Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I passed!

Hooray! I got a good score. Solid. Not as good as I wanted, but I have pretty high expectations for myself.... I did Reformer, a Mat class and and Arm Weights class, plus some other pieces of equipment.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and well-wishes. Chris was especially great. I came home to flowers, a card and champagne.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Progress Report

I am getting ready for my Intermediate Practical. It will be on Tuesday. I will have to teach someone the intermediate exercises on the Reformer, an intermediate Mat Class, and whatever else they ask me. I feel pretty prepared, but nerves can make a lot of things go wrong. I will post on my way home on Tuesday night to let everyone know how it went.

After this practical, I have my Intermediate Written on Jan 9th. Then I will have to do my Advanced Practical and Written. I hope to be done by March. We shall see how it goes!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Politics

Due to the large volume of anti-Obama emails I have been receiving...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Just a quick post. I love Troy Polamalu, and there's a post on him up over at The Atlantic.

Go check it out!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


For most of the time between now and Election day my blogging will take place at:

Yup, that's right folks. I will be voting for Barack Obama in November. It has taken a lot of soul-searching, researching and questioning, but that's what I have decided. For awhile, I was doing so grudgingly, and at the same time considering not voting at all. But, I now feel pretty strongly about it. For a fairly short version of my story, it's the first post on the new blog. It's much longer than that, but that's not what blogs are for. If you need more info, let me know, I will be more than willing to share.

What I will not be willing to do is: argue, yell, name-call, listen to people doing any of those things. The world is mean and nasty enough without willingly subjecting yourself to it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

City Girl

I think I have officially become a city girl. Well, maybe not, since I live in the 'burbs. And spent some time last weekend on a 4-wheeler in the woods. But I am definitely more citified than I ever imaged.
1. I take public transit everyday.
2. I have a public transit pass...for 2 cities, Philly and NYC.
3. I have taken the New York subway by myself twice now, and both time got on the correct train and ended up where I wanted to be.
4. I walked in Central Park today.
5a. I know that Philly has a Northeast, Northern Libs, Center City (NOT downtown), University City, Old City, Society Hill, West Philly and South Philly.
5b. New York is Uptown, Mid-town, Downtown, and then all the neighborhoods.
6. I don't like places without streetlights at night.
7. I don't carry a purse (and typically not even a wallet), I carry a backpack.
8. I don't think 20 blocks is a long walk. I wouldn't do it every day, but it is totally do-able.
9. I don't wear heels anymore; sneakers are my shoe of choice.
10. I do not think every time I go into the city "I hope I don't get mugged." I'm pretty sure if anyone tried I could run them down, because my giant bag is so heavy. Or they would be very disappointed by my lack of wallet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Frustration or Why I Love the Minute Clinic

I am incredibly frustrated with my body right now. Defeated by it, even.

On June 6, it decided to get strep throat. Annoying, as it was my first week at the Pilates studio. However, I was not totally shocked by this, as strep throat is my disease of choice. Anyone who has lived with me will tell you that. I still remember junior year of college, and Melissa telling everyone I had scarlet fever.....I went to the Minute Clinic, in the CVS in Rosemont. For the record, I recommend this. No waiting at the doctor's office, early hours and weekend hours, all in all more convenient.

Since I liked my first trip there so much, my body decided it would like to go back. Today, please. Thursday I started sneezing a lot, Friday I had a runny nose, yesterday I felt pretty crappy (but we decided to go to the beach, which sounded more fun than the Minute Clinic, nice as they are. Besides, that fresh air should have helped me out, right?). But last night and today, I couldn't do anything. My head hurt so badly, my throat was sore, and I absolutely could not breathe through my nose. I called my doctor's office at 2:30AM, hoping they would just call something in. They said they don't do antibiotic call ins without seeing the patient first, so if I wanted to come in on Monday or Tuesday.... Um, no. Thank you. Chris wouldn't let me go teach this morning, which I got up to do, so I decided to put that time to good use and go get better! Minute Clinic to the rescue!

I had to wait 15 minutes, which compared to your typical doctor's office waiting room time is not bad. I had the same nurse practictioner as the last time. We are now good friends. Hopefully my body can go more than 3 weeks without seeing her again. Other good thing about the Minute Clinic- the pharmacy is right there! So within half an hour, I had a diagnosis (sinus infection), drugs (amoxicillin and Mucinex) and was on my way (to a Fringe rehearsal). Hooray!

The frustration is this- Why is this happening????? I'm supposed to be at my healthiest. I'm eating more than usual, working out, doing something that I love, sleeping, even the occassional nap! But with these 2 infections I feel really defeated. I can't work out as hard as I want to, nothing sounds appetizing. Plus, I am just plain stressed out from being sick- I don't work that much, so I hate missing that money, and I need lots of hours at the Pilates studio, as I am still catching up from the first time I was sick!

There was a radio commercial on when I was young that went "If you're sick and tired of being sick and tired..." (and I can still sing the jingle), and that is how I feel right now. I really can't go through 3 week cycles of this. I don't know if it is my schedule, just the change of seasons, the change of jobs/lifestyle, the anxiety that I am carrying regarding all of it, or what. All I know is, it's got to go!

Help me!

Don't know why I didn't think to post here awhile ago....

I'm choreographing a piece for the Fringe and need some more dancers. Guys especially. Rehearsals are Sundays, 2-4PM at Sherman Mills in East Falls. Performance is September 6th, all day. Let me know if you are interested! And pass this on to anyone who may be interested!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life is Short

My very good friend Kelli lost her mom this week. It was quite a shock. We are not at an age to be dealing with the death of our parents. I'm blessed enough to have all of my grandparents around still, so death is a fairly rare experience for me.

This this episode gave me cause for reflection. And these are my thoughts:

  • It's a cliche, I know, but life really is short. Therefore, you ought to spend your time here on the good stuff. Find what you like and find a way to do it.
  • I spend a lot of time worrying. A lot of time. Worrying. About fairly dumb, or uncontrollable, things. This is a waste of my life. I carry grudges, fight with my husband, I don't see my family more than a dozen days a year. Again, waste.
  • People and your relationships with them are more important than whatever else you have going on- your job, your worries, your schedule, whatever. Take time to let the people who are important to you know that they are important to you. This is hard for me, because I feel like I'm always running between things, but I'm going to try to do it more. I'm also going to try to repair some relationships that aren't so great right now. Grudges and anger are not good ways to spend your life. I would hate for my last interaction with a person in my life be one of anger or bitterness.
  • It is really easy to let relationships slip away- people move, change, just get busy. If the relationship is worth it, give it some effort. Friendships don't happen by magic.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Philly Inquirer Article on Career Changes

I was interviewed for an article on under-30s making career changes from their degree fields. As I reflect on my transitions, it is great to see other people are making them (and pretty radical ones) too! http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/19208149.html

Friday, May 23, 2008


Today is the first day of the 3 day "Basic" seminar. It is official. I am moving from paperwork and administration to Pilates. I feel nervous- I'm even shaking a bit (although that may be the 2 cups of coffee).

The nerves are not about the class. It's about the sudden real-ness of this change. I've been training and preparing for almost 8 months now, so it has always seemed pretty far away. Now it is here! The nerves are definitely mixed with excitement- I've been wanting to do this, and now I have the chance. Valerie has a quote from Jack London on her blog (The Road Lots Travelled), about the point of life is not to exist, but to live. I think I am making steps in that direction. Side note- if you have not read Val's blog yet, do it! She is friggin' hilarious, and has had some pretty cool adventures!

In the TV show "LOST", when people travel through time, they have to have a "constant", a person that grounds them in both the past and the future. I think it is the same for transitions. Having some connection to your old world and your new at the same time makes it smoother and easier. I am blessed enough to have many constants: Chris (who loved me as an insurance administrator, and has been my biggest cheerleader for this change), my apartment (didn't have to pick up and move to make this happen), even my job situation, as my boss has agreed to have me work on some projects at an hourly rate.

So I don't feel totally at sea in my new life. I'm in a lifeboat, with lines to solid ships. I feel like I could let go of some of the lines, or I can ride with them all. Right now it is a nice place to be. We will have to see if that remains, or if one of the lines starts to tug a little harder than the others.

So, why do transitions, even ones you are excited about, cause fear and nervousness? It seems a shame to let your happiness get overrun, even just occasionally, by fear of the unknown. Isn't the unknown what makes life worth the living, not just the existing? If we knew it all ahead of time, it would a pretty boring way to live. You may not have the fear, but you also would not have the excitement, anticipation or surprise. So, maybe fear, rather than prescience, is a good trade.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nutrition Check-in

I have had a couple of requests for an update on how the weight gain is going. Truthfully, I have no idea. I don't weigh myself very often. I know that I have gotten stronger in my workouts, so maybe a little bit....

I'm putting protein mix in everything- my coffee, cereal, ice cream. And I've been drinking a lot of Ensure. These things have to helping some, I would think. This week I will start visiting a nutritionist. Independence Blue Cross gives their members 6 free nutritionists visits/year. Free, really! So if you have IBC, check it out (guess who's been working in insurance?)! After my visit, I hope to have a better plan of attack and a better way of tracking my progress.


Well, I passed my Initial Assessment! Hooray! I am officially an apprentice in the Romana's Pilates Teacher Training program.

But now the real work begins. Over the next 6 months to 1 year, I will be observing lessons, taking lessons and teaching lessons. I will attend classes and take tests. It is a very intense program, but I am very excited to be a part of it. I know that this is a fantastic opportunity for me to learn from the best. So, my goal is to be the best student that I can be- to learn as much as I can, to not be afraid of making mistakes, to ask questions, to explore- so that I can be the best teacher I can be.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PA Primary (Should she stay or should she go?)

I'm sitting here waiting for the numbers to come in. It's great that our votes actually make a difference this time. Well, I guess if you are a Republican you might not feel that way. I switched to Democratic for just such a reason.

But the real story of the night is what happens after. Will Hillary Clinton drop out if Barack Obama makes a good showing? PA is not winner-take-all, but representative. Math-wise, she can't make it without Florida and Michigan. She could with the super-delegates, but at what cost?

8:37- WHYY is still prattling on about voter registration changes. Well, I'm one of them. Over here whole counties have switched their party make-up. I would think that looks better for Obama.

Back to the prior topic- I think last week's debate showed a the shift in what many Americans want in their politics and political coverage. People were not clogging ABC's comments box in the hours and days afterwards because they thought the moderator's were "mean" or "unfair". The people were loooking for coverage of the issues. Deep discussion of the issues. We are in a war that is draining our economy and troops, gas prices are going up (not necessarily a bad thing, IMO), the climate is changing, resources are being depleted, our current administration has condoned torture, our economy is shaky, our foreign relations are shaky. The American people, or at least this one and her husband, really would like to hear something about that. We get enough scandalous new from Hollywood (and state governors). I think we would like our national politics to be a little less tabloid and a little more TIME.

8:45- Clinton w/ early lead in Pittsburgh and Scranton, Obama w/ an early lead in Philly.

8:50- WHYY is explaining how the number of red lights in a town and distance between towns can affect numbers.

8:59- The AP just called it for Clinton. What? What numbers are they getting that I'm not? According to mine, only 1% of the votes are counted. Weird.

OK, Blogger just ate my last edit. I'm annoyed. I had a whole big thing.....

It was about the actual title of this post. If Hillary Clinton cannot not get a math-turning, decisive victory, should she drop out? I say yes. Not necessarily for the good of the party, as I only consider myself a half-Democratic. But to save herself, her party and her country the embarrassment. This could become an ego trip, bordering on denial, especially considering the amount of debt her campaign has accrued.

Speaking of which, that seems irresponsible. If that is how you handle your campaign funds, what are you going to do with the national funds? Hope the Congress keeps you within your budget? They've been great so far.... Is anyone else concerned by this? Is this another case of government spending money because they can just "make more"? She has debts not just to advisors, but for working class establishments like diners.

9:11- Fox and CNN have called it for her as well.

9:14- 9% in, Clinton 53%, Obama 47%. That would hold with prior polls for the differentials. But there's a lot more votes to get in.

9:19- from Matthew Yglesias http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/04/its_official_2.php

I should probably be studying.

9:25- WHYY is sharing coverage with WQED! I watched Seasame Street on this channel growing up! Cute old lady with a Hillary sticker upside down on her head.

9:29- Fox just reference a NYT tech piece saying Obama is the MAC to Hillary's PC. Interesting. I'll have to find that.

9:30- 13% in. NPR and NewHour join the call.

9:35- The Harrisburg station needs a better cameraman.

9:49- 25% in, 46/54

9:55- 42%- 55/45. Double-digits is bad for Obama. Bad.

I'm taking a break to watch SVU. I'll be back if something earth-shattering happens.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Art in Times of War

From the NYT Blog today: "Running out of art and artists means that we are losing the civilized face of our society, and losing the appreciation of beauty … and love." Read it all here: http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/graven-images-2/ (hat tip [that's what I say, right?] Andrew http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/)

My thoughts on this:

As a dancer and choreographer, the arts are incredibly important and interesting to me. Over the summer I read "The Ministry of Culture" by James Mullaney. It's fiction, but addressed this very issue of art in Iraq, albeit in 1984, during the Iran-Iraq War (I was 2 at the time, so I don't remember much about it). Great story about the murals and how war can rob art from the souls of artists.

I wonder, though, if it gives fodder for others; but maybe that only works if you are detached from it (say, a continent away). I think film has a hard time making war into "art", as it tends to be just carnage. But modern dance and songwriting seem to be two areas, in my experience anyway, that can use hard topics and create beautiful (as in artistic, not necessarily as in pretty), meaningful works. Even visual artist seem to use the "ugly"(Picasso with Guernica, Goya).

Artists, I think, are more willing to struggle with the hard, the nonsensical, the incomprehensible, the ugly. Some never get out of their struggle. Some use that fighting energy to create works seen world-wide, some in just a local performance/gallery. But they have all taken the time to see their world, and to try to create meaning from it. Which is what art is- creation of meaning (at least for the artist, if not for the audience). So, I hope they keep painting murals. That the artists in Iraq can keep seeking to creating meaning. I cannot comprehend how difficult it must be some days.

The last sentence of the NYT Blog- "Running out of art and artists means that we are losing the civilized face of our society, and losing the appreciation of beauty … and love."- makes me so sad. It is deeply true. And I can't help but feel responsible. We have allowed this to happen. In our quest to "civilize" them, the opposite is occurring.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I bought some vitamins yesterday at Trader Joe's. I took one this morning, and the act prompted the following questions-

Why, oh why must vitamins:
  • Look like solid chunks of grass clippings?
  • Smell like seaweed?
  • Be larger than most bites of food you would typically chew?

Do they still make Flintone Vitamins?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Draw of the Liturgy

I switched to the Anglican church in 2004. Something about the liturgy and the repetition is very "right" to me. This article (copied here from www.bustedhalo.com) gets that attraction. The liturgy really is a whole-person experience.

In The Dark Dark, noisy and nearly forgotten, a 20-something makes a case for reviving Tenebrae
By Greg Ruehlmann

It is the great peculiarity of the Church of Rome, that it presents to its worshipers an extraordinary variety of services, each of which has a special significance and fitness for the period of the year in which it is celebrated. Among the most beautiful of these offices are those which are celebrated during Holy Week, and which are called Tenebrae.
The notice above entitled “Tenebrae Services in the Roman Catholic Church” and published in the New York Times, on March 27th, 1872, sounds a little antiquated (when was the last time anybody said “Church of Rome?”), but it none the less rings true for me. Though it might be an odd choice, Tenebrae has long been my favorite service of the liturgical calendar. On the whole, I’m a liturgical progressive; I’ve never once longed for a return to the pre-Vatican II days when the congregation could only hope to get a good view of the priest’s back during services. But somehow I’ve fallen in love with a service that feels like a relic from an earlier, more austere time.
Tenebrae is literally set in darkness, at the height of the gloom preceding the Easter Vigil. It has not been popular in decades, and it would be misleading to call it a “best-kept secret” of the Catholic Church—it’s celebrated by some mainline Anglican and Lutheran communities as well. Further, such an assertion would require more Catholics to be in on the secret, which they aren’t. Most followers of the “Church of Rome” have never even heard of Tenebrae.
Happy FaultI wish they would discover it. Tenebrae perfectly fits the Lenten season, when spring struggles outside to wrest the climate from winter, and inside, we hear readings about the Israelites in peril and Christ in extremis. We speak throughout the year of “felix culpa”—that “happy fault” of ours and Adam’s that brought about the Resurrection. But from Ash Wednesday up to the Easter Vigil, the happiness of that fault is purposefully obscured. “Alleluia” is banished. And if Lent is our Church’s season of discontent, beautiful Tenebrae is its grandest liturgical expression. Its very name (Latin for “shadows” or “darkness”) evokes the heavy ache of Christ’s passion.
Tenebrae originated centuries ago as a late-evening combination of the Divine Offices of Matins and Lauds, which are now the modern, less elegant-sounding Office of Readings and Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. In Tenebrae’s traditional, pre-Vatican II form, all of the lights in the church are dimmed, save for a triangular candlestick on the altar with fifteen lit candles. What takes place is not a Mass, but rather an extended, prayerful interaction between clergy, choir and congregation—in some ways similar to evening Vespers, for those familiar with that service. The celebrant leads in a series of readings, mostly consisting of passages from the Book of Lamentations and from psalms of lament like Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”). The plainsong motets of the choir suffuse the air with mystery.
Gradually, every candle but one is extinguished—plunging the church into near pitch-blackness. The whole thing feels like a funeral (they even call the pointed candlestick the “Tenebrae hearse”), and the darkness drapes the church like a pall. At the close of the readings, following the singing of the Benedictus—Zachary’s prayer from Luke 1:68-79, which always concluded Lauds—the assembly creates a loud, jarring sound by pounding the pews or stomping. Called the strepitus (Latin for “great noise”), this clamor symbolically represents the earthquake that followed Christ’s death; it also indicates that the service has ended. The priest carries the last lit candle away from the altar, and the congregation exits in silence.
For Catholics, good liturgy has always aimed to engage the body and its senses. We kneel, sit and stand throughout the Mass, and cross our brows, mouths and hearts before the proclamation of the Gospel. We taste the body and blood of Christ and inhale the perfume of incense. On special occasions, we rub our palm branches between our fingers, or smudge the ashes on our forehead. We listen, and we watch.
SensoryOur tactile impulses certainly enhance the appeal of hammering away on the nearest pew at the conclusion of Tenebrae. But the service’s chief sensory aim is to deprive us of our vision, in a startling way that feels fresh, and forces us to shed our sometimes-rote relationship to the Mass. By the end of the service, all that remains is a church full of shadows—the sheer absence we experience during Lent is made real and sacramental.
After centuries of accumulating dust, the Church decided during Vatican II to tidy up and let some light into the room, so to speak. That thinking was certainly understandable, but it didn’t bode well for grim, melancholy Tenebrae, however deliciously fitting that melancholy might suit Holy Week. Some churches re-packaged the service in sunnier, post-conciliar terms; many discontinued it altogether.
But anyone willing to look hard enough can still find a Tenebrae service that’s as dark and sorrowful as it’s intended to be. Many diocesan cathedrals have held out, and keep Tenebrae alive. There are some small variations from church to church. A few celebrate the service on all three days prior to the Easter Vigil. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, on the other hand, Tenebrae takes place on Good Friday, in the morning hours. And at the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart (where I first encountered the service as an undergraduate), they celebrate Tenebrae at night on Holy Thursday—just right, I think, because the darkness is almost total, and the service poetically shepherds the community into Good Friday.
In this year, especially, when Easter comes early and nearly all of Lent unfolds in the cold grey of winter, the nearly forgotten ritual of Tenebrae feels all the more fitting. It blunts none of the mourning these forty days demand of us. And yet it ushers us forward with something to hold onto. In the midst of the concluding darkness, the celebrant departs with one tiny candle—a single glimmer of hope that will carry us through till Easter.
Greg Ruehlmann, 26, writes from Augusta, Georgia.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making a new body

Again, a shameful lack of posting! I'm going through a deep journal writing phase right now, that will hopefully lead to more blogging. But right now, I'm not ready to share it with the world.

What I am ready to share is news many of you have been hoping for (No, I'm NOT pregnant! Why did you think that first?). I am working conscientiously toward gaining weight. Basically, my body has hit the plateau for muscle mass. At my current weight, I simply cannot get any stronger. I need more protein and iron to make more muscle. With all of the Pilates I have been doing, I need more strength. Pilates was made originally for men, by a man after all.

Hearing this was a shock. I think I'm pretty strong! I certainly look very toned. But that is a deceptive thing about long limbs. They look great with not much work. So I will be working to build more strength in my core and arm/shoulders especially.

There are 2 challenges with this new quest for strength:
1. Gaining weight is foreign to me. I have weighed between 110 and 115 for the past 5 years (for me a "healthy" weight). Moving beyond these numbers is actually going to take effort- to put it on, and then not freak out about it. Hopefully, really wanting to do this Pilates program will be enough motivation for me.
2. How do I do it?
A. Supplements/Bars? I have tried Muscle Milk- yucky aftertaste and it made my stomach hurt. Chris did whey protein a while ago and it made him break out in hives. The Trader Joe's Vanilla stuff is really gritty, but mixes well into oatmeal. I don't know that I could drink it straight, but Travis tells me if I combine it with ice cream, it's better (isn't everything better when combined with ice cream?). Most of the bars taste like dirt. Or cost a lot of money
B. Vitamins? I should probably be doing this anyway.....
C. Diet? Still not a big read meat fan. And the more I read about the food farms/cattle raising habits, the more I am conviced not to eat it. I guess the free-range, organic is the way to go, which is what I try to do with our poultry and eggs. But, then again, cost becomes a factor.

I will try to keep this updated with my adventures in protein-rich food. So far, gold star for Trader Joe's Natural Peanut Butter!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Save the Date!


Save the Date
“Fly Me to the Moon”

Saturday April 12th
6- 9pm
Brownies 23 East Ardmore

A fundraiser to help us continue to bring hope and community back to the kids of New Orleans through music and dance

For More Info About Our Mission visit:

Contact At: First Position Movement Arts Center 610-853-9656
Invitation to follow

Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective
Mission Statement
We are a collective of Philadelphia-based dance companies whose goal is to perform works of artistic excellence that reflect and highlight the diversity of our city and its native, homegrown dance styles. Through the art of dance, we also seek to assist and nurture children who have been affected by natural, environmental and/or economic disasters. We further this mission through performances, residencies and workshops throughout the United States and abroad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Car Accident

I had a car accident yesterday. My first one ever. I'm so mad at myself, as I believe it was my fault. Thankfully I am fine, he is fine, my car is not too bad, I can still drive it at least. And this is why we have car insurance, to pay for these things. I still feel pretty dumb.

It emphasizes my control-freak, perfectionist mentality. I can't handle making a mistake. Or acknowledging that there are areas in my life where I do not get to dictate what happens. That is scary!

Monday, February 11, 2008


I have a horrible earache. I haven't had an earache since I was about 2, I think. It is so miserable. I had to do two employee wellness meetings this morning and the entire time I was talking I just wanted to stop because I was making my own head hurt! I could hear my voice inside my head (which is always annoying) and it was making my head vibrate. I took some 8 hour Tylenol about 5 hours ago. It wore off 3 hours ago, but I feel obliged to not take any more until 5PM.

Anyone have a sure-fire earache cure? Chris's is ear candles. I tried that last night. It worked for a while; I could hear and the whole left side of my face didn't throb for about half an hour. But it clearly wasn't a cure. Maybe if I do it again? I don't feel sick, my nose isn't stuffy, my glands aren't swollen, I don't have a fever, I just want to cut my head in half.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Follow up to prior

Another reader posted that there was no way jazz was going to make it, as it did not nearly approach the greatness of the masterpieces of prior centuries. Which prompted the following from me:
I've been to Chartes, played works by all of the above composers and seen the Mona Lisa, Degas' dancers and countless dance companies. But I also know that most people my age (25) have not done, or have any desire to do those things. Maybe the problem is not that our creative culture is barren, but that we are not raising a culture of artistic appreciation. As you know, I teach dance. My husband is an elementary school music teacher. Kids today really have NO idea who even Bach or Beethoven are, let alone Gershwin or Coltrane. We have created a culture that wants easy and accessible. Art, good art, is not either of those things. As I have said before, it requires engagement. Today we want something that just makes us "feel good", not something that makes us think.I fear if we do not cultivate artistic appreciation the works of the geniuses of not just the 20th century, but of all time, can be lost to the ideals of "entertainment" and "instant gratification".

Theology and the Arts or Why Jazz Will Always be Around

I took 2 classes on this at Eastern. Not that all of my music and dance related courses didn't have some theology worked in, but 2 dealt specifically with the topic. So, imagine my joy when one of my favorite blogs "Crunchy Con" on Beliefnet had a related post over the weekend.

It went something like this "Charles Murray has said that no great American works of art were created after 1950. Do you agree, disagree, why, what's your list, etc?" I wrote an inital post with a lot of modern dance works and Coltrane's "A Love Supreme". Another reader commented on Coltrane's "My Favorite Things", which prompted the following from me:

Richard, how did I forget "My Favorite Things"? The kindergarten jazz class that I teach is doing that for recital. Not all 13 minutes, just the first 2. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. Stick with me.)
I catch some flack at the studio where I teach because of my ideas of "jazz". When I have students in my jazz class, they dance to jazz music. Gershwin, musicals, any of the Great American Songbook stuff, Coltrane, Carmen MacRae, even Harry Connick Jr.'s big band stuff. They do not dance to Disney songs, Cheetah Girls, Britney, Christina, or any of the other songs that somehow have found their way into "jazz" classes.
Jazz, especially in dance, is sometimes considered a catch-all because it is often understood as "the vernacular" or "not classical". But I think jazz is communication. That's where that "vernacular" definition came from- the music of the day for the people of the day. Jazz gave them a voice, and an audience who wanted to hear it and could understand it. Communication from musician to musician, musician to audience, musician to dancer, dancer to dancer, etc. But most importantly, it is communication to "the art". The musician lets the music guide him, as does the dancer. Today's music often found in "jazz" classes is not communication; it is entertainment. We don't want to listen, or think, or do. We want to watch, to be titillated or impressed, to escape. True communication does not inspire escape, but engagement. This communication becomes improvisation.
Improv is the truest form of jazz, music or dance; and is, I would argue, incredibly spiritual. Not only in the Christian sense, as we believe any act of creation is proof that we are in God's image, but just in the lack of desire to promote yourself. When you improv, you let the art work. You "check out" so to speak from conscious decision making about what YOU WANT to do. It becomes about what the art needs, does, and creates for itself. Improv forces you to be the listener, before you can be the doer. A useful life lesson.
Wonderfully enough, kids get this. They love to explore, create, and interact. Give kids a structured improv and they practically do the work for you! They don't think "Oh No! What should I do next?", "I don't know any 'steps' for this.", or "This is too much pressure. I can't possibly function." They listen, they watch, and then they do. They feed off of each other and the music. They work together, while at the same time are totally devoid of the anxiety and fear of judgment adults would feel in this situation. When we first started "My Favorite Things" we did an instrument improv. That piece has sax, piano and drums. We spent time trying to hear each instrument separately and move that way. I had bouncy drums, strong, striding pianos and wiggly saxes. When I put them in groups, it was fantastic! They had to listen, to watch, to move, to cooperate; try doing that to Britney. You will get shaking booties every time.
And so, 500 words later (Sorry! Thanks for reading it!), communication and improv are why jazz is going to make it. And "me-centered" pop/rock will continue to change and morph and will have very few memorable (in a good way, not train wreck way) characters and moments.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Over the past few weekends, I have learned, not for the first time, a very disturbing fact about myself: I have no idea how to rest.

I cannot stand having nothing to do. Often I think I would like having nothing to do. But then when it happens, I go positively stir crazy. Is this a cultural/generational thing? Or is this just a me thing? I should love these opportunities to sit at home and read, or blog, or take a nap, but I can't help feeling like I'm wasting time doing this, or missing out on something. Maybe this is why I work so many jobs. I've never really had ADD or anything like that; I've never had any trouble focusing on the task at hand. But when there is no task...I'm a wreck. I get very irritable. What the heck is wrong with me?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I should. Should you?


I really like him. Although the racial stuff is disappointing. I know he didn't write it, but he allowed his name to go on it. Ignorance is not bliss. Why do politicians have to be sleazy sometimes? What's that line- "you can always trust the Devil or a politician to be a devil or a politician".

New Year

Good grief! It's been a month since I've written. That is shameful!

So today's body talk: Pulled muscles.

I can't remember the last time I pulled a muscle. I take care to warm-up and stretch. I'm in good shape and decently flexible, so it hasn't been a problem. Last night, I pulled one. Big time. I will need to get out my anatomy book to be sure which one it is, but I'm pretty sure it is my piriformis. Runs around the butt/hip/groin area. I forced a left split. I don't have a left split; I've never had a left split. But I thought I'd just push myself into it. Now today, I can hardly walk without limping! Even sitting hurts. I'm dumb.

So tonight is gym night, but there will be no running. I think I'll work upper body. Brie said on Saturday that I was weak in my upper body. What, now? I actually have muscles there, thank you very much. But Pilates was created by a man, for men, so I have a long way to go to get to manly level!