Tag Archives: priorities

Schedule Changes

Tomorrow is the start of Spring semester at my community college.

Ballet-wise, I will be taking beginning level class and staying on to intermediate, twice a week. Each class is an hour and a half so yes, that’s 3 straight hours of ballet twice a week. At least there’s a 10 minute break between during which I’ll probably be found frantically trying to stuff something that’s both nutritious and calorie-dense in my mouth. Class will be on evenings, rounding out the end of an already busy school day.

It looks like I will be temporarily giving up Wednesday class at Evening Studio, unless I finish up early. But I’m not scheduled to be out (assuming it takes the entire lab period) until around the time (ballet) class ends, though school and Evening Studio are only minutes away from each other. Out of all my possible schedule combinations before I signed up for classes this schedule was the best one I could figure out, so I did realize at the time that I would most likely have to choose between class at Evening Studio and fitting in all the other classes I’m taking.

I managed to work around my schedule so I can once again have a daily Pilates class – start my day off with Pilates class, actually.  By the time this semester is over I will have been doing Pilates for about six months, and the structure that attending a class provides versus doing it at home alone is really beneficial to me.  By then the exercises will be embedded in my muscle memory for sure. My college also offers a certification program to teach Pilates, and since I’m doing the classes anyway, I figure “why not?”. This semester I’ll be taking a class that focuses on mat work and another one that’s specifically for dancers. So, if nothing else my ballet skills may improve due to the additional core work.

And then, academic-wise, I’m going into some uncharted territory. The thing about community college is that the pros of affordable tuition and small (at least compared to when I attended University a decade ago) class sizes are offset by the cons of too-long waiting lists for classes due to overcrowding and budget cuts.  I started going here three years ago, and it was really difficult for a few semesters to even get classes that were not electives (but at the same time this is a good thing, as it’s how I found ballet). But now that I’ve been there for a few semesters, I’m finally getting a sign up date that actually gets me into classes that I planned on taking when I decided to go back (provided there’s no scheduling conflicts).  And I’ve got to be honest, part of me’s been glad that there’s been this delay, because I could just put it off, wonder at what could have been, whether I can do it or not. But I’ve decided, it’s now or never, so I’m jumping in headfirst.

I am so excited/nervous/anxious/happy – I think I can say without it being an exaggerated statement that I’ve been waiting years for this. And as much as a ballet has become an increasingly bigger – and important – part of my life, I have to keep in persepective that it is not the reason I went back to school. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I was 10 or 12 years younger I would  try to pursue it more seriously that just a very dedicated recreational student (and yes, I may – and probably am – be deluding myself here, but seeing as I’m not 10-12 years younger, it doesn’t really matter now, does it?).  But at my (still relatively young, but not to begin a professional career performing in dance) age  I need to remember what else is important to me, how it even came to be that I found myself back in school which allowed me to even discover for myself something as amazing as ballet.

Anyway, I think my point is that I’ll be putting in lots of homework and study time, as this semester will be a determining factor for me, academic-wise.  What this means is that while I’ll try to update the blog after every class (and write the occasional ramble about ballet-related stuff), both the fact that class will let out pretty late and my homework load may make that difficult. As I am obsessed with recording my ballet progress (or lack of, lol), I will be updating as best as I can, even if it’s short and grammatically incorrect. Or maybe I’m totally fearing the worst, I have better study habits than I give myself credit for, and my classes will be a breeze…

We will find out together, won’t we?

Oh, and except for ballet class. Ballet is NEVER a breeze.

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…

Priorities, a Hobby, a Wish and a Dream

It’s almost that time again: time to sign up for classes for next semester! My registration date is coming up in a couple of weeks so, dedicated and responsible student that I try to be, I was looking up the available classes ahead of time so that I can plan out my schedule for fall semester.

But I have a confession that would upset my parents: I looked up what time ballet was going to be offered first! It wasn’t until after I saw what times ballet was going to be offered (which, by the way, both times it is offered it is at a horribly inconvenient time) that I checked what times the other classes I have to take will be offered. You know, the classes for my major that I actually hope to graduate in and start a career in one day. So it makes me really wonder about my priorities…

I know that a career in dance is OUT OF THE QUESTION for me. I’m in my 30’s, a beginner still, and have the wrong body shape for a professional. A few months ago I was hoping (yeah, I was getting really ambitious here) that I could at least perform in the school’s dance concert sometime in the future. I just wanted to feel the rush of performing for an audience. I’d looked up so many amateur recitals on youtube that I figured, with lots of practice, dedication, and hard work it was totally doable for me.

Well, this past semester dashed those hopes. After I pulled my left thigh muscle just enough so that I couldn’t participate in class for a week by repeatedly attempting that move where you get down on the floor on one knee, and the teacher said that that wasn’t a good enough reason to sit out for class, I realized that while I may not feel my age, my body has its limits and I need to listen to my body. If being a performer means ignoring your body’s cues and disregarding consequences all for the love of the art, then I guess the only one I will ever be performing for is myself.

So that day, I told myself that while I would continue to take ballet, I would prioritize my schoolwork and get any notions of performing out of my head. I told myself that it would be the mature, responsible thing to do.

And here I am, just 2 months later, looking up what time ballet is offered before the classes I need to take. Wherever are my priorities?

But the problem is that dance has become such a big part of my life that I almost wish I could turn back the clock and be one of those 19-year-old beginners I take class with who still have the option to possibly dance for a living. I’ve never been the type to aim big. I don’t wish that I had started at age 3 so I could get in with a famous ballet company. Merely turning back the clock by a decade would suffice. Dancing with a small unknown company would be enough for me to feel as though I am living a dream. But alas, I have no time machine, so ballet remains a hobby and a dream.

And I will have to try really hard to keep that in mind.