No, this time it’s not about Bird Flu. This cat didn’t come from Germany, and I doubt it’s been having sex with any birds in Melrose. Center Stage is perched on the hill. To the left of our studio is a woodsy area that goes high beyond the houses. “The studio cat” as we liked to call her was familiar with the hill for many many months, and as children shuffled in and out of the doors of Center Stage, “the studio cat” would make a daily ritual of coming down off the hill to greet everyone…
Day after day alone on the hill,
The cat with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still,
But nobody wants to know her,
They can see that she’s just a fool,
And she never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in her head,
See the world spinning around.
Last summer was the first time us dancers came to know the cat. It was Summer Dance Camp 2005, and seeing as I opened the studio each day and directed the dance camp, I came to know the cat and so did the children. In the summer we leave the door open to the studio to let in fresh air (we don’t have air conditioning, and dancing for 6 hours in the summer heat can lead to…well let’s just say we need fresh air!). The cat would mosey in and out of the studio each day, peeking through the door in to the dance area. The children were wild, “the cat! the cat!”
Summer came and went, and our little friend would come around less often. You would think when winter hit that we would see this little face no more…but no! The Studio Cat spent the winter outdoors, visiting the studio…but somewhere getting fatter? I don’t know exactly what it was, but a couple of weeks ago I snapped. I couldn’t watch this muchkin kitty be homeless anymore! The Studio Cat started following me to my car at night, perching itself on the door trying to peek in the window. I even heard stories of it jumping on to the back of people’s cars before they would be driving away! Some would say, “It’s feral”…but I say, “this cat needs a home!”.
Enter the fiasco….
Ari was in Guatemala when my emotions started running wild for this cat. Last Friday I had a steak-filled dinner with Eliot and my family at the Outback Steakhouse. Our waitress was very nice to warn the table of 12 that “We use 17 spices when we cook our food, 11 of which are varieties of pepper.” Music to my ears, I ordered a prime rib valapos or something. It was fantastic. We got one of those onion bloomers, my Papa loves those. When he hears about an onion bloomer, he gets a little crazy in fact. But in all honesty, the Outback don’t know much about 17 spices! Don’t get me wrong, the food was good but it was not 17-spicified! Or perhaps my taste buds have been affected by so much hell at the East Coast Grill (oh but how sweet it is!), and my over-the-top spicings of my own home cooking, that 17 spices might taste like a lot to some people, but to me it tastes like a little pinch of salt. Yes, that’s what it is.
As we left the Outback Steakhouse, Art called. I was on the verge of being meat-delirious. I say delirious and not “meat-sick” because really I wasn’t meat-sick at all. But I had a lot of steak, some bloomin’ onions, lord knows how much rye bread, and a vodka tonic to top it off. So I was delirious, and wasn’t thinking crazy thoughts about the cat. I started the panic and wanted to bring the cat home that night. We got back to Melrose, and Angela and Jonny were asking about the cat (as they were all that day). And a sidenote to all of this was that the previous day I had rang the doorbell of the house near the studio where I thought the cat might have spawned from. Sure enough, Bruno said…”Yes, we do not want the cat. Take the cat.” Turns out his wife is pregnant, cats carry something that pregnant women shouldn’t be exposed to. But I know mad people keep their cats, so whatev.
Long story short, I didn’t take the cat home Friday night. I was delirious and emotional but Eliot and my dear Mum talked a lot of sense to me about lots of issues with the cat. And it’s a good thing because when the time came to ask “the whole house” about the cat, things didn’t go as smoothly as I thought they would. Everyone needed time to ask questions, think it over and consider their significant others reaction to the cat. It was the first time that living with a group of people really affected my ability to act freely. In some ways this felt bad, but in another sense I guess it was the first time that living with a group of people really felt like a second family. Conflict, tension, discussion and resolution…we should have gotten a spot on TLC’s show, Intervention.
Christina we’re here to talk to you about the cat. You have a problem, and you need to face it.
All in all, we got the cat. It’s a she-cat and she came home last night with me after I left the studio. Marcy was here to break the ice last night, and so she is so friendly but sometimes a little too friendly. It all started when Eliot got home from playing tennis. He was petting her in our room upstairs, and she started crawling up towards his face. And nibbling on the ears! In some kind of quest to show her love she loves the ears. If I knew more about her past, maybe I could try to explain this behavior. But we know very little about her past life. Maybe it’s a Portugese cat tradition, to nibble the ears. Her past owners are Portuguese. But here in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, our new kitty is all-American! That’s why we’re calling her Money.
I’m out of touch with the outside world since I spent 12 hours in Waltham High School on Saturday. It was not one, but two dress rehearsals on Saturday, and yes another one today (Sunday). 3 shows, a lot of work. I’m so out of touch that I didn’t even realize that Art, The Star of Blogging, had retorted to my last post about that man and the blog revolution. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to respond…
[WordPress is a blogging rig and is available free of charge. It has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times to date. The latest version is 2.0.2. You are looking at it right now.] Now as for me, I still stick with good old Version 22.214.171.124, and maybe this has aided in my lack of blog stardom. I’ve seen WP 2.0.2 in action, and things are a bit easier. But I have this little fixation with FTPing, so I still do old-fashioned style.
[Actually, he might know me.] He should be reading 3rdarm.biz! The man tries so hard but David Weinberger will never the Star of blogging. Listen to his story here.
What is this thing called Wordpress? It’s been ages, and yes I do not apologize. When someone (such as myself) has a blog, one tends to think that it’s bad not to write all the time. Well, I had a reality check while listening to NPR the other day. Some man was talking about the blog revolution. I forget his name, but for some reason I want to call him Frank Bruni (but that’s just because Frank Bruni is a protoype blogger, entered late in the game stealing ideas and inspiration from my dear friend Arthur). It’s growing at a higher rate than the population of China. He said, anyone who thinks that someone reads their blog everyday without fail is justr self-absorbed and unrealisitic. Well obviously this man doesn’t know me, Art, Ari, or Eliot.
Arthur is the captain of blogging in both posting and reading. The man doesn’t miss a beat, and I think he should be the one giving commentary on the reality of blogs because he knows better than anyone!
I had such an awesome birthday on Tuesday, but as they say in tha Blandini family, “it’s not over yet.” Biggest thanks to Eliot for sweetness and good food, and Art for seeing the light on the first day of Spring. Since my birthday is on the first full day of Spring, I like to think of myself as a Spring chicken, but maybe a Spring Lamb Steak is more appropriate.
Spring has always been the craziest time of year for me. Since I was three years old, I’ve danced in recitals between the months of April, May and June. Now, being on the other side as a teacher it’s even more insane. My Lexington students have their recital in one week, and to say the least, I feel like they’re not ready. It’s hard being a teacher of students who want to dance but started late in life, and are full of weird teenage juices. Classes tend to be a struggle a lot of the time; friends constantly chatting, little attitude pinches from their hormonal overloads, and awkward bodytypes to beat the band. All in all, I do feel like I’ve done my job as a teacher.
See, one of the most valued steps by dancers is a pirouette. This word is translated to “spin” and this is where the dancer spins around on demi-pointe or pointe on one leg. The other leg can be in various different positions; the standard one being retiré, also known as passé, where the knee is to the side and the toe is pointed against the opposite knee.
All of my students in Lexington could not do a pirouette at the beginning of the year. For the past 6 months in class I have always made it point to practice the technique and the progression to which a dancer can exucute this step, which actually is not as easy as it looks. Students fall over, bend their legs, and tend to do weird things with their arms. One of the hardest things about this turn for a dancer is “spotting”. Spotting is when your eyes and head focus on one point in front of you. While turning you want to keep your eyes and head on this point for as long as possible. Since we are not owls, there comes a point where you have to look away, and that is where the concept of “snapping the head” comes in to play. A split second is all you have to regain that focus, and this is what makes a successful turn. And it is absolutely necessary to spot correctly if a dancer is ever going to complete a double, triple, or even quadruple turn. Your eyes can’t look at anything else except that point, or else you will lose focus and get dizzy, and therefore lost your balance.
All of my students can now execute a single pirouette, and correctly for the most part. However, their hormones and their bodies fight me in making corrections. It’s been a hard year with them, and I only hope that they appreciate what I’ve done. See, they really do like me. They love the fact that I’m young and they can talk to me about their boyfriend, or failing that test in school. And they like how I choose good costumes because I know what they like. But sometimes this lack of an age-gap can work against a young teacher. It’s very hard to define a line of authority, so instead of trying to something like that, I try to reinforce the idea of simple respect for one another, and get across to them that we are all working toward the same goal; improvement in dance, and a clean and rehearsed performance. I do have faith in them, and really the proof is in the pudding. Dress rehearsal is this weekend, so we’ll see how it goes.
In other news:
Ari is in Guatemala building a security fence around a local school…I miss you Ari! Read her pre-trip thoughts at Stubborn Lion.
My cousin owns a tanning salon. Last week in exchange for computational technical assistance, I got a free tan as compensation. Fine by me! He swears by the benefits of healthy tanning, and some agree. Sun is life! (and sometimes death).
This week was like grease going down the kitchen sink; slow, a few blockages, but eventually the sink was empty and I was just rinsing away the remnants. But we all know that grease is good, which is why I ate a hamburger, fries and onion rings at Bickford’s last night. A good friend of a friend passed away this week. I met him a few times back while I was visiting my old boyfriend at Umass. Since then, haven’t seen him but have heard through the grapevine that he was living with some old friends in Somerville, and was using heroin pretty heavily. He OD’d on Monday night. It’s not the type thing that I’m very affected by, but my heart goes out to my my old friends who I know had stayed close with him. He died in their apartment in the middle of the night while the rest of them were sleeping. I’m blessed to have never lost a friend at a young age, and I can only imagine it’s a very real and scary thing to have a friend who is young and asking for trouble pass away in such a way. It’s got to be grating on the mind to feel like you could have done something. I remember this book I read a few years ago, by Chuck Palahniuk in which he said, “All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.”
Dismal thoughts, but in a way exhilirating and true. I risk judgement from god right now, but dare I say that my life is anything but boring at the moment. I’m in transition mode, and getting geared up to work for a temp agency that only places jobs at Harvard. I’m looking forward to satisfying my job ADD disorder, and bouncing around for a while from academic sectors in the heart of Cambridge. I should be receiving some information in the mail soon too about some graduate programs having do with some fields in therapy - I’m exploring physical, occupational, and expressive therapy at the moment.
Expressive Therapy is a form of treatment that essentially assumes that humans are naturally creative beings. The philosophy integrated dance, music, art, and even theatre in to treatment programs for more of a mental health angle. It’s much more rooted in the mental health field than the physical and the therapists generally work with psychiatric hospitals, community mental health centers, adult day treatment programs, schools, and clinics that provide treatment for specific groups of people such as families or those with addictions.
My primary interest does life in the physical and occupational therapy field, but this is something to think about. One thing that I’ve always tried to relate to my students about is the usage of dance as a way to “get away” from everything. Especially working with teenagers, I’ve had many break-downs in the dance studio. This might be because they come to dance after breaking up with a boyfriend, or losing a loved one, or super-stressful stuff going on in school or with their family. Being a dance teacher has presented itself with much more than the basic structures of choreography. I am the type of teacher who gets close with my students, we talk before and after class usually, and in a lot of ways I think this has aided in my ability to properly form my classes to fit personalities and moods.
When I was a teenager, I was going through the usual angst that teenagers go through. Rebellion if you will. Boyfriends, failing tests, studying, not sleeping, fighting with parents, didn’t we all? I remember so distinctly that when I went to my dance classes, I would really feel this sense of healing. It is somewhat chemically based, as movement and excercise releases adrenaline and endorphins in the body and brain, but anything chemical translates in to something emotional. Being human, we have the ability to take the structure of a chemical and form in to a cohesive definition. This can lead to abstractions at times, but when you really learn to understand it and become in tune with your emotions (brain juices), you can learn how to rationally deal with things. Being at dance and feeling the healing was not an active reaction to bad times in my life, it just happened so naturally. Being connected to this feeling, I think that I could really relate to the field of expressive therapy and it’s definitely worth exploring.
So last night I was chilling in the living room, working on the machine, doing laundry, watching TV, a fine time indeed! I was watching an episode of The Cosby Show in which Alvin and Sandra come back from their honeymoon, and alvin asked Mr. and Mrs. Hucstable if he can call them Mom & Dad. It kind of hit me that it’s a weird thing that spouses have this tradition of calling their in-laws by the Mom & Dad title. Like there is this sibling-connotation to two people getting married or something. I couldn’t help but try to quench my curiousity by looking on the internet for theories relation marriage to siblingry. It turned up nothing, really nothing, I even tried changing my search phrases several times. Funny little idea though, if you ask me.
I got my new resume & portfolio site running. Cbear, the root. Bugs? Do tell.
I read a fun article on A-List Apart. The promise of porn…
I read a review on a book about the words we use in the English language. His name was Richard, I can’t remember anything else. Hmm….good use of words Richard, they really stuck!
Mainly, I wish NPR had Boston offices so I could work for a radio station that’s super awe.so.me. Podcasts are the craze. They be some Chinese cast-pods coming in to Cambridge Wed. night, I heard from the 3rd arm.
Last night I went to Hillel for Shabbat services (Shabbas? I’ve heard it be called that too, I wonder if there is a difference). Despite my first Passover Seder last year, my constant questioning of Ari regarding Judaism, and my plunge in to the fascinating world of the JCC and the Israeli munchkins, I had never been to a Shabbat service. Now I know what I’ve been missing.
Not only does Ari work at Hillel (and she in charge of chair-running on Friday nights), but last night she gave the sermon, called the D’var Torah. It was a service to recognize Purim, and as Ari put it, “the ultimate Jewish coming out party.” Her sermon was about why it is important to her and to the world in general to express who you are, and what it means to be gay and Jewish.
Purim is the story of a heroine, a powerful king, the building of a new temple, and how the Jews were not destroyed through the courage of Queen Esther. The King’s prime minister, Haman is a huge jerk and he convinces the King to issue an edict under which all the Jews in the land will be killed. Little does the King know that Esther is a Jew, the cousin of Mordechai.
Esther appears before the King without being summoned by him (which is an act punishable by death in itself!) and reveals her own Jewish identity to the King and recounts Haman’s evil plans. The King is outraged at Haman, and he issues a decree to make Haman the victim of his own infamous plot. Haman and his sons are killed, and the Jews are saved. Phew!
Ari’s D’var Torah was fantastic, and I think her ability to speak in lamens terms while still driving home some essential life lessons is what made it so fantastic. The lesson in the story itself is one of great courage, and the parallels that she drew to living an openly gay life were only natural. So, aside from this great event, what really hit me during the service were the songs, the music, and the Hebrew language.
I love singing, so naturally I wanted to take part in the folky renditions of Jewish prayer. But despite my ability to follow the Hebrew words (written in the english alphabet), I felt a need to understand what I was singing. Luckily, there were English translations under each of the prayers. Sometimes I followed the English, and didn’t sing but other times I just read through the English and then sang in Hebrew, so I had some idea of what I was actually saying.
For a long time I’ve tried to understand why I was so deterred from the Catholic faith and felt such a strong pull to participate in Jewish tradition. I know that a lot of has to do with the more cultural connotations of Judaism. There is less blind faith it seems, and also a more positive and progressive tone to the beliefs as a whole. When I made the decision to not attend Catholic masses with my family anymore (still attending the holidays, out of respect for my loved ones), it was in fact because of cultural differences. The Catholic faith has beautiful undertones in some places, namely the Bible and the stories that it recounts. The story of struggle, sacrifice, and survival is a beautiful thing in any right. But the cultural associations that the church connects itself to are just not my cup of tea; abortion, homosexuality, Heaven and Hell, and this emphatic obsession with sinning. These are not beliefs that I can connect myself to, or even say that I can agree with in any form.
But last night at services, I started feeling really emotional during the mourning prayer. This was in part because I was thinking of the loved ones in my family who have passed away, and prayed for them during the prayer. But it was also this strange religious experience in which I felt connected to the words that we were saying. Without being presumptuous, I thought that there were many similarities in the prayers to the ones that I recited for many years in church. Thanking God for what we have, asking him to provide us with peace, life, and solace. I suppose these are the base factors in many religions that so many humans connect to. So, what is the difference?
Well, yes there are many technical differences in the actual belief system but for me the difference came in a simpler form. This understanding was only reinforced when Rabbi Jeff Summit sat at our table during dinner and talked about the belief that words don’t have a lot of meaning unless they are accompanied by a tune or even by music. I’ll never forget the first anxiety attack I had in church. I was 12 years old and the mass was well underway. We were getting ready to receive communion. I don’t recall the exact lines anymore, but there is a point during this prayer service when the Priest does a Q & A with the church-goers. He says something to degree of “Let us give him thanks and praise.” The audience responds, “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” This continues for a couple more lines, with this robotic response. One that day in church, it was almost as if I stepped outside of myself. I heard these words as I had never heard them before and I got too weirded out. Then when everyone started to recite the “Our Father”, I just lost it. I felt like I was in a cult, and it was soon after that that I told my parents that I just can’t go to church anymore.
At services last night, it was the harmony that really got inside of me. Not just the harmony of the congregation singing, but the harmony in the words, the exotic sounds of the Hebrew language, and the eye contact that took place during much of the service. I felt it, and it felt so good. Here is a song brought to my attention from a certain Rabbi who traveled to Uganda to learn, listen, and record the beautiful prayers of the Ugandan Jews. They are called, Abuyadaba.
My favorite part about having a blog is being able to read the minds of others. A glimpse in to what the pitter-patter of fingertips are yearning for. What information does your heart ache for? See, there is too much information about robots on the internet, so despite me frequent mention of robots, my love of the idea of humanoids, and my attempt at sarcasm regarding the invasion of said robots, I am never pinged by such inquiries. Instead I receive things like “brother sister wear leotards” and “krump dancing clips” and more often than not, somebody is looking for the “definition of pas de bouree.” But what is the one things I learned today? Perhaps it applies to this (healthy?) obsession with my keywords used on search engines. Well, it’s a lesson that proved itself, and then exposed itself in the rawest form!
I met with the cultural arts director at the JCC this afternoon. See, I’ve had this mom begging me to start teaching a Mother/Daughter Tap class. But she doesn’t know about all of the red tape at the JCC. She actually asked me if I could just charge her and the other mothers who were interested under the table! No no no, I’m not going to rip off the JCC! I get access to their gym, and this spring I am taking a clay pottery class for free. Perks are perks, not worth the risk.
So I went to see the Majestic Silka after my ballet class with the name and phone # of the woman. I also made a crack, something like, “Yeah, well make sure you have a while, cause she’ll talk your ear off.” Well, this sent Silka in to a diatribe of the difference between us in age and life. “No, Christina, see this is why I am 50 and you are 20-something…” Her final words of advice, “You don’t need to please everybody!”
Her trick of the trade is to make a phonecall, and upon the other person answering to say, “I’m sorry to be rude, but I have a meeting in a few minutes. I just wanted to return your call and talk to you about [state your purpose!]. Well, Silka didn’t have a meeting today and we ended up in talking about the future and Judiasm in her office for about 45 minutes. On my way out she told me that before I had come in to see her, she had written me back from the email I sent her last night. She said, just ignore it since we already talked.
Hah! Ignore an email? No, in fact I read nearly every email at least 3 times before it’s considered “read” in my book. So, I checked me email from Queen Silka. It opens….
quick note - off to meetings!
A dear Silka how could you betray me?! How you could reveal your secrets to my face, and then use them against me in an email? As if I could possibly keep you for an extended period of time when you are writing an email to me from your own personal space!