Thursday, February 28, 2013

Something Worth Trying

I tried taking a 5D to rehearsal last night instead of the Hasseblad, thinking that it would be so much easier to manage.  (Although so much more expensive, which is super scary.)  And I came home thinking that I hadn't gotten anything that I wanted, because what I wanted was more of what I've already shown you.

A few of them really are just nice photos of people looking nice:

But I think that some of these are worth doing, maybe.  They aren't what I was looking for, but maybe that's a good thing. 

This one is sort of a nice photo of someone dancing, but I like her stillness, and there's something about her expression that gets to me:

The more I look at these, the more I think there's something worth trying.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Difference in perspective

Research has shown that the more knowledge people have on a subject, the less likely they are to feel confident in it.  So it shouldn't really be a surprise that the better I get at this, the lower I rate my skill.  I'm even a little embarrassed now, because I know what I've been doing wrong this whole time.  I'm an okay dancer.  I still have a long way to go.  But I'm excited about this competition.

Did I mention I get to dance American Smooth—my favorite—with the best dancer on the team?  At last rehearsal, I overheard another girl complaining about that, that her partner was too good.  "She'll make me look bad."

But it's the other way around.  A good dancer will give the right signals so there's no fumbling while trying to switch in the middle of a step.  A good dancer will have the right timing.  A good dancer can make a simple step so beautiful that it looks more advanced than it really is.  A good dancer can compensate for a partner's mistakes and make it look intentional. 

Watching the two of us together, it will be clear that my partner is a much better dancer.  But that won't make me look worse.  A good dancer makes her partner look better.

Dear Diatryma: for reference

This is the card that stupid cheating dragon played.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The friend who sent this to me didn't know.  And I wouldn't have thought it would hit me so hard. 

There's a girl in this video, I first recognized her at 2:02, but now that I watch it again, I see her everywhere.  She died last November.  And I've gotten used to seeing photos, I've gotten used to seeing her name attached to the word "memorial."  But I wasn't prepared for this.  I didn't see it coming.

It's almost like being famous!

A few times a year, Dance New York Iowa has a guest coach come in for extra special lessons.  His name is Edward Simon, and he's the co-founder of DNY Iowa, and founder of DNY New York.  He's won some awards that look fancy, although people usually introduce him as having "taught Cheryl Burke!"

Now it may be that he taught Cheryl Burke when she was 10 years old, and it may be that he was her professional coach who got her to the big time.  But regardless of whether or not it means anything about his teaching skills, he must have, at some point, danced with her. 

I have danced with him.

Cheryl Burke has danced with Rob Kardashian. 

That puts me at three degrees of separation from a Kardashian, which means four degrees from the entire Kardashian family. 

The tabloids are going to start calling any day now, I'm sure!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happier Thoughts

Still fighting to feel better.  Mostly winning.  On Saturday, when the afternoon ended with my falling to bed in tears, I told Cassidy that I didn't have the energy to keep being happy.  He asked if I had been faking it earlier, but it wasn't fake.  I wasn't using energy to look happy, I was using it to be happy.  I remember phrases and feelings, I relive the hurt.  It is easy to stay there.  It's hard to pull myself out.

At the last competition team rehearsal, when we split into leads and follows, and I still hadn't gotten an answer regarding what I would be doing, I asked the team captain.  He looked rather surprised and said, "Follow.  That's what you wanted, right?" 

I said, "Yeah, I just didn't know if I would be able to, since you never told me the answer."  He was so bewildered! 

After rehearsal, he handed out partner assignments.  Now, unless I am grossly misjudging my own ability (I've never actually seen myself dance), I am perfectly mediocre.  At my best, I am not as good as the finalists in my division, and at my worst, I am still better than other dancers.  I think that I might be good enough to make it to a second round, I know I'm not good enough to make it further.  But I didn't get paired with anyone who I thought might make it that far.  And so I stopped thinking about it as a competition.   No matter how I did, we would be out on the first round.  There was nothing to achieve.  It was kind of relaxing to think of it that way.

Then, over the weekend, the team captain rescinded our pairings.  And last night he announced new ones.  Instead of dancing bronze smooth with a guy who refuses to touch me, I'm dancing with the best female dancer on the team.  She is the only woman dancing at gold level.  I'm not sure how many things she knows how to lead, but even if we do nothing but a basic step for the entire 90 seconds, she is going to do it perfectly.  It means that I'm the variable.  If I'm good enough, we'll get to round two.  If I'm not, we won't.  So, not so relaxing anymore.  This is exciting.

I also had a new realization about plus-sized formal dresses.  BRIDESMAID DRESSES.  They come in zillions of colors, they come in plus sizes, usually every style is available in every size so that everyone matches.  And, really, a "bridesmaid dress," is just a solid-color semi-formal or formal dress with a different marketing scheme.

On the other hand, it's rather annoying to shop for plus sizes and see everything modeled like this:

Plus-sized Vera Wang at David's Bridal

And, really, I haven't the money for a serious dress, much less the five serious dresses on my list.  And it's not like I'm going to so many competitions that I need a different dress for each one.  The USA Ballroom dances are far more casual, and there's no one to impress anyway. 

But I think that, by the end of the year, I will be ballgowned.  Just because.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Turtles All the Way Down

Cassidy & I, we have Issues. Sometimes they meet at a tangent, sometimes they miss each other completely. But this weekend, his issue hit my issue, and it went fractal. My issues were turtles, and they went all the way down. I fell apart, and we worked and worked and put me back together, and then I fell apart again. Over and over. It felt as if the fears I have always fought, the fears I told myself weren't rational, they were real. As if all my insecurities suddenly said, "I told you so!"

It hurt. And I reacted badly. I don't know if I'm actually recovered. I don't know if we are. I am afraid we can't. Whenever I close my eyes, he is walking out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Also this:

Version two point many

Still working on it.  Many tweaks to go.

If I screen print it myself, it would be about $10 for a shirt, $10-15 ish for a screen, and $6 for workshop time, so $26-31 total for the first shirt, and less for subsequent shirts.  But I only want one for me, so making more is kind of a hassle.  If I just get it made at Cafepress, it would be $35 + shipping.  I'm thinking I might just do that.  I'd feel so much less cool, though.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I made a thing. It might be a t-shirt.

Continued Radio Silence

If he ran out of charge, and stayed with his parents last night, and is going straight to work, then he won't be able to communicate until tonight.

I am not worried.  But it is rather disconcerting. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Food = Love

Cassidy left his phone charger in Bettendorf for the weekend, and I haven't heard from him since Saturday, and I miss him. So I spent too much money on groceries yesterday, and then I ate too much of it.  I was afraid to weigh myself this morning.

Someone in upper IT broke our checkout system right before he left on Friday, and our local IT stayed and fixed it.  This morning I brought them donuts. 

I had a short conversation with the woman who works at the cafe in Studio Arts.  She is beautiful, and provides food, and I am halfway in love with her. 

The donut I ate feels gross and guilty in my stomach.  I wish I hadn't eaten it.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Sleep study, part 2.  Same tech, much improved.  She was still chatty, but it no longer felt as if she couldn't stand the sound of silence, and she no longer tried very hard to engage me in her chatter.  So she talked sometimes, and worked quietly sometimes, and I sat there, happily unengaged.  And she didn't need to wake me up every few hours to replace the wires and tubes that had fallen off, or tell me that I needed to be lying a different way.  So, all together, a much more pleasant experience.

The CPAP machine is odd, but not overly uncomfortable.  The one they had was very quiet, sort of like a the quiet hum of a heater. 

After, I came home and slept another two hours, but it was clear that I didn't need them.  I liked staying in bed, under the blankets, but I got up with the funny overslept kind of tired, rather than the "you call that sleep?" kind of tired.  So I suppose this means success.  I am not a new woman today, but I didn't get coffee this morning, either.  So there's that.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Cream-colored silk (I'm dreaming here, in reality it's going to be satin), with strings of pearls:

Or brightly colored with colored glass beads... maybe in gradient colors going down.  Like a blue underneath and green-blue-purple layers of beads...

Dance dance dance

There are only two more practices before competition.  That means only two practices with our actual partners!  I still don't know who my partners are!  Or what I'm dancing!

I think I'll bring a digital camera to the dress rehearsal, so I can compare with what I shot on film.  If I like what I get, I'll bring that, otherwise I'll bring the Hasseblad.  (My preference for film is because I am better at getting the colors I want when I start with the weirdness of film.  Starting with an already color-corrected image feels like skipping an important step.)

Also, I am making a fringe skirt for one of the dancers.  I volunteered last Friday during the sad social, because I wanted to be helpful and useful and nice.  So we are going to Joann's together and she will pick out what she likes and I will figure out how much to get, and then she will pay for it and I'll sew on Sunday.

It seems a little silly to me to make a tutorial for this skirt, but here it goes:

This skirt is a basic tube with elastic on one end and layers of fringe sewed on.  The tube should be as wide as the widest part it needs to cover, plus an inch or so.  I recommend cheap quilting cotton, because it doesn't actually need to be sturdy and the base fabric will barely show.

1. Since quilting cotton comes in 44" bolts, those of you with 44" or smaller waist or hip measurements can buy a length of fabric that's the length of the finished skirt plus seam allowance, sew a single seam, and it's a tube.  Those of us with wider than 44" bodies, we'll need to sew two seams to make a big enough tube.

2. Fold over the top edge and sew down so there's space inside for elastic.  Hem the bottom however you'd like.  Since the fringe can hang down below the hemline, I like to make the hem slightly shorter than I normally wear, so that when standing still, it's normal length, and it flares up slightly higher when moving.

3a. Okay, the fringe:  Cut a length of fringe that's as wide as the skirt is.  Maybe an extra 1/2 inch.  Making sure that the fringe is untwisted, all hanging down, etc., pin a strip around bottom of skirt.  (With 4" fringe, I like to pin it about 2" above the hemline.)  Once it's pinned in place, take masking tape and run a strip around the fringe to keep it in place and out of your way.

3b.  It doesn't actually have to be fringe.  You could do this with ruffles or lace or nifty bead things!  I am planning on making feather boa-edged ruffles for some serious holy shit.  I think that really long strings of pearls could be hung in an awesome way, too.

4. Sew down the fringe (or lace or beads, etc).

5. Without removing the tape, pin the second tier of fringe, working from the bottom up.  You want it to overlap the layer below, but not entirely.  Once the new tier is pinned, tape it one down as well, and then sew.

6. Continue until skirt is covered.  I like leaving the top few inches of the skirt bare, although it could go all the way up.  Once everything is sewn down, gently peel off the tape.

7. Thread elastic through the top of skirt, and sew ends of elastic together.  Skirt may be heavy, so make sure elastic is sturdy enough (and tight enough) to keep it all up.

8. Dance!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Things I didn't realize when I made this sweater or put it on this morning:

SHED.  Like woah.  My black tank top is completely blue now, and I picked up enough fiber off the inside to start spinning another skein.

REALLY WARM.  I am totally felting this sweater as I type.  And I'm supposed to be keeping my tattoo dry but I keep sweating on it.

That is why I am now wearing a pretzel t-shirt.

0 for 3

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I haven't worn dresses in so long, and I fear that a dress will probably not flatter me as much as a top and skirt.  So I am still looking at tops that I can make bottoms for.


The nice thing about the cowl neck is that I think it goes with both a longer, elegant skirt, and a short fringed skirt.  And I'd like to have brighter colors.

And speaking of color:

Also Macy's
This would look almost vintage with a fringed skirt.  Except for being HOT PINK.

And I feel as if I could do something with this as well: 


 I think I'd see about cutting out the jersey edges of sleeves and neckline, but if the tank and the skirt match, it would look a little like a dress underneath, because the shirt would hide the differences in fabric.

ETA: Dude.  Cut out the jersey, replace with ribbon, sewed on and tied.  So sleeves become cap sleeves with little ribbon bows at the top, and neckline and waistline have little ribbon bows at the back.  YES.

Also in white (which might stand out as much as a bright color, really)


Monday, February 11, 2013

Another link and costume idea

I'm thinking that I could add straps to this, with black & pink ribbons or maybe gathered, sheer black fabric. And it would work as a bodice for a long skirt.  I wouldn't be able to match the lace pattern, but I could either try to match the pink or just go with black.

Important Things

We did not break up. By the time he called, at 9:30 last night, my misery no longer outweighed the good that is his voice at night, even through the weeks that pass without him near. But it seemed wrong to just let it fall away, as if nothing happened.

So, we talked, about my fears and disappointment, about how this is bigger than what just happened, this is what has been happening all along. Or rather, I talked, because there isn't anything for him to say besides I'm sorry this hurts you.

I talked, and sometimes he would repeat me, to make sure he understood, and he would explain what he was doing and why, because it was important to get it right.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Trust and fear and split lives.

I just recognized the monologue that's been running through my head all day.

It's the break-up talk.

4:57 pm on a Saturday, waiting.

I sent an email to the competition team captain (who wrote the first email), the merchandise chair (who wrote the second), and the president of the club. It says,

I feel as if I have gotten very confusing information regarding competition attire. When I asked about what kind of shoes I needed to get, I was told that any flesh colored, suede-soled, shoe was acceptable, and I thought that meant that a non-flesh colored shoe was not acceptable. Since I couldn't get flesh-colored shoes in time for Star of the North, I believed that I could not compete as a follow because I would not have the required shoes. On Friday I was told that flesh-colored or tan shoes were recommended, but not required, and that some dancers on the team compete in black or silver or colored shoes. What, specifically, are the team rules? Is "no sparkle/glitter on shoes" a rule or recommendation? I would like to compete as a follow, if possible, but I had been lead to believe that I couldn't. If I am allowed to follow in black or glitter shoes, is it too late to get assigned partners?

This makes me stressed and anxious, because I am Causing Trouble, and that's bad. I should just be quiet and make nice and then everyone will be happy. That thing they teach girls? I have it bad.

And then there is the radio silence from Cassidy, which is what I expected, but still makes me feel lonely and bereft. I keep my phone in my pocket, check it occasionally, but if he wanted to talk, he'd be here. And he's not.

7:23 am on a Saturday

I asked the competition team captain:

and he replied:

Then I asked Katie:

and she replied:

So I bought $120 shoes in tan satin. 

And then, at the social last night, she showed off the shoes she'd just gotten—lime green to match her dress.  She said that the club carries the gold shoe, but they wouldn't make us wear it.  We can have whatever color we want.  They just recommend skin colors.

It's too late to back out of this competition.  It isn't fair of me.  But I think that I'm done.  I'm done trying to make this work.  I'm done trying to be friends with these people, and I'm done trying to follow their rules.  I will go to lessons for the rest of the semester, even competition team practices.  And then when summer starts I'll go back to Dance New York, and I might stay there.  It's more expensive, more driving.  I can't dance as many hours.  But it makes me happy.  And this, it does sometimes.  But not enough.

Friday, February 8, 2013


When I was in college, and the "thankyouporkbun" meme was just beginning among my friends, I also claimed to know kung fu and the ability to read Chinese.  It was easy, because I also claimed that everything said, "fuck you, white bastard."  Now, when I talk about mis-translated Chinese characters, it seems as if people always go to food rather than profanity.  When I was telling the story of getting my tattoo fact checked (without having yet said what it says), someone said, "Yeah, you wouldn't want it to say soy sauce or something like that."

And I find that, while I intentionally wore a short sleeve shirt today so that it will be seen, I don't have the same desire to find everyone as soon as possible so I can show them.  I think that it's because the value of the tattoo isn't decoration.  I mean, it is decorative, and the lettering is lovely and delicate (a little extra delicate, I think, because it will blur a little over time), but it is much more matter-of-fact than the others.  And I don't really feel like bragging.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Look What Alec Soth Made Me Do:

I shot this last semester, while the ballroom club was rehearsing for competition.  It's been sitting in my purse, and then on my desk, and then in my purse, since October.  I finally got it developed.

I think this is worth exploring.  Perhaps enough to bring film to Minnesota.  Oh and yes, I'm signed up for a ballroom competition in Minnesota on the first weekend of March.  I am terrified.

Photographers compete by uploading images to a website and then waiting 2-3 months for a reply.  Writers compete pretty much the same way.  I have never competed in a live event.

Also, I think I need to pay that girl in white to dance in front of me all the time.  She should be dancing in front of every photo I take.

 I love the way she looks like a veil over the photo.

There is obviously a lot about this that mimics the State Fair photos.  I'm still photographing the only people staying still long enough to be seen in the shot.  And those people are the ones waiting, the ones watching, the ones worrying or hoping or tired or bored.  And there is still the contrast between the moment they're in and the dancers they're surrounded by.

But I think that there's something about the veil of dancers that makes me feel as if I'm looking for the subjects, the viewer has to search, almost, peer through the obstructions.  If the moment were allowed to continue in the State Fair photos, the subjects would get up and smile.  If the moment were allowed to continue here, the subjects would be covered up, hidden.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh and, a thing about sleep

So my apnea is pretty bad.  I'm choking for 10 seconds every minute.  What everyone says is that getting a CPAP machine is going to change my life.  I've been compensating for a lack of restful sleep, a lack of oxygen, and I never knew it, but once I stop compensating it will be AMAZING.

The thing is, I don't sleep a lot.  I sleep about an average amount, as I compare to people I've slept with or lived with.  I don't suffer from an unusual lack of energy.  I'm not a wreck in the mornings, even before coffee.  I can make it through four hours of dance lessons, which is no small feat, and even though I'm barely standing by the end of it, I am standing.  I do moderate exercise on a regular basis, not like an athlete or anything, but compared to what I see around me, I do pretty well. 

So, if this is what compensating is like, what will life-after-CPAP be like?  Am I secretly hyperactive? 

So many things this week!

Yesterday I switched from peppermint mochas to regular coffee in the morning, cutting both the cost and the calories by more than half.  I went to Joann's for fabric to make pillowcases, and left with... fabric to make pillowcases.  On sale.  And also a peppermint patty.  Then I went back, and did it again.  I weighed 201.8 pounds this morning.  And the pillowcases are awesome.

Tonight is signups for the first ballroom competition.  Tomorrow I get tattooed.  Then I get to see Alec Soth speak. 

He's more famous than we can usually get here, but the museum's footing the bill.  We managed to get him to spend some time talking with the grads, and if I were making any photographs these days I'd be terribly jealous.  Well, I'm still jealous, but even if he were going to look at my work (Alec Soth looking at my work!) what would be the point?  Years-old, abandoned, projects?  This, at least, motivates me to drop off the roll of film that's been sitting at the bottom of my purse for almost a year.  And to bring a camera to the competition.  Maybe, maybe, it's time to try digital...  Also, I think there will be Dinner With Alec Soth.  I think I get to go.  Yikes. 

Friday is a potluck/game/movie/etc social for the ballroom team.  There will be hair and makeup discussions and dress discussions, and there will be other women who, like me, feel utterly out of place in this, and it will be a safe space to get help.  I will bring my black fringe skirt to loan, and I will volunteer to make one for someone if they bring me the material. 

I am going to try, really really damn hard, to make diet-based decisions.  Then I will go to salsa at Wildwood.

Saturday, Cassidy comes over after Breakfast, and we are having a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon with the big tv and the couch.  I have promised him that he can put his head on my lap.  I have also promised him that I will not be naked for this.  Then he's going to try a DNY dance social in Marion.  It's the most casual and friendly setting I can think of, and I hope so much that he likes it.

To bring on Friday:

black fringe skirt
black slacks
black top
purple top
black undershirt
tape measure

To prepare tonight/ bring tomorrow:

iPod/ headphones
shave/moisturize legs for tattoo photo

As a sidenote, I often wonder about the ethics of using other people's imagery on my blog.  When the image is an ad or other commercial product shot, like the shoes, I feel that a link from the photo is sufficient.  When I need an illustration for something like pork buns, I look for images with Creative Commons licenses, or from Wikimedia, or other places where I have a reasonable expectation that the owner of the copyright has pre-approved my use.  The problem is when the thing I want illustrated is someone's art, for example, Alec Soth here, or Naamah Darling's custom ponies.  I know that image-jenking is something that everyone does, and most people don't really care, that lots of people like having their work shared as long as it's attributed, but it matters to me.  Permission to view is not the same as permission to republish, and just because someone has made it possible, doesn't mean they have made it permit-able.  In those cases, I usually take a screenshot of the webpage, rather than just the image itself, and enough of a screenshot that it is obviously a page that we're looking at.  Sort of like taking a photograph of a gallery exhibition rather than a single image from it.  It feels more like a document of a virtual place I visited, rather than a copy of the thing displayed. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lead and Follow

On Sunday I was down to 202.8, and suddenly I could see 199, it was RIGHT THERE, but it was a fluke, a trick of waking up late.  I am still proud to have lost anything over a weekend, so I'd rather forget what, for a moment, I'd achieved.

1.  One of the weird things about social dancing is the re-contextualization of touch. I am not accustomed, at least I haven't been since my college years, to touching strangers with more than a handshake. One does not just walk around hugging each person they meet. And even though dance hold is open enough to leave room for Jesus, it was still a little strange and awkward at first to have a stranger put his arm around me.

It reminds me of elementary school, where holding hands with a boy would be Significant, but there is a brief forgiveness period for the time it takes to play Red Rover.  It is a strictly utilitarian touch; we all pretend that we don't actually like it.  We like dancing.  The touching is just an embarrassing byproduct that we all agree to ignore.

And it is a very specific kind of allowance. Proper dance hold leaves space between the lead and follow's torsos. The lead's hand rests on the follow's shoulder blade; the follow's hand rests on the lead's deltoid. And so when someone breaks this rule, puts his hands on my waist, on my lower back, it feels overly intimate. 

I learned all this a long time ago. And yet, when I started to lead regularly, I had to learn it all over again. I had to learn it with women. I felt as if too much contact would be interpreted as an unwanted advance. She might think that I liked it. And so I would dance with only a finger or two of my right hand on her back. I would never close my left hand over hers.

I think it has something to do with agency.  If I am in the default role, then I don't expect anyone to attach any meaning to it.  But if I choose a role, and leading is obviously a choice, then it can mean something.  And if it means something, that breaks the agreement. 

2.  The next ballroom competition is March 2-3, which is the same weekend as Heartland Swing Festival in Des Moines.  The competition after that overlaps with Hawkeye Swing Fest.  (Notice how the acronyms are the same? That's not a coincidence.  There was drama.)  Since the second competition is in Coralville, I can compete in the afternoons and go to the swing dances in the evening, and it will likely render me useless once the weekend is over, but I'm willing to try.  But in March, the ballroom club will be traveling to Minnesota, and I have to decide by Wednesday if I'm going.

My shoes will probably not be here by then, which means that if I compete in March I'll need to lead.  (My regular black dance shoes will work if I dance as a lead in slacks.)  It's funny, because I was so adamant last semester about leading, I refused to switch even when it would be easier for everyone if I did.  And now I'm thinking, Damn.  I guess I have to.  It's harder to switch back and forth than I thought it would be.  At a dance on Friday, I walked up to a guy from class and asked him to dance, but when I held out my arms, we had a moment of confusion before I realized that I was holding out the lead arms.  But, more than just remembering which arm goes out and which foot starts, there is something about the different skill sets of leading and following that makes it difficult to switch back and forth.

3.  I love swing.  I think there will be times when I will make the opposite choice.  But if I don't start saying "yes" to the competitions, I may never do it.  If I keep looking for reasons to stay home, I'll keep finding reasons to stay home.  Not being able to follow isn't a good reason.  Not getting to go to two swing dances isn't a good reason (even good dances with people from all over, two nights in a row).  Or, rather, they are good reasons, and that isn't enough.  I have to do this.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I got the awesome shoes. They will be here in 6-8 weeks.

That is all for now.

I Do Not Understand Dance Marathon


1. Selling things for exorbitant prices.  For example, candy bars or raffle tickets or car washes or fancy dinners.  The person spending money gets to have something they want and they get to feel good about getting it.  The more money they spend, the more and better stuff they get.  So there's incentive to spend more.  And, hey, that chocolate bar doesn't count against their diet because it's for the children. 

2. The more ____ I do, the more you donate.  For example, a child reading books over a month.  The more books read, the more money donated.  The fact that the donations are on a sliding scale is motivation for the child to read more books.  And donors feel good about themselves for helping motivate children to read.  I'm a little surprised by the run/walk fundraisers, since I don't see how it benefits anyone to know that a stranger walked a certain amount of distance.  Perhaps donors feel good for motivating people to exercise?  Perhaps they like the gamble of it?


1. Dance Marathon.  IT seems to be a strange mix of both.  The dancers need to raise a certain amount of money to participate, making it sound like #1.  If you pay enough, you can go to this awesome dance.  But the dance itself is difficult.  People talk about "getting through it," they talk about how hard it is.  So "you get to dance for 24 hours straight" doesn't really seem like a reward.  It seems like a job.  Which makes it sort of like #2.  Except why would anyone donate on a conditional scale for a 19 year old to dance all day?  What does that serve?   When dancers say, "It's hard work, but we do it for the children," I don't understand how the dancing is for the children.  Why is there dancing? 

Why is there Dance Marathon?  Why?


I am becoming a gamer again.  It's a bit odd, a bit familiar, a bit not.

I got a house in Raven Rock in Skyrim.  Which is a relief because I was carrying around my dragon scales and trophy swords, and I was missing all this awesome loot because I couldn't carry anything else.

And I'm playing Magic: The Gathering.

I used to play M:TG.  I liked it.  I was not very good at it.  If I played every week, then halfway through a new expansion set I would be good enough to win about half the time.  And then a new set would come out and I would be terrible until I could spend the time to become mediocre.  I enjoyed playing when I was mediocre, but when I was so terrible that I might as well concede after shuffling, there didn't feel like any point in playing.  It felt like I wasn't actually playing.  So I needed to commit time and money on a regular basis in order to enjoy the game.  And when grad school happened, I stopped.

It didn't help that, in a male-dominated game, I was so often The Girl.  Even worse, I was The Girlfriend.  And even though no one was ever overtly aware, no one ever said or did anything to make me feel different, I knew the stereotype.  When I went to set releases, I would be one of five women in a room of 500.  I would most likely be the only woman each of my opponents played.  And then I would lose, because I'm not very good.  And because I felt like a lone representative of my gender, I wanted very much to win. 

I could play online, and pick a non-gendered name.  But I didn't want to be gender neutral.  I just didn't want to feel like I was failing at being female.  Or failing women by being a bad Woman Gamer.  And, well, it was even more expensive than the paper game.

But there's a M:TG app for the iPad.  Playing with built-in dummy decks, against dumb AI opponents.  No one can see me play, and I even win sometimes.  I'd forgotten how much fun it can be.