Monday, September 20, 2010

Source material: Shoujo Kakumei Utena

One does not simply become weird overnight. I have cultivated my taste for the bizarre for my entire life, developing my peculiar and particular sensibilities through the consumption of a wide array of counter-cultural artifacts. This entry is the second in a series cataloging my most beloved of those books, films, television shows, and other forms of media.

Spoilers are happening in this article. FYI.

Okay, so, full disclosure: from seventh to ninthish (perhaps also tenth) grade, I was totally obsessed with Sailor Moon, an extremely (perhaps unreasonably) popular manga and anime series about a slackerish middle school student named Usagi (shown below) who fights monsters from outer space with the help of her talking cat, who is from the moon.

Without delving into a lengthy discussion about the series, let me confirm that the show is pretty much as bizarre as its premise makes it sound. It's ostensibly a children's show, but somehow, by the end of the series, it manages to work in all kinds of nuggets of surreality and quirkiness, perhaps the most infamous example being the rock trio "Three Lights", who show up in the final season. The Three Lights are all teenage boys, but they periodically turn into latex-clad girls to help Usagi and Company fight space villains. (They are, themselves, also from outer space.)

For me, Sailor Moon was the equivalent of the "gateway drugs" people my age learned about in those D.A.R.E. videos in Health class. Basically, I consumed too much Sailor Moon at a very young and impressionable age. Eventually, its particular formula of strangeness didn't have any affect on my warped synapses any longer, so I had to seek out something harder and weirder-- something with more permanent side effects-- something like Shoujo Kakumei ("Revolutionary Girl") Utena.

The director of Utena, Kunihiko Ikuhara, also directed Sailor Moon for a few seasons. Ikuhara allegedly left his position as director of Sailor Moon because the producers weren't giving him enough creative freedom, e.g., they were not allowing him to use the show as a vehicle for his unique, majestic brand of ridiculous nonsensical bullshit. So, he set off on his own, forming his own creative team and ultimately producing what remains one of the quirkiest and most obtuse anime series ever.

(The following is a fan-made remake of the series' opening credits sequence, just to give you a taste of what this show is like. I decided to use it here in place of the actual opening credits, because it illustrates the unique aesthetic of the series while showing just a fraction of the insane stuff that happens in the latter half of the story.)

Utena follows the exploits of its namesake, a pink-haired middle-school girl named Utena Tenjou, as she gets up to various things at Ohtori Academy, a boarding school for all ages.

Utena refuses to wear a standard girl's uniform; instead, she wears a modified version of the boy's uniform, much to the amusement of her fellow students and the chagrin of the school administrators. You see, Utena had a formative experience as a child with a prince on a white horse. To condense what is actually a fairly complicated story, ultimately, she decided that the prince was so awesome that she wanted to be like him-- to wear princely clothing (never mind that her outfit features short-shorts. no big deal.) and to help rescue other girls from peril. The prince also gave Utena a ring with a rose signet. Utena's not sure if that makes them engaged or not, and she's kind of in love with him but also kind of doesn't know who the hell he is.

In any case, in the first episode, Utena happens upon a violent argument between a girl, Anthy Himemiya, and a boy on the Student Council, Saionji, whom Utena assumes must be Anthy's boyfriend. Saionji backhands Anthy, which pisses Utena off. She challenges him to a fight after school. Knowing that Saionji practices kendo, Utena brings a bamboo training sword to the fight, and is totally prepared to kick his ass. She follows Saionji to the grave-mound-shaped forest behind the school, where students are forbidden to go, and then up an insane flight of stairs to this weird platform in the sky. Totally normal, no reason for alarm. Anthy places a rose in Utena's lapel, then in Saionji's; whoever keeps their rose on longer wins the fight.
Then this stuff happens.

(The purple-haired one is Anthy, the green-haired one is Saionji-- yes, he's a boy.-- and the pink-haired one is Utena. The red-haired one, also a boy, is a manslut named Touga. Got it?)

It turns out Anthy is the "Rose Bride", the key to some fabulous power which may or may not revolutionize the world but will for sure give you a really cool sword. The Student Council members at Ohtori are embroiled in a series of duels-- known as the "Rose Duels"-- all over Anthy, who becomes "engaged" to the victor of the most recent duel and will basically do whatever they say. They all want Anthy's miraculous power, or maybe they just want Anthy. Whatevs. Doesn't this kind of thing happen at most boarding schools?

After Utena wins the fight against Saionji, Anthy insists that Utena is her new fiancee. She moves in to Utena's dorm room, bringing a weird mouse thing (Chu Chu, her only friend) with her, and starts deferring to Utena in her every decision. Utena is not sure how she feels about this arrangement, but when the other Student Council members start challenging her to try to win Anthy back, she tries to fend them off, ostensibly for Anthy's sake.

All right, so that's the initial premise of the show. In fact, most of that stuff is revealed in the first episode. I would have to write a dissertation in order to even attempt to explain everything else that occurs in the show's 39 episodes-- and I'm pretty sure any such attempt would fail.

Despite supposedly being a children's show, Utena is fairly difficult for most adults to understand. The show is rich-- no, rife-- with symbolism, metaphor and allegory. Some plot elements are handled only through symbolic references, making it pretty much impossible to say with any certainty what's actually happening in any given episode-- especially those at the end of the series. In fact, despite repeated viewings, I'm still not exactly sure what happens at the end of the series.

Not only is the plot super ambiguous, so are the players. Some of the characters are ghosts, but that's never made clear when you meet them; some characters only exist in the minds of other characters, and they don't bother to explain that either. Even the characters who are neither ghosts nor figments of someone's imagination are hard to pin down. Everyone is morally ambiguous-- no, really, everyone-- and everyone has major secrets they are hiding from everyone else. On top of that, nearly everyone's sexuality seems to be at least somewhat mutable; there are countless "are they or aren't they?" situations and relationships.

Utena is at times high-camp shoujo soap opera, not-quite-postmodern fairy tale, and psychosexual melodrama, exploring issues of gender identity, sibling rivalry, eternal adolescence, and emergent sexuality. It fluctuates without warning from extremely dark and questionable territory (incest, abuse, fratricide/sororicide, mass murder) to absurd and adorable interludes with anthropomorphized mice and cowophomorphized (bovinomorphized?) girls. Half of it seems to be done totally tongue-and-cheek, while the other half is deadly serious. It's a grab bag of delights, a festival of horrors!

Some of the sex in Utena is shown on its surface, illustrated as frankly as possible for a (children's?) television show. Far more seethes underneath. Depending on how you choose to read the show's symbolic elements, the antagonist, Akio, is sleeping with either two people-- Utena and Anthy-- or with virtually the entire cast at one point or another. Now, before you scoff, we are not talking about 'reading the story' in the imaginative sense, the kind of speculation fanfic writers engage in; no, we're talking about whether or not you choose to assume that Akio's wildly homoerotic photo shoots with Touga and Saionji end up leading anywhere once they've all taken their clothes off.

Fun for the whole family!

So, once the television series was finished, since it made so much sense and would be so easy to streamline into a two-hour feature film, Ikuhara and Co. made it into a movie. An awesome movie. With even more bizarre delights for obsessed fans like me to sink our teeth into. Here's a scene from near the beginning of the movie-- part is a retelling of the other scene above.

Plot issues aside, if you can't at least enjoy the movie's visuals, you probably don't have eyes.
Many people complain that the movie makes no sense. I don't exactly disagree with them, but, in my opinion, complaining about the fact that the movie makes no sense is absurd; it's like bitching about a Dali painting for not being an accurate representation of reality. Of course it makes no sense! That's the entire point. Just shut up and watch the pretty girls have duels with the pretty boys and then turn into cars.

In the passages above, I have given what seems like a multitude of reasons to dislike Utena. I fully acknowledge that everyone else in the world would have good reason to hate this show; nevertheless, it remains one of my favorite television shows ever.

Utena could have been trash. Certainly, my description makes it sound trashy. It's not even particularly original-- it owes a huge debt to The Rose of Versailles and probably countless other works. Its story is absurd, erratic, and at times next to impossible to follow. But by sheer chutzpah, not to mention a considerable amount of artistry and skill, the production team took what could have been an absolutely abysmal series and transformed it into something that completely transcends the sum of his parts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Breaking news!

I just finished the second draft of the novel. YAY! YAY! YAY! OMG YAY!
...Okay, well, sort of. I've decided that it needs some kind of epilogue, or maybe even a Chapter Sixteen, because right now the end is extremely abrupt and not terribly gratifying.
And of course I still have a ton of editing left to do, even once I'm finished with that.
But still. Yay Yay Yay!


It is a new blog design, sort of. I drew the header.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lack of progress report

Well, September's already more than half over. (what?!) Let's check in and see how much progress I haven't made towards my September goals!!

Finish the second draft of the novel. Okay, so if you don't count a short part of Chapter 11 that I haven't been able to finish for various reasons, I only have chapters 13, 14 and 15 left to edit! I even have Chapter 13 pulled up in Chrome right now, because I was going to work on it, but gdocs is being a problem. Whatever, webertubes! It's not like I was going to be productive tonight or anything.
In any case, I might actually be able to finish the second draft by the end of the month. Of course, I'm not done. Haha, no. I am planning on doing a whole ton of additional editing once the second draft is complete. YAY!

Read a novel about vampires and a novel about something else. I totally haven't read anything; I've been drawing and playing videogames in my leisure time. Oh no!!

Get back in the habit of doing morning pages. I was actually doing this regularly for a while, but then my husband's car decided it needed to spend three weeks at the shop, so now I get to drive him in to work every morning. I haven't been able to work up the motivation to wake up early just to do morning pages, sleep being one of my only sources of solace in this sick sad world. (Just kidding. I just really love sleeping, and I'm lazy! tee hee!)

Work hard on choreography at least 3x a week for at least 2 hours at a time. Uhhhh.... I did choreograph something! I have about... a minute... of rough choreography... Okay so I haven't been keeping up with this goal at all, maybe because it's totally unrealistic.

Write a damn pitch for the book. ...yeah. I have to be honest-- this isn't going to happen.

Keep blogging regularly. I shared all kinds of depressing facts about myself and also some other things! Mission Accomplished!! YESS

To be fair, I've been trying hard to accomplish some real life goals as well (things too boring to chronicle here), and they've been taking precedence over some of these creativity type things, so I don't actually feel too bad about myself.

As my sister says, "you gives some, you takes some".

*sigh* So true.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My creative process

I'm always fascinated to read about how other people do creative work. Everyone seems to have their own unique process; oftentimes, a person's work style is highly evident in their creative output, or it reflects their personality, or both.
My work style is almost more an expression of my personality than the things I produce are. It's simple and difficult, just like me.

My creative process can be summed up fairly easily:

1. Work
2. Do not think about any of the things on the forbidden thoughts list.

1. Work
In order to accomplish step one, I have to do things.
This is frequently a lot harder than it sounds. I often dread getting started on new projects for some reason, especially new choreographies. I also have trouble maintaining creative inertia with projects after the initial phase, especially with craft projects.
However, if I force myself to work, it works. There isn't a whole lot else I can say about it. I essentially agree with Yoda; there is no try.
I don't usually do any planning for creative projects unless planning is absolutely and completely necessary. When doing choreography, all I do to prepare is listen to the music over and over again. When making a new costume, I only think about the structural elements ahead of time; none of the decoration is preconsidered. I only outlined plot elements for maybe ten percent of my novel.
Whenever I can, I improvise everything. If I start to think ahead, I get mired in the thoughts from my forbidden thoughts list. I have to start working and let things emerge unfiltered, even if they are really, really horrible and worthless, and then slowly work on cultivating them into something I actually like.
Moreover, I can't understand what I want to do until I actually start doing it. If I attach myself to a preconceived notion of how I want a project to go, it does not work. I can never accurately predict what I will encounter over the course of a creative project; if I tried to force myself to stick to a plan, I'd have to ignore all the factors I didn't anticipate. The few times I've tried to work this way, the final result has seemed contrived and mechanical.

I recently read Daniel Raeburn's interview with Chris Ware (which you can read for free at Raeburn's website) and found out that Ware works pretty much the same way I do:
"Most cartoonists plan their strips ahead of time by preparing thumbnail sketches or a script. Chris, however, insists on ignorance. Every week he takes a white sheet of Bristol board, a blue pencil, and begins drawing in the upper left-hand corner of the page with no real idea how he will end the strip. Basically he makes up everything as he goes. Although Chris is careful to add that he usually has a vague idea of what is going to happen in each week’s strip—and that he knows how he will end the entire novel—unknowing is still the basic way he works.
'Just start writing,' he said by way of explaining his output. 'That’s what writing is. Writing and drawing are thinking. We’re told in school that they’re skills but that’s wrong. Drawing is a way of thinking. It’s a way of seeing. That’s why my way is improvisatory for the most part. I may have a vague idea for the week’s strip, but I personally couldn’t write out a script ahead of time and then illustrate it. If I did that, I’d just be illustrating a vaguely-imagined and quickly thought-out thing. When I draw a picture it always suggests a number of possibilities that I never would have thought of if I was merely writing out a script.'"

For those of you who have never read Ware's work, he is known (among other things) for his extremely clean, precise drawing style; his illustrations are perfectly balanced, providing enough detail to convey subtle nuances but never so much detail as to distract the reader from the story. Apparently these economical, spare illustrations begin their lives as intuitive scribbles on bristol board.
(OMG SOOO AMAZING! I can barely stand it.)

The only other aspect of my process involves what I do not allow myself to do; more specifically, what I do not allow myself to think.

2. Forbidden Thoughts Which Must Be Avoided (You Will Think Them But When You Hear The Thoughts Don't Listen)

"Is this good?"
"Will anyone like this?"
"I suck at this"
"Actually I suck at everything"
"yeah omg I really suck at life in general"
"This is probably too weird/obscure/personal/normal/cliche/overdone/pedestrian/intellectual/..."
"No one is ever going to read this shit anyway."
"I'm probably wasting my time"
"What is the point?"
"Ugh, no, this sucks, I better throw everything out and start over"
"Oh man, really, this sucks so bad I should probably just give up entirely"
"No one is going to think this is interesting"
"Oh shit, what would my parents think if they saw this?"
"I don't have any right to be doing this. Who do I think I am?"
"I'm not a dancer/writer/artist/whatever. I am really not anything except a loser, because I suck so bad at everything."
"I'll never make money doing this"
"Everyone is going to think I'm a freak"

and finally
"What could I do that would make people think I'm cool?"
NO ONE SHOULD EVER ASK THEMSELVES THIS. Trying to be cool is not cool. Trying to be cool just makes you anxious and sweaty, and that is the opposite of cool. Do whatever you can to stop caring about being cool. It's a losing battle.

In any case, the bottom line for me is do, don't think. I try to think as little as possible about my projects until I am done with the first draft or version. Even during the revision process I try to avoid value judgments and thinking about coolness or lack thereof at all costs-- instead, I try to ask myself questions along the following lines:

Am I interested in this?
Do I feel like it "works"?
What could I do to make this more of what it wants to be or to make it work better?
What parts are unnecessary?
What parts are missing?

Then I have to resist the urge to hide everything that I do or make because it might not be awesome and make people think that I'm cool.

That is all.

It works pretty well for me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More dancing

This is the second video I shot last weekend. I have to say, watching these multicamera videos of myself is strangely compelling. I feel official or something.

The first half of the dance is choreography, the second is improv.

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two sketches

I made two illustrations this week. They have nothing to do with one another, but together they're a pretty awesome study in contrast.
The first may or may not have something to do with my book. The second is going to be a gift for a friend.
I hope you like them!

(pen on watercolor paper)

(marker and watercolor pencil on watercolor paper)

They share the same arm angle. It's a coincidence.

Body of work

I have had Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) for over a decade. I was diagnosed with the condition when I was thirteen.

I'd love to be able to write an inspiring little story about how I've overcome my symptoms through hard work and determination. Unfortunately, at the risk of sounding morose, the truth of the matter is that the syndrome has altered much of the course of my life and continues to dictate the vast majority of my creative and career decisions. For someone who hates being told what to do, and doubly hates being defined by such mediocre parameters, mine is a frustrating predicament indeed.

There are upsides and downsides to the restrictions the FMS imposes on my existence-- but mostly there are downsides. This being the case, I alternate between feeling sorry for myself and feeling a zen sort of detachment from my predicament, a fatalistic acceptance of all the things I've learned I'll probably never be able to change (otherwise known as 'whatevs who cares anyway').

Everyone with FMS has a slightly different profile of symptoms; mine include severe cognitive impairment (otherwise known as "brain fog"), fatigue, sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, hypersensitivity to everything (exercise, pressure, kinesthetic sensations in general, temperature, barometric pressure, the way my meals are timed, the angle of the sun, noise, and, you know, existing in the world), fatigue, brain fog, and memory nonexistence.

Fibromyalgia is a disease with no cure. There are drugs for FMS-related pain, but many of them cause additional fatigue as a side effect. Convenient! To mitigate FMS symptoms, patients such as myself do all kinds of things, including being super vigilant about sleep habits, eating only the healthiest of foods, and keeping a regular exercise schedule-- of course, too much sleep is bad, and too much exercise is also bad for people with FMS. Too much food is probably bad as well, although I haven't come to accept that reality quite yet.

People with FMS appear to the outside world like normal humans who just can't seem to cope with modern life for some elusive reason. (fun fact.) Also, despite the fact that we have all kinds of fascinating MRI images to show that FMS' sufferers' brains function differently than those of normal humans-- especially in response to pain-- as an FMS patient I have suffered under the misconception that the syndrome is primarily psychological in origin-- i.e. that I am a hypochondriac. I'm sure other FMS patients get this as well. This misguided idea creates all kinds of exciting opportunities for me to educate my peers, employers and healthcare providers about the fascinating world of an FMS sufferer. I'm always totally excited to talk about my condition with people that think I'm crazy! Who wouldn't be?!

Not wanting to seem demented or high-maintenance or to get too many questions about my condition, I spend a lot of energy trying to hide my symptoms from the world. In the past, I've also tried to hide my symptoms from myself, in the hopes that ignoring them would make them disappear. Despite several attempts, this strategy has always proven futile-- but I'm sure that as soon as I start feeling semi-normal again, I will be tempted to pretend that I was never sick and that I can totally do whatever I want with my life.

Case in point: in the summer of 2009 I quit my full-time job, a clerical position at a nice university with nice people that was stable and responsible and mindcrushingly boring. I had two goals in mind:
1. to get my health under control;
2. to spend more time on bellydance.

What ended up happening is that I did absolutely nothing towards goal #1 because I was too busy scrambling to make ends meet and, even with health insurance, DOCTORS ARE SO EXPENSIVE OMG. Especially specialists. I'm not saying anything anyone isn't already aware of here, so I won't go into details, except OMFG WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

I spent a lot of time on goal #2 in some really inefficient ways. Between classes, private lessons, and troupe practice, I was dancing at least 10 hours every week, usually more; not a day went by that I didn't dance. These 10 hours do not count all of the other administrative stuff related to a career in bellydance that all bellydancers must do-- maintaining a website, promoting yourself even though you'd rather die than promote yourself, sewing costumes (only for other people, though, because you need money, and maybe if you keep cycling through different combinations of the costume pieces you own no one will notice you haven't worn a new costume in a year and a half).

Of course, I also had a side job. Everyone has a side job, unless their significant other makes a ton of money or they're international superstars of bellydance.

Due to my ridiculous lack of stamina (which no amount of exercise has ever proven able to alleviate), I was usually so exhausted that I never had any energy to practice on my own. In other words, was spending all of my ATP doing stuff for other people (or simply making money so I could pay rent) and saving virtually none towards making myself a better dancer or working on my own choreographies.

Psychological and creative burnout was starting to set in at the time that my entire body basically threw a blue screen of death. It turns out that my schedule was simply not sustainable for my physical system-- nor for my financial, psychological, or creative existence. I got sick over and over again, I injured myself at least once a week, and I had chronic insomnia due to the stress. I was running around exhausting myself and still losing money every month. I was teaching myself to hate teaching, troupe practice, and dancing in general over what it was doing to my life.

I slowly came to realize that I will never be a professional bellydancer. Barring a miracle cure, there is no way my body will ever be able support my dance goals.
Financially speaking, it doesn't matter how technically proficient I become. Even if somehow I trained a million hours a week, promoted myself out the ass and became hyperpopular (assuming I could ever work up the confidence necessary to do that!) I know I would never be able to tour; I can't sleep in hotels, and any alterations to my schedule make my body shut down. Moreover, when I have to teach workshops all day and then perform in the evening, my performances suck. It's not rocket science, but it took me a while to figure out I can't not suck when I'm totally exhausted. And I hate sucking. Hate.

I can and will keep teaching classes locally, but I can't teach enough to live by. Besides, adding classes to your schedule causes diminishing returns-- the more classes you teach, the fewer people show up to each class-- especially when, like me, you teach Weird Fusion Bellydance and are already catering to a very specific, very limited market.

Once I came to accept this reality, I felt really awful about it for about a week. Now I feel okay with it. I will need to limit my involvement with bellydance in the future so that I don't run myself ragged again-- but that means I will be forced to evaluate everything I am doing and only do the things I am driven to do from a deep sense of creative need. Perhaps that isn't a bad thing. Now that I am pursuing other ways to support myself financially, I don't need to do everything I can pack into my schedule in order to survive. I respect anyone who can create art under those conditions, because I've come to realize that I can't. Art doesn't grow well in an environment of frenzied desperation, or at least it doesn't for me; if I can relax and let my dancing be what it is, rather than stressing endlessly over how to market myself and be constantly awesome so I won't starve, I'm sure I'll be a better dancer for it.

I'm 'downgrading' (not really) to hobbyist status in order to save my sanity and my creativity. There is no reason to keep chasing a goal that will leave my entire being drained and listless. I'm hoping to eventually create a life for myself where I have enough time to do whatever Weird Fusion thing I'm into, take classes, and keep growing as a dancer.

It's going to be awesome. Thanks FMS!!!*

*partial sarcasm implied.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New choreography video

This is the first of two videos I recorded last weekend during Hannan Sultan's performance DVD shoot. Hannan graciously let me use the stage while she was taking a break between performances.
This was my first time being filmed by a professional company. I think the final video turned out really well!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What the...

I just noticed that one of my videos, embedded below, has somehow amassed over 100,000 views on YouTube since I posted it in 2006.

I'm posting this not because I want to brag, but because I'm amazed and humbled and more than a little confused.
I performed this dance live in front of perhaps eighty people, ninety at most. I was unsure if anyone would like it-- I was worried it'd be too "over the top" for everyone's taste. I remember watching the video afterward and sort of hating it. All I could focus on were the rough edges around my technique.
I put it on YouTube just so I could post it on and get some feedback from other dancers. If I had imagined that one hundred thousand people would end up watching it-- some of them professional tango dancers, many of whom were offended by it!-- I very well might have left it offline.
Now I watch the video and I enjoy it in the same way I'd enjoy someone else's performance; I have enough distance on 2006 Sara that she's practically another dancer to me at this point. I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish at the time, given my limited skill set and lack of experience. Despite its technical problems, I think that the dance 'works' because I was committed to what I was doing, I prepared more than enough ahead of time, and I knew my music really well.
If nothing else, I think the fact that I love the song enough to marry it comes through loud and clear. I like that.
What I take from this experience is that it's not always all about skill when it comes to making art; sometimes passion is enough.

Goals for September

It's September already. I'm so glad to be nearing the end of summer here in North Carolina and entering the season of the spooky. Autumn is my favorite! I need to start getting my Halloween costumes together...
Just as in August, I'm going to list my goals for September. I will try my best to actually stick to them this time. Only time will tell if I'll be successful!

Finish the second draft of the novel. I just finished my second draft of Chapter Nine, so I have six chapters left to edit. They get increasingly shorter as the end of the book approaches, so I don't think this will be too difficult.

Read a novel about vampires and a novel about something else. Next in my stack of vampire books is Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist; it comes highly recommended and I'm excited about it. My husband also wants me to read The Bachman Books by Stephen King. So, that's currently my plan. Next in my tour of fine vampire literature I think I might try to read some Anne Rice, just because. We will cover that in October.

Get back in the habit of doing morning pages. Morning pages are a tool for developing creativity described in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I was doing morning pages for bellydance for a while last year, but abandoned the practice due to lack of gumption and/or sticktuitiveness (a quality the Japanese refer to as ganbaru). I need to get my ganbaru back, and I hope this will help. I have found that training ganbaru is like training a muscle: it gets easier when you do it more and harder when you slack. Knowing this doesn't make it any easier to work at it, however, especially when I'm so out of practice.

Work hard on choreography at least 3x a week for at least 2 hours at a time. I have shows I need to prepare for and I am not a fan of sucking. That means choreography and choreo practice are necessary. I hate choreography; I love choreography practice. Whatever. I have to do both regardless of my feelings or preferences.

Write a damn pitch for the book. I could whine about how I don't want to, but instead I should channel all of that energy into making it happen. But... uuuughhhh I don't want to... --SARA! NO!

Keep blogging regularly. I get a pass for this last week and a half because I was busy preparing for and then hosting an AWESOME workshop weekend with Mira Betz, who is basically my bellydance spiritual guru at this point. Is that creepy? Perhaps. Do I care? Not even a little.

Those are good goals. If I can get that much done, I'll be happy with myself. I'm more employed now than I was this summer, so I don't have quite as much time to stare at my words in my glowing rectangles. Nothing a few responsible habits and time management strategies won't fix. Ah, semiadulthood.