beginnings and ends

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T.S. Elliot

Beginnings tend to be fun, in my mind — like the beginning of my relationship with Jared. But now, the end of that relationship has come, and I find myself confused as to how to feel about this new beginning.

Jared and I broke up last night. And it was sad, but I think it was also the right thing to do. This movement was my initiation, because though friends had apparently told him to break up with me on variou occasions in the past, he had chosen not to — and it wasn’t until I started that conversation that the change was initiated. And I know that Jared does not agree. But…I still think it was the right move.

In short, we would make spectacular friends, but I don’t think I’d be happy i I stayed with him in a romantic relationship. We have trouble maintaining conversations. His lack of self-motivation annoys me. My tendancy to come off as a know-it-all annoys him. Et cetera. There are a thousand reasons, and if you really care and you ask me, I’ll probably tell you at least a few of them.

I was far from perfect, and the same is true of him, but I don’t think either of us is inherently at fault. But I do think that if we stayed together to try to make it work, the ending of that future relationship would be much uglier than the ending that we shared last night.

Last night, I felt sure of myself — and I still do. Jared seemed…sad. And resigned. But honestly, he didnt fight tooth and nail for a different ending. I believe, in the long run, we will both lead happier lives…and we will remain friends.

Jared has promised not to stop dancing, and he’s promised not to stop rafting (though, I don’t know how much longer he will use me as his rafting connection, even if it will always be available for him).

As such, I am now trying to figure out how to approach this in the dancing community. Relationships like this end all the time in the dancing community, so I don’t expect it to be anything out of the norm. However, we did intentionally hide the break up on facebook by deleting the notification simultaneously to avoid the absurd posts and false concern that is often shown from people whom you barely know (or boys who are only showing concern so they canget in your pants later).

And tonight, as I prepare to go to Hotjam…well, I just don’t know what to say. I think I’ll tell a few people right off the bat — Lisa, Holly, Michelle, Lindsay…I’ve already told Heather…and, well, this is my way of telling the few people I think (or know) read this…(you know who you are). But there are a lot of people who I won’t tell right off the bat. And honestly, I’m just hoping the gossip gets to most of them before they ask, “hey, how’s Jared doing?” Well, not so hot.

Anyways, here’s to beginnings and ends, however confusing / sad/ new / right they might be.

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first trip of the season!

It was a cloudy, humid morning, like almost every day started as of late. I pulled on my lifejacket and looked at the guests across the field, listening to their trip speech of the morning. Many were wearing spash jackets, but a few braved the morning chill in their bathing suits and tank tops.  Tommy gave a nod and a gesture, and the crowd dispersed — some to their cars, others to a last minute use of the “real” bathrooms. I pulled myself up the ladder and on to the bus.

It was my first trip of the season, and I was excited. The river was 1.7 feet, and potentially rising from the rain the night before. It was the best water I’d seen since I’d been rafting almost two years before — 1 year and 9 months, to be exact, since I’d guided. And though I wasn’t going to guide today (everyone needs a refresher course), I was eager to hit the water.

Almost as soon as we got on the water, the clouds dispersed and the morning mist lifted off the river, creating a beautiful image which is typical of the Chattooga River, especially in early summer: the sun glinting off the water  as we passed under the bridge, the birds singing, some mountain laurel still blooming, and the mist was sill rising through the trees.

We went through Woodall Shoals with little problem — skirting the hole and taking the cheat shoot on the right hand bank. Hunter was our guide, and though we were using the demo self-bailing raft (one with holes in the bottom, so the water drains out, if you don’t know what that meant), which is heavier and a little unweildy despite being made by DIB, we navigated through all the shallow rocks with little problem.

Right around the corner was Seven Foot Falls — and the butterflies of nervous excitement rose in my stomach, as they frequently do at the beginning of the year — not because I was scared, but because I was  so eagerly anticipating the technical difficulty of the sneaky boils of water, and the incredible rush of a controlled seven foot drop sideways to the left…

Hunter flirted with the left tongue and I thought there was a good chance we were going over, so I high sided and kept my balance — and wham, we were through, just like that…and I have to admit, I appreciated the self-bailing raft for its amazing ability to drain the gallons of water that other rafts were collecting.

Lunch as Raven’s Chute was like always — something I’d missed so much. Just a simple deli-style lunch next to the river, with all the acoutrements and condiments you could ever want for a Dagwood-style sandwich. We started bringing more types of cheese, I’d noticed…but the gorp was the same, and oh how I love that gorp. Raven’s Cliff stood above us as we ate, and a couple boaters ran the chute, showing off for the guests.

Then the Five Falls. I’d anticipated this section of the river all day: five class five rapids in a row, with the highest class of rapid you can even run being a class six. There had been some debate about whether we should bowguide Jawbone because of the water level, which would have meant we wouldn’t be running Sock’em’Dog, the biggest and baddest rapid at the very end. I was hoping for the opposite, and when we got to the beach right before Entrance, the first rapid, we got the goahead — no bow guiding Jawbone, and go ahead and run the Dog. My stomach clenched — that same nervous excitement from Seven Foot, amplified ten times. This was it. The five falls, right on that tricky water level where it was anyone’s best guess what the water level was, and we were throwing precaution to the wind and taking the more challenging, more exciting route.

In the end, we probably should have bow-guided Jawbone, as Schlim was fast to point out after he ran the rapid. The water level was maybe just a little low for the self-bailing raft — we scraped a rock at the top of the slide in Jawbone and nearly went down backwards into Decapitation Rock, then bounced off the F-U rocks and bumped up against Hydro — something which does more than just give me a few little butterflies. But Hunter handled the boat well and turned us around, sending us down the left (and better) side of Hydro just as I was ready to leap and high-side the raft.

Then it was Sock’em’Dog. The hydraulic at the bottom had gotten stronger over the winter due to the addition of what we think is a log — at these water levels, that means the hole will suck you back in and send you to the cleaners if you run it the wrong way. We were the last raft to run, and I kept watching the rafts speed through like rocket ships and disappear behind a rock outcropping, only to wait a split second before they appeared a little smaller, a little farther away, and all intact…and then it was our turn.

We pealed out of the eddy and the water was so much faster that it pulled the raft along and I almost thought we were out of control. A few strokes to put us on course, a few more to get the speed necessary to punch the hole, and then Hunter’s voice boomed out — so low it almost pervaded under the sound of the water, rather than over: GET DOWN! I moved to get down, but the raft was faster than I’d expected, and I caught a little air before slamming into the rubber, safe from being thrown out of the raft. Success.

Finally, the lake ride out: basking in the sun, eyes closed, propped up on the bow of the raft. A beautiful way to end the trip.*

***

*For the record, my favorite part of a trip is actually changing into dry clothes, because  it makes me feel clean and allows my body to relax after such a physically intense day…and many, my dry clothes were glorious…

how far is too far?

There has been a lot of controversy about this performance piece over the past few days. One side says it’s beautiful and well done and artistic, or some variation of the sort; the other side says it’s grotesque and over the top in that it portrays an ugly side of someone’s life.

It really is a terrible, sad story — but it also has a morbid beauty which I can’t get away from. I find it to be a powerful performance in its unmitigated violence and passion. A more mitigated performance would have taken away from the piece — its emotional intensity is driving, and the passion and violence is a part of that.

As an audience member, I was both shocked and awed. Awed by the beauty and passion and technical difficulty. Shocked by the subject and message of the dance. But in the end, all dancing is an expression of art in my mind — it’s what you are feeling, what you are hearing in the music, and how you interpret that moment. How is this expression of art any different from violent paintings and movies? Beth compared its violence to Clockwork Orange, which I find strangely accurate, for that is a movie I honestly prefer not to watch. I’m also not a fan of horror flicks, because I detest violence and suspense…but I find that dance is a medium which I can appreciate more than others, and this piece… Well, like I said: it has a morbid beauty that is both terrifying and enthralling. Kind of like a train wreck: so intrinsically terrible, but I just can’t look away.

I think Breanna said it fairly well, so I’ll quote her here, hoping that her words can speak more clearly than mine…

It seems like the argument(s) about this piece can be boiled down to expression vs. entertainment. The movement quality is high, for which we as dancers can all appreciate the piece, I think. Further enjoyment of the performance is dependent on a person’s own experiences with domestic violence, and whether that person expects to be entertained, captivated by the dancers, or whether they only view the piece as another artistic expression of things that, unfortunately, do happen in life. In the latter case, I think it is easier to set aside the initial shock value from the performance.

I view the piece as an artistic expression, but I also realize the piece is not for everyone. It has a truth and horror to it which is…sad. And scary in its truth. A truth I might have trouble talking about, and so I talk about the beauty of art — I realize that is, potentially, a flaw in my own perception of the piece, but in reality, the art here almost shields me from its truth.

There was a pause at the end of the piece, where we all had to stop and process, as an audience, the intensity of such a dance. And every time I watch it, I have the same reaction — I just have to stop and take a minute. The whole atmosphere of the dance, in fact, was thick with tension — where we didn’t know if we should clap for their technical and beautiful dancing or avert our eyes for their morbid truth…

I appreciate the performance of this piece — it must have been hard to imagine, hard to choreograph, hard to perform. I congratulate Paul and Amanda for both their bravery and their honesty.

enter the blues

I’ve been in a blues funk for at least six months now — and I really considered not attending EtB4 this year. But, I was housing coordinator, and Don and Tina would be there, so I decided to stick it out. Best Decision…of the Month. Four things made this weekend 100% worthwhile, each on their own. Here, listed in a vague order of increasing awesomeness in my mind…

1. I met Dan Repsch. Within twenty minutes of really meeting each other, we realized a mutual love of cuddling. Twenty-ish hours later, it was still going. I haven’t had such great cuddling in a very, very long time.

2. I got to see Kara & Dan perform. I was only newly friends with Dan, so mostly, I was there to see Kara. She’d thought I’d left, since I had to work this morning — but a big part of staying was to see her perform (and because Beth offered to drive so I could sleep). She kicked ass. And then I found her afterward to let her know how much she kicked ass…I’ll admit, we got a bit teary.

3. Performance by Paul and Amanda. It was the most emotionally intense performance pieces I’ve ever seen in my life. I am still in shock. It was strangely morbid and grotesque and beautiful — it was performed to the song “I Put a Spell on You,” and I really can’t describe it. Let’s put it this way: there was a collective pause at the end of their performance, because the entire audience had to process the morbid beauty of it all…and I cannot wait to review it in the video.

4. Swing outs with Don West. Like I said, I’ve been in a blues funk, and Don and I were dancing to the live band on Saturday night before I left, and we just weren’t feeling it. So, we swung out as hardcore as we could physically swing out. Halfway through the song, we had to take a breather because we were so out of breath that we couldn’t keep going at tempo. More than that, though, my legs were shaking and my chest was pounding from the intensity of the dance — but I hiked up my skirt and we started again. Most people in the room were watching us, I found out later (especially once Don started using me as a human shield from Heather’s camera, and Heather’s camera peeked up  my skirt at an attempt to get a good shot of him — there might even be video of that)…

Don gave me this huge, awesome hug at the end of it all — one of those hugs that emphasizes the mutual intensity of such an awesome dance…

Later, Dan Repsch also told me how awesome and intense the dance was, and that he’d discussed it with Heather Adams and a couple others, and he said everything in that voice of “holy fuck that was awesome.” Considering my blues funk, I needed a little affirmation of my dancing, and that song was it — and I’ll admit, a compliment from a lead I respect so much right now was really, really good for my self esteem

I never really expect people to compliment my dancing, but I live by others affirmations of my achievements — not because I want people to know I’m awesome, but because I am my toughest critic, and that can cause some self-esteem issues when I’m going through a crappy phase of body rolls and fishtails. And so when two people so awesome tell me that I did well — two people I respect so highly, and whose compliments make me blush and stutter — well, it helps out. A lot. And it just makes me want to dance more and improve more and BE…more.

housing…

…sucks. Just saying.

Right now I’m trying to organize housing for EtB. It was supposed to go out today, but it won’t go out until tomorrow…because we are more than 20 spaces short. That’s right. 25, to be exact. Here are some terrible things about being short for housing:

1. Having to beg your friends to house, even when you know they really don’t want to. Last night, I begged incessantly and got 19 housing spots (which is awesome, especially considering how short we originally were). But realistically, it’s pretty demeaning to beg your friends to house. And I would be annoyed if I were in their shoes, so I hate being that person.

2. Other people beg. A lot. I sent out an email saying that we were going to be short, so if you have friends or if you already have space, you should let me know. Three people emailed me back having found housing with friends. The other seventeen people who emailed me tried to justify why they needed housing more than everyone else.

3. Telling people “sorry, but we can’t help” sucks. Or maybe it’s just me. I really just don’t like saying no.

4. Organizing housing. This is a poor job in the first place, since it’s just tedious, but it’s manageable when you have enough places to fit everyone. It just becomes a puzzle — “who can I put where,” which is easy to sort out if you have a bit of patience and a whole bunch of 3×5 notecards. When you’re short on housing, though, a whole new level of challenge is added: how do you prioritize? The first steps are easy: Teachers and DJs must be housed first. And then Volunteers, because they make the event run. But then, the challenge? Do you go in order of who registered first? Does a need for transportation factor in, and if yes, how: do those who have their own transportation have priority over those who do not, or vice versa? Do certain people move up in priority because they can provide transportation? Do those who registered late move up in priority because one person signed up early in the game and requested to be housed with their friends?

For EtB, we strictly went in order of Teachers & DJs, Volunteers, and Registration Order. Once I figured out how many spaces were left after the first two categories, I just counted out that number of notecards, top of the list down. Some people were smart and signed up together, making housing them easy. Most larger groups, however, were almost guaranteed to have one or two group members who signed up too late in the game to get housed. It’s really a “suck it up buttercup” moment…but I anticipate some complaints. And I’m not very happy about that.

This has been a huge headache. And the worst of it all? I probably won’t be able to attend EtB. So I’m doing this work…for nothing. And you know what? That really, really sucks.

goofing off

There is something to be said for “goofing off” on the dance floor. The other day, a good friend told me it’s one of the things that makes me a good dancer — not only have I improved technically as a dancer, but I intentionally goof off and have fun whenever I can, and that in itself is valuable. Granted, it was Robert who told me this, which is important in and of itself: Robert was and is one of the goofiest dancers I know, as well as one of my most influential leads as a follow. He taught me a lot of what I know today just by goofing off in his dancing with me, especially when I was too new to really know how to swingout. Robert has always been good at having fun no matter whom he’s dancing with: newbie or rock-star, he can have a blast because he’s always goofing off. The fact that I have fun and play within my dancing is, in large part, a result of dancing with him so much in the formative, learning stages of my dancing.

Regardless of Robert’s influence on my play in dancing, it was still a huge compliment — maybe one of the best I’ve ever received in dancing. I love it, honestly — playing and smiling and laughing helps distract me when I’m having a rough day or when I just fouled up a movement…so yeah, I goof off. And it rocks.

day at the zoo

The other day, Jared and I went to the zoo — really, he is too good for me. I mentioned maybe three weeks ago how much I love zoos, and on my first weekend off (and a lovely day, at that), Jared took me to the Atlanta Zoo. And I gotta admit, we had a blast. The weather was beautiful — warm, sunny, but not so hot that we ran for shade and bought ten over-priced bottles of water. The nice weather also meant all the animals were out, sunning and having a blast. The rhino was right next to the viewing platform, and all the gorillas were hanging out in plain sight. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the weather…which meant it was also a great time to really try out this eight megapixel camera I have on my phone. :)

So, as you can probably see, the camera is great. Granted, it can’t zoom very far, and it can be a little hard to balance (creating slightly blurry photos, as seen in the turtle photo), but it is a great, handy little camera for when I feel the need to take a photo.

Much love!