Post Is Unrelated

I am something of a language nerd, and I enjoy reading articles written by other language nerds about language-related nerdery.

This morning, I ran across a good one (link to follow here) explaining where to put apostrophes in familial names on holiday cards (the short answer: don’t).   The author wondered about the source of our confusion about the use of apostrophes, but didn’t propose a hypothesis.

I’m an overachiever, so I have two.

First, many of us don’t read much — or, rather, we read text messages, news blurbs, forums, and blogs, but we spend a lot less time with texts edited by editors who know how to use apostrophes.  

We mostly encounter apostrophes in contexts in which their use is as likely to be incorrect as it is to be correct (around here, I’d argue that they’re actually more likely to be used incorrectly, but bias might be skewing my perceptions).  Seriously, drive by a strip mall and check for stray apostrophes, and chances are good that you’ll find plenty(1).

In short, we’re missing the substrate of experience that would allow us to confidently infer whether and where an apostrophe is appropriate.

Second, and much more importantly, we’re battling uphill against the power of idiom and homonym (a battle that can be won, potentially, by reading a whole lot, which helps to overcome the ambiguity of spoken English as it relates to written English).

Case in point: when we say we’re going to visit someone, we often do it using a truncated version of the phrase, “We’re going to the So-and-sos’ house” – we say, “We’re going to the So-and-so’s.”  

The context remains possessive (“I’ll be at Dave’s if you need me,” rather than, “I’ll be at Daves if…”).   This trips us up when we try to refer to our families using a plural proper name.

Because the plural and possessive forms of “So-and-so” sound alike, we forget that they’re spelled differently (q.v. other commonly misused homonyms: “too, to, two,” “they’re, there, their,” “its, it’s”).   Because we don’t have a good “feel” for the rules that govern the use of apostrophes, we choose the most familiar form – which, unfortunately, is also the wrong form.

In short, we treat family names as if they are being used within the context of a familiar possessive phrase (“The Dawsons’ house”) but apply the more familiar singular possessive (“The Dawson’s…”) rather than the less familiar plural possessive (“The Dawsons’…”).

In fact, when we say, “Happy Chanukah from the Singers,” we’re not using a possessive sense at all.

Fortunately, as with many of the arbitrary rules of English grammar, there are shortcuts to correct usage.  

The easiest way to remember whether to employ an apostrophe in a greeting is to swap out the family name (which is plural) for a personal name (which isn’t) that doesn’t end in ‘s.’   If you’re already a bit confused, names that end in ‘s’ only muddy the water.

Exchange “Good Yule from the Cunninghams” for “Good Yule from Pat.”  Make note of whether an apostrophe was required (it wasn’t).  Treat the plural name accordingly even if it ends in ‘s’  – it’s still not possessive in this context.  (For names that end in ‘s,’ just add ‘-es’ to the end: Jameses, Hearknesses, etc.)

If you’re still in doubt, of course, it’s also entirely kosher to simply write out, “Happy Holidays from the James Family.”

So that’s that.   My hypothesis, with a bit of application thrown in for good measure.

…And, yes, I know I split an infinitive back there.   The rule about not splitting them derives from a misunderstanding of the origins of the English language, contributes nothing to meaning, and, I am happy to say, is falling by the wayside thanks in no small part to the original Star Trek.

I  realize this is basically way off-topic.  I promise that I shall return to blogging about ballet, bikes, and bipolar disorder soon.

Notes

  1. I suspect that this only amplifies the problem. Business names do crazy things with apostrophes — take, for example, Chili’s. Is it “The place that belongs to Chili?” Or is it “We’re trying to name our restaurant after that key ingredient associated with Tex-Mex cuisine, Chilis?” Out in the world, you’re likely to encounter a million places with names like “Tinks” or “HotWang’s,” and it’s generally pretty unclear whether the person who name the business is simply unschooled in the correct use of apostrophes or is attempting to employ some kind of play on words (you can be pretty sure that when a business is called something like “Johnsons” or “Changs,” but isn’t actually marketing human beings, an apostrophe has been omitted). Since business names are plagued with bad puns, the context gets even muddier. It makes one long for the strictures of a language such as French or Japanese, in which nobody asks questions like these, because possessives aren’t rendered using apostrophes in the first place.

In Defense of Anecdotes

Ages ago, I found myself debating the value of anecdotes with a friend.

He argued that anecdotes should never be used because they can just as easily represent outliers as norms; I argued that they were extremely valuable as vehicles — people remember stories better than they remember reams of data.

I now realize that we were arguing at cross-purposes. He was arguing that anecdotal evidence should not be used to confirm or deny research hypotheses (a position on which we actually agree); I was arguing that anecdotes have a place in explaining the findings of research to people who don’t necessarily know a great deal about statistics and levels of measurement and all that jazz. I have no idea how he feels about that. I’ll have to ask the next time I see him.

It is true that individual anecdotes can’t tell us much about how the world actually works: if we only hear one story, we can’t glean from that single story whether that story is typical or atypical. Therefore, we can’t base statistical analyses on small samples of individual anecdotes, and we can’t make sound statements about causality or even, really, about correlations based on small samples of individual anecdotes.

When we try to ascribe causality based on anecdotes, we run into problems: for example, a book detailing how the use of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) led to one child’s “recovery” from autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) does not actually mean that ABA can produce the same results for all, or even most, kids (or adults) with ASD. In fact, most of the time, it doesn’t (this isn’t to say that ABA isn’t a valuable tool; just that it’s not usually a miracle cure) — but reading one or two books recounting the story of one or two kids who “recovered” can lead to the impression that ASD is “curable” in most or all cases and “should” be cured using ABA(1).

If, as a parent or helping professional, you read only that book, or those two books, and you decide that they represent a typical view of the world, you’ll have based your entire understanding — your entire statistical analysis, informal though it may be — on an anomaly, but you won’t necessarily know it.

A research paper, meanwhile, that looks at a sample of a couple of thousand folks with ASD and examines outcomes of their experiences with ABA will undoubtedly produce a different picture of the efficacy of ABA and the “curability” of ASD. From such a paper, we’ll be able to get a better sense of the relationship between ASD and ABA: does ABA lead to improved outcomes(2) for people with ASD? Such a study will, ideally, also answer a few other important questions:

  • How often do improved outcomes occur?
  • How much improvement are we talking about?
  • How are we even defining “improved outcomes?”

If a study is sufficiently well-designed and well-controlled, we might even be able to draw some inferences about causality(3).

Unfortunately, the results of the research in question will most likely be published only in academic journals and textbooks, only a few of which will actually be accessible to the general public, only a few of whom will actually have the knowledge to interpret the results(4).

Thus, the likelihood that the average parent of a young child with ASD will be able to lay hands directly on sound research is much smaller than the likelihood that the same parent will be able to read a popular, anecdotal book.

This is where the power of the anecdote comes in handy: as researchers and as helping professionals, we have access to data that can help us to convey information to a broader audience — and we can select anecdotes that do reflect statistical realities. We also, incidentally, are often people who are interested in stories: research, to some extent, is about figuring out the “who (even if the who in question is, for example, a chemical messenger or an invisible physical force), what, when, where, why, and how” of things. In short, results can be translated into anecdotes.

Those anecdotes, in turn, can help people feel connected to the subject at hand, which is immensely important. A bunch of dry statistics about ABA and ASD won’t really influence how most people feel about whether ABA is an important and useful intervention or not; a true story, on the other hand, will — but with that power comes responsibility. When they’re used to reflect the realities revealed by careful research, anecdotes should be told in a way that reflects those realities; a way that reflects a typical (that is, an average) experience(5).

We’ve probably all seen television ads for weight-loss products with “RESULTS NOT TYPICAL” emblazoned across the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, biographical and autobiographical books recounting anecdotes about recovery from neurological and psychological conditions aren’t required to carry those labels.

We probably can’t (and, for various reasons, probably shouldn’t) force them to — but we can find ways to tell harness the power of anecdotes to present results that are typical, so potential health-care consumers have a better shot at making informed choices.

Notes

  1. I don’t agree with either of these assertions, by the way; nor do I agree that the ability to function just like a neurotypical person in the neurotypical world is necessarily a desirable or reasonable goal. For some of us, it might be. For others, it’s not.
  2. “Improved outcomes” as operationally defined by the study — I guess operational definitions are a subject for another post.
  3. though this is notoriously hard to do in the field of psychology as a whole due to difficulties both with ethics (we’re not generally allowed to dissect people after applying a drug intervention to see what happened to their brains, nor can we keep them isolated in stimulus-free environments, etc.) and the complexity of human subjects (even if we could keep humans isolated in stimulus-free environments, that alone could become a confound, etc).
  4. In short, this is a skill that’s usually taught at the university level, and then primarily to students in disciplines with strong research components. In the US, that amounts to a fairly small subset of the general populace.
  5. I think it’s okay to mention the outliers as well — those atypical results that look so great, or so awful — but we must do so with the knowledge that, on the whole, most of us expect our individual case to be an exception, and moreover, to be a good exception: one with results better rather than worse, than is typical. In short, we need to present outliers with several grains of salt, and we need to balance the better-than-typical outcomes by also presenting the worse-than-typical ones.

Plants

I’m at school, working on Serious Research Bizness.  I walk across the library to grab some coffee, and on our book sale table, I see a book called Perennials: How to Select, Grow, & Enjoy.

I am reminded, momentarily, that there is a book in the universe called How to Boil Water, and that I would be very happy if someone would produce a similar book called Perennials: How To Not Kill Them.

That’s it for now.  Exciting Research Update Things to follow … maybe?

Edit: Perhaps ironically, WordPress has decided that it would be a good idea to add a “related post” link to the very optimistic initial post about the pineapple I tried to grow back in the summer.  Note that I say tried.  >.<

Bipolar: My Cynicism About My Cynicism

Right now, I’m somewhat depressed.

It’s the kind of depression that doesn’t readily identify itself: listlessness, restlessness, an inability to focus, a rampant cynicism that has to be at least as irritating to the rest of the world as it is to me, or would be if my cynicism about my cynicism didn’t mostly prevent me from sharing it.

I don’t feel particularly hopeless about the future. I couldn’t really say if I’m experiencing emotional pain — in short, I’m experiencing a sort of emotional blankness; a sense that most of the range and brilliance of human emotion is right now unavailable to me. It’s like someone has knocked out the antenna of my emotional wi-fi receiver. Emotions are out there; I just can’t find them. I am experiencing the grinding effect of being stuck constantly on scan and finding nothing.

Well, that and cynicism.

Have I mentioned that I generally abhor cynicism?

Cynicism seems like a coward’s response to the challenge of living in a world where bitterness and horror sit cheek-by-jowl with redemption and beauty. It’s “nothing gold can stay” without the reverence for the first green that is gold; it’s skepticism seasoned with a dash of self-serving bitterness.

I’m fine with skepticism by itself; there’s plenty of room in the world for a healthy skeptic — but I feel like I could do without cynicism, especially my own.

In short, I am not normally a cynic. Hell, I’m not even really much of a skeptic, outside of an appropriate dose of scientific empiricism that drives my academic pursuits. There is something in my nature that believes (for lack of a better word, since “belief” implies a conscious process) in the essential goodness of the world and of mankind — an essential goodness that is not tarnished by the fact that lions eat gazelles (which is, to my mind, an amoral reality) or that people sometimes do abominable things.

There is something within me that normally regards even enormous, egregious acts of human cruelty as small and powerless in the face of cumulative, ordinary acts of good (this doesn’t, by the way, mean those egregious acts are insignificant; that’s a philosophical argument for some other time). It might be irrational; it might not (cogent arguments have been made along both sides) — that’s irrelevant. It is what it is.

Right now I am a horrible cynic. I am the worst kind of cynic — not the pithy, engaging cynic whose ability to frame his or her cynicism in the language of dry humor makes for charming repartée, but the grinding kind who harbors an unkind thought about every little thing (though, curiously, not as much about human motivations). Nothing is good enough because nothing is good — and I don’t mean that in an philosophical sense, but in the sense that right now I seem to suffer from the delusion that the world has been shoddily constructed from the elements of decay.

Bike tubes are made from crappy rubber and will fail, and the process of putting the studs on the Karakoram for winter will be insufferably frustrating, so why bother? It should be no surprise if my dinner is less than delectable. My computer is slow because everything in the world is faulty and awful. Characters in the book I was enjoying just fine a week ago seem flat, weary, stale, and unprofitable not because something has miraculously changed the writer’s ability, but because the circuits in my brain that recognize good stuff and enjoy things are down right now. There is no point in going to the effort of making something to eat other than peanut butter and jelly when I am evidently no longer capable of noticing and enjoying flavors. Etc.

We saw Interstellar this weekend. I guess I enjoyed it reasonably well, under the circumstances: I was sometimes able to click into the visual magnificence of the film, and I didn’t automatically hate every single character. Too often, though, I found my will to suspend disbelief flagging. The sense of wonder that normally allows me to make stunning leaps of faith just isn’t here right now. I found myself unable to feel connected to the settings, the characters, or the plot. I realized halfway through that it wasn’t the movie’s fault, transparent though some of its would-be plot twists were. Normally, that doesn’t bother me as long as the rest of the movie is basically coherent (I figured out the secret of The Sixth Sense very early on, but still enjoyed it immensely; most of the time, I can enjoy the same joke over and over again as well).

Right now, there are things that are funny, but the humor seems a million miles away. Everything else seems sort of pointless. I want to work on fiction or on my research, but can’t concentrate. Even though I know I will probably enjoy my math homework once I get around to working on it, the idea of doing so seems insurmountable. Some of these perceptions are cynical; some are just, you know, depressed.

For the first couple of days that I was feeling this way, I found my own cynicism disgusting. Is it progress that I now realize that it’s just an artifact of a moderate depression; one that will wane as the depression wanes? It feels like progress. Every time I feel myself reacting with disgust against my own cynicism, this sort of voice in my head reminds me, “Hey, this is just a symptom. Don’t sweat it. It’s okay.”

I even feel cynical about writing this post, especially since I can’t seem to do anything I actually want to do. Instead, here I am, adding to the sum of the internet’s misery. But there you have it: that is the nature of the beast.

Yes, somewhere within, I am in fact laughing at myself about all this. I wish I could actually feel that laughter.

For what it’s worth, that’s one of the beautiful things about dancing. Ballet class doesn’t give a rat’s asterisk about the relentless and irrational turmoil in my head. It doesn’t ask for my opinions. IT asks that I show up and do my very physical work at the barre; that maybe I interpret the music a little — something which I seem to be able to do because it circumvents my language circuits, which are shoddy at best and just pitiful right now (I realize it might not sound like it, reading this post: what I mean, really, is that the connection between Heart Coprocessor and Language Coprocessor is currently severed; when I attempt to work through the realm of language, I feel nothing but dead air).

There is something eminently healing in being able to feel your feelings; to let them course unbounded by the clumsy efforts of language to contain them. I can do this when I sit down at the piano; I can do this when I dance. I’m sure it’s neuroscience, but who cares? It feels like magic.

So there you go. For reasons, I won’t be able to hit up class this week ’til Saturday. Okay, something in me feels the need to enumerate the reasons: I will spend the rest of this week analyzing data that I must present at a conference on Friday, doing math homework, and preparing for next Monday’s math exam. Once that’s over, we’re done until after Thanksgiving, then we come back for a week of class and one day of finals (well, I only have one day).

The end is in sight, but I’m kind of bonking: so today I’m resting a little before the storm. Later I’ll bang out some homework, and later still, who knows? I don’t think I feel like cooking tonight. Maybe we’ll order in.

So that’s it. A long, rambling, unfocused post about feeling cynical and unfocused. I’m handling it with an epic dose of escapism and “this too shall pass.”

Tomorrow will be better, and the next day after that — or, if they aren’t, eventually a better day will come.

ADHD Kitchen: What Makes A Meal “Doable?” (With Recipe Link!)

A while back, I promised I’d write a bit about Cooking with ADHD (which is like Cooking with Gas, only way more dangerous).

Perhaps predictably, thus far I haven’t gotten around to it.

Today, though, I found myself poking around for doable recipes, and I found one that reminded me of one of my primary ADHD-friendly food-prep strategies — and, so, here I — SQUIRREL!

Ahem.

Where were we?

Oh, yes. Cooking with ADHD. Very good. Onward!

So! One of the keys to my increasing success as an ADHD-challenged homemaker has been the discovery that I can dump meat and liquid seasoning into freezer bags, freeze it, and have seasoned meat ready to go whenever I need it (1).

I’ve found a few seasonings that work really well for both Denis’ palette and mine. For beef, we like Allegro’s original and hickory iterations or Moore’s. For chicken, we like both of those, any brand of Greek salad dressing, or a blend of soy sauce with ginger and honey. If I plan to make oven-fried chicken, a simple saltwater brine works, too.

For dinner, all I have to do is thaw and cook a pre-portioned packet of meat, bake a couple of potatoes(2), and throw some spinach and a few croutons in a couple of bowls (yeah, I’m that lazy). If we’re not feeling potatoes, a couple of biscuits-in-a-can or store-bought crusty rolls will serve, or I might whip up a quick batch of corn muffins(3). (I also make awesome home-made bread, but that only tends to happen on days when I don’t have much going on.)

Just seasoning and portioning the meat ahead of time may not sound like that big a deal, but for me it often makes the difference between cooking at home or grabbing takeout. In short, it means I don’t have to think about dinner. Options that both Denis and I will enjoy are already ready to go.

This works for me because the work of portioning and seasoning the meat is done up front, and everything else is pretty simple. The process is reduced to a few steps at a time.

To streamline the prep end of things, I buy cuts of meat that are already effectively portion-controlled, like chicken thighs, or ones that can be easily divided into appropriate portions (I do know how to cook a whole chicken quite well, but that isn’t always the best option for a week-night meal). Both Denis and I like small portions of meat, so many of the cuts of meat at the grocery store or the co-op will make two or three servings (or more!) per steak(4).

Basically, the fewer steps there are between “What’s for dinner?” and “Dinner’s on the table!” the happier and more effective I am. I can enjoy involved recipes, but I have trouble following them. The fewer ingredients a recipe requires, and the fewer steps it takes, the more likely I am to actually use it. If there’s a page-turn or a step that takes an entire paragraph to explain, it’s TL;DR time. I don’t switch tasks as easily as other people, so things like that can make all the difference in the wold.

I’ve been trying to cook down (see what I did there? :D) a list of the elements that make a recipe ADHD-friendly (for me, anyway). Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Doesn’t require much thinking ahead at cook time.
  • Not very many ingredients.
  • Not very many steps.
  • None of the steps are very long.
  • Intuitive process flow (seriously, I made brownies today from a recipe with very counter-intuitive process flow, and I guess we’ll just have to see if they come out all right. Edit: So we’re eating the brownies right now, fresh from the oven, cooled for 10 minutes, with ice cream … they’re fine.)
  • Doesn’t leave a ton of leftovers (Denis and I tend not to be great about finishing off leftovers, though we’re better about some than others).
  • Doesn’t require the entire recipe to be read through first. (Seriously. This can be a real problem; first off, I’ll have forgotten what I read by the time I get halfway though; second, see the bit above about task-switching.)

A fine example of a recipe that fits most of the bill can be found here. The sole exception is the final step, which is presented as a paragraph — but it’s one that can be readily broken down into steps if you copy and paste the recipe into a wod processor.

I love the fact that this recipe combines all the elements of a balanced meal — protein, carbs, and veggies — into one bag that you can toss in your slow-cooker and forget about until dinner time. I can’t wait to try it. It sounds great!

Notes

  1. This has been somewhat complicated by the death of our microwave. I now have to think ahead far enough to leave things time to thaw.
  2. Okay, so I really prefer to nuke potatoes, too, but….
  3. I used to do whole-grain ricey things pretty often, but I’ve found that Denis and I have very different tastes, there.
  4. This is also an effective way to stretch the meat budget. It’s totally okay to take something that a store packages as “a steak” and cut it into two or three pieces rather than eating the whole thing as one portion. Likewise, boneless beef spare-ribs can be marinated, grilled, and treated as individual beef portions. Get creative!

Ballet Squid Chronicles: I’m Not Dead Yet

I’m still kind of processing the amazing experience that was my first ADTA conference.  

In three sentences:
So very awesome.   So welcoming.  So made me feel that I’m on the right path.

I missed the opening ceremony to hit up class at the Joffrey, where I tied for first in the Great A La Seconde Jump-Off of 2014 and got to do some really pretty choreography.  Cool stuff!

When we came home or was straight back to school, and today back to ballet at Louisville Ballet School.  Fun class tonight, though I have looked better doing adagio.

I am both rather proud of myself and rather amazed because I managed to keep on top of my homework while at the conference.  That was probably the learniest I’ve been this semester!

So that’s it for the moment.   Going home to eat pizza and relax.

Gnight, everybody!

Life Management: Two Bills Every Day

The Problem
In high school, after my life went off the rails and before it got back on the rails, I spent some time going to a private school for, shall we say, kids with Life Challenges(1).

At said school, we had a class called “Life Management.” Since we were Kids With Life Challenges, one of the goals of the program was to try to teach us, insofar as it was possible, the skills we would eventually need to move out of our parents’ basements live independently. Skills like grocery shopping, balancing checkbooks, and paying bills.

This should have been a Really Good Thing.

Unfortunately, like many Life Skills curricula written by people who do not have Life Challenges and thus cannot actually imagine what it’s like to live with them, our Life Management curriculum was not very effective in helping us to develop mechanisms for coping with our actual difficulties.

Like, I’m pretty sure most of us came into that class knowing that we would eventually have bills, that it was a good idea to pay them, and that it would probably help to keep them all organized somehow and come up with some kind of system for making all that happen — and, yet, those were the ideas the course focused on.

What the course did not account for was the reality that, for many of us, actually making that happen was a way more complicated ball of wax than it was for the average Jane or Joe. It wasn’t that we didn’t get the basic concept (“You will have bills, and you should pay them.”). It was more the details of the concept that were the problem (“Okay, but how do I put together a system to keep it all organized that’s so simple a Golden Retriever could do it?”).

By way of analogy, it was kind of like going to a watch-making class in which the curriculum demonstrates of a bunch of working watches, reveals how to wind old-fashioned pocket watches, and informs you that you need to build watches … but then doesn’t tell you how. You graduate and are installed in your seat at a watch shop, and suddenly you have this pile of gears and minute screws and casings and goodness only knows what else, and somehow you are expected to turn all this stuff into a real, working watch.

If you’re like most people with ADHD, you wade in, do your best. Often you turn out semi-working watches, with parts left over. Just as often, you turn out failures. Amazingly, you sometimes even turn out a working watch or two (in fact, if you’re like most people with ADHD, you do so more often than chance alone would predict — but not often enough).

Then the next batch of watch parts comes in, and they’re for watches built on a different plan, and no instructions are included. Oh, and did I mention that no two watches in the set ever use exactly the same plan? Instead, there are minute variations from watch to watch — and it’s up to you to figure out what they are based on the jumble of parts at hand.

So you’re back to square one. Perhaps you even try to design a “system” for building watches, only to discover that the system you design is horrendously over-complicated, or doesn’t account for exceptions, or is inflexible ad absurdum.

That was pretty much my experience with Life Management.

In short, I arrived at the threshold of Adulthood (such as it is) with a clear understanding of the fact that I needed to pay bills and keep my life organized (lessons I had already learned anyway both from previous schools and from my Mom, who is amazingly good at things like paying bills and being organized), but no clear concept of how to do so in a way that I — a person with ADHD and the time-sense of a not-very-bright Golden Retriever(2) — could handle.

Flash forward to now. I’ve tried everything, pretty much. I have designed so many overly-complicated watch-building systems it’s not even funny. And yet I still get confused and screw up. All the time. Because, you know: ADHD plus Golden Retriever Time.

The Idea
So this month I’ve decided to try a new non-system. I’ve decided, simply put, that every day I will try to pay two bills. Right now, I’m not even going to worry about which ones. If they’re on the top of the pile, they get paid … or maybe I should pay the ones at the bottom of the pile, to create a First-In, First-Out flow — wait, you know what? That’s too much complexity. I’m just going to grab any two bills from the pile and pay them. Et voila.

The idea is that this will make sure the bills get paid on time, and also that I don’t get completely overwhelmed by a giant stack of bills when too many bills arrive at once. (Sometimes, you guys, life is weirdly hard in ways that are, frankly, kind of annoying and stupid.)

The reality is that some days I will forget. That’s fine. There are thirty days in any given month, and we do not (amazingly enough) have sixty recurring bills.

I’m hoping that the act of sitting down in the office to pay two bills will also remind me to enter recurring auto-payments into the checkbook and Quicken. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. We’ll see.

So there you have it. A zillion words about a topic that should have taken, like, seven: “I will pay two bills every day.”

I’ll keep you posted on how it works.

That’s it for now. Pre-emptive make-up math class today (because I’m missing my class tomorrow); tomorrow I’mma hop on the Megabus and roll off to Chi-town for the 2014 ADTA Conference. Woooooot!

Notes

  1. In retrospect, I’m glad that I did. Some of us loved that school; some hated it. For me, it wound up being a good thing in many ways: it was there that I figured out how I learn; how to be the extremely hyper, textbook-case-of-ADHD kid that I was (and, I guess, am?) and still make good grades. It was also tiny, even compared to my previous school (which was pretty small), and that worked for me.
  2. Dogs seem to kind of understand time in terms of “Now” and “Not Now.” If it isn’t happening Now, it either happened or will happen Not Now. The concept of “a week from now” or “three hours from now” is, to a greater or lesser extent, lost on them (except in the sense that they can tell how long ago their people left home, quite possibly because the dwindling scent of their people acts as a sort of “clock” for them).

    Most dogs are actually a little better at time than I am — they’re like, “Ohai, dinar alweyz hapin arond dis taimz, Ai go sit at bowl nao.” Meanwhile, I am like, “Oh, crap! It’s 7:30 PM and I’m starving and I haven’t thawed anything!” Unfortunately, since I am not actually a dog, I am forced to be responsible for things, like feeding myself and my husband.

Turn It Out

Normal people do not lie awake wondering whether they did pique turns en dedans instead of step-over turns in Friday’s class.

Just sayin’. 

Ballet Squid Chronicles: In Which Your Humble Ballet Squid Puts On The Splotchy Purple Tights and Rocks Them

Denis has splotchy purple tights that he bought on clearance when one of our local K-Marts was closing.  I think they’re Joe Boxer brand leggings, really.

I’ve never worn them before because, quite frankly, I figured they probably wouldn’t fit me.  This morning, though, I didn’t feel like going down to the Costume Department (AKA the storage room in the basement) and digging out my foil leopard tights.  I grabbed Denis’ purple splotchy tights instead.

Turns out that they fit rather beautifully.  Better than my usual tights.  So I wore them to class.

Denis, meanwhile, wore his sparkly, star-splashed multicolored tights — which, by the way, was why I didn’t want to wear plain old black tights.  Denis (who usually does class in pre-pro regulation black tights and white t-shirt) wanted to kick it up a notch because it was Hallowe’en weekend, and I wasn’t about to miss out on an opportunity!

You might remember these from an earlier episode :D

You might remember these from an earlier episode :D

Claire was teaching Essentials today, and when she arrived she said, “Thank you for wearing those tights!”

Apparently, she really gets a kick out of people who bring a little color into the studio.  Well, today, Denis and I brought the color (though I did wear my usual black t-shirt).

I was surprised to find that I really liked the way the purple tights looked.  And I was also surprised how solidly everything came together at the barre and at center — including the chaines allllllllll the way across the studio, going both directions.  I guess I don’t get to make excuses about sucking at chaines anymore.

Denis did some nice jumps today.  Claire’s amazing corrections — which are forever making my life as a dancer easier — apparently work for Denis just as well as they work for me.

After, we did lunch at Whole Foods with Bonnie and Nicholas, and then sat and chatted for ever and ever and ever(1), which was great.  Our plans to take over the world will soon be complete.

So there we go.  It was an excellent day, all told.

Oh, and my strap updates seem to have sorted my Capezio Romeos well enough.  They didn’t peel off in class even after I took my socks off.

Notes

  1. Among other things, Bonnie and I discussed body size diversity in ballet.  The more I talk about it with other dancers, the more it seems like we all really like the idea of getting a more diverse array of bodies into the studio.  Something to think about!

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Friday Frustration

I did intermediate class today.   Survived but was a total mess at Barre.  At center, I did alright on some nifty choreography, and then we did little jumps with beats, which I totally killed.  It was nice to be able to do something at least! 

My lungs protested, though.  I am definitely feeling the lack of class.   Incentive to get on top of my maths, I guess.

Interestingly, our class was a little more diverse in terms of body types today than it usually is.   That was cool.  I hope everyone who was here today will keep coming!

Speaking of diversity, it seems that I missed Brian teaching Monday morning class.   I couldn’t have done Monday AM class in the first place, but I wish I could have.   I would’ve enjoyed seeing how he teaches.

It occurs to me that I have never yet taken a ballet class with a male teacher.  It would be dishonest to say that I don’t wonder if taking class with a male teacher would feel different somehow.

Gentle readers, what do you think?  Does it feel different to take class with a teacher of the same sex than it does to take class with one of the opposite sex?    Or does taking class with a male teacher feel weird somehow because there are fewer male ballet teachers currently teaching?  Or is it just, you know, still ballet?

That is one of the things I love about ballet.  Different schools and teachers bring different elements to the table, but in the end, ballet is ballet is ballet.


Ha, just realized I left out the frustration part. I am way frustrated by not getting to class as often. I feel like I’m losing ground. I’m trying not to ler it get to me, but you know how it is. You love what you love, and when you feel like you’re slipping at the thing you love doing… Yeah. Frustration.

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