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Monday Non-Ballet Brain Dump

We’re going to Chicago this week for the long-time-coming finally-legal wedding of a couple of our dearest friends.

As such, I’m in Trying To Finish All The Things Before We Go mode, which is totally something I’ve caught from Denis*.

So today I have:

  • done yet more laundry,
  • completed the drawing part of a painting I need to finish before we depart (it’s a watercolor, so it’s entirely possible that I will be able to finish it),
  • initiated the packing-for-the-trip process (which I never, ever do this far in advance),
  • topped off the Tricross’ tires,
  • ridden the Tricross to the grocery store,
  • slayed the grocery run for the next three days (along with some extra food because I couldn’t pass up a really good bargain that I can freeze),
  • ridden the tricross home,
  • put away the groceries,
  • and started dinner prep.

I also had a complex internal conversation with myself about why we still use gender-specific insults even though this is the 21st century and the perceived gender of an individual has no bearing either on that individual’s ability to be a total jerk or the qualities of that individual’s jerkitude**.

Later I will finish making tacos and maybe begin trying to figure out how to set up a rooting dish for my pineapple.

I don’t know why I’m so into growing this pineapple all of a sudden. Denis suggested it when I told him I brought home a pineapple, and it just seemed like a really awesome thing to do. Meanwhile, a friend of mine on G+ has decided to attempt to grow an avocado from an avocado pit, and suggested that perhaps her avocado and my pineapple could be pen-pals.

I think that idea is so ridiculously fun that I’m just going to have to give it a whirl. First, though, I will have to think about what a pineapple would even write to an avocado***.

I am writing this brain dump thing because I find that doing this helps me feel like I’ve actually done something on a given day, which makes it easier to see that my mood disorder has not, in fact, totally torpedoed my life. Sometimes that’s hard to see.

I get that, like schizophrenia (to which it is genetically linked), bipolar disorder involves cognitive deficits.

This means sometimes my brain works better than other times. Right now, it’s not at its best (though I did, for once, remember to buy cookies for Denis). I think this is why sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine what I’ve done all day, which can feel … I dunno. Weird. And less than great.

So I’m doing this thing to keep a handle on my brain. So far, it does seem to be working.

That’s it for now.

More to come some time soon from Pineapple Paradise.

*Did you know that traveling like a grown-up is, um, transmitted by AHEM close physical contact? Well, now you do. #TheMoreYouKnow
**That said, I have noticed that the use of historically gender-specific insults is at least somewhat more flexible than it used to be, so … um … I guess that’s maybe one small victory in the fight against sexism, if not in the fight against everyone being jerks to each-other in other ways?
***Here’s a possiblity:
“Dear Avocado,
I am finding life in a dish with some pebbles and water reasonably acceptable, though far less fun than life in the tropics might be.
How is life in the dirt?
I am really bored so if you have any suggestions of video clips that might be relevant to my interests, please send them my way. Thanks!
Your friend, Pineapple”

More Small Victories (Now with More Pineapple Picture!)

Today, I butchered a pineapple. I ate some of it (it was absolutely delicious; the best pineapple I’ve had in years, in fact) and chopped the rest up into little chunks. The chunks went into a freezer bag; the freezer bag (perhaps unsurprisingly) went into the freezer. Soon, we will have delicious frozen pineapple drinks.

While I was butchering the poor, innocent fruit, I saved the top of it so I can try to grow a new pineapple.

Apparently, growing a pineapple takes a couple of years: but I can be patient, and it sounds like fun to try. Fun, at least, for me — the last time someone presented us with the gift of a plant (an aloe that continues to limp along next to my sink), I immediately asked, “What has it done to deserve this?”

Except for a brief stint successfully training bonsai trees from seedlings in high school, I have generally been horrible about keeping plants alive. So it’s possible that I’m violating some UN accord by trying to raise a pineapple at all. My theory is that the bonsais did well because they lived outside, beyond the radius of my plant-killing aura, but I have also failed at growing garden plants, so who knows?

Anyway, attempting to grow a pineapple is kind of like saying “I will still be alive in two or three years to see if fruit happens,” so there’s that.

I also did a couple of iterations of laundry and continued updating the books.

Oh, and I made lunch, thereby using up a bag of Lipton noodly stuff that’s been hanging around uneaten in our food cabinet forever.

A little at a time, I move forward.

If I was in a better place, I guess all of this would probably seem pretty minor. Like, “Big deal, you washed your hair.” (Technically, that was last night.)

But I am where I am right now, so all of these feels like it matters.

It’s my pineapple and I’ll grow if I … you’re right, that doesn’t even make sense. Sorry.

Tomorrow I'll add a picture of my pineapple-to-be. Right now, though, I'm going to bed.

Toast, Eggs, Milk, and Juice

By the way guys, sorry about the double post this morning!

Does that sound like a pretty complete breakfast to you?

It does to me (though I’d rather see “fruit” in place of “juice”) – and here’s the funny thing.   It seemed that way to me as a kid, too.

I remember seeing breakfast cereal commercials when I was six years old or so that trumpeted about how some or another sugary cereal was “part of this complete breakfast with toast, eggs, juice, and milk” and thinking, “Toast, eggs, milk, and juice?  That sounds pretty complete by itself.  What’s the cereal for?”

This wasn’t because I was some kind of super – genius (though I’ll halt take that accolade if it’s on offer!   :D).   It was because my parents had taken time to instill a healthy skepticism about commercial advertisements (and nobody does skepticism like six-year-olds, who are just discovering that how things are and how things seem can be very different).  It was because we talked about nutrition at home, in school, and even at church.

Perhaps most importantly, though, it was because I had recently eaten a breakfast of toast, milk, eggs, and juice, and by the end of it, I was stuffed.  Where, I reasoned with the irrefutable logic of the very young, was the cereal supposed to fit – literally?

So, in short, I discovered a valuable piece of insight mostly because I loved poached eggs on toast and someone (either Mom or Grammy) made them for me as a treat that morning.  I realized that in the “part of this complete breakfast” equation, the cereal was basically extra. The breakfast was fine without it.

I’m not sure, dear reader, what I hope you’ll take away from this post (which is neither about bicycles nor about ballet, though it is about food, which quite literally fuels both of those passions).  I don’t mean it as a criticism of individual choices.   I suspect you’re probably already the kind of person who makes that kind of connection.

If anything, I see it as the opposite of that – I happened to be privy at a useful moment to a bunch of information that led me to a sort of breakfast – related epiphany: that cereal was the dessert part of a complete breakfast.   I was able to apply this idea because my family ate desert maybe once a week or so, not with every meal.  I had a context that allowed me to just the information at hand in my own best interests.

It sort of worries me that, as a country, we largely seem to lack that skill (critical reasoning deficits are disturbingly common at school, too – and I’m a university student).   It seems a little baffling.

I don’t have any prescriptive advice, here, or anything.   I’m sort of just thinking out loud.  I’m also wondering how we reached this pass (and I find it interesting that people in the political arena seem to reflexively blame the folks on whichever side of the aisle is opposite their own).  Like, I don’t think we’d have stuck around this long as a nation if we weren’t, in years past, pretty good at critical thinking about practical matters (and creative thinking).

I will resume my normal bikes-and-ballet related blathering shortly.  For now, this is what’s on my mind, via some experiences I’ll discuss at a later date.

Til then, keep the bottom side down 🙂

Ballet Lessons

Lesson One: Everyone Starts At The Beginning

There’s a famous saying in cycling circles attributed to Greg Lemond: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”

It reminds me of something my ballet teachers say: “In ballet, you keep doing the same basic things. You just get better at them.”

Many adult beginners (and probably some child beginners) walk into the studio carrying a load of worry about being beginners. Adult re-beginners often walk into the studio carrying a load of worry about how much they’ve lost in the year or ten years or more that have elapsed since last they slipped on their slippers and danced ballet.

Yet, just as basic elements of cycling remain the same no matter how long you ride — you turn the cranks and balance; that’s basically it — the basic elements of ballet never change. Like cycling technique, ballet technique elaborates upon itself.

The five basic positions (of which you will mostly never use one — the third — unless you can’t get into fifth for some reason) never change.

Everything begins and ends with turnout and plié.

Tendu leads to dégagé. Dégagé leads to grand battement. Grand battement leads to jeté. Jeté leads to tour jeté. Tour jeté, for what it’s worth, looks really impressive.

You learn tombé and fondu at the barre; later they become connecting steps that you will use all day, every day, at center and eventually on the stage.

And still everything will begin and end with turnout and plié.

When we first began class, Denis worried about how polished many of our classmates seemed. Now, he is beginning to show a little polish of his own. He began at the beginning — all the way at the beginning, having never set foot in a ballet studio before.

Last Saturday, at the Joffrey, the population of our class ranged from newbies even less polished than Denis to one guy who danced with a degree of refinement that suggested he was at very least an advanced student who was either filling in a class due to a scheduling issue or possibly working back from an injury.

We all did the same things. Nobody judged anyone else.

We were all true beginners once. Every principal dancer commanding the stage; every top racer commanding the mountain — they, too, were beginners once. They, too, start every single day — every class, every workout — with the same basic things we do. They have simply been doing them longer.

So beginning is important — and not just important. It’s good. If no one was ever a beginner, we would not have the David Hallbergs and Jens Voigts of the world; the Natalia Osipovas and Marianne Voses of the world.

I’m not going to say we shouldn’t worry about being beginners. To worry is human. What we shouldn’t do is let that worry stop us from beginning.

Everyone starts at the beginning … and once we start, we often learn that the little elemental skills we learn at first lie at the heart of something beautiful; that the beginning is, in fact, the most important part.

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