Así soy

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday: so while Obi Wan is at the Fjords

so while Obi Wan is at the Fjords

Professor Plum and Mrs. Peacock head out to the Clue Party.
Where I get to hang out with other gamer characters..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back on the Blog

So I've had kind of a rough week, juggling a lot of slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and decided I'd better regroup before getting back on the blog.

Anyway, Tuesday morning I'm back at the Presidio for another metaphysical journey with Kelly.  I was eager to hear about his Russian Bath House experience but figured I'd wait patiently as he reviewed my shoulder mobility.
As he started working away at the shoulder mechanism, Kelly began, "So about the Russian Bath House..." I waited with bated breath for him to continue.  My breath was bated because he was pushing down too hard for me to inhale.
"Alas, the Russian Bath house was closed!" (Ok, maybe he didn't actually say "alas" but he implied it.)
I can't exactly remember why he said that it was closed.  I think it had to do with a liquor license problem.
He then regaled me with a hilarious story of what he ended up doing in New York instead which incidentally did not involve good Cuban food.

Then he dropped another Kelly conversation-explosive (and I am paraphrasing here): "So tomorrow I am off to the Land of Ice and Snow, from the Midnight Sun where the hot springs blow."

My eyeballs bulged (and not just because I was lying face down.) What?!  What?!
I immediately considered explaining that I am good at braiding hair and folding clothes and would therefore make an excellent assistant. 

So anyway, he is now arriving in Valhalla-ville.

I googled Norwegian Bath House.

Alas for Kelly,  No Results.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where am I?

So I woke up this morning (like, 2am) thinking about Dennis Wholey's observation that  expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person, is like expecting a bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.   I first read this when I was twelve, and it just burned straight from my eyes into my brain as a very wise thing to remember.

Anyway, turning this over in my mind, I hit the commuter lanes at 5:30 for a thoughtful drive to the Presidio.  I like to arrive a little early to admire the people working out.  They make all that lifting and push-ups seem so easy.  I can't wait to be reincarnated as an amazon (or an amazon painter.)  I think I was once a bellicose Bedouin fighter.  But possibly, as said fighter, I was arrogant, and so was reincarnated deliberately as a weeny-sized woman to get some perspective.  If so, it has totally worked because while I fiercely admire strength, skill and determination, I am totally in love with belly dancing, cute bras, pancakes, and watching otters play. 

But I digress.

So today Kelly worked on that first rib so hard (using both thumbs) that I thought my left eyeball was going to explode.  My stomach (in a gesture of solidarity for my flaming eye) nearly tossed the 4:30am bacon & eggs onto Kelly's shoes (but that is  a waste of good bacon.)   He did listen kindly to my whingeing and then promptly squeezed all the stress out of me.
Kelly wrested a new range of movement out of my shoulder while he told me stories of dancing around drinking pisco in Chile, of using a Chinese network to get his passport renewed, and of future travels to a Russian Bath House.

By the time he was done, I not only had new shoulder mobility, but also some new mental mobility:
 I have an existential map; it has ‘you are here’ written all over it. -Steven Wright.

Good friends make sure you don't get lost.


Monday, October 18, 2010

But every now and then

there is the Up moment.

So Mr. J handed me a large black plastic tube.  "Lift this straight over your head."
I grabbed the tube and started to lift it overhead.  It lunged to the right with a sloshing sound.  It was filled with water.  I gripped more tightly and struggled to get it level.

Mr. J : Yeah, so just hoist it overhead, keep yourself organized and walk down to the
           speed bump and come back.
Me    :  You know, just FYI, this tube would be way more stable if they took more care when they filled it.  If it were tightly full of water, the tube wouldn't be so hard to control.
Mr. J :
Mr. J :
Mr. J :
Me    :   Ok, then. I'm walking.

I was still thrilled that my shoulder would actually let me lift something straight overhead so I wasn't complaining as I lurched across the parking lot.  Going out was fine.  Turning around caused the water in the tube to start sloshing from one end to the other.  On the trip back, my arms got tired as they strained to keep from dropping the tube.  Mr. J barked out helpful comments, like "No, keep it straight over head!" and "Keep your arms back!"

But the third trip I had figured out how to organize: I had to tighten up my core the same way I do for sword-balancing except.

During that last walk, I had a momentary flash that made me grin:
for one shining second I felt like She-Ra Princess of Power.

Friday, October 15, 2010

More Legerdemain with Mr. J

So between Prowler runs & squats, Mr. J observing and I, panting discussed favorite candy, snacks, food, & favorite ways to eat and/or prepare said foods.  I thoroughly encouraged him to invest in a pastry blow torch because it is a much faster and more entertaining way to melt butter on English muffins or cook the yolk on eggs.

He agrees with me that Bacon, Butter and Beef are all individual food groups with serious RDAs.  He likes to eat at home-style Taquerías that have fútbol & telenovelas blasting on the TV (even though he isn't sure what he is ordering unless it's carnitas.)

Anyway, in light of all this sharing, I felt it only fair to let him know about spreading butter on Graham Crackers as a snack.  And to let him know about the origin of the Graham Cracker...(look it up: comes under weird but true.)

And, the trump card:

He has a Barbie pink roller suitcase

(seriously, is that hot or what?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Up and Down and Down

So Tuesday morning I drove to SF in complete darkness, enjoying way lighter traffic.  This is because I now drive out to see Kelly one hour earlier.  I'm on the road by 5:30am.

It was still dark when I arrived at the Presidio, but there were no street lights.  The nice office with the nice bathroom was not open.  This meant using a dark Port O'Pot.  It has some interesting Christmas style lights draped around, but actually, now that I think about it, it is probably better that it is pretty dark in there.

So I was able to show Kelly how far I had come along:  I could jump up and grab the bars to hang from them.
He smiled. "Can I see that again?"
Me (thinking, uh-oh)  : Um, Ok!
Kelly:  Can you make the hollow rock position?  Pull in.  Don't raise the ribcage.
Me   :  Um, ok!
Kelly  :  Is your butt tightened?
Me (mentally slapping my butt upside its slacker head) : Um, of course!
Kelly : Can you point your toes?
Me    : Ummmmmkkkk.
Clearly, I need to work hard on my Rigid Otter position.

Kelly then set up the Trapeze Rings low to the ground.  "Let's have you do a push up using the rings so you can improve that shoulder rotation!"
Me (heart sinking down into my bowels) : um, ok!
I was determined to do this, but push-ups are not what I would consider my forte.   I suspect I may need to be Reincarnated before I become adept at push-ups.
My hands gripped the rings (the upside: rings are easier on my wrists!) (the downside: Kelly was about to witness the depths of my weenitudity.)
Kelly watched me for a few seconds as I tried to control my arms.  He frowned, "Well, you can do it from your knees.  Or just go as far as you can."
I did not dare mention that actually that was what I was trying to do.
Then he added, "and let's make the rings lower."
The rings were now like an inch off the ground.  I got straight-armed but once I started to lower down, I felt my body turn into a wriggling eel.  I tried to figure out what to focus on most, and hoped my body would just organize instinctively (like with the Prowler.)  But, no, every body part was apparently too immature to make any decisions without mental direction. I squeaked like an otter as I slithered to the ground and then struggled to get back up.
Kelly: Well, you have the idea, at any rate!

It could have been worse:
He could have come up with a rhetorical situation involving a burning building in which a ring push-up was required to save a loved one's life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Part 2 Infinity Digression : Infinite 8s

So if we look at a woman's body, we can see the Infinity shape vertically:

In the lower loop, there is another horizontal infinity shape in the hips:

In the upper loop, there is an upper infinity shape in the ribcage,

and yet another in the shoulders,

and even more in the arms themselves.

Because movement flows and is not static, feminine dance literally embodies infinity.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Part 1 Digression 4 : Infinity & the Nature of Dance

Warning:  if you hate theory stuff and would rather read about me crumpling under heavy weights and pushing metal stuff on pavement,  just skip this one (and Part 2, although it does have nice photos.)

So I've had this theory for years and figured I may as well put it in writing somewhere other than the dance course packs I make.

Actually the Infinity Theory first crystallized for me with Literature and the development of philosophies and approaches.  Most analysts refer to a back and forth pendulum movement (reaction to reaction) of literary movements, but I knew this was inadequate.  This assumes a linear motion in one direction before a reactionary movement in the other. Human dynamics (and binary life in general) makes this impossible (besides, exactly what is said pendulum hanging from?)  Finally, while exploring the nature of duality in Carlos Fuentes' Aura, it hit me.

It isn't a pendulum movement.  It's an infinite movement in which one motion already engenders the contrary movement by the initiation of movement itself.  Think of waves - as one wave rises, it does so by pulling at the water in front of it : for some water to move forward, other water has to pull back.  When a wave falls and flows forward on one side of the ocean, the water on the other side of the ocean pulls back and rises in a crest.

Imagine the infinity symbol as a constant flow rather than a static typed image, and I think you will see what I mean.

So when one literary movement begins, by its sheer beginning, it inspires & defines its own reactionary counterpart that will eventually replace it as the driving literary movement.

Ok, yadda yadda yadda, what has this to do with dance?

Music breaks down into natural 8s  (which I believe result from the 8 beat rhythm of our heartbeats.)
In belly dance we recognize the figure 8 shape of a woman's body.  We refer to movements in eights: We talk about "up 8s" (Little Egypts), "down 8s" (Mayas), "front & back 8s" etc.
I don't think they are eights.  They are infinity symbols.  Our movements are not isolated.  When the "up 8" starts, there is already the downward movement from the other side that will slide into the upward movement thus taking the originating movement from up to down.  It isn't tracing a figure 8: Tracing a figure 8 implies a beginning and an end and that somewhere is the originating point.  Also it means that we have selected a point of our body that travels along the shape of the 8.

Instead, what we are really doing is manifesting infinity (gestalt) within ourselves.

to be continued...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Magic Man : pulling the effort out of the hat

So Paul dumps me for a couple of weeks (supposedly he is celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and stuff) and has left me in the care of Mr. J.

So Mr. J  sizes me up the first day and says: Ok let's warm up with some rowing!
Me: Ok!
So I row my 500 meters, keeping my time under my personal Slacker-Zone number (which I totally do not share with Paul.)  I had some stress to work out so I felt pretty good about it.

Mr. J gives a gentle cough: um, no, let's do, say, a thousand meters.
Me: Um, ok!
and I row another 500 meters which admittedly is a little harder than the first 500, especially since now I feel I have to maintain the same rate or better.

What makes the rowing interesting is that Mr. J is a story-teller.  This is pretty cool except he makes me laugh which may be some sort of secret personal trainer move to keep my abs engaged but does mess with my ability to stay organized.

Mr. J: Ok, let's go drag stuff.
Me:    Ok!

He doesn't put the same big wheels on the sled thingy that Paul does, so I think, well, after I pull it, I'll let him know that I might could do more.

Mr. J: Pull it to the end of the road and back.
Me:    Ok!

So we walk, I'm dragging, he's talking.  He interjects quiet suggestions into his stories, like, "stand up a little straighter" or "lift your knees up a little as you walk."  I'm talking too, but I notice that it takes a little more effort.  In fact, I'm starting to feel it all over. We get back to the main door, and I hand him the straps.
Mr. J: Oh, wait, let's do that again.  This time, pull backwards.
So I do the arm pull thingys which is a tedious process and fails to generate any interesting imagery.  Fortunately, Mr. J ambles along next to me asking questions and telling stories and occasionally sliding in casual comments on my form.  The small short pulls keep us at a turtle pace.  But he explains that these little midget movements work my [insert trainer technical terms.] 
By the time we head back, my shoulders are like live coals , Mr. J knows a lot of personal info about me, and I am getting familiar with his sense of humor.

I drop the straps, put on a fine PF and trail after Mr. J to the mats.

Mr. J: You can do some crunches to finish up
Me:     Ok! How many?
Mr. J: I don't know, maybe until the end of the next story.
Me:     Ok!
Me (several minutes into his hilarious story): Ha ha! um, how many more? (this is a rough translation from the gasping sounds I squeaked out.)
Mr. J:  I don't count much. How about until the end of the next story?
Me:     Ok! (in voice like a chipmunk's)
Mr. J:  Hmm, let me think. What story should I tell? Huh....

He does finally tell a story. I stand up, and I'm shaped like a question mark, feeling as though I have stapled my intestines to my spinal cord and will no longer be able to digest food normally.

Mr. J has fooled me with his sleight-of-hand approach.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Field Trip in which I don't see Angel but find Kwai Chang Caine

So I'm back in SF, bright and early.  I'm totally thrilled with the range of motion I have garnered by hanging from trees and other available monkey bars and can't wait to show Kelly.

I demonstrate my progress and bubble enthusiastically about the stuff I can do.  I marvel, "And, dude, as my shoulder gets looser, amazingly the rest of me is stronger and more flexible.  I can do more now with my hips and my back and...."

I notice the corner of Kelly's mouth twitching and I look up at his eyes - sure enough, he's trying not to laugh.

Master Po (Kelly) gives me a beatific smile, basically saying, yes, young grasshopper, you begin to see the light of the whole body gestalt.  The universe and your very own self are tightly interconnected which incidentally is why we don't make the Pain Face.

Oh well.  Early morning enlightenment comes slowly to me in the wee coffee-less hours.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sliding Home

So after a lot of fun in my last presentation, I set out from RDU for the trip home to the Bay Area.  This time I went through Atlanta where there was a small hitch with a last minute gate change that required a 28 gate dash, but I pulled it off.  I even had an aisle seat.

The seats were still tighter than I am use to since I'm spoiled by SouthWest and JetBlue, but the crew was friendly, and I saw baskets of snacks.

The flight crew went into the usual safety spiel.  I always dutifully pull out the safety card and look at the airplane configuration.  I figure they do have to let us know about the safety and it just seems awfully rude not to listen. Besides, you never know if something may have changed in the procedures.

Anyway, the man doing the talking had just gotten to the part about "In the event of sudden cabin depressurization, oxygen masks will fall from the compartments directly overhead.  When you are through screaming, place the mask over your face, draw the straps tightly and breathe deeply--"   WHAT?  What did he say??  When you are through screaming?  It took me a few seconds to decide if that was funny or not, but by then he had moved onto "As we taxi to the runway we'll dim the cabin lighting, thus enhancing the looks of those around you."  I burst out laughing as did the woman sitting next to me.  Most people were not listening and so they gave us some hard looks, clearly wondering what we found so funny.

I can't help but love a flight attendant who can use "thus" and "enhancing" in a single sentence that is at once informative and hilarious.

The flight was smooth, uneventful, snack-loaded and included a TV so I could watch the plane move across the US.  The shuttle home was equally quick.

Now I just needed a quick nap before getting ready for a dance show...  Where did I pack my glitter?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Otter

Happy Otter, Happy Shoulder

...and unbelievably this fabulous spa/pool was always empty no matter when I came down for a swim (a couple times a day!)


The car rental agent was not an NC native.  The agent assessed my disheveled, red-eyed, slightly crazed appearance and decided this could work to her advantage.  She gave me an incomprehensible speech about why I should upgrade to a mid-size car.  I said, "No thanks."   She continued to counter with reasons why I really wanted a mid-size car and I kept repeating I wanted the car I had reserved.  As I repeated, "no", she began to list what I did not have with my current compact: "You won't have electric windows: you will have to roll up the windows by hand," and "You won't have air-conditioning" until I got the impression I had actually somehow signed-up for a donkey and cart.

I caved and got the mid-size upgrade just to get away from her. She handed me a folder and said, "go pick whichever mid-size you want."  I looked out the window at roughly 4,000 cars.  I blinked.  "Which ones are mid-sized?"  She was already texting on her phone, "Whichever you want."  I felt Ass-Smacking Harry welling up from deep within:  "Point out my options."  She waved in the direction of the window, "Any."   I leaned across the counter, and gritted out, tears burning in my eyes, "Point to a car and tell me the color!  Like 'take the grey one right there or the red one over there."  She rolled her eyes and said, "Any of the cars in the middle."  I walked away thinking two things: 1) I would never rent from Alamo again and 2) I sure hoped the car I picked was actually better than mid-sized.

I tossed my purse into the front seat and then stared at my gigantic roller bag.  36 hours ago it seemed like a good idea to pack everything into one bag.  Horrified, I realized that Paul had been right:  I would have to deadlift something heavier than my purse.  There were no nice attendants around to help me.  I was going to have to wrestle that 50 pound bag into the back seat by myself.  I'm not going to describe the pathetic struggle that ensued (since I already know that Paul will get a lot of mileage out of this incident,) a struggle worsened by decaffeination, hunger and sleep-deprivation.

First stop:  Starbucks.   It was at this point that I knew I was in the South.  When I lurched into Starbucks, the woman behind the counter took one look at my frazzled-ass self and said kindly, "Honey, you have had one rough morning!"  I explained my story, and she shook her head and offered, "One double venti lattee extra fat foam coming up.  But you sit yourself down and I'll bring it over in a moment.  And take this muffin.  You need it."   The couple behind me talked about their travel experiences and watched my stuff while I went to the restroom to splash my face with water (I did not to look in the mirror.)

I then began my four hour roller coaster drive on a series of strangely empty Twilight Zone highways through the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains.  I managed to dominate both of the available lanes in my direction so the lack of traffic was quite fortuitous.

In the end, I parked in front of my Cupcake Girl's house, weaved a path to her porch, sank gratefully onto the swing and closed my eyes, my feet at last on the ground.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Part 3: How I arrived in the end

So our over-sharing pilot comes on and explains that because we are so late, we are going to fly extra fast to try to make up the time.  So our nearly five hour flight will now be only three hours.  And, just FYI, this bird is pretty loaded and a little heavy so we'll need the whole runway to take off.
This is a clear case of TMI.
We finally took off and I stretched out my feet, put my dog Springer behind my head  and let myself doze.  I was looking forward to whatever snack they might serve as my stomach was starting to gnaw on my duodenum.
The plane was bumping and shimmying around, and the seat belt sign stayed on.  The stewardesses stayed seated.  The pilot came back on.  I thought, Shouldn't he be busy flying the plane, especially since we were speeding?  Anyway, he came on to tell us that because we were hustling that it would be a rough ride and that we needed to stay in our seats.

Ten minutes later, he paged for a physician, nurse or paramedic.  The man in front of me raised his hand. "I am a doctor," he said calmly (just like on TV!)  The flight attendant  unbuckled herself and rushed over to take him to the first class section.  He came back a few minutes later and got out a medical bag. I could hear him talking with his wife and the attendant.  Apparently, a woman in first class thought she was having a heart attack and the pilot was deciding whether we should go back or head to the nearest airport.  The doctor  went back up front for a few more minutes, and then came back to his seat where he informed the stewardesses that he was pretty sure that this was a panic attack brought on by stress (I could totally understand this) so he gave her some Valium.

With the emergency resolved, I figured the attendants would start serving snacks.  But instead, they wobbled back to their seats to buckle back in for the rest of the flight. 

We arrived with a prolonged landing on the runway.  I staggered down to baggage claim to get my bag.   My bleary eyes would not focus together, and my internal organs were devouring each other.

Next Stop: The car rental agency