Monday, January 19, 2009

Today's guest judges...

Last week, J's Aunt was in town from Connecticut, as part of her annual audition tour. She is a choreographer for Nutmeg Conservatory, a ballet school and for the past 3 years has stopped in Rochester to hold auditions at Hochstein and teach at Rochester City Ballet. And for the past 3 years, J and I have been guest judges at the Hochstein auditions.

I've worked for years to understand people, what they want, how they want to hear about it, what makes them happy, frustrated, etc. Observation, as many of the leading edge thinkers point out, is a great way to build up this understanding. I take what I see at the auditions, toss out the fact that I really don't know what a "soda shop" or a "pa de buerre" is (and no, those aren't intended to be the right spellings), and try to get a feel for the students, as students, as dancers. To paint a picture of where they are now and where they might be a few years down the road.

J looked on with a designer's eye, noting the form and line in certain positions.

J's Aunt (Joan) is always thrilled with our input and I'm thrilled to contribute. To have some time to sit, watch, note and have that input valued.

While the auditions can tend to make me feel large and very clunky, as well as slow and clueless about ballet, the up side is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The final books of 2008 and Christmas crafting

Did I get to 50? No, still not there. ALMOST 30, but not quite. It really depends on mood, type of book (I don't weed out the slow ones to improve my count), and the type of intermediary articles and things that crop up. (The system is a bit complicated and very ocd'ish).

So, here they are:
Book #27 (I actually had 2 #20s before, so this is correct) - Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. Nice, light, and simple. A series of 30 vignettes, with interludes, that could totally have occupied Einstein's thoughts as he was honing the theory of relativity. Each vignette looks at one way of relating to time and envisions what life would be like.

Book #28 - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. A horror classic and I can see that. But I want MORE. I wanted more details on the sordid history of the house - maybe somebody should have found a journal or something. I love big old houses - so I wanted more on the house. As it was, I almost drew it because the description of how the house gets you turned around - well, it really turned me around and I was baffled. What were the outbuildings like? *sigh* Still, pretty good.

Book #29 (that's the last one) - Under the Banner of Heaven: A story of violent faith by Jon Krakauer. Fascinating. Depth in areas of Mormon history I had not known - Krakauer even visited Palmyra for the Pageant! I found his style very straightforward. He admits when he is baffled by it all, but still lays it out as the various fundamentalists see it. His analysis of how a faith could spawn such splinter sects was very insightful. I would love to see a postscript that continues the story given recent stories, or just an ongoing commentary.

For Christmas, I did 3 categories of craft projects.
1) Newspaper yarn: (pic not working for some reason)

2) A bag crocheted from plastic bags - Caveat - This deviates from the pattern because it's the first thing I ever crocheted and I used the wrong stitch for the entire thing.

3) Spa stuff! I made lotion bars, herby oatmeal bath soak, and sugar scrub:

Monday, January 05, 2009

My "themes" for 2009

Following the lead of several in my Twitter community (like Chris Brogan), I've shifted my thinking from specific resolutions to a few theme words that should direct most of my thinking and efforts in the new year.

Curious? I've picked 3 themes:

1 - Focus. I'm a multi-tasker with boundless curiosity. Tons of tabs open for posts and pages whose headlines caught my eye. Tons of articles, magazines, and books in my "to read" pile for the same reason. Many projects started and not finished. Happens with hobbies, with work, with housework. With goals like fitness and financials, too. "Focus" as a theme is a deep breath, a bit of zen. Remembering the whole instead of getting caught up in the compulsions around the pieces. It leads to #2 quite well, also.

2 - Calm. Another big breath. I stress. I know that on a semi-regular basis I'll get overwhelmed with all that's going on and how little progress I seem to make. This is my reminder to stop, step away, and melt the tension away before it sweeps me away.

3 - Circle. Not as obvious. I firmly believe (and will post more on my Media Creole blog soon on this) that to get the full benefit of sharing stories, experiences, life, the process needs to be circular. I don't mean that you give with the expectation of getting back in a selfish sense. The "getting back" is in the form of "thank yous", stories told in response, smiles and photos. "Circle" for me, for 2009 is about keeping up my part of the sharing cycle. Being better about my blogs, about keeping in touch with close friends and family, about sharing pics.

So, there you go. I still need to share the last books of 2008 and Christmas crafts - it'll be a flashback of sorts. Here's to a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2009 for all.

Finally, before I go - it was one year ago tonight that my "episode" happened. J's face and voice are graven in my mind. I feel fine now - there's a bit of adjustment to meds when I'm trying new cardio, but that's about it. Bionic pieces have not had to fire. I've only set off store detectors once or twice and no one noticed when I did. But it's still striking and something that makes me pause. Makes me marvel a bit at what I took for granted and focus on what is truly most important. - tears are threatening so that's it. Thanks.