Category Archives: life management

…You Stop When The Gorilla Gets Tired

(File under: Every Aphorism I Know I Learned In Bike Racing)

I’ve been having a tough time with re-entry following this summer’s intensives.

Not that I’m, like, pining for the fjords. Just…

Hmm. How do I explain it?

Going to a dance intensive is, in a way, very much like going to summer camp. You’re essentially excused from most of the responsibilities of adulting. Your daily activities are heavily programmed for you. You don’t have to juggle variables, interruptions, or random transportation disasters.

If you forget your ADHD meds, you make it through the day pretty well because all you’re doing, really, is dancing, and your brain works best when you’re in motion. You don’t have to remember a bunch of discrete, unrelated tasks and somehow accomplish them.

If you stay up really late bonding with your new dance family, it’s no big deal. You get up the next day, pour some strong coffee into your face, hit the studio, dance your butt off, and sleep like the dead when you get back to the dorms or your AirBnB.

And then you come home, and your body is adapted to an 8-hours-per-day-plus physical workload that you’re unlikely to match except during the most intense periods of rehearsal or performance, and you have to get back to Adulting (with or without ADHD).

For me, this illuminates one of the central challenges in living with ADHD: it never goes away.

To borrow a quote from Kiwi bike racer Greg Henderson [1]:

Greg Henderson quote:

Swap “ADHD” for “training” and you’re good. (Shamelessly stolen from Pinterest, of course.)

  1. or a quote about success from Robert Strauss, who presumably doesn’t race bikes but could feasibly be a Kiwi; can’t be arsed to look him up right now.

You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.

ADHD is, in some ways, a gorilla that never gets tired. Instead, you have to learn to manage your gorilla—and managing is largely a question of automation.

When I’m doing it right, I manage my ADHD by making it as hard as possible for myself to screw up the basics.

I lay out each day’s clothes the night before, so I never have to fumble around looking for clothes before my brain is working.

My morning and afternoon doses of Adderall are right there in my 7-day pillbox, so I don’t find myself thinking, “Feck, did I take my meds?”

My keys, wallet, sunglasses, and other important small things live on a shelf by the door, so I will always put them there when I walk in and never have to wonder where they are.

My phone lives next to the bed, where it acts as an alarm clock. Once I get out of bed, I either leave it tethered to one of its chargers or keep it nearby. That way, I never have to look for it.

My class and rehearsal schedules get written out on the whiteboard on the refrigerator door. Writing them down helps me remember what’s coming up; it also gives me a hard-copy reference when I’m not sure and lets D know where I am, when.

While I cook, I clean as I go and streamline general dishwashing into those moments when there’s nothing that requires attention.

I run errands before, after, or between classes so I won’t have to take extra trips out of the house. I maintain shopping lists on Google Keep so I don’t have to remember anything, including the shopping list.

I burn a ton of energy, knowing that it’s the only way I’m going to be able to sleep on anything resembling a normal, diurnal schedule. I run Twilight on my phone and f.lux on my PCs to cut out blue rays (this really does make a huge difference, for me). I don’t play video games or peruse social media in bed, because those get my brain ticking over too fast.

I pay really close attention to things like caffeine intake: and if I’m having a rough time sleeping, I avoid any caffeine at all after about 2 PM.

These are all fairly small things, but they add right the heck up.

The problem is, they’re all routine-driven, and once I get out of a routine, it can be really hard getting back in.

This week, I’m struggling really hard with insomnia. After being sick for most of last week (during which all I actually did was sleep), I’m left with a surplus of energy, but not enough on the schedule to burn it off.

Since it only takes one sleepless night to torpedo weeks of careful sleep programming, I’m currently in the midst of a really unpleasant cycle of sleeping two hours one night, then nine the next.

Last night was one of those two hour nights. I missed class today because of it: I finally got to sleep around 8 AM. Turned off the alarm at 9 AM, when I realized it would be foolish to try to do modern on one hour of sleep. Woke up at 10, when I should’ve been starting class, anyway.

I’ve realized I need to get back to negotiating with my gorilla. I’m home for one more week, then off to That Thing In The Desert[2] after all, then back for a week, then off for a medical thing[3], then possibly starting rehearsals for a thing, depending[4].

  1. In addition to the usual Open Barre sessions with mimosas, I’ll be leading some contact improv playshops at our camp this year.
  2. I’m going to apply my “to know, to will, to dare, to keep silent” clause here. This is a minor medical procedure but a huge freaking deal for me, so I’m trying not to  feck it up.
  3. Here, too. I’m actually okay with waiting and auditioning for the next thing this company does, but it’s sort of up in the air right now whether we can work around my temporary restrictions after The Secret Medical Thing.

None of this makes it easier to figure out where to start rebuilding my Life Management Protocols, so I’m just going to do what I normally do: fumble forward and hope for the best.

In other words, just pick something and start where you are.

In that vein, I’m hoping to get a class in tomorrow to make up for missing today’s (though tomorrow’s class will be ballet, not modern).

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment at 8-o-freaking-clock in the morning for which I have to check in at 7-goshdarn-30, which means getting up at 6-what-even-is-sixthirty-30 because I kind of need D with me for this one and he needs more than 20 minutes to get out the door 😛

As such, I need to actually get my tuchas in bed at a reasonable hour tonight and, if necessary, hit myself with a whacking great dose of doxylamine succinate to make sure I don’t stay awake all night.

Those are some easy start-where-I-am steps that I can actually do (along with getting audition video links to the AD for the Secret Dance Thing and signing some documents for The Secret Medical Thing and emailing them back to the practice in question).

So, there you have it. I think I really wanted this post to be more of a thought-piece about managing ADHD than me scrabbling on about how I’ve managed to hose everything up for myself (though I did plan to mention that), so I suppose I’ll add that to my queueueueueueue of posts to actually write sooner or later as well.

Until then, I’ll be here, negotiating with my gorilla.

~

Oh: in other news, I successfully gave a bit of advice to a new guy in class last night, which felt really good.

Why I Love JB Right Now

I was having an awkward kind of morning: got a little tipsy last night, stayed up too late, slept badly, woke up early (whichever one of us taught my cat that it’s possible to awaken humans by tap-dancing on their bladders needs a swift kick in the tuchas), started reading, lost track of time, failed to eat, etc.

This translated to a wonky start at barre. I couldn’t figure out where my pelvis was or find my lateral obliques or keep my arm from wandering off to do its own thing. My head kept getting ahead of my arm. I tendued to second, then went, “Hmm, no,” and adjusted (which drives both JB and BW crazy).

Midway through one combination, during a sus-sous balance, JB sauntered over, grabbed me by the back of the neck, reset my head and neck, and then used both hands to physically move my entire ribcage.

I tried not to do the weird thing where I respond to someone touching me much in the way that a sea anemone responds to the touch of a potential predator, though it took a little doing.

Anyway, I had mostly sorted myself out by the time we got around to going across the floor and doing jumps, though I was momentarily distressed by this bizarre phenomenon in which, during a mark, my brain went, “assemblé!” and my legs went, “CABRIOLE, MUTHA****A!”

On the other hand (foot?), there were some nice cabrioles in there, so…?

Since this entire combination was assemblés changing direction and leg until none of us could remember which leg was which, that obviously would’ve been a problem.

Anyway, tomorrow should be better. Today the plan is (in no particular order, except for the “early to bed, Nyquil if necessary…” bit):

  • catch up the finances
  • mow the lawn
  • bath
  • make dinner
  • early to bed, Nyquil if necessary because insomnia and insane allergies are making my life difficult

Oh: I’m considering Schumann’s A minor ‘cello concerto for the third act of Simon Crane. I haven’t listened all the way through it yet, but the first movement sounds promising.

For all that, though, I’m still not at all sure that I want to do away with “Isle of the Dead.”

 

A Relative Dose Of Success Followed By, You Know, Life

Leading up to PlayThink this year, I was bulldozed by a swift and nasty bout of your bog-standard “depressolepsy”—that fierce, crushing, exhausting depression that rocks up out of nowhere and smashes everything in its path. Thanks, Rapid Cycling Type I Bipolar, or whatever the hell is going on with my brain.

That’s been the case the past three years running, so I think it has to do with timing: the time of year; the timing of the onset of Summer Intensives and my inability to figure out how much GoGoGo I can take before I need to take my brain out and put it on ice for a couple of days; the timing of the stressful bit of my non-dance job; the timing of always effectively losing my husband to The Great Wave of Planning that precedes his standing summer plans (PlayThink and the Big Burn) just when I most need someone to help me stay afloat[1].

  1. This bit isn’t really his fault, btw. It’s more that I have a hard time broaching the divide between myself and other people, including D, when I’m struggling, and it gets even harder when he seems preoccupied. It’s something we both need to work on, together, and we’re doing it, but it takes time.

None of this was improved by my lack of security about our performance piece for the Friday-night “FlowCase,” which we hadn’t rehearsed anywhere near enough.

D offered time and again to cancel, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be better to get out there and do the show than to back out. This is, for all its friendly down-home atmosphere, a professional gig—and the first rule in the performing arts is and always will be: “The Show Must Go On.”

  1. Corollary[3]: if your name is printed on the official marketing materials, you’re part of the show.
  2. I consistently misspell this word, even though if I stop and think about it for a sec I actually do know how to spell it. Seriously, self: “Corolarry?” Really? Is that, like the cousin of Corojessica, or…? SMH.

Basically, getting out there and screwing up sometimes is part of the business—even Nureyev fell flat on his arse from time to time—but you don’t want to get a reputation for backing out of your commitments.

So I gritted my teeth and accepted that we might totally bomb; that the whole thing might go right off the rails. That life is, after all, pretty much an exercise in walking a tightrope in a maelstrom, for all our delusions of control. That the even inclusion of a twirling beach umbrella and faux 20s-era men’s swimwear might not pull my carefully-crafted little acro-clowning-ballet back from the edge of disaster[3].

  1. I had thought of also including fake moustaches, but forgot about them, so even they could not have saved us if things went south.

So we wrestled our way through a couple more hours of rehearsal rendered incredibly awkward by the lack of so much as a single properly-flat spot in which to rehearse, which in turn made the apex of the whole number—the candlestick-to-diver transition that we basically invented for this show—literally impossible.

And then we went on.

And you know that thing that happens when you get on stage and the whole world falls away and suddenly you’re ON and even if you literally put a foot wrong, you can’t put a foot wrong?

So, that happened.

~

Our performance wasn’t perfect in the literal sense. Because we hadn’t been able to nail the diver transition, we left it out (though we didn’t actually program in something else, just in case it magically came off: I simply sort of rolled out to the side, pulling D up with me).

We had already scuttled the bluebird lift at the end because we need more practice with it before we put it in a show. Right now, its hit rate at home is only about 25%; the rest of the time, I wind up hitting it for about .5 seconds while D struggles to figure out the balance point, then we fall out of it and I yell at him and then apologize for yelling at him.

And, yet, in another way, our performance was a million times better than I could have imagined.

D lit up in a way I’ve never seen him light up on stage (evidently, all you have to do is give him a beach umbrella and let him twirl it[4]).

  1. I actually rather suspected this would be the case, which is why he got to twirl the beach umbrella (okay, so also it fit his character better than it fit mine). D has a lot of natural clown in him. I formulated this thing to play to that strength, and I think it paid off. Choregraphy Rule Number One: when you’re creating a piece on a group of dancers, create it on the dancers you have.

The piece filled up the music exactly (I was incredibly worried that we’d get ahead, finish early, and have to stand there grinning like eejits for 30 seconds or what have you).

Perhaps most importantly, the audience rippled with genuine laughter at all the right moments. It wasn’t that weird, “Uh … is this supposed to be funny?” laughter that we all secretly dread. All the jokes (physical jokes, not verbal ones) hit the mark.

When it was over, they cheered. Lustily. Thrillingly. Authentically. It was awesome.

So, score one for team Dawson/Taylor-Dawson. Not bad at all for a pretty complex bit of physical theater that had a sum total of maybe four or five hours of real rehearsal time and literally no full run-through with music.

Throughout the rest of the festival, we constantly heard how much people had loved the piece.

A few even commented on exactly the thing I’d hoped to bring to the table: the fact that the piece had characters and a storyline, which isn’t something I’ve seen in FlowCase in previous years. Our good friend reported that she was so proud she found herself tearing up. Someone even commented that my ballet (all three-ish steps that actually made it into the final piece!) was beautiful.

Needless to say, the success of the piece and the instantaneous lifting of the pressure of it off of our collective shoulders helped immensely. So did being done, and thus able to go retire to the camper and just read (I did stay for most of the rest of the show, though, until the mosquitoes emerged and began eating me alive).

I also discovered a technique that really helps D and me: right before we went on, we simply talked our way through the piece, back and forth, each of us simply stating the short-hand name for our moves[5].

  1. Except for the ballet part: since I do that by myself, and I sometimes find it quicker not to actually attempt to get the language bit of my brain firing, I just visualized and went, “Balletballetballet, maybe some other ballet” there.

We each went on feeling like the other knew not just the skills required, but the sequence in which they needed to be called up, and it let us both relax. Handy!

~

Anyway, there’s video of the whole FlowCase, but it won’t be ready for a couple of weeks. I’ll watch it, even though I’m not sure I want to (the performance felt really good, but when I watch video, I tend to get hung up in my flaws).

This week, I’m taking two days off to get things back to normal as much as I can before diving back into class and so forth. I am vaguely regretting not signing up for our AD’s master class, because I know a couple of people who are taking it and it sounds cool, but I also recognize that I need a breather.

I need a couple of days to just do day-to-day life stuff. Mentally speaking, I already feel like the summer is more or less over: I’m away for two weeks of July on dance intensives (LexBallet and Pilobolus), then possibly again for much of August and the first week of September (depending on a handful of circumstances) for Burning Man. Because I struggle with time, the idea of those giant pre-planned blocks makes it hard to understand that the rest of the summer, the windows between those bricks, exists.

Inevitably, when I take a couple of days off, there’s a part of my brain that remembers how nice it is to have the whole day to do the things that need doing (or, if possible, to do nothing, or do only things that don’t need doing). Occasionally, a very quiet voice in the back of my head whispers, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to do this than to pursue your insane visions?”

I remind it, of course, that “it makes more sense” hasn’t really worked out for us in the past—that I’m not actually great at predicting what makes sense; that (perhaps more importantly) the pursuit of impractical dreams, Quixotic though it may appear, keeps the wind in my sails.

Someday, I’m sure, it probably will make sense to ease off the accelerator a bit; to drop out of the big ring. Right now, though, I’m riding to ride the hills; I’m dancing to feel the sensation of soaring at the top of the grand assemblé porté.

And, yet, I think it’s good for me, having a life in which something as powerfully thrilling as Friday night’s performance is followed by something as entirely mundane as getting out in the backyard to chop up the branches that are still waiting there for me.

To misapply Jack Kornfield’s magnificent summary of Zen practice: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

So there we are. Back to class tomorrow, though I am sure I’ll sorely (ha!) regret jumping back in with Killer Class instead of something gentler.

Sunday Class: Grand! Allegro

I woke far earlier than I intended and in an increasingly terrible mood. Headed to class once again figuring I’d just do barre.

I wound up staying for the whole thing, including a nice grand allegro. I got to whipout my Pas de Chat Italien for the first time in months. W00t!

In fact, as a whole, class was pretty good—even petit allegro, during which I managed to do acceptable petit assemblés. We also did the glissade-jeté x8, glissade-jeté x4, glissade-jeté, glissade-jeté, changement, changement, reverse, repeat combination that I enjoy because, frankly, it’s the only piece of petit allegro I reliably do well 😜

The fact that I can do it at all is fantastic: my foot held up through everything.

Anyway, I’m home now and much more relaxed, if still operating on a short fuse. Basically, I have no frustration tolerance today.

On the way home it occurred to me that I might get along with myself better if I accepted that my brain chemistry does this sometimes, and that rather than trying to change that, I can do things to keep myself from making life horrible for other people when it happens.

Maybe down the road I’ll mellow out or learn to down-regulate these moods. For now, though, just getting out of the way makes sense .

My Car Is Horrible Right Now; Brief Notes on Modern; Also, I Made A Thing

At the moment, my car smells like the inside of someone’s dance bag.

In fact, it smells like the inside of a dance bag belonging to someone who shoves his sopping-wet warm-ups into said bag after class and then forgets about them and goes home and the next day is like wtf did I do with my warmp-ups and then finds them when he goes to get his shoes out in ballet class the next day and shoves them back in his bag and forgets about them again until he finally remembers to bring the freaking bag in so he can wash them, which might take like an entire week[1, 3]. Ewww.

  1. I can neither confirm nor deny that this has actually happened to me[2].
  2. Possibly more than once.
  3. For the record, this problem is pretty specific to commuting by automobile, since taking public transit or riding a bike rather prevents leaving your dance bag in the car all week, doesn’t it? Though I did once leave legwarmers in my bike’s trunk bag ._. Good times, good times.

So I’m planning on going after my car with some carpet foam tonight. Possibly also mowing the lawn (completely unrelated, but still something I should probably do), but we’ll see.

Anyway, fairly good day in Modern today.

I am still madly in love with floorwork.

Perhaps I always will be? The lights (which are on sensors) clicked off about a quarter of the way through our floorwork combination, and we were just like, “Ahhhh.”

C&W_kittens_(544411242)

TFW the lights go out during floorwork. (Credit: Paul Holloway from Birmingham, UK – C&W kittens, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern dance naptime, you guys. For real. It’s as refreshing as a nap without all that annoying napping.

Meanwhile, I’m back to being able to withstand light pressure on the outside of my right foot, so it’s now possible to safety-release into various rolls from an upright position. It’s still iffy about turns, but TB (who has been in class with us a few times now—yay!) suggested a different way of taping it that might help, so I’m going to try that tomorrow and Thursday.

I’m also continuing to work on knowing where UP is, which is remarkably hard (TB finds this unsurprising about me; I suspect it’s part of the “ridiculously hypermobile dancer” package).

I’m also also continuing to work on not being so freaking terrible at scheduling myself. As such, I created a dance-specific calendar, and because I figured, “Why not?” I’ve posted it as a page. That way D can find it easily and figure out where in hell I’ve gone, which can be a problem when you’re married to a dancer who won’t stand still for 5 minutes.

Turns out that it loads desperately slowly (read: about the same level of urgency as an unhurried sloth), but whatevs. It’s a start. I thought about making a separate calendar page for intensives, but that seems excessive. Instead, I made two separate calendars with joint output. The intensives show up in a red font; everything else shows up in blue.

calendar

A visual representation of a visual representation of a conceptual representation of … anyway, it’s a calendar.

Why?

Because I’m crazy awesome. Or something like that.

That said, it turns out that I’ve YET AGAIN double-booked myself on so many levels it isn’t even funny, so now I’m trying to finagle my way out of the Cultural Dance workshop I can’t take because I’m in Lexington during half of it. That sort of forces me to take our AD’s masterclass, though, which I’ve been semi-dreading because, like, he’s our AD and therefore inherently terrifying.

In other news, I guess it’s time to Order All The Dance Belts before I jet off to Lexington and then Connecticut. I have three that I like well enough; I would really like to have five so I never, ever have to worry about whether or not they’ll dry on time.

I need to make up my mind whether to order another pair of Yumikos or to order some M. Stevens tights, also, mainly because there’s some lead time involved in acquiring another pair of Yumikos.

Though, come to think of it, my Very Own Personal Yumiko Rep is about to jet off to a tropical paradise for an intensive because he is, in fact, awesome (no, really; last year he got invited to dance at Jacob’s Pillow), so that might sort that for me. I’ll have to find out when he comes back from Ballet Paradise.

Everything’s Relative (Especially Time)

This week, the days seem unbelievably long. I just basically seem to have SO FREAKING MUCH TIME (First World Problems again).

It just occurred to me that there’s a reason for that: last week, there was an awful lot of running off to rehearsal and class and that TV news thing; this week, there’s … well, there’s class?

Class and housework. Some technologizing in the margins.

I’m fine with that. I’m really not complaining. It’s actually pretty nice—it’s just weird and surprising how spacious this week feels after last week’s compressed, frenetic schedule.

You would think I’d have figured it out by now; that I’d have been around this block enough times to be able to predict that, hey, this week is way less busy than last week so it’s going to feel luxuriously slow, but nope. I haven’t figured that out yet, apparently.

My brain is on a break, or I’d try to draw some really intelligent correlation between this kind of experiential relativity and Einstein’s relativity. Like, I feel the germ of an idea kicking around in there, but I can’t quite seem to get hold of it.

Anyway, this morning I did barre and adagio, then made my excuses (foot, as usual >.<). Killer B gave me a correction that made my arms look awesome: keep the shape of the arm as is, but imagine that you’re pressing the whole thing down against something.

Curiously, what this accomplishes is not arms that collapse, but arms that look strong and shoulders that stay open and down and back and all that good stuff (read: all the other stuff BW regularly reminds me to do ^-^).

Basically, it’s like when you’re a little kid in those swimmy things[1] (they still make them—who knew?!) that go on your arms, and you’re using your lats to push them down against the water so they push you up. Maybe normal people don’t do that, but during my Swimmies-wearing phase, I totally did (in my defense, I was 2.5-3 years old) because I liked being able to go Boing!Boing!Boing! in the water, usually whilst my grandparents’ German Shepherd/Alsatian[2] looked on with a heckin concern.

  1. We also had those floaty swimsuit things that make you look like some kind of undernourished koopa: basically, an aquatic romper with what was essentially a couple of small kickboards—one in front and one in back, if memory serves—sewn between two layers of lycra. Mine was initially too big and would ride up and bonk me in the chin and chafe my armpits. By the time I was the right size, I already knew how to swim well enough not to need it.
  2. For those in the US who are not dog nerds who spent too much of their formative years reading dog books from the UK, German Shepherd = Alsatian.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of pictures taken (JUST NOW!!!) with D’s late-90s-era webcam (seriously, this thing is geriatric in tech years, though it still does the job) that more or less illustrate the point:

In case you’re wondering, this is my office/guest room, where I’m in the midst of catching up on the laundry after last week’s scheduling madness.

The really interesting thing is that I didn’t actually change the angle of my arm between the first and second shot in any of the sets: engaging my lats moved my entire shoulder joint.

That said, I don’t think pix 5 and 6 are great illustrations of anything except the fact that engaging your lats makes your neck look longer.

Picture 7, meanwhile, is just silliness for its own sake.

I’ll have to try to get better pictures of this effect next time I’m in the studio. It was hard to get enough of my body in the frame and still be able to click the mouse (I appreciate voice-activation so much more right now, you guys). I would’ve done better just to use my phone and email the pix to myself, but that seemed like too much work.

One of these days, I’ll try to see if I can get D to take a picture of what this looks like from the back, because I really feel it right below the margins of my scapulae/shoulder-blades/wing-bones, and I suspect that it’s probably quite visible.

I am not, however, very good at taking pictures of my own back.

It’s Taimz for Crazy Taimz

As of today, my schedule officially begins its trek through the land of:

This means rehearsals that end at 10:30 on Monday nights, a whole lotta class(1), extra conditioning for an upcoming audition, Dance Team, preparation for our annual Meeting With The Accountant, and work on the next iteration of the website for D’s business*. 

  1. This is different than a Whole Latte class, in which baristas would presumably learn the art of making ethically-sourced organic coffee drinks, or perhaps simply how to make an entire latte and not just part of one(2).
  2. If you forget the milk, for example, it’s just coffee! 

In the interest of retaining some shred of sanity, I’m keeping Modern Mondays off the calendar until March, at least. My primary studio just added modern on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though, so I’ll be doing at least one of those, depending. 

I’m trying to keep Tuesday unscheduled, but since tomorrow is the first class, I’m going to go.

For the time being, on Mondays, it makes more sense to take an evening ballet class instead of a morning modern class. That keeps my mornings free for goofing off on the Innertubes  household stuff and groups all the dance things into a nice block from 2:45 — 10:30. (There’s a dinner break in there, don’t worry.)

This is one of the things I’m trying to do differently this year. Instead of saying, “Oh, cool, I only have three things on the schedule for Mondays!”,  I’m accounting for things like transit time and the fact that I don’t change gears well, so it’s foolish to assume I’ll get even one task done if I have a couple of hours between engagements. 

Thus, while I seem to have once again stacked a lot onto my plate, I’m trying to be sensible about how I approach it. 

The thing I’ve learned about pursuing dance seriously is that you’re either up to your eyeballs in alligators—wait, let’s call them crocodiles because it will be funnier later—or you’re on break. The challenge is learning to Arrange Your Crocodiles  In A Linear Array. Which is to say:

Get your crocs in a row! (Shamelessly ganked from Chris Booth over at Expatior)

Arranging my waterfauna is really not my forté, but I’m learning. Sort of.

The frenzy of class and rehearsal is worth it to have the chance to make art and do the thing that it feels like I was made to do(3).

  1. The cat disagrees. He believes I was made to serve as a cat bed and play-bot. 

I fully expect to arrive home exhausted at 11 PM tonight. Needless to say, I’m glad Tuesday isn’t Killer Class day.

If it was, I’d make it work. It would be worth it.

Right now I feel weirdly like my dreams are rushing towards me at terminal velocity.

All things considered, that’s a pretty cool feeling.

Though, really—ask me again in March how I feel about my schedule 😉


Here’s a detailed explanation of how my current schedule happened:

OMG This Month in Dance

First of all, um, Happy New Year, errbody. I sorta missed the boat on that one. D and I actually managed to stay up ’til midnight for maybe the second time in our life together(1).

  1. Possibly the deepest irony in my life right now is that, for all my implacable insomnia, I never seem to manage to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve these days. WTF is that about?

I’m still kind of wrestling with depression, so I’m making the most of the last two days of my reprieve break from the chaos. I’ve been organizing like a madperson, and also sort of crafting things, because … I dunno. Apparently my current response to OMG The World Might End is, like, nesting?

Although I have never before in my life had the urge to cover a coffee can with contact paper, yesterday (in a fit of covering recycled cardboard boxes to hold things like plastic utensils, because I am apparently That Gay Guy after all and realized I would be more satisfied with attractive utensil-holders than with unattractive ones) I did just that. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but it turns out that it’s a perfect fit for all the junk(2) that lives on my side of our vanity(3). Also looks pretty nice, actually.

  1. Said junk includes sunblock (because I am the whitest white boy who ever whited; I am like, nuclear-winter white), Boudreaux’s Butt Paste All-Natural (good for bicycle-induced irritation; also good for that stupid thing where I decide it isn’t important to shave the hollows where my thighs join my pelvis in the morning and then wear an effing dance belt all day … NOT A GOOD IDEA, guys(4)), my deodorant, off-brand Gold Bond powder that I use only occasionally, and … erm, I’m sure there’s somethin else in there? All these things used to be able to fall off of the vanity individually, now they have to either stay put or fall off collectively.
  2. My drawers (each roughly shoebox-sized) hold socks, underwear, and miscellany (stuffed wolf keychain, old phone because why?, LOLCATs dog book that I forgot to give a friend of mine ages ago, spare glasses, etc); D’s hold a few sweaters rolled up into furry cylinders, a bunch of t-shirts he probably doesn’t even remember, and our communal dress accessories—pocket squares with matching ties, etc. The middle drawer holds who even knows what; the small top drawers are reserved for cufflinks (of which we have many, thanks to my weird obsession with cufflinks), jewelry (of which we have almost none), and G-d alone knows what else. I should really go through my miscellany and would-be-jewelry drawers again. Also the middle drawer. Pretty sure that if I don’t know what’s in it, we don’t need any of that stuff.
  3. My skin isn’t quite as sensitive as my Dad’s was, but it’s still pretty sensitive, and Ehrlers-Danlos makes it a little fragile. Couple this with the fact that I have almost no body hair except for the annoyingly-assertive stripe down the inner side of each thigh, and I have a recipe for disaster if I don’t shave at all, and even worse disaster if I try to let it go for more than a day or two.

Getting back to class will be good for me (even though it will also kill me, because Jiminy Freaking Cricket, jumping right back into Killer Class is a terrible idea).

This month also begins the mad dash to March 11th. “Work Song” (or possibly another piece that I really want to do, but first I’ll have to discuss the idea with my dancers; it might not be kosher to change horses just now) goes up then.

Also this month, D is taking me to the inaugural Louisville Dance Series performance, and I’m taking him to Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet (speaking of LINES, I need to go pick up my tickets). The day after LINES, the team has a competition (I can’t call them “the girls” anymore; we have a boy now … yasssssss!).

This semester promises to be, in a word, cray. Or whatever the 2017 version of Cray is. You know: wack. Insane. Hell-bent for leather.

On the other hand, if I live, I’ll be going to Pilobolus’ summer workshop, which is immensely exciting (it’s also exciting that I can write that off as a business/education expense—professional development/continuing ed, I love you so much). Which reminds me, I need to check in with ABM about which week she wants to go, so I can potentially schedule other intensive things around it.

So January promises to be a bit intense, but worth it. In February, we’re going to see Lexington Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet for my birthday. Huzzah!

Speaking of which: when my Mom was pregnant with me, she ran past her due date, and was given the options to induce with an eye towards delivery on the 10th or with an eye towards delivery on the 14th.

She chose the 10th, a kindness for which I remain, to this day, very grateful. It’s one thing to be born in a month that everyone hates (poor, unloved February: I actually love February in New England, but here it’s a cold, drizzly misery); quite another to be born on the specific day that, it sometimes seems, half the world regards as Obligatory Jewelry-Purchasing Day and the other half regards as Unwarranted Oppression of Single Persons Day.

Anyway, that’s it. This is basically a whole post about nothing, but there you have it.

Not sure how much I’ll be posting in January, because I have no idea how my schedule is going to shake out (especially WRT rehearsal scheduling, which is going to be interesting, since we’re all rehearsing six million different things).

I will try to post at least once a week, though.

It’s Not Just About Conversation Starters 

In real life, among strangers, I am shy in a way that’s remarkably specific and to a degree that can fairly be described as crippling.

I’m fine on a podium. Fine in a classroom discussion (unless the instructor utters the dreaded words, “Divide yourselves into groups…”). Fine if I’m with someone I trust who will let me stay close. Fine in a ballet class, because the protocols are generally pretty clear.

But usually I’m not fine.

It took me a long, long time to really understand the problem—in fact, it was only in the past year or two that I was finally able to pick the most important thread out of the pattern; the thread that forms the warp(1) of the whole thing.

  1. In weaving, the warp is the straight thread that forms the matrix around which the fancy stuff is woven. It may may not look like much, but without the warp, a beautiful loom-woven rug is nothing but a ball of yarn. BTW, there’s an easy way to remember which is which: the word weft(2) relates to the verb “to weave”—and if you think about the action of weaving (whether weaving fabric or weaving through obstacles), it will help you know which word is which. The weft is woven around the warp.
  2. Some weavers use the word woof in place of weft. I forget exactly where I first learned basic weaving (it was a school thing; we made hand-looms), but the woman who taught us used woof. I use both, interchangeably. A different bent on the same mnemonic applies: weave > woven > woof instead of weave > weft. 

The warp of the problem, for me, is that I can’t read (or even see) the subtle signals that say, “Hey, it’s cool if you join me/us” or “Stay back, weirdo.”

Being as I’m a fairly benign weirdo who doesn’t like to go where he’s not wanted, I have no idea who to approach—and I also have terrible feelings associated with the times that, as a kid, I tried anyway and found myself harshly rejected.

I’m okay if someone approaches me, but if I’m put in the usual free-for-all kind of situation, I’m completely screwed, and I tend to quietly panic.

I doubt this helps me seem approachable.

I don’t know if there’s any complete solution for for this.

I have grown marginally less anxious about approaching individual strangers. Most adults aren’t obnoxious jerks who will openly heap scorn on beleaguered randos who approach them, and I think I’m pretty okay at picking up on the signals that say, “Okay, it was nice meeting you, I’m out.”

Groups are harder, because I can’t tell when a group is open and when it’s closed. To complicate matters, I live in a place where people feel that is impolite to say so directly, or indeed to say anything directly …but in which the conventions surrounding polite, indirect communication are quite different from those I learned growing up. Argh.

So I dread the “divide yourselves into groups” moment with singular intensity.

I’m not sure what to do about all this, exactly—but at least it sheds some light on why all the. “quirky conversation starters” articles out there seem, from my perspective, to miss the point (though I’m sure they’re a big help to a lot of people).
It’s not that I can’t think of something to talk about. Everyone loves ballet, dinosaurs, entomology, and etymology, right? RIGHT?! ;D

It’s that I can’t figure out who is and isn’t open to talking to me (unless, like the guy at the last party I went to, they make the first move).

~

I’m writing this mostly for myself. Writing about these things helps me think about them. Maybe if I can start thinking concretely about this problem, I can start to develop a strategy; something that will help.

As a dancer, of course, I’m backing flag semaphor. (FOTO:Fortepan. Hungary, via Wikimedia Commons.)

I don’t think this will will ever be easy or natural for me—but that’s okay. If I can figure it out just just enough to get by, that will be, as they they say, gravy.

Not Really Complaining 

… Or, okay, yes, but really only whinging a bit 😉

I saw the nurse-practitioner (you guys, autocorrupt suggested MURDER practitioner! W… T … Actual … F?!  o_O’) at my doc’s practice today. 

She confirmed that I have a sinus infection and also a wee ear infection, which explains why it sometimes feels like the spirit level in my head is borked. 

I’ve been handling this thing very conservatively — actually resting basically all the time, staying clear of strenuous activities (except for the part when I decided to be helpful and uninstall two of the three window aircons in the house by myself, which I did successfully, but which knocked me onto my backside). On the balance, I think it has paid off. In the past, my sinus infections have often progressed into bronchial infections by the end of a week and change, so the fact that this one had constrained itself to the confines of my head is comforting. 

I’ll be taking doxycycline for a week and I’ve got a script for plain 12-hour psuedoephedrine for a while, so that should get me sorted and back to the studio. 

I may attempt Killer B’s barre tomorrow, but I may not. It really depends on my balance and energy level. Today I am definitely listing to port (and not just politically speaking, though I did go and vote), so that’s a huge if. I might also hit up Trap 3 tomorrow night as a semi-spectator, but I don’t want to pull out all the stops right away. I have figured out that easing back into things is part of the deal for me.

On the upside, my blood pressure was stellar (110/56) and my heart rate was fine (75, which is lower than it often is in doctors’ offices, because I am still mildly stressy about being in them, which can be weird and hard and awkward if you’re an intersex person).

So things look doable.

Now I’m going to lie around and watch stupid movies and otherwise bury my head in the sand until the US General Election is over, at which point my friends will tell me whether  it’s safe to come out or I should start burrowing a tunnel to Canada. Except by then I’ll probably be asleep. 

In other news, I’ve been reading horse blogs, which reminds me how much I miss having horses in my life, which is why I avoid horse-related content. 

Also, yes, I’m apparently a sucker for bright orange animals (though I’m not particular about the color of a horse; it’s what’s on the inside that matters).

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