Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nine weeks down...

... and I have no idea where to go from here.

The dance school that I've been going to lately offers a multitude of adult dance classes. They have ballet of all levels, modern dance, jazz, pointe, and, of course, tap. They are one of the only schools in town that offers adult tap classes. It's kind of perfect, actually, because they hold a series of Basics Beginner Workshops which each last 8 weeks (we convinced them to extend ours one week, though, giving us 9 classes). As someone who never tap danced before in her life, this setup was ideal because I definitely needed the basics.

We started each class with warm ups on the barre, where the instructor would teach us some new step or technique to practice. Next, we would learn a routine (that was choreographed on the spot by our instructor, which I think is pretty darn impressive) that would reinforce what we had been working on. While the workshop started with about 10-12 people, by the end it was down to 4-5, giving us each more individual attention and instruction. The classes progressed pretty quickly, but not overwhelmingly so, and I learned much more than I thought I would in 8 (or 9) weeks. By the 6th week, our instructor was saying that we were hardly beginners anymore. She taught us pull backs and draw backs, 5 beat riffs and syncopated shuffles; moves she claims are unheard of in beginners classes (granted, I still almost fall over every time I draw a pull back... but at least it sounds alright). All in all, it was a successful workshop that progressed us past beginner status.

There's only one issue: now what? Sure, they have another Basics Beginners workshop starting up in a couple weeks, but the instructors have all agreed that we're way past learning the definition of a shuffle for another two months (a move involving two beats, a brush forward and a brush backwards, where your foot ends in the air). And even though we learned a lot more than we bargained for, we're by no means ready for the Intermediate/Advanced class that uses the studio after us (my classmate Song and I were watching them warm up when we were changing our shoes after class last night and it was terrifying). So what do we do?

Currently, we're lobbying for them to add a Beginner/Intermediate course to the schedule that would act as a stepping stone between the Basics workshop and the Intermediate/Advanced class. Apparently, they have a studio open on Wednesday nights, so that's promising (although, it would mean that I would have to quit my kickball team). In the meantime, Song and I plan on trying out the Intermediate/Advanced course for the next couple weeks so that we can make complete fools of ourselves while we try to pick some things up. Wish us luck!

What would be the potential downsides of trying out a class that is way out of my range? Is it weird that I think draw backs are hilariously similar to a moon walk? Why would Brian even suggest that I attempt to learn a routine from Holiday Inn that is entirely Fred Astaire showing off his tap dancing? He doesn't even have any accompaniment; it's just his fantastic tap dancing with some fireworks peppered in!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Running and the Dorkiest Thing I've Done All Year

Wow. It has gotten cold! Like, chug-multiple-cups-of-boiling-hot-chocolate-just-so-that-you-can-stop-shivering-even-though-you're-indoors cold (I can't say that the mouth burns and stomach ache were worth it, but it did warm me up). So, perfect time to start running again, right? Right. And no, I refuse to run on a treadmill due to previous unpleasant experiences (it tricked me into thinking I was getting good at running!), so all of my running will be done outside.

I must admit that while I was dreading it, running in the cold isn't all that bad. My face may have gone numb, but at least I don't sweat as much. My lungs may have burned from the cold air, but at least I didn't feel nauseous like I do when I run in the heat. I may have had to use a hair dryer to thaw my legs when I got back, but at least I now have a good excuse to buy pants (my summer running capris just aren't cutting it in the winter... and no amount of knee socks have been able to change that). I think my favorite part about running in the cold (other than the fact that no one else is out running, so less people are there to witness how inept I am) is that I run so much faster! I think this is due to a combination of wanting to finish up and get back inside as fast as possible (which is funny because I base my runs on time rather than distance... so it literally makes no difference how fast I go) and wanting to get moving in general because the increased blood flow warms you up (which is probably the dominant factor).

Another upside to running in the cold? I get to wear a hoodie, and hoodies have pockets. My summer running attire has only one tiny pocket built into the tramp-stamp region of the waist of my capris. This pocket is only large enough to fit a key and possibly, with a lot of jimmying and finessing,  the access card I need to get into my apartment. Also, since it's located on the small of my back, whatever is stored in said pocket inevitably gets as drenched in sweat as I do. My hoodie, on the other hand, has four pockets: two on the outside and two on the inside. When I go running in my hoodie, I could take all of my keys, my phone, my iPod (which I don't actually take because I am a static electricity machine, so running in the cold with ear buds usually results in my ears getting shocked with every stride), and up to 3 novels (for what we like to call "X-treme Night Reading").

Now before you start thinking that I'm lobbying to become the spokesperson for the National Hoodie Council, I should confess that running with a hoodie does have its downside. The long sleeves of the hoodie cover up my watch, and as I base all of my running intervals on lengths of time, watch visibility tends to be a big issue. As a result, I've started wearing my watch on the outside of my sleeve when doing any sort of outdoor training, which, as you can all imagine, is pretty attractive and not super lame at all (it's almost as bad as that one time I wore the anklet my high school boyfriend gave me on the outside of my uniform knee socks because I wanted to show it off to my classmates).

But pockets and speed aside, I think running in the cold will be good practice for the 5k that my kickball team has signed up for in February... at about the time of year that we usually have our annual ice storm. In the meantime, I'll enjoy running by all the houses decorated for the holidays.

Do you prefer running in the summer, winter, or never? Is there anything I can do to mitigate the static shocks while running so that I can finally listen to some music? Want to join my X-treme Night Reading league?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A horse is a horse, of course, of course

The biggest problem I have with Groupon (other than the fact that it mostly peddles laser hair removal and sushi) is that I always seem to wait until the last moment to redeem my deals (which isn't actually Groupon's fault at all). In fact, as a byproduct of trying my darnedest to stay out of the heat this summer, I completely forgot about a horseback riding groupon my friends and I had purchased until it had nearly expired. After calling the stable to try to make a last minute appointment a couple weeks ago, only to be met with an answering machine and no calls back from the owner, we had given up and accepted that this would be yet another groupon that we would never get to take full advantage of (along with my tandem kayaking deal that could only be redeemed Tuesdays through Thursdays and my bowling groupon that I would have been able to use had I not potentially broken my thumb shortly before it expired). But lo and behold, the owner finally called me back last Wednesday to tell me that they were extending the deadline for a week and that they had one opening left at 10am Saturday morning!

Kirsten, Gigi, Blazer, and me

Apparently, everyone else forgot about this Groupon in their attempts to stay out of the heat as well, so when I called back to confirm my reservation, they swindled me into moving it up to 9am to accommodate the sheer volume of riders they had for the day. While I don't usually relish the idea of rising from bed before 8am on a Saturday, this actually worked out perfectly. Kirsten met me at my place promptly at 8 (which is not only out of character for her, but also meant that she had to wait in her car for a bit while I walked back from the donut shop with our breakfast), and we headed out towards the ranch lands. Again, I'll say that though it necessitated waking up way too early for a lazy bum like myself, having a 9am reservation was perfect. It meant that we were the only people there at the time (with the exception of the staff, of course). We got a lot of one on one attention from the owner as he taught us how to start, stop, and turn our horses. After walking around the arena once with us, the staff turned us loose to continue walking around the arena (on horses). Then, the two of us were led on a trail (which is where my horse, Blazer, would start trotting, terrifyingly, whenever we lagged behind).

By the end of our hour, we saw that multiple groups were showing up for their reservations, reminding us that not everyone is lucky enough to get such one on one treatment. Also, during the 2 minute walk to my car, it had started drizzling, then sprinkling, then raining. I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am that our reservation was at 9am.

The horses were beautiful and as sweet as can be, the owner and stable hands were extremely friendly and accomodating, and I was able to work towards conquering another of my fears (large animals... especially ones that I could potentially fall off of). All in all, it was a wonderful outing. Kirsten and I had so much fun riding on Saturday that we're thinking of postponing my plans to buy a piano and get a horse instead (assuming, of course, that getting a piano to begin with is even a feasible idea, which, unfortunately, is not the case).

Remember how in almost every grade school class there was at least that one girl that did horseback riding regularly and could usually be spotted by her horse-themed books? Have you let any groupons and/or other pre-paid activities expire? Do you think Kirsten and I should have tempted fate as we did later that day by walking to lunch after narrowly escaping the morning rain? Because we definitely got drenched on the way back from the Corner Bakery.

What are we even doing with our hands?