argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
The family reunion went better than I expected, though not without incident. All my immediate relatives on my mom's side of the family came except for two brothers and their children. Hard to believe I hadn't seen some of these people in a decade.

Saturday 25 July - We initially left home around 9:30 AM. About 15 minutes out, the check engine light came on, so we returned home and read the code, which was for an oxygen sensor. We debated about moving everything to another car (we had mostly packed the car the night before to save time), but decided to reset the engine code and try our luck. (The check engine light never did come on again.) We were off again at 10:40 AM. Traffic was fairly heavy.

Rest behind cut. )

I thought my grandparents were surprisingly energetic, but they've been discussing moving to an assisted living place on the mainland, which was a surprise to me. My grandpa can't do all the house and yard maintenance any more, but also doesn't want to pay someone else to do it. There are other factors as well, and multiple opinions among the relatives. My dad and I both think if they do move to the mainland, they should keep the island house and rent it out.

Since we've gotten back, my mom's gotten better and went back to work, though today was a down day. (Her birthday is tomorrow.) We have several upcoming performances with our ATS class/troupe. I have a job interview next week, though I interviewed there two years ago and it didn't seem like a good match at the time; asking others to be references is still the worst source of anxiety.

I'll try to post some photos in the next entry, but no promises on when it will be posted.
argurotoxos: fanart of Lady Loki amused (Lady Loki - snerk | by etrangere)
Our teacher's mother recorded the whole performance and uploaded it to YouTube.

Here are our ATS group numbers: one, two, three, and our closing bow. Katy, our teacher, also danced a solo (the laughter is from her mom's expression whenever there was a swear word). Cherish danced a solo, too! Thank you to Katy's mom for the videos, Richard for hosting us free, and Katy, Cherish, and Caroline for being wonderful fellow dancers.

Our first ATS group set is embedded below.

argurotoxos: a scene from System Shock 2 with a ghost crewmember (System Shock 2 | by plant_boy)
My dad set up the iPad Sunday afternoon to test the video recording for the family reunion. I recorded about 40 minutes worth of dance practise and made many notes, both positive bits and things that need work. I've improved a lot this past year, though; I can hardly stand to watch the belly dance videos I have from a year ago. (Maybe I'll feel the same way a year from now!)

Wonder of wonders, my Photobucket account is still alive. The audio is quiet (it was playing from my laptop) and the video is a bit dark, plus I've greatly shrunk the video size (the original was almost 400 MB) and Photobucket shrank it even more, but it should hopefully be enjoyable. The song is "Radwind Pt. 1" by MoozE from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl soundtrack. (You can download the soundtrack for free here.) Combining my love of dark ambient with my love of dance isn't the easiest thing, but it seems to work for sword. This was my first and only take for sword -- if it goes this well at the family reunion, I'll be thrilled! The song that kicks in a bit at the end is "Hydro 1" by Eric Brosius from the System Shock 2 soundtrack. I should also link to Tiazza's YouTube channel as she's who I picked up most of my sword work from.

Video direct link
argurotoxos: an elegant half-nude woman standing in green skirts with head facing down and butterflies at her feet (Fée verte)
This is my last day off before we leave for the family reunion on Saturday. Most of the things I pack are ones I use every day, but I think I can get some of my clothes at least packed today. (My mom was smart and took extra days off before to pack. Then again, I used to have at least one weekday off until just the past few weeks. [Somehow, I now have weekends off, which I actually don't like as much; it's nice to be free Saturdays since that's usually a performance day if we're dancing, but I like a weekday off to make appointments, etc., and just break up the week.])

My grandfather was in hospital and briefly in rehab after a fall at home, but he's back at home now with a walker and pain pills. It's still incredible he's lived as long as he has.

Yesterday I danced outdoors with my three fellow ATS dancers. It was quite hot in the sun, but a lot of fun. Since we dance in front of a mirror in class, it's easy to cheat and follow our reflections instead of watching the lead dancer for cues; it went better than I expected, though there are a lot of things I can improve on, especially smoothing out my traveling moves. Also, our teacher was the only one who played with zills -- I can make it through a song on my own with zills, but can't yet play them consistently and follow all the cue changes. I only expected to dance in a few songs, but we did about seven songs as a group. Since I'm the youngest of the group, and by far the newest to belly dance (the other three have danced six-plus years and have taken national workshops, plus have more complex outfits and have known each other a while), sometimes I worry that I'm imposing or being included out of courtesy, but I'd like to think that we all enjoy dancing together with that rush of excitement.

Tribal fusion belly dance class was moved to after ATS on Wednesdays. I hadn't been to tribal fusion in about a month since driving to the studio three times a week is too much. It's nice that I can take tribal fusion again, though it does mean dancing for almost three hours every Wednesday after working all day. My flamenco classes have been canceled the past few weeks due to the teacher being unavailable; I've practised a bit on my own, but am more focused on belly dance. Besides ATS, I've been practising my sword balancing, but I'm not sure if I'm up to performing it yet or not.

(As a sidenote, this week on Tumblr is FenHawke week for the DA2 fandom.)
argurotoxos: Emilie Autumn sitting on the floor (Emilie - floor | by betterthanlegos)
My mom had her gall bladder removed this morning. The doctors hope it will, if not end, at least lessen her inconsistent side pain and nausea problems. She's also had a lot of trouble sleeping recently.

My dad's had more trouble with high blood pressure and low energy. His bike is also broken, which is one of his main sources of exercise and, I think, a sense of fun and accomplishment.

Because of all this, I've had lots of worries and negative thoughts recently. I don't have any siblings, or a significant other, or children, or pets, so after my parents, it's just me, alone. Of the three local friends I have, one has been super busy, the second has always been more of a talker than a listener, and things have been uncomfortable and awkward with the third (also he's been super busy), so I don't feel I have as much support as I did, say, a year ago. How can people and situations change so much? That thought has been on my mind a lot. Even to take a more mundane example: I used to read pretty much just Loki/Thor fanfic for years. Now that I've found Male!Hawke/Fenris, it's really hard to go back to Loki/Thor. (The Thor fandom was one of the largest I've ever been in, so now I'm trying to adjust to the pace of a more moderate fandom.) How does something that piqued my enthusiasm and brought me joy a year ago not do that anymore?

On one hand, I enjoy having leisure time and being alone -- it's when I'm often at my more creative or introspective. On the other, I also have a tendency to become paranoid or raise my shields.

At some point, I really need to find a different job. Something with more likelihood of actually being able to support myself with. The biggest things keeping me at my current job are the health benefits, short distance, and it's easier and less scary to stay where you are than to make a big change. I haven't heard back from any of the state civil service positions I've applied to lately.

I attended the end-of-year performance for the belly dance group I studied with last fall. The performance was two hours long; most of the classes in the recital were various ballet levels, though there were also some hip-hop and Irish dance groups, and one group that performed a song from Newsies. The belly dance group was the second to last to perform, and I was surprised (and disappointed) how short their piece was. I told my teacher in email after that I didn't plan to come back soon (it's farther away and later in the evening than my current studio, and I want to focus on tribal style) and she took it much better than I expected.

We had another woman join our Wednesday American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance class, so now there's four of us coming fairly consistently. I have a lot of feelings about ATS, how connected we are to our other dancers, and it's definitely where my focus lies. Our teacher said we might be able to extend classes to 2 hours during the summer. I tried flamenco for the first time last week at the same studio. I've never danced in high heels before - they have flamenco shoes for beginning students to borrow - but the first class at least wasn't as difficult as I expected. If I can, I'd like to continue with it, but I'm not as dedicated to it as ATS.

Our family reunion is the last week of July. I'm hoping it won't be too much of a logistical nightmare or stressful, because I can see it being both. One of my aunts is unofficially in charge of it and wants to rotate dinner cooking -- for 25 people. I've never cooked for more than four people in my life. In theory, we're having a talent show Monday night, which is the only evening my aunt who lives in the area is free. Because my grandparents' house isn't that large, all of us except one family are renting separate houses. Our rental house is only one road over from my grandparents', but we have to bring our own sheets, towels, food, etc., plus all our other packing. (My dad is an extremely light packer, while my mom is a very heavy one and I'm somewhere in the middle, although I'll have one bag just for belly dance.)
argurotoxos: fanart of Lady Loki amused (Lady Loki - snerk | by etrangere)
Today I:

-Got up around 9 AM and drove over to have breakfast, go on a morning walk, and talk with one of my closest friends. (A few days ago, we went on an 11-mile bike ride together.)

-Stopped at the doctor's office to pick up a script for my mom and make my annual physical appointment. One of the receptionists actually gave me a printed copy of my immunization record at no cost. (The last time I'd tried to get it, I was told they would have to print my whole medical record and charge me almost $40. It's still crazy to me that I can't get my whole medical record without paying for it, or even read it myself at the office, but having the immunization list is a start.)

-Went to my bank's ATM for more cash.

-Bought a second watering can (for the back porch plants), another bottle of sunscreen, and some cheap, scented bubble bath at Walmart.

-Returned some of my and my mom's books at the library. I normally never eat while reading physical books, especially library books, but did one day at work when no one else was on to have lunch with and, sure enough, I spilled some food on it. It doesn't look that bad, but it's an interlibrary loan book, so it's up to the original library to decide if they just want to note the condition or if they want me to pay for a new copy. I also checked out a number of audio CDs and a few new books for Maine and the car drive. (CDs -- The Music Rough Guides to the Himalayas, Japan, Turkish Cafe, and Scandinavia; The Art of Seduction: Gypsy Nights - Belly Dance Music of the Balkans; books -- Belly Dancing Basics by Laura A. Cooper, Funny Misshapen Body by Jeffrey Brown, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by Nyanaponika Thera, The Zen Path through Depression by Philip Martin. I'm still reading The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo.)

-Picked up my mom's prescriptions at CVS.

-Had a quick lunch (thai curry TV dinner) while reading the newest chapter of one of my current favourite fanfics (A Week is a Long Time in Vanaheim by Hermaline75, Loki/Thor, pre-MCU, explicit, WIP).

-Put on some sunscreen and worked outside. Watered the flowers. Planted some creeping thyme in my small front garden. Moved one of my marigolds that was started to wilt from a clay pot into the soil near the thyme. Swept off the front steps. My plants: two marigolds in clay pots and one amaryllis in my bedroom; cactus and regular zinnia, thyme, and one marigold up front; one marigold, one amaryllis, and two pots of three morning glories each on the back porch.

-Helped my dad check the fluid levels and air conditioning system in my car. He checked the other two cars while I had a short dinner and changed.

-Went to the first class of a new belly dance session half an hour away. The drive wasn't as bad as I'd expected, and the place was easy to find. There were almost 30 people there, some who had taken prior classes with the instructor and some who were completely new, ranging from late teens to 60s! Most people did have their own hip scarfs, though. The studio was an actual dance studio with wooden floors, a barre, and full-length mirrors across one wall. Oh, what a beautiful sight! The mirrors really do help, and I found myself automatically going into ballet warm-ups. It was quite a difference from my experience with the nearby belly dance class, where I was the only one there and the studio was designed primarily as a yoga studio, with no mirrors or barre and just painted concrete. Even though I enjoyed having more people in the class, I also found myself feeling very self-conscious and had a hard time relaxing. The instructor seemed much more knowledgeable, gregarious, and willing to give constructive criticism than the local one, although also a bit absent-minded. I'll be in Maine next week, but signed up for the rest of the session, which will be every Thursday night at 6 PM through 17 July. To my surprise, the instructor said she might even cover veil and zill (finger cymbal) use even though it's a beginner class.

-Came home and ate some fried rice with my parents.

-I might burn some music CDs for Maine after finishing this.

I work tomorrow 7:30 AM - 4:15 PM, Saturday 8 AM - noon (in theory; it might change). If we don't leave for Maine on Sunday, I might go to my close friend's house; he's off that day and their pool might be open.
argurotoxos: Emilie Autumn sitting on the floor (Emilie - floor | by betterthanlegos)
I bought two amaryllis bulbs in the post-Christmas sales. They're on my desk next to the east-facing window in my bedroom. The second one I bought was already growing past the cardboard even without water or sun; I've been surprised how much it's grown just this week. The other bulb, however, hasn't done much. The blooms are supposed to be bright red (first/slow one) and reddish-orange with white lines (second/fast one).

Below are two photos of the amaryllis, plus new photos of my belly dance outfit(s) with commentary.

Photos under cut. )


argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)

March 2016



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