new beginnings

There’s something strange about new beginnings which feels indefinite – like my mind and emotions have yet to catch up to the fact that my entire life is changing as we speak.

For example, there’s my family. I’ve lived two hours away from home for six and a half years now – and I’ve loved it. I went home as often as I could, and while that number had dwindled over the past few years, I still went home about once a month. I even regularly drove two hours home just to get the oil changed in my car at our local dealership. At the moment, I am having trouble accepting the fact that going home will now require at least a couple weeks planning, a moderate reserve of cash, and at least a day’s travel in both directions.

I haven’t yet accepted that going home will be so rare in the future.

I am also having trouble accepting that I’m not going to be an active member of the Atlanta Dance Scene. While Atlanta will always have a special place in my heart, and I know I will always be able to return, it is difficult to take a step back. There are beginners I want to teach and events I want to help organize. There are a lot of changes happening in the Atlanta scene right now, and I want to be part of those changes, because I want to help make the Atlanta scene the best it could be – but instead, I am leaving it in the (albeit, quite competent) hands of my peers.

It is even difficult to fathom that I am not going to be part of the Southeast or East Coast regional dance scene. There are so many events which I have attended, and my mind still plans on attending those events, even though I know the reality is cost prohibitive.

Right now, I am struggling to refocus my brain towards making connections on the West Coast. I have a new job to work at, new friends to make, and new events to attend. I know it’s all going to be great – amazing – but I also know it’s going to be an odd period of transition, and a potentially difficult one.

I look forward to looking back in six months’ or a year’s time and seeing how my life has developed. What friends will I have? Where will I be working? How will I get involved in the dance scene? Right now, I’m just trying to figure out where I’ll be living in three days’ time.

Can't you see the family resemblance? I mean that we both take dance lessons, of course...

Can’t you see the family resemblance? I mean that we both take dance lessons, of course…

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cooking for friends: a new adventure

On Sunday night, I cooked for some friends who were in town for Enter the Blues. This is the last big event for which I’ll be in Atlanta (more on that in the near future), and I wanted to spend some quality time with friends. Since I’m not a huge lover of Blues, that means convincing my friends to hang out with me — and what better way than to feed them? They have to take the time to eat, they also get to hang out with some good friends, and I get to monopolize their time for myself. Winning all around.

Cooking for a lot of people is…interesting. But it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! I’m also less terrified of “messing up” with recipes now — because I definitely did not follow the recipe exactly, and it turned out delicious.

The biggest issue I ran into is that it was way spicier than I expected — but that means I’ll just tone down the red pepper next time (it should be stated that I have a really bland palate, so almost everything is too spicy…).

Delicious. And hearty! And filling! And fresh!

Delicious. And hearty! And filling! And fresh!

The recipe I made can be found here. And yes. It is delicious.

teaching the tranky doo in Atlanta! (and nerding out with a spreadsheet)

There’s this thing. I love the Tranky Doo. In fact, I love all social choreographed dances which I can perform with strangers, so I have a lot of love for the Shim Sham and the Big Apple, too. Soon, when I have a bit of time, I will have a lot of love for the Jive.

The great thing about the Tranky Doo is that it’s somewhat more complex than the Shim Sham, but not quite as complex or intimidating as the Big Apple, which tends to be faster and harder to follow along (especially in the second half). It has become increasingly popular over the last few years, though I don’t know who started this excitement — but whoever you are, thank you.

Right now in Atlanta, you can count the number of people who knew the Tranky Doo on one hand (in fact, for a long time, it was only Robbie!) — we are a little behind the curve of the nation, which has been enjoying this dance for a couple years now. However, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding this choreography, and there’s been multiple requests for a class. And that class is finally here!

I am beyond excited about this opportunity, since it will mean more people dancing with me. The details on the class are below, and I really hope that EVERYONE in Atlanta who is available comes out to learn this dance!

Where: Hot Jam
When: 7pm – 8pm, Nov 5th, 12th, and 19th
Cost: $12 (includes your admission to HJ)

In celebration of the class tomorrow, I have been seriously nerding out.

The Tranky Doo in the Spirit Moves:

(Has anyone noticed that it doesn’t look like they’re trucking at first at 1:21? Then they start at 1:23…)

One of my favorite Tranky Doo performances:

And a great one I just got sucked into watching because YouTube knows how to draw us in…

Last but not least, because I’ve been nerding out on the Tranky Doo, and because I know a hundred people will ask me “What count is that?” tomorrow, I have typed up the entire choreography on a spreadsheet. It’s not perfect, but it will keep me from fumbling on the counts and having to dance it out and think too hard.

The format is pretty straight-forward for anyone who wants to look through: it’s arranged in sets of eight-eights, and it reads from left to right, top to bottom. Green boxes mark either significant changes in movement or movements you should strive to hit, if you’re missing everything else. Let me know if you see any mistakes or important points to add and I’ll fix it up!

in other news, I (probably) lost my wallet

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. I have run once this week (so slowly…), and will run a second time tomorrow or Friday. 2. I completed the assessment and am in level two of tier one. I will start the actual challenge on Friday.
3. I have been falling asleep on the bus rather than reading.
4. I have spent too much money at Restaurants, but am stopping…now.
5. Success! Blogging on schedule (if late at night).

One Time Goals

1. I have not yet emailed professors — mostly due to the extreme discouragement I experienced, as explained in the last post. I have a better game plan now, I think, so we’re on track to email two people this weekend.
2. No need to pack yet.
3. Both forwards and backwards movement here — I have downsized things I already owned, but collected (useful?!) things from Shoe, who is leaving the country and expunging her life. The collected things include a dresser, wine glasses, utensils, storage units, and tupperware with locking lids. Oddly, I am most excited about the tupperware.

Other News

For all other news of interest, see the title. I’m not terribly upset — yes, there was cash, and yes, I will have to replace all my cards (the driver’s license is the biggest hassle) — but there’s nothing I can do about it now except move on. I will be searching my car one last time in the morning, and then moving on (and before you ask, there have been no charges to my cards — yet).

I am vaguely upset about losing three things: 1) some mementos (two photobooth photos, one card from a good friend) I keep next to my money so I can look at them when I’m happy / sad / nostalgic, 2) the actual wallet, which was adorable and the most useful wallet I’ve ever had, and 3) the earrings which were, for whatever reason, stored with my change.

the dinos among us: best photo app ever

While I love my iPhone, I’ve never been particularly excited about the apps. When I search through friends’ smart phones, it actually amazes me how many apps people download – do you really use that many apps? I sure as hell don’t. And if I’m not going to use it? I’m not going to download it. (And I’m sure as hell not going to pay for it.)

In being judicious about what I download, I probably miss a lot of entertaining, useful, or quality apps. But man, let me tell you: I have found maybe the best app in the world.

Taking Pictures with Dinosaurs.

Yep. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You have four dinosaur options, and each dinosaur has five poses. You can buy add-on dinosaur packages, if you want the velociraptor or the anklyosaurus. The most challenging (and sometimes entertaining) part is sizing and positioning the dinosaur. It’s a blast.

My favorite photo-taking process? Have someone pose for a picture without telling them what’s going on. Just direct them where to look, and maybe on a particular emotion to portray. That’s how I got the following photos – for some truly fantastic results.

The only complaint I have is that the dinosaur is embedded in the photo-taking process – there is no option to add a dinosaur to a picture you already have, or to get the base picture from a dino-picture you’ve taken. Regardless, I recommend downloading this app immediately.

Some favorites:

PS — this is the beginning of a new installment: favorite things, every Friday. apps, hair styles, books, make up, etc. I really just plan on sharing things that are fun and entertaining in my life, in hopes that you find something you might also find fantastic.

my family’s more badass than your family

I have been MIA from the internet (and my phone, and dancing, and the real world) for the first part of this week due to one very important, very fantastic event: Palooza.

Palooza is our version of the classic Family Reunion. And it has a lot of similar themes to your classic Family Reunion: we all get together, hang out, and do activities. This year, we went pontoon boating on Lake Jocassee; we went hiking to Brasstown Falls; we set off a metric shitton of fireworks. The list goes on.

On the other hand, Palooza has a great many aspects which are completely different from your classic Family Reunion. First, we invite a whole bunch of people who aren’t family, because the more crazy people we have, the more interesting things get. Second, what happens at Palooza, stays at Palooza (of course, this means I can’t tell you any of the more lurid details — but you get the idea). And in that sense, it can actually be a bit reminiscent of Vegas: lots of playing cards, lots of drinking, lots of being rowdy (and sometimes crass). We go night-time swimming (or skinny-dipping, if you’re more adventurous), and we’ve even been known to pull pranks on the locals.

So when my family reunion rolls around every Fourth of July, I get off work, I cancel all dancing (shocker, I know), I go missing. I disappear into the mountains to strengthen family bonds, laugh a whole lot, and maybe even loosen my morals a bit.

I love my family. They keep me human.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog posts. Well, you know, as regular as they get. Things to look forward to:

  • Financial analysis
  • New goals for the New Month (well, the 2/3rds that are left)
  • A series of Photos: “Interesting Book Covers” (all from the Library!)

In the meantime, does anyone have any good self-improvement challenges to work on? I don’t know if I can start them this month, but I am having trouble thinking of new ideas.

university of california at berkeley

While I at first dismissed all colleges on the West Coast due to their location far from home, I’ve recently come to understand a few things. First, the majority of the best schools for Environmental Science are on the West Coast. Second, if one of the best would accept me and I like the program, why wouldn’t I go? Third, I want to live somewhere different; isn’t this the epitome of that desire? So, I’ve revisited the idea.

In summary:

The environmentally related programs offered at Berkeley are much more streamlined than those offered at URI. Granted, that means options are a little limited — but I’m the first to admit that I sometimes work better with limited options, as too many choices can become overwhelming. I am particularly interested in the Masters of Forestry and the PhD in Integrative Biology. There is a significant amount of work I would have to do to be a competitive candidate for the Integrative Biology program — but I think the program would be worth it, and I’m looking in to more information. Additionally, there’s a great student teaching program associated with the IB program, which would help address serious financial challenges.

Details:

The first program which catches my eye at Berkeley is the Masters of Forestry program. While this seems like a very boring choice (doesn’t everyone want to do something so exciting as discover new species?), I think it would be enjoyable. At the very least, I much prefer being outside to being inside, and a job in this field would certainly fit the profile. A Masters of Forestry would also create an easy path to a PhD program, if I so choose. Additionally, a forester can be employed in both urban and rural environments, so I’d have my pick of living conditions. And last but not least, those who graduate from this program are certified Foresters — in fact, it’s the only program in California which provides certification upon graduation.

The other program I would be interested in? Integrative Biology. The problem? They want a biological sciences major with research experience. Technically, they say that other degrees may apply — but realistically, that means other degrees have still taken all or the majority of the requirements to get a BS in Biology. Regardless, I’ve asked for more information on courses I might need to take if I wished to apply to this program. The second problem is that the program only accepts PhD students, which involves a certain amount of commitment — but I think if I could get accepted, it would be beyond worth the time and effort involved. This program is incredibly interdisciplinary, with focuses such as ecology and paleontology and everything in-between. And most importantly, it has a strong student teaching program, which would significantly help the financial side of things. Just saying — that would rock.

Miscellaneous Considerations:

Pro: both programs are highly rated in the country — the Forestry program is 3rd in the nation, and the Integrative Biology program is 1st.

Pro: California is beautiful, and I’d love to live somewhere new for a while.

Con: I would hate to live so far from my family — but if just for a few years? I’m sure I could manage. Just not sure my mom could (sorry mom — it’s the truth).

Con: There’s a chance I will have to do significant legwork for the Integrative Biology program — but that is my preferred program of the two, I think, based on its interdisciplinary basis and teaching program. So I just need to figure out what courses I would need to become a competitive candidate, and take those in my spare time…if I can find the time to spare, of course.