Tuesday, November 01, 2011

This is a long post. One that jumps around between a couple of topics. One I probably should have edited to make shorter. But I didn't want to go through the hassle of editing this here casual blog of mine. So, instead I left it in its wordy, drawn-own state, added in this introductory paragraph to make it even longer, and all I have to say is bravo to you if you make it to the end. Really wants to make you keep reading right? Drawing the reader in with clever opening lines was always a strength of mine. Cough. Anyways, if you're still with me, here it is...

I'm re-reading one of my favorite novels, The Thirteenth Tale, and this one passage stuck out to me... it's about an author and the stories she has yet to write,

"My study throngs with characters waiting to be written. Imaginary people, anxious for a life, who tug at my sleeve, crying, 'Me next! Go on! My turn!' I have to select. And once I have chosen, the others lie quiet for ten months or a year, until I come to the end of the story, and the clamor starts up again."

I felt an instant connection to this passage because it perfectly describes how I feel about choreography. I have a huge list of songs I have to use, the workings of multiple pieces started in my mind, and the minute one dance is done I'm eager to pick out the next and get started, feeling bad for the other songs and ideas that will have to wait until later. I'm lucky to have such a passion and it's crazy to think that just 6 years ago I had absolutely zero interest in ever attempting choreography and little to no respect for it as an art. I truly believe this is one of the main reasons I was led to Wheaton, to discover this passion of mine... every so often things happen to fall a certain way and a lot of "chance" things lead you to something wonderful you couldn't have expected. Wheaton for me is one of those things... to think of how I ended up there and then what I got out of it... it's nothing short of a blessing.

How I ended up at Wheaton College is a bizarre story, all the more so if you know how much I am into researching and planning things and just how much typically goes into my decision making process. I had a list of 7 schools I was applying to senior year, not to name drop them (but I am anyway) they were Brown, Amherst, Wellesley, Tufts, Vassar, Stonehill and Gordon. I had done all my research... I knew their acceptance rates, average SAT scores, and essentially calculated my odds of getting into each one. In my know-it-all teenage mind I KNEW I would get into 2, had a chance of getting into 3, and probably would not get into the remaining 2, but wanted to try anyway... or in guidance counselor terms I had 2 safeties, 3 matches and 2 reaches. I had visited dozens of colleges, done all my interviews, taken tours, sat in on classes, and again I KNEW these were my top 7 choices. So when my guidance counselor told me I needed to apply to more "safety schools" I was strongly against it. If I KNEW I could get into two of my schools and I KNEW I would choose any one of these seven over any other school, why should I have to apply somewhere else? He was adamant that I choose at least one more school, "to give me more options" he said. KNEW (had to throw in one more all caps "knew"... sorry)

Now, normal Trisha, if forced to pick another option, would have gone through the whole research process again of trying to find her 8th choice... the perfect school for her if options 1-7 didn't work out. But rebellious Trisha (a side which rarely comes out) thought it would be perfectly spiteful if she chose a school at random, as if to say to mr. guidance counselor, "fine, i'll pick another school, but don't think I care which one I choose because I WILL get into at least 2 of my schools, I WILL go to one of those and this "8th choice" will be inconsequential and unnecessary, as I said from day 1". Time for Trisha to stop referring to herself in 3rd person. In reality, he didn't know how I came to the decision of choosing my 8th school, and probably it wouldn't have mattered much to him anyway. But I felt deliciously evil in knowing how I decided and in my mind it was the perfect way to get back at the guidance counselor who forced me to spend the unnecessary $55 on another application. So how did I come to my decision you ask? I picked up one of those top colleges in the northeast guidebooks, opened to a random page (which happened to be Wheaton's), saw its acceptance rate was more in the realm of the schools I knew I would get into rather than a Brown or Amherst, and decided to apply there. Knowing nothing about it. It made me so happy to do this to my guidance counselor without his knowledge that it was almost worth the $55 in my mind (of my mother's money... if it was mine it might have diminished my happiness a bit. But that's irrelevant).

Fast-forward several months and low and behold I get into the two schools I knew I would, plus Wheaton, and waitlisted at two others. Once I actually was accepted at Wheaton I figured it would be just plain irresponsible of me to not at least visit the place and see how it compared in my mind to the other two schools. (Of course, my method of choosing the school wasn't at all irresponsible in the first place). Two second background story... at all of my past college visits it had rained the day I visited... every single one (and remember, I visited dozens) so, by the 14th time or so that it happened I said to myself "if I ever visit a school and it's not raining I will take it as a sign and go there if I'm accepted". Well, no shocker with what happened next. I visit Wheaton and it's a gorgeous, sunny day. Even though researching, planning, calculating and comparing is my way of decision making and I'm often ruled by logic, I allowed my gut to take over and, completely unlike me, I didn't even think about it when I accepted my enrollment to Wheaton, turning down the other two schools. I felt that I was led there, for some unseen reason, and that it was where I was meant to be. Strangely enough I was really comfortable with my choice, even though I knew little about the place, because I took everything as a sign. Yet spiteful me was biting her tongue and did not thank guidance counselor. Didn't want to give him the satisfaction.

Now, I always follow my gut... it leads me throughout my life. While my heart isn't always smart enough, and my head doesn't always care enough, my gut has yet to lead me wrong. It combines my head, my heart and that unknown instinctive quality that I believe is God's guidance to get me what I need, even if it's not always what I want. I'm SO thankful I ended up at Wheaton, as I truly believe it was perfect for me and helped me grow into who I am. Beyond the classes and professors, friends and experiences, one of the best things I found at Wheaton was my passion for choreography. I honestly do not believe I would have found it otherwise.

I have been dancing for a long time, over 20 years now (ugh). In high school I had the opportunity to choreograph, and was greatly encouraged to do so by some of my teachers. But I had zero interest... not a spark... not one miniscule part of me had any desire or curiosity to explore even the possibility of it. I liked dancing. I liked others giving me steps to dance. I did not like the idea of creating movement for myself or others to dance. Period. When I got to college I didn't think I would have much of an opportunity to dance again in my life, beyond possibly some occasional classes, and of course in musical theater, but that's completely different. I didn't think I'd be able to dance in choreographed works. There simply isn't much opportunity once you graduate from a studio unless you join a professional company. Then I found dance company at Wheaton. I had an outlet to dance and I had a dance family. Still, I had no interest in choreography and I did not expect this to change. During my first two years at Wheaton I had the opportunity to work with multiple choreographers, all with different styles, very different than I had ever experienced at home. One day, sophomore year I (quite subconsciously) started visualizing choreography to a musical theater song I was listening to. I didn't know what to make of it. More and more ideas came to me with each listen to the song... I was choreographing without even trying. I decided to follow my gut (again) and push myself to go for it... if I'm ever going to choreograph might as well make it this semi cheesy, fosse-esque musical theater choreography I was visualizing, because, I thought, I could do anything with a musical theater style piece, and it would be much easier than a "real" dance. I worked for something ridiculous like 8 months on the piece before teaching it to the company as a junior. I was proud to have choreographed something, when I never thought I would, even if it was "just a musical theater piece". But I hadn't found my voice yet as a choreographer. Honestly, after that first experience I didn't have a huge desire to try choreographing something else and I had little belief that I would be able to ever do a "real dance". Even now, after having choreographed over a dozen pieces I feel like each time I start a new piece I won't know what I'm doing and I have little confidence that I'll be able to do a "real dance". Now I realize my works are real dances, they're just different. (I always thought of a real dance as like a lyrical jazz, which is actually sort of the style of the piece I just set recently.) I enjoy though that with the start of each new work I still feel like I won't have a clue what I'm doing... it emphasizes to me how there's no formula or set approach to choreographing and the process becomes more organic for me. Where was I going with this? (going back to re-read...) Oh, so I had no desire to choreograph again and little confidence in my ability. Then, junior year I worked with a choreographer who completely inspired me. His approach to choreography was unlike anything I had encountered before... there were no counts, no set tempo from dancer to dancer (dancer's choice!) and he had choreographed the whole thing but hadn't picked out music yet... but his passion for movement was infectious. Beyond his approach, which was new to me, what really inspired me was something he said, something that I now consider to be practically my mantra with choreography. Someone asked him why he decided to become a choreographer and through a huge smile he said "I get to play with movement every day of my life. What could possibly be better?" Those words struck a chord with me. Never before had I thought of choreography as playing with movement. I thought of it as you learn these set steps in your technique class and choreography is just stringing those learned movements together in a different order. Romantic definition there right? Can you tell I was a math major? Never before had I considered the possibility of creating something new or playing. My eyes were suddenly open to a world of possibilities. I said my first piece was heavily Fosse inspired... I had always admired his work but had never really thought about why I admired it. Now I believe it's largely because he wasn't afraid to be different, his moves are both sexy and odd and they have a sort of tongue-in-cheek, quirky humor I am drawn to. So many of these qualities I admire in Fosse's work were relevant to me in a fresh way when I thought about choreography in terms of playing with movement... now when I choreograph I do whatever strikes me, even if it's bizarre and different, I enjoy quirky movements that play off of literal interpretations of lyrics and I try not to limit myself to conventional dance steps learned in class. I found my voice and my inspiration, guided by the choreographer's words "play with movement". Such a simple idea, yet it completely turned my perspective upside down, or rather, right side up.

Since then I have been unable to stop creating choreography. Thoughts constantly swim in my mind for bits of movement and new works to set. And while it's possible I could have stumbled upon this passion of mine at some other point in my life and in some other way, I'm not so sure I would have... like I said, I was certain upon entering Wheaton that I wouldn't dance again. And if I didn't dance again, in this traditional way as I'm referring to it, outside of musical theater, why would I have ever been inspired to choreograph? I believe in my heart that dance company at Wheaton, and the choreographers and different styles I was exposed to there (and one choreographer's words in particular) are the reason I found this passion of mine. It makes you wonder what other passions of yours may be out there, yet undiscovered. Here's a shameless invite to check out some of my choreography here.

And as a random conclusion to this essay length blog of mine, if you haven't read The Thirteenth Tale and you enjoy reading, go read it now. I love a lot of books but very few are memorable and this is one that still creeps into my thoughts years after having read it, necessitating multiple re-reads. That's all.

Random pic, just because.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Since the world is ending tomorrow I thought I'd write one final blog post. A somber farewell. Although I'm sick of the topic, I can't help but jump on the bandwagon (a trite expression I hate but find myself using, then criticizing myself afterward for doing so). Yes, everyone's favorite hobby of the week seems to be making fun of this grand announcement, so I might as well jump aboard (gahh, trite expression #2 already). If you've been hiding under a rock (#3), perhaps you don't know that tomorrow is the beginning of the end. They say 3% of the world's population will die tomorrow and in 5 months time everyone will  be gone. So while you may make it to Memorial Day or July 4th, you might as well cancel any Thanksgiving or Christmas plans. Say your goodbyes and your love yous now because Judgment Day has arrived. Needless to say, tomorrow I will not be waiting for the end of it all, nor will I be celebrating at a "Judgment Day party" to mock the whole thing and have an excuse to drink. Twill be just another day. Sorry to be so boring.

I was driving in to work on Tuesday morning when I first saw the infamous billboard which I now can't avoid seeing 12+ times a day. You know the one... unless you're still hiding under that rock of yours.
At first I thought it was just a very odd plug for familyradio.com but soon the news spread like wildfire (trite expression #4... let's see how many I can rack up (#5?)). That's right, there's actually a group out there who thinks the world is ending tomorrow. And we would be foolish not to believe them, right? Who am I kidding... in today's society we're skeptical of things that are all but fact, so of course no one will believe them. Who is this "them" you ask? "Them" equals Harold Camping and his Project Caravan followers who spent a bunch of money on billboards to spread across the country, because after all... the world's ending tomorrow so might as well spend all that money now. I'll admit, after I first saw the billboard I checked the weather report for Saturday to see if there would be any signs of an earth shattering storm. When I saw that it would just be the usual rain we've had all week, I felt instant relief that the world would not be coming to an end, thank goodness. It got me thinking though... about how it all could end... the ways we fear it happening... what could happen the day after tomorrow? Shoot! That would have been a great line had I written this yesterday. Anyway...

Sure it's possible we could just get a ton of rain again like THE flood circa 4990 B.C... seems all the more plausible after this week. But over time we have dreamed up a lot of ways it could end. Everyone loves a good apocalypse movie. It could be aliens, a black hole, meteor or gamma ray burst from space. In the Bible it DOES say Jesus' return will take place in the sky... though I always pictured this as more of a supernatural experience than something like a meteor. Although, aliens are supernatural... but you know what I mean. Hopefully if it were aliens they would land their UFOs first and come out of their ships, thereby giving us the chance to attack them (as is so often seen in alien movies) rather than simply attacking us all from the sky first and getting it over with. Let us pretend we have a chance. I'm pretty sure we could detect most of these space related finales with satellites and jazz first (though what do I really know on the subject?). So unless this Camping fellow has a high-tech satellite and sees this stuff coming in (or NASA for that matter), I don't think this is how it will all play out. Next!
Look at this fun coloring page I found.
Have your kids color in the aliens shooting laser
beams through people and ending the world. What fun!
Perhaps it wouldn't be something from the sky, but rather something from the earth that ends us all. This string of recent earthquakes and tsunamis are certainly frightening and everyone is up in arms (#6? I lost track) over global warming. Something like this in a grand scale is conceivable. I've always been slightly terrified at the prospect of one of those super volcanoes erupting and disrupting the climate enough to kill all life on Earth. Maybe it will be a wide spread infection. Those like to pop up too. Swine flu, bird flu anyone? Maybe robots really will take over and our own technology will destroy us all. Or perhaps it will be a nuclear war. I still think the only way 3% of the world's population will die tomorrow is if this Camping figure pulls some sort of heinous attack so that no one can call him a liar. It's not really something to joke about. Part of me is worried that his followers may end up pulling something like the Heaven's Gate Hale-Boppers of 1997 who were convinced the world was ending. As I said, not really something to joke about. I don't go around preaching my beliefs, but I am a Christian. I do believe Christ is coming again... just not tomorrow. Insert bible passage Matthew 24:36 here.

Let's face the facts... every prediction of the earth's end thus far has failed. And there have been plenty. I may have fed into them a bit more when I was younger (during the Y2K scare I was a skeptical but slightly paranoid teenager who thought there was at least the possibility of a mass blackout, if not the end of the world), but now it's just silly to think you can predict these things. I'll live tomorrow like a normal day and yes, I'll be seeing you all December 22, 2012 as well. But if you'd rather prepare for the next famine/environmental collapse/solar flare/bombing/magnetic pole reversal be my guest and stock up on food and water, sport your facemasks and hope it will save you in the end. You never know.

Friday, May 06, 2011

It's already happened. I can't believe I'm at the point already where I forget how old I am. The past few times someone has asked me I've had to pause, think "1986" and mentally subtract from 2011 to tell them I'm 24. Quite a difference from my younger years where I could instantly spit out "I'm 11 years, 7 months old". I know I'm still young and therefore you're probably chuckling that I used the phrase "younger years". But as I'm approaching my quarter-century mark this July I've been reflecting more and more on how different I am now than I was. Sure, my personality and interests have remained primarily the same though they've evolved somewhat, as they do over time with everyone as they experience more in life. But I'm pretty sure I'll always be fairly quiet, curious & nerdy and have a soft spot for musical theater. The big difference is in my maturity and outlook on life. I feel like an entirely different person.

When I was young, even as early as elementary school, I remember feeling like I was mentally and emotionally mature for my age. I didn't have much interest in "play time" and I remember "not getting" how to play make believe type games or understanding why it was supposed to be fun. I don't think that's really a maturity thing... I think I was just odd (another thing that never really changed), but I remember feeling like I was more mature. Shift forward a few years to middle and high school and I remember REALLY feeling more mature. I didn't understand why people would be mean to each other, or try to act cool to fit in. I didn't find what most of my peers found funny amusing. And I thought to myself, when adults say "teenagers think they know everything and think they are mature enough to deal with anything", that I was an exception to their statement, because while I may not have known everything, I was still beyond my years in terms of emotional and mental maturity. I felt like I thought like an adult, assessed things like an adult, handled emotions like an adult. In no way was I "inferior" and I expected adults to think of me this way and treat me this way. I laugh at all of this now because it's probably what every teenager feels like. In some ways I do think I was more mature than my peers, but I was still an angst-ridden teenager.

I still remember the first time I felt a disconnect with people younger than me. Not children... I've never been much of a children person, even when I was one. I don't know how to act around kids and basically freak out if I'm around too many at once. No, I'm referring to teenagers, middle & high school age. I was just out of college and whenever I saw a group of teens walking around I felt a very strange disconnect. I'd look at them and smile to myself, thinking about how silly teenage years are, and then it suddenly hit me that I now felt like I fit in more with "adult adults" than teenagers. It was an odd, odd feeling and probably the first time I truly felt like a real adult. However, it's been in the past two years or so that I really started to feel like I'm different from who I was. That I have a firm grasp on who I am, what I believe, what I want and what I stand for. It's strange to think about because like I said before, throughout my whole life I've always felt like a mature, introspective person, but now its different. I can't pinpoint it or describe it well, but I'm grown up.

Just the other day I went through my poetry journal, poems I wrote from age 13 on. Poems that my mother read at the time that led her to believe I was going to commit suicide, to which I laughed as I said "they're just poems!" when really on the inside I knew I was showing them to her to tell her how much I was hurting. As I sat there and read these heart-wrenching words all I could think about was how far I've come and how much I wish I could go back and tell my teenage self that it would all be okay. I don't discredit what I felt at the time. I went through something awful that I dealt with in the best way I could... letting it out in words and through dance. I think about how scared I was and pessimistic; how cruel I thought life was and how all of that gave me the strength and growth to be at where I am now, a complete reversal. Now I am incredibly optimistic and hopeful, excited for the future and everything I have yet to learn and experience. I feel like life is sort of like constantly growing up... there's always more to discover... about yourself, about others and about the world. This sort of turned into a cheesy message on personal growth. I apologize. I'm not sure what my intention was when I first started writing or what I was hoping to say. Certainly not bore you with a self-indulgent story on growing up. I thought it was curious though that my poetry book stopped at the age of 19. Half of this 2 inch thick journal was filled with poems from age 13-19, but not one from before I was teen and not one after. It's not like I made the conscious decision to stop when I was 20; I just did not find myself writing poetry anymore. It's sort of like poetry was meant to help me through my teenage years and then at that point it had served its purpose. Now that is cheesy.

I'm not sure I want to publish this post. It's kind of a mental free-write for me versus my usual re-read and re-work pattern of writing in an attempt to make things funny and/or insightful. I guess I'll post it anyway, at least it's real. I'll probably delete it later.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm a far cry from a shopaholic. I frequent the mall maybe 5 times a year and usually it's with a specific purchase in mind. Either that or I'll be going there to see a movie and have some time to kill so I pop into some stores. But shopping just to browse, see what catches my eye and spend freely? Almost never. For one, I'm a guilty purchaser. If I spend too much money I immediately feel guilty. This is why I almost always have a planned purchase in mind before going to stores. I feel as though planning out the spending of my money dissimulates my guilt a bit. (No idea if I used "dissimulates" correctly, but it's the word that came to mind so I'm sticking to my instinct). All of this "non shopaholic" jazz doesn't mean, however, that I do not occasionally like to splurge. I'm just a very methodical splurger.

Yes, every so often I will become mildly... obsessed with something, for lack of a better word. Mostly, it's just a couple of obsessions that get recycled over time. They go from something I need to have, to something I kind of forget about once I have it, and then a few months/years down the road I'll need to have more again. My favorites tend to be book, dvd or beauty product related. But if I'm craving new books to read I will not just run out to Borders, browse for a few minutes and pick something up. As I said before, I'm a guilty spender. I need to draw out the process as long as possible in order to dissimulate my guilt (there's that word again) and get the most satisfaction out of my purchase. Even if it is only $6 on a new book.

Let's explain my typical process. I will usually go to Amazon.com and begin browsing (or Sephora.com or etsy.com or even nuts.com haha...depending on what particular product it is that I'm craving). This browsing becomes addictive and quite time consuming. I read reviews for multiple items of whatever it is I'm craving and form a wish list. I allow myself to compile said wish list over several weeks of browsing. By the time it's all said and done I have a wishlist of anywhere from 8 to 50 items. The next few weeks are spent re-reading the information for what I have already deemed to be the best of the best. I need to whittle it down to just one or two items that I will actually get. Then, after the long decision making process is finally done with I buy that item online with complete confidence that I bought THE best of whatever it was I was looking for. I never go and find the item in a store because I find that the waiting each day for the package to arrive only further increases my excitement and anticipation. Then the day finally comes, after what is typically months of planning... it arrives. The excitement continues as I open it up and is usually maintained during the product's first usage. Then it dies down considerably. But the thrill of the purchase typically outshines the guilt when I go about it all in this long, drawn-out fashion.

I'm right in the middle of three obsessions. That is too many at one time for me. Thankfully, one has (mostly) come to a close, because I've pretty much exhausted my purchasing potential in this category. I'll start with that one. Lately I have discovered Hayao Miyazaki's films. If you are unfamiliar, he's often referred to as the Japanese Walt Disney although this comparison is far off. The folks over at Pixar think of this man as a God and his films, as a whole, I believe are much more geared towards adults than children. There's no cliche jokes, usually no clear villian, sometimes not even much of a plot and the characters never break into song, but I saw one of his movies and was hooked in. I HAD to see more of his films. Per my typical purchasing method, I began to look up his films. Disney got the rights to sell his movies in the U.S. When I saw that he only had ten films, one of which I already owned, I knew I was in trouble. There would be no way of getting around me ordering them all. I knew that. If he had 80 films I could have restrained myself and picked out one or two (okay, or three) to purchase, but the fact that there was such a limited number of them... my wallet was going to hate me. I still went through the process of researching each of the movies, including reading several ranked lists, critic's reviews, regular people American reviews, regular people Japanese reviews, trailer viewings etc.. But in the end I did as I knew I would, went and purchased them all. That's why I can say I'm in the clear with future purchases around this obsession. I bought all of his movies. However, there are new movies to be made and several more which he has had a part in, even if he didn't write and direct them all. I shouldn't say I'm safe yet. I'm still awaiting the arrival of 8 of these movies and the anticipation is ever increasing as I'm learning how long it takes disney movie club to ship these things out. At the rate they're going I wouldn't be surprised if they're coming over directly from Japan. Either that or Disney is "being nice" and trying to prolong the process because they know the anticipation is 90% of the pleasure.
I couldn't resist adding this image which features a (still life animation hah) image
of Miyazaki as well as characters and creatures from 7 of his movies.

One of my other obsessions are these wonderful handmade soups by DeShawn Marie. With so many different scent combinations to choose from, it's hard to pick what my next order will be. You can bet I've read through each description multiple times and carefully picked out each one to buy. I really wish I knew how to draw out my happiness from these purchases though. While I do LOVE the soaps I find myself wanting to try out all of the "flavors" as quickly as possible. As a result, I'll open up a package, use it one day in the shower, have that initial excitement of it being something new, and then, instead of wanting to finish up that soap before moving on to the next one, the next day I'll want to open up another one!  (Note that I've only actually done that once. I am usually able to contain myself and wait.) Seriously though, these soaps are so divine that I bought them twice as gifts for people, and both times the thought of giving them away nearly killed me. One of those two times I admit I kept the soaps for myself and gifted something else. Unhealthy obsession.
Yum... I'm addicted to these soaps
My third recent obsession is a more healthy one. Depending on how you look at it. Lately, out of nowhere, I've been craving exercise DVDs. I don't even typically work out. Meaning never. But back in high school I had one dance-ish cardio VHS (yes VHS) that I loved. Something recently rekindled my interest in this and let me tell you, this is THE MOST time consuming addiction of them all. I have different dvd wishlists on amazon all geared to specific exercises: there's a list of cardio dvds, stretching dvds, strength training dvds, yoga dvds, dance inspired dvds, pilates dvds, exercise ball dvds... you name it. So far I've given in and bought 5 of them. That's just so far. I know future purchases will be made. But guess what? I actually use them. I have no idea where this sudden interest came from. I think it's because I have a lot more time on my hands now and I don't know what to do with myself.

Me exercising to a workout dvd... if I were brunette and several shades more tan (tanner?)
Change those two things and insert an image of my dog jumping around my
feet annoying me while I try to workout and this picture is pretty accurate.
I think I'm mostly safe so long as my obsessions stay in the realm of dvds, books and soaps. If I ever have a dire need to collect cars or classic artwork I may be in trouble. But you'll be sure that I have done my research and only bought the best there is! Maybe I am a shopaholic... just a different breed. My obsessive, planning type may be more dangerous to wallets than my spontaneous, impulsive counterparts.