Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Latest movie: Donnie Darko. It's a bizarre film, a compelling film, a disturbing film, a strangely intense film...I'm drawn to it over and over, and I keep finding more symbolism and more details of the film every time I see it. It's definitely one of those films that gets better every time you watch it; the first time it just seemed weird and disturbing, but further viewings and hearing the commentaries really made it clear how tightly-plotted and filmed it is. Cool film.

Latest technology: I am the proud owner of an iPod! Q got me the iPod as a gift to celebrate the completion of my summer semester of teaching -- yay! It took a little doing to get the thing working...for some reason, the menu was in Japanese, and of course, I couldn't change it, because I can't read Japanese...but we did finally get it working, and I love it! I can't wait to put most or all of my favorite music on it and make new playlists for dance workouts and classes.

Latest gig: Sunday I danced in a fundraiser for another dancer. I wore a new dress -- turquoise with gold and silver beading -- a Madame Abla original. Fun gig, but it was really HOT!

Latest realization: Tuesdays this semester are long days -- first class at 11am and last class ends at 9:10pm. Teaching stamina is definitely in order. ;)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Computer coma and recovery, gearing up and digging out

So my new computer was running fine for about a week, and then it started crashing (everything froze and I had to shut it down manually). Then it wouldn't boot up at all -- just black screen. Poor computer went into a coma. But luckily, Q suggested having it built in a local shop, so I could take it back there for repair. They had to replace the power supply, and now the computer is back up and lively again! Yippee!

I am still in the process of "digging out," as one book calls it -- I am in the midst of my semi-annual clear out the clutter phase. I have almost finished my office at work (which looks remarkably and almost frighteningly neat), and I am almost finished with my study at home (although we have visions of some new furniture configurations which might require an additional pass at a later date). I am partly through with my art studio area, although it never seems to really get straightened up -- I think I need to finish a lot of projects before that area can look really organized. I finished a book on organizing for the creative-minded person, and although I found some aspects of it annoying, I learned two things. One, I really do want things out in plain sight, so I should figure out ways to have them organized, but not out of sight. Two, it would probably help if I spent a little time every day or so putting things away, filing, etc. This semi-annual process feels very rewarding to me, but it takes a long time and I would probably be better served by dealing with things more regularly. However, I truly dislike filing and clearing-up, so I'm simply not sure how that will work.

Classes start on Monday, and I want everything in order before then -- but I still need to finish revising my syllabi and setting up the course websites. Ack! Where did the summer go?

I did a bit of yoga the other day for the first time (one of the workouts on the DVD Yoga for Inflexible People), and it was surprisingly relaxing. It was somewhat physically challenging at times, but I did feel very relaxed, sleepy and at-peace at the end. Of course, the computer crashed after that, so my peace was short-lived, but I think I'll try it again soon. I had no idea what the narrator was talking about sometimes, though -- she talked about bringing your thighs up and back...what? There were a bunch of physical descriptions that I just couldn't figure out. Oh, well, as long as I don't injure myself, it should be fine.

Now I'm off to pick up the stuff that came from my grandparents' house in Wisconsin -- my brother has been storing it in a storage unit, and we are going to move it all out today. Oh no, more stuff!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Who am I?

Writer's block -- don't you hate it? I have been struggling for some time now with the task of writing text for my dance website. Poor Q, who worked tirelessly to create a gorgeous website for me as a Middle-Eastern dancer, has been waiting for months for me to write text to go on the website. But I'm stuck -- I can't figure out how to describe myself as a dancer. I've never much liked this task, although I have figured out a formula for writing dance introductions for an MC at this point. But now I need to come up with some overall description of my dancer-self, and I am stymied. I have some text for specialties that I have in dance, and who I've studied with, but the introduction -- how I frame myself as a dancer -- is still giving me trouble.

So, for those of you who have seen me perform: How would you describe my dancing? What adjectives come to mind? What was most memorable? I welcome ideas, suggestions, and testimonials of all kinds (well, almost all kinds...keep it clean, folks!) ;)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Vagina Hearts

I wanted to post some of the pictures of my recent foray into vulva/vaginal textile art. As I mentioned in a previous post , I was inspired by my experience of working on the campus production of The Vagina Monologues to make a series of "Vagina Hearts."

The quality of the photos is not high; I'm still learning the nuances of the digital camera, and it shows. It's hard to photograph shiny beads and sequins, as well as get the focus right on such small items. But I think you can get a sense of the pieces, in spite of the flawed photographs. Enjoy!

An homage to Keith Haring's work, which I love.

Inspired by the monologue "I Was Twelve. My Mother Slapped Me"; the bead fringe represents the first flow of menstrual blood.
"I like the drops that drop into the toilet. Like paint."

Inspired by "My Angry Vagina." "My vagina's furious and it needs to talk."

"If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"
"Purple feathers and twigs and shells."
The "clitoris" bead here is paua shell.

Inspired by the "Hair" monologue. "You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair."

"If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"
"A leopard hat."
The actress I worked with who had this line was shy and quiet, but she said this line with enormous enthusiasm and playfulness -- I just loved it.

Inspired by "The Flood" monologue.
"If your vagina could talk, what would it say?
It would say 'Closed, due to flooding."
For all the women who were taught to be ashamed of female ejaculation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reading, reading...

One of my favorite aspects of train travel is the opportunity to read on the train. So in my recent trip to NYC, I was able to finish reading a new book of essays on brief sex therapy:

Green, S., & Flemons, D. (Eds.) (2004). Quickies: The Handbook of Brief Sex Therapy. W. W. Norton.

I have little background in the theory and practice of brief therapy, so it was fascinating to learn more about the brief therapy approach. Each essay was by a different clinician, and each approached therapeutic practice slightly differently. Each then discussed how their therapeutic approach was applied to sexual difficulties, with examples from individuals and couples they had treated.

Overall, I was impressed by their sensitivity to the client's worldview -- most of the essays emphasized respecting the client's understanding of the problem, their framing of the issues, their values, and their current stage of change. At the same time, the therapists stressed the potential for the therapeutic context to shift the client's framing of the problem and perspective in ways that facilitated positive change and greater satisfaction. Over and over, the therapists revealed the power of language and how the problem was framed. By normalizing the experience, being nonblaming, stressing the strengths of the clients, and reframing the issue in ways which emphasized new possibilities, the therapists could promote positive change in remarkably short periods of time. While certainly not all problems can be solved in 5-10 therapy visits, and no therapist can claim universal success, many of these cases revealed dramatic change within a few sessions. This was particularly impressive when the couple has been struggling with the problem on their own or with doctors for years, and they saw resolution of the issues in only a few therapy sessions.

In addition, I appreciated the emphasis on understanding sexual issues as contextual and relational, best understood within the clients' relationships and current context. The therapists resisted the notion of one member of the couple being "the patient with the problem", and instead engaged both members of the couple in defining the issue and moving toward resolution. As many sex therapists have noted, a great number of sexual problems are related to relational issues, each influencing the other.

Finally, I really valued the willingness of the therapists to embrace sexual diversity. Not only were there several articles devoted to treatment of same-sex couples, there was also a strong emphasis on sexual expression beyond traditional phallocentric intercourse models and on intimacy, not just goal-oriented sexuality. Several articles stressed the necessity of being open to varied sexual expressions, as long as they are consensual and not harmful or abusive. For example, there was a fascinating article on sex addiction which challenged the application of this diagnosis, focusing on whether the sexual behaviors are actually harmful within the client's life or not.

Overall, an excellent book which broadened my knowledge of therapy and sex therapy. I recommend it to anyone interested in couples therapy or sex therapy.

Computer and visiting -- whee!

New computer has arrived, and Q set it up -- yay! New OS, DVD player, good stuff. I was finally able to install Photoshop with the new OS, and I got to play around with some digital photos last night. I can tell there will be a steep learning curve, but everyone seems to like the capabilities of Photoshop, so hopefully it will work well.

I went to NYC from Sunday to Tuesday to visit with my sisters, which was really nice. I got to see three out of four sisters (one was out of town), and one of my nieces (she's very cute!). It was a short visit, but it was great to see them; I won't be able to go again for a while, so I wanted to make sure I got to see them. When I got there, it was BUCKETING rain -- I haven't seen such intense downpour in a while! But it signaled a break in the heat, which was fortuitous for me. I am also amazed at how many people are packed into Manhattan -- it's an incredible density of people.

Last week we saw the Lemony Snickett movie, which was excellent! Accurate to the books, good acting, and beautiful visuals. They did a neat job of combining the feel of the Victorian era with modern technology and other anachronisms without it being distracting. Plus, it had some great music and some of the best end credits I've seen in a while.