Category Archives: life management

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).

Finally, A Thing 

So DanceTeam is going well (though I am still convinced that at any moment our dancers are going to realize that I have no idea what I’m doing and revolt/go rogue/possibly eat me). 

Ballet and modern were less than awesome last week, but the Pilobolus workshop made up for a lot of that, especially the part when one of the instructors tracked me down afterwards and told me I was a beautiful mover with a lot of presence. Definitely one of those “I can die happy now”  moments.

Likewise, today’s Open Fly, during which I started formally building a dance to Hozier’s “Work Song” that’s actually going to happen (Finally!), felt like a leap forward.
Including myself, I have four dancers lined up. Aerial A, who went to the Pilobolus workshop with me, is also in, as are my DanceTeam partner-in-crime and a fellow I know from acro (upon whose very high shoulders I have literally stood). We’ve got a tentative performance date early next year (the performance is a definite; it’s just the date that’s undecided). Aerial A happened along while I was working on choreography this afternoon and we stepped through the first 41 seconds of the dance — at least, as much as we could, since there’s some partnering stuff that requires our compatriots.

Aerial A likes what I’ve got, and I think it’s going to really work.

Needless to say, the explosion of dance stuff in my life is both exciting and a bit overwhelming. I’m still in that phase during which you just kind of white-knuckle it whilst you adjust to your new schedule. Hence less posting. I’m somehow managing to scrape paint off the trim in the midst of all this, also, because miracles evidently do occur. 

This week, we’ve got a dance event on Monday evening (a sort of “live interview” with Wendy Whelan), then I think a “normal” schedule again — wait, no, DanceTeam performs on Friday! 

Anyway, here’s hoping that in class this week I won’t do dumb things like choosing too shallow a line in a bidirectional combination and almost colliding with someone in the next group.

Intensive plans for next summer are also in the works. Aerial A and I are hoping to hit at least one of Pilobolus’ week-long workshops. In addition, I’ll probably go to Cinci and Lexington again. There’s a remote chance of doing Sun King if our finances are okay, but in the current economic climate it’s really hard to predict.

No worries there, though. If I don’t get to go til 2018, I’ll be even better prepared than I will next year.

There are also a few audition-y things on the radar, but let’s file those under, “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent.” At least for now.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Still percolating other choreo projects, especially Simon Crane — but one of them is finally taking off. 

5, 6, 7, 8 — Boy, Can We Procrastinate! 

I am clearly confused about life right now. 

I’ve jumped into an assistant-coach gig for a middle-school dance team, which is a huge leap out of my comfort zone, what with my background being strictly ballet & modern of the kind that tends to foam at the mouth when someone mentions “dance as a sport.”

That’s not where I’m confused, though. 

While I may be something something of a knee-jerk mouth-foamer about about the concept, I’ve realized that, with the right coach, Dance Team can be a way into dance as art for kids who might otherwise never have a chance. The coach I’m working with, a friend of mine from the increasingly tiny world of dance and aerials, is that kind of coach. Likewise, she and I come from essentially opposite dance backgrounds, and know how how to work together to take advantage  of that, so we make a good team.

I’m totally drinking the Kool-aid, there. 

No — what I’m confused about is this: why am I still scraping the paint on the house when I should be firming up the piece I’m choreographing for the team? 

Or, well … Okay, I’m not really confused. I know what’s going on. I’m just confused about why I’m letting it happen. 

Basically, I’m terrified. I’m afraid I’m Doin’ It Rong; that the dances I create are stupid. 

This is also part of what keeps me from finishing my longer choreography and writing projects. Every now and and then, I experience a spasm of lack of faith in my own vision. 

I don’t, I should note, most faith in my ability as a writer (sadly, the same cannot be said for my flaming case of Impostor Syndrome about dance): I’ve had too much success not to know that I can put words together beautifully; I just fall into fits of thinking my stories are stupid. Then I freeze for an indefinite period of time, after which I return to my projects and continue work. 

Anyway, today I should be making a dance, but instead I’m busy being afraid to make a dance. (I should be making plans for auditions for next year, but I’m paralyzed about that, too.)

I’m writing this so I can see how silly this all is. Maybe someday, I’ll read this and laugh at how silly I was. 

After all, it’s not like I have to go win the Prix de Lausanne the day after tomorrow (besides, I’m over-age for that). I just have to come up with a dance for a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who all seem like hard workers with good attitudes (or mostly-good, which is good enough).
Regardless, I really need to up my procrastination game. Who procrastinates by scraping paint, anyway, FFS? 

Apparently, I do.

There’s also this other thing. Maybe you can relate. When everything starts coming together and landing in my lap, which is totally happening right now, part of me (of course) feels grateful and excited … but another part starts looking around to see if the Universe is trolling me. Like, “Was that a real pat on the back, or did some divine force just stick a kick me sign on there?”

…Which is also totally happening right now (sorry, Universe).

I’m going to force myself to proceed as if there is no Kick Me sign; as of there’s no possibility of any such thing.

It just might take me a little while to really start believing it.    

Working Out The Kinks

…By which I don’t mean taking a certain band to the gym 😉

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve done a bunch of injuring myself in the past two years.

I think it’s also fair to say that I’m getting better at managing injuries and recovering from them — at reasonable share of which is learning, through trial and error, what “rest” means in relationship to various injuries if you’re a dancer and/or an aerialist (and, for that matter, what “rest” means in general as someone that my physiotherapist spouse defines as “an extreme athlete” — read, if you’re a serious dancer or aerialist, that’s you! Hi!).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, I’ve found myself doing a fair bit of reflection on why I’m injuring all the things and how I might, you know, stop that. (Or at least mostly stop.)

I’ve concluded that there are three major components:

  1. REST!
  2. Balance.
  3. Learning when to say “when.”

Let’s start with Point the Third: Learning When to Say “When.”

Like most dancers, I take pride in my ability to listen to my body in certain regards.

I know when I’m hungry, and I know when I’m full. I know when I should eat all the salty pommes frites and when I shouldn’t. I know when I need a freaking salad. I know that I should not have more than one beer when I have class the next day (so, basically, ever; we’ll address that under the heading of REST).

I more or less know when I’m really freaking tired and should just Go the F**k to Sleep (hint: I realize that I’m acting like a poorly-socialized two-year-old; shortly thereafter, I put my cranky behind to bed).

I know … okay, I almost know … how to not spend all my money on dance and aerials (I really did need that fourth dance belt; there might not be even one laundromat in Cincinnati, and more importantly, I might be too tired to bother! Also, it is totally important to have twenty pairs of tights and three pairs of ballet shoes and special socks that you basically only use for modern class and … okay, maybe I’m not that great at this one yet).

But when it comes to classes, I’m not great at knowing when I just plain need to STAHP.

Or, at least, I wasn’t.

Recently, I’ve tried a slow-and-steady approach to getting back into class after an injury. Amazingly, just as every physiotehrapist and exercise scientist and coach and trainer and ballet instructor on earth would’ve predicted, it worked!

I didn’t completely forget how to dance. My legs did not fall off. I did not lose my single knee-hang on both sides (though I’m still working back into it on the left, because when you basically completely disengage your adductors for a couple weeks, they detrain pretty fast).

I’m now working out the series of kinks (not injuries so much as low-level irritations) that I accumulated while compensating for my most recent injury: weirdness in my back; knee and calf fatigue on the opposite side. My right calf was a wee bit sore by the time we finished petit allegro on Wednesday, but not so much that it felt like I should skip grand allegro. I rolled the dice and it worked out, but I’ll probably need to think carefully about that tomorrow, too.

And every other day, for the rest of my life.

Okay. So that covers the whole “know when to say when” thing. On to Point the Second: Balance.

While this isn’t quite how things work in the real world, it’s usually more or less functionally accurate to acknowledge that when you increase strength, you reduce flexibility.

This is a problem for normal people, but it’s a huge problem for hypermobile people.

In short, if you don’t pay attention to muscle balance when you train and/or you don’t stretch adequately (or you overstretch, or — worst of all, if you do some of each), you can throw your whole body out of whack.

That goes double if your body isn’t strung together very securely in the first place (that is, if you’re hypermobile).

I would like to show you a picture.

Here:

Group-Candlestand-3

Top Row: Janie, Me. Bottom Row: Amy, Courtney. Both Rows: COMPLETELY FREAKING AWESOME. Also, I am astoundingly modest today, amirite?

On the face of it, this just looks like a really cool acro-balancing pile (and, for the most part, that’s completely accurate).

However, ballet wonks will notice that my eyes say Armand (from La Dame Aux Camélias) while my hands say OMG DON QUIXOTE!!!!!1!!oneone

Which is what they say ALL. THE. TIME. unless I pay a ton of attention to what I’m doing with them.

I hear about this in essentially every class ever, unless I pay a ton of attention to what I’m doing with them.

All this is more or less the result of muscle imbalance. I don’t always stretch adequately after aerials classes, nor do I do much to counteract the effects of working on aerial apparati in terms of strength balance — so unless I think very hard about making my hands soft and graceful, they do this*.

*Okay, it might also partly be a personality trait: as a dancer, I tend to operate in one of two default modes — I have no idea what I’m doing right now or I am such a cocky little badass, depending. The fact that it was specifically the Russian dance in Nutcracker that made me want to take up ballet probably tells you essentially everything you need to know.

Anyway, until I started being really conscious about stretching my hands after trapeze, silks, lyra, and mixed apparatus, this was making my hands hurt, because things were pulling on other things in unbalanced ways.

The whole disaster with my pelvis started more or less the same way. I neglected to train the bottom third of my abdominal muscles, and things pulled other things out of whack — and since my connective tissue is unusually stretchy, they got really, really out of whack.

So, in short, things that train strength need to be balanced with things that train flexibility and vice-versa. Likewise, when you train the crap out of your adductors, you should also do some work on your abductors. And so on.

And, of course, training needs to be balanced with every dancer’s favorite four-letter word:

Point the First: REST.

The process of getting stronger is essentially one of creating tiny tears in your muscles, then letting them heal.

Guess what makes them heal?

REST.

Likewise, the process of accumulating explicit knowledge requires rest. A great deal of memory consolidation, as far as we can tell, takes place during sleep.

Also, the brain itself gets tired. The brain needs rest, too (and not just sleep: sometimes the brain just needs to, like, kick back and sit on its cerebral porch and watch the world go by).

And ballet, modern dance, and aerials need the brain.

Moreover, all kinds of injury-preventive functions, from equilibrium to coordination to proprioception to decision making, are compromised by fatigue and sleep-deprivation.

You know what one weird trick combats fatigue and sleep-deprivation?

Say it with me:

REST.

(Also, sleep.)

I also need a fair amount of rest when it comes to that whole Being Around Humans thing.

I am very much an introvert in the sense that I recharge by being alone: like, really alone. Like, “Don’t bust up in my kitchen on one of my designated Leave Me Alone days and start chatting with me and expect me to be anything other than a complete b1tch” alone.

So, basically, I’ve done a piss-poor job giving myself adequate rest. Even on the days that are supposed to be my days off, for the past several weeks, I’ve had to go out and get things done and be among humans, which has more or less literally been making me insane (seriously, sobbing-on-the-floor-in-the-kitchen-at-9-PM-on-Monday, snapping-at-my-best-friends-for-no-reason insane).

So, yeah. That’s part of injury prevention for me, too: first, because I get really, really tense, which makes the tight muscles tighter and increases the likelihood of strains and so forth; second, because I have enough trouble sleeping without being, as my old roommate used to say, “outside my mind;” third, because it keeps me from eating people’s faces, which is definitely a kind of injury, just more for them than for me. Heh.

So here’s another picture:

WIN_20160527_13_42_04_Pro

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it whole-ly, even if you have to move it to Sunday because you have a Cube Workshop on Saturday afternoon. Also, sorry it’s fuzzy.

Please notice the dark circles under my eyes. They are what happens when I don’t sleep (also when my allergies are going crazy).

Please notice also the bold text and giant circle around it, reminding me that:

THIS REST CRAP IS IMPORTANT.

So, basically, I’ll be scheduling my rest days much more strictly (and, it appears, emphatically) in the future. I’ve also opted for one less-physically-demanding class on Tuesday and Thursday at the Cinci intensive in order to build in a little more rest.

I don’t know about you, but my long-term goal is to to be (as my trapeze instructor is) completely, mind-bendingly awesome at trapeze when I’m 50; to still be dancing when I’m 90.

It would also be great if my legs don’t fall off long before I reach either of those milestones, because I’ve got a pretty long way to go, frankly.

Paying attention to moderation, balance, and REST are probably the keys, really, to making that happen.

So that’s what I’m going to do, even if it kills me.

…Wait, no that’s not quite what I’m going for. In fact, to some extent, that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

Let’s try this again:

So that’s what I’m going to do, so all this doesn’t kill me.

Edit: Lastly, a very short clip of the juggling-while-Rola-Bola-ing bit,complete with juggling-club videobomb 😀 This was before I figured out I could plié on the Rola-Bola, pick up the balls, and start juggling without falling off.

Time To Get Serious*

*Insofar as I am capable of ever being serious about anything, ever, because I am a focused person, a dedicated person, an all-of-that-kind-of-stuff person, but serious? I’m not sure that’s the best descriptor, really, where I’m concerned.

So, yeah.

I am thinking about injuries, and my history of accumulating them, and being like, “Ha! Ohai! I haz hurted myself again,” and then basically making jokes about it because that’s way easier than actually admitting that I’m hella pissed at myself.

But, like, I am.

Pissed at myself, that is (for my Brits: I don’t mean I’m drunk at myself, I mean I’m mad at myself … this time … which you probably already knew from context because you’re smart, but somehow my inner Smart-Alec just wouldn’t let me not say it).

Or, well, I was.

And then I realized that I’m looking at this incorrectly.

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Denis recommends a change in perspective.

I have a habit of injuring myself mildly, which just happens in Teh Ballets and in life at large sometimes, because humans can be careful but can’t be perfect.

Injuring myself mildly from time to time wouldn’t be a big deal in and of itself.

The problem is that I also then have a problem of doing things that exacerbate minor injuries and turn them into major ones, like I did this week.

I’ve been mad at myself because I was like, “That’s just careless.”

Except, it’s not. Carelessness isn’t the problem.

The problem is that I don’t perceive pain normally and I’m stupidly hypermobile (okay, and my drive to do things like dance and aerials often exceeds my limited supply of common sense).

but-a-scratch

Shamelessly stolen from Monty Python by everyone ever.

So, basically, parts of me don’t start hurting when they should, then stop hurting before they should. The level of pain I experience does not accurately reflect the severity of any given injury, nor do they reflect how much it has healed.

Theoretically, the deep muscle in my “thut” (that’s thigh-butt; you can thank my aerials instructors for that one!) that I could barely use yesterday should be causing a shedload of pain today, but it actually doesn’t hurt at all**.

**Maybe it would if I tried to do the things I’m not supposed to do. Maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t plan to find out the hard way. At any rate, it should at least be sore.

Note to self: THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE.

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Everything is fine. (Shamelessly ganked from heroviral.com.)

Likewise, parts of me stretch in ways that increase the likelihood of injury under certain circumstances. This is partly due to associated abnormalities in proprioception and pain perception (see above) and partly due to the fact that greater flexibility often correlates with reduced strength.

Not that I’m not strong; I’m just not necessarily strong in the places that will prevent me from doing things like yoinking the crap out of my turnout muscles.

O-Turns-Why

Seriously, there is absolutely nothing wrong here, guys. Everything is definitely under control.

I haven’t been treating this seriously. I’ve been too busy being delighted about the things that my abnormal pain perception and hypermobility let me do to be willing to countenance the fact that they also predispose me to injuries that I could better avoid if I was, basically, less weird.

As they say: “You take the good with the bad.” And I’ve been trying only to take the good, without accounting for the bad.

This past week, I turned a minor strain into a major one and bought myself several days off dancing and a term of about six weeks to full recovery (with appropriate management).

I wasn’t being careless. Things just didn’t hurt, so I carried on as usual. My leg was a little stiff and sore in the morning, but felt okay enough by the time class rolled around, and really quite okay indeed by the time trapeze class rolled around — so I proceeded with business as usual.

bidness

Business as usual (actual video to follow … eventually).

This is the same approach that bought me a layoff of a couple of months last year, followed by a long reconditioning period.

Obviously, a rate of one serious injury per year is quite a bit higher than is really sustainable.

So, in additional to healing, I plan to spend the next several weeks learning how to prevent injuries to my specific body. Clearly, this will mean developing both better awareness of what’s going on in my body and a greater willingness to turn to my live-in Physio (AKA my husband, Denis) when I think I have a minor injury and follow his advice.

bad-idea

This is me, not following advice (because I hadn’t asked for any). For the record, yes – that *is* the leg I strained, though this is not how I strained it. Bizarrely, that involved neither aerials nor ballet. In other news: yup, I am still pasty.

And, of course, because I like to write about everything (if nothing else, it serves as a kind of external backup drive), I’ll probably be writing about this process here.

So there you have it. Some insights about injuries that I don’t think I really had before.

Also a terrifying picture of my butt. Holy chromoly. Who stuffed ‘roid-raging weasels down my tights?!

Pilobolus Master Class All Up In My Drawers

 

…Wait, what?

Kids, this is why punctuation is important. That should read:

Pilobolus Master Class; All Up In My Drawers

First: Pilobolus Master Class!

You guys, it was so great.

I feel like I learned a great deal about the process of creating dances through improv, and it was cool to dance in an environment where technique wasn’t even a thing. The guys from Pilobolus basically said, “We love dancers and we love dance technique, but if you’re someone who spends hours every day in class, please check your technique at the door.” As someone who loves technique but can get a bit too invested in it, that idea was very freeing.

I am a horrible person, and have forgotten the names of our ambassadors of Pilobolus, but they were both very cool guys and very good teachers — though this process was as much one of bringing out what’s already there as one of teaching. The teaching part was more about figuring out how to use what’s already there.

I must admit that I went into it a bit worried that I’d be all stiff and horrible because…

OMG STRANGERZ!!!11!!!1one1oneomgwtfbbq

…But apparently I overlooked the part where, like, you know, dancing? …When I was worrying about that.

If dance is involved, I seem to do relatively okay in groups of new people.

At the end of class, we broke into three groups and created three short (about 4 minutes) dances in the span of about five minutes, performed them, critiqued them, refined them over another two (two!) minutes, then performed them again.

All three dances were completely different, and all three of them were cool, but one (not my group’s; ours was silly) was really stirring and moving. I hope some of the dancers will take it and run with it, because it was really, really good.

I feel like I want to let this whole experience percolate a bit more, then write about it at greater length. It was, in short, just an amazing two-ish hours (happily, we ran over the original 1.5-hour class time).

It turns out that Pilobolus holds a 3-week summer workshop series (in Connecticut, yay!). I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I can figure out how to afford at least one week this year. Curiously, the name of the third workshop, Vision & Revision, was also the name of my favorite writing class when I was in high school.

Serendipity, much?

 

And Now: All Up In My Drawers!

I did manage to make it to IKEA afterwards.

My one real goal was to acquire a second Big Blue Bag, which will greatly improve my laundry system. Heretofore, I’ve been using one Big Blue Bag and any of my various not-quite-as-ginormous shopping bags.

The second Big Blue Bag wasn’t essential, but it will make the system run more smoothly, since now I’ll have two dedicated laundry bags of the same size.

While cruising through the store (you guys, it is so nice to walk through an IKEA all alone), however, I found something even better: specifically, Drawerganizers(TM).

Since keeping tights and so forth corralled is a fairly regular topic of conversation among dancers and aerialists in my life, I thought I’d share the current iteration of my system, which mostly comprises hair elastics, a plastic crate, and IKEA’s set of 6 Skubb boxes. (Sadly, the Cincy IKEA didn’t have the aqua ones in stock.)

I’ve been meaning to implement a boxes-in-the-drawers system for a while, but hadn’t found Drawerganizers that worked for me (shoeboxes would have been fine, probably, but we didn’t have any). The Skubb series works really nicely, and I couldn’t argue with the price — something like $8 for the set — or the portability factor. The boxes fold up rather ingeniously; when you set them up, little zippers in the floor panels add tension that keeps them in shape.

So, here’s how things are organized now:

image

First Floor: Cycling Apparel, Men’s Shirts, and The Occasional Sarong

Bottom Drawer (technically the second drawer from the bottom; the real bottom drawer houses bed linens): this one’s full of bike kit, a few pairs of shorts, and a bunch of t-shirts that I should probably donate, since I don’t wear them enough.

Bike kit used to share the dance clothes drawer (which was the Bike Kit Drawer until I had too much bike kit to keep it all in one drawer), but then the dance kit kind of took over. Anyway, I’ve used the two medium-sized Skubb boxes to contain bike kit.

Overflow bike kit lives in a vertical organizer in the guest room closet, because I am apparently unusually sentimental about my Cabal jerseys, even the ones I don’t wear very often.

And, yes, there’s even a sarong in there, though I don’t think you can see it in this shot.

Next time I’m at IKEA, I’ll pick up a couple more Skubb boxes to corral the things that are still roaming free.

image

Second Floor: Dance Apparel, Fuzzy Socks, and Thermal Tights*

Top Drawer: Dance kit and almost nothing else.

Until recently, I’ve alternated between folding and rolling my tights, and found that neither really prevents everything from coming undone when I’m digging for that one pair with the pictures of mountains on it or whatevs.

The other day, I hit on the solution of buying a package of brightly-colored hair ties to keep them contained. It works brilliantly.

In combination with the hair ties, the Skubb boxes keep things corralled and controlled. No more tights rolling into the base-layer section; no more dance belts hiding under legwarmers (right now, for decency’s sake, they’re hiding under a pair of socks instead).

Things that didn’t really fit anywhere else take up the extra space in the drawer in front of the Skubbs.

image

Rooftop Terrace: Aerial Apparel, Clutter, and Mayhem

On Top Of Ol’ Dresser: Denis’ tights live here, along with our white-noise machine (which is really an air purifier), a photo from our wedding, and a terrifying doll that predates my tenure in this establishment. There are also some foam panels that insulate our air-con when it’s installed, but right now it’s still on vacation.

I found the plastic basket at a place called Five Below, but you can find similar ones just about anywhere.

The fact that Denis has his own tights-basket means he no longer asks me where his tights are (when they’re right freaking there!) or roots through my dance-kit drawer, leaving chaos in his wake. Seriously, the man is like a water buffalo sloshing around in a pond when he gets in there.

My married peeps (and anyone with kids or particularly egregious housemates; similar things can happen in kitchen drawers) will understand how this helps keep me out of prison.

image

La Pièce de Resistance

A cheap keychain-grade carabiner slipped through a convenient opening in the “weave” of the basket holds the hair elastics that aren’t currently in use. I’ve oriented it so the gate can be operated without removing the whole carabiner: you just slide a band up to the top, open the gate, and the band comes right out. The process for replacing one is similarly painless.

I had to think long and hard about how to implement this bit, because my husband is a lazy slob (and will happily tell you so himself). The idea is to make it so freaking easy to put the bands back that it’s basically easier than not bothering.

You guys, I seriously believe in the power of harnessing the path of least resistance. Remember, when (ahem) shaping (ahem) the behavior of spouses, appealing to the natural laziness of the human animal will save you many headaches.

So, there you have it. A tour of how things are staying organized all up in my drawers (dancers be like, “Wait, isn’t that what dance belts are for?” :V).

…And, now, on to the rest of the house.

*gulp*

 

 

 

*So organize. Very boxes. Wow.

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