Weekly Ballet Post, 9/21/17

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:10 am
sputnikhearts: female ballet student at the barre (tendu)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Nothing teaches you the existence of muscles that you didn't know existed like a nice slow dégagé to the side ... except maybe ronde de jambe en l'air. It kind of feels like gravity is wrenching your hip out of its socket.

Other discovery: one major reason that turning is hard is because no matter how good your spotting is, your damn body has to support the spot. If your body can't maintain a vertical line and keep your eyes at the same level in all three axes, you're sunk. This discovery brought to you by trying to do chainé turns quickly, which required going on demipointe, which I was not terribly stable on.

And in the annals of "skills I have but did not find them as helpful as I had hoped," an interesting divide was visible in this week's class. The teacher doesn't always follow the musical pattern during combinations, which drives me batty. Why are you doing four count combinations on music with 3/4 time? Unless you are combining three beats into one. Anyway, at one point she said to do eight jumps, but the music was in 6/8, so a couple of us just ... kept going ... because the measure wasn't over! (And sometimes the teacher totally goes off the beat, and then I just can't follow at all, because the movements and the music don't mesh in my head, and it all gets tossed out of short term memory.)

The other bit where classical piano training made dance hard for me at first is that in ballet, steps are often syncopated. Hence the joke that "and" is a number. At first I was really annoyed by this and thought it was irrational, then realized I was the irrational one. This happens because these movements are usually in two parts: you do the step, then you pull back into the starting position. So if you are doing four tendus in a 4/4 measure, you should extend on 0.5, then close on 1. So that you can extend on 1.5, and be closed again on 2. Etc., with the goal of finishing on the last beat. And if you are doing the steps slower, then you are effectively working in 2/4, and you're still moving on the off-beat. It was a revelation. (I suppose those who did marching band would have understood immediately!)

Unbelievably, however, the best skill I brought to ballet was something I learned from doing junior high musicals. Now I was too terrible to get a real part—four failed tryouts ha ha ha are testament to this fact—but the chorus line (essentially) was come one come all. The pas de bourrée (youtube link)—a really common step in Broadway-ish dancing—was drilled into our skulls and feet. So thanks, Mrs. Hoffenberg. You might have taught me the most out of anyone else in that school, in the end. (Teach the arts in public school! /soapbox)

Speaking of classes, I have now used up the 10-lesson card that I purchased at my current studio. I love my teacher but it is a long drive (now that I've moved) and conflicts with another need for the car this school semester. There's a studio closer to me that I can bike to and gives beginner class on the same night. Am contemplating trying it out next week, although it makes me sad. We shall see. Worst case, I can go back in January.
blcwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] blcwriter
I needed some good news today: 

A mother and daughter work to recapture the German Jewish food from before the war, and publish a cookbook and blog.  We ordered the book, I'll report on how well it works later.

Blog: https://germanjewishcuisine.com/

Newspaper article: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2017/09/18/german-jewish-specialties-from-time-gone-are-celebrated-new-cookbook/MPcExYOwkicOb3SrTHKKEK/story.html?s_campaign=8315

South African grandmothers keeping fit with a boxing workout:


Keep your chins up, and happy Rosh Hashanah.

Space-Probe Feelings

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:08 am
blcwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] blcwriter
I just have a lot of feelings about Cassini, and NASA, and JPL, and just... science.  Even though things are so, so shitty right now, Cassini survived decades (and NASA advocated and maintained support for Cassini for decades) to provide incredible amounts of information that might have near-future application, and perhaps not.   But it's science, and eventually that information will come in handy and just... science for knowledge's sake without immediate profitable application makes me so hopeful that we may get through this.

Thanks, NASA.  Thanks, Cassini. 

Trick or Treat Exchange Letter

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:22 pm
idleleaves: (leaf and fire)
[personal profile] idleleaves
Hello Trick or Treat Writer/Artist!

First of all: I'm not hard to please. I'm sure I'll be delighted with whatever you write or draw, so please don't stress over it. I've listed some things I love, below, but don't feel like you absolutely must be bound by these or that these are the only elements/stories I'd enjoy. If you have your own ideas, please do go with them.

General things I love:

★ relationships built on strong/intense friendship
★ strong/intense friendship in general
★ missing scenes from canon and/or reactions to canon scenes
★ all kinds of moods, from quiet to bittersweet to angsty to funny to intense to fluffy
★ slice-of-life and/or character studies
★ simple everyday non-schmoop romance
★ hurt/comfort - especially emotional wounds or injuries sustained by athletes or in combat
★ stoic characters cracking around the edges
★ casual touching and physical affection (between friends and/or romantic partners)
★ non-penetrative sex (don't feel like you have to include smut, though)
★ banter and/or banter during sex
★ autumn and/or winter themes and/or storms
★ canon compliance is great but not required
★ gen- and ship-based works are equally awesome (gen about any of my favourite characters would be lovely; I've listed pairings below, too, in case you want to go that route with either romantic/sexual or platonic relationships)

★ for Silm/LotR I also like fourth-age settings and/or reunions
★ for YOI I also like skaters on the ice together (practicing, performing, or just goofing around)
★ for SSSS I also like atmospheric creepiness and/or the aftermath of combat

★ I'm not great at prompting for art but I do love b&w or limited/muted colour palettes

★ some much-loved pairings are
      ★ Glorfindel/Erestor/Haldir in any combination, Finrod/Maglor, Aegnor/Andreth, Aredhel/Elenwë, Arwen/Tauriel
      ★ Otabek/JJ/Leo in any combination, Otabek/Yuri, Christophe/Victor, Leo/Guang-Hong/Phichit in any combination
      ★ Reynir/Onni, Emil/Lalli, Tuuri/OFC, Aksel/Sigrun


★ character bashing (breaking up a canon couple for a different ship is fine, but please don't bash and/or vilify the leftover character in the process)
★ homophobia
★ non-con, dub-con, infidelity (open relationships are fine), D/s, BDSM, kinks involving bodily fluids, humiliation, A/B/O, mpreg
★ non-canon character death (canon or OCs is fine), animal harm
★ marriage proposals and/or ceremonies
★ high school/coffeeshop/etc. AU, non-canon genders or pronouns

And that's it. I hope something sparks for you.

Fish recipes?

Sep. 15th, 2017 03:19 pm
blcwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] blcwriter
My dad is a medical studies junkie-- he uses the studies to acquire new habits, like stopping smoking, or exercising more, or doing brain games.  He's in a diet study right now that's not much out of line with how I already cook (Mediterranean-ish, heavy on fruits and vegs) but they are being very strict about fish three times a week.  (Not shellfish-- fish.  It'd be easy if I could just do mussels or shrimp or scallops for one out of three nights.) 

The problem is, I really, really hate non-oily fish.  Tuna?  Salmon?  Cod?  Monkfish?  Bluefish? Skate?  Lemme at it.  But Dad really only tolerates salmon and cod, and he can't abide fresh tuna or the other oily fishes (we both hate swordfish, IDK).  Living in Boston means I do have access to good white fish but... I hate white fish, and I'm doing the cooking, so I feel like I can be a little selfish here.  He likes mackerel, but it's very seasonal and not something we'd cook regularly.  (He also likes pickled herring but because pickled herring is an Issues Trigger for me, that's out of the question.  Yeah.  I'm making this harder for myself, I know.)  When Dad does buy white fish, I tend to cook it with lots of middle eastern spices/flavors, so that the dressing/relish overpowers the lack of flavor & texture-- but I can't drench everything in green olives and preserved lemon and parsley and oregano or cilantro three nights a week.  

Are their white-ish fishes you like that have some good flavor/firm texture and that won't kill my grocery bill buying fresh, wild caught, Whole Paycheck-style?  I am OK with halibut and arctic char, but tilapia, hake or flounder is so mushy that I can't get it down.  Striper?  Trout? Canned sardines in some kind of salad or mousse? Particular frozen fish from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods?  There's a reliable source of smoked trout that I can put on a leafy green salad with root vegs that he likes, but ... what else?  I am hoping to build a good half-dozen or more dishes so that I don't have to think too much about it, or some suggestions for old-reliable sauces and salsas that are good toppings I can make ahead.

Any reliable recipes, cookbooks, or websites you like for this kind of thing?  (And yes, I am mindful of the Monterey Bay recommendations about wild-caught, long line caught, and endangered fish varieties...)  

Thank you!

More jobs stuff

Sep. 15th, 2017 10:46 am
blcwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] blcwriter
Decisions, decisions:  

I have a final interview Monday at a well-known nonprofit doing an HR Director job in a specific subset of HR that I would really, really like-- and three people I worked with at other points are already working there and I serendipitously ran into them while I was walking wtih the nice HR Director who was touring me around.  So-- that would be wonderful, and I think that I could do a lot of good work there in a well-defined role with a boss who seems like she would be easy to work with.  It would involve roughly an hour commute, which I could probably do on the T, and I am told by the recruiter who got me in the door that they can meet my pay needs.  They have an extremely long-tenured work force-- and I've only known/heard of one person who had a negative experience there, and I don't know all the details in order to assess if I might encounter the same issues.  

On the other hand, there is the possibility of a vague, undefined job in my own city that came about completely randomly-- but it has still been super vague what I would do, and I am feeling once-burned twice-shy about not having a description for what I'd be doing and to whom I would report, and so I am feeling less than 100% about taking a job that is lacking in details.  I suppose I could just write up a proposal and have them adopt it (they have acknowledged they need an HR operations and policy person) but I am (perhaps foolishly) feeling like it's inappropriate for me to write my own job description-- or that it's hypocritical, or something, because one of the things I'd be doing once I was on the job would be nailing down job descriptions and making things more regimented, so that people are less politically-driven and more performance-oriented.  The general outline of things they need my help for are right up my alley, but there are aspects I would need to learn PDQ-- including all the ins and outs of the various union contracts.  I am also worried that I am too much of a straight shooter, and that I will be uncomfortable and feel unethical dealing with the practicalities of local politics.  I think the mayor and his team are doing important work-- I just don't know if I'm the right person.  I think I am being too formal and cautious about the city job, but after I leapt before looking this last time, I am extremely nauseous about the idea of ending up someplace where again I would be overworked, underpaid, and without the authority or resources I need to see things through.

I didn't get the other three positions I interviewed, for, though, one because I was overqualified, one because one of the interviewers and I rubbed each other the wrong way, and one because they went with someone with a few more years' experience-- all of which are reasonable reasons and not "blameworthy" on my part, but I'm beginning to feel more bummed and less neutral/OK with those decisions.  I am therefore very nervous that if I am too cautious and don't take the city job, I will have to start from scratch all over again.  Since my unemployment is still being "reviewed" because one of my former employers hasn't confirmed wages yet, I am extra nervous, because I am starting to run out of money pending unemployment kicking in.

I don't want to take the city job and then say "nope, sorry, got this other job instead," though-- I know it's OK and people do it all the time, but it bugs me.  I am worried if I say "I am not ready to make a decision yet," though, that I will shoot myself in the foot and they'll change their mind about wanting me.

Argh.  Fuckity.  Etc. 

Weekly Ballet Post, 9/14/17

Sep. 14th, 2017 02:06 pm
sputnikhearts: female ballet student at the barre (tendu)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Had an exhausting introduction to piqué this week. We didn't do the turn, just the step. Thank God (Terpischore?). There's nothing like a basic exercise that is REALLY HARD to remind you of how inadequate your legs* are. I got myself through by reminding myself to pull up from the hips, and pretending that I looked Damn Good.

And I could deceive myself thus because there was no time to check in the mirror. A ballet studio is the one place where an entire wall covered in mirrors is not vanity, it is the opposite. It shows not only the inadequacy of my technique, it reveals the difference between what I feel my body is doing, and what I can see it to be doing. Mind you, I know I'm doing everything imperfectly, but the disparity between "bad" and "worse" is enormous. The really cruel irony is that I can't actually take that much time in the mirror anyways as long as I'm doing something—the amount of concentration it takes to check my form interferes with, you know, counting to eight. Or remembering the combination. Or keeping my form. The mirror works better if I'm already standing still while being instructed, trying to carve a form into muscle memory so that it can then be done again, sight unseen.

* Hips remain the worst. I feel like the pregnancy actually messed with my hip sockets (not medically impossible) and that I had more turnout before it happened. Still, after a lot of sulky reading, it was nice to discover that almost nobody had perfect turnout. Even at Vaganova, which rumor says chooses its entering students 99% based on proximity to the Ideal Ballet Skeleton (talent is an afterthought**; five hours of dancing six days a week will train that into you) you still see via YouTube that most of them aren't doing 180.

** I feel like writers can also learn from this XD In fact the lesson is an optimistic one! Turnout is restricted by the genetics of one's hip socket. Last I heard, there are many ways to get words down on a page/computer screen.

Working, part 2

Sep. 11th, 2017 02:25 pm
blcwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] blcwriter
(Apologies for the radio silence, I have been coming to terms with work and unemployment things.)

Thoughts on working, with family & mental health musings... )

Weekly Ballet Post, 9/8/17

Sep. 8th, 2017 10:01 am
sputnikhearts: female ballet student at the barre (tendu)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
First day of school was this week, and that applies to dance students too. I'd been too busy moving into my new place to do any real practice between lessons (also there was no free space to dance on) other than a few floor barre/core exercises that I did in bed. Still, the muscles more or less remembered what they were supposed to do, except for tendu in back, which always ends up going out to the back and side. Turnout breaks my proprioception somewhat, but hopefully that, like the ability to spin, can get slowly trained in. On that note I was hoping for just one class without spins, but no, we practiced spotting and chainé turns.

As ever I had trouble with passé relevé but was lucky enough to find a great demo from Ballet In Form. The tip about the toes drawing lines is fantastic and has really helped. I'm not on pointe, but having enough trouble with the demi-pointe as it is. That said the issue is honestly that my calf muscles aren't strong enough to support anything on one leg in demi-pointe–but while I slowly train them with daily elevés (on both legs & one at a time), I'm also practicing finding my center with passé while standing flat. Someone had a tip about doing so while facing a wall, forcing you to reflexively turn out. So far so good. Now I just need to clear enough space to actually do a full barre at home again ...


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