Back to the Classics 2016 Wrap Up

If any of you missed my initial post, I’ve been reviewing some classics this year for the Back to the Classics Challenge. I managed to complete all 12 categories, and I’ll link the reviews below.

  1. A 19th Century Classic – The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins     https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/classic-book-review-the-woman-in-white-by-wilkie-collins/
  2. A 20th Century Classic – Animal Farm by George Orwell https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/classic-book-review-animal-farm-by-george-orwell/
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author – Frankenstein by Mary Shelly https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/classic-book-review-frankenstein-by-mary-shelley/
  4. A Classic in Translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/classic-book-review-the-three-musketeers-by-alexandre-dumas/
  5. A Classic by a Non-White Author – The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/classic-book-review-the-pillow-book-of-sei-shonagon/
  6. An Adventure Classic – The Time Machine by H.G. Wells https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/classic-book-review-the-time-machine-by-h-g-wells/
  7. A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/classic-book-review-the-martian-chronicles-by-ray-bradbury/
  8. A Classic Detective Novel – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/classic-book-review-and-then-there-were-none-by-agatha-christie/
  9. A classic Which Includes the Name of a Place in the Title – Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/classic-book-review-cold-comfort-farm-by-stella-gibbons/
  10. A Classic Which Has Been Banned or Censored – Lord of the Flies https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/classic-book-review-lord-of-the-flies/
  11. Re-Read a Classic You Read for School – Great Expectations https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/classic-book-review-great-expectations-by-charles-dickens/
  12. A Volume of Classic Short Stories – Dubliners  https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/classic-book-review-dubliners-by-james-joyce/

It’s been a great reading year for classics!

Many Things in Flux

I’ve been ignoring important dance portions of the blog for a while. I’m sorry about that, but it’s been a lot of processing lately. The sort of processing that doesn’t translate well to written words. It still doesn’t, so forgive the ramble.

I’ve guided new teacher Clyde to Rhythm dances. One, because he’s appalled by how awful my dancing of them is. Two, I don’t feel like I can have him tear apart Smooth. My smooth belongs to Teach and it feels too personal for Clyde to comment on yet. This has been working because I feel like I’m improving some in Rhythm. Lady J has been instrumental in this as well. She’s a driller. I thrive on being drilled. That’s the only way to just get it into muscle memory for me. Drill, drill, drill. Cha Cha lock steps across the entire floor forward and backward, cha cha from side to side all accross the floor again. Yes, I could do some of this at home, but there’s nothing like having instant feedback. For the record, I do practice some at home, it’s just not as much as I would like.

So far Clyde, Lady J and I have worked on Cha Cha, Mambo, and Rumba. This week we’re working on Swing (my kryptonite) and Clyde would like to start Bolero, which I am completely on board with. I can’t wait!

Even thought I’m settling in with my new teachers and see the value of having several teachers, I’m still missing Teach a bit. I have a lot of lessons left before I can switch studios, and, therefore, several months before I see Teach again. It also helps that he understands my financial circumstances well. Clyde and Lady J are being much more pushy about my taking more lessons even though I can’t afford any more.

I feel so tentative in my dancing. I feel like Teach left with some of my love of dance. I don’t like that. I always thought that I loved dance for DANCE. For the expression of it. I’ve been completely thrown off kilter.

So, there’s been a bit of depression in the house. It’s been rough going back to work; My daughter has not been getting on my last nerve for too long now with homeschooling; My mother (secondary teacher to daughter and primary caregiver while I work) is doing temp work that makes things more difficult during the week; My doctor wanted to me to try to wean off my antidepressants; I’ve put on too much weight and my doctor is upset; All this has been too much for my anxiety and depression. I’m back on my meds and am feeling much better now.

Hopefully life looks up from here. I completed a Whole 30 without much issue and lost 6 pounds. I hope to keep it together to get back to my normal self. My husband is very supportive of my mental health (not my dancing – he doesn’t understand how linked they are); he has been buying me flowers and doing the grocery shopping. I some of these things don’t have a direct relationship to dance, but Teach left at the wrong time for me. I can sound as selfish as I want on my own blog, right? It was too much, but I’m putting the pieces together with lots of help. I’m starting to enjoy dancing again. And I can’t wait to learn some Bolero tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be back soon this time.

Classic Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

It is with profound relief that I write this review. I thought I would never finish. Yet here I am, mid December, having finally finished the book I set out to read in March! I’m going to copy and paste what Goodreads had to say about The Woman in White:

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

With that out-of-the-way, I have to say that I’m divided about this book and I’m going to try to make sense in this review, but my overwhelming relief in finishing may be clouding my brain a bit.

The story was fantastic. I love how it was written like a confession to the police, pasting together a story that you almost can’t believe, with unreliable narrators. So much fun. I will admit that it didn’t shock me. I’ve been reading historical romances for 20 years now, so the sneaky marrying for money and then trying to get rid of said spouse plot has been used multiple times. But this was done in a more gripping way. I was sucked in after the first 150 pages. Fantastic. I loved the creepiness of it.

Unfortunately, there were several irritations along the way. I am not a fan of the Victorian lady, or should I say grown up child. I know that this was what was expected of women in this time period, but I did not understand the love that Mr. Hartwright had for Miss Farlie. Miss Farlie was an adult child and Mr. Hartwright and Miss Halcombe spent much of the time shielding her from all knowledge of anything like parents. How Mr. Hartwright didn’t fall in love with Miss Halcombe I’ll never know.

The second little irritation was in the second half of the book. Miss Hartwright has kicked butt and nearly out maneuvered a nasty guy and yet she keeps saying over and over again how she is “only and woman.” I just can’t. If it had been once or twice I could have skipped over it, but it was enough that my eye started twitching every time it was written. She had already proven herself equal and I wanted to reach into the book and slap her!

Overall, I enjoyed this tremendously. The good outweighed the little irritations I had with the book and I’m trying to decide between 3 and 4 stars on Goodreads. I keep changing it.

This was the final book I needed to read for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016! Go me!

Classic Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

When I was first looking at the challenges for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, the re-read a classic you read for school was the most difficult challenge to find a book for. Honestly, I hated all but two books that I read in high school. I’m lucky school reading didn’t put me off books. The two that I did love, Farenheit 451 and To Kill a Mockingbird, I didn’t want to risk ruining my love for them with a re-read. Let me keep my pleasant memories. In college, we didn’t read novels. I went to a two-year school and received a nursing degree. I took English 101 and 102. Not a lot of options. So I had to look deep into the depths of my mind and find something. That something was Great Expectations.

I suppose I read it. It was an assigned book. The only things I remembered was a weird lady named Miss Havisham and her white dress and rotting wedding cake. That’s about it. I’ve never even watched an adaptation of it. Sad.

I hate summarizing books, now I know where my daughter gets it from. Great Expectations is the story of a boy named Pip. He’s “brought up by hand” by his much older sister who is married to the blacksmith. Events happen and he ends up coming into “great expectations” and the book shows what happens to those expectations.

I had many thoughts during my reading. 1. Pip is absolutely adorable as a child. Love him. I don’t love his complete adoration for Estella throughout his life. She’s a complete jerk. I understand she was brought up that was by Miss Havisham, but I don’t know how anyone could like her. 2. Joe is the best person in the book. I want a friend like Joe. More people need to be like Joe. Joe is the best. 3. Pip’s great expectations turn him into a nothing. He could have had a better life without them. I was almost relieved when he had regrets.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the writing and the story. I came out very glad I decided to re-read this because it was worth remembering. I hope to read another Dickens next year. Any suggestions as to what would be best?

Classic Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

My mother grabbed The Martian Chronicles out of a Little Free Library a year ago and I was a fan of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, so I decided to pick up this little book for my Back to the Classics 2016 Challenge. I didn’t read the Goodreads blurb before reading, but it would have explained a lot. Nearly everything, in fact.

The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

The Martian Chronicles is a book of short stories about humans colonizing Mars. It takes quite a few stories to really understand that they are cohesive overall – there is a story here, just not 100% following characters, it’s following Mars.

The book was published in 1949, so I did some research about “space stuff”. As I was reading I couldn’t help thinking about how much more we know about space than Ray Bradbury knew when he was writing. Despite it being set in the future (which happens to be now, yes, now!) the marriages are very 1950’s-esque, even among the Martians. The first pictures of earth from space were in 1946 and 1947; the first picture of the surface of Mars was in 1976. Knowing this helped me get a bit more into Ray Bradbury’s mindset while he was writing this. As far as humanity was concerned, this could have been the truth when it was written.

The Martian Chronicles is a sad book with colonization themes. The portrayal of humans was so sad and yet so true. It does end hopeful. Overall, it was a weird read on par with reading 1984 in 1984. The only words I can use to describe the experience are, unfortunatly, weird and interesting.

Until next time!

The Current Standings

Sorry I left you all hanging like that. Typing was too much of an inconvenience for me and homeschool paperwork takes precedence over blogging. Now my hand is almost normal, so I’ll try to get the emotions under control and spill the story.

I didn’t end up having to call Teach myself; he called me the day after my last post, on Saturday. The end result of that conversation: he received a promotion to Manager of the Glen Rock studio. He’s leaving. I managed to keep my cool and he fit me in for a final lesson that following week to discuss his plan for me. I managed to keep my cool and tell him how much he deserves it (he does), even though it’s devastating to me.

When I hung up the phone I immediately talked to my family and their first reaction was, ” He knows you’re going with him right? How long does it take to drive there?” Google Maps tells me that it’s only 1 1/2 hours. It takes me 3 to commute now. One way. Honestly, I stayed at that studio because it’s rare to find a person you click with. If I’m anything, I’m loyal. I have noticed that a few students have stayed with their teacher as they rise in the corporation. I also know that I don’t spend nearly the same amount of money these ladies spend. Is he supposed to ask me to stay with him, or do I ask him, or is that just wrong? Because I’m ready for less of a commute. I know I have to drive this way, but I’m still ready.

At my lesson, we danced a lot of (social-like) Foxtrot because I asked for it. It’s one of the few I can converse through. (Muscle memory win.) After verifying that he would be still teaching lessons, I asked him right out if it would be a bit like a crazy ex-girlfriend if I went to the other studio with him. End of story: I can choose to do that. Teach has to behave ethically now – he can’t steal his students to the other studio (even though they’re under the same corp), that’s not right. My perception was that he wouldn’t mind at all continuing to teach me. He did make me promise to try it out with Clyde (Teach’s friend who was hanging around our lesson last time and helped make me cry) and Lady J (I do need more consistent lady lessons). It’s the only thing I can do because there’s a slight problem – I have a contract that is only half over. I also need to find out if my free coaching and a few other goodies can transfer to the other studio. So I won’t be seeing Teach for a while. I have 2 months of payments still to make before I can go and sign another contract.

Since I’m on leave from work for my finger, and I want to get back to Teach ASAP, I’m taking extra lesson. How did lessons with Clyde and Lady J go, you ask? Lady J is wonderful. I have no problem taking lessons with lady teachers ever. We worked on arm styling and fully transferring weight in the Rumba. Lesson with Clyde was ok. It started as a “get to know you” and quickly went to overwhelming me with all kind of information and fixing me to the point that I felt like I couldn’t dance at all. Oh! and he taught me several new figures, too. Or he tried to. People look at me and think I’m extroverted and fun and gregarious. I’m faking it. It takes a long time for me to get used to men and I have Victorian sensibilities. Clyde did something on a first lesson that Teach hasn’t tried at all yet. He wanted me to Foxtrot sexy. Big no-no. It’s not going to happen. I got used to Teach over 3 years and I still couldn’t dance a serious rumba with him. Just no. Did I mention Clyde is 22? Hello, cougar. Did I mention he tried to sweet talk me into believing he thought I was 24? I’m too old for that crap. Did I mention there’s a bit of a language barrier? We’re not getting each other yet. I’m giving him more chances because I’ve had lessons with all the other guys in the studio and, guess what, none of them were Teach. I have a problem.

I have another lesson tomorrow so I hope to have more news for you. Manager Lady is keeping a close eye on Clyde and checked up with me after my lessons. I just didn’t think it was the time to tell her that I’m leaving. I did mention that I don’t have an opinion on Clyde yet. It’s too soon. May your dance life me less crazy than mine.

Classic Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Was I the only human who had not read this book? It seemed like it!

I went into reading Frankenstein with only the image of that scene in the classic movie, and many parodies of the scene, in my head. You know the one. The monster on the table with tubes sticking out of it and then the crazy Doctor running around with all his genius. I didn’t remember anything other than that, so I basically went into this blind.

From Goodreads:

Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

I enjoyed Frankenstein much more than I anticipated. First, the descriptions of Lake Geneva were lovely. I felt like I was there. Second, it was put together cleverly, starting and ending with letters from a sailor to his sister. Frankenstein’s narrative surrounding the Monster’s. Last, it was nothing like the movie. The Monster was not a stupid being. Frankenstein created a being that was more intelligent than he himself was. This doesn’t condone the murders and vengeance that went on, but it was interesting to me.

I could probably go on for ages here, but my broken finger is hurting and I need to stop typing now. I read this book for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016.

Future Looking Uncertain

This is what happens when you don’t go to your scheduled lesson. I was on Facebook and I saw that Teach was promoted to management. Some of his students were writing those heartfelt messages and showing pics. Now who’s my teacher? Sometimes managers continue to teach their long time students (I’m his longest). Do I want to continue at this studio? I’ve stayed for Teach, because no one has fit so well with my personality, you know I’ve tried. I also like the way they teach there compared to the local franchise. You know what? I just gave my mom advice today to stop worrying until you know for sure what’s going on. Seems like I should take that advice for myself. Guess I’m making a call Monday.

Be Careful What You Ask For

I wish I had written this post in a more timely manner because I broke my finger yesterday and typing is difficult. This is the post taking a week to type.

I have managed to have several productive lessons this month. Productive as in I’m learning a TON, but the growing pains did come out a bit.

We took my new, beautiful Smooth frame and applied to my dances while in hold. It is terribly difficult to find and then maintain this position. It also required a bit more consistent body contact than I have been used to in the past. On the other hand, our heads are farther apart, which is very nice. Somehow I’m used to body touching, but I don’t like our heads to be close together. I know I’m weird. Sadly, the only dance we didn’t do was Viennese Waltz. I did ask for it after D_Wall wrote such a lovely post on how it feels to dance, but Teach was so caught up in excitement over Tango that we didn’t get to it. I was worth it to hear Teach screaming, “More head, more head! I need more head!!!” down the long wall.

Last week I started our double with a question that precipitated a whole lotta’ lesson. “I’m starting to understand how my posture and frame are supposed to be in hold, but what about out of hold, specifically in shadow position?” I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. I was taught all right, and I’m still reeling.

First, Teach brought in another lady teacher to adjust me as we went – so a coaching ended up happening. I need to come up with a name for her, maybe Lady J to keep it all simple. Imagine 15 minutes of shadow position adjustment, followed by 30 minutes of how to roll out into fan position.  Then imagine it with 4 hands readjusting you every time. It was feeling a bit hopeless, but, trying to think positively, Lady J had to readjust less and less each time. All this adjusting also meant that we had to talk about counter balance and that just makes me think about how I don’t want him to bear any of my weight. I’m heavy and it makes me nervous. He had me lean into fan until I was going to fall over to prove that he would never let me fall. Cue my near tears. I understand logically, but the emotion of all this doesn’t understand the logic.

Next, we were supposed to have an alone lesson, but Teach’s friend was transferred from another studio and he decided to hand around and help (for free) half THAT lesson. Until I cried. Then he left. Friend (I can’t think of a name right now) had MORE things to fix. I had MORE hands on me and it just proved to be too much for the sensitive side of me. I don’t even remember anything that happened on the rest of the lesson. I just know that Teach fixed things up and made pretty so that I left feeling OK and not a piece of crap. I know that this is what I pay for. This is how you get better. Yet, how do I change my brain waves to “they’re picking on me and nothing is right” to “I’m getting so much better over this lesson”?  No one would be blogging if we knew the answer.

This is all I’ve got in me to type. Hubby was appalled that I was going to go to my lesson with a purple, sausage-shaped broken finger – so I cancelled. I have to keep that man happy, too.

 

September Reading Wrap-Up

September started well and ended poor. I am currently reading 4 books, none of which is keeping my attention. Hence, I didn’t read the volume of books that I usually do.

I participated in #RYBSAT and #DiverseAThon. During those I read a total of 8 books. They will be the first on the list.

  1. The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic by Bianca Turetsky 2/5
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter 5/5
  3. United We Spy by Ally Carter 5/5 (it’s over and I’m sad)
  4. Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s The Tempest 4/5
  5. srsly Hamlet by Courtney Carbone 4/5
  6. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright 3/5
  7. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows 4.5/5
  8. What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor 4.5/5
  9. Dubliners by James Joyce 3/5
  10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 4/5
  11. The Reader by Traci Chee 4/5
  12. Follow Me by Tiffany Snow 3/5

I’m currently over half way through On Beauty by Zadie Smith. It’s going at a snail’s pace. I started Frankenstein a few days ago, and it, too, is not that exciting. Add to that Great Expectations and a few chunky books that I need to read by the end of the year and I’m feeling a bit bogged down. Hopefully I’ll find some lighter reads that will keep me feeling productive next month. Until next time, everyone!