... dance, fitness, food, health, life...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Friday Friday!!

I only worked three days this week, but boy am I glad it's Friday! Can't wait to see friends tonight that I haven't seen in a month, hang out with my mom up in the mountains tomorrow, and get down with my bad self at hip hop Sunday afternoon. I kick my weekend off tonight with a little barbecue, followed by a little swing dancing. Good stuff.

Happy weekend!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Telling the ants in my pants to chill out

I started a post this afternoon talking about how restless I am now that I'm back to sitting at my 9 to 5, and then I've just been plopping myself on the couch when I get home and watch SYTYCD. I had a whole list of gripes and explanations for my gripes, but as I drove from work to meet a friend downtown for her birthday, I decided to scrap the whole thing. Sure, I'm itchin' to move and can barely sit at work all day without getting a tick, but you know what? I have much more to be grateful for than to bitch about...

Number 1, I just returned from one of the most amazing growing experiences of my life. I got to dance almost everyday, learn new techniques and skills, polish the skills I already had, make new friends, network with an amazing dance company (um, hello, potential future employer?!), work with renowned choreographers... I got a glimpse into the real, professional dance world, and know now that I can hang once I get out there... I learned that I'm much stronger and worlds more capable than I ever gave myself credit to be... I now know that I really can push through the pain, physical, emotional, you name it... I learned to stop comparing myself to others and to dance my own body... I learned that "can't" is a word teachers and choreographers won't hear and they expect you to just do it, no excuses... I reaffirmed that I am so on the right life path, no matter what the doubters and haters say...

Secondly, I made it home safe and sound. I have a job to come back to, one that is uber-flexible with my hella crazy dance schedule and pays pretty damn well for a student hourly position. I now have the opportunity to give my body the down time and recuperation that it needs (I'm doing the ice/heat/ice thing for my ankles and feet as I type) before I jump into my next dance projects. Not allowing the time to heal invites more serious injury to come right on in... not good for my future career.

The last time I danced was last Saturday night. With each passing day this week I've felt more and more guilty for sitting around all day and then sitting on the couch at night. Plus, I've been eating out of boredom. Ugh. I believe I used the words "fat and lazy" in my description to a friend about how I'm feeling and my fears that my hard-earned toned bod is turning into a mushy blob. In so many words, he told me I'm silly. He's right. Since it still hurts a little to walk (the ankle) and I still can't wear certain sandals because they hurt my feet, I think I'm allowed a little time off. I just need to cut myself some slack and let myself b-r-e-a-t-h-e.... I go back to hip hop on Sunday, so I will get back to business soon enough.

This might sound crazy, but I feel like a new woman. My experience in Chicago was transformational. Maybe this sounds all deep and philosophical and teetering on the border of crazy to some of you, but I'm serious, I don't feel the same as I did before I left. I feel like priorities have shifted, attitudes, beliefs... something inside me has seriously shifted. I wish I could better articulate what I mean and what I feel, but that's all I can give you right now.

And to think my trip to Chicago almost didn't happen... wow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Honeys, I'm home!

Travel and adventures are fun, exciting and enlightening, but nothing beats the feeling of walking through your own front door!

I made it back to Colorado safe and sound. I'm quite happy to be here... and tired. Good lord, I didn't expect to be so tired. It's only 8:00 pm and I could go to bed right now. I slept plenty last night, and the time different between here and Chicago is only an hour... but I guess travel is more work than I think - especially when lugging around a 50-pound suitcase... plus an over-stuffed carry-on, plus a purse...!! Um, yeah, the whole "not over packing" thing didn't quite work out. Next time.

My roommate moved out while I was gone (sad!!), but she left me lots of food, so I don't have to go to the grocery store (score!). I have gas in my car, so I don't have to go do that. I don't have any cash to do laundry, so that has to wait (not that I have energy for that, anyway, so no tears about that). When I went through my stack of mail, the August issue of Glamour magazine was waiting for me (double score!), so I'm going to kick it on the couch for a couple hours with my mag, fighting off sleep until a reasonable time.

I have more reflective thoughts brewing about my overall experience in Chi-town, but I'm too tired to organize them right now... off to the couch with me and my magazine!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: and that's a wrap

That's it. All done. No more. It's finished.

My four week summer dance intensive is officially over. I'm relieved, sad, proud, happy, restless, satisfied, ready for the next chapter, ready for the next level... so many emotions at once.

Today was emotional overall. We met at the studio early this afternoon to have what they call a "continuum", which is really a meeting for everyone to talk about what's going on, how we've been feeling, things to bitch about, all that. We did one in the very beginning, we did one in the middle and we had our final continuum today. Today we discussed the goals we set at the first continuum, whether we've reached them, exceeded them, changed them along the way... it was good stuff. Some of us cried (me included of course - I'm a crier), we laughed... it was one big happy family.

And speaking of, that's something that I've really loved about this group. I LOVED the sense of community with this group. There were different ages, different skill levels and different walks of life at this intensive, but no one ever acted holier than thou, cliquey, or too good to talk to you or encourage you. Completely opposite of CSU. And sadly, from what people have told me, it's like that at many dance studios and departments. But that's another discussion for another time...

It's surreal that the intensive is done, after all the bruises, sweat and tears. It feels like I've been here for much longer than four weeks. Come Monday, it will feel like I should pack my dance bag with my leotards, tights, bandaids, snacks and gatorade, ready to hop on the train to downtown, but I will be playing tourist instead. One isn't better than the other, it will just be another shift in gear.


It will be good to relax and have some down time with some of my new friends before we all leave Chicago. It will be good to let my body recover. In fact, I really kind of need it... I'm nursing a messed up ankle, a swollen foot, and bruised up feet and knees and elbows... so it will be good to kick back for a couple days and have that drink I've been waiting for and let my bruised, swollen body parts heal. [And then I can get back to work!]


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: you are stronger than you think you are

This is the fourth and final week of the intensive and my time in Chicago! I would be lying if I said I was sad about it - I'm freakin' excited!!

I started the week with the attitude that I was on the downhill side of things and I could relax. BIG mistake. The week has turned out to be like climbing a very tall mountain - you're almost to the summit, so you think the last hundred yards will be a walk in the park, but suddenly the normal path with a gradual elevation gain you've been climbing turns into an almost-vertical boulder field that you must scramble up. Oh goody. You look up at it feeling discouraged and like the mountain won. That's been my week.

I thought I was past feeling beat up and inadequate after the first week, but this week brought on another round of serious self-doubt. Sure, Aunt Flo's presence probably had something to do with my lack of thick skin, but I know she was not the only culprit. Monday night we did a run-through of the show and it wasn't so hot - the big boss man was there, meaning the artistic director of Deeply Rooted... I will just say that this man's presence is awe-inspiring and intimidating and humbling and stress-inducing all at once. He's very tall, he's big and muscular, he's very talented, and he has no qualms of screaming at you if something is even slightly amiss. We were all completely on edge. Tuesday night the entire ensemble rehearsed the final piece in the show, called "Heaven", and the big boss man was in charge of this rehearsal. You could hear everyone's nerves buzzing in that studio. There were multiple reprimands and stopping and re-starting. I was so stressed that I would mess up that I did mess up, a lot. Getting kicked in the head was just the icing on the cake.

Yesterday morning I had a total emotional break down. I just cried and cried and cried... oh, it was one of those fall-to-your-knees-and-put-your-head-on-the-floor kind of cries, no holding back. I felt like I couldn't do this anymore, that I'm not strong enough, that maybe I should reconsider a career in the performing arts. I entertained thoughts of just packing up and heading home. I thought about just focusing on next Tuesday, when I get to go home, numbly going through the motions in these last rehearsals and in the show to make it through. I thought about using getting kicked in the head as an excuse as to why I wasn't working as hard anymore. I felt like shutting down, totally giving up and walking away. Whatever excuse there was, I pondered it.

But then I thought, if I give up, then what?? If I give up just because it's hard and because I'm not sure I have the energy to do it anymore and because I don't think I have the strength to push through to the other side, then am I not just settling for a life of mediocrity?

The answer is YES.

Why live like that????

I'm serious, y'all. Why live like that?? I encourage all of you to peel away the layers upon layers of excuses and doubts and fears and lies you tell yourself as to why you can't do something, accomplish something, pursue something, become something. The peeling process is going to hurt. It's going to hurt badly and it's going to be scary as hell. Trust me, I've been living it for the past three and half weeks, and I have a feeling that it's not over yet for me... But YOU ARE WORTH IT. I am worth it! I would say that a lot of what holds us back in life is nothing other than ourselves.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: Cupcake Heaven

My one-day weekend has finally arrived! [Insert huge sigh of relief.] The last couple nights of rehearsals have been quite good - I've felt strong (finally), I'm getting moves down that were quite daunting at first (finally), and I'm starting to actually perform rather than frantically trying to remember what move comes next (finally!).

Today was different, though... the day felt so long and I was so tired. I just wanted to lay down on the studio floor and zonk out. I don't know if I didn't eat enough today or sleep well last night or if it's because Aunt Flo is due to arrive early next week [insert huge glare], and really it's probably all of the above. I just had zero get-up-and-go today. And that made class and rehearsal HARD.

But I did it, and the last run-through we did in rehearsal was our best yet, so obviously I found some kind of magical burst of energy somewhere deep down to make it through. Maybe it helped knowing that I had a little reward waiting for me after rehearsal - a cupcake!

Yes, yes, I know that sounds lame. But if you've never had a gourmet cupcake, you need to hunt down the closest cupcakery and indulge yourself.

I'm all about these little cupcakeries that are all the rage right now. Seriously. A gourmet cupcake is all a girl needs sometimes. One of the other dancers mentioned this place called Molly's Cupcakes in the neighborhood she's staying in, so she and I made a cupcake date for tonight since we were getting out of rehearsal early (as in 10:00 pm, which is hella early!). She's raved how amazing these cupcakes are, tantalizing me with flavors like chocolate raspberry with fresh raspberry filling, chocolate buttercream frosting and fresh raspberries on top. I had my heart set on my fave, red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I've been thinking about it for days now...

We get there, and something more exotic in the display case distracts me from the red velvet standard - a white cupcake with blueberry and raspberry puree filling, topped with blueberry buttercream frosting, topped with fresh blueberries and raspberries. And let me tell you what, it was ecstatic from the first bite to the last lick of my fork. It was the best cupcake of my life! The cake was moist, the berries were fresh and the frosting was PERFECT. Frosting is what makes or breaks a cake, in my opinion. I know I'm a sugar monger, but frosting that is too heavy and sugary is gross. And sadly, even though I do love the cupcakery at home, their frosting is not the best. In fact, I'll admit that most of the time I'm disappointed by it and think it's just too much. But the frosting on the cupcake from Molly's was ON POINT. It was the most perfect buttercream frosting I've ever tasted - light, creamy, smooth, almost like fresh homemade whipped cream, flavored with real berries. It was heaven on a cupcake.

{THAT, my friends, was my little cupcake of goodness this evening}

I will visit again for another indulgence before I leave Chicago.

And I'm very happy to report that I have social plans tomorrow! I refuse to spend another day holed up in the apartment like a zombie. I have one week left in Chi-town. Yes, I'll probably be sore and tired, but I'll just pop some ibuprofen and down the coffee and be on my way. I will go to the studio for a short time to make phone calls to sell tickets for our show next weekend. I'm going to (hopefully) take a boat tour of the city coastline on Lake Michigan, and if it works out, I might head to my friend's apartment (the same gal who introduced me to Molly's Cupcakes) and we will cook us some dinner. I see a glass of much-wanted wine in my immediate future...

Happy weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: Slurpee Summer

I don't remember when I last had a slurpee from 7-Eleven... childhood, maybe teenager-hood. I never really visit 7-Eleven, so slurpees were a distant memory. Plus, the extreme sugar content and weirdo colors (hello chemicals!) kind have put me off as I've acquired healthier eating habits as I get older (with the exception of my candy addiction, but that's different... right??). Since I've been here, though, all I've wanted after classes and rehearsals are slurpees! Cold, sugary and deeeeee-lish after a serious 6-hour sweat session. And wouldn't you know it? There is a 7-Eleven right by the studio - perfect! I shall indulge in yet another pina colada slurpee tonight, mmmm....

In other news...

Thanks to everyone for all your words of encouragement about my homesickness!! It was nice to check my blog and find little bursts of bloggy sunshine to help cheer me up. Hugs all around. And I'm happy to inform you that I'm feeling better. It was nothing special I did, really, just waiting it out. I'm still jonesin' for home and counting the days 'til when I get to go back, but it doesn't reduce me to tears anymore. Thank god, that sucked.

And even though I still have another day of class and rehearsal for the week, I always love the feeling that Friday brings. Happy Friday bloggy buddies!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: Homesick

It's official: I'm homesick.

I miss my apartment, my bathroom, my kitchen, my bed. I miss the mountains. I miss the Colorado sun and the intense heat their getting right now. I miss my friends, my family, my coworkers. I miss my bike. I miss my car. I miss So You Think You Can Dance.

I know I'm being a whiner... I've tried staying positive, I've tried to remind myself of the good things - I'm learning a ton, I'm getting AWESOME experience, and I'm getting a glimpse into what life is really like for a working dancer, something I wouldn't be getting if I wasn't doing this intensive - but my frustrations are real, and it wouldn't be fair to myself to pretend that they're not there. And pretending everything is just dandy when it's really not is exhausting. I'm too tired from the intensive to exert what little I have left into pretending!

I'm lonely, too, which doesn't help matters. My friend D's schedule is opposite of mine, so we don't really see each other during the week. And he has his own life - it's not his job to entertain me on the weekends. The friends I'm making at the intensive are scattered all over the city, so it's not easy meeting up with them, plus they have their own things going on, too. We only get one day off (Sunday), so we're all very particular about how we spend our time off.

I've been crying at night when I go to bed. I feel stuck between the homesick loneliness and feeling ashamed and guilty about feeling that way. And I'm disappointed by how little of Chicago I'm getting to see - in a weird way it makes me feel like I'm not doing anything, even though I'm working my ass off at the intensive. My daily schedule is usually this: I get up around 10 (that's an early day), eat, shower, go get coffee, dork around on the Internet as I try to wake up, try to move around to ease the soreness, eat some more, get ready for the night's classes and rehearsals, and then head to the studio... come home around 12:30 am, eat, shower, unwind so I can sleep, collapse into bed, and repeat. I thought I would sight see all over Chicago, getting to know the city, and maybe work a small part time job during the day, but because I'm not doing either, I feel lazy. Enter more guilt.

When my BFF drove me to the airport two weeks ago, she told me this would happen. She warned me to be prepared to go through some culture shock. I anticipated it, too, at least a little bit. When I sent her an email this morning sharing my woes with her, she reminded me that even though I'm not doing much more than the intensive, it's still a shock to be taken out of my home element and all that's familiar there - my daily routine, home itself, my friends and family, etc.

She also told me in her email that the emotions surrounding homesickness and culture shock are normal and nothing to feel guilty about. It's nothing I did, nothing I can control, and it's a normal part of the process of being plucked from my home environment. Okay. I feel like I need a way to recenter myself when I start feeling the loneliness creep in. I need to see familiar faces or hear their voices or something... I need to connect with people. I'm too social to fly solo for too long. I need someone to share my little daily adventures, mishaps and triumphs with!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: Things I Miss at Home

After wearing my last clean pair of underwear yesterday and going commando at dance the last couple nights (you'd never know under my tights and leotard *wink wink*), I decided this morning when finally dragging my sore booty out of bed that I absolutely could not avoid laundry any longer.

D has a laundry room on site in his building, which is convenient so I don't have to lug my duds around town. That would kind of be a pain because I line dry a lot of my clothes, and lugging around a heavy, wet bag of clothes doesn't sound too fun.

I've been a little wary of the laundry facilities, though, which is why it took my so long to finally do laundry... When D told me that there's a laundry room here, he disclaimed that it creeps him out big time. If the laundry room gives my burly, manly friend with an entomology degree (the study of bugs and spiders, gross!) the creeps, what am I going to think of it??

Um, horror movie was the first thing that came to mind when I stepped foot in the laundry dungeon. It's in the basement and you enter through a creaky screen door from the courtyard in the back of the apartment building. It's dark, dirty, dusty - not exactly what comes to mind when clean clothes are the desired outcome - and the perfect place for some crazed idiot with a hockey mask and a chainsaw to wait for his victims. I don't want to even think about what kind of creepy crawlies live down there.

I moved as fast as I could, making sure not to touch anything more than the buttons on the washing machine. I wouldn't even set my laundry bag on the floor. When I returned to save my undies, socks and tees from the dungeon, I was thrilled to discover that the machine didn't even rinse and drain correctly. Awesome. I wrung out the sudsy clothes that were to be dried in a dryer, and bolted outta there, only to come upstairs and re-rinse my sudsy undies in the tub. Good times.

Oh how I miss the clean, brightly-lit, sunshine-streaming-in-through-the-windows laundry room at my apartment building at home! If I find a laundromat somewhere in the neighborhood nearby, I think I might just suck it up and lug my wet clothes around...

*Uuuggggghhhh*, I still have the heebie jeebies!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures in Chicago: Recap of Week One

Hello my bloggy friends! How I missed you so...

I'm sorry for my disappearance last week. I was so exhausted and sore and in shock over all the information that was being thrown at me that I just didn't have the energy to write updates about my adventures. I would go to class around 5, get home around midnight, eat and shower, get to bed around 1:30, and be completely unable to get out of bed at any reasonable time the next day. When I would finally drag myself out of bed, I would stumble around the apartment like zombie for a few hours, not accomplishing much beyond eating and psyching myself up for another beating, before having to leave for class and start the process all over again. But after a weekend of rest and recharging, I'm starting to feel like a normal human being again!

So yeah, it was a rough first week. I started off very excited about the company and what the four weeks would entail. Then classes started and I got a full-on, merciless, take-no-prisoners dance smack down. In the middle of the first night I wanted to cry and walk out. I kept saying to myself, what the hell am I doing here? I can't do this! I shouldn't be here! The second night was just the same.

I remember one of the teachers asking my class if we were having fun, and I wanted to scream "NO!" That's honestly how I felt, and it made me so, so sad. I wasn't having fun, and I was supposed to be having fun! I had been so excited for this summer adventure because I was banking on having a great time, learning a lot, networking, etc.

Well, the week got better, because I was determined to not let my time here be four weeks of misery. It hit me one night as I wearily rode the train home that I don't want to go back to Colorado and tell everyone that my experience was "just okay". Lame. SO lame. I realized that what I get out of this experience will be what I put into it. Of course that's easier said than done, and it's a process, but at least I'm conscious of this and I'm working on it.

And I sure as hell am learning A LOT... I'm learning that summer intensives are no joke. [I'm not really sure what part of "summer intensive" I overlooked, but this isn't easy breezy summer camp.] I'm learning that in the real dance world, you have to turn your brain on the second you walk into that studio. They give you choreography and expect you to pick it up instantly, with little to no explanation, breaking it down, etc., on their part. If don't get the moves and sequence, you don't get the part. I'm learning that you can't take ANYTHING for granted. Nothing. You can't be lazy, you can't be distracted, you can't be worrying about what the other students might be thinking about you. You can't hold back. You can't get by with doing anything half-assed, thinking it's enough, because they see through all that BS. I'm learning that you can't just regurgitate the movement they give you, but you have to put emotion and feeling behind it for it to be real and believable. I'm learning that impeccable technique and the facility to kick your leg up to your head doesn't mean a damn thing if you are dead and empty onstage. You have to be present in every second. I'm learning that I am babied and sheltered at school and if I'm going to make it in the dance world, I'm going to have to step up my game 200%.

And thus I begin week two. My knee jerk reaction is to be nervous and afraid of another hard week, and to want to dive back under the covers and hide. That's not an option, of course. So here I go.