Monday, January 26, 2009

The past several days have been a blur of thought and activity, and I have wanted to document the entire process here. Unfortunately, time has not permitted this, and here I am actually SLEEPY at 1AM after a glorious weekend in Modesto (pictures and stories will be up on Tuesday night), so I am going to attempt to take full advantage of my unusually early weariness by getting to bed!!!!
But first, I want to talk a little bit about having so much of a plan that I have no plan at all!

On Friday, as I removed my ballet shoes outside my studio, I asked Kenneth (both my ballet professor and academic advisor) if we could meet on Tuesday to go over my progress towards graduation yet again. I am convinced that I am the sole reason that Kenneth has removed the academic advisorship sign-up sheet from the bulletin board outside his office. Several times each semester I pester him with "what if"s, "how about"s, and "do you think that I could"s.... He patiently advises me through every life-altering event and seemingly all too distant dream.

This week, I began my kinesiology preliminary course work.


I love kinesiology as applied to dance or movement in general. But the work I would be submerged in over the next three years involves generic sports and very little else. Upon meeting with my professors, I discovered that not only would I not be allowed to apply my practices to my work in dance (at least in the practical application sense for course credit), but I would be forced to prepare lesson plans and TEACH basketball, football, soccer, baseball, etc...
Um..... wow.
If you know me at all, you know that I don't care for the over popularization of American - or any, for that matter - sports. It's a very selfish, closed-minded view, I know. But that's how I feel. I can't stand all the hype, the huge crowds, the mindless betting, the screaming, the fat, lazy viewers yelling at the athletes to "move your arse!"...
It makes me ill. Not to say that these athletes are not phenomenal movers or that there is no merit to their sport of choice. Not at all. I could never dream of being in such shape! I believe what bothers me most is that so many mindless, numbed minds flock by the masses to these sports. The fact that there is so much money in the industry angers me. Millions of people throw money and time into devoting their free attention to watching other people play recreational sports. It's so thoughtless and dull. They would rather whittle away the hours watching something that requires no thought, no energy, no effort whatsoever.

I'm being unfair, I know. I like the occasional baseball game. The athletes are amazing, the crowd is fun! But wow. Some people take it... a little too far. And so it was in my classes. I stumbled into a packed lecture hall filled with 80 kines majors, all of them sports fanatics and at least some form of athlete, even if only in fantasy football. The second I walked in, I felt I was in the wrong class. I checked the board against my schedule and found that I was in the right place, but still I had a persistent feeling of being in the very WRONG place.

Kinesiology was a backup for me because I thought I was going to be marrying Scott and staying in Fresno. Hi. I'm not. But the realization that I am no longer stuck in Fresno did not settle in on me until AFTER I began these classes. I sat through them and talked to my professors afterwards just to give it a chance. Still, that ugly feeling of being in the wrong place. In the actual classes, when my professors began describing plans for the course and giving initial assignments, I felt a heavy weight and discomfort. I thought I was just being a baby and that I needed to snap out of it and prepare myself to work hard. These are heavy courses. But the feelings wouldn't go away. Finally, when I went to talk to my professor about applying my lesson plans to dance, she turned me down and informed me that I would be teaching whatever she assigned me to teach. I was moments away from expressing my distaste and disinterest in most sports when I realized that behind me was a line of about 40 jocks who all apparently dream of becoming high school PE teachers (I really shouldn't knock 'em, but I just don't like 'em, so I'm gonna anyway!!!). I thought it better to shut my mouth and walk away and did so in one piece. I have NEVER been so uncomfortable in any class as I was in these two.

As I walked to my next class, I called mom in frustration at my plans being dashed yet again. She reminded me in that awesome way that she does, "y'know, Laura, you don't HAVE to stay in Fresno".

.....ooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Right! I don't! Wow!

Suddenly, liberation! I discussed possibilities with mom for a bit (thank you, mom, for being so amazingly supportive!) and then immediately went into day dream mode and have remained so since. I have found several universities that offer fantastic MA programs that suit my dreams in places such as Chicago, Virginia, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Southern CA, ALL over New York of course, and Australia. But my favorite would be ROEHAMPTON UNIVERSITY in London!!!!!! When I finish my BA in December, I will be an independent, debt-free graduate! I think I deserve a little appropriate school debt for my MA now, don't you? Well, I really don't care if you agree. I do. So there.

The question now is "how much debt is 'appropriate' debt?". The cost of grad school is sky-rocketing, according to my research over the past week. Even over the past five years, many programs have DOUBLED their fees! Money is a huge problem now. But I am dead determined to earn my MA in the field that I can't get enough of, and apply it to earn money afterwards.

How? Where? When? What will I do? How do I know there will be jobs for my field? What if I can't make any money at all? Will I get into ANY grad schools? How will I support myself as I do?

I have absolutely no idea.


No idea what I'm doing, and I'm ok with that. My plans have never really worked out for me. So I'm going to try something new. NOT planning.

I'm going to go where my body and heart and mind and God take me.
I'll just have to trust that it will be enough to survive on. I believe it is. And maybe I won't be as successful in some eyes. But I will be happy.

So.... London. That's my first choice. Oh man, I'm shaking just thinking about it. Have been for a week. All alive inside and excited to see more of the world. I'm going to do everything I can to get there! Just ignore the fact that it will cost about $40,000... I'll figure that out..... somehow....

Mom and I joked about how we each have a new "favorite quote" every week. She had printed this one out and let me take it with me as I left Modesto. I find that it captures my feelings and carries my hopes on its back. Any quote that can do that is worth saving, at least to me.

"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." ~ Michelangelo Buonarroti

Ok, ten points to anyone who knew that Michelangelo's surname was "Buonarroti", except Wendy. That's exactly the kind of information I would expect her to have stockpiled in an easy-access compartment of her brain.

Here I go, off to attempt to reach an extremely high aim. Wish me luck, and don't cringe at my seeking heavy debt. I'll do that enough for everyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lobes Talk.

My hair is getting longer these days (or longer than it has been the past two years). When it comes to my hair, I'm "going for distance. ...Going for speed". I get slightly impatient these days, checking my hair every few minutes rather than every few weeks... Irritating, I know. Still, do a little jig in my honor! Yay for long-ish hair!
This past summer, I attended "Vintage Days" at Fresno State University, a huge blowout bash full of vendors and artists, games and noise, contests and music, blah blah blah. At one small booth, I noticed a collection of wooden hair forks that I found particularly attractive. I purchased the one designated for hair that might come close to the thickness of mine - not an easy feat - and took it home without trying it on. Hahahaa..... Yeah, my hair was too short to use said fork until last month. So the fork sat in my drawer until Christmas time when I found it during one of my "look at me, I'm just like my clean-freak mother" moments, tearing through every nook and cranny in my allotted sector of the condo armed to the teeth with sponges and disinfectant.

The fork came with a diagram of a few fancy shmancy ways to "shrew" the "do". Unfortunately, on the day I brought the fork home, I was once again in that "motherly cleaning" mode, in which it is my immovable policy to get rid of every single item that could possibly be deemed unnecessary. I promply fulfilled my duty as a Black daughter by tossing the purchase baggy, the receipt, and the instructional diagrams into the trash bin. Hmmm... do I do this every time I shop? Something environmental is stirring within me. I think Daughter-Laura and Grown-Up-Attempting-Environmentalist-Laura need to sit down to have a little chat.

All that aside, I am now a proud owner of a hair fork, finding myself instruction..less...
So I have done some research and playing on my own, and have found a lovely way to tie up the 'do' for work in such a way as to conceal the nasty crease I get from wearing a bun on my sweaty head through hours of ballet. Because every pilot loves a sweaty bun-head, right? Ugh. Yeah, it was not attractive for work. I'm loving the new 'do'. I'm pretty boring, though. I've only found this one way to use the fork. I twist my hair into sort of a frenchy-twisty-thingy, brush the teeth of my fork from behind my right ear to the crest of the twist of hair, then pierce the twist of locks like so:

The result is simple, elegant, and easy to fix should it ever fall out. It works for now.

"What has this got to do with lobes talking, Laura?"
Gosh, you're impatient.

The other night, I sat around with a few friends playing games and watching movies at my place. After an hour or so, one friend accused me of being a chronic hair-player. He pointed out that I had taken my hair down and put it back up in that fork at least a dozen times. He proudly keeps count now. Grrr...
Still don't see the connection to lobes? that's probably because there isn't one. I just felt like telling the story of my lovely hair and new/old hair fork. Hooray.

But seriously, Lobes Talk.
I have always had this bump on the back of my head. Always a lump. Perhaps the remains of the dead fetus twin I resorbed in the womb? hehehe..... (hopefully you "Office" and "bigfatgreekwedding" fans caught that). Seriously, though. I always thought I was a freak. I was convinced that I had been dropped on my head as a child, or that my soft spot had never hardened properly. Immediately above the big beak-like lump on the back of my head, there is a flat, sensitive surface that slants upward at something like a terribly unattractive 45 degree angle, rather that a nice, rounded "back of skull" as found on non-freaks. About 4 years ago, I began to realize that I am kinda sorta a little bit maybe smart. In my brilliance, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this lump was the result of my brain growing incredibly fast in one direction, too large for an average skull. Accompanied by irregular sleep positions, this could be a rudimentary explanation for my abnormal skull shape. Seriously. I thought this. With all my anthropological fascination and study, this is what I came up with. So much for smart. Ha!

Oh look, a relationship to the first half of this post!

When my friend pointed out my hair-playing fetish, I began thinking about why I engage in that habit. I realized that the fork sits exactly above the lump, against the sloping surface, and that it HURTS! After a day of holding my heavy hair up, pulling against my sensitive "slope", it actually hurts my head! I'm accustomed to hair ties and clips becoming irritating after a day of wear, but this was different. This week has been dominated by constant headaches, asleep or awake, and I wonder if it could be due to this fork's position. After fiddling with my head lump for a few minutes, feeling where the sensitivity dulled away, I suddenly recalled the image of the little girl in the movie "My Girl" playing with some sort of labeled skull in her basement, then feeling her friend's head to find similarities... or something...

After an HOUR of online-searching for every lumpy-head-study phrase I could think of, I FINALLY found a wikipedia (oh so reliable...) entry on PHRENOLOGY!

Phrenology- long since labeled a "defunct" field of study- was the psuedo-science in which the "reading" of the bumps on one's skull was used to discover one's personality traits. Not quite fortune-telling. Not quite a real science. But enough correlations were found between certain characteristics of skull forms and personality traits that charts were drawn, sculptures made, and careful instructions laid out.

More for my anthropological fascination than anything else, I began a phrenological study of my own head. Here were my findings, which, might I add, make me feel all goose-bumpy:

The lump on the back of my head is not as rare and found-only-in-freaks as I originally thought. It is simply an over-developed Occipital Lobe. The Occiput is the hole in the base of the primate skull in which the peak of the spine is held, allowing the skull to rest balanced atop the control post of the body, manipulated and held by muscle and tissue. Guess where I learned this. Guess.

Dance Class. Oh yeah. Dance class, baby.

In Modern, Balance of Body and Mind, and Pilates, I learn all sorts of crazy junk about the human body that one would never expect to encounter in a dance class. Dancers are smart! ;P Coupled with my many anthropology classes, I've got a cache of information to begin all sorts of ridiculously drawn-out studies when curiosity strikes. Something like this post...

As I was saying...
The occipital lobe is the visual processing portion of the brain, also known to control and contribute to spatial processing, color discrimination, and motion perception. Hello. If most of that didn't sound like pure dance terminology to you, read it again and take a dance class. ANY dance class. I was totally engineered to be a dancer, dudes! hahahahahahaaa..... Well, that's the story I'll stick to, anyway. Back to Phrenology.

In Phrenology, an enlarged occipital lobe or bump in such an area signifies strength in Philoprogenitivness. .....? My sentiments exactly.
Apparently, it means prolific. This can be easily miscontrued for something completely different than what the pseudo-science inteded. It is simply meant as the natural love of one's biological children. I am often referred to in school by professors and my associates alike as an extremely
"prolific" writer. Whether they are referring to my obvious thirst for learning as I write and explore or to my lengthy delivery of copious amounts of unnecessary and nearly irrelevant information, I have not yet decided. But the correllation is interesting, no?

Other formations on my head suggest that I am prone to destructiveness, have low self-esteem and little sense of continuity (the slope in the back of my head should be a nice, hefty curved compartment where apparenlty all my self-esteem and continuity WOULD have been stored! haha!), a serious affinity for conjugal love... no comment... prone to develop close friendships, have a hefty appetite, a gift for musical tune, a good understanding of language in general, No sense of time or proportion, strong senses of ideality and sublimity, hope, spirituality, and imitation, just about a complete lack of all things suave, and a pretty decent memory. Anything I left out of that ugly sentence was left out because I simply didn't understand what my head bumps were telling me, pro or con.
The funny thing is, if you know me well, that is... ME. It really does describe me exactly, with the exception of maybe the continuity part. I disagree with that whole-heartedly. Hmmmm. Interesting.
Those of you who made it through this insanely lengthy post now have the joy of trying it on for size!!!! Let's all play the phrenology game! Click on the mapped head images above, enlarge them, and give yourself a good head massage. Tell me what Phrenologists would say of you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here I reference Irmgard Bartinieff's 7th fundamental of movement. Her argument was that one cannot find mobility until they achieve stability. Clear, intentional movement comes only from the capacity to be stable in stillness. This makes perfect sense, from a dancer's view. A triple pirrouette cannot be satisfactorily executed until one is able to balance in retire-releve for at least the two seconds it takes to peform the turn. Further, landing a turn smoothly comes from being on center throughout the turn, including the descent back from releve to the floor which, though only inches of difference, can seem miles of a journey if one is not stable. A sturdy, stable supporting leg allows for the rest of the body to move freely with ease. But if stability has not been established in the supporting structure of the body -be it an arm, a leg, the back, or even the head - desired mobility is lost and the laws of physics will disagree and inevitably defeat any struggles to return to stability. Stability must be established prior to mobility. I experience this daily in movement. A mobile body struggling to establish stability in the legs, pelvis, hips, torso, or whatever structure is offering the support of the moment, will only cheat itself of good training and, at best, false support. All those thousands of little girls in competition dance have been forced to torque their knees and ankles for years, encouraged to "turn out!" and "get that leg up!". These poor girls have no basis of stability in any of their movement. They simply have been taught to cheat well. Rare is the dancer who can exhibit clear, correct allignment, a stable core and pelvis, and clean technique.

I can see the fall coming every time, in my own body and in others. I can feel it about to happen. In that split second prior to the stumble, my mind is racing over all possible solutions, knowing that there is none other than to fake. I know exactly why I stumbled, where the stumble initiated in my body, and how I could have avoided it. To the untrained viewer, it may look like I stumbled due to an unstable ankle, perhaps an inconveniently placed piece of tape on the floor, a bump, or a bad shoe. But I know what happened in my body, and I am the one to blame for over rotation in one hip, causing inward rotation in the other, causing my femur to turn in, casuing my lower leg to rotate inward against my foot which was desparately struggling to remain outwardly rotated in the turn, which eventually had to give in to physics, breaking line at the ankle or in the metatarsels where the rotation can no longer be faked. At that point, my releve is depleted. I land hard on a flat foot and the turn is anything but successful. Any efforts to continue in a turn beyond that point are moot and considered world-wide as a major cheat, ugly, tacky, and just over all bad form and technique. Kenneth has carefully trained me to recognize where these mistakes came from and how to avoid them. This is kinesiology. Luckily, I find it fascinating.

All this thought and concern just to twirl a little onstage. Please consider that, while I am an avid dancer, desparately interested in all things dance related, I am not a small-minded idiot. If I am to put so much energy into my thought processes on a single turn, consider how much thought I put into the rest of life. As with everything in dance, I find that this fundamental applies to every aspect of life.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall".

Kenneth puts great emphasis on being "on center". Any time he corrects anyone in class for anything, he offers them a chance to voice their opinion on how they may have avoided the mistake. 90% of the time, the answer has something to do with being centered. Of course, he expects us to define each circumstance in much greater detail, but inevitably, it all leads back to how centered our weight is. "Any other way is madness". Oh, the correlations. Oh, the parallels.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you."

Last night was DANCE PARTY 2009!!!!! For the first time this year.
My friends, Jana and Ellie, used to live together. During this glorious little time in our college careers, we enjoyed throwing the most groovin' dance parties of all time. It began one day when the three of us were getting ready for some sort of little party we were having at Jana's parents' ranch out in Northern Fresno. We maxed out the volume on her stereo as we were getting all dressed up and began shaking our hips to whatever funny little tunes came up. Jana has such fantastic taste in music that nobody but she has ever heard of any of it. She is one of the few in the world who never got over Hansen after their 1997 hit "Mmm Bop", and has followed them and other obscure indie bands since then.
So in the spacious arena of Jana's rock-and-roll-poster strewn room, we cranked up the tunes and started to move. Any little movement became an instant hit, and we began feeding off of one another, doing the most ridiculous little dances we could think of. Anytime anyone did something that struck the others as interesting, we all caught on and started to follow. Silliest. Days. Ever. Jana, caught up in the fun, jumped up on her bed and declarred it "DANCE PARTY 2006"!!!!!!! So much fun. Nothing but great friends, great music, and great goofy dancing. Reserved for the high-energy, happy occassions, we began to go through life searching for the next "Dance Party (insert year). As soon as it was declared, no matter the circumstance or setting, we all immediately began dancing our worries away!
Tonight was apparently one of those nights. After a movie night at my place, we headed out to my favorite quirky thai food joint, The Million Elephant in Tower District. After that, we laughed and sang to "Squirrel Nut Zipper's" "HELL" from the "HOT" Album back in 1997 or 8. When we got back to my place, DANCE PARTY 2009 was declared and the cluster of us goofily grooved to great music including "If You Wanna Be Happy", "Hey Mickey, You're So Fine", and "Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun", as well as some other more obscure music. Good times, good times.
It was much needed. But now I find myself in bed with my laptop playing "If You Wanna Be Happy" over and over, craving another DANCE PARTY 2009!!!!! lol..... makes me laugh. and smile. and DANCE! WEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


A line from one of my favorite books, "The History Of Love" by Nicole Krauss.

Fragile Laura
feeling lost.
needs a friend
or a game

laughter would help

just anything to simplify this dissonance in my head
massive storm
making me dizzy

never felt so confused.

you know that trick that super suave stage performers pull when they swipe the table cloth out from underneath the table settings without disturbing one piece?

that's what has happened to my foundation for life.
I suppose I could have used the more common cliche of "rug pulled out from beneath me".
but the image of the tablecloth trick is way better, so I stand by it.
just like that.

fence sitting has become a huge issue for me.
there are two of me.
I have two minds about everything.
can I shoot one of me?

even if I could, I don't know which one to shoot.

A special thanks to Reed for being a good friend and brother-in-law-ish-thing.
You really helped today, Reed. Thank you so much.

I really want to laugh. be five years old again.
I was happy when I was five.
life was easy.
how do I get back to that?

I don't feel well.
Fear and doubt consume me.
I need some peace.

Daddy, I need you. Scott, Andrew, Bishop, anyone who is able. I need help.
Please help.

Monday, January 5, 2009

By The Way

Broke up with Daniel tonight.
Not a happy thing, but still the right choice.
I'm sad. But I'm feeling much more at peace.
No comments, please.

Happy New Year and all that jazz. I don't have much to say but couldn't stand the sight of a Christmas post at the top of my blog any longer. Consider this me taking down Christmas decorations.

School starts in ten days. I am not ready. This will be the most difficult semester of my life thus far, and I am very afraid of failure. 22 units, half of which are subjects I am completely unfamiliar with (kines prelim courses), and if I do not do well, not only will I further delay graduation, but I will ruin my chances of getting into the Kines MA program. I am also taking the advanced modern and ballet courses (they rotate semesters, so while I am always in the most advanced class of the semester, this is only the second time I've taken the highest levels offered at the university) as well as a Contemporary Dance course that will supposedly replace one of my pilates requirements, as that course will not be offered again before I plan to graduate. So Contemp dance should be a big challenge. Modern Ballet. Awesome. I'm taking Modern, Ballet, and ModernBallet. Another Gerontology course for an upper division requirement, no room for performance this year (which, if you know me, bums me out!) and the second half of a lighting design class the first half of which I did not take. Again, I need this course to fulfill a requirement for a class that will not be offered again before I graduate. Budget cuts are KILLING me. I have ordered the book for the first lighting course and am expecting it to arrive any day now. I hope it does soon because I have to catch up on an entire semester of reading in ten days.

I spent the weekend cleaning out my apartment (which is STILL empty! Where are all my roommates?!) and I have been considering moving a little closer to school. Don't laugh. I like to fall out of bed and step right into my studio. It's a 15-20 minute walk from my place to anywhere on the near side of campus, and when one is taking 22 units and working full time, one needs to cut out all unnecessary travel time. There are some great little studio apartments right next to my studio. Maybe I could check those out. I have also considered getting a bike. THAT'S what I should have asked for this Christmas! Dang it! I never know what to ask for until afterwards. All I needed was a bike. "Gift cards" I said. Nice, Laura. Although, the gifts I received from my family were wonderful. By the way Carin and Kelli, thank you so much for those beautiful depictions of the Savior. They are so lovely.

New year's resolutions, anyone?
I have a long list. They include steps to graduation, veganism, complaining less, smiling more, gratitude, saving, building my credit score, changing old habits, and worrying less about unimportant things.

Maybe I should just stick to one. Nah. That's no fun.

Tell me YOUR resolutions.