March 2009


People on Bhuz began reminiscing over their first costumes. Here is my story, which I also posted over there:

My first costume was handmade by me in Auckland, for a student show (my first one!)

I did a ruched halter-style bra in this dusty rose pink metallic fabric. I used pearl beads as an accent around the bottom and bronzy seed beads around the middle part of the bra.

The belt was similar fabric and had the pearl beads outlining the curved front and bottom. The sides were lace up with different colored ribbons. I think I went with blue, rose, and a golden color. I did that so I could allow for weight changes.

My skirt was a full circle slightly muted amethyst satin thing. In photos I later saw (I don’t have any, unfortunately), it made me look extremely hippy. I probably should’ve done a less full skirt.

It was a veil dance. I used a cream chiffon veil that I thought was a good idea to sequin all over. It didn’t look awful, but it would’ve moved better had I not sequined it.

I wish I still had that costume. I don’t think it would fit (the bra cups shrunk a bit during the sewing process), but I think I’d like to take a good chunk of it and remake the bra and belt set.

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Spring break is almost gone (one more day). I didn’t do anything glamorous, and I didn’t really break, but I feel sort of rested.

  • Research: The addition of the new kid, M, is good. He is quiet but works well, is intelligent, etc. He has come in at a good time, because my advisor has added on projects. We have density tested three various mixture, and I think we have a direction. The behaviors of our fluids were very strange; even something that we measured less dense than the background fluid somehow sunk. However, all these failings have prompted my advisor to realize we need a new direction, because his idea for the experiment simply does not appear to work. We’ve been working hard with the microscope (T, my significant other, has been working on that, since he’s much better with optics than I), and I think we’re making progress. We’re having a meeting on Monday, which I think will be good. It’s to introduce M to the lab people more and discuss the quarter’s plans.
  • Yoga: Yoga was much welcome return to my life. T and I went to yoga together. Despite being a complete newbie to it and rather inactive, he did well and better, enjoyed it immensely. He wants to start going weekly, which will be good for both of us.
  • Dance: I continued going to veil class. I ended up treating myself to a new veil, a subtle tie dye in fall leaf colors. It’s beautiful. I wanted to go to a second class today, but I had set my alarm for 5 AM, not 5 PM, so I overslept during my nap. After spending my evening here vs. going to a class, I decided that my body needed to rest more than it needed to move. Tomorrow, I will resume practice.
  • Volunteering: I try to volunteer once every two weeks at a hospice for Alzheimer’s patients. I pay several people visits. Only one lady can communicate with me, and she and another lady are the only ones who look at me when I’m in the room; the rest may react to me holding their hands. I find going to the hospice as means of putting my life into perspective; my life can always be worse. I also sometimes like talking about my problems to the one lady who looks at me but doesn’t speak. What I’m supposed to do is talk to them or watch TV with them (I watched Karate Kid Part III with one of them once).  I’ve started feeling less awkward around them, because I’m getting used to making one sided small talk. I think I’m getting better at it. The other good thing that has happened is I found the two people who look at me will look at photos with me. When I was telling one of them about my week (I took my female cat to the vet), I showed her some photos on my phone. She definitely looked at the photos on my phone and then looked at me. I’m planning on loading up my camera to show them photos of the cats and other stuff.

I wish I could’ve taken more time off, but that’s life. How was everyone else’s week?

Even though I only TA, I do try to help the students I have the best I can; I think I generally enjoy helping people and try to as many ways as I can (fun fact: I wanted to be a school psychologist from age 8 to 16). The school I attend is largely commuter. I myself do miss the community sometimes that undergraduate school had, so I try to take an active interest in my students. I may not know their names entirely (I suck at remembering names), but I usually know their majors, stuff they like to do, their personalities, etc.

Last quarter, one of my students mentioned that he didn’t know what he wanted to do with himself but was considering physics. Even though he is a biology major, I suggested he look into doing research in the physics department. I honestly only started seeing a future for myself in physics when I started doing research. If anything, I figured it would be good resume fodder to work in a lab. In particular, I suggested my lab, because we just lost a student (he switched labs).

My advisor is game, which is awesome. Generally, the people who do research in the labs are physics devotees. However, at the first year physics level, I didn’t see much of a difference on whole between the pre-med intro physics and the physics major intro physics students. By that, I mean their skill levels seem pretty equal; the only difference may be that the majors are more comfortable with calculus.

In any case, perhaps I’ve converted someone :)?

Someone located my blog by the search term “I don’t know how to dance but I want to.” Without knowing what kind of dance that person wanted to learn, I can’t give specific advice, but I hope it is helpful for someone.

I think if you didn’t grow up with dance lessons, you feel hesitant to start. I did a little, since I live very much inside my head and don’t have a gigantic connection with my body. For most people, I thoroughly recommend finding a good teacher and not going with an instructional DVD. Why? A good teacher (note: the teacher must be good) will correct bad body habits ASAP and prevent damage to your body. It is very hard to unlearn bad habits in the body. DVDs can be a great supplement to your education, particularly when you get familiar with the proper posture, but they can’t correct you and you can’t ask it questions.

If you’re nervous about being too old/overweight/out of shape/etc., I would not. Particularly with every Middle Eastern dance class I’ve taken, most of the women are at least 40s and were not athletically inclined. I know that most dance forms offer an adult class, and from what I understand, the students range from absolute beginners to former dancers.

Once you find the teacher and commit to the class, make a point of regularly going. Also, practice outside of your class. These two older women in my veil class wanted to see my shimmy and were impressed. I have a good shimmy (the up and down hip variety), because I practiced that thing like crazy until I got it. I told them it comes with practice, but I think they were still left a little dazzled. Although there may be some people in the class with innate abilities, probably a lot of the better students practice or attend classes more frequently or have some prior background. Don’t be discouraged by them. It takes time to get good at anything.

Finally (and this is advice I am now taking), take time to enjoy the music. It’s so easy to drill technique and get stuck in that, but truly dancing to the music is more important, in my opinion. Even if you let loose only for a short song, let yourself do that at the end of every practice you have for yourself.

Good luck!

I got hit with a flu bug yesterday. The weather in Chicago went from a lovely 70 degress Farenheit to about 50 being the high in the course of a few days. My body does not react well to fast weather changes. On one hand, it’s better to have the flu now that I don’t technically have anything to do. On the other hand, it’s spring break and it’d be nice to be healthy again.

I have 2 problems left on my take home final due Friday, and I’m struggling to get them done. Not only because they aren’t simple, but also because I think I burned out a little.

I think I did almost take on too much this past quarter. Trying to hustle my thesis (with very little progress), TAing, classes, and keeping up in dance- that takes a toll on a person. This is the first time in my life I’ve actually experienced physical ailments (back hurting, stiffness) from being at a desk too much and not sleeping enough.

I look forward to taking a break. Even with research, I feel like next week will be better for me.

I finally got around to completing my big tattoo. It wraps from the right side of my body, around the waist, and up under the left breast. It was a painful tattoo today, to say the least. The ribs are not a happy area to get tattooed!

My tattoo artist, Dawn Grace, works at the Tattoo Factory. She came recommended to me by Sonya, my dance teacher who is an ex-piercer and tattoo artist. Dawn is also a Middle Eastern dance student, which is cool. What’s neat is she, like Sonya and I, are tattooed non-tribal dancers. I do, of course, do tribal, but I also enjoy a lot of non-tribal dancers (I go back and forth on it). If you are not familiar with tribal, tattoos are quite the norm. With Oriental or non-tribal, you are less likely to see it. One of the reasons is because of Muslim faith not allowing tattoos; from what I understand, the Qur’an forbids it.

If I ever go professional, I imagine I will not be the most competitive for some jobs in dance, simply because of my tattoos. However, I enjoy seeing tattooed non-tribal dancers; it’s a neat juxtaposition of what’s perceived to be very feminine with what’s perceived to be more edgy and rough. Even though tattoos have become more mainstream, I think the juxtaposition stands when you see someone heavily tattooed all glammed up in satin and sparkles. To me, it means they’re not afraid to show both sides of themselves or they don’t choose to box themselves into stereotypes.

There is something very beautiful about someone who is able to be themselves, even if it is a slightly odd combination. Besides, life is too short not to be yourself and it’s too much work to be someone else.

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