Sunday, June 26, 2011

Barre Work

My history with ballet is messy.

Basically, I hate it. And I hate it because I don't have any real training in it. I don't know the language they use, and, therefore I don't know many of the steps or movements.

And yet, every few years, I end up trying it again. Because it's good for me. Because it forces my body to do things I otherwise never ask it to do, and because it improves my balance, lengthens my muscles and helps me spatially.

I leave ballet class knowing my body better and understanding its kinetics and how small adjustments make big improvements in power, strength and stability.

So ages ago I bought a Groupon for three adult ballet and/or hip hop classes at the Cincinnati Ballet.

Usually I take Rhythm and Motion at the Ballet (did anyone else see the class doing a little flash mob at the Hyde Park Blast party last night? It was phenomenal and spirited as always), and I love it there - the big studios with walls of mirrors and dancers of all types. It's walking onto the set the of Fame, and I am definitely going to live forever.

After months and months of sitting on the Groupon, I finally decided Saturday morning I would face the barre for my yearly ritual of reminding myself why I hate ballet. I was prepared to leave scowling and spend the rest of my Groupon on hip-hop classes, where I could break it down all America's Best Dance Crew style and randomly shout "WHAT! WHAT!" during class.

Saturday morning I pulled on my pale pink footless tights, black booty dance shorts, a purple tank top and a white off-the-shoulder dance shirt.

Look, I might nearly twist my ankle off in a pirouette and arabesque with the crepitude of a granny, but damn it, I will look the part. (I also might have looked the part of a tween girl attending a Go Go's concert in 1982… My lips are sealed.)

The instructor was Cincinnati Ballet soloist Dawn Kelly. I would be learning from a master of the craft.

Dawn is lithe and unassuming, but do not be fooled. She commands the room, even sitting down.

Her instructions were quick and direct, teaching us the way she was surely taught - absolute and with conviction.


Though we were mostly amateurs (although some of the dancers were really very talented ballerinas who I had no business sharing a ballet barre with), she didn't indulge our inexperience. We had to rise to her level of instruction. If we failed, so what.

'I know you don't want to do this,' she said of a particular combination, 'but I cannot help you with that.'

I giggled at the Zen quality of her statement. Technique she could help us with. For desire, we were on our own.

As she told us the count for the barre work she clapped the rhythm and said, 'It's on the-one. And a-one, and a-two… and a-one, this is FUN.'

Her dryness was hilarious.

When we were pirouetting at the barre (more like spinning out of control), she covered her eyes with her hands and cringed.

A room full of wannabes was slaughtering the craft she's spent her career perfecting, probably best to not watch.

We cracked up as she hid her face.

Obviously, the class appreciated and adored her. And there were more than a few regulars. She was thoughtful and disciplined in her teaching, and I left with a little more understanding of what I find to be a lovely if strict art form.

What I appreciated most is that she didn't embarrass me. Many times when I take classes in things I am bad at - ballet, yoga, really anything that requires my nerve damaged feet to balance or hold my body weight on one side - the instructor tends to single me out for correction.

It makes sense but it gets embarrassing, and I'm not there to become a master of these things. I'm there to have fun and try it out and maybe learn something. And it's hard to explain covered in sweat and shame that, Look, lady, unless you can repair the dead nerves in my legs then your correction will NEVER work.

But Dawn didn't single us out. She took our varying skill levels under consideration, corrected where she saw fit, and left us to enjoy the experience.

She was terrific. And I can't wait to go back.

I have decided to get a DVD of basic ballet so that I can practice and totally WOW the class with my almost-mediocrity in the next few weeks.

Dawn is going to be so proud of my progress.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Girl Walks Into A Bar

Recently, I've noticed a lot fools talking about going to "pubs."

Please, for the love of God, stop it.

Sometimes they're nice, sometimes they're dumps. But regardless, they're bars.

You're allowed to call it "a pub" only if that is the proper name, such as The Pub at Rookwood or Cock & Bull English Pub.

But come on, who are they kidding. They're bars too.

If you want to argue this bar vs. pub point please meet me at my favorite dive bar, City View Tavern, where you can buy me drinks until I'm convinced otherwise.

If there is any confusion when you get back from the jukebox, the fuller beer is mine.

Monday, June 20, 2011

China Can Go To Hell


Didn't you guys notice I was being miserable?!


Gina, you're so awesome… why all this discontent and drear?

Why, thank you. And thank you for asking. I appreciate that.

Blah. I'm bored.

Currently I am drowning my sorrows in a Pizza Rolls, which I will regret eating immediately after eating them, only adding to my misery.

Misery loves Pizza Rolls.

It's just me and the Roomba this week, you guys. And the cats. Ray is in China. For like, a month. A month.

Ok, it's not actually a month. It's more like a week, but still. BORING.

Anybody want to go to the pool with me this weekend? What about walk with me to Graeter's? More importantly, who wants to cook me dinner to prevent me from eating my body weight in frozen foods every night.

*anybody? anybody?

Hopefully I will channel this energy into grocery shopping and reading. But this is highly unlikely as I'm more prone to lethargy and watching Real Housewives re-runs.

As far as I can tell right now the highlights of my week will be:

• brushing the cats (and having them shred me)
• eating free food at the Reds/Yankees game tonight (I hope there are nachos)
• watching the Roomba (ok fine, I follow it from room to room)
• drowning my boredom in cheap red wine (what else is new)

The last time Ray went on a trip for a week I bought an iPad. The time before that I bought a fancy chair. And another time I got tipsy at Wine Guy Bistro, called him on his way back from St. Louis and told him if he didn't drive directly to my house I was going to take the battery out of my smoke alarm.

Take that, I warned.

Look for me this week wandering around the aisles of Target. One minute you're buying pet clothes for your Roomba and the next you're all, "Ooh, an Easy Bake Oven!"

Ray's gonna be so stoked when he gets back and discovers I've become the Ace of Cakes, Easy Bake Oven style. Plus, I'm gonna need to make desserts for our new baby. He promised to bring me back a present... which can only mean one thing, a cute Asian baby!

And don't even tell me babies don't love baked goods because that's a lie.

I am a danger to society.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy 3 a.m. breast feeding, Amanda!

Please enjoy this out-of-context snapshot of things people have texted/said/emailed to me recently.

• Like ALL of them. HILLBILLIES. Really, who wears those sweat pants anymore? Can you even buy them at a store anymore?

• (Redacted) and (Redacted) were always sitting around getting drunk and self-medicating, probably so they could tolerate one another. After a few drinks I tolerated them better myself too, that's for sure.
• I am dressed like Luke Skywalker today.

• Going to go take a pic of my underpants... stay tuned.
Why not? I've already seen a pic of u on the toilet. Let's go there.

• So for now that has meant making my own fun... like making my own pipe cleaner people and have them go on adventures. It's like TV, only waaaaaaayy more intense.

• It's like putting together one of those photomosaic puzzles, which is to say it's like being in hell. ...And what's wrong with Atlanta? Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles, bitches!

• I just found out that I might have to go to China. I'll certainly bring you something back - maybe a cute Asian baby.

• Let me get this straight, you think God is out to get you, and is just effing with you, by you losing those files?

• Just hold off disassembling your airbag 'til Sunday so we can hang out.

• Did you sign Jared up for Black Enterprise magazine? 

• Oh my god, you think a dolphin would be able to push the button better than a lion? You're crazy. The maintenance involved in keeping a dolphin would be a way worse than a lion. And you're supposed to be the smart one here.

• I think we're a better couple in the warmer weather.  Perhaps in November we should just hibernate until we're able to walk to Yagoot again in the spring.

• Remind me to tell you the story of my delicate little system being wrecked. Let's just say you can't eat a half box of Raisin Bran without repercussions.

• I know you're going through a divorce and your entire personal life is in the crapper, but let's talk about your personal watercraft...  can I borrow your Jet Ski?

• You don't know who Malvina is?! She's better than that Lady Goo Goo!

• There's something about you that makes me think about murder.

• Let Gina know her blog gets me through the 3 a.m. breast feeding. <-- thanks, Amanda.

Happy hump day everybody.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Let Us Commence

*clears throat

To the class of 2011... Everything I would say to you has already been said better by smarter, funnier people with richer life experiences. Let me guide you.

Steve Jobs 2005 commencement address to Stanford is an incredible speech. Funny, inspiring, heartfelt, and he makes a helluva case that getting fired from his own company was actually… awesome.

Set backs. What setbacks?

You have have to trust that dots will somehow connect in your future… because believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path.


Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.


Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Do you yourself a Big Favor and watch this speech. Or read the full text.

Comedian Amy Poehler to the Harvard class of 2011.

You can't do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life.

God, Allah, Buddha, Gaga... whomever you pray to. They have helped you get here, and that should make you feel less alone and less scared.

The woman has swagger. And you can't teach that, my friends.

And finally, writer Annie Lamott.

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.

Read the speech, it's spectacular.

As for me... For you students considering publishing, writing, art, performance, I would advise you to work with the human genome instead. Waaaay easier.

Just kidding. See Jobs, Lamott speeches again. Otherwise, trust in Gaga.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Who's In?!

It's gonna be a WHITE HOTT Friday night, you guys.

Breakin' The Law! (And Planting Flowers)

"We felt like total badasses."