Monthly Archives: December 2014

Fitness Goals: 2014, The Yearly Review

In keeping with my trend of posting fitness-related posts on Tuesdays…

If 2013 was the year I discovered ballet, then 2014 was the year I decided to give it a(nother) go at this whole Getting In Shape thing. For the first time, it appears I am succeeding!

Back in 2011 I lost a lot of weight.  I’m not sure how much exactly, as I always refused to weigh myself at my heaviest – and it paled in comparison to Boyfriend’s loss of almost 150 lbs. – but it was a lot.  At the age of 28 I found myself at the smallest size I’d been in adulthood. In fact, the last time I had seen such numbers on the scale I had been a very pudgy, though not completely rotund, 9-year-old.

But all this did not mean that I was in shape. It took ballet to make me realize how out of shape I was, slimmer body or not.  I entered this Getting In Shape thing reluctantly. Exercise was something that I had previously pursued for the sole purpose of losing weight; any notions of getting stronger had been previously lost on me.  While my first semester of ballet was enough to realize that I was Weak with a capital “w”, for the longest time I held on to delusions that if I just practiced ballet every day I would get strong enough to improve without the need for cross-training.  And this may have been true to an extent, as my barre work did steadily improve throughout my time balleting without working out.

But the same could not be said about my center work, in particularly my jumping.  It seemed I lacked the muscle to jump, having never been much of an active person.  Not only that, my stamina was completely inadequate.  Getting winded during combinations (and being unable to hold the final pose at the end of them) is no fun.

As you know if you’ve been following this ballet-and-fitness adventure, I first started with strength training at home, no cardio yet.  While this was due to my past dislike of anything cardio, I’m glad it ended up happening that way, an unintentional helpful coincidence; given how weak I had been previously I think that if I’d started running right off the bat I would have possibly hurt myself.  It appears starting running after two decades of couch lounging and occasional walking is not the wisest choice…

By the time I started running (six weeks later) my legs had already built up enough strength.  While my first few times running resuted in me being horribly out of breath, my legs did not feel any pain, just good old-fashioned soreness.  And as I started to increase my running distance I started to see some benefits in ballet class: I was no longer out of breath during combinations, I could actually do more than 5 sautes without feeling like my legs were limp noodles on fire, I could even manage to point my feet midair (which has been the single hardest thing for me in ballet. Yes, even harder than ballancing!).

But I also realized that I like running for its own sake.  I find it a relaxing activity, an enjoyable activity. It’s still really hard for me to believe that sometimes…

I plan to continue working on increasing my fitness level in 2015.  At some point I would like to participate in a race, perhaps just a short one like a 5K race (hey, you’ve got to start somewhere…).  As a child, one of the only physical activities I participated in was swimming (I was on a swim team for about a year and a half until my mom decided to withdraw me since I always came in last) and I was thinking that it’d be nice to get into that again (for fun, like do laps and stuff, not for competition).  Don’t know how much time I can allocate to that, as it doesn’t necessarily fit into the whole cross-training with ballet thing as much as running, but it would be fun.

Of course, I’m still obsessed with my progress on my backbridge, working on getting over my fear of pushing my head off the ground. But my cambre back does seem much more improved ever since I started backbridging.  And I’m still doing “modified” pushups (on my knees), waiting for the day that I’m finally strong enough to do more than 3 in a row of the regular ones.  It’ll happen when it happens…

And while my core feels stronger and helps my body feels much more stable while balancing, I’m not holding my breath on my increased ab work actually resulting in a 6-pack.  I mean, if it did I’d be super amused, but I’m not counting on it.  Better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed by too high expectations.

But above all I think I’m just on a mission to make sure that this fourth decade of my life is the best one so far!

Reminiscences: My First Ballet Final

This past semester term of ballet class ended rather unclimatically, as we didn’t have a final dance performance exam.  It made me realize that I like having a performance. In fact, you could almost say that I was looking forward to having a performance, and though this was a great ballet semester overall I miss that aspect of the past semesters I’ve taken.

I didn’t always feel that way, of course…

When I signed up to take ballet, almost two years ago, I had no idea what the class would entail.  Yeah, I figured we’d be stretching and there’d probably be classical music on, but besides that, nothing. And without further research on the matter I walked into my first class without that characteristic anxiety that appears whenever I’m about to do something horribly unfamiliar.  It was just a class at community college, just like the other classes I take and have taken; no big deal.

We were handed the course syllabus. The first thing that jumped out at me was LEOTARD. What was this about a leotard ? Couldn’t we move just as comfortably and ballet just as well in yoga pants and a top, or for those of us who started out uncomfortably self-conscious, sweats and a baggy T-shirt? Surely there could be some leeway…? (Later I would find out the answer is a solid “NO”.  Every one of my teachers at community college ballet has expressed the need to have the class be visibly identifiable as a ballet class, so (pink, preferably, or black) tights and a (solid-colored, and in Strict Teacher’s case, black) leotard it is.)

Anyway, the point of that tangent is that the initial shock of the how-do-I-hide-my-body situation overpowered my brain functions so much at that moment that I didn’t catch the other fine print.  The part about how the final exam for the class was a live solo performance. In front of the whole class. And it was mandatory (as in, even if you had a perfect grade in the class, if you miss the final it’s an automatic failing grade).

I could have dropped out as soon as I found out (at home later that day while going over the syllabus), but I didn’t want to make a habit of signing up for things and not following through. So I decided to stick with it, found my local dance store, bought the leotard and tights, and decided to not think about the final exam. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there…

And as you know if you’ve read though this blog, or at least my The Learning Curve page, I had a horribly awkward time attempting to ballet that first semester. I sucked, but I stuck with it because I started love it, to be obsessed with it.

Our midterm exam came and went.  We did a barre routine in front of First Teacher, about 10 of us at a time. By this point I was about 9 or 10 weeks into the class, so it was ok. Not good, but not exceptionally bad either in a I-just-made-a-complete-fool-of-myself way. We also did center. We had an tendu combination that by now would be a piece of cake (but back then I couldn’t even remember what came next), a combination involving developpe devant (during which I continually tipped over the whole time), and several across the floor combinations that I think I just made up as we went along. Not good.

And then the final exam was mentioned, ending my quiet denial.  It now became the thing that loomed in the (increasingly shorter) distance.  We were given the criteria: it was to be a piece at least a minute long, choreographed by us; we were to include certain  components (adagio, any form of tendus, a traveling step (like waltz, balancé), and either turns or jumps (but I’m sure it didn’t hurt to do both)); other than that it was open.

First Teacher said “Some of you are jazz dancers; others of you are tap dancers or modern. “Best Dancer” is a ballet dancer. So do what ever style of dance you’re most familiar with, I just want to see some of the elements of ballet in there.” Which was great for my classmates with non-ballet dance experience; as for me, since I had no  dance experience whatsoever, what was I to do? Well, why not start at what had me in that predicament in the first place – ballet.

I set out to choreograph what was possibly the clumsiest minute and fifteen second attempt at ballet  ever publicly performed.  Since I would have over a month to perfect it if I started right away, I immediately began thinking of possible combinations.  Thinking up combinations was not the hard part; the hard part was thinking up combinations that I could realistically perform in about 5-weeks time without falling on my face, behind, or any other body part.

For my music I picked the  Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven – beautiful, hauntingly melodic, and most importantly, slow.  As I  sat back and closed my eyes and listened, dancing images filled my mind and as such my choreography came to exist.  Boyfriend recorded one of my “rehearsals” and I watch it from time to time – watched it before writing this, actually – and although I had clearly not grasped the concept of pointed feet and rounded elbows yet, it’s a decent effort. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m proud of myself for pulling it off; never before has I taken something that I saw in my mind and made it real.

As the final exam date approached, I practiced my routine obsessively, hoping to have it firmly entrenched in my muscle memory.  To put my trust in my conscious memory alone was too risky, the possibility of it blanking out in panic too high.  Before the last date to drop I lied to myself that I could still drop the class, knowing deep down that I wouldn’t.  After the drop date has passed I could not continue the lie anymore; it was real, it was going to happen.

The day came.  I awoke earlier that usual – though nervousness had prevented me from sleeping well anyway – hoping to have time to warm up beforehand.  It has slipped my mind that since my last name is towards the latter half of the alphabet my turn would probably not come up until much later, possibly rendering all past warming up useless.  Getting into my leotard and tights, I tried to ignore the butterflies in the stomach, the loud pounding of my heart. The drive to school was much too quick.  In the parking lot, I forced myself to have breakfast all the while fearing that I would throw up.  I attempted to calm myself with deep breaths, and waited until it was time to go in.

The first sight that greeted me as I entered the dance studio was Best Dancer wearing an elaborate – and gorgeous – white pancake tutu and tiara.  Holy crap! First Teacher had said that we were welcome to wear a costume but that just took it to another level.  A terrifying though crossed my mind ‘I hope I don’t have to go up immediately after her!’. My next though reminded me that her last name was nowhere near mine, and with a sigh of relief I headed towards a far corner and began stretching.

A few minutes later First Teacher appeared.  She announced that we had about 10 minutes left to warm up, then we would begin. “What order are we going in?” someone called out.  “Any order you like,” she replied.

With every performance the fluttering in my stomach increased.  Some students performed modern pieces, going from being down on the floor to up in the air with an ease that amazed me.  Others, jazz or hip hop, with some occasional ballet moves thrown in.  But what intimidated me the most was the confort with which these students – these dancers – moved their bodies.  I did not yet know how to be comfortable in my body, and I still saw myself as an outsider. I was not a dancer, I was an impostor.

Best Dancer performed her piece, a reworked version of a variation from one of the Tchaikovski ballets (I’m not trying to get too specific here…). It was perfectly executed gorgeousness,  the kind of dancing that can only come with over a decade and a half of training.  Upon finishing, she immediately began to apologize for her (invisible to us) mistakes.  First Teacher nodded approvingly, telling us “Dancers that have been training for a long time always apologize for their mistakes.”

More students performed.  I took a moment between performances to get some fresh air outside, a few more deep breaths, and decided it was now or never.  After the next person finished, I handed my ipod to            the girl working the stereo system. My head felt like it was filled with air or cotton or something, my heart pounding loudly in my ears, but at the same time it felt so far away.

I walked out into the center of the studio, as the others had done before me.  I introduced myself, introduced my piece.  Then the music started, and the movements that I had practiced so many times came back to me, from the first opening port de bras through my shakily balanced developpes, tendus, temps lie, my far-from-perfect chaînes and pas de bourree and so on.  It went as well as it could’ve, given my experience at the time. I didn’t fall over, or trip over my feet.  I forgot there was an audience and it felt so good! After finishing I fought the urge to immediately run back to my seat and waited.

“Were you nervous?” asked First Teacher.

“Yeah, umm, this is my first time ever taking this class, any dance class, and dancing in front of an audience.”

“You look so somber. Such a somber piece of music. Very good.” That’s me, the somber one.

As I returned to my seat, a couple of girls that had seemed friendly towards me throughout the semester, fellow beginners like me, smiled and said “Good job!”.  I smiled, feeling both shy and pleased at the same time.

The pressure of performing off, I was able to sit back and enjoy the remaining performances.  I almost wished I had gone sooner so I could have been able to enjoy more of them, rather about worrying about my own upcoming time in the spotlight.

The crazy thing is that as soon as it was over I wished that something like this would come up again.  My final exam for my other ballet semesters have been different, from the dance we all did for Strict Teacher’s class, to my nonexistent dance final for my latest semester.  I would really love the opportunity to have a self-choreographed final at some point again though…

Oh yeah, and I got an “A”!

That Time Of Year

It’s that time of year again, when the days are at their shortest, when I find  that it’s freezing cold both indoors and out. When I begin my home ballet practice sessions in loose-fitting sweats, shedding layers as my body gradually warms up.  Funny how wintertime snuck up on me this year…

It’s been over two weeks since the last time I was in a ballet class(!), but strangely enough I don’t feel as though I’m struggling through ballet withdrawals as much as I did last summer.  But then again, it makes sense; while I haven’t attended class since two wednesdays ago (last wednesday was Christmas Eve and the wednesday before that Boyfriend and I were weighing out our options as far as moving, driving from one place to the next), unlike last summer – when my sprained ankle kept me on off my feet for a couple weeks – I have at least been getting my balleting on at home. And it really feels like it’s the only thing keeping me from going insane!

Mostly I’ve been working on what I’ve learned over the last semester, alternating between different barre combinations that Teacher introduced.   Especially the harder moves, the ones introduced toward the end of the semester.  I’ve continued to work on my fondue releve, working up to doing fondue releve en croix, rather than just (the last) one on releve after the rest on flat.  I feel so strong, so powerful, so ballerinaesque. I love it!

My balancing – something that seems to come so easy to some, though I really have to work on it – has improved so much.  And not just on two feet either; I’ve been finding myself holding a balance for more than a nanosecond (I’ve actually counted from 1 one thousand to 10 one thousand) on passe releve and not just on my stronger leg.  It’s such an exciting feeling and no one to share it with… except this blog.

My hard work is paying off, and I see little improvements every day. My developpe devant is higher than ever, my left working leg finally having caught up to my right. For months the left leg lagged behind and then suddenly there it was, at hip level. My flexibility has also increased, as I realized as I stretched toward my leg today. And I’m increasingly closer to completing a full revolution in my pirouettes. These are the moments when I wish that there was no break in my ballet training, no opportunity for me – or my muscles – to forget what I’ve learned, to accidentally pick up bad habits.  I use mirrors to practice, of course, but even a roomfull of mirrors is nothing compared to the watchful eye of an experienced teacher.  Unfortunately, other than my wednesday evening class there are no other options for now.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. There was  a possibility to take ballet at community college during the shortened 5 week session between Fall and Spring terms. Unfortunately, it is taught by Strict Teacher. In other words, it’s not really a possibility.  I’m not sure what is the reason I fell on Strict Teacher’s bad side – could be my age, my body type, my introverted nature – but going through a(nother) term of ballet with her would just be masochistic.  So as much as it pained me to not sign up – I’m talking 5 weeks of ballet, 4 days a week, 1.5 hours a day for $40 total – I didn’t.

Having something to look forward to (Spring term, taking both beginner and intermediate ballet with Teacher) makes it all better, of course. It seems so far away, and I don’t want to be the type of person that wastes away their present by counting down to a specific point in the future, but sometime the present sucks. Yeah, I said it.

That’s part of the reason I’m even writing all of this, I suppose: to remind myself, when I look back on this period of time in my life, that along with the despair there was plenty of joy and happiness mixed in there.  There has been joy, but most of it has been focused around ballet, the only activity that I have for myself. And of course I’ve been feeling grateful for my family’s support and the opportunity to spend a little bit more time with them around the holidays.  But I have spent many sleep-deprived nights, many tearful moments awake, so much hopelessness lately.  It seems I’m at a crossroads in my life and I don’t know which path to take…

We have yet to move. The neighbor from hell is still around, as the holidays have prolonged the legal process to get her out.  It’s not that I’ve been stubbornly clinging on to the place we live at, far from it.  We’ve searched and searched and come up empty.  Apparently any apartment complex that is not located in the worst parts of town requires 3 times the rent minimum income to qualify. We don’t.

Of course, we could have someone cosign (and one of our good friends offerred). However, with a cosigner the deposit apparently goes up and we would owe twice the amount of rent at move-in. Ridiculous.

Last friday (a week ago) we thought that our luck had finally turned. An apartment complex in a decent neighborhood that did not require 3 times the rent.  We applied, of course, certain that we would get in.  The rent is cheaper than what we pay now and we have clean background checks, no prior evictions, bankrupcies, lawsuits, etc. What could go wrong?

Well, as it turns out,  a man in another state has been illegaly using my social security number for years (without my knowledge). And even though I have the card in my possesion, the manager still doubts that it’s my number, since our lawbreaking buddy in another state has been making himself so comfortable using my number.  One more apartment rejection.

(To make matters worse, we find this out during a shortened work week (due to the holidays). While I did immediately head down to my local social security office, and waited two hours to be helped, they found nothing wrong.  We returned to the prospective apartments the next day, and were finally given a printout with the offender’s name or alias that clearly shows my social security number. I’ll probably be spending my morning at the ssi office on monday – grrrrr)

So – short of a miracle – it looks like we’re stuck here, dealing with hateful glares, crowds of strange menacing-looking men loitering ourside, screaming profanity rants, public drug use.  We had to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to our apartment last wednesday, I’m not even exagerrating. Want to hear something even more interesting? When we were recording the neighbor’s rants (as instructed to do so by the manager) she spotted us in the window and had the nerve to call the police on us!  She claimed she  doesn’t feel “safe”. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up…

At least we had the opportunity to play the recordings for the police officer.  We were not cited (she was told it’s legal to film outside as long as the inside of someone else’s apt. doesn’t come out) but neither was she (even as she told the cop that she has the right to curse out on the sidewalk nonstop because she’s “a grown woman” and that if we wanted it quiet we could move to a house). Essentially the cop just laughed and shook his head, leaving all of us stuck in this hell-hole to deal with each other. Yes, this is the reality of life for some of us…

By now I guess it’s becoming apparent that I’m getting increasingly angry and bitter. Boyfriend and I have been arguing nonstop for the last two weeks, it seems. I remember as a young girl – back when I was first getting interested in boys and all that – hearing that most couples fight – or break up – over money, and thinking “How dumb! How can that be true?” Ha! I almost wish I could go back in time and show that young girl a picture of her future, give her the opportunity to make some different choices before it’s too late, before she finds herself stuck in horribly unpleasant circumstances with seemingly no way out.

Sorry to not end on a more positive note. I am exhausted.

Edit: They moved out on March 19! I wanted to throw a freakin’ party! It’s been so much more pleasant and quiet now…

The Nutcracker

This past Sunday, we watched The Nutcracker live. It was so much fun, and a much needed break from these last very stressful couple weeks.

Snow Queen and Snow King and the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier were played by professional dancers (dual roles; there were exactly 2 professional dancers in this performance), every other role was danced by students from the school in charge of the production. That being said, I was very impressed by the quality of the dancing, especially by the  solos. Actually, with the exception of the children’s roles – and even then, it may have been intentional, part of the choreography – I didn’t see any obvious mistakes. So, either it was flawless, or these students have been trained well enough to continue going even after making a mistake (or I have a terrible eye for good ballet). Either way, I was impressed.

It was my first time seeing The Nutcracker – or any ballet –  live, and the last time I saw it was on Netflix about a year ago. So my memory was somewhat fuzzy about the exact order of things and stuff like that.  I did remember that it has good music, but then, don’t all of Tchaikovski’s ballets?

Act ! was kind of slow, the only notable exception was the Toy Soldier that comes to life. Well, I guess the toy ballerina (apparently called the Columbine Doll) that comes to life dance was good too. Regarding when Drosselmeyel pops back in in the Rat King fighting scene, during intermission Boyfriend asked “Did he just break back in, or had he not gone back home?” I answered “She dreamed the whole thing” which is an interesting theory (though I’m not saying correct).

The dance of the Snow Queen was pretty good. I love the music! I really wish this dance was not at the end of Act 1 because by then I was honestly getting restless. I don’t know… Act 1 party scenes are not really my thing; I see them as what we must sit thru to get to the good parts. I hope thats not ballet blasphemy there…

Anyway, Act 2 is when it really got exciting  (sorry, to all of you that prefer Act 1), when all the little solos happen. This I did remember from watching The Nutcracker before, so I was looking forward to it. It seemed like intermission took forever (and still, there were people that did not take advantage of this perfect opportunity to use the restroom, preferring instead to wait until during a solo – hell, why not make it really interesting and go during the Russian Dance – to stand up and block the view of those lucky enough to be seated behind them (me)).  Those were the moments when I wondered: if we went to a professional company’s ballet performance would the audience be just a bit more respectful?

The Russian dancer (there was only one) was amazing, as was the Arabian dancer, though obviously for different reasons.  I’m a big fan of watching male dancers display their incredible jumping power, and this dancer did not disappoint. Lots of jumps, lots of turns, lots of turns while jumping! He had 180°+ split jumps (lots of them in a row), different kinds of turns (that my beginning-dancing self has not even been introduced to), lots of different jumps (that I’m not even going to attempt to describe other than awesome), and when he first entered the stage he did several hand-less cartwheels. How cool is that?!

The costuming was rather creative as he wasn’t wearing what I thought is the “traditional” Russian Dancer outfit – the red and black – but these baggy knee-length brownish green trousers and no shirt.  He looked good, and I wasn’t complaining, but I do wonder if I was more familiar with The Nutcracker -if I actually had had expectations – if it would have felt like a letdown. But then maybe the traditional costume only looks good when there’s several Russian dancers…

As for the Arabian dancer, I didn’t pay enough attention to detail to notice the subtle differences in the costume. I was too distracted by her slow, high extensions and controlled poses. At some point I overheard a child a in the row behind me say “She’s such a good dancer!”. She was, but of course it’s also that I’m  partial to slow graceful dancing from female dancers and Arabian is one of my favorite parts of the ballet.

The Chinese dance (2 dancers, one guy and one girl, in Chinese outifits, I guess) was very fast paced and full of (extremely high and foot-pointed) jumps. Seriously, it was the kind of dance that I would be horribly unsuited for, but I love to watch someone that can pull it off do it – and they pulled it off pretty well. However, it was at times cringeworthy, looking like every Chinese stereotype from a past historical period. Boyfriend and I were discussing it on the way home and he said he had felt the same way (at first I’d thought it may just have been me, since I may at times be oversensitive).

The Waltz of the Flowers was awesome. I loved how there were so many turns in it, and of course, the music. Loved all the ecchapes and pique turns (or whatever turns that looked a lot like pique turns they were doing).  I was having so much sensory overload at the show – I didn’t know whether to look at their feet or the whole picture or focus on any particular dancer. Solos are always easier to focus on and not feel overwhelmed.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the corps dance, it’s just that I find myself having difficulty focusing on the big picture.

Boyfriend told me when he bought the tickets the guy who sold them to him was gushing about the two principal dancers, and in particular the Sugar Plum Fairy dance; apparently the dancers were both individually awesome dancers but also happened to pair up perfectly as well.. So it was a bit hyped up. And the pas de deux was great – lots of cool lifts, beautiful music – but I guess I didn’t see how the Sugar Plum Fairy dance was considered better than some of the other solo the dances . The Cavalier, on the other hand, was great. He was another multiple 180°+ split jumps in a row kind of guy.  And his turns were so graceful!  During his solo parts the crowd by the end was practically applauding continuously.

It was a fun show, and from the looks of the shows professional companies put on, a scaled back show. But we had fun and that;s what matters, right? I think I pestered Boyfriend with questions about the show for the rest of the night…

Decisions, Decisions…

photo from fathomevents.com

photo from fathomevents.com

Lately I’ve been incredibly stressed out, though ballet is never far from my mind. Hoping for a distraction from my recent stresses, I was looking forward to catching The Nutcracker this weekend. I have two options: A) a local non-professional company, with guest stars who are professionals as Principal Dancers, performing the ballet live, or B) a Fathom event showing of the Bolshoi Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

There is no option C) both – though I wish. The performances are on the same weekend so there’s no way I can pull that one off.

The pros of A are that it’s live (duh) and the hour of the performance is more convenient to my schedule. The pros of B are that it’s the freaking Bolshoi Ballet! I think I would go to a Fathom Event just to watch them take class!

On the other hand, it’s not live… but it is on an enormous screen… and the time is inconvenient, though not impossible…

Making decisions is not one of my strong points.

Anyone care to chime in? Which would you rather watch, a live performance of local non-professional company or a broadcast theater performance by world famous Bolshoi Ballet?

Wanna watch the Bolshoi Ballet’s Nutcracker this Sunday? Check out Fathom Events at:

http://www.fathomevents.com/event/bolshoi1415-the-nutcracker

Edit 12/20:

It was decided; we are going to see the local performance. We got our tickets today and apparently there was a student discound. So we got even better seats than I thought we would for around the same price. Can’t wait, so excited!

Just Ranting, Don’t Mind Me…

In this post I do a lot of whining. And ranting. And generally feeling sorry for myself. I’m only including this in the blog (as opposed to just my offline journal) because it is somewhat ballet-related. Actually, it’s very ballet-related, in a “See what I do for you, ballet” kind of way. But there is a lot of whining. Feel free to skip over. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended…

Ok. (Takes a deep breath)

So, my diagonally downstairs neighbors are the neighbors from hell.  Or at least in my 12 years of living in rented places, in a variety of neighborhoods, this is the closest to neighbors from hell that I’ve had.  I’m talking loud late-night gatherings that sound more like arguments, loud profanity-laden screaming phone conversations that are impossible to avoid (as in, even with all the windows and doors closed it’s impossible to block out her screaming voice, and she actually goes outside and parades up and down the sidewalk while screaming), blatant drug use and drunkeness outdoors, unruly, unsupervised – and honestly, mistreated and abused – children vandalizing other’s vehicles, the list goes on.

It’s embarassing having company over, and there have been so many times that I’ve been grateful that we don’t have kids yet. I would hate to raise them in such a lousy environment, especially since little minds are like sponges.

Back around last May, I was awoken at around 4 am by this woman, who was loudly talking outside. I went out on my front porch and called out “Hey! Can you keep it down?! It’s 4 am and some of us are trying to sleep!”  Well, ever since then she decided that she will not waste an opportunity to shoot me nasty looks as I arrive home, or leave, and on occasion has cursed at me, calling me a “F-ing B—-!”. She has threatened me, though I don’t have it on camera, telling me that “If you don’t shut your mouth, I’ll shut it for you.”

By now, I don’t ever leave home without a recording device, in case she is to threaten me again, or worse, act upon her threats.  We have recorded her behavior from the inside of our apartment, and shown the footage to the manager.  According to management, other tenants have complained as well.  We were promised that these neighbors were going to leave on December 15.  We were counting the days!

That was last Monday. They are still there – I was awakened by her rants this morning, as a matter of fact.

We went down to talk to the office again, and were told that they are doing “all they legally can” to get her out. Truthfully, I don’t believe them. I think they are trying to play both sides, keep us as tenants while not kicking them out. Our lease is scheduled to end on 12/31 and we were actually about to renew the lease. Thankfully, we didn’t; It’s outrageous that our rent’s scheduled to increase and that abusive neighbor is still going to be living there for an indeterminate period of time.

So, it looks like apartment-hunting time again. And of course, amenities-wise, nothing (in our price range) compares with the place we have now; no hardwood floors to practice ballet on, no gym to run at in case of rainy weather, no quiet hilly streets to go for walks in, no walking-distance park to run and jump at, no in-unit washer to wash leotards in.

If we leave here, it seems as though continuing my ballet will be affected.  Not only the space to practice in, but also all the working out that I’ve been doing. I’m terrified; I feel as though my leg muscles that I’ve worked so hard to strengthen will begin to weaken.  At the same time, I feel as though I’m unwilling to continue living near that loud, profane woman – especially if the rent is going up.

I don’t know what to do. The prospect of having to give up ballet is what hurts me the most, but I know there’s no way that I’ll be prepared for next semester unless I can get some practicing done. It’s just the only way I learn, repetition and lots of it. At the same time, I’m just unwilling to continue living in this hostile environment. These neighbors are just out of line! I shouldn’t have to take a recording device with me every time I leave my home for fear of being threatened or assaulted.  I feel like the management should be giving us a freaking discount, not raising the rent (which happens every time a new contract is signed).

I’ve been crying all day, feeling so overwhelmed and sad.  And lost.  I hate feeling so helpless, so miserable, this uncertainty, this feeling of everything being out of my control. I just want to break something. And cry some more.

And then apologize for the negativity. While still crying.

Fitness Goals Update 7

Another Fit Tuesday finess goals update. 14 weeks since I started working out in hopes of improving my ballet-ing abilities.

Cardio:

Still running/jogging five times a week.  One week I tried to run daily and my legs just felt so tired, so two rest days it is. I go for an extra long walk on those days instead.

I haven’t increased my running distance, just been trying to run faster for intervals. It’s supposed to increase your metabolism throughout the day, not just during the run. It does feel like I’m getting more of a leg workout at least, so that works for me. On the rainy days I’ve been running on the treadmill – not as fun.

Quick ballet stretch pose at the park at the end of a morning run and jump session on a non-rainy day.

Quick ballet stretch pose at the park at the end of a morning run and jump session on a non-rainy day.

Strength:

Just been doing what I’ve been doing. It’s been working so far…

Lunges, push-ups, Ab-wheel, yoga stretches. Still can’t do a pull-up, and I’ve gained several pounds recently, so unless I get my weight back down I see it as unlikely.

Remember on Fitness Goals Update 6 (two weeks ago) I set the goal for myself to be able to do a back bridge – for the first time of my life, no less – after Teacher said it would greatly help with our back flexibility. Well, I did it!

Backbridge! Seeing this has got to convince me that I can do it finally...

Backbridge! Seeing this has got to convince me that I can do it finally…

After the initial shock of just pushing up with my arms wore out, I began to explore pushing up my back and stretching out my head.

After the initial shock of just pushing up with my arms wore out, I began to explore pushing up my back and stretching out my head.

On my third day attempting it, I surprised myself by pushing up about 3-4 inches. I was so startled when I realized this that I immediately dropped myself back down. The next couple tries (over the next few days; I never attempted it twice in one day) I wasn’t able to lift my head off the floor again. I wasn’t discouraged, since I knew that it had technically happened, if only to fail due to my fear. Of what? Falling on my head, breaking my neck, breaking my wrists, my arms, who knows?!  I do realize now, looking back over my progress over the last two weeks, and my complete lack of progress throughout my life prior to that, that while my lack of upper body strength played a factor, so did my fear of how to get back down.

So, the next time that I began to feel my head lifting off the ground, I forced myself to forget about the fear, forget about getting down, and just push. So I pushed, and felt myself going up higher than ever before in my life. I forced my self to slowly count to 10, just to reassure myself that it was real.

Then came the hard part: getting down. I slowly lowered myself back down, making sure to keep my head down, chin tucked in. Breaking my neck would surely ruin this triumphant moment!

Well, I made it through without a broken neck, but the last of the getting down part is for sure my least favorite part of all of this. But, yay, I did it! Since then I’ve been doing the backbridge pose every day, holding it for a longer count each day. My next goal? To be able to lift a leg off while doing this, eventually to be able to do a walkover. I’m feeling pretty optimistic and happy about these goals right now, I just feel like a lot of my childhood dreams are coming true. That probably sounds dumb, but it’s the best way I can describe it; like a lot of the things that I’d seen as a child and wished for but didn’t get, (like doing ballet, being flexible and strong, being healthy and athletic, becoming comfortable in myself and with myself), are happening now.

I guess I’m having a good day today…