Oh, Cleopatra. Where exactly do I start?

My bellydance teacher, Nicola, teamed up with the director of the local Spanish dance troupe, to put together a lavish dance production that told the story of Cleopatra's life. When trying to explain it to people, I told them it told a story using dance, like when you go to the ballet, only we used Spanish and Egyptian dance movements.

They flew in internationally sought after Spanish dancer and instructor Beatriz Barcelo to play the title role, and as you'd expect, she was wonderful. As you might not expect, she was also a lovely person to work with.

We started rehearsals in January, every Sunday evening until the show opened in July. The last couple of weeks, I started to think we all just lived in the studio. Fortunately, we lucked out with our cast, and everyone got on really well.

The first act details Cleopatra's rise to power, her relationship with Caesar, and ends with his death. Act 2 involved her love affair with Antony, the big sea battle with Rome, and Cleopatra's suicide. We did 7 performances at the fringe festival (a live theatre festival that goes on for about two weeks; there are a ton of live shows to see, and 7 is about the average number of shows), and reviews were... kind of hilarious, actually. People appreciated the gorgeous theatricality of it and that we were different from everything else that was playing, but weren't quite sure what to expect from a dance show. You got the feeling a few of the reviewers had never been to the ballet, let alone seen anything like the type of dancing we were doing. Everyone who came for the dancing enjoyed it, though.

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Oods can dance

I've returned! With dance photos!

Like half of my posts here, I feel like I should be opening with apologies and excuses for not having posted in months, but I think I'm just gonna skip all that and move to the good parts.

There has, of course, been a lot that's happened since the last time I posted. We just got back the pictures from our student recital last May, so I'm gonna start with that, I think.

By the end of the year, I wound up in both my teacher's intermediate classes. I kind of...stealthed into the second one unexpectedly. At the beginning of the year, I signed up for the earlier class, partly because it promised me zills and veil (both of which I love), and partly because I didn't meet the pre-requisites for the later class. It wanted, I think, 3 years of study and 5 performances or something, and well, I still don't meet either requirement. It was the offered make-up option if we needed to miss one of our classes, though, and it was pretty comfortable to attend the once or twice I did need to make up a class, since I knew all the others from rehearsals for Cleopatra (more on that later). I also wound up attending once due to a ridiculously generous offer from my teacher, who suggested if I wanted feedback on the piece I was working on for the CCCAC show, she could stick around after the second class. I am not stupid enough to pass up an offer for something I know full well she should have charged me for, so of course I took her up on it. And after attending 3 or 4 classes, I started to become an accepted part of the class instead of just someone visiting, so by the last term I was attending both full-time. Because if you can, why wouldn't you?

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Newsflash: I don't owe random strangers on the street a conversation!

I have all sorts of updates to put in here, but I've decided I'm not going to do them chronologically, possibly because it has the word "logic" in the middle of it, and I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to logic (at least according to every math teacher I've ever had). Mostly, though, it's because the most recent story has a rant attached to it, and those are always best when fresh, so here we go.

My weekends are usually very busy, especially lately. This weekend was supposed to be comparatively tame. Saturday night my friend Matt and his band were in town playing a show, so I was going to go see them, and then Sunday I'd go to my son's dance recital in the afternoon, then head to my own evening dance rehearsal. Not unreasonably busy, especially when you consider that two out of those three events involve me sitting. I'm fond of sitting; it requires very little energy on my part. The weekend wound up being unexpectedly eventful, though, mostly due to Saturday.

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no clothes

As far as I'm aware, he doesn't even have a mole

At the school my children attend, the gym teacher is also a taekwondo instructor. (Sidenote: spellcheck thinks I should change taekwondo to wonderland. And, I mean, having a wonderland instructor would be awesome, don't get me wrong, but I'm thinking the two terms aren't quite so interchangeable as spellcheck would have me believe.) There's a program at the school on Thursdays, when some of the older kids are able to stay and take taekwondo lessons without charge. My oldest daughter is in her second year, and she's taken to it so enthusiastically the husband and I have been discussing the possibility of changing her dance lessons for more taekwondo classes. She likes dance, but she doesn't get excited about it the way she does with taekwondo. Ultimately it would be her decision, but in order to even present the option to her, we need a bit more information, such as the when, where, and how much. Since I'm the one who picks the kids up after school, the husband has suggested I should speak with the gym teacher the next time I see him.

Which of course led to this conversation via text yesterday:

The Husband 3:06 pm
If you see [gym teacher]...

Me 3:06 pm
Stab him?
Ply him with food?
Give him a puppy?
Invite him for a playdate?
Try not to stare at his mole?
Tell him you love him?

The Husband 3:17 pm're weird.

Me 3:17 pm
Hey, I'm not the one leaving love messages to the gym teacher unfinished.

It should be noted that I did not, in fact, see the gym teacher and was therefore unable to relay any of the above messages. The husband seemed more eye-rolly than devastated over this.
Oods can dance

Hey, it's actual footage!

The video from the CCCAC Showcase is slowly trickling in. Basically they're putting everything up in segments, but mine was early enough in the show it's up already. I put it up on bhuz (the bellydance forums, for those not in the know) requesting critique and feedback because I was still afraid the audience commentary of "you were so beautiful" secretly translated to "I feel the need to find something positive to say about your unfortunate performance." I figured the folks at bhuz would be kind enough to tell me I needed a lot more study before taking the stage again if that were the case, and they'd even be able to give me some pointers on how to suck less. (I sent it to my teacher, too, but she's out of town right now, so I don't expect to hear from her until she gets back in another couple of days.)

At any rate, the general consensus at bhuz is that there are things I could refine, but it's not painful to watch.* So I guess I can put it up here without fear of accidentally torturing anyone who passes through.

*I'm exaggerating. Actually, the folks at bhuz were very positive.

When I was 23...

I nabbed this from beafarhana, because I'm prone to doing things like that. This was the deal: "You comment, I give you an age (please tell me how old you currently are so I don't inadvertently move you into the future) and you respond to the meme questions with what applied to you back then, and what's true now."

She gave me 23, so here we go!

I lived in:
Same city, same apartment building, in the apartment down the hall. We moved in just after the first was born because they're older character apartments with plenty of room for cats and babies to roam, but still within a decent neighbourhood. Not much has changed there, although we've added a couple of babies since I was 23, and so it doesn't seem quite as roomy anymore.

I drove:
Heh, actually I didn't and I still don't! I decided when I was 16 I didn't like driving, so I haven't had a license since my learner's expired.

I was in a relationship with:
I was married to the husband. We're still married, so either we're doing something right, or we just haven't managed to screw things up too badly yet. Hopefully the first one.

I feared:
Not being able to have a second child. I'd already had a c-section, which runs a small risk of preventing future pregnancies, and one of my friends was experiencing the heartbreak of infertility. Obviously, now that baby #3 is a preschooler wreaking havoc all over the place, those fears were unfounded, but at the time it was a pretty legitimate concern.
By contrast, I think most of my fears --well, worries-- now are financially related. But let's face it, if the most pressing thing in your life is a lack of money, you're doing pretty good.

I worked at:
I think this was at the tail end of me working in the call centre for Pizza Hotline. Basically I took peoples' orders and entered them into the computer. Some really fun and interesting co-workers, but it was probably the most disorganized place I've ever worked, and considering the amount of theatre and performing arts I've done, that says something.
Now I'm a full-time stay-at-home mom. Even with 3 little bosses, it's slightly more organized than Pizza Hotline.

I wanted to be:
More creative! A lot of things changed when I became a mom, and the "young bohemian" lifestyle we'd lived before finding out our oldest was no longer an option. But regular jobs and babies complicated all the performing arts stuff we'd been involved with before, because most gigs aren't very accommodating when you're not as available as the next starving artist, and I think for both of us that was a bigger adjustment than parenthood itself.
Now? I mostly want to continue where we've begun, I think. We've got our three kids, and I think the five of us are pretty happy. Obviously there are things we could use (like "more hours in the day" or "a winning lottery ticket"), but we've found a nice balance that's working for us.
book 1

CCCAC Showcase 2013

So last weekend was the big show. No, no this past weekend, the one before that. Yes, that's right, we had our big show on St Patrick's day. Look, I didn't make the arrangements, I just showed up to do the work. And yes, I'm far behind on keeping my lj up to date, but I come bearing excuses. For one thing, the photos from the show are just starting to pop up now. Also, I woke up the next day rather sick. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

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Black Cat

Batman vs Iron Man

I watched both Iron Man movies this week for the first time. I know, bad geek! The thing is, with three kids I don't get a lot of opportunity to get out to see movies in the theatre, and renting is getting increasingly difficult as all the rental places go slowly out of business. I finally got to see the Avengers movie after the husband got it for Christmas, and now I'm working my way back to see all the origin movies that go with it.

I went into Iron Man expecting a superhero movie, and found that's not what I got at all. That's neither a good thing or a bad thing, it just... is. Once I adjusted my expectations, I found there's a lot to admire in Iron Man and Marvel's unusual take on what is essentially a hero's journey.

It also brought home to me how much I prefer Iron Man to Batman. No, I know, some of you will be reeling at this revelation. It's ok, just take a few deep breaths. I have some rather mixed and complex feelings about Batman, and how much I enjoy him varies greatly depending on which version of him you're dealing with. As for Iron Man... well...

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snow on cat

Let's get our Christmas on!

Shara over at calico_reaction put up this tidy little form on her blog, so I thought I'd steal it because the holidays are so hectic, having something to organize my thoughts as I put them in here can only be a good thing.

We basically have three Christmases at our house. Both sets of parents live in the city, and we have our own little family unit, so it makes for a busy season. Most of the holiday organization falls to me, since the husband doesn't remember it's coming until December, and by then if the ball hasn't started rolling, it's probably not going to. But I love Christmas and all the preparations that go into it. Just... the whole season. I know some people hate it, and some are heartily sick of it by the time December 25th rolls around, but I honestly just love the whole thing, from beginning to end.

Yesterday was our first day of Christmas, spent with the in-laws, so it's clearly time for a holiday update!

Favorite tradition: There are several traditions I haven't participated in yet this year, since there are still a couple days of Christmassing to be had. Of the ones we've done so far, though, letting the kids dress up in their seldom-used "fancy clothes" for the holiday events is pretty fun. They get so excited to do it.

Favorite holiday song: I'm not sure I have one particular song I've been hankering to listen to over and over, but I do truly love the Barenaked Ladies' holiday album. It's a wonderful mix of sincere and silly that captures just the right mood.

What I've Been Doing: Everything! Wrapping, shopping, baking, decorating, organizing, mailing, taking photographs, visiting... it's busy but it's been a good busy. It's been fun, not frantic (well, for the most part).

What I've Been Baking: All the cookies! I've made spicy chocolate chili crackles, mint chocolate chip, cherry chocolate kisses, macaroons dipped in chocolate, cinnamon snickerdoodles, and peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip. I also made red velvet cupcakes with creamcheese icing just because I was on a roll and I just re-found the recipe (the husband accidentally threw it out a few months ago). We're, uh, pretty set on the baking front.

What I've gotten: I got a gorgeous package full of dance goodies through the gift exchange organized by beafarhana through bhuz (the cat wasn't included, but the cat toys were). I was sent some delicious cookies from a friend of mine, and my brother bought me Guild Wars 2 when he could get it on sale. (This last is more significant if you realize I spent a long time in the original Guild Wars game with a pretty tight-knit guild, all of whom moved on when the new game was released. I couldn't justify spending the not-inconsiderable on a new game for me, especially now that I have less time for gaming than I ever have, but I've missed my guild friends.) I'll do a fuller post later about yesterday's Christmas activities and gifts, but that'll focus more on the kids' gifts, because they're the ones I have all the photos of and are more fun to talk about, so I'll list what I received here: there was a DVD and CD for dancing, two books (Ann Aguirre's Enclave and Sarah Beth Durst's Vessel), a "soft kitty" shirt, a very pretty Christmas ornament (I get one every year; at least half of what's on my tree is from them), and a gift certificate to spend at Dahlal for more dance stuff. Om nom nom, dance stuff.

What I've Done for Others: There hasn't been a lot in the way of charity, since I've been so busy working on getting things together for my own family. Not sure what that says about me really. I did box up my maternity clothes to send to a friend pregnant with her first baby, although that wasn't really holiday related, just happened to be timed for this month. I'm involved in the earlier stages of putting together a steampunk calendar for 2014, the proceeds of which will go to charity, but it's mostly ideas beginning to coalesce at this point (meaning nothing has yet been booked or paid for). It should be a fun project, though!
book 1

Middle Eastern Rhythms Workshop

Hey, it's only been a month since I updated! For some reason I thought it had been longer. Part of that reason is probably because I'm not exactly the most reliable person in the world when it comes to personal blogging. I can talk about something like books every day of the year, but when it's about myself and my life, I never feel like I have anything interesting to say.

But enough about my bloggy failings! I went to a fabulous dance workshop yesterday, and I wanted to write all about it while it's still fresh in my mind. So due warning that this post will be really boring to anyone who isn't a dancer, and probably still boring if you are but weren't there.

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