Last Thoughts

I have to say, my final pre comp lessons went well. The waltz routine he wants to do doesn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know, so that’s nice. Then we just danced rounds. He was pleased with all dances but Mambo, my newest. There’s one figure that I still stumble over. I wish I knew its name or could describe it to you, but alas, I’m not that talented.

Now my cynical self is going to come out. Teach made no comments about my technique or hips in Rhythm. Neither of these aspects are in my body except as sloth pace. I know he was hoping I would be better by now, but it’s just not happening. I really appreciate Teach building me up now, because it’s just too late to make something go into my body that’s not there yet. I wish my cynical side could just take that lesson as the calming, back rub that it was (with me being prone to freak out and perfectionism). But I know too well that it’s too late for anything but minor touch ups at this point. Don’t worry, I’m not in a bad place. It was good to be able to just get through the rounds without straining my ankle or dropping of heat exhaustion. My cynical brain just does an eye roll because I see through these tactics.

There is also a level of attention for this comp that is new for me and a bit unsettling. First Team Match was a show up and go on the floor deal. In November, I just showed my dress to Teach and did my thing. This time, Manager Lady, Lady R, Teach’s Wife, and seemingly, everyone in the studio is keenly interested in my body grooming, costuming, routines, etc. I thought a new pair of shoes and a Rhythm dress would be the end. (I’ve always gone with the professional hair and makeup – I’m clueless with hair.) That is not the case. Who knew I would need a wax, fish nets, and additional tanning. As if I’m not tan enough! And fishnets? Yuck!!! It’s so HOT. Why would anyone wear all that?! But guess who went out and bought fishnets and some dancer body bronze crap that makes me sparkle like a fairy. This sucker, that’s who. This leads to the question: Why now? Why this dance event? Teach’s wife commented on a Facebook post I put up with the comment that I just upgraded myself from beginner to competitor. I guess that makes a little sense, but (here comes Mr. Cynical) could it be that I’m spending enough money on this comp to be noticed?

Yesterday I get a call from Manager Lady. To set the scene, I’m at work. I work as a nurse in a critical area, so my mind isn’t necessarily on this phone call as much as it should be. I saw the studio number and picked up in case there was a problem with something for Saturday. That wasn’t it. Manager Lady said that the higher up’s in the company decided that for those who sign up for 50 heats, they will get 5 free heats with instructors from other studios. She goes on to tell me that she thinks this would be a “great challenge” for me and since I’m already at 49 heats, would I like to buy one, get 5 free? I’m a sucker and at work, so I say “Sure!” I will now refer you to the questions at the end of the previous paragraph. And cue today’s freak out. What was I thinking? I don’t want to dance with random instructors! I’m neurotic enough without this particular “challenge”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s like gym classes gone by, What if none of them want to dance with me? This was a poor decision. One that I’m going to have to live with now. But it does beg the question: Is she only calling me because I’m spending that much money anyway? If you’re on the list of top students, you’re spending too much money. I’d better not be on there. I prefer under the radar.

The hotel is confirmed. I’ve made the decision that I’d rather lug a bazillion suitcases on the subway than worry about parking at the hotel. I will have two lovely nights alone in the hotel room – the family decided to stay home. There’s just no money to pay the giant fee they charge to spectate. Now I just need to get my husband to relax. He’s concerned for my safety, which I respect and admire – it’s part of his job. But he’s being overly concerned. He’s convinced that my hotel is in a bad part of town, but it’s not. Things can happen anytime, anywhere, and without reason. I’m always on guard, but I refuse to live my life in constant fear of what can happen. Now if I could just apply that to my dancing. I’ll be thinking of all those who are dancing this week and weekend and a big thank you to all those who are lending support. I just love this community!

Classic Book Review: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

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From Goodreads: “The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon” is a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century. Written by a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions. 

Lady Shonagon was an erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, “The Tale of Genji,” fictionalized the elite world Lady Shonagon so eloquently relates. Featuring reflections on royal and religious ceremonies, nature, conversation, poetry, and many other subjects, “The Pillow Book” is an intimate look at the experiences and outlook of the Heian upper class, further enriched by Ivan Morris’s extensive notes and critical contextualization.

I would have never picked up this book if it weren’t for the classics challenge I’m doing. It’s a non-fiction book full of descriptions and lists (no plot) that are invaluable to those who are studying/interested in Japanese culture. That would not include me. It is also interesting to note that this book is 1/3 footnotes and definitions and there is an additional hardcover book to explain what everything means. I did not read the additional book, but I did read most of the footnotes because I actually found this book incredibly interesting. It shocks me to write that! Overall, The Pillow Book brought home to me how women born long ago are just the same as women born now. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous but I know I can think very abstractly about those who lived so far in the past. Yet, we are the same! Some of the things she was irritated by, I thought, “Yes! Me, too!” The descriptions were lovely and poetic (naturally, since she was a poetess). I was a bit surprised to read about how free they were with taking lovers. There are many mentions of when men are supposed to leave in the morning, and how they are supposed to treat a woman after. Another one of my bubbles burst. I did force myself to read at times because this isn’t a book with a plot; it’s not even a diary because it has no dates and events are mixed around as she felt like writing them. Overall, I really enjoyed this and am glad to have expanded my horizons in a way I never expected. As for recommending this book, I’m sure anyone with a love of Japan has either already read it or has it on their TBR. If it sounds interesting, give it a go.

I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016 for the category of a book by a non-white author.

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I’ve always wanted to read more classics. The problem with this is that I haven’t liked many classics in the past (a hang up from school, I think), and there’s no accountability in my desire to read. A secondary reason is that classics tend to take more brain power than I have available at any particular time. I’m a busy woman with many distractions. I tend to go for the lighter books that I can put down easily when my daughter needs help or it’s time to fold some laundry. So this year I’m going to get some accountability in my desire to read some classics. I’m going to participate in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. It’s a great one because you can read 6, 9 or 12 books depending on how your year goes. Below are the challenges and my tentative selections for each.

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  2. A 20th Century Classic – Animal Farm by George Orwell
  3. A classic by a woman author – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. A classic in translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  5. A classic by a non-white author – The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
  6. An adventure classic – The Time Machine by HG Wells
  7. A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  8.  A classic detective novel – 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
  10. A classic which has been banned or censored – Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college) – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  12. A volume of classic short stories – Dubliners by James Joyce

I will admit to being intimidated by a few of the above. Reviews and updates will happen periodically, so look out for them if you’re interested. Any words of advice as I embark on this journey?

Thoughts on Resolutions

I don’t make New Year resolutions. Never have. Turning over into a new year doesn’t erase all the things you’ve done. After the party is over you still have to go back to your same old life. That being said, I can’t get away from goal setting.

The dance studio has me make dance goals around every 3-6 months. One of the times we do this is now. I have the sheet of paper in hand as I type.

I follow a lot of book bloggers and youtube bloggers because I read a lot. Now they’re all reviewing their years and making book reading goals for next year. All the new book reading challenges are coming out. I’m a planner and list maker by nature, so all the videos and blogs are making me want to join in the fun!

Needless to say, it’s hard to get away with not making goals. (I’m going to call them goals and not resolutions. Resolution is such a bad word.) Depending on if I cave in to the pressure to make lists, you may see lots of posts the next few days. I can’t stomp my feet with the dance goals, but I’d love to resist some of the book craziness!