Archive for November, 2008

Today was a day when I had to intentionally change routines. I went to church, which was a really good thing for me, and it’s challenging me to consider what I think about my life in relation to, well a lot of things. I had some conversations with people after the service and I alluded to some of what’s going on and about “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and if now is a new season or another ‘straw’. Nothing specific was said but they suggested further conversations. That could be a good thing as they are certainly older and much much wiser than I am and their words have guided me in the past.  Right now it this situation feels like another straw — and I’m feeling tired and emotionally bruised (it matches my physical soreness, actually…).

I hope the peace that I was feeling was real, right now I just feel sadness.

I went for brunch with some of my friends — a different group than my standing brunch group — and it was nice to meet up with them, I needed a distraction as I can’t go to my standing brunch for now. Afterwards I went home and napped before heading to dinner with my family. On my way I was exploring the music of Jacob Moon (who performed last Sunday), the song that’s linked below is one that really touched me. Come Talk To Me by Jacob Moon

For now though, I’m going to go to bed nice and early. I’m tired, weary, sore and a lot of other emotions.

PS If anyone who is on this site knows how to embed media so it plays in the blog (or can be clicked on to play without downloading a link) please comment! I’d appreciate it!


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Pain on Every Level…

I don’t even know where to begin this post but I know the need to write so continue with me as I try to make sense of all that is going on with me right this moment.

But, every level, yes. Pain on every level of my being. Let’s start with the easy one, shall we? The one I can make sense of…


I’ve had a knot in my back that I’ve been complaining of, the last few weeks. It all started with a horrible cough at work, a couple of weeks ago. It was agonizing and created a pain in my ribs that just killed.  But there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I carried on. It didn’t actually hurt all that much while dancing, though walking quickly hurt (which has kept me from running), and being out of breath felt like I was missing a lung. After ECBF, the pain worsened and worsened. I knew I had a chiropractor’s appointment set for last night, so I asked for — and received — lots of back massages, pain killers and the like.

Monday night, one of my friends was trying to help me out, felt the ‘knot’ and commented that it didn’t feel like muscle, it felt more like bone. Turns out that this friend was right. I had not one, not two but three ribs dislocated. FROM COUGHING!!! Yes. Coughing.  It was, of course, likely made worse by dancing and not getting it looked at right away, but it really didn’t feel ‘dislocated’ it felt more like a muscle pull at first.

Going to my chiropractor last night was good, but unlike my usual visits, this one was in pain. I couldn’t lie on my back, and on my front I couldn’t get myself up without help after he popped the ribs back in.  After the ribs were put back into place, my back started spasming, and reacting to the movement and the pain in the front (where it initiated) returned.

Getting home from the chiropractor’s was interesting to say the least. I think I swore every single time I had to turn my body. But I made it, and immediately took painkillers to ward off the spasms.  After taking everything I could, without OD’ing or being unsafe (including 2 shots of vodka), I was still in agony. This morning I woke up, took the day off of work, went to my chiropractor and spent the rest of the day passed out on my sofa. Two ribs had to be put back in today.


My life has been in flux lately. And as it’s been so, I’ve tried to be respectful of the situation, by being fairly vague here. I’m sure most people have figured out that it relates to a guy.  He’s someone I’m close to — or have been prior to now — he’s probably my closest guy friend. He’s also in a messy place. He’s finally being forced to deal with a breakup that happened a long time ago.  But the problem is that we started to get together. And, quietly, have been together. No one has known about it (except for certain friends).  We weren’t ‘defined’ as in a relationship, per se, but we were together. Things were in flux because he’s been at a very messy place. Isn’t ready to be in a ‘relationship’. I recognize this and wasn’t expecting anything more than ‘flux’ for quite a while.

But then Monday came. That messed him up, and after a long chat with his ex last night he was pretty angry, pained, angry at himself for putting me in this position, wishing for it to be back to where it was before we got together. So he ended things. Wants them to be as they always were, and no ‘flux’.  The problem was, he did this when I was in the throes of back pain. Which didn’t help. I’m terrible at asking for support, and I’d tried everything else. The pain was intense. So I called him to ask for help. And the response I got was this. I asked him if he ever wanted to address things with me again, or if this door was being closed forever and I again didn’t get a straight answer out of him. The answer I got was that he didn’t see it being possible that he’d ever be over his emotions relating to his ex. This frustrates me because I deal best with straight answers. If he’d said ‘no, it’s done forever’ then ties are cut and I’m forced to move on. If he’d said ‘yes’ then we can have further conversations. As it is currently he wants what was always there. He said he wants me to be around, usual activities we do together is fine as it always was.

The problem is? For me, had what always was stayed in place and had we not started down this pathway I could have continued in what always was for a very long time. But now? I don’t know that I can go back. At least not right now. Because the reality is that any feelings that I had for him that had been boxed up were blown wide open. Regardless of what he thinks, I will always be in the middle — at least until I move on. And the real heartbreak will happen if he moves on, even if it’s a fling, and we don’t have a chance ever to find out if we’d really be good together.

So at the moment, I’m sad. My body’s hurting. But I’m not crushed, I’m not even afraid or worried. I have this strange sense of peace at the moment that I can’t explain. It feels irrational, weird and almost ridiculous given the current state of affairs. But it’s there.

I do know that this is the last straw. I’ve thought it for a while. As a result, I wont dance in Vancouver again for a while. I’ll work the door, as promised, tomorrow but after that’s over, I’m going to leave. My back hurts anyhow, and I hurt too much to see him. So I’m done. This added to the idiot situation of Hallowe’en means I’m done. When January rolls around I will reconsider my involvement then, but for December I will fill my time with other things. I will still dance in Seattle, I’m not planning on giving it up completely, and I may move to Westie when there’s a dance happening and I want to dance but not with my usual crowd.

So for those dancers who are reading this blog, please keep this quiet. If you think you know who I’m talking about, PLEASE PLEASE keep it to yourself. There aren’t many dancers who read this, but you never know.


Yes, this affects things for me spiritually. Understanding more about who I am is good, but not understanding what this means for my life is not good. I’d said that this situation was the last. The one before was supposed to be the last but this one unexpectedly cropped up. I don’t feel done with the situation, so I don’t feel done dealing spiritually. But, I may be. I can’t make sense of these emotions right at the moment. Too much pain to process this part.

PS. I’ve got this post unlocked at the moment, because I know a couple of you are wondering what’s really going on with me at the moment. I will be password protecting it on Saturday with Heart as the password. Anyone who’s seen this post so far is welcome to read it agan, in the future it’s also okay I just don’t want it randomly available for anyone to read.

Update Many Months later: I’ve moved on 100% and feel comfortable sharing how I felt without passwords. It’s unlocked.

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I was chatting with one of my running partners about my life. She reminded me of a story. A parable if you will.

There was a man, in the middle of the ocean, drowning. He was sure that God was going to rescue him. Completely convinced of it. What happens? A helicopter comes along, a ladder drops down and a rescuer comes to try to save him. He refuses the help. He’s convinced that God is going to save him and he refuses the help. So the helicopter leaves. Next, along comes a lifeboat. Tries to rescue the drowning man. Same response “No no, go away, God is going to rescue me”.

What ends up happening? The man drowns, and when he reaches heaven what does he ask God??? “You were going to rescue me!!! Why didn’t you???” God’s answer? “Why do you think I sent the helicopter and then the lifeboat??? You refused my help and you died”.

There are some (loose, perhaps) parallels to the rollercoaster I seem to be on. I’m not the man, rather I’m, perhaps, the lifeboat in this story.  But what happens when the helicopter and the lifeboat have a conversation? Anything can happen.  Perhaps a coordinated effort, perhaps… well, anything. I can think of both good and bad. And I am not going to depress myself by dwelling on the bad at the moment.

That was how my day has played out.  This rollercoaster I’m on at the moment just took a turn and I have no idea what that means. I have no idea what’s ahead, and all I can do is live my life.

I also had some realizations dance-related tonight.  I have learned a few reasons why I have such a general crush on Seattle dancing, or Portland dancing:

  1. Connection. In Vancouver no one does the ‘in connection’. I get so used to the default ‘out’ connection that I defaulted there at ECBF sometimes. But intentionally working on the ‘in’ and playing with it in Vancouver these past few weeks I’ve learned that most leads don’t know what to do with ‘in’ and they seem to immediately send me out. Maybe they’re creeped out. Maybe that was what the jerk meant when he said he wasn’t comfortable (See hallowe’en posts). But the reality is, the ‘in connection’ the torso connection is very important in blues dancing, and it doesn’t mean grinding, or awkward pelvis thrusts or any of that sort. It’s just a torso connection. And when it’s done, it feels fantastic, dancing moves to a new level, and the limits can be pushed.
  2. Leads in Seattle and Portland know how to feel the floor. They get the analogy of dancing on a floor that’s 2 inches below the actual floor. And they do this without dancing low. This one guy in Seattle is 6’6″ (I’m guessing, but he’s quite tall) and he dances his height. When we dance we get that full torso connection, we’ve got an athletic stance so there’s no pelvis grinding, and our shoulders definitely don’t match. Mine are closer to his stomach, in realitiy. But you know what, he really can feel the floor.  Another lead from ECBF was much shorter, shorter than me, and he too danced his height while still feeling the floor. Maybe this is two things going on here (feeling the floor and dancing one’s height can be two different things), but I guess my point is to question how leads in Vancouver feel the floor and what they think that means. I’m by no means an expert, and this is something I’m working on constantly (I think if people videotaped me as I dance and clean my apartment, they’d laugh — this is a common thing for me to explore…).  I know I used to have this habit of going up on my tiptoes more when dancing with taller leads, particularly when doing Balboa, but I’ve realized — from comments that were made to me — that when I dance my height, my connection improves, I can feel the floor better and and I feel better as a dancer.
  3. The other thing that I particularly appreciate? My favourite leads, of all time, are ones that push it. Not every dance necessarily, but they respond to me and they take anything I give them, build on it and the dance grows from there because then I have a chance, and the freedom, to respond in creative ways that allow me to interpret the music and add to the communication of the dance. But most leads in Vancouver don’t do that — at least not very often. A few do, one (the one who was in classes with me at ECBF, in fact) as one who has broken out of his comfort zone and will push the limits with me. I know that I have to bring it to the dance too and that any lead who’s at all decent can probably tell the difference between a follow who is into the dance and who is not. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to bring all that I can to any dance that I dance. Because there are leads there who can bring it, they just don’t. Not often. And I can tell that they dance in the ‘usual’ way with me, yet if they were to just push things and test the waters at all, they’d discover that there is quite a lot more to me and my dancing than what there was 6 months ago or a year ago.
  4. My favourite leads of all time? Do all three, at the same time consistently. And because I expect it, I bring it. Every time.

Oh yeah, and I had a yale story tonight too… A french man, 41 years old, married, wanted to chat. It’s funnier than it sounds at the moment, but it’s 1:15am and I need to go and take a muscle relaxant so that I can sleep. 2 more days until my chiropractor’s appointment. OWWW my back hurts.

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Part of the challenging headspace I’ve been in lately has to do with how much sleep I’ve been having.  My sleeps been painful and interrupted all week because of this stupid sore muscle that I’ve got.  And I’ve realized as the week’s gone on, that how I’m doing headspace-wise is directly related to how much sleep I’ve been having.

Later this week I’ve realized that things aren’t as dire as they felt — at this point, at least. Normalcy is possible, and seems to be present at this point. I do know that my feelings of earlier this week are valid. What was past is changing and what is to come cannot be the same as the past.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but because I don’t know what is to come, I cannot prepare myself for it.  And it’s a very vulnerable, insecure position to place myself in.

Which I don’t like. However, is it worth it to keep myself in this vulnerable place? An emphatic yes. I think it is. I’m confused, stressed at times, but the potential is worth the risk.  So I won’t stop this place of flux, I will ride it out. At least for right now.

One of my girlfriends commented that my life is changing. I agree. 2009 is going to be very different from 2008. I just don’t know how.

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Continued Processing

Will it ever end? The knot in my back feels like a knife and I really need a massage. And that’s how I feel sometimes in my heart — like there’s a huge knife there. Yet somehow I need to figure out how to be normal. Not that I even know what that means anymore.  These past few days have been rough.  I don’t know how much of this flux and uncertainty I can handle.  Feeling shut out, uncertain of my place in any area of my life.

In many ways my life has been great lately. I have little to complain about and I’m feeling more secure and happy than I’ve felt in a long time. Yet things got rocked. And I have to walk through this flux as much as it feels like there’s a knife in my heart — I have no choice because this season has to be had. The “why” I don’t know… But to be more raw and honest than I’ve been to date about my ‘processing’, I feel like I’ve lost one of my dearest friends.

I’m grieving and trying to do it quietly because I’ve lost what I had and I have no idea what the future will bring. And it hurts. It hurts because even if the future is better than the past, in the “now” I’m both not a source of support and don’t have my own source of support where I’m used to having it. And it’s killing me.

I had a counseling session tonight.  We talked in detail about this situation I’ve been talking circles around lately.  And to find ‘normal’ I need to act normal even if it’s not a two way street. That’s tough because it feels like I’m just going to get myself hurt and that seems counter intuitive.  But, for this flux to find grounding and stability, I need to be grounded and ‘normal’.

So, as I value and respect my counselor and recognize how she’s helped me through some rough waters this year, I will heed her advice and figure out how to be normal. For the moment, though, it really hurts. I didn’t want to be in this place. I really didn’t. And I’m also pretty angry that I’m here. In this place.

So, I’m going to go and do some cathartic cleaning…

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Dance Classes at ECBF

I took notes in my classes this weekend and I wanted to summarize them here — so that I can find them again, and so that I don’t have to try to sort out my notes in the future…

Fast Blues

  • STRETCH — into the floor but can still lengthening the body, dynamic. Hitting the ends
  • RELAX — all parts
  • FEELING THE FLOOR — down and into it. Picture a floor 2 inches below the actual floor
  • MOVEMENTS: Shake and Bake, Slow Drag, ‘applejack style’

Delta Blues

  • resisting/stretch
  • movement with your centre but improvising with the feet (not necessarily on the ‘correct’ foot but still having your centre following the lead).
  • A comment that I got when asked for feedback: More “In” connection through the chest rather than the ‘out connection’ that is my default. Worked on this a lot this weekend, and when I did, I realized that it’s so much nicer than the out. As long as the lead allows the connection through the chest and doesn’t keep it in ‘default lindy closed’
  • Tempo and energy and mood ar different things and listening to each part could make you respond differently. LISTEN to the lyrics, the tempo and energy could be up but the lyrics/mood could be sad/grieving. It all plays a role in responding to the music

Spins And Turns

  • Spin Techniques and practicing
  • Down to stabilize
  • Build momentum and compression
  • Both sides
  • Two handed ‘angled turn’


  • Posture
  • 1&a 2a
  • Movement and weight transfers where does the momentum come from –> from the sending leg
  • hip action up back to neutral and down in front
  • Contra movement
  • All dances have a base in african movement, with african hip motion and rhythm action
  • No hop steps all action from the driving leg
  • Body initiated, drive through sending leg and receive

Advanced Improvisation

By putting yourself in a “box” you can experience methods of improvisation and creativity to expand your dance. This was easily the class where I had the most fun:

The boxes we played with were:

  1. Your normal is an 11, dance at a 2.
  2. Dance at different levels
  3. Rotation — all dancing is rotation
  4. In open only
  5. Front to back at all times, no face to face closed
  6. Stretching and hitting the ends with different parts of your body
  7. Dynamic Range — changing the range of the dance. Not always at 2 or 11 but varying it based on what the music said.

Steven and Virginie

These classes were taped for their DVD so I can buy the DVD to see the class again:

  • Waltz steps in blues
  • swaying in movement and flexibility
  • more african movements
  • turn with over rotation and routine

The short of it is I want to take some African dance classes…

These notes are brief, but the classes were fast and intense and pushed me to my limits. It was exactly what I needed. I literally used up every ounce of energy in those classes. They were fantastic.

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