Goals


I remember when I was first starting as a dancer, hideously insecure, longing with all my heart to be having the kind of dances I could hear in the music. I knew that it was possible to dance that way, so connected to the music and your partner, making the music come alive through the way you moved your body, through the way the two of you moved together on the floor. I watched others, the good dancers, having those dances, losing themselves in the moment, their partner, and the melody. They styled and improvised, and every once in a while threw in a swingout so pure and clean it could make an angel cry. I wanted to dance like that almost more than I wanted to breathe, and I was sure that I would never, never be that good.

When watching, I noticed that one of the ways you could always tell when it had been a really, really good dance was by the hug. The two dancers would end the song with a flourish or a pose or a dip, and hold it for a long moment as the music faded. Then the tension would be released, the partners would come out of their position with a smile or laugh, and give each other a big hug full of spontaneous affection. It was all there in that hug: the joy of the moment shared, the gratitude for the gift the other person has given you and allowed you to give them, the satisfaction of knowing that you have done something well.

I watched these dances with despair in the pit of my stomach. I had hit the point in my dancing when I started to realize how much I didn’t know, how much I wasn’t following. I was so frustrated with myself, my limitations, my body that just didn’t do what I wanted it to do. I could hear so much in the music, but I couldn’t seem to get it out on the dance floor. I felt lucky to finish a dance feeling that I had followed everything correctly. Every once in a while I got a “Good job.” or “That was nice.” I treasured those moments and kept working. One day…

Then came the first time I lost myself in the music. It was only five seconds during a rotation at a workshop, but it was… dizzying. When I looked up at my partner I saw the same half-stunned look on his face. That was when I found hope. I kept working hard, practicing, getting critiqued, taking lessons, pushing myself to get better. Then I had a whole dance like that. I can still hear the song: Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford, though when I was dancing it was almost like I didn’t hear the music, or I did, but it was as if it were coming through my lead. At the end my partner held on to me for a long moment, and we looked at each other. “That was…” he said, “that was…” and then he gave up and hugged me.

That was over a year ago now. I’ve had more dances like that since, though I’ve learned never to take them for granted. They’re rare moments of serendipity when you, your partner, and the song all line up in fleeting synchronization. But I’m no longer surprised when they come along. Last Wednesday a good guy dancer from another city showed up at our weekly dance. We had a really fun dance, playing with the music and off one another. There was styling, improvising, and fancy footwork. We laughed and had a good time together. At the end of the song he led me into a big, flourishing pose, which we held as the music faded. Then we both laughed, and he pulled me into a big hug. As I walked off the floor I realized that I’d made it – that for all of the ways I’m still far from the dancer I want to be, I’m now one of the “good dancers” I used to watch with such hopeless envy. And I have the hugs to prove it.

First, the good news. Lisa is coming home from Kenya! Hurrah! She has officially booked her ticket, and should be safely back in Ohio on Thursday. I won’t completely feel the relief until I know her plane has touched down in our local airport, but already the tension has eased so much. So that’s good.

The other good news is that I finally was able to scan in my garden plans I’ve been sketching on scrap paper during classes. I reuse paper, so anything with a blank side (flyers, handouts from previous classes, papers that printed out incorrectly, etc.) is my note paper. Most of my doodles were done on what would have been part of the course packet for one of my classes, only the printer was running out of toner. This is why there’s fading lines of text on some of the sketches. I had originally planned to photoshop that out, but I kinda like the way it looks. So you get to see it in its original, unadulterated form. Enjoy!

back yard

This is my plan for the whole back yard. Some of this is already planted, and some of it is hopes for the future. The lavender, snapdragons, and the bulk of the herb garden are already established. The other flowers, most of the roses, the vegetables, and the rosemary and basil wings on the herb garden are what I hope to accomplish this year. This is a better diagram of the herb garden:

herb garden

The “x” were where I had rosemary this year. I pulled one out and tried to keep it alive in the kitchen over the winter. This has not been successful. Sigh. However, I did learn that my basil tends to turn into total monsters (mine was as high as my waist this year no matter how severely I cut it down), overshadowing the other plants. So this year I’m going to plant it on the other side of the herb garden where the only thing it will overshadow is the roots of a pine tree. The sage and oregano will happily fill in the place of the rosemary, and I’ll plant some parsley where the basil was. I love fresh parsley.

lavender bed

This is a view of the side flower garden. I have four varieties of lavender planted in a six foot bed centered on a picturesque crack in the cement wall that edges our property. I want to extend the flower beds out on each side, with hollyhocks and cosmos on the side extending towards the garage, and asters on the side towards the house. This should help cover the seedlings of first year money plant, since that won’t flower until the second year.

rose garden

This is how I hope the rose garden will look. The only rose there now is the one furthest on the right. It’s a tea rose I haven’t been able to identify, with magenta-y red blooms. I plan to balance it with mostly white roses, and perhaps a bi-colored miniature rose in front to anchor everything down. Please also note the bird feeder to the left of the rose garden. That’s already there, and is swiftly becoming the place where all the birds want to be.

front porch

This is what I want to do with the front of the house. Most of the front yard is in impenetrable shadow from a tree I haven’t been able to identify. However, the sides of the house receive enough sun tha tI think we’ll be able to do something interesting. There’s already another rose bush, perhaps a climbing rose, with magenta-red blooms similar to the bush in the back yard. I have no idea how long it’s been there, but I rather like it and the link I imagine it to be to some other woman who lived here and loved flowers.

So… that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.

So I was thinking about putting together a few New Year’s Resolutions for myself, which caused me to realize a few things. First, I realized that absolutely nothing that I hoped for last year came true for me. Then I realized that this was because pretty much all my hopes were bound up in Carlos making good on all the promises his flirtatious behavior had seemed to make. I had kindof a half-formed goal of becoming a better dancer, but I hadn’t thought much about what that actually meant. My dancing has improved immensely, but if I were to judge the year’s success by my current relationship status, things would look pretty bleak. Sure, there was the Actual Date with Basil, but at year’s end I’m pretty much where I started. So this year I decided that not a single one of my goals should involve romantic relationships in any shape or form. For a while I toyed with the goal of having gone on another Real Date, but in the end I decided even that was too much. Instead, this year I want to focus on other things, like:

  1. My dancing. I have some basic things I know I want to work on (my balance, spinning, not drifting when I spin, relaxing into the lead, etc.), but those are things I’ll be working on probably my whole dancing career. This year I want to work on my solo Charleston. Specifically, I want to be comfortable enough with it, comfortable enough with my own body, that I can dance a whole song by myself without needing anyone else dancing along side me. One of the very few sad things about PittStop was that no matter how infectiously Charleston-y the song was, I couldn’t get anyone to form a Charleston circle with me for love or money, and I wasn’t confident enough to go it alone. Lucy has traditionally been my steady Charleston-circle partner in crime, but there’s a good chance that she might be leaving town later this year. So I need to work up the chops to go it alone. We’ll see how that goes.
  2. My friends. There are too many people I really care about whom I hardly ever see. This is partly because for the last two years I’ve been consistently choosing to spend my available free time dancing, and too many of my friends don’t dance. Still, I care about them and I don’t want to let them slip through my fingers for lack of a little effort. I’m a person who needs structure, so I’ve been trying to think of ways to structure friend time into my life. So far what I’ve come up with is having friends come over to watch TV with me, now that I actually have a TV night again. I know there’s got to be other ways to work this in. I’d be happy to hear other people’s ideas on this.
  3. My finances. I’m not gonna lie – I’m pretty much a spaz when it comes to money. I do stupid things. I buy stuff I don’t need. I either don’t plan ahead or I don’t follow the plan I have. I’ve bought the financial software, but I don’t use it. I never turn necessary paperwork in on time. I’m just awful at this stuff, and I know it. The accumulated impact of failure after failure becomes so overwhelming sometimes that I become emotionally paralyzed and can’t do anything at all until something snaps me out of it. However, little by little I’ve been improving, planning ahead, taking necessary steps to make sure every thing’s covered. I’m still far from perfect, but I have hopes that finally, this year I’ll get my stuff together.
  4. My writing. I took first prize in a poetry contest in 2007. Now I have two publishing creds under my belt. I’d like to have more. I don’t want to set a goal for acceptances or prizes, but I would like to send out at least two submissions every month. It’s not a lot, but I think it’s an important step for me. In his latest letter Joe sent me information on a poetry competition for a magazine he reads. I think I’ll start there.

And that’s what I have. I think they’re pretty good goals, challenging but achievable. The best part? None of them involve romance!