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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.

Denis-02-28-2016-PointYourGolDarnToesDenis

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.

pets-stuck-696x362

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?!

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More Writing About Writing

… A little literary navel-gazing today.

I’m making some adjustments to Strangers, but also trying to figure out the answers to some writing questions.

Specifically, Toby and Phinny are co-protagonists, and it’s clear to me what Toby is after, as a character: he really wants to understand a dark, painful, and muddled period in his past so he can, like, move on with his life or something (okay, yeah, that sounds pretty vague). He also wants Phinny.

Phinny continues to be a bit of a problem child: I don’t know exactly what he wants in the story. To an extent, I suppose he wants to avoid the exact confrontation with his past (that is, his and Toby’s mutual past) that Toby wants and needs, but that avoidance thing serves Toby’s story better than it serves Phinny’s. Likewise, he is attracted and even a bit drawn to Toby, but not with the singularity of intention that draws Toby to him.

Beyond that, he is mostly a guy who has what he wants in the world: he’s spent his life preparing to become a dancer and has done so with no small success; he has grown up in a loving-if-somewhat-distracted family and maintains a good relationship with his parents and his kajillion brothers and sisters; he has good friends within his company; he likes traveling and as such enjoys the fact that I Travesti spends most of the year touring. He certainly wants love in the romantic sense, but I don’t think he feels any pressure about it — he is focused, instead, on dancing.

This doesn’t mean he’s a well-adjusted “whole person” — he absolutely isn’t, and in some ways he has constructed his entire so he never needs to deal with the trauma of his past. He never stays in any one place very long; he lives a secure, cloistered life in which he is almost never alone with his thoughts, let alone with a potential romantic partner; his relationship with Peter is at once primary, quasi-romantic, and asexual (Peter is basically the straightest man who has ever made a living by performing classical ballet in drag); he is at once aware of his own desirability and protected from its consequences by the people around him.

So getting to grips with his own past is a thing Phinny needs to do (or will, someday, need to do), but also a thing he feels no pressure to do, as he has carefully crafted a life that prevents situations in which he might feel said pressure.

Likewise, he doesn’t suffer from Toby’s central problem, which is a nagging guilt. Toby’s as driven by a need for absolution as he is by a need to understand what the frack actually happened; they are faces of the same coin. Phinny’s damage is more abstract (possibly because, ironically enough, the Bad Things in his history are more concrete — though also because he avoids it all so effectively).

So there’s that question: What is Phinny after, if he isn’t just a passive vehicle in this story? And, of course, does he reach whatever his goal is?

None of these difficulties get in the way of actual writing, of course — I’m a “Write first, ask questions later” kind of guy — but they will, sooner or later, come to bear on the novel as a whole.

Since I’m Taking A Couple of Days Off, I plan to spend a bit of time with Toby and Phinny and see what comes of it.

In other news, this injury means keeping work in turn-out to a minimum for a bit, and my inner Ballet Wonk is busy throwing a fit about that. I mean, in the long run, it’s important — the muscle I’ve managed to injure (which was secondary to the Groin Pull of Doom) is one of the major turnout muscles, and if I want to keep my turnout in the long run, I need to let it heal. But FFS, how do you ballet when you can’t turnout? Bleh.

(Yeah, I know — #FirstWorldBalletProblems)

I have also decided that I need to educate myself on how to manage minor injuries so I don’t turn them into major ones. Abnormal pain perception has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages, and this is one. Things don’t always hurt when they should (especially once my muscles are warm), so I wind up exacerbating injuries or adding new ones.

The groin pull wouldn’t have been a terribly big deal by itself, but I wound up injuring another muscle because of the way muscles compensate for one-another, and that’s the kind of thing I need to learn to avoid.

On the upside, I managed to prevent myself from sleeping in a face-down turned-out left retiré (seriously, I sleep that way most of the time, or in the butterfly/frog position — I mentioned this to B, and she said, “No wonder your turnout is so good!”), so I at least woke up far less sore than I have been.

Anyway, onward and upward, what what.

Homemaking: Kacy Is Your Friend

…And she’s awesome.

Five years ago, author and blogger Kacy Faulconer wrote a great post called “Obvious Tips For Not-Very-Good Homemakers.”

Tonight, I read it … and then its sequel … and then the sequel to its sequel.

The tips themselves are great (if, yes, sometimes pretty obvious: but, honestly, even if they’re things you already know, it’s pretty validating to know you’re not the only adult who occasionally calls upon the power of Pigs in Blankets) in a way that will make perfect sense to anyone who thinks a cookbook called Cooking with ADHD is a good idea — but it’s Kacy’s tone of acceptance and cameraderie that really makes it work.

It’s like a friend or a sister or a cousin saying, “Okay, guys and gals, we’re in this together. We kind of suck at this, but we’re doing it anyway, and it’s okay.”

…And also:

He didn’t become Gandalf the Citrus Moderne Dot, did he?

Kacy Faulconer

Because, seriously, he didn’t. Because he knew he was going to have to get orc blood off dat shizzle, and you can, as Faulconer points out, bleach white.

My own education as a half-baked homemaker has been very much about giving up on visions of making my own laundry detergent and growing my own vegetables, then embracing my limitations (and strengths) and learning to work with them.

I may not grow my own vegetables, but I turn vegetables that we buy into a mean set of no-sugar-added breakfast muffins every single week, because I not only know how to do that, but like doing it (because I do it well, so it makes me feel good, so I do it more, which makes me even better at it, etc.).

I may not make complex gourmet meals every single day, but just about every evening I do cook a meal that my husband enjoys (fortunately, he is a man of simple tastes, and doesn’t object to a regular rotation of variations on Freezer-Marinated Chicken with occasional forays into Things Made From Ground Beef).

I may use a lot of workarounds, but little by little I’m learning to get stuff done.

That’s the spirit that Faulconer’s blog embraces, and I feel like it’s a spirit whose time has come. So go read her!

Oh, yeah — in other news: did Essentials yesterday morning; was able to crack out the flying chassees and a couple of sautes without my toe falling off or swelling up like a ball of bagel dough. This definitely feels like progress. It also didn’t give me any real trouble today, just the generic “Hey, I’m still healing a little” soreness that has become its temporary new normal (for a while, it was fiercely sore the day after class even if I didn’t do releve work or jumps).

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

My mood is hanging in there, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Upper Doldrums. It’s not approaching “good” yet, but it’s at least more tolerable. I am more able to ignore Bad Thoughts (admittedly, by playing Bubble Wars or baking, but still…) when they arrive (but they’re still arriving).

The upside of my current mood? Holy cow, I have never been this productive in the kitchen. I mean, I have reached a point in life at which my kitchen is basically under control (I’ve even started weeding out unnecessary kitchen things and relocating or offloading them). I like being there, I like working there, and our dishwasher died, so now I just wash the dishes by hand and everything stays sorted.

The downside?

I don’t know. Is it bad to have 24 carrot-pineapple-coconut-raisin muffins hanging around?

Danseur Ignoble: Saturday Class with Claire and a Turf Toe

I banged my toe at PlayThink last Saturday, optimistically assumed that it would be Just Fine by Monday … then Wednesday … then yesterday.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t. Today, though, it was okay enough to get through barre, adagio, and a bit of across-the-floor. Claire forbid me to do any work en releve, which was a good call. (I also opted out of jumping.)

You guys, it turns out that when you’re used to having free access to releve, remembering not to use it is, well, disconcerting.

Nonetheless, I barred and adagio-ed and semi-gracefully made my way across the floor, substituting where I could, otherwise just leaving stuff out.

…Okay, and occasionally stumping around like an old-fashioned pirate with a peg-leg, yarrrr (you guys, I don’t think that’s what they meant when they named that one ballet “Le Corsaire”). Because apparently attempting to avoid using that one foot in those specific ways just makes me do weird things sometimes.

Le Cors-arrrrrrrr.  (With apologies to By Fanny Schertzer (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Le Cors-arrrrrrrr. (With apologies to Fanny Schertzer (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

It was interesting. Some parts were great. Some parts? Frankly awful.

Still, I got to focus on my upper body more than usual, and that was cool.

Today’s primary correction was a refinement of the ever-present “fix your chest” thing. I’ve got the “lift the sternum” bit; now, I’m working on keeping the whole column of my body together.

I’m better at this at some times than I am at other times. When I remember it, my turns are much better.

I couldn’t do turns on the left (supporting) foot today, but I could on the right, and they were good. Also, fun. And I didn’t do any of them the wrong way (though, to be fair, we didn’t do any combinations that involved both turns en dedans and turns en dehors).

The highlight of today, for me, was the work we did on using pique arabesque in combinations more gracefully. That was particularly cool, because it’s a thing I’ve been thinking about and (before I screwed up my foot) working on at home.

I nailed that a couple of times on the right supporting foot; I kept running into a mental block on the left because I had to do it flat.

Today I noticed one more useful thing: I need to stop looking at the freaking mirrors, because I throw myself off. Not all the time, but often enough. I have heard tell of whole companies where they rehearse with drapes over the mirrors for exactly that reason, so at least I’m not alone 😉

That’s it for today. If you have the chance, do some extra balances and turns for me!

Ballet Squid Chronicles: More Cabrioles Followed By Argh

Margie’s class was great today, mostly.

Pretty barre.  One long, effortless passé relève balance.  Graceful work at center.  Nice cabrioles.  I got to demonstrate grand jete.

And then, boom.

This bizarre popping sensation in my calf, and once again I was done.   Just like two Mondays ago, my calf would not work.  I could stand, I could walk, I could jump on my left leg, but putting weight on the ball of my right foot was essentially un-doable.  

The protective mechanisms that keep you from destroying yourself had kicked in.   Interesting!

Fortunately, Denis was in class, so once we were really done, I asked him to take a quick look at my calf.

The verdict: no tears or anything, but in the process of compensating for my previous injury, I’d injured something else.

I’ll be doing only barre and maybe adagio  for a week or so.   No jumping; no one-leg relève balances on the right.  No promenades on the right foot.  No cabrioles 😦

Denis is lovely and has bought me some compression socks and a support sleeve thing for the right ankle.  They feel really good.

Anyway, I’ll be back at it soon enough.

In other news, Claire’s secret mission was an audition with another company, and she got the job!

Which is both super exciting and kind of sad.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Onward and Upward

Tonight, Claire sorted my fourth position (which was too wide), silenced my too-noisy pique, and gave us all a number of general corrections about keeping our weight moving forward and upward.

This latter point makes adagio both easier and prettier.  Emphasis on easier.   Much less “construction crane,” much more “graceful swan.”  Or, you know, fairly graceful turkey.

We did some nice choreography, lovely little jumps, and then I pulled the &#@! out of my right gastrocnemius soleus (thanks, Denis!) doing a petit allegro combination across the floor — pulled it so hard I couldn’t jump on that leg for the remaining five minutes of class (I was able to do pique turns using the right as the supporting leg, but not the left).

Brienne was in class tonight and showed me how to roll it out on a lacrosse ball.  I think that, some naproxen, and a little RICE should sort it.

So there you have it.   Your Humble Ballet Squid has finally succeeded in injuring himself during class, but not so badly he won’t be back in action this weekend.

In other news, Paul Taylor on Friday!   Wooooohoooooo!

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