Trying to Culture this thing up!

Fourteen years ago, I went up to the Bay Area to visit my mom.  We shopped and we lunched and one night we went into San Francisco to see the San Francisco Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet. Now, I was sure that I didn’t care for the romantic ballets (the full-length story ballets from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century) but that night changed my mind (it turns out that I really just don’t enjoy The Sleeping Beauty but that is a story for another day).

The production of Romeo and Juliet that we saw was enchanting. The performance was beautiful and moving. The music by Prokofiev is everything, it would have salvaged the evening if the rest of the production had fallen short but the sets and the costumes enhanced the plot and the dancing was very good. In particular, Tina LeBlanc was an exquisite Juliet – technically excellent and emotionally expressive, she was truly a great ballerina. After how many years, I still can feel what that performance did for me.

Now, mom is clever and generous and she came up with a brilliant scheme to get me to visit more regularly – season tickets to the San Francisco ballet! It has become a great tradition for my mom, my sister and me.  While I love dissecting the performances with them on the drive home, this is an area where I really have a lot to say. So Wednesdays will be dedicated to “Arts & Entertainment.”

Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t fancy myself a dance critic. I generally find dance criticism (and most arts criticism) unhelpful to say the least. It makes me crazy to read a review of something by someone who feels entitled to impose their personal biases and expectations on a work rather than at least attempting to intelligently describe a work and evaluate it on its own merit.

I like to be open to different experiences and try appreciate things for what they are. That doesn’t mean that I like it all or always think that a work is well executed. I won’t hold back when I think that elements of a production aren’t up to par but hopefully I will be able to explain my opinion within the context of the form.  I mean, making time to enjoy these things is a luxury, we shouldn’t waste it on something that isn’t the best it can be.

If theatrical dance isn’t your thing, don’t tune out quite yet! Ballet season doesn’t even start until January! I will use Wednesdays to consider all sorts of things – country music, rock concerts, television, books, and probably the occasional motor-sports event. Have you been to Speedway? Don’t make that face, it’s a fun time too!

Welcome to Kitten Tuesdays!

This past June, I brought home two new seven-week-old baby kittens, a brother and sister. Within the previous ten months my husband, Mr. Man, and I had to put down our two beloved cats, Clementine (15 years) and Emma (18 years) and  Mr. Man was VERY against the idea of any more pets.  But have you ever heard that saying that a cat is the soul of the home?

Anabel, 7 weeks old

I’ve been crazy about cats ever since I was a little girl. We didn’t have any animals when I was little, little, but my aunt had this wonderful, big, black tom cat named Sebastian. Now, Sebastian was not interested in me in the least, but I sure thought he was wonderful and would do whatever I could to get my hands on him. Of course I had those cute kitten posters all over my walls. And the year that Santa brought me the my dream bicycle (banana seat and the basket with the plastic daisies on it) the only thing that I needed to make my life complete was a kitten to put in the basket. On my eleventh birthday, this beautiful little brown tabby kitten walked in our front door. And that is how you know that dreams come true. Even my dad couldn’t deny me this treasure. Tailer (we named him for his happy tail) was a friendly guy who was a wonderful addition to our family.

My adult life as a crazy cat lady is a testament to the power of suggestion.

I hadn’t really been thinking about cats or pets and then one night, out of nowhere, Mr. Man busts out with, “you know, you really need a cat.” I do? Hmmm…you know what, I think he’s right! I DO need a cat!  And we got Emma.  From the moment that she came into our lives, I have been obsessed.

I’ll tell you all about Emma and Clementine another day.

Sally, 7 weeks

Long story short: I was daydreaming. I told my dear friend who does animal rescue all about the kittens that I had imagined and then waited. Around mid-June she started sending me photos.  And there was the kitten that I had imagined who I was going to name Anabel!  Now the other kitten needed to be an all brown tabby (the best flavor of kitty).  Anabel just so happened to have a brother who was brown tabby.  “No boy cats!” said Mr. Man, also, “I get to name the other cat.”  My friend said there were options, so I went to meet the kittens.  Anabel was just adorable.  And so was her brother. He was the sweetest, little love bug. And they loved each other. And I brought them both home.

Mr. Man was mad about the boy kitten for about .1 of a second (because who can be mad about a sweet baby kitten).  The only problem was the name that he had picked out: Sally. Fortunately, Mr. Man remembered a scene from The Godfather, where Robert Duvall says to Abe Vigoda, “can’t do it Sally.” So our little Sally’s full name is Salvatore Tessio (even though he’s growing up to be more of a Clemenza if you ask me).

Every day these kittens do something new and delightful and I’m sure that the world will be a better place if I tell you all about it.  The good news is that I will only torture you with the kitten report on Tuesdays and I will endeavor to stick to a 500 word count (roughly).

Its official, we’ve begun!

The plan is that Mondays will be dedicated to health and wellness topics – exercising, eating right, inner peace, moisturizing…that kind of thing. So today’s post will be a sort-of intro to this topic.  Here is where I’m coming from when it comes to health and wellness – I like to exercise but I am in terrible shape; I love to eat vegetables and do a good job at drinking a lot of water but I also love cheese, tortilla chips, and adult beverages; I try to take good care of my skin but I love to spend time in the sun.  I’m trying to do all those things that are supposed to be good for you but maybe not all the way.

When I was growing up, I loved to move and be active. There was soccer practice and ballet lessons along with the general running/climbing/bicycle riding around the neighborhood – all the kid things. When I couldn’t get outside, I would roller-skate in the house or put on Leo Sayer and dance it out.

I studied dance in college and earned a bachelor’s degree in it. I supported myself through college by teaching ballet to children. Throughout this entire time, I also spent 8-10 hours a week rehearsing and performing with a local dance group (we called it “modern” dance, but these days I think it would be considered “contemporary”). I was spending up to 8 hours in a dance studio on any given day.

After I left the dance world, I joined a gym and stayed fairly active.  Those were the days of Stairmasters, when step aerobics was still a thing and indoor cycling was just getting going. It was always a fun time to take my rollerblades down to the beach and cruise the bike path from Sunset to Huntington Beach. I discovered yoga around that time as well.

At some point several years ago I noticed that I wasn’t moving anymore.  All I did was go to work and sleep. My clothes didn’t fit, I couldn’t lift anything over shoulder height and I couldn’t actually turn my neck when I was driving.  Even though I’ve realized that I have to prioritize taking care of myself, I’m still trying to come back from how far I let myself go.

I’ll be writing about the ways that I like to try to keep active (here’s a hint, not running), my fitness goals and milestones, and the other things that I do to try to take care of myself.  I might use this forum as an opportunity to experiment with new things (I’d love to try rock climbing and wouldn’t it be nice to have a regular meditation practice). I hope this will serve as some sort of inspiration for you to try some new good-for-you thing. At the least, I will feel accountable to keep striving for a healthy lifestyle because I’ll have to tell you about what I’m up to!