Friday, August 15, 2014

It's raining! Plus a bunch of other stuff.

And boy, do I ever want some hot chocolate. I'd also love some fresh, hot gingerbread with cream. YUM. The weather is perfect for it. I do love me some rain.

The traffic, however, isn't perfect for anything, unless you enjoy being driven into an impotent, screaming rage. There's a collision at the I-5 offramp for the West Seattle bridge, and the backup from that mess is currently four miles. That's on the main I-5 corridor, mind you, not the express lanes, which we were in. The problem lies with people's incredible inconsideration for others. There is a single lane of the express lanes that feeds into I-5 southbound, and so of course that was blocked up. Then there are the complete and utter assholes who feel the need to drive along in the carpool lane (that we take) and force their way over when they think they've cut the line enough, never mind the line of people they're inconveniencing with their rudeness. So then the carpool lane stops, because the other lane is stopped, and the dicks trying to force their way in can't really do much more than ram the right front corner into the other lane and just sit there with the rest of their vehicle blocking the carpool lane, looking perplexed at why everyone's so angry with them. Or sometimes they decide that we're all jerks for not allowing their marvelousness to do whatever the hell they want without putting up a fuss and spend the entire time flipping everyone else off.

Oh, the fury. I wish I had a flamethrower. Why is murder illegal again? Sigh.

Lacking hot chocolate, I'll have to make do with tea. No offense to you, tea, you know I love you. It's just that this rain makes me yearn for all those autumnal delicacies that I so enjoy when the weather turns cool and wet.

Ballet last night was fun. We learned the beginnings of how to do a pirouette! I was so sweaty after class. It's turning into a really good hour-long workout. I've been contemplating how best to progress in this lovely study of mine, and I think what I'm going to do is take both weekly days of the interim session (between this and fall quarter), then go right back and take every single Very Beginning Ballet class again. I want to make sure I have everything comfortably mastered (take that word with a grain of salt; I mostly mean that I actually know what I'm doing and feel confident in it, as true mastery would take a lifetime) before I proceed further.

If I plow on ahead without feeling like I know exactly what I'm doing, I'll feel both overwhelmed and probably unhappy, so review it is! I was talking with one of my classmates about this very thing after class, and we were in agreement that we had in no way conquered the techniques we were just learning, since really, can you be expected to learn all that stuff in one hour per week? Hell no. I asked my teacher about retaking VBB, and she said a lot of people do it. Plus she can give me stuff to do that's a little bit above what the main class is doing so that it's working on the stuff I really need to focus on instead of the very itty bitty basics, like how to do a demi-plié. Sounds good to me.

My love affair with Uggs continues unabated. You can get them for so cheap on eBay! It's crazy. As long as you aren't in the market for the very latest styles, you'll find them for something like 90% off the original price, making them reasonable (I've paid around $20-30 for most of mine). So, of course, I'm busily amassing an impressive Ugg collection for very little money. Ahhhhh, comfy feet!

In other news, I am feeling remarkably good lately. I think my current drug cocktail is doing the trick. I haven't had a terrible depressive episode in a while, and my anxiety is tamped down to manageable levels. I think ballet helps with that, but the latest iteration of my evolving drug mixture seems to have really done the trick for now. We'll see how it is in a few months. The really great part is that I don't have the ghastly side effects I've gotten from Effexor and lithium. I'm on a variety of meds, but I can still feel emotions normally and I don't feel slowed down or excessively dissociated.

I will say that I've noticed an interesting aspect of my ballet class: after doing barre work, we move to the center of the room and work on techniques that mostly move side to side (it would take too long to describe, just imagine something nice). While doing this, we are facing a mirror and watching ourselves dance. This is so you can see if you're doing it correctly, how your body is lining up, etc. Every time I watch myself doing this, I get a mild dissociation feeling. It starts after the first few steps, when my body remembers how to do whatever is being asked of it, and then it goes on autopilot. My eyes watch the girl in the mirror, who is moving her feet and arms the way she's supposed to, and she doesn't even seem real. Like her brain is separate from mine, and I'm just watching her dance according to how she understands the techniques. It's hard to explain if you've never had a dissociative experience (feeling outside of yourself, like you're a robot, watching yourself from above, etc).

So I watch her dance, and realize on some level that she and I are one, but that feeling lasts until the dancing ceases and we meld into a single girl again. Curiouser and curiouser...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I needed something beautiful to look at today.

In that spirit, I present to you some photographs of my current heroine, Misty Copeland, a soloist ballerina with American Ballet Theater. Maybe one day I'll achieve some of her amazing flexibility. It's a great thing to learn something new just for the joy of it. In related news: I did the splits for the first time in my life last night.







 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How do you respond to suicidal ideation? With love, not guit trips or condemnation.

There is nothing I can say about Robin Williams' death that has not already been said, but I will say it anyway:

I'm sorry we didn't know.
I'm sorry we couldn't help.
I'm sorry you felt the pressure to be funny all the time and present a face that wasn't your own so we would accept you.
I'm sorry you were in such pain.
I'm sorry you felt trapped.
I'm sorry there will be inevitable pointless blaming and guilt-trips.
I'm sorry the world isn't a very friendly place for those with mental illness.
I'm sorry feeling like you can't take it anymore is so stigmatized.
I'm sorry we lost you.
I'm sorry we couldn't adequately convey how much we loved you and wanted you around, funny or not.
I'm sorry for the joys on down the road that you will not now be able to experience.

I hope you are at peace, Robin. We will not forget you.


Couldn't get a full body shot, but here's my salute, Oh Captain, My Captain.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MOAR progress and some Misty Copeland fangirling

Yes, indeed. Today was the second day in a row that I managed to rest my head on the ground while doing a particular stretch that has historically been one of the hardest for me. To do it, you sit on the ground and draw your legs in close to your body, knees out and on the ground if you can manage it, soles of feet together in front of your stomach. You then lean forward (if possible) and stretch your arms out, hopefully being able to get your torso fairly far down toward the ground. It looks like this:

Except with knees on the floor and arms stretched out in front, head and torso on the ground.
You get the general idea. Here's a rather unflattering picture of me doing it:

The soles of my feet are actually pressed together underneath me. SO PROUD OF SELF.
I have a little way to go before my entire torso can rest on the ground (back is a little bowed still), but I can get my head on the ground! Twice! Eeeeeeee! I love seeing visible progress every single day. It really helps motivate you to keep going. I'm hoping to eventually manage leg extensions like my newest obsession, Misty Copeland:

This shit is HARD, y'all.
So is this. The woman is amazing.
I normally do not watch ads, as I don't watch TV, but I heard Misty had done an Under Armour ad that was supposedly actually really good, so I had a watch. Love it. You might, too. It's incredibly empowering. The little girl's voice at the beginning is reading from one of the rejection letters Misty received when she took up ballet at the [ancient?!] age of 13. Here you go:


I love this lady. I read her book, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, and I LOVED it. She is an absolute inspiration. I think I'm going to reread it again as soon as I finish the latest Russian ballerina memoir I'm working on. I have no illusions of ever getting to her level, but damn if she isn't spectacular to have as a role model.

Own your dreams and never give up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Progress

I can aaaaaaalmost do the splits, y'all. CRAZY! I have never been able to do them, despite taking gymnastics when I was very young and being double-jointed my entire life. I've been stretching twice each day, ballet class or not, and I am seeing improvement in my body every single day. I'm getting more flexible and stronger. Even my arms and lat muscles are gaining strength, as I'm using them to pull my body toward my legs in a variety of positions.

My left leg is more flexible than my right, which seems to be a common situation for most people, although it varies which side. I wonder if it's because my right side is stronger and therefore has more muscle that needs to stretch out. Maybe?

Anyway, I'm so close to being able to do the splits with my left leg forward that I can smell it (Figuratively, of course. I expect splits are scentless.), and I can't wait to finally manage it at last. In two weeks I can register for the fall quarter of ballet, and I am determined to take as many classes as I can. I hope there is enough room in each class and they don't fill up instantaneously. That sort of thing happens with Pearl Jam concerts in Seattle. They're gone within about 5 minutes of going on sale.

Sadly I have gained a couple pounds (due mostly to an excess of noodles, yogurt and delicious oat scones, I expect), so it's back to our regularly scheduled program of salads and fruit. It's better for me anyway, although I do love me some chewiness in my food. I'm one of those people who actually enjoys stale chips and reheated pizza due to the increased chewiness factor. I also like tepid milk. Go figure. *shrug*

It's bloody hot today. Or will be. It was toasty yesterday too, but it's supposed to get up to 93 today. Gross. I'm going to have to water the outside plants again. I hate watering stuff, but I suppose it's necessary. Our hydrangea is such a whiny baby. It stubbornly insists on being all sad and droopy without constant watering, despite being sheltered by a bunch of trees so it isn't in the direct path of the burning sun. WAAAAAAH, plant. The rhodie is rather pitiful looking just now, too, so I'll water that as well.

Stay cool, y'all.

Friday, August 08, 2014

I've developed sort of an obsession with ballet. Bonus: a creepy picture!

I love my ballet classes. Love them, love them, LOVE THEM. Did that get my point across sufficiently? I hope so. No one wants to resort to 72-point font. I can't wait to take more of them.

Yesterday as we were all standing around by the barre, stretching and waiting for class to start, this one girl who is able to dance en pointe was putting on her shoes, and it was sort of hilarious how all the chattering hushed as we all stopped what we were doing and stared, rapt, as she tied her pointe shoes on. I'd imagine it was probably a bit creepy of us, but we were fascinated.

I don't remember if I'd mentioned this in a previous post, but I was iffy about pointe until I saw those shoes in the wild, so to speak. Like, someone actually dancing on them within about 10 yards of me, and then oh my the envy. Now I'm absolutely bound and determined that this is something I will do. It'll probably take me a few years to build up the necessary ankle strength (I have notoriously floppy ankles, thanks to being double-jointed), but by GOD I will wear those suckers at some point. (<--See what I did there? Yeah. Sorry.)

In the meantime, I am working on my stretching and basic barre/center technique. I can feel myself getting more flexible, and I hope to be able to do the splits at least one way fairly soon (maybe in a month?). My joints themselves are very loose, but my muscles and tendons are not, so I have a weird combination of ease and difficulty with certain ballet movements. I expect it would be the same if I were taking yoga or pilates.

I want a space at home where I can practice. Patrick and I are contemplating cleaning out the second bedroom of all unnecessaries (the bookcases sort of need to stay) and turning it into a ballet/music studio. Registration for the interim session between summer and fall is coming up, and then registration for the fall quarter itself (it's divided into quarters as you register for classes through the UW's Experimental College) takes place beginning August 24. I am insane enough about this that I fully plan to stay up until midnight on Friday the 23rd so I can have first crack at the classes I want as soon as the clock ticks over. I remember having to do that to register for classes at UW. You'd have to start calling this number as soon as your section became available (freshman, sophomore, etc), and when you finally got through you had to punch in all the codes for the classes that you wanted, making sure to have backups as inevitably a flood of other people wanted the same courses you did.

At any rate, I am going to take as much ballet as I possibly can. I think what I'll do is register for all sections of the slightly higher level now that I'm getting the very beginning stuff down (so beginning-intermediate), and then possibly retake the very beginning ballet business just to reinforce the basics and give me a class where I feel like I know what I'm doing. It was sort of funny: I'd taken my makeup class on Monday as I missed that one a couple weeks ago due to my shoulder, and then promptly forgot I'd taken the Monday class, so as we were doing relevés (walking on tiptoe) across the floor and working on turns, I wondered to myself how I already knew how to do that... *ding* Oh, right, duh. Because I already took class this week! Well done, me.

So I'm definitely thinking multiple sessions of the same class level are a good idea. I'm not at the point yet where I can remember all the different techniques in order to do everything at home, so having them reinforced as much as possible during class will be very helpful. I'm hoping to take class 5x per week, but we'll see how much I am able to register for. To think that I finally found some type of exercise that I genuinely enjoy! Go figure. Now it's just one hour/week since modern finished up, but adding a bunch of classes will really up my exercise amount. Come on, body! Learn this stuff quickly! I'm hoping my (ancient) background in gymnastics and previous dance experience will help.

In other news, I managed to take a creepy picture of the mirror at the end of our hallway when it was dark in there. It's a strange sort of picture, but I like it. Here you are:

This was surprisingly difficult to take.
I had to get close enough to get a decently sized shot, but I had to have the hallway dark so my reflection wasn't visible in the mirror. The only light involved came from our bedroom, off to the side. I think the red filter kind of adds to the creepiness factor.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Some musings on morality, taken from an email to my father

I was having a conversation with Patrick last night about morality and whether things have intrinsic good or evil qualities. I've pondered this for years, and while I'm not entirely decided, I'm leaning toward yes. Imagine, if you will, the following situation:

Town A is saving puppies. All the puppies. It's all they've ever done. There are no other things going on in Town A. It's just puppy saving and raising.

Town B is killing puppies. All the puppies. Etc. Etc. Neither town has ever known anything different. They have no standard to differentiate right from wrong. There is no good to judge the bad by, and vice versa for Town A. If there is no malevolent intent, is it still wrong to kill puppies? I would say that it is, despite the lack of harmful intent.

But now imagine it's roaches. Is the answer still the same? What if the puppies were rabid? Then of course we have the endless sinkhole of whether the ends justify the means. Do you kill 154 children to save 2000 adults? The further I've gotten into this question, the more I realize that I know nothing.