Saturday, July 08, 2006

Of Mice and Women

I was intending to go to the University today to pick up some books on television that I’m working my way through at the moment. The plan was to work on a couple of blog posts I’ve been writing, while still doing some thesis-related thinking—a perfect combination of assignments for the weekend of someone who thinks they should have gotten to work earlier everyday last week.

The plan began to unravel when I sat at the bus stop for over half an hour, during which two scheduled buses did not appear. Of course three, nearly empty, City Express buses that don’t observe my stop went blithely past, taking no account of my pointed glares at my wristwatch. After I had called the bus service and all of its drivers and managers every new swear word I’ve recently acquired watching the series of Deadwood that Dogpossum has generously loaned me, I was about to make a phone call, in which I might have actually spoken my new vocabulary aloud, when the bus came along. I went to my seat in a foul mood, frustrated that nothing would be achieved by venting to the bus driver, except to make her day terrible as well, if it wasn’t already. Alas, nothing could spare either of us, or indeed the rest of the passengers, the shock of what happened next. A man pulled out of a driveway, without looking, and straight into the bus lane. It’s a good thing that the bus driver had her eyes open and managed to brake in time, narrowly avoiding a collision with the car, if not preventing her passengers from being thrown forward and using expletives they might otherwise have suppressed.

After I ate a lunch of miso soup, sushi and green tea ice-cream, I made my way to another bus stop to commute to the University, thinking a bus would be due to depart in a few minutes. I waited a while before I thought to check the timetable, since I realised I’d been working with the week day timetable in my head. It turned out that I’d just missed one and it would be another half an hour until the next. Meanwhile, of course, two City Express buses returning on the route that had passed me while I was going into the city were going to be departing while I waited for the bus I wanted. At that point I decided to trash my plans. I. Was. Not. Going. To. Wait. Any. Longer. For. Another. Bus. Even. If. My. Sanity. Depended. Upon. It. Especially. When. The. Other. Bus. Route. Had. More. Services. Than. Anyone. Could. Ever. Use.

So, I decided to come home (on another bus) and tell you about all the trivial, insignificant crap that didn’t make it into my previous post, and a bit more that I gathered while killing time waiting for the bus home.

I spent ten minutes, distracting myself from the torture of waiting for the bus home, looking at beauty products in a department store near the bus stop. I’m pretty fussy about the soap and other toiletries I use. I have used products from The Perfect Potion, ever since it was a small shop in the old hippy version of Elizabeth Arcade in Brisbane. Now they’ve gone on to conquer St Kilda, but I remain a loyal customer. Recently, however, I have been seduced by the charms of the Mor range. It began with the purchase of a Pomegranate candle, which smelled divine and was packaged in the most exquisite box, to say nothing of the red glass and gold painted candle holder.

I happened to buy that around mother’s day and it came with a free Cherry Blossom French-milled soap. It also smells quite amazing, and I’ve enjoyed the luxury of a long lasting soap. Yesterday, I came across a half-priced Cherry Blossom candle in the same range. I had to get it because it’s a total indulgence that’s not usually all that cheap—especially not when you reflect that it’s a candle. Today I tested the hand-cream while I waited for the bus. It’s nice too, but I don’t think I’m fully seduced, yet.

I felt better when I made it home. I’m not sure how much of my intolerance for waiting at the bus arises from reasonable annoyance, premenstrual tension or the fact that I’ve not had any thyroid hormone replacement tablets since I ran out of them on Wednesday. I tried to make an appointment with my GP to get a new prescription but she’s on holiday, and I hate seeing someone else. Wouldn’t another GP just have to take my word for it that I need them? Could the endocrinologist, who I haven’t seen for at least 18 months, give me a prescription? Probably not. I’ll admit to being a bit impatient about even needing to get a new prescription for a hormone that I’m going to have to take for the rest of my life. Can’t they just issue me with a card? Give this girl Thyroxin on demand! Then I’d probably just avoid the doctors altogether and they wouldn’t like that. I need monitoring. Maybe they’re worried I’ll start indulging in Thyroxin abuse. This is where people, especially women, I suppose, take too much of the hormone in order to lose weight. They should rest assured that they scared the bejesus out of me when I was first diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid* about the dangers of too much thyroid hormone—osteoporosis, heart-disease etc, etc. No thanks. Trouble is, these are pretty much the problems of not having enough thyroid hormone as well, that and weight gain and general slumpiness. I really don’t need those either.

Here’s a picture of some Rastoo portions I bought out of curiosity in a clearance sale.

Rastoo is like jam, but very sugary and there’s no pectin to set it either. There are four varieties here: Lilli Pilli, Quandong, Native Lime and Bush Plum. I had the first three on some toast this morning. They all have very unique flavours and I will probably seek these Rastoos out again.

In other news, I went to a dress rehearsal of the Australian Ballet performing The Sleeping Beauty last night. I am friends with someone whose son is in the Australian Ballet so this is the second time I’ve been to a dress rehearsal. It’s pretty much like seeing a regular show, but at the end of each of the acts you have to sit very quietly while they sort out anything that needs reworking. You can only get out of your chair when the house lights come up. There was a disconcerting moment when a man wearing a t-shirt and jeans walked onto the stage to rearrange the children appearing in the final scene. ‘Hey! Red t-shirt man, you don’t match with the whimsical fairies and forest creatures!’ It was really a very lovely performance. The things those people can do with their bodies; they are so graceful while performing such physical feats—in my friend’s words, the Ivans were ‘awesome’. I have to make special mention of the sets and costume design, they conveyed the wholerange of whimsy and menace; the Carabosse Cavaliers’ costumes were positively gargoyle-ish, the Dolls were charming, and the Rats had the best quilted silver coats on.

*I’ve since had radioactive iodine treatment which got rid of part of my thyroid, so naturally, I soon had a hypo- or under-active thyroid and required the hormone replacement.


dogpossum said...

You know, I spent about 3 minutes in a row analysing that photo there, completely distracted from the words around it. I'm fascinated by the extension from toe-tip to hip, the massive curve in the torso... It's so white so European a way of dancing, and so completely different to the aesthetics of movement and posture in African American dance (I wrote about it here on my own blog if you're interested).
But it fascinates me, because - even contrary to some basic principles of alignment and groundedness priotised in yoga and lindy and so on - these are some seriously strong and athletic bodies.
I'm especially interested in the contrast between the ballerina and balletman (what's the word for a boy ballerina?) - airy, light-lookingness in the woman, more grounded, angledness in the man.
It's fascinating stuff for the way gender and ethncity collude in dance - the way an extended leg and pointed toe, extended out at right angles to the hip, matched with an extended leg ending en pointe to the ground symbolises Western feminine grace, yet in African traditions "straightened hips, elbows, and knees epitomized rigidity and death. The bent kneebone symbolized the ability to 'get down'" (Malone 12 - full ref my blog entry).
Who would have thought that the angle of your elbow or knee, bent or straightened was such a clear symbol of your gender and ethnic identity? I guess it's useful to remember that you ain't gonna get on down if you don't bend zee kneez. :D

...and i KNOW that's exactly what you were thinking about when you were watching the show. I'm so jealous - I'm a complete fool any dance performance.

Galaxy said...

I do remember reading your blog entry on this topic and I found it fascinating. I read it not long after Dr H relayed to me the experience her son was having when the Aust. Ballet collaborated with Bangarra.

Apparently many of the ballet dancers had difficulties getting down low for some of the Aboriginal choreography, which makes sense really since they've done all their training trying to get up as high as possible. Apparently, R could bend his knees easily to the degree required, which prompted the question as to whether or not he wasn't really a black fella. R said he grew up in Ipswich and it was decided that was probably sufficient explanation : D

Maybe there's an exception to the European/African-Australian differences in the dances of the Russian Cossacks. Just watching the Ivans in this performance, well that's some pretty amazing knee bending action--in a different sort of way. Those lindy hoppers could get some amazing moves for their acrobatic work from the Russians.

I wondered as well about ideal body types for male ballet dancers. Some of them were quite stocky in a football kind of way, whereas one male in particular was so tall and skinny. There seemed to be a wider range of body types amongst the men than the women. But perhaps I was just noticing them more : P The other thing I noticed about the whole gender thing in ballet is the amount of support work that the men do ensuring the women can leap to those dizzy heights and don't fall flat on their faces, which is a really possibility with all that pointe work. My thought, watching the dancers, was that the men really aren't the stars in ballet.

dogpossum said...

re body shapes: yes, I'm reasonably certain that women are weeded out, re body shape (though more by socialising forces and peer pressure than any formal process...though the latter is often a factor at particular schools, which might seek out a particularly shaped dancer for a role). There's quite a bit of literature on the topic.
The trocs are of course the best exception to all this - men who dance the ballerinas' roles. And do it well.

Men and 'lifting' the female dancers: much of the technique for lifts and acrobatic steps is more complicated than the men simply lifting and/or throwing the women. The 'flyer' (which we call the partner who 'flies', as opposed to the base) has to have fantastic core strength and stabily - they really work the muscles in their torsos esp to keep them stable in the air, and also to make them feel 'lighter'. As an example, I refuse to do the flyer part (self preservation), but have done quite a few aerials classes as a base. I'm not a particularly tall or large woman, but I have had no trouble getting physically larger partners off the ground and flipped around - so long as they've had good 'technique' and I've used my core properly. It's the difference between lifting a dead weight and lifting someone who's helping. It's also a matter of manipulation of momentum and energy - it's hard to just pick up and flip someone without generating momentum or energy before the step begins. At the end of the day, doing these sorts of acrobatic moves is about physics and biomechanics. As a woman, frequently leading partners who are my size or larger, I can't rely on brute strength to achieve things (plus I'm lazy) - you learn to apply things like the lever principle, counter balance (where you use your own body weight to move your partner), etc etc etc.

I've had similar experiences in yoga with inverted or more athletic poses - there we learn how to use all the muscles in our bodies to make poses like handstands easier. Often men find they can hold their own body weight supported on their hands for longer than women because they have more upper body strength, but they're actually not doing the pose correctly: they're only using their shoulders/arms, rather than keeping their bodies stable by using muscles in their torsos, they're locking their shoulders in place rather than lifting their bodies up. They're not using other muscles in their bodies to hold themselves up. They're sort of propping themselves up on these massive arms and then letting their torsoes/legs etc pool on top like a balanced pile of meat.

Gymnasts have more in common with dancers, really - gymnasts are amazing. That's some freaking amazing shit.