Ballet Squid Chronicles: Coming Together

Did both classes tonight.   I felt good throughout, with the exception of totally not having a couple of barre combos sorted in Claire’s class.

Pirouettes are becoming reliable.   I did one double, from fourth,  semi-badly (it could have been worse, which represents progress). 

My coupé- and passé relève balances are becoming like my track stands used to be: they work until I realize they’re working, Wyle E.  Coyote style :P  They’re improving, though, so no complaints.

Combinations came off well.  I’m still going on the first group all the time, and it’s still working.

After class,  Claire asked how it was feeling (the dancing, that is), then said,  “It’s coming together!”

So that was an awesome end to a frank roller-coaster of a day.

So that’s it for now.  Keep the sunny side up, and don’t forget to salt your eggs a little.

Department of Mood Retrieval

So I got my exam back.  I made the usual array of stupid ADHD mistakes that I make on any first-exam-of-the-semester in any math class, because I always forget how absolutely horrible I am at error-checking my own work (seriously, you would not believe the bone-headed crap I do).

Today’s winner?

On a question asking us to identify the equation representing the translations of a given graph, showing both the original (solid line) and translated (dashed line) graphs, I first wrote out the correct equation for the translated graph.

Then, instead of circling THAT SAME FREAKING EQUATION in the list of four possible answers, I circled the equation for the un-translated graph.


This is the mathematical equivalent, I am quite sure, of sissone-ing the wrong way in the combo.

Oh, I called this “Department of Mood Retrieval” because initially I was very depressed about this, but now I find it funny, and it’s improving my mood a bit.

Low, Low, Low

In the past I’ve written a bit about my bipolar disorder, though I’m not sure I set the posts in question to be viewable (I’ll have to check on that; some of them should be) during the recent Great Blog Reboot.

Anyway, I’ve spent the past year trying to learn to understand not only the particulars of bipolar disorder in general (of which, as a student of psychology with a strong interest in neuroscience and abnormal psych, I had a fairly keen grasp already), but of my bipolar in particular.

Like, what factors influence my mood shifts? Do they follow any particular pattern? Can I influence them? Can I detect their approach?

For the past several weeks, I’ve been on a pleasant, mild upswing — the kind that I wouldn’t mind having more often; the kind that makes one more creative and productive without making one too wildly unpredictable, irresponsible, or out of control. There were a couple of odd perceptual blips, but beyond that, it’s been like riding along on an elevated express train with a great view.

Now, it feels like the train is slowing down — and like it’s preparing to dive into the network of subterranean tunnels that it occupies when I’m depressed. And, honestly, because my perceptions of my own mood are poor, that probably means it’s already in the tunnels, though not in the deep tunnels yet. We’ll belabor the analogy and say that these are the L1 tunnels, which still have light wells from the surface every now and then.

To further explain, I’m in the state that I usually pass off as “just tired” — ran out of steam last night much earlier than I expected to, fell asleep earlier than usual, woke up this morning feeling groggy and bedraggled instead of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I wasn’t ready to take on the world, didn’t want to go to school, and felt daunted by the very idea of ballet class. At this particular moment, I still do.

Too bad, depression. I’m going anyway.

In fact, I’m hoping that going to class tonight will help head this thing off at the pass, as it were. For whatever reason, ballet seems to work miracles in that regard (for me). When I make it to class at least three days a week, my keel stays much more even (Egads! From train analogies to boat analogies? Enough, already!)

We’ll see how this all works. The days are growing shorter, now, and waking up with the sun at a low angle (or, worse, in full darkness in the winter) is tough for me. I might try bringing the light therapy box online a couple of mornings each week and see if that helps.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I hope to resume my usual run of class notes, such as they are, this evening.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Radio Silence!

…But don’t worry, I should be back in action soon.

Class on Monday was nice (we just did Essentials, because OMG homework). Other than that, I’ve been plowing through a huge, huge pile of schoolwork since last Wednesday.

It so happened that a couple of math homework assignments, an upcoming math exam (with attendant exam prep assignments) , and the due date for a major phase of my Senior Seminar project all coincided — and also that the Senior Sem project part took much longer than I expected (I made a huge survey, guys!). I have been very, very busy.

My brain is cooked and I’m sleep-deprived, so I’m taking the evening off tonight. In fact, I’m not even planning on riding my bike home: I’m going to roll home on the bus, then maybe take a walk.

I plan to hit up Friday’s 10 AM class. That’s a straight-up intermediate class (instead of combined Beginner&Intermediate, like Monday’s class), so that might be interesting. If nothing else, I can keep my fellow students amused.

For what it’s worth, while there was a straight-up blizzard of math assignments, I should note that I’m really enjoying my precalc class. In particular, I like my instructor, who has a great sense of humor and high expectations. I knew I would like her when, on the first day, she said, “…And it can be hard to do the password retrieval thing for MyMathLab, so seriously — just write it down. Nobody is going to break into MyMathLab and do your math homework.”

I think I did reasonably well on my exam. Most of it seemed pretty straightforward. I’ve found that I like working difference quotient problems, and part of me will be rather sad to see them go (though they’ll return for the final exam, I’m sure).

Meanwhile, the giant ball o’ Senior Sem stuff is done for now. Survey is made, Institutional Review Board forms are prepared, and all that jazz. I even managed to finish an article notes assignment that I’d overlooked completely.

So that’s it. Might be quiet here for a few more days, though I hope to regale you with exciting tales of my foray into the rarified realms of Weekday Morning Ballet on Friday.

So, there you have it. Be well, and keep the bottom side down :)

Let’s Get (a) Physical, Physical

This week, I visited my doctor’s office — not for an actual physical, but to get a spider bite on my leg checked out (it had been growing more, rather than less, inflamed over the course of a week).

While there, a nurse weighed me and took my vitals.

My weight was down four pounds since my my last “official” weigh-in (which was in … June?); my blood pressure was 110/60, and my pulse — not a resting pulse, mind you, but a well-caffeinated, middle-of-the-day, just-hopped-onto-a-table pulse — was 52.


Makes me awfully curious what my proper resting pulse rate is. I tend not to stay still long enough during the day to take a proper resting pulse rate. I haven’t remembered to check it in ages. Every night, I remind myself, “Check your resting pulse rate tomorrow before you get up;” every morning, inevitably, I forget.

Now, my blood pressure has always been fine, and my weight has been descending continuously* for the past several years (at varying rates of speed — usually quickly from January through the end of summer, then more slowly through the end of the year).

I’m writing all of this not to toot my horn, but to toot ballet’s horn. Even several years of riding my bike everywhere hadn’t coaxed my mid-day pulse rate down below 60. Six and a half months of ballet have done the trick. Simply put, I’ve always been a fairly athletic person, but ballet has transformed me into one seriously fit mofo.

And I cite ballet specifically because it’s been the biggest change in my life in the past year. My diet continues as usual — mostly “real food,” with room for various indulgences (including, apparently, all those pretzels). I actually ride my bike less now than I have in the past four years.

What this all indicates to me, in the end, is the importance of finding a kind of physical activity that works for you, that you love — and maybe one that challenges you to push your own physical boundaries. I love ballet even more than I love riding bikes (there, I said it!).

Ballet forces me to push my body’s boundaries — I can’t just jump around on my legs; I have to use my arms, too. I can’t just do endless amounts of endurance exercise; ballet requires bouts of high-intensity jumping around (and also getting up, getting up, and getting down).

If I really want to improve, I have to be willing to gain some upper-body strength. And if I want to perform some day, which I totally do, I can’t neglect endurance exercise — read any good treatise on physical conditioning for ballet, and in the first chapter (or thereabouts) you’ll discover that class alone doesn’t condition dancers effectively for the aerobic rigors of performing on stage. Dancers who add in some kind of aerobic endurance training fare better than those who don’t.

All of this amounts to the equivalent of (at present) three 60 to 75-minute long high-intensity interval training sessions (with some flexibility stuff thrown in) coupled with the usual assortment of aerobic endurance workouts that I get through commuting by bike.

Overall, it seems to be working brilliantly as a health-maintenance and -improvement plan.

So there you go. Ballet really is good for you.

So go take two classes and call me in the morning :D

*I should note that continuously descending weight is not, in and of itself, a marker of improving health. You can be healthy and be much heavier than I am. For me, it’s simply an indicator that my body is returning to its own norm, which suggests that it’s “functioning as designed.”

By the way, the spider bite is fine. The doctor who examined it said I should worry if it doesn’t start to diminish in the next few days. That made Denis feel better, which made me feel better.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Analyzing Last Night’s Class

I’ve been being lazy all morning and trying to finish Felice Picano’s Like People In History (and playing with AT&T uVerse’s Interactive Workout feature — we finally got uVerse in our neighborhood, so Denis made the jump), so I feel that I can take a few more minutes (or, you know, an hour and a half…) to avoid my homework and talk about ballet instead.

This morning, while waiting for my breakfast/lunch to finish microwaving cooking, I tried to run through some of the combinations from last night’s class, and I think I figured out part of the problem.

Besides the usual problem of putting changes of feet in places where they don’t belong (G-d bless Tawnee for noting that; because I don’t always realize I’m doing it until the next morning, and I was able to fix it a few times), I realized I made one enormous mistake: I kept sissoneing the wrong way.

So: when the combination went sissone devant, I kept going sissone derriere. The problem was in the translation: Tawnee initially gave us the counts in Ballet Frenglish, so it was “sissone front, sissone back,” etc., which is totally valid, but somehow my brain decided that “sissone front” meant that the, um, kicky leg* goes forward.

Even though I freaking well know better.

In case you’re wondering, “sissone front” doesn’t mean your kicky leg goes forward. It just doesn’t, y’all. When you sissone devant, you sissone to the front. This means that your back leg is the one that makes a pretty, pointy reachy gesture — and it does so to the freaking rear. Your front leg, meanwhile, kind of points downish, like this:

Obviously, your arms and core shouldn't quite look like this -- but presumably you have bones in your arms and spine, which makes things much easier.

Obviously, your arms and core shouldn’t quite look like this — but presumably you have bones in your arms and spine, which makes things much easier. Edit: obviously, you should also maintain your turnout. I was a bit lazy with my image modification software, apparently O.O

So every time everyone else sproinged** forward, I sproinged backward, and vice-versa (amazingly, nobody crashed, probably because Brienne, who was taking class with us, was behind me and is a genius). And somehow failed to understand why I was doing this. And, of course, having done it once or twice, I fell into Stupid Zombie Robot mode and did it a bunch of times. Seriously, there are times that I totally know I’m Doin’ It Rong, but somehow can’t stop myself***. Does this happen to other people?

And now I totally get it: my brain was still in barre mode! So when Tawnee said “front,” my brain interpreted it as it would “tendu front” or “close front” — front leg reaches — and so on and so forth.

I am actually rather pleased with this revelation, because I think it probably explains a lot of the bizarre things I do from time to time in ballet class. I definitely have a bit of language-action disconnect in general, and I hadn’t really thought about how it applies to ballet.

So, anyway. That’s something I’ll have to think about and work on.

*In sissones, the kicky leg — that’s the technical term, I am sure — is Very Important.
**Also totally a technical term.
***My first memorable experience of being stuck in Auto-Rong mode? I was maybe nine or ten and was riding Marquis, the horse that I leased, in the ring at my barn. I had just dismounted, and some loud noise happened. Marquis panicked and bolted, and even though I knew that chasing a horse was a completely stupid idea, my body automagically gave chase while my brain went, “NONONONONONO! Don’t chase him, stupid!” I literally could not stop myself from chasing Marquis. Nor could I explain the concept when my riding teacher (very reasonably) chewed me out about it; in fact, I didn’t even try.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: In Which I Can’t Even Even

I guess tonight wasn’t entirely a wash.

They say you’re only learning when you’re making mistakes.

Tonight I must’ve learned a lot.   I was like “MAKE ALL THE MISTAKES!”

My strengths were …  Um, well, my sauté arabesque always looks awesome.   All elastic ‘n’ ballonny and stuff*.

But I think I did literally everything else wrong at least twice.

Oh, I also managed like two good pirouettes out of, I don’t know, maybe a million?   As we’ve established, I can only count to four.  There were more than four.

So, um.   We’ll chalk this one up to experience.  Even Nureyev had bad nights, I’m sure.

*Oh, except got the part where I totally got called out for leaving my shoulder behind. My shoulder was all like, “Dude, just cause Mom makes me hang out with you doesn’t mean I’m not gonna pretend I’m with these other people instead.”

I also did full splits. Both sides. Unexpectedly. My legs were just like, “Oh, do you wanna go all the way down? Okay, no probs.”


allet Squid Chronicles: That Moment In Ballet Class…

…When you are getting ready to go across the floor, and the music comes on, with its little introduction, and you automagically do the little opening-my-wings-in-preparation-for-flight gesture thing, and you realize you don’t remember when you started doing that, but you take a surreptitious glance at the rest of the group and, ohai! They’re all doing it, too.

And you all kind of look like dancers*?

It’s a good moment, n’est ce pas?

*Kind of.

Vitamin P

Most of the time, I eat pretty well.

Then, every once in a while, for no apparent reason, I eat all the rest of the pretzels because I am yearning for chocolate cake and pretzels are as close as it gets in our house right now.

Not gonna bust out the judgment on myself or anything. Just kind of wondering … does this randomly happen to other people?

And why don’t I just go get a slice of chocolate cake somewhere?

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Sisson Double

Tonight, among other things, we did sissons (on purpose, even!) and also the sisson doublé variant.  It took me a zillion tries to get sisson doublé to make sense, and then it did.  The change-o-leg in the air was what was getting me.

Like, sissons are basically jumps from two legs to one, but normally you sproing and land without changing legs or directions. Sisson doublé does both (the turn takes place in the air, which looks cool), but is still a jump form two legs to one. I like the way it lands in attitude.   And how I don’t fall over*. Yay!

This was most gratifying, after doing renversé something remotely like right a few times and very, very wrong a whole bunch of times and not doing pirouttes-from-fourth-to-coupé right, like, ever at all.   Frustrating.  My pirouettes just sucked tonight (my sous-tenu turns were fine).

I wasn’t feeling too hot at the beginning of class (digestive issues, fleh) but actually felt better by the end of barre.  Thus, the beginning of barre was uninspired, but the end was mostly okay.

Adagio was mostly pretty, except for the moments when I got distracted by the mirror.   Um, yeah.  Maybe I should wear a blindfold for adagio?

The little jumps were lovely and easy by the time we got to them.  I even counted to four correctly.  Huzzah!  I am so ready for my maths exam next week!   Bring on the Counting Numbers Less Than Or Equal To Four!

Across the floor, all my glissade-pas de chats looked pretty good (I’m, even the ones that were supposed to be glissade-saut de chats, because I can’t hear very well, because allergies).   Apparently, according to the Powers That Be, pas de chat doesn’t really fly in men’s technique too often.   Too bad, because I really kind of love pas we chat.   It can look joyful, athletic, floaty – whatever.   It’s a nice step, and I have always thought so, so there.

In other news, it’s been a while since I mucked around in MSpain and made a silly drawing, so here you go — from Act II of Zombie Giselle:

Presumably, by this point, Hilarion's braingz have already been eated.

Your call as to whether the ninja is after GiZombie or Albrecht, here. Presumably, by this point, Hilarion’s braingz have already been eated. Also, needs moar scenery.

I feel like someday I should post a real drawing, and I’m sure I will have plenty of time, um, next year. After I graduate. Before grad school.

So, there you have it, folks. GiZombie: Scene from Act II.

Finally, I actually managed to complete everything on my to-do list today for the first time in Untold Days. So go me! (And, yes, I totally pad my to-do list by including things like ballet class, so I can feel like I’m accomplishing stuff.)

So that’s it. Good night, all!

*Today I did a tour en l’air to see if I still could. I didn’t fall over, but I did over-rotate and almost turned my ankle. So that was dumb.


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