27 April 2010

Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It

Two of my students are either involved with each other or flirting around each other, and it's quite charming to watch. I approve of love: as an entity, particularly an entity newly springing into being, it's hard to resent.

Somehow connected to this, a friend has recently been troubled about...well, I think "about behaviour" might be the best way to put it. Although I guess it's about romantic and sexual behaviour in particular, I think it might really be about that giant and ever-looming question, "Should I be a good person?" and its corollary, "What does that mean, anyway?"

I'm not sure what it means to be a good person, or what it means to be a moral person. I don't tend to do terribly well with morality, but I do very well with principles. I'm not much interested in questions of good and bad (morality), but I'm quite interested in questions of right and wrong, because right and wrong seem easier to sort out: if something is right, I know it when I check inside myself. But perhaps that just substitutes "right" for "good," as many things I think of as "right" are probably what other people would think of as "good."

It doesn't seem to me that you are "good" or "bad" because you behave in certain sexual ways. But it does seem to me that you are happy or unhappy, and that you are able to think about what might make someone else happy or unhappy, and that things that produce happiness are right (although not necessarily good!), while those that don't are wrong. Cheating on your boyfriend: wrong, not for moral reasons, but because it will make someone else unhappy. Being promiscuous: right, if it makes you happy; wrong, if it makes you or the other participants unhappy. It seems to me that a lot of the behaviour my friend considers good isn't really good, but it is really geared to making you happier: sex is generally better with someone you know, so random pick-ups probably make you unhappier than waiting for someone you know and like, even if the happiness is simply the happiness of having a richer sexual experience. Doing stuff because you don't really care one way or the other doesn't make you unhappier, but it doesn't increase your happiness, so why bother?

I don't know. I have tried almost all my adult life to be a good person - I realise that this sort of clashes with what I said above, but when I say "good" here I mean, I have tried to do the right thing; I have tried not to hurt people; I have behaved sensibly; I have tried to be honourable and decent (I have done many things I am sorry for, too, although few I regret, and I certainly don't regret any of my sexual behaviour) - but I do not see this making me any happier than if I had been a "bad" person. And I don't see "bad" people - people who don't think before they act; people who don't care about being decent - being any unhappier than "good" ones. For a long time I believed that if I was good life would bring me a reward: essentially, I believed in some form of God or divine balancer. Now this is a belief I cannot shake, but I know it's not true. Now, with my hands bloody with the Mr. Heaven I can't wash off, I believe that being a good person makes you less happy than being a bad person, because good people think more, and thinking and being able to access your emotions is what makes you unhappy (I believed that before him, too, but not while). And I am unhappier knowing this than I would have been if I'd never tried to be a good person.

I asked S.A. if men prefer good girls, and he said, quite rightly and sensibly, that the girl preferred depends on the man preferring. On a similar note, I'd say that troubling over whether to be good or not is only worth it if you're troubled by your lack of what you perceive as goodness. There's little point in trying to conform to cultural morality; it'll never fit you. You can only ever feel comfortable in your own morality (or your own principles!). I should imagine that there are plenty of men out there who are delighted to sleep with bad girls; you needn't go good because you think it'll get you more tail. Indeed, I daresay quite the opposite is true. But you ought to try to be good if it feels right to you (a-ha! see how that worked out?). Because what's right is what's decent (although the reverse is not necessarily true), and what's decent is what's good.

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Girl Talk

Jamaica Kincaid has a great short story called "Girl," which is essentially a compendium of advice a mother gives a daughter. We PracCrit-ed this today, and it made me think of what how I would write such a piece, using the advice my mother gave me. One of the good things about Kincaid's story is that a good deal of the advice must have been passed down simply by observation - the daughter watching the mother and learning by non-verbal osmosis. So I tried to include that, too. Kincaid's piece has a purposive and designed narrative structure, but mine does not.

If you get gum on a piece of clothing, put it in the freezer, then pick the hardened gum off; if you accidentally dye something in the wash use Rit to get the dye out; wait a few minutes if the butter's too hard, because it melts quickly; keep cream cold when you're whipping it; make sure you don't get anything in the egg white you want to beat; there are dishes for the kitchen and there are dishes for the dining room; paper napkins are for everyday, cloth napkins are for best; cotton sheets are nicest, although they wrinkle; put your tights in the freezer for a day, then wash them, and they'll never run; always wash fabric after you buy it, so it can shrink before you make the piece of clothing; this is how you hem; this is how you slipstitch; when you go out somewhere important wear high heels; when you go to the opera or the ballet wear a skirt; don't buy a white winter coat; don't speak loudly if you don't need to; don't wear too much blush or people will think you're a hooker; this is how you talk to someone you like; this is how you talk to someone you want to make like you; this is how you talk to someone whose name you can't remember; listen carefully when someone tells a story; if you want boys to like you, be less spikey; before you break up with someone be sure you can't save the relationship; always wear a bra or else your breasts will sag; the last five pounds are the hardest; remember that sometimes your partner gets to make the decision; never let a man support you, but always make money of your own; remember that a long marriage ends up more like a close friendship; this is how to be kind to someone; this is how to be unkind to someone; this is how to apologise for being unkind to someone; this is how not to care that you have been unkind; remember to wait until everyone is served before you start to eat; don't stand up to make sure everyone is taking food, you are not a maid; don't speak in a language unless all members of the group know it; don't comb your hair in public; don't put on lipstick in public; don't wear red lipstick in the daytime; cover your mouth when you yawn; cover your mouth when you cough; animal prints are for trashy women and old ladies; always buy a new dress for a relative's wedding; never buy bouclé, because all it takes is one snag and it's ruined; this is how you get something out of your father; this is how you get something out of me; this is how you figure out how to get things out of other people; this is why you love your child even if she's not loveable; never say anything unkind about someone else's child, because they will hold it against you forever; this is how you give a child cold medicine; if you feel nauseous, put a trashcan by the bed just in case; this is how you keep a house clean; this is how you keep a house clean enough; this is how you do things efficiently; this is how you do things quickly; this is how you do things too quickly; this is how you make meringue; this is how you make roast beef; this is how you make scrambled eggs, not too loose, like your grandmother's; nur nicht alt werden; not everything is worth fighting for; always use birth control; therapy is good; don't do that - it's not nice.

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26 April 2010

Song Lyrics

Tonight a group of friends and I sat around and sang songs to guitar accompaniment - well, really, we accompanied the guitar. I love to sing, so I enjoyed this very much. One of the songs we sang was "Hallelujah." I love this song because it's so rich in biblical reference, but I also love it, in a bittersweet way, because of the lines in which he says, "Maybe there's a God above, / But all I've ever learned from love / Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you." I've always hoped that there will come a time in my life when those lines won't be true for me, but there never has.

However, it's not all doom and gloom on the song front, because when I got back from the singing I got on Spotify for the first time. Unsurprisingly, I thought I'd begin by typing in The Divine Comedy. More surprisingly (to myself, although perhaps not to you), I thought I'd try listening to "Perfect Lovesong." I used to adore this song and listen to it all the time, but after Mr. Fallen I couldn't. I think Neil Hannon might have written it on his honeymoon, but in any case it contains the couplet, "We'll stumble back to our hotel bed, / And we'll make love to each other 'til we're half dead." The only places Mr. Fallen and I ever stayed together were hotel rooms, and we spent a lot of time doing just that, so understandably after we parted those lines had an unpleasant resonance - in fact, I stopped listening to the song because I would hear those lines coming and feel like I was getting stabbed in the stomach. But tonight, after two and a quarter years, I find I can listen to them. Maybe it's not my favourite song, but I can more than manage it. So time really does heal wounds.

The Divine Comedy also have the distinction of writing the song that contains the moment I most earnestly, but also most secretly, wish would happen to me. It's called "Geronimo," and it's about two lovers who have to run through the rain. They run to his flat, and the song ends with Hannon saying, "She puts on a record, / And sings into her coffee;/ He puts a blanket round her, / Sits her down, and dries her beautiful hair." It's not the blanket, or the sitting down, or funnily enough exactly any of it. It's the beautiful hair. I have an embarrassed hope, very quietly and abashedly, that someday a man will dry my gigantic, impossible hair, and tell me it's beautiful.

In any case, hurray! for song-singing. Let's do more of it. And what the hell: let's have a photo of Neil Hannon, because he's fab.

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13 April 2010

Going Home

I arrived in America at 4pm on Saturday - to be specific I arrived at the Chicago airport. Even before I got through to the airport, it transpired that my airline had cancelled my forward flight a couple of days beforehand, without ever informing me. This meant that I had to call the friend who was picking me up to let her know I'd be getting later. But when I tried to use my (American) credit card to make a phone call, the phone endlessly informed me that it was "checking billing data," and never connected. I then tried to e-mail her using one of the airport terminal ancient internet computers, but when I stuck my (American) credit card into the slot provided, the terminal informed me that there had been an "error while transferring my billing data." There didn't seem to be any problem when I bought a cup of tea at the Starbucks, so all I could think to myself was how American to have these communication devices that look just fine but then don't work. And how American to expect everyone to carry their own computer (because there were just four internet terminals in the entire airport), and so not to bother to get newer, better public terminals.

And everyone was fat. EVERYONE. And the airport was so big, and so ugly, and so filled with places where you could ONLY buy ugly prepackaged food. And I was zombified with tiredness and confusion, and filled with sorrow, and I thought, I hate America.

And then I got here, to Otherhome. And we went out for dinner at a restaurant that had TV's on both sides of the booth, and when I got up in the morning it was 70 degrees (21c) at 10am, and EVERYONE was fat, or wearing a baseball cap, and all the men were unattractive, and everyone looked thick (physically) or uninterested or uninteresting and when I went into a place I knew to get a piece of cheesecake to go the waitress said to me, "It's a gorgeous day outside - now you be sure to find some sunny spot to eat that!" and I thought to myself, It's fucking 80 degrees (26c) outside; how can you call it a beautiful day, and where isn't there a sunny spot? and then I felt like a terrible person for getting angry over what this nice person had said. And then I went into my department today, and it was baking hot outside in APRIL, and there was so much unnecessary room, and all the students looked intellectually dead and...and...and it's not my home, and I don't want to be here, and...and.

I hate this country. I don't want to live here. It's weird, and too glossy, and filled with the wrong kind of bigness, and I don't fit anymore. I hate it here.

Overprivileged, gift-horse-in-the-mouth-looking, shameful me. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here.

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09 April 2010

Exile from Heaven

So, for the past ten weeks I have been hanging in tension about a romantic relationship. You may remember Senor Cielo, from many months ago. Well, for a few weeks from early December to mid-January we were "involved" - which is to say we met a few times for tea and biscuits, and to kiss, and then we had sex once. And then he disappeared to write up his dissertation. In fact, the last real contact I had with him for about twelve weeks was when we arranged to meet again, a couple of days after the first time we had sex, but he had to cancel because he had to stay up all night to finish his first chapter.

I had hoped all this time that when he finished writing up he and I might pick up the hanging out and having sex. This doesn't mean that I chased him - in the beginning I'd touch base every couple of weeks, but then I stopped that - but it does mean that I hoped we might enjoy each other for the limited time he has left here before he leaves. He finished the day before yesterday and last night he and I met for tea. And at that point he told me that, based on the fact that I had once asked him at a party if I would get to see him again once he was done and said I was afraid I wouldn't, and based on the fact that I had done something else (but he couldn't remember what), he felt that I was not conceiving of this as a friendship with sex, but rather imagining it as some sort of entanglement with expectations. I assured him, several times, that this was not the case, but he insisted that he felt this, and that for this reason - and later the reason he gave was that he liked sitting around talking with me over tea, and he liked being my friend, and he didn't want to risk that - he didn't want to have sex with me again (although he never uttered that phrase, that was what he meant).

This turned into one of those conversations that goes around and around, because I couldn't do anything but say his impression was wrong, and he couldn't do anything but say it was his impression and it affected him as it did. After he said that about not wanting to risk the friendship, I said, "We're not going to be friends." He said, "Why? You see, the very fact that you say that makes it clear that you're invested in the relationship as more than a friendship. Why wouldn't we be friends?" I said, "I have a lot of friends, and I don't want to have sex with any of them. If you and I remained friends, I would spend my time sitting across the table from you thinking how much I wanted to have sex with you. Can't you see how that would be painful for me?" He said nothing.

Anyway, after the conversation went around and around for a while, I said to him, "I'm sad. And I'm going to tell you why I'm sad. I'm sad because I'm so great, and you're never going to know that. I'm so funny, and clever, and giving, and you're never going to know how much that's true. And I'm sad because I wanted so much to make someone happy, and now I won't be able to do that. And I'm sad because I thought that just for a little while I was going to get to be happy in an area where I haven't been happy for a long time, and now I'm not. And I'm sad because I wanted to put my body against your body, and now I won't be able to do that. And I'm sad because I liked you, and it's always saddening when we like someone to discover that they're less than we thought they were." He didn't say anything (at some later point I said to him, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry because I think you're interesting. There's a lot in there, and I'm sorry I won't be able to learn about it").

And then the conversation went around a bit more, until finally we were just silent, looking at each other. And finally I said, "You're a fool." And I laughed. And I said, "You're giving up me? Man, you know me; you know what I'm like. And you want to give that up?" And he said, "I don't want to give it up; it's because I don't want to give it up that I'm doing this." And then he said, "Well, you'll have to make your decision," and quick as a flash he stood up and left the kitchen. And I called after him, "Wash your cup!"

I have to say I have trouble following his logic: I can't see why not having sex with me again is going to strengthen or maintain our friendship, especially since he also told me that he doesn't see most of his friends for long gaps of time - so our apparently valuable friendship would mean we might meet once or twice for tea, I imagine. But whether or not I follow his logic, I can see that we are not going to be friends, because I'm not going to pretend to be non-sexual friends with someone I really want to have sex with.

And I am sad. When I say that, it sounds simple and clean, but it's actually complex and ragged. The whole time that he was writing up I could say that I might still see him again, but now I can't say that. And he was nice - he wasn't the greatest guy in the world, but he's funny, and I enjoyed having conversations with him. It made my day a bit brighter to see him, and because I was attracted to him, and because it was a connection away from my group of friends, I did feel that it might turn into something where for a little while someone would be just for me - I could chat to them and tell them my news and know they were listening with special interest (before we got into the big discussion last night I did, in fact, do those things, and it was nice). And I wanted to have sex with him again. And my liking for him and pleasure in his company don't vanish just because I've chosen that the best thing is that our association be done.

You can say that he is complicated, or fucked up, or stupid, or weird (all of which have been said to me), and you can conclude that he just plain didn't want to sleep with me, or doesn't much like me, or likes me much more than I like him, since he apparently wants to be friends with me while I don't with him (all of these things have been said to me, too, mostly by me). I don't know. And certainly you can say that he's not worth my thought time, and/or that I should move on - I know those things. And you can say he's going to be very lonely in life, and I'm much better, or you can say that it's plain that he is totally a wrong person for me. I sort of know those things, too (except for the first two). But none of those things can get rid of the sadness, or make me not feel that I've lost something, some little chance to be happy for a little while. And none of them can change the fact that I just plain liked him - liked interacting with him - and I can't eradicate that liking. What we know rationally can't quickly change what we feel. And you can say, as a couple of people have also said, that my image of him as being perfectly fine with this is quite probably wrong - he may well be suffering from his own little or large unhappiness over this outcome (indeed, he himself said he would "not be fine" when he went back to his room), but that doesn't affect my feelings: suficiente pan no cura un corazon roto, as I would say. I feel I got badly treated, and for no discernible reason, and as a result I am unhappy where I could have been happy, and I have feelings that I cannot get rid of but that only make me unhappy, and I am alone in an area where I could not have been. And those feelings are very hard, and very very very very very very awful. And maybe the awfulest thing is that I can't stop having them, and having them can't change anything

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04 April 2010


One of the oddest things about friendship, to me, is the way in which a friend is able to put aside their own personal opinions about a situation that is important to another friend, and act for that person's happiness (or what that person believes will be their happiness), rather than for their own (this isn't unique to friendship, of course, but my most recent experience of it has been there, so that's how I think of it).

One experiences something of this, I suppose, when a friend wins a prize, or finishes a project. I often find myself saying, "Oh, how great!" or, "I'm really proud of you!" at these moments, and genuinely feeling those feelings: here is a situation that means nothing to me personally (I'm not finishing your article; I didn't win a prize I know you really wanted), but I'm still as pleased as if it did.

But how much more extraordinary is it when someone acts against their own beliefs or wishes simply because they believe it will make another person happy. This has happened to me, as the receiver, twice in the past two weeks, and both times I've been shocked, not by the specific act but by the fact that such an act occurs at all. People behave altruistically when they absolutely need not; they behave altruistically against their own judgement. This suggests to me that love, even the reduced love of friendship, is extremely strong.


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Lago de los Cisnes

There is little better, in my opinion, than waking up to a sunshine-y bedroom when the air is cool and you have slept enough. This happened to me this morning, and considering that it was followed by another of my favourite things, going to talk to a friend whilst in my dressing gown (and then she made me laugh), I had a pretty good start to the day.

Actually, I had a pretty good start to the start to the day, because yesterday I went to London to get my hair relaxed and go to the ballet. I don't know if the hair relaxation was successful (although they seem pretty calm to me. Hahahahahaha), but I do know that, as a result of the application of the hot straightening iron to seal on the relaxant, my hair is now straight as a die. Somehow in the States they were able to give it a little curve at the bottom, which in my opinion looked much more attractive, but they couldn't manage that here - on the other hand, there were no cancerous formaldehyde fumes in the stuff they used on my hair, so what you lose on the swings you gain in the roundabouts.

The high point of the day was not the hair, however. It was the ballet. I went to see Ballet Nacional de Cuba perform Swan Lake. Swan Lake is my favourite ballet, and apparently if I told you the plot in person it would be your favourite ballet, too, because I told it to my hair stylist (she asked), and she was enthralled. Anyway, here it is. In fact, I was slightly nervous about this event, because the last Swan Lake I saw was at the Royal Ballet, and it was both dull as ditchwater and poorly costumed, and because Alicia Alonso, founder of BNdC, is famous for being autocratic and controlling, and the company is quite old-fashioned (as companies in communist countries usually are), so I was worried.

But I need not have been, because it was terrific. If you haven't read the plot summary, you need to know a couple of things for what follows to make sense. Swan Lake is the story of a man, Prince Siegfriend, and a woman, Odette. On the night before his 21st birthday, Siegfried is having a jolly time with some peasants, then decides to go swan hunting (as you do). Once he follows the flock of swans, however, he finds that they are in fact a group of women who've been laid under a curse by an evil sorcerer, Baron von Rothbart, a curse that can only be lifted if their leader Odette, finds faithful love. Siegfried falls in love with Odette, a frail and beautiful former princess (wearing white), wins her over, and promises to love her. The next night at his birthday celebration Siegfried's mother informs him he must pick a bride, but he spurns the candidates until suddenly a mysterious prince enters with his gorgeous daughter, Odile (who wears all black). Odile looks just like Odette, but hot, and through some excellent pas de deux dancing she seduces Siegfried, who vows eternal love to her, at which she and her father (von Rothbart in disguise) disappear. Siegfried, realising he has been deceived, goes to find Odette, reassures her of his love, and in order to break the spell they kill themselves by jumping in a lake (at this point my hairdresser gasped and said "Oooo no!").

A few years ago Kelvin Mackenzie of ABT added a little prologue to the ballet, using the overture as its music; in this von Rothbart, dressed as an owl, swooped about and we got the background of the curse. Utterly unnecessary. Who cares why she's cursed? Make up your own reason; it's more fun (you went right for, "she refused his beastly advances," didn't you?).

BNdC didn't have this prologue, mercifully. Truth to be told, I've always found the first act of Swan Lake pretty boring. I can never figure out why 19th-century nobility spend the nights before their birthdays hanging out with the lower orders (this happens in Giselle, too), and until we get to the pas de trois (here it is with Herman Cornejo, one of my favourite ABT dancers, at 8:00) towards the end of the act I'm just rolling with it. The same was pretty much true in this case, too, except that I noticed that all the male dancers were very good, and they had gorgeous feet.

Once the second act started, things got much more interesting. It turns out that NBdC do indeed do a very conservative version of Swan Lake. It also turns out that they are thumpers. When did this start? When I was small, we were told and told that it was vital to land quietly but for years now when I've gone to the ballet the men, in particular, land with great thumps. I guess that makes sense if there are 25 people on stage - the sound just adds up - but when those 25 people are supposed to be birds it sort of breaks the suspension of disbelief. It also breaks the suspension of disbelief if those alleged birds have some trouble transitioning between set ballet pose and other set ballet pose. At least once, the poor girls of the corps got themselves into position by essentially just walking, very non-balletically. Oh, dear. That being said, though, they did all hold their hands like swan's heads over them when they posed in fourth, which was very clever.

Swan Lake depends on its Odette, and this Odette, she was a bit of an oddity. I should say at this stage that I have seen many Odettes, and never a truly bad one. Probably my least favourite is ABT's Gillian Murphy, whom I once saw give a fantastic performance as the Black Swan at a Sunday matinee, but whom I saw a couple of years later in a televised performance and found to be all technique and little character (here she is doing the pas de deux with Angel Corella, who is a fine dancer, but who always grins like a maniac. He must be the happiest man in ballet. Save those teeth for a special occasion, Corella!). Anyway, this Odette started off, well, oddly. At first I thought she'd had a fight with her Siegfried, but at the end of their second act pas de deux, when they took their bow, he whispered something in her ear, so I though perhaps she'd been off and he'd helped her out (incidentally, I really dislike this development of taking bows in the middle of the ballet. What if actors took bows after they'd done a particularly famous speech in a play? Stop breaking the frame, please!). She just didn't seem very comfortable with him, and although I don't want to be difficult, she didn't seem entirely comfortable as Odette full stop. The only thing that made this scene interesting was the appearance of von Rothbart dressed as what I eventually realised was a moth (because it's night, of course). Which best it were to be, owl or moth, 'tis difficult to say, as Byron might have said, but what is not difficult to say is that the appearance of a giant moth flapping his wings in the background gives a certain zest to any ballet scene.

As Odile, however, she was much better. The piece de resistance of Swan Lake, in fact of all ballet, is the 32 fouettés Odile performs during her pas de deux with Siegfried. "Foutter" means "whip" in French and the fouetté is a turn in which the dancer stands on one leg, bends the knee, extends the other leg out in front, then whips it to the side to create the momentum of the turn (here is a demonstration. I give you this one because I am a left turner myself, and they're a rare thing). As you can see above, Gillian Murphy takes this bravura move and makes it even more bravura by adding doubles and triples (note the way she pulls her arms in to increase momentum), but they still add up to 32. This Odile did 29 singles, but she ended with a triple: this is quite amazing, because turning 29 times on one leg is exhausting, so to do your triple at the end is a feat. Not as much of a feat as what she did next, however. Odile lures Siegfried by performing a series of backward hops in arabesque - in all versions I've seen, three hops in plié, then one hop up to relevé (on pointe). This Odile, however, performed all her hops in plié, on pointe. It was amazing (you can see the whole thing here. This Siegfried is even better than the one I saw, who was very good).

I was irritated, though, by the fact that they chose to do a leap at the end. I like better the "backbend in triumph" of American productions.

All this made me muse, in a vague but mildly pleasing way, on whether some dancers are better Odiles than Odettes, and vice versa, and why. I myself have always wanted to be Odile: in the world of Swan Lake, it's pretty clear which one comes out better, plus the dancing is bold, bravura, and - if you do it right - quite sexy. But perhaps there are born Odettes - I'm a born Odette in real life, which is no doubt why I yearn to do Odile on stage.

I also mused to myself about why all Tchaikovsky ballets have national dance interludes. Nutcracker: national dance interludes cunningly disguised as dancing sweets (which Dr. Higher once thought were dancing Swedes, God bless him); Swan Lake: national dance interludes unashamedly undisguised, and utterly irrelevant to the ballet (although if you took out of ballets all the irrelevant dancing, you'd have about 2o minutes left). All I can say is that the gospodins (or whatever the plural is) of Tsarist Russia must have had a positive mania for the Dances of Other Lands.

At the end of the ballet it transpired that BNdC were indeed a very conservative company - and a very Soviet one! because in this version of the ballet Odette and Siegfried didn't die at all: instead, they reffirmed their love, Siegfried wrestled a bit with von Rothbart, and the spell was broken. Let me tell you, my friends, until you have seen a Cuban in tights tussling with a man dressed as a giant moth, you haven't lived a full life. Be that as it may, however, you may like to know that in the Soviet Union all ballets had to end happily, so the plot of Swan Lake was altered to have an ending in which the lovers lived. Apparently Castro feels the same way about ballets - or perhaps Alicia Alonso does - and there was this ending that sat very oddly indeed.

Still, an excellent night. Beautiful feet; men who could dance (increasingly rare in the world of ballet); and some hops on pointe that could knock your socks off. God, I love a good Swan Lake.

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01 April 2010

No One Looks Good in Yellow

Yeah, you read that right. I'm taking a stand on yellow. There was no definitive person or moment who made me believe this, rather a long trail of people I've seen wearing yellow and not looking good in it. As it happens, this topic came up at lunch yesterday, right before I told people that I was going into London tomorrow to have my hair treated again (brief pause: I'm getting normal people's hair again!!). As you may remember, the difficulty with the treatment is that you can't get your hair wet for four days afterward. This perhaps would not be much of a difficulty, really, were it not for the fact that I refuse to wear a shower cap. I think they look stupid, and I just won't wear them: it's a principle. On the other hand, as I said to my friends, that means that if I want to bathe during the next four days I'll have to wear a plastic bag on my head (as I did last time), and somehow if we're deciding what looks stupid and the choices are wearing a bag on your head or wearing a shower cap, I think you can see how that's going to go. As M. pointed out, some principles are worth compromising. So I said, "All right, I'll buy a shower cap," and she said, "Maybe you could complete the awfulness and buy a yellow one."

So off I trooped to Boots today. God, I love Boots. They have everything - plus a superb make-up section, much better than any American drugstore. Anyway, one thing they do not have is a clearly marked shower cap section, so I had to ask an employee who was lurking around the aisles if they sold shower caps. "Oh, yes!" she was very pleased to lead me over to them. "Here they are!" And wouldn't you know it, there was a whole bin full of yellow shower caps. £2.49 a throw. The only other option was a clear plastic one with raised gel-filled dots for £5.

Now what is a shower-cap-hating girl to do when faced with this situation? I'm not going to pay £5 for a shower cap I'll never use again, but I'm also not going to buy a yellow shower cap - especially since £2.49 is not exactly cheap, either. So what's the solution to this dilemma?

In fact, the solution is quite simple: I went to Superdrug and bought a three-pack of clear shower caps for £1.49. AND a plastic rain bonnet for 75p, since it's supposed to rain tomorrow. Snap! (may I just say that in the process of finding the image above I came across a website that involved transvestites doing some very odd things with rain bonnets).

In other news, I had a bad tango night. Years of taking ballet classes have taught me that many things can make you have a bad ballet night (although it must be admitted that this isn't helped by not being terribly good at ballet to start off with), and I knew from once before that a couple of things can make me have a bad tango night -- rushing to get to a milonga, and listening to music while I travel to the milonga. But tonight I did neither of those things, and I still danced so badly (with my VTTT, no less!) that I decided to leave early. There are a number of possible reasons for this:

1. My VTTT was wearing a shirt I had made. I made it for S.A., but it didn't fit him, and purely by hap it fit my VTTT. He wrote to me tonight to tell me he was going to wear it, and I may have been thrown off by seeing my own handiwork in front of me, and on someone I hadn't quite got used to the idea of seeing it on.

2. I haven't done any ballet barres this week. I seem to dance better when I've done at least one barre in the gym.

3. I just feel off.

And I do. I don't know why. Perhaps because I'm slightly at a loose end. I have no work to do any more except for reading student dissertations, and that doesn't really require much. In fact, today I've been feeling rather bored and empty, and been worrying a little that perhaps when I don't have work I don't have anything to interest me. But whether or not that's true, I certainly feel oddly off somehow. I must have checked facebook fifty times today, and my e-mail at least that many times, and never with any specific hope or expectation in mind. So I don't know what's going on, but I do know that it's not good for my tango (but, then, I suppose neither is having no lessons that challenge me anymore, and usually having as my partner someone I've danced with a hundred times before).

Well, let's wait and see (and, according to my policy on life, also not say anything).

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