Tag Archives: sadness

Attitude Adjustment

So… it’s been a little while since the last time I posted on here…

Since last time, I quit ballet, sort of. Meaning I’d told myself I was quitting, and stopped going to class and everything. That lasted for… oh, about a week and a half, maybe two weeks. It was tough – everything reminded me of ballet. Listening to classical music was too much for me, since it made me want to get up and dance. I stopped coming by WordPress (though the thought of deleting the blog never crossed my mind, because I feel my story must be out there, so it can serve as… whatever people make of it, be it inspirational, a cautionary tale, or a mixture of both. Either way, it’s mine, unique to me), put my leotards away out of sight (a compromise from my original idea of giving them away). I was done, or so I thought. Then one day, even though I had initially told myself that I was done, I found myself at the barre at home. Who am I kidding – I can’t leave ballet now… or possibly ever. I need this, I need to dance.

How did this all come about? In short, I’d gotten really down on myself – about my slowness at learning, my inability to remember more than 8 counts (and I’m probably being optimistic there) of a combination unless I’ve practiced it literally thousands of time, how I get so flustered then and there in class/rehearsal in front of all the actual dancers (many much more experienced, and all most definitely younger than me), how I can’t even do that simple “it’s just a single” pirouette (and being called “negative” for stating the fact that I can’t), and yes, definitely not least in importance, my body issues (specifically the bouncing breasts, but I realize that my hormones felt out of whack there for a bit, as well as the fact that I may have been physically exhausted from all the extra rehearsing and practicing). I got to feeling that I was just making a complete fool of  myself, feeling like ‘what was I thinking? – I can’t dance’. I decided to drop out of our upcoming recital, because of the reasons listed above, convinced that someone like me – older, slower, less experienced, bouncier – had no business there.

At first, I felt like a weight had been lifted, and I tried to convince myself that I’d made the right choice. But it felt like something wasn’t right, like I couldn’t believe that it could be over. I was sad, really down – like the pressure I was feeling from ballet was too much,  but life just felt so empty without it. Although I tried to cheer myself up by immersing myself in my other hobbies and activities, my body wanted to move, to dance. I really couldn’t figure out what a solution would be. When I thought of ballet I wanted to cry.

Thankfully – and this is the super-abbreviated version – I got a push in the right direction to go speak with one of my teachers. It was the best thing I could’ve done, she was so incredibly supportive, and I found myself back in class (and rehearsal for the show). How I’d missed it!

Yes, I’d made the right decision, I can feel it. But still, this is…complicated. I don’t really discuss my conflicting thoughts regarding ballet on this blog  – I mean, I do to an extent, but not to the fullest that my racing thoughts go – but let’s just say that sometimes I have my doubts that I’m doing the right thing, and my logical brain asks me ‘why are you doing this? what is the point? all that work, all that effort, all that time, for what?’. So my brain-logic part says all  the reasons why ‘no’, but my feelings-heart says ‘yes’ (as ridiculously cliche as that sounds) and I’m going to go with my heart on this one – this is a first for me, so I hope I’m making the right choice.

Since then I’ve had a few classes back, and first of all, I think the break did me good because not only did I not really lose strength, if anything I felt stronger. My first balance on releve wobbled a little bit, but by the end of the first class back I felt I’d found my center again.

In Beginner class,  we began working at the barre in both legs (instead of just the outside leg being the outside leg), so it was just so incredibly fun, the mixture of alternating legs but not at the faster tempo that we do in intermediate class. For center, we did waltz step, balancés, and temps lies, all things I enjoy. It was a great return to ballet, I feel like I couldn’t have asked for a better returning class.

In Intermediate class, we’ve been working on a new step, the mazurka. It’s pretty challenging, and I still feel ridiculous while doing it, but I’ve already seen improvement since the first time Teacher gave it to us (at least with the legs, I’m nowhere close to being able to coordinate the arms). Then we did a combination with 4 mazurka steps, balancé to the front, balancé en tournant to the back, pique arabesque,  sous-sus, 3 pique turns, soutenu, chasse into chaines. The tempo was not too fast, so I had a lot of fun with this combination.

We also started working on tour jetes in Intermediate. I’ve done tour jete before, at New Studio, but there we hadn’t had the step broken down and really explained. Turns out that I’d been doing them completely wrong. Teacher gave me this exercise to help prepare for tour jete that’s really been helping: grand battement devant with the right leg, left leg in plie, bring the right leg back in as I rise to sous-sus, do a half-soutenu to face the other way, and bring the other leg up in arabesque. At first I did them super slow, just to get the coordination down, and then started working on making it more fluid. I still don’t have my tour jete, but thanks to this exercise I think once I do attempt it again my technique will be much cleaner.

Another thing Teacher worked on with me was the shape of my attitude derriere. Before I’d been told to arabesque and then bend the leg into attitude, and as a result my placement was often off. She instead had me go to passe, then rotate my hip back so that my leg was behind me, but trying to hold on to the same shape. I noticed the difference immediately.

So yeah, I’m back and let’s see where the ballet journey goes from here!

(I feel like I need to clarify some things: when I speak/write of me wanting to quit ballet because I’m too slow, forgetful, old, bouncy, etc., I speak about myself and my unique situation, and am in no way saying that any/every adult beginning dancer facing these issues should let these things get in their way. I’ve read so many blogs about adult beginners discussing feeling out of place in classes with more advanced dancers, feeling like there is something wrong with them, and the answer to everything always seems to be ‘you just need to find the right class for you! Ballet is for everybody!’ (I always imagine this being said in a nauseatingly high-pitched chirpy voice, but what do I know).

Well, this being my blog and my story, I feel the need to say that this is not an option for everybody. Some people are limited by their location or finances, and can’t just go around class-hopping (or school-hopping, or teacher-hopping) until finding the perfect opportunity or fit for them. So then we have the choice of will we push on and work harder so we can keep up and go on, or give up. I’ve chosen to push on and work harder, and it has been hard, so hard, but my love of ballet keeps me going. I realize I’m rambling, but I guess all I wanted to say was that just because I get discouraged sometimes doesn’t mean I’m saying that adult ballet must be discouraging, rather that being an adult learning with a bunch of teens who’ve been dancing for what seems like forever can at times be very discouraging. And, don’t get me wrong, my teachers are amazing and most days I love my school, but occasionally I can’t help wishing I could just learn with people my age or older, who face the same struggles or body/learning issues as me.

Anyway.)

Like A Flashback

Once again, what a week (and I say that in both the positive and negative aspects).

Ballet’s been going well. In the first few weeks of the sessions I do a lot of remembering at what level I was at in the beginning of the past sessions and assessing my progress as I remember doing that same step back then. In Beginner class we’re doing stuff like basic weight shifting tendu combinations in center (just a la seconde) and chasses across the floor. The memory of not being able to even tendu in center without falling over is still with me, although it does feel more distant every day. I do feel like I’m trying to hold on to it though – I mean, compared to where I was when I started, my progress has been nothing short of amazing for me. If I were to lose that memory of where I was where I began, somehow the accomplishment seems less impressive to myself. When F Teacher demonstrates the chasses, for example, and she tells the class “Then you’ll be able to take the back foot en l’air,  then go up on releve, then jump it” (with a little demonstration as she says it), I almost feel like I’m transported back in time three years ago. I remember thinking ‘Yeah, right. Like I’m ever going to be able to do that – I keep falling over even with both feet flat on the floor’. But, what do you know, with enough time and practice I could! So even if I’m a crappy dancer by anyone else’s standards, I continue to impress myself. That makes me happy.

The more challenging Intermediate classes have been fun as well. So much more fun than last year! I still definitely struggle with remembering long combinations, especially the second side (and it does seem like in the moment all my own advice about remembering different phrases completely flies out of my head. I got to learn to notice the patterns!), but I feel like I’m able to jump back into it with less of a delay than before. Still not at the level needed to make it actually look like beautiful dancing beyond the first phrase, but at least I can start off and finish it in a somewhat presentable manner. Petit allegro, of course, is not even close to looking how it should, but my speed has increased enough so that I’m keeping up the tempo. I’m not trying any beated jumps yet though, just working on making my changements look nice first. Luckily, Teacher gives us the option of going at a slower or faster tempo (I usually attempt both) and of adding the beats or not.

I seem to have figured out the glissade forward (as opposed to a la second. The kind found in saute arabesque, saute coupe, tombe, pas de bourre, glissade, grand jete) which was really giving me a hard time several months back.   We worked on pique arabesques, which are so much harder for me than to chasse atabesque  onto releve, and I’ve been working on getting over my fear of stepping up onto releve. I guess it happens all the time when doing chaines or pique turns, but for whatever reason I find it scarier to just pique arabesque. Even harder adding that plie while coming down off the one foot releve, and holding the balance. But by the end of my second Intermediate class of the week I was able to do a few, even on my bad balancing side.

My single pirouettes en dehors have been ok this week (well, at my regular school – at NS for whatever reason my body just did not want to cooperate this week and I did not do any full pirouettes at all), not good just ok. I’m getting around all the way pretty often, but I haven’t been attempting any more doubles. Perhaps it was a fluke, perhaps not, but either way I’ve just been focusing on getting singles with correct technique and most importantly for me, getting rid of the anxiety surrounding doing pirouettes.

All that being said, I did not end the week having a very good opinion about myself as it relates to movement (not specifically dance). As part of a certification program I’m doing, I have to take these exceptionally challenging Pilates classes on top of what I usually take. Oh man, it was awful!

During (and after) taking it, I felt the closest I had felt in a very long time to when I first started ballet – like I was old, weak, clumsy and uncoordinated (not the agile, in tune with her body person I’ve started to become since starting ballet) . I honestly wanted to cry several times, but I held it in, forcing myself to think about later on that night when I could allow myself some private time with my feelings. As it happens with me, when I repress sadness it turns into anger. So as the hour progressed I found myself angrier and angrier – and unfortunately a good deal of that anger was at myself, for thinking that a person’s body, mine, can really change. There were exercises that I couldn’t do at all no matter how hard I tried, and there were some that I could do, but worried that by doing them I was putting my body in an unsafe position. I was tempted to just leave after the mat portion, but went on to the Reformer part anyway – it was a terrible idea. I managed to get out of doing some of the exercises, but the ones I was made to do sucked. I worried that my hip flexors were going to be angry at me, or worse (due to my weird long leg-short torso ratio, my knees were somewhere around the back of my ears, while other’s knees were still out in front of them).

To make matters worse, the instructor said something along the lines of ‘some exercises aren’t for everybody. Some very inflexible people, or a pregnant woman, wouldn’t be able to do them.’ Ok, maybe I took it the wrong way, but hearing that just about destroyed my mood (I was the only one who couldn’t do that particular exercise (when she said it) in the whole room, and last time I checked I’m neither pregnant nor extremely inflexible (by this point in my 3 year stretching regimen)). It’s been days later and I’m still feeling extremely down on the whole thing. This is so how I felt when I first started ballet. The big difference is that although ballet was the hardest thing I’d ever attempted to do, I cared enough to get over the horrible inadequacy and just keep going (and nowadays I’m so glad I did). But I don’t have that same passion for Pilates – sure, it’s a great way to stay in shape and condition the body, but there’s no need for me to do the extremely challenging exercises at the harder end of the spectrum. To me this is a body conditioning method, and I wouldn’t want to risk not being able to dance by injuring myself while doing what to me is woking out.

So I’ll probably just leave, because that’s so much easier for me than talking to the instructor. I keep trying to ask myself if it is that I genuinely worry that I may hurt myself, or that my pride is extremely wounded for not being able to keep up. Perhaps it’s both.

Back To Regularly Scheduled Life

 

 

It feels like forever since I wrote on this blog, though it’s only been a little over a week…I miss it so much though, so even though I don’t have anything good to share I’ll write anyway. Just a heads up though – this post is kind of a mess. Since I wrote the last post, I’ve been kind of a mess…

I haven’t taken a ballet class since the last one I wrote about. It’s been a crazy week.  My body has apparently decided to revolt against me…

In my last post, I mentioned how we were working on sissones in class. When landing one of them, I landed a little weird (meaning not quite pain, but I felt something), which translated to a soreness in my hip. For whatever reason, my thighs had been unusually sore for a few days even before class as well, so it wasn’t very apparent at first.  I thought ‘no big deal’, iced my hip and thigh, and went to sleep. Wrote the last post…

Last weekend (right after writing the post) I was helping my parents move. During the moving process, my dad collapsed (he’s a diabetic and he doesn’t manage his blood sugar all that well) and while helping to pick him up  before the ambulance arrived I pulled my back slightly. So by the start of the week I was already sore both in my upper and lower body. To make it worse, by Tuesday I was also experiencing some unexplained pain in my knee (same side as the hip).

By Wednesday I was so upset by all of the above mentioned things that I didn’t even want to get up. I blew off school completely (which is so unlike responsible dependable me, but anyone who knows me personally would start figuring out that things were not well in Kit-land). When I finally did get up, it felt like my knee and lower leg were where the majority of the soreness was concentrated, and my hip felt a little better. Or perhaps it was that it was just better in comparison to the throbbing knee. I spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, crying intermittently.

Thursday I woke up stiff, sore and freezing cold. While the only goal I was committing to was to make it to the couch, a phone call with my dad cheered me up slightly, and I motivated – at the time it felt more like forced -myself to go spend the day with my family. The first few steps out of my apartment and into the cold sucked majorly – every step felt like it was pounding right to my knee. Getting into my car also sucked –  honestly, by this point the idea of me being able to dance anytime in the near future seemed more and more unlikely.

(And did I mention I’m supposed to have a performance coming up?!)

The weirdest thing is that as soon as I got to my parent’s and headed down the hallway towards their apartment, my leg felt so much better. This lifted my spirits and I remained cheerful and mostly pain-free for the duration of my visit. At this point I started to wonder (among other crazier thoughts, which I won’t get into here…), was my pain all in my head? After all, I haven’t fallen, or even gone jogging or practiced jumping in the days immediately before the pain started. It just made no sense.

When I returned home  that night, the pain returned, although not as intense. I think this is around the time we figured out that the cold seems to have a huge effect on my knee pain  – as long as I stay warm it doesn’t hurt. Now armed with this knowledge, I spent the rest of the long weekend bundled up underneath like 5 or 6 layers of clothing or taking boiling hot showers. I guess it’s good to know that moving up north to a higher latitude – and the accompanying colder weather – would be a terrible idea for me; my body would probably just fall apart!

So now it’s been about 12 days since the hip issue started, and about a week since the knee pain began. They good news is that my knee is doing better everyday (my hip is not doing worse necessarily, but it just faded to the background when my knee pain started to flare up). My back has recovered completely as well (or at least it’s not doing that pinching feeling when I bend over, which is good enough).

While I still have yet to return to ballet class, I have been to a rehearsal and Modern class once (today). I was really apprehensive about participating in Modern, but I told M Teacher about my pain and how any jumping or hard landings are out of the question. I actually had a really great time in class – it felt so awesome to just move! But I’ve been so anxious about returning to ballet class. I’m paranoid that the reason Modern didn’t aggravate my body (the hip, specifially) is because we didn’t really work in turnout (or at least not an extreme ballet-style turnout), much less fully crossed 5th position.

Here’s the thing: while I realize that according to some (all? most? those in the know?) people it’s not really ballet unless you’re working in 5th (as opposed to 3rd) I really don’t want to quit ballet, I just love dancing so much. But, being rational for a moment here, I don’t want to completely wreck my body by forcing my tight adult ligaments to stretch in ways they don’t – or can’t . At the age I began ballet (with no childhood stretching experience whatsoever), I feel it’s unlikely that I will achieve the kind of turnout needed to actually cross my fifth without it looking like fourth.

So I don’t really know my options here (once the pain is gone, of course). Stick with Basic beginner class where we mostly just work in first? Try to learn ballet only on my own at home again? I really, really, really don’t want to quit – the idea of that breaks my heart.

And I really hate feeling like I had no business even trying to do ballet, like it’s not meant for me, because I’m just so weak and fragile.

Last night, a friend of mine came to visit. We were close several years ago (or at least as close as I let people to me), but at around the time I started ballet we started to drift apart and she moved out of state.  I never told her that I do ballet. As we talked, I realized – yet again – how big a part of my life ballet has become. I still didn’t tell her, so it was apparent to me more in the gaps and pauses, all the things left unsaid. The main reason I didn’t say anything is because I’m worried she will tease me and I’ll feel dumb for dedicating so much time and energy towards ballet.  I mean, it’s like in the almost three years since we stopped hanging  together almost every single day (and wasting our time and energy, lol) our lives took very different paths: she’s been all over the place, traveling the world, and I’ve been here trying to make myself a ballerina. It’s not that I wish I had her life – I don’t even particularly like the idea of traveling – but I know that her interests have become more along the lines of “the norm” while mine are not understandable to many people.  It irritates me that I feel this way, but I have no idea how to just not care.

Issues, I have them…

Anyway, I hope to have more happy dance-y things to share soon.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Thursday Class: Some Good, Some Bad

We did not really have class on Tuesday, so Thursday’s class was my first ballet class in over a week, since last Wednesday. It felt pretty good to be back in class, though my body has been incredibly sore all week.

For the first time in the semester we did everything with only one hand at the barre. Well, with the exception of the barre-less 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 and releve echappes.  Plies with complete port de bras and cambres.

Then 3 tendus en croix, one super slow with foot articulation, two regular speed, no arms (arms out in second).  I positioned myself so that I would face the mirror on the second side (left working leg side) because I think that’s the side that needs more attention. Sounds weird, but I prefer to face the mirror for the second side, as I think my tendus are more technically correct on my right working leg, at least the foot part. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis positioning.  A few of my classmates were having confusion issues about which side to be facing or which leg they were supposed to be using.  Though I don’t remember my first semester’s confusion that vividly (just in general), how lost I felt when I was attempting IC helps me remember (and completely sympathize with them).

We did 3 degages en croix with eleve (not releve) after each direction before the next, arm in second during the degages, high fifth for the releve. Didn’t let go of the barre for this one – that would have been … interesting.

When we did echappe changement releves we first did them with one hand at the barre then with no hands on barre, arms either out in second or on shoulders (I chose to the the arms in second). A classmate in a nearby barre made the funniest expression – kind of like a raised eyebrows “Whoa!” look – when Teacher said to step away from the barre and do them.  It went ok, I managed to not tip over, and my calves didn’t hurt at least. Teacher corrected me on my pelvis placement.

For our rond de jambe and fondue, balance in arabesque (and with leg out in front after doing it en dedans), soutenu and other side combination we had a super pretty piano piece again.  This is definitely one of my favorite combinations in this class.

New, more extensive barre stretching, similar to what we had done in IC (grabbing the foot and pulling the leg up in front and a la seconde and grabbing the foot behind us with the opposite side hand, pulling up our leg into attitude derriere, then if possible down to a penchee position.)  This was fun. Despite my sore muscles I was able to get my leg up nice and high in my attitude derriere, and I love how when i grab my foot behind me and bend forward I can bring it up much more higher. Of course, I have been working on a similar stretch at home for a few months now, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.

In center, we started off with our 3 grand battements with arms in high fifth, passe releve balance combination.  Teacher corrected me again on keeping my foot pointed on the way down from passe releve.  She said we’ll be doing pirouettes soon.

Chaines went ok to the right, to the left I was having trouble spotting my head quickly enough.  Then we did sautes, changements and echappes with arms at different tempos.  I find it much more difficult to stay on timing if we’re going at a fast tempo.  And I definitely have no idea how to manage to point my feet if I jump lower (to accomodate the faster speed).

Across the floor we did 4 chasse gallops, ballet run and pas de chat (instead of jete).  I find it much easier to the right side, as I did with the jetes.

We finished up with reverence. Reverence is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of class – and probably my favorite part of center.  No, not because it means it’s almost time to collapse into the car in a mess of tired, sweaty muscles and go home and rest (though I do enjoy that part, believe me.  This girl once told me she was going to go running immediately after ballet class and even though I try super hard to be respectful of others I’m afraid I may have looked at her as if she had two heads. Running after ballet? How?! (To be fair, she ended up dropping the class, as I haven’t seen her in weeks)). Anyway, the reasons I love reverance is that it’s one of the only times in BC we use epaulement, as well as it being a nice adagio-ish combination that feels very ballet-ish, graceful and pretty.  If we could just do adagio all the time I would be so happy…

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first ballet class in over a week.  I had not expected to be this sore all week, though I think that has more to do with my Pilates classes than ballet.  But I had expecxted even less that in that short period of time my ballet skills would seriously decline.

My balancing was not as stable as it had been pre-spring break, despite me remembering to engage my lats.  Teacher corrected me several times on my pelvic placement, which I had improved upon right before the break (but is now doing it’s swayback thing).  If I may be honest, I’m feeling very discouraged and sad.  Actually, now that we’re getting honest, that’s the reason I didn’t even feel like writing on the blog lately.  Here’s my train of though: if my skills deteriorated so bad after just a week or two off (and yes, I did practice at home during spring break, though not during the school week), and the semester is over halfway done then there’s only so far I can improve. I saw firsthand how much improvement I lost from the end of last semester by the beginning of the semester.  It feels like for every 3 steps I take forward I end up taking 2 back…

It may seem like I’m having one of those ballet-is-making-you-miserable moments, in which case the solution would seem logical: quit. The thing is, it’s not ballet  in itself that makes me miserable, no way.  When I practice at home and I see my perceived improvement I feel so happy, so alive. I love going over the now-familiar motions, love feeling the strength, the beauty, the music.  At random throughout the day I’ll find myself standing in a ballet pose; I’ll walk past my practice mirror and try to balance; when accompanying  Boyfriend to a boring store I’ll practice chaines and pique turns down the aisle; when I hear a beatiful song I make chorography up for it in my head; out in the field after my run I’ll do gallop chasses, saute arabesques, pas de chats; I have so much fun with it, I feel like a kid again (or at least the active, in shape kid I wish I would have had a chance to be…)

Putting it simply, I cannot imagine my life without ballet in it (which sounds super corny, but whatever, it’s the truth).

No, what makes me sad is that the way things are going there will always be a limit to how much I can improve. Just when I’m starting to get much better the semester ends and then it’s almost back to square 1. When I practice at home I pick up – and reinforce- bad habits, and to be honest, I’m upset at myself for not having enough body perception to be able to correct myself and stay in alignment. If I don’t practice my strength will decrease, but if I do practice unsupervised for long periods of time (weeks or months)I learn how to do it wrong…

In short, it won’t be real  ballet, no matter how good it feels, no matter how happy it makes me.  I can continue dancing for myself, but to try to improve at ballet is setting myself up for failure.

So yeah, been feeling very down lately. Getting into any more detail will exceed the scope of this blog, and I really don’t wanna go there, as I realize that nobody likes a downer, even if it is the truth…well, my truth.  I will try very hard to make the best of it, enjoy the rest of my semester, be very grateful that I at least have this opportunity to take ballet, because some ballet is better than none.

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…

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.