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Jul. 6th, 2010

must write

Live the dance

Live the emotion in your dance that you feel when the music plays. Don’t focus on how you want to look or feel. This isn’t a lesson or a performance—it’s a dance, and a dance is a personal experience, a lifetime in itself. This opportunity will never occur again, even if the same people hit the same floor to the same music, that moment will be different from the one you are in right now, the dance that you have the chance to explore at this exact moment.

Play off your partner—he has emotions, too, and you can feel them in the dance. Have you danced with him before? Many times? Never before in your life? None of that matters. If you know him, you have a relationship that you must at the same time remember completely and forget utterly. Approach this dance as something completely new. Don’t think about how you felt when you danced with him last time, or worry about following a new lead. Just let the dance progress as you would a spur-of-the-moment relationship: throw yourself into the music wholeheartedly and don’t think twice about anything. Fall in love with what is in front of you right now: you, your partner, and the music are the only things that exist on the earth when you begin to dance, because here, tonight, there is a beat on the dance floor that calls to your body and a melody that calls to your soul, and you are going to take this sublime moment that only exists once, and you are going to dance.

Don’t let this moment escape you—it could turn out to be the best dance of your life.

Take a good look at your partner. How is he dressed? What kind of mood do you think pointed him to the clothes he is wearing tonight? What about yourself? What do your clothes say about your dancing and your mood? Have you both been dancing so hard that you’re slick with sweat, or is every hair still in place because you just got here? Ask yourself why. Question everything about your current state, including why you are there. Did you come to dance with friends? To show off? To blow off steam? To impress someone? For the exercise? Because you were bored and had nothing else to do?

We have many reasons for dancing and they all have their places. In my mind, the best one is because we have to. It’s that feeling you get when you’re in a restaurant for dinner and what David and I call “Eduardo-class music” comes on. The kind of music that affects you before you consciously hear it, the kind that has your fingers tapping clave before you realize that a song is playing. That moment when we feel that sitting still would kill us, that we must get up and dance or we will die…that moment of passion is the one that defines us. Not whether we actually get up and dance, as there are times when it is impossible or inappropriate, but that the overwhelming desire to dance takes over our entire consciousness to the point where a disaster could occur or someone could walk in naked and we wouldn’t even notice, so bound to the music are we at that moment.

When we dance, no matter the reason, we should strive to be as unconsciously and wholeheartedly focused on the dance, on the music, and on our partner as we are when that feeling of being utterly compelled to dance comes upon us. If we feel no change when we dance, then we are ignoring all the factors that have the power to affect us at that exact moment in time, and we are missing an experience that we will never have the chance to repeat.

So when you dance, don’t do it because someone asked you, or because you need the practice, or because you have nothing else to do, or because you feel good tonight.

Do it because you need to dance, and because you want to.

Apr. 13th, 2010

must write

Spending my time

I realized a few weeks ago that I have been treating my time in college as time to research and prepare for the life that I want to lead after I graduate. I spend probably thirty hours a week finding old and new ideas about cooking, cleaning, and gardening, whereas I probably only spend about two hours a week doing homework and studying for my classes. I'm thinking that I have been spending my time this way for a lot of reasons, but most of them can be pared down to three:

1) I much prefer learning of my own volition than because I am told to learn a certain thing at a certain time.

2) Real life is not academia, and academia is not real life.

3) I may not be able to live the life right now that I want to live, but I can learn as much as possible about the theory of it so that I will be a little bit more prepared when it comes time for me to actually live it.


The life that I want to live has very little to do with the academic world in which I live right now, composed as this one is of classrooms, essays, and detailed instructions for every assignment. Much as I would prefer to be running a household right now, with the very different routine and chores that come with it, I am stuck in the college life for a year and a month more, including holidays. Because of this, I am having to adjust the way I want to live so that it fits in with the way I have to live at the moment in order to graduate and be able to move on in life, a process that is often difficult for me because I do not always see the importance of assignments that my professors seem to find extraordinarily important.

What few people seem to have realized is that the academic world trains students to be academics in some form or fashion, which does not always lead to us being trained in all the things that we will need for the rest of our lives. I would much rather spend my time in college researching whatever piques my interest than studying whatever piques my professors' interests, as what fascinates them is not always certain to fascinate me as well. So I do my own research in my own time, and the study that they require of me gets pushed off until a time when there are fewer interesting things for me to learn about on my own.

I'd probably feel worse about how I divide my time if I were not gaining more from what I research on my own than from what I learn in class.

Mar. 6th, 2010

must write

Still the best book references in webcomic form.

Of madmen and windmills

xkcd.com/556/
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Mar. 5th, 2010

not easy

(no subject)


Mar. 2nd, 2010

guilty pleasure

Distraction by way of Photoshop

So I got a little bit distracted by photoshop this evening while trying to figure out which style and color bouquet I should carry in the wedding...the result was an attempt at a wedding picture of David and me.


Feb. 18th, 2010

yielding in me

My future through the eyes of my past

I'm getting married. Eighteen months from now, I will have been a married woman for two full months. It's a strange thing to think of, isn't it?--That I'm even old enough, wise enough, to think of being in charge of the daily household functions for two people, one of whom has little real-world experience. But we love each other, love each other so much that sometimes it hurts, and to the pint that I don't even want to contemplate a life without him. We are neither of us very experienced, and both very young, but I think that we will do fine--as well, at least, as most young couples do when they are just starting out in life. It's not like we're rich, but neither of us is afraid of work, and he has many intellectual talents that will be of great use to him in finding a job, both during and after grad school. As for me, I save money very well and am good at accomplishing things on a small budget and in creative ways. I have always been creative, as my mother often reminds me, and not easily stymied.

I am a good proofreader, a good writer, and a student of humanity in every way. I can ply a needle, crochet, knit, and tat, so clothing is not problem, nor are blankets. I could probably even make sheets and pillowcases if necessary. I can cook and bake, wash and mend, clean a house...and I will do anything for the people I love. I am going to be a good housewife and keep my husband happy, as well as our children when we have them. I will create a wonderful place for us to live, no matter where we are and how well-off or budget-conscious we are.

Love can work wonders, especially when applied liberally and sincerely. I should know--my family has never been rich, and often our little luxuries cost us somewhere else, but we have been happy because we love each other and know that love to be all-encompassing. We certainly do not always get along, but it does not matter. Strong personalities are bound to clash at times, but we still love each other even more every day, and we are happy. What more can I ask for in my life with David than that? There are certainly much less desirable things to be found in a marriage than love and happiness. I will be very satisfied if we have but those two alone.

Oct. 28th, 2009

must write

Fiction

Why do we love fiction, fantasy, and science fiction? I believe that it is for the same reasons we love to travel. We love the feeling of meeting people whose backgrounds are so very different from ours, but who hunger for things as much as we do. We enjoy experiencing new cultures and traditions, and going places we've never been. And it is easier to go there in a story than in real life, because we have no need to pack, no need for a guide book or map or translator. All we need to enjoy the trip is the book and a comfy place to read it. Customs and culture are explained to us in a a language that we understand, we meet dozens of people who thoroughly fascinate us, and there is always something exciting gong on around us.

A book is a portable vacation, a method of escape from the everyday of our lives into the not-so-everyday of someone else's life. and we love the novelty of a new place and new people. We don't ever have to worry about them not liking us, or running out of money, or disliking the food, because of the adventure that is already written out in front of us. It is a vacation that can be had for free, found among others on the shelves of a library. Go pick out a few to enjoy. It is one of the most enjoyable things you can do for yourself.

Oct. 1st, 2009

not easy

The Importance of American Girl

I don't know about the other girls who grew up in the nineties, but for me, the American Girl Collection was the highlight of my life. Through them I experienced history, through them I learned about friendship, honesty, family, loyalty, and that growing up is always hard, no matter where or in what time you do it.

The addiction hit me quickly: before the time I was six, I was reading the catalogs on the bus on the way to school, dreaming of the day when I would be able to act out Felicity's stories with the beautiful doll that I saw in the catalog and touched with hungry fingers. I wanted to be part of that life, to know how it felt to live in those times and do those things.

So I saved up my money. It takes an extremely long time for a girl to save up enough money for one of those dolls, especially when her allowance is twenty-five cents a week. But I saved up every week's allowance, and the dollar that my grandparents included in cards that they sent me for holidays, and the quarter I got from the tooth fairy when I lost a tooth, and I saved for three years. I thought I would have to save for another three years, because I only had about fifty dollars after that time, but my parents were kind and matched what I had saved. I think they were a bit surprised that I had concentrated on one thing for that long.

And for my ninth birthday, I got Felicity. I really think that that was the happiest birthday I have ever had in my life. I can still see myself in my grandparents' sunroom, holding Felicity and spinning around in exhilaration. My grandparents, who are more apt to spoil me than are my parents, gave me a couple more dresses for Felicity and one for me, as well, that matched hers. That next Christmas, I got another dress for her and one for me, and we played all the time after I finished my schoolwork. I made her scarves, hats, purses, pillows, beds, and houses from the materials available in my room and my family's craft box. She gave me a reason to use my imagination and my creativity without wreaking havoc on my neighborhood, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over the years since then, American Girl was bought by Mattel, and things changed. There isn't as much focus on each doll, as more are coming out all the time, and the dolls and their accessories are slowly being retired. Samantha and her things are already gone, and Kirsten is next in line. The catalogs that I pored over on the way to and from school everyday have been gone for years, as everything is on the internet now. The dresses that I wore to match my doll haven't been made in a long time, and are difficult to find. It saddens me to see these icons of my childhood being packed up and archived, as if the childhood I had less than ten years ago is disappearing without any chance of being remembered except in the boxes that girls pack up before college. My Felicity is sitting on the rocking chair in my room at home, right beside Katie, the My Twinn doll that my sister gave me for Christmas the year I was twelve, when I gave her one of her own. But how many American Girl dolls have been shoved into closets to make way for this age of technology and industry? I don't really want to know the answer.

Life moves quickly, yes, and it is always changing. But there has to be some room left for the imagination, and for tradition, and for the pure enjoyment that a girl gets when she finally receives the doll who has been alive in her mind for years as the girl from a series of books that she loves. I wish more of the world could know that joy, and understand it for what it is. It's not a childish desire for possessions, or a yearning to have what everyone else has. It's the longing for a friend who is like you and knows what you are going through, despite the fact that she lived a long time ago, despite the fact that she doesn't dress, speak, or live like you, and most of all, despite the fact that she is fictional. Some of the most real people that I have ever known only live in my imagination. Whether they are real or not doesn't matter. They understand how I am feeling and what it is like to be me, and that is all that is important to me

Sep. 23rd, 2009

must write

My new/old obsession

I've always had obsessions. It's how I learn best, so I've never discouraged it. Throughout my life I have suddenly found myself fascinated with a subject and then proceeded to find out as much about it as possible. Some of these interests were sated by that knowledge; others were not. I've studied everything from the Roman empire, horses, the Gaelic languages, and weddings to names, chickens, interior decorating, old-fashioned cooking, Irish cottages, goats, gifted education, home education, and handwork.

Lately, I'm back on handwork. I've tatted since I was seven, crocheted since I was nine, and been thoroughly interested in all parts of the fabric-making process since I read the Little House books with my family when I was young. For some reason, the rhythms of treadled spinning wheel and loom relax me, just as crocheting and sewing do. I'm a very old-fashioned person in some ways, I suppose. I like my meals homemade, my days slow and similarly patterned, my family close, and my tea freshly steeped in a pot so that the scent of tea fills the room. The small changes in everyday life make it even lovelier, as I see it. I'm a homebody. New things are wonderful, but if there is nothing familiar to go back to, I feel rootless. As I am a very rooted person, that depresses me.

So this return of mine to the subject of handwork--spinning and weaving in particular--is no great surprise to me, as it has sat dormant in my mind for years. Well, not always dormant, as the box of cotton and a spool of thread that I attempted to spin by hand without any form of spindle proves. But I finally realized a couple days ago that I could use technology to help me learn more, and I pulled up my internet.

It's amazing how much can be learned on a 21st century machine about things that have been around as long as civilization, isn't it? So I'm planning my next trip home to recover that box of cotton from my closet, and to find the materials for a drop spindle, most of which are probably also at my house. Who knows where I'll go from there?

Jan. 29th, 2009

spare me

Ballroom

I love ballroom dance. I love how it looks, how it feels, how the music flows and snaps and bounces and stops suddenly. I love the outfits and the shoes, and how everything about ballroom is different from other dances. I love ballroom people, too--they're the kindest, most helpful, funniest, loving, silliest people on earth. They remind me of theatre people, actually, but without the egos that some theatre people have. Maybe it's the fact that everyone feels free to do just about anything, whether it's saucy, sweet, sensual, silly, or sexy. Ballroom people just go with it and come up with something hilariously amusing. And there's just something about the atmosphere that ballroom creates, too: everyone cheering whether they know the dancers or not, clapping the cha cha beat so that the newcomers can fix their timing, coming up and hugging other dancers after each round and telling them whether they made it to the next one. I really do love ballroom dance, and everything that comes with it. It seems to always make me hyper and enthusiastic, ready to do anything that comes my way.

But tonight after practice, I just feel drained. I practiced the steps and the footwork, learned new moves and worked on improving older ones, danced with people I've danced with a hundred times and people I've never danced with before. But the steps felt dull, my footwork felt even sloppier than normal, and the energy that I always have, especially for cha cha, completely deserted me. I don't know if it's because I'm tired, or because I feel like I'm not getting anywhere with technique, or because I'm simply frustrated with watching everyone else who is as committed to ballroom as I am find a partner with whom they can dance at least reasonably well, while the only times when I have ready partners are the times when I am leading--and then I have an overabundance of willing partners. I don't mind leading, really--actually, I like it a lot--but it would be really, really nice to be able to focus on being the girl for once in dance, all the time, and not just trying to figure out following in between leading half the girls in practice. Leading is fun, and I'm pretty good at it, probably because I like being in control of what's happening on the dance floor, so that if something goes wrong I at least know what it is. But I have to learn every step two ways, and even though my mind can pretty easily switch between the two, my body doesn't find the switch as simple most of the time, so I end up backleading much more often than I should, or taking the job of teaching steps to those who missed a practice, simply because I can do either part reasonably well.

What makes it worse is that I'm actually good at leading. Most of the time, I find it easier to learn the leader's than the follower's steps, so I start out learning the follower's part because I find it harder and then switch it around in my head in order to lead. Sometimes I'm proud that I can switch between the two parts so easily, so I have to remind myself that my technique needs a whole lot of work in order to be passable, no matter how easy to follow my lead is. I think I feel that way because my lead is better than those of some of the male leaders, and they're only having to learn one set of steps and can concentrate fully on them.

Lucky boys.

I'll figure it out eventually, I hope--preferably before the day arrives when I can no longer lead in competition and am forced to find a male partner who is willing to dance with me, an occurrence that would be extremely difficult at the moment, as we are rather short on men. At least I'm not always unable to find a partner...when same-sex couples are allowed, I'm in rather high demand because I know how it feels to be a follower, so I lead early and clearly, which followers like.

This would all be so much easier if I were a boy. They don't have to wear heels, either.

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