But it’s only mine more days.

What I’m really antsy about, though, is being able to take a proper, fully-submerged bath. I haven’t taken any baths at all because I’m afraid I’ll just submerge everything without even thinking about it—but on the other hand I do find baths really helpful on cold mornings (and, as you may recall, we have already established that my standard for labeling a morning “cold” is fairly pathetic).

Maybe I’ll try taking a bath and mindfully not submerging myself. And, of course, if I get really antsy, I can always use one of those medical-grade wound-protector things that they make for exactly that purpose.

In other news, I’m really tempted to wear this thing:

Bondage onesie?

…to class tomorrow, just to make BW and TS giggle. I think if I do, I’ll be forced to shoot some video for posterity.

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Winter is Coming* (NSFW? IDK)

*Honestly, I have neither read the books on which the TV series A Game Of Thrones is based, nor watched the TV series itself, so for all I know I’m completely abusing this catchphrase.

But, anyway, it’s 60F today, which once upon a time would definitely not have qualified as “chilly” in my world, but then I started spending all my time in well-heated dance spaces and completely lost my cold-tolerance.

Like, I am literally wearing a fleece blanket onesie[1] over my fleece leopard warm-up pants, and my hands are still ice cold[2].

  1. Kind of like a Snuggie? Only with a zipper and leg cuffs at the bottom as well as the arm cuffs.
  2. And still I will refuse to turn the heat on until the daytime temperature is reliably in the forties farenheit.

Either way, it’s that time of year again when we begin to ponder exactly how many layers to wear to class, even though we know that in the end it’s just going to be exactly like this:

  1. By Jared Karim, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. By SureFire, via Wikimedia Commons

I feel like I’ve been waiting since roughly April for summer to end, and now that it’s over I’m like, “HECK! It’s hecking cold!”

…Like, did I expect something else, really?

On the other hand, it’s an excuse to wear ridiculous layers of junk to class in as many obnoxious color combinations as possible, drink extra coffee (to stay warm!), and eat soup.

Anyway, I’m taking a rest day today. Tomorrow I might throw myself back into Modern. We’ll see.

Also, it’s probably time to put up the rig so I can start working on stuff for Kaleidoscope at home.

The Greatest/Lamest Rap Non-Battle Evar

So Dorky and I discovered that our rap names (based on the formula “Young” + the most recent thing you spent money on) were A) kinda lame and B) ballet-related. Evidently, I’m Young Ballet Class and she’s Young Ballet Book.

I suggested that we could have the lamest rap battle ever. Here’s what went down:

 

Where The Girls Are

Two of my friends from the primary studio, TS and MB, joined me for BW’s class today. It was nice having them in class—I mean, I missed having BW all to myself, but they’re fun to dance with. That said, I’ll miss my men’s technique private, unofficial though it was!

BW is quite capable of teaching men’s tech to the boys even in a mixed class, though, and we’ve talked about doing an official private class now and then anyway. I will probably take advantage of that as audition season approaches. Right now, I am definitely not feeling ready, but I suspect that once I’m really back that’ll fade.

Range of motion continues to improve. Circular port de bras remains a sticking point, but I can get through it if I’m restrained in my execution (usually, I’m effusive). Cambré derrière is once again and 90 degrees with no splayed ribs or noodle neck. I continue to dance in skimpy little shirts because I can.

I’m thinking about the next phase of things—excited about getting back into grand allegro now that I won’t be fighting a compression vest. I had no idea how significantly it impacted my ability to breathe before I stuck one on just in case after class last week (to head off any possible swelling). Erm, wow?

I’m also pleased with the impact of feeling comfortable in skintight shirts: the more clearly my teachers can see my form, the better they can tune their corrections. I have a stock of tiny ballet t-shirts that I bought right before the surgery, though at the moment I’m really into tank tops. But winter is coming.

Anyway, tonight’s major corrections were the usual “chest forward” and “lock out the legs,” with a side of my barre shoulder creeping up. I caught myself doing that during grand battement, though, and applied BW’s suggestiom that I really concentrate on sending my weight down through my supporting leg. That fixed it.

Attitude balance was cracking good left but only Meh right. Also, I briefly led everyone astray during the barre adagio when I reverted to Killer B’s from Wednesday o.o

I did the centre tendu, during which BW fixed my head (he’s all about fixing my épaulement). Double turns are still very much on tap. Didn’t try for triples or quads as I think those might be too exciting. Bowed out after that and served as a human spotting target, which was fun.

That’s it for tonight. I’m pretty tired, and the next several days are packed—rehearsal, class, performance, rehearsal or class…

Cambrés: I Haz Them

Got all my cambrés back. Circular port de bras still requires a modicum of care. Forces me do it thoughtfully though.

Did the Awkward Rotator Exercise before class. L, T, & BG all took class today, too, so the boys were well-represented.

My fondus were better today, but I still had to shelve half the grand battement to keep my heart rate down.

Technical Notes: Cambré Derrière

Yesterday, I posted this picture of my “Itty Bitty[1] Cambré Committee” cambré derrière:

img_20171009_193603-1476583910.jpg

Now with 110% more Hair Floop

I shot it in our bathroom, and I wasn’t exactly attempting excellent technique[2], but I figured I’d go ahead and make an example of myself anyway.

  1. My usual cambré derrière is pretty deep—like, shoulderblades-parallel-to-floor deep, basically. This is, more techically, a really bad high release. My modern teacher would poke me in the ribs.
  2. To wit: it’s surprisingly hard, actually, to hold the mobi in one hand and execute  cambré derrière with the other arm en bas, or wherever the hell my arm actually was (maybe I left it in the other room?). I should at least have gone for what BG calls the “Margot Fonteyn,” with the free arm in a nice, languid romantic fourth.

You can’t see much of my back, here, but I can tell you based on the fact that my ribs aren’t locked down that I’m doin’ it rong.

rainbowdash-doin-it-wrong

Listen to Rainbow Dash. She knows what she’s talking about. (PS: I am now going to use this as a featured image for the rest of my Technical Notes series :D)

That said, I’m not going to focus on my back (in no small part because so little of it is visible): instead, I’m going to focus on One Weird Trick… erm, I mean, one key point about cambré back that I’m demonstrating all the way wrong, here, and that’s this:

Avoid The Dreaded Noodle Neck =:O

When you first start learning cambré back (formally: cambré derrière), your teacher will almost certainly tell you to bring your working arm to fifty-third … I mean third … I mean fifth … ah, feck it, en haut and to turn your face towards its elbow before you begin to bend your back.

This is not solely because it looks cool, though it does. In fact, turning the head towards the working arm serves a practical purpose—it’s mostly a preventive measure.

What, then, does it prevent?

Glad you asked. What it prevents, my gentle reader, is the dreaded Noodle Neck.

cambre-back-wrong-annotated

Just Can’t Even

“Noodle neck” may or may not be a technical term I laboriously translated from the Russian (шея лапшой … okay, okay, so I just ran “noodle” and “neck” through Google Translate and swapped the order because Assumptions About Grammar). Regardless, it’s a kind of “indicator species” fault that suggests a whole litany of problems further down the chain.

Simply put, it refers to the habit of letting one’s neck arch (or “crunch”) when performing the cambré back.

As you can now easily see thanks to my use of Ultra-Modern Technology[3], in the photograph above, my neck is definitely arched (Even though my head is turned! I’m talented, y’all.).

  1. AKA MSPain(t)

Instead of continuing to pull up through the crown of my head, I’m flopping languidly about like the heroine of some outdated romance novel, presumably waiting for the nobell laird to decide he’s had enough of murdering the MacAuleys and come ravage me instead. Or, um. Something like that.

Not to say languidity doesn’t have a place in the art of ballet. It totally does. If you’re not sure, the next time the Bolshoi does La Dame aux Camélias in its HD broadcast series, you should really go see it. The Bolshoi really knows how to get its languid on, and there’s a lot of opportunity for “languiding” (as a friend of mine from CirqueLouis calls it) in that particular ballet.

However! In cambré derrière, one must languid judiciously. It’s poor form to let the head dangle, and besides, it usually means you’re not really engaged all the way down (QV my embarassingly-splayed ribs).

Noodle Neck is also often a sign that one is attempting to initiate or artificially deepen one’s cambré by crunching the neck rather than lifting up through the full range of motion—which, in my experience, usually results from not actually knowing how to execute cambré derrière in the first place.

If you’re wondering what cambré derrière should actually look like, here:

cambre-back

Via Google; source sadly unidentified. Also, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one who makes that exact face during cambré derrière at the barre.

There may be some small measure of Noodle Neck happening, there, but overall it’s quite a good cambré derrière.

You’ll notice that our intrepid danseur‘s ribs aren’t sticking out like jocks at a fandom convention, and that you can draw a smooth arc from his hip through the top of his head with no precipitous drop-off near the top. There is no “crunching” at any point along the way—speaking of which, a “crunch” most often shows up in the lower back or the neck (or, distressingly, both at the same time). I, on the other hand, like to crunch at the point right where the ribs end, because I’m special.

Both BG and BW would, of course, yell at notre danseur mystérieux for letting his hips drift forward of his feet—but it’s better, in cambrés as a whole, to drift forward than backward.

Ultimately, although turning the head to look at the elbow is a useful shortcut when one is beginning to learn cambré derrière, only technique will prevent Noodle Neck.

What, then, is the technique in question?

Simple (HA! note that I did NOT say “easy”):

  • Lift
    THEN
  • Arc

You should not, at any point, cease to lift through the very tippity-top of your head (or, if you will, your “cheetah eyes“). Sure, if you’re flexible, you can do a full-on back bend just by flopping over backwards—but a floppy backbend is a recipe for injury in the long run. It also isn’t ballet.

“Lift,” by the way, is really shorthand for “Engage All The Things!”

Cambré derrière looks like it happens from the top of the head, but the engagement involved runs all the way down to the floor.

The action of lifting comes primarily from the muscles of the core. (Sadly, though mine continue to try, the eyebrows have little to do with it.) There is not, in fact, an invisible hook in the top of your head; rather, you’re technically pushing up rather than pulling up. It just looks and feels like pulling up. As such, I find it helpful to think in terms of lifting rather than pulling.

LWF describes the action of high-releases and cambrés derrières in terms of roller-coaster cars on a climb: the are lifted smoothly, each car drawing the next in its wake. All the cars remain connected, and they move together smoothly up the track.

You definitely do not want the lead car (that is, your head) to fall off the track. That’s a good way to get sued.

How, exactly, you wrangle all of this mentally in order to achieve the right process may vary—but I’ll be happy to blether on about the mental image that works for me (the one that I patently did not execute in the picture above):

  • Lift through the top of the skull whilst sending the weight down through the heels (or, if on demi-pointe, through the appropriate metatarsals and toes)
  • Lift the sternum (without letting the shoulders creep up)[4]
  • Keep lifting THROUGH THE CORE until there is nowhere to go but back
  1. Convincing the sternum to act independently of the shoulders is one of the most difficult challenges for many new dancers. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out an effective way to explain in words exactly how to achieve this feat of human dexterity.

Because the human body is shaped the way it is, if you try to lift UP as you send your weight down, you will eventually be forced to bend your back through a smooth curve.

It’s that or tear yourself into two pieces, which never actually happens in ballet classes. Or, well … hardly ever.

So, in review, here are some things to know about cambré derrière:

  • Connect from the top of the head right down to the flooor
  • Send the weight DOWN
  • Lift the spine UP starting from the top of the head (NOT the back of the head)
  • Allow the body to carry itself over an imaginary roller-coaster climb
  • If you notice a point where you’re “crunched” in your spine, it usually reflects a point at which you’re disengaged in your core

One last note: a really deep cambré derrière demands both flexibility and strength. If you’re bendy by nature, but not particularly strong, do not be surprised if your cambré derrière is quite shallow at first.

This doesn’t mean you’ve lost your flexibility; just that you have a good teacher who allows you to take your cambré derrière only as far as you can support it correctly.

Don’t despair. Depth will come with time, as you develop the strength to support your inborn suppleness.

If, on the other hand, you’re strong but stiff, you will probably develop greater flexibility over time, but you probably won’t be surprised if your initial cambré derrière is nothing to write home about.

Dances Without Moobs: A Beginning

…Or, well, kinda dances, anyway.

As of Thursday, I began slowly settling back into class.

For all that it’s normally his job to beat me with a stick until I jump higher, BW is actually profoundly capable of imparting a really gentle barre when you need it—so Thursday we did no one-foot releve, no grand battement, no torturously-long adagio…

It was just the essence of working through the feet and the legs and the turnout, feeling placement and balance, figuring things out.

It’s funny how profoundly you feel your hips and your legs and your feet when you’re not allowed to do almost anything with your arms.

It’s also funny how freaking insanely hard it is to come up with barre combinations when your only cambré options are front (rolling up) and a tiny back, like a subtle high release (it was pretty, though). BW kept going, “Wait, that doesn’t work…” Eventually, though, he got into the groove and stopped having to pause and reset.

BW gave me the option of doing a little across-the floor, but we decided against and opted to stretch for a while instead: splits first (I was afraid I’d have lost my left split in three weeks of sitting on my butt, but I was actually able to drop right into it), then a bit of work for the turnouts.

BW had noticed (probably because he was no longer blinded by the need to octopus-wrestle my arms into shape) that he and I share a bad habit: we both have a ton of rotation in the hip, so we sometimes we get lazy about engaging all the things.

This led to the two of us lying on our backs on the floor doing a kind of clamshell-and-Theraband thing when the studio owner wandered in to grab something she’d left behind.

…Which was surprisingly awkward.

wrestling-or-pr0n

Then again, the world is an awkward place. (via Pinterest, via t3h G00gs.)

Sunday I wandered back to J’s class, where I discovered that everything feels okay with my arms en bas and first, second, second allongé, romantic fourth, and fifth. Cambré is fine to the front as long as my arms don’t drift behind my shoulders (in short: no swan dives for me, and definitely no Angry Bourne Swans); back I’ve got a little more than I had on Thursday; side is still tuggy and thus to be avoided.

img_20171009_193603-1476583910.jpg

Itty Bitty Cambre Committee (from today, rather than yesterday). Please ignore the fact that my ribs are hella splayed and that our bathroom is in chaos.

 

I stuck around for the tendu, which I did pretty well (though for some reason, my arms decided at one point to be effacé while my legs were croisé), and the adagio, which I did quite badly once because I was being tentative and then actually pretty well on the second run. Just like I haven’t lost my splits, I really haven’t lost my extension gainz either. I wasn’t trying that hard, as the goal was ultimately to keep my heart rate down, but had no problem reaching 90+ degrees even à la seconde.

I also met a really nice guy who was new to the class, but obviously not new to ballet. Have I mentioned this already? Anyway, I hope he keeps coming. There were three guys in class at the start! T had to leave right after barre, though, and I spirited myself away after the adage, leaving poor L to fend for himself. He seemed capable, though, so I’m sure he was fine.

Regardless, if the two new-dancer guys who have occasionally been to J’s class are still at it, then we have at least six guys in regular rotation in the program now. w00t!

Anyway, now begins the process of re-conditioning and easing back into my life as a dancer.

This Saturday, I’ll be performing for CirqueLouis at Jack O’Lantern Spectacular. Since I’m not cleared to get back on the silks yet, I’ll be doing some ribbon-dance stuff. Should be fun[1].

  1. This reminds me: I need to go borrow the ribbon from my bro-in-law again. I really need to get my own, but his is perfect—our basic costumes are black-and-white stripes, sometimes with red accents, and the ribbon in question is a black-and-white striped snake with a red head.

A bit ironically, I’ve never actually been to JOLS as a spectator, even though it’s supposed to be pretty cool and it’s only about a mile from my house, so I’m looking forward to finally seeing at least some of it (I don’t know yet if we get to stroll the grounds when we’re not performing, but I hope we do!).

So that’s it for now. I’m working on a long piece that I’m hoping to finish tomorrow, but between class and performing I’m not sure how much else I’ll be posting this week.

Edit:
PS: I have officially left off with the Post-Op Pasties®. I was going to wait a bit longer, but my skin was really pretty done with adhesive. There are still a few little suture-knots left over, but it turns out that they don’t snag on my shirts.

I’ll probably stick a couple of Post-Op Pasties® on during rehearsal, since rolling around in the sphere (which I’m now quite able to do) seems like a good way to snag them, though.

Further Edit:
Decided to go snap a couple of progress pix and discovered that all but the very last suture knot had fallen off. The last one was busy working itself loose, so I snipped it off with nail scissors. Et voilá—no more weird little knots.

 

One More Opinion on Surgery

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me before I had my surgery to contemplate why my surgeon suggests the particular protocol[1] that he does with healing nipples (which will now forever be immortalized as “Post-Op Pasties®”).

  1. Daily from the Great Unrapping through Post-Op Day 21: apply bacitracin, apply Xeroform, apply adhesive bandage (I’ve been using the store-brand version of the 3M Nexcare ones for the most part); after 21 days, you can discontinue the Xeroform if you like, but continue with bacitracin and band-aids for at least another 7 days.

Turns out that if you don’t do something along these lines, they tend to get all weird and scabby and freaky-looking, and wind up being a major source of (not entirely necessary) worry for guys who have this particular surgery.

Keeping them slathered in bacitracin and covered with some kind of dressing both keeps them from drying out and getting terrifyingly scabby and keeps you from having to look at them all the dang time whilst they’re busy going, “WAT EVEN HAPPEN,” which is totally how I imagine them feeling about the process of being essentially evicted from their prior residences and relocated to new ones.

ANCIENT-ALIENS

100% medically and scientifically accurate depiction of this process

Likewise, if you’re me, it keeps you from picking at the scabs, which I do compulsively.

So, in short, while the protocol is marginally time-consuming (if you consider “less than 5 minutes per day” time-consuming), I’m really glad that my doc suggests it. I had one little scabby spot on my right nipple, which has since sorted itself, and beyond that there’s just been a little occasional sloughing of dead skin when I removed my dressings.

Much better than having itchy scabs that I’d inevitably pick at, inviting infection.

So, good on Docteur Magnifique for that one, too (even though wrestling the Xeroform was a PITA because our bathroom lacks any kind of flat surface that isn’t the top of the toilet or the precarious edge of the wall-mounted sink).

Two Opinions On Surgery

At this point, I’ve written a fair bit about the surgery that I had to shed my moobs. I’m extremely happy with the results thus far, but that hasn’t stopped me from being extremely curious about the healing processes of basically everyone who has ever had any remotely similar surgery.

This has led to some interesting discoveries. First, there’s evidently a whole lot of controversy of the subject of drains: which is to say, a lot of people don’t want them, and seem miffed when surgeons require them. Second, quite a few of the people who wind up with the exact surgery that I had seem to want their incision lines to be perfectly straight.

I don’t mean to be a jerk about it, but neither of these positions seem terribly well-considered to me.

Here’s why.

Drains
In short, people don’t like drains because they’re uncomfortable. I’m not arguing, there: they are uncomfortable. The only reason I bothered taking any of the opioid painkillers prescribed by my surgery was so I could sleep with the poky-arsed drain lines annoying my intercostal tissues.

Given the minimal amount of drainage I produced, I legitimately could’ve gone without—but I’m glad they were there, just in case.

All too frequently, I run into an argument that goes, “Well, Bob didn’t have drains, and he was fine.”

The problem, there, is that it’s really quite difficult to predict who’s going to be like Bob, or like me, and who’s going to wind up with massive swelling that could’ve been prevented by installing a couple of drains for a week or so.

Surgeons can control their technique. What they can’t control is how our bodies react once all is said and done.

Some, like Imaginary Bob’s and like mine, just go, “Oh, no worries, I’m on this healing thing,” without any major drama.

Others go, “OMFG WHAT IS THIS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE AAUUUGHHHHHH!!!” and promptly kick up an inflammatory tornado, producing great gouts of fluid that can turn into seromas which are also quite uncomfortable, and which then require (you guessed it) drains anyway.

I’m a big believer in the idea that prevention is better than a cure.

I think the path my surgeon took in my particular case was just about ideal. D was hoping we could start for home on Monday evening or Tuesday instead of Wednesday evening or Thursday, so the doc suggested a compromise: if my drainage levels were good (read: minimal), we could have the drains out on Monday. Given that my surgery took place on a Thursday, this seemed like a really good compromise.

As it turned out, I experienced almost no inflammation and drained almost nothing from the word go, and the drains did indeed come out on Monday. Yes, they were annoying while they remained, but let’s be frank: roughly 4.5 days of moderate discomfort is preferable to the risk of epic swelling accompanied by potential weeks of discomfort. (To be fair, pain perception varies tremendously, and the drains might actually be a lot worse for some people than for others—but for most people, they’re basically just an annoyance, and a temporary one.)

Some surgeons (mine included) use drains for essentially everybody. Some decide on a case-by-case basis. Some don’t bother at all. Regardless, when it comes to this kind of thing, it’s worth considering that surgeons undertake a decade or more of specialized schooling to learn their skills—and, especially for cosmetic surgeons, it’s in their best interests to do whatever is going to get the best results.

In short, with a few exceptions, they generally have more insight into what they’re doing than their patients do, and it’s probably in our best interests to give due consideration to their surgical preferences.

Incision Lines
For some reason, a lot of guys seem convinced that curved incision lines scream “BREASTICLES!”

In fact, I don’t think they do, and here’s why: curved incision lines follow the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis major[1]. To the uninitiated, they’re not necessarily going to shout, “Yes, I had breast reduction surgery with removal of extra skin!”

  1. Exception: the rare cases in which an ill-advised surgeon makes them too curved—but, honestly, my jury’s really out as to whether that actually looks more unnatural than a perfectly straight incision does, since I’ve seen it so rarely even in my endless trawling of post-surgical pix.

Under ideal circumstances, they nestle in the literal shadow of one’s pecs, where they will eventually camouflage themselves as an extra measure of definition. And, of late, as surgical techniques have improved, ideal circumstances occur more frequently than one might imagine.

Perfectly straight incision lines, meanwhile, look unnatural. The human body is not a straight-lines kind of place. Straight incision lines depart rapidly from the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis and advertise themselves as exactly what they are—evidence of surgery.

The human eye is more likely to notice them simply because they contrast so sharply with the curvilinear nature of even the most masculine of human bodies (to wit: none of us are actually built like Minecraft sprites).

Even under ideal circumstances, perfectly-straight incision lines don’t camouflage themselves at all.

My incision lines aren’t straight. I wouldn’t want them to be straight. If anything, I wouldn’t have minded them being just a bit curvier towards their lateral ends—but, once again, my surgeon knows what he’s about. He’s been doing this for a long time.

img_20171004_161929-1568435770.jpg

My incisions: maybe not what you’d call curvy, but definitely curved. (With silicone scar strips, which are the best thing since … I would say “sliced bread,” but honestly I don’t think sliced bread is all that great.)

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who will disagree with me on both these points—and, ultimately, I’m not telling them they’re making the wrong choices. People get to make their decisions based on their own bodies and their own long-term goals.

I just hope that, in making these decisions, there’s more to the decision-making process than “drains are uncomfortable” and “male bodies are made up of straight lines.”

Regarding point the first, that’s true, but they’re also temporary, and if they’re too horrible you can have them out early.

Regarding point the second, that’s really not true. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is made up of a series of curves with varying radii. Ask any artist, or any robot who wants to look more human.

~

A note on all this: I recognize that there’s a pretty strong dose of privilege involved in the fact that I feel comfortable writing this.

I can assume that, while they’re kind of visible now because they’re still pretty pinkish, my curvilinear scars will eventually hide in the anatomical shadow of my pecs because I’m a dancer and an aerialist and a semi-mesomorph who puts muscle on at the drop of a hat. Even after three weeks sitting on my butt(er), and thusly at the least-defined I’ve been since I got back from my illness-and-holidays binge-eating tour of central Kentucky, I still have more definition in my chest than a lot of people will ever have. I get that.

Likewise, my work both demands that I be extremely fit and begets extreme fitness, and at least part of my rapid and unproblematic healing comes down to that. Maybe I would have felt differently about drains if I’d had to cope with them for more than 4.5 days (though, honestly, if you’ve got a lot of drainage, it’s probably a good idea to have drains).

On a different axis, I grew up in an extremely privileged setting which afforded me the opportunity to purchase all the anatomy books and drawing materials my little heart desired, and I have a very visual mind. It’s easy for me to say “scars should be curvilinear because bodies are curvilinear” because I’ve spent my entire life poking around with images and models of what human bodies look like beneath their skin and a brain that happens to be very good at storing and regurgitating that information (but which can never freaking recall a person’s name when I really need it to >.<).

So there’s that, also.

Lastly, a lot of the guys who have this surgery are trans, and every single opinion I have is founded in the fact that, as an intersex person, I face a different set of challenges in life than transfolk—one that overlaps with trans experience in some ways and is fundamentally different in other ways. For one, I may occasionally get misgendered in public, but I don’t have to put up with people constantly questioning my right to identify as a male[2].

  1. Curiously, exactly twice in my life, someone has asked me, “Why would you choose to live your life as a gay man when you could just be a woman if you wanted to?” Both times, it was another femme-y gay man who asked … and, in both cases, one who had grown up in a part of the United States that is actively oppressive and deeply repressive towards gay men in general and especially towards effeminate gay men. The region in question also tends to do a lot of conflating sexual orientation with gender identity. Neither of these guys had ever seen me unclothed, nor did they possess a clear concept of the fact that being intersex didn’t mean that I had “both sets” until I explained: in my case, it primarily means that I’m an ideal dish for a gentleman who prefers dainty Vienna sausages, so to speak, which isn’t quite the same as being able to just up and declare one’s self to be female even if I wanted to. And now you know way more about my body than you ever wanted to. You’re welcome.

Since transguys comprise a significant proportion of the folks who have this particular surgery, I feel like it’s probably worth acknowledging that I’m operating from a different vantage point, and that it colors my decision-making process. I think the same probably goes for non-IS cisguys: the set of my general experiences with being a guy differs from theirs as well.

There’s an extent, of course, to which everyone’s experience with gender, and with walking around the world as a gendered being, is different. Before it was corrupted as an insult, the phrase “we’re all individual snowflakes” meant exactly that: every one of us is the same in some ways and different in others, just as snowflakes share some basic characteristics and differ wildly and beautifully in other ways.

What I’m talking about, here, are collective experiences that shape the way we see the world: just as my upbringing in a forward-thinking part of the country prevented me from asking myself, “Why wouldn’t I just want to be a girl instead of being gay?” Those options, for me, have always existed on two different spectra.

So, anyway. Those are my caveats. I’m sure things are even more nuanced than that, but I need to wander off and do some errands now, whilst the day is young.

Cooking with ADHD: Low-Carb Waffles and Doughballs, Part II

The other day, I wrote about trying a couple of low-carb recipes.

I’m doing the low-carb thing until I can get back to my usual training and performance schedule because it’s an easy way to balance input and output without feeling like I’m starving all the time.

My diet is usually pretty well stocked with veggies and so forth, so this mostly means that I’m stuffing my face with a metric shedload of cabbage (Savoy or Napa, at the moment) where I’d usually put pasta, burritos, or taco shells, but of course there’s more to life than cabbage. (Pumpkin smoothies, by the way, are totally in the “more to life” department. Recipe forthcoming.)

In that vein, I’ve decided to try a couple of specifically low-carb recipes that would work for both D and me, since it’s not like I asked D if he wants to give up bread and rolls for the next month.

The two standouts thus far in terms of ease of preparation and really nice results both hail from TryKetoWith.Me, the blog of “KetoGirl,” a computer-science student and ketogenic-diet advocate in Chicago. These are two of her simpler recipes, and I chose them because when I looked at them, I didn’t instantly go, “ACK! TOO MANY STEPS!” and click on back to a safer place[1].

  1. No, I’m not making fun of the Safe Spaces concept. I think they play an important role, and they have definitely been helpful to me at times in my life. I mostly just wanted to link to the Safety Dance because it’s hilarious.

Because it’s fall and I’m obsessed with putting cinnamon in everything right now, I decided to make sweet-spiced versions of both these recipes—so (because I am apparently out of plain cinnamon … wonder how that happened) I made the waffles with pumpkin pie spice standing in for the optional cinnamon, and I turned the doughballs into mini pumpkin pie spice rolls by rolling the dough out flat, coating it with a blend of Splenda[2] and pumpkin pie spice, then curling it into a long log and cutting it into individual rolls.

  1. Not everyone is into sucralose and what have you. It works fine for me, so I use it, but stevia or xylitol would work just as well.
low-carb pumpkin pie spice mini-rolls

The delightful golden promise of pumpkin pie spice and fluffy dough ❤

Both recipes proved pretty easy to follow—if I was working directly off my tablet or had printed them a little differently, I could have avoided the one mistake I did make, which was the result of my own formatting, not KetoGirl's.

Neither required an exhaustive list of ingredients I can't find locally. In fact, I found them all, plus one random extra (arrowroot powder, which I've been meaning to buy forever but always forget about), at a not-particularly-fancy Kroger a couple miles up the road.

For both these reasons, and because the end results are delicious, I am happy to issue the Cooking with ADHD Squirrel! of Approval© to both recipes.

The only drawback? The whole point of doing a low-carb diet while I'm on the bench is to make maintaining energy balance a no-brainer. The pumpkin pie spice rolls are so freaking good that they might completely torpedo that plan.

 

 

 

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