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Learning Lindy Jun. 25th, 2007 @ 01:51 pm
So, I’m going to jump a little out of order here, because I don’t yet have pictures from All Bal weekend. All you lovely folks that I met at AllBal, send me thy pictures!
 
So, I went to All Balboa Weekend on June 14-17, and it ROCKED. However, I’m going to save the full write-up until I have visuals to go with it, so bear with me.
 
Last weekend was the Beginner Lindy workshop in Louisville sponsored by Lindy Lou. I had some lindy experience (at least in being shoved around the floor by a much-more-advanced lead who severely lacked patience, but that’s another story) but had never taken any lindy classes. So, after being alerted to the workshop by Thor, a dancer from Louisville’s scene, at AllBal, I decided it sounded like a good idea to spend three weekends in a row out of town at dance events. Man, I’m exhausted.
 
Don’t get me wrong, LindyLou’s workshop was a great experience. Not quite as ‘omigodAWESOME’ as AllBal, but it was one day long, and much smaller. I think I’m just burnt out on orgasmic-ly cool dance weekends for awhile. Irish Fest all by itself would have been nigh impossible to top, but AllBal managed it. After all that, I think the level of enthusiasm I can summon is slowly winding down.
 
Emily and Patrick were our instructors for the lindy workshop.
 
Patrick wore really bright socks.
 And Emily changed clothes a lot.
 
There was practicing……
 
And hair flying……
 
And after that we all got to dress up and dance the night away.

See what I mean about Emily changing clothes alot?

Here I am enjoying myself:
Check out those awesome shoes I bought at AllBal.

Life returns to it's regularly scheduled Abby for awhile.  At least as normal as I get lately.  I've totally become a social butterfly, I've met so many awesome new people, and I'm loving it.  The vertically-challenged gentleman in the photo above is Chuck, who's a remarkably good lead, and has promised to invite me to the next blues dance in Louisville, which I'm looking forward to.  I took Chihian, a Lexington area dancer, to last Wednesday's open mic blues night at Lynagh's, but it was jam-packed and we stayed for a few hours but didn't get to dance much.

Two weddings in the next two weeks.  Fortunately, I get this coming weekend at home, but after that I'm flying to Virginia Beach for a family wedding.
Current Location: work
Current Mood: chipperchipper

Louisville Irish Fest Jun. 14th, 2007 @ 01:18 pm
Ok, so it’s time to do a write up of my fabulous weekend last weekend. June 9th-10th was the Louisville Irish Fest. I had been traveling up to Louisville as the Lexington area liaison to their Board of Directors, but with Dad’s surgery my months of April and May were pretty much shot, and the Irish Fest pretty much went to the wayside. Fortunately, they were incredibly understanding, and I ended up pitching in as a volunteer for the children’s area.

This is a picture-heavy post, so be warned!


I taught Irish dance classes to wee ones ….



And their families….



I painted faces…..



and made friends with Tanya and Amanda. Amanda chairs the Children’s Area, and Tanya is from Atlanta, so we had a nice time chatting about the environs in and around where she lives. She very nicely offered to let me stay with her any time I passed through town.



I danced…..



A lot!


That may be the best dancing picture of me, ever. I had no idea I could still throw that high! I was tickled pink that one of the audience members took this picture and then emailed it to me.


The band in those two photos, by the way, is Louisville-area Irish band Cloigeann. I stalk them – they are my favorite regional Irish band. So much fun, and their tempo is perfect. They know me by name, and they’ve gotten used to me dancing. In fact, I was sitting in the back row, somewhat hiding from their view, and Cathy (the whistle player) saw me and exclaimed, “Abby! Come and dance!”


So, the band moved their monitor closer in, and the front row of chairs got moved back, and I danced myself out. There were two stages at the fest – the stage in the pics is the smaller one. I also danced in front of the main stage, where there was actually a small platform stage for the dancers down in front. I came home with t-shirts and several autographed CDs, but the real highlight of both evenings was Siochan. Specifically, their absolutely HAWT fiddle player and vocalist, Nathan:




I danced for the band on Saturday, and after I was the first one up, it seemed to cure the audience of their shyness – everybody danced! Especially some darling little kids.


Before Siochan got on stage on Sunday, they were hanging out in the wings of the stage waiting to set up for their show, and several members of the band (including Nathan, yum!) recognized me for my dancing on Saturday. Of course I agreed to dance more, and had an even better time on Sunday. They were very appreciative of the dancing, and I had more time on stage to myself. I posed for the picture afterwards.


Of course, on Monday I was so stiff I could hardly walk, but it was SO worth it.


More dancing to come this weekend! I’m taking Friday off and heading up to a three day weekend in Akron, OH for the All Balboa swing dance workshop. It’ll be classes all day for all three days, plus live swing bands to dance to at night. I’m leaving this afternoon and stopping in Columbus for the night, and I’m super excited. Busy as a bee, that’s Abby!
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: "Better" by Plumb

She lives! May. 15th, 2007 @ 11:15 am

Edit:  Oops!  When I copy-pasted, I lost a paragraph.  Here's the full version.

A while ago, I posted a link to this
article and threw the floor open for discussion.  WOW, did I get a lot of responses.  I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond more quickly, but I’ve been pretty burnt out by life lately.

 

First of all, I do agree with both clayse and an_aikidoka: It is a very unfortunate by-product of the radical feminist movement that too many feminists who feel they’ve been ‘abused’ simply use their newfound power just to turn around and stomp on men in return.  This is hypocritical in the worst way; men are, in many cases, just as misused and unfortunate as women.  They do get abused, and they are more likely to successfully commit suicide.  This is a situation that is desperately wrong and we as a whole society should be trying harder to rectify it.

It’s easy to get swallowed up by resentment and revenge when we perceive that we’re hammered down by someone more powerful than us.  I know, I struggle with resentment a great deal myself.  That’s the problem with revenge, though: it’s too simple.

  

Too many people get caught up in feeling like a victim.  It’s a way of abrogating responsibility for pulling yourself up out of the shithole someone else put you in.  Our society is formed in such a way that there is always someone putting down someone else. The problem is that too many people don’t realize, or refuse to acknowledge, that only they can be responsible for bringing themselves up.  Too often, we simply turn our energies towards passing on the injustices of society to someone else we perceive as ‘deserving it.’  Imagine what we could do if instead we devoted those energies to bringing other people along with us as we claw our way back up?

 

Families, and societies, need diversity to truly thrive.  Male, female, transsexual, black, asian, white, all these differences can be things that divide us as a culture and as a species, or they can be gifts that make our world richer.  I, for one, would rather die than live in a homogenous world; it would be too damn boring to live in. 

 

Overcoming these gaps takes change, and people are terrified of changing.  Rather than take responsibility for becoming better, too often we are caught in the trap of repeating the same mistakes rather than face the terrifying unknown.  Sometimes what keeps us from facing change is the fear of having to admit that we’ve been wrong in the past.  But that’s too easy.

 

The next step that we have to take as a society, and as a species, is take responsibility for bringing everyone up with us as we rise, instead of using others as a stepping stone on which we grind our boot heels as we pass.  I’ll leave you with a quote from the article that inspired all this, which is why I liked it in the first place:

 
"We need to step out of the paradigm that has been set for us by the powerful few and which only serves to diminish any chance we may have of rectifying the terrible inequities that exist within our society. […] If we ever manage to do this, we will have achieved something earth-shattering, something bigger than men or women alone, something worthy of humanity."

Current Location: work
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Current Music: 'Our Truth' by Lacuna Coil

www.Unity08.com Apr. 19th, 2007 @ 07:54 pm



Bigger update coming later tonight, I promise!

It's about time! Apr. 10th, 2007 @ 10:25 am
Hear ye, hear ye!

Go read this: link.

Then come back here and post your thoughts. It's about time, I say.
Current Location: at work
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Other entries
» Playing catch up!
So, now I've been home for a week and haven't blogged about the rest of the trip. Two more day dives and one night dive happened before we left Cozumel.

Santa Rosa was probably my favorite spot. Another wall dive, like Palancar Breach, but the drop-off is right up against the wall, so you're floating at between 70 and 80 feet in depth, with the swift current pushing you down the length of the wall, and below your feet is a drop-off going down to the blue infinity. The coral was again spectacular here - overhangs like those we swum through at Palancar Breach, and the current was so swift we let it push us, and just relaxed and sight-saw the whole time. Huge fush lurked in little crevices, it was amazing. Like the Discovery Channel, but BETTER.

We went to Paraiso again for our last day dive, but explored around more, so it was still fun. It's shallower, so we stayed down alot longer. More moray eels here, and supposedly seahorses, though we didn't see any. They're shy.

The absolute best part, though, was the night dive. It wasn't scary at all -- the water is more deep blue and so clear that the flashlights we had carried a long ways -- it faded off into blue rather than inky, claustrophobic black. All the cool creatures come out at night - we saw lots of small skates, lots of large rock crabs, a lobster that was longer than my forearm. We saw a sea snake, a golden spotted moral eel all the way out of its nest, a really neat cuttlefish that changed color, and a huge kind of sea cucumber that looked like a giant caterpiller.

The real highlight of the night dive, though, was the octopus. I would have swum right past it without seeing it if our guide hadn't found it first. It was sitting on a small outcropping of coral with its legs tucked around it, and it changed color so that it just looked like another lumpy rock. Our divemaster, Luis, picked it up and actually put it on his face!

I was amazed at his cajones, let me tell you. He let each of us hold it, and I held it in my hand with my arm stretched as far away from my body as possible. It really does suck onto you.....feels like hundreds of mini-suction cups on your skin. When Luis pulled it away from me to give it to someone else, it hung on to me and its legs stretched like rubber so far that it was almost grotesque...right when I was sure that it was going to snap in two, it let go of me.

One thing I just remembered -- our encounter with the kamikaze jet ski driver. A family of a father and two kids was zipping around, and the child was driving. I could see our paths crossing long before it happened, and the jet ski didn't turn. Our captain started shouting something at them, but sure enough they crashed right into us at top speed. Made quite a jolt for us, but luckily they weren't hurt. Still, though, one of those 'stupid tourist' things you can't really believe until it happens to you.

We took Luis out to eat with the family of the father and son we shared the night dive with - long-time diver and his son Matt, and his wife and daughter who don't dive. We went to a chinese buffet that had sushi, but unfortunately it was expensive, and horrible. Jody and I took Luis out to drink and dance for a little while afterwards, because I liked Luis and I think Jody felt sorry for him. He's a lonely guy - once divorced, and his girlfriend of four years recently broke up with him for another guy. Clearly still in the getting over it phase. He kept insisting that Jody buy 'his senorita' flowers, so that I wouldn't get stolen away from him. I don't know if that was part of the Mexican romantic/feeler culture or just his own regrets about his last relationship. But Luis was sweet, bought me a rose, and danced a little bit with me without being predatory. It was rather fun to be flirted with, and I genuinely liked him. If you're a single girl in Cozumel looking for a flirtation and a reputable dive shop, dive at the Black Shark Dive Shop, and ask for Luis. Tell him Abby and Jody sent you.

I didn't get my beach day like I really wanted, instead I only got about 2 hours on the beach. I did take my best pictures of the trip there, but didn't swim, or really go exploring at all. Jody and I got in a huge fight about it, and it rather tainted the whole trip. Our flight from Cozumel to Charlotte was delayed for three hours due to mechanical problems, and if we had insisted on flying into Cincinnatti we would have been stuck in Charlotte overnight. Fortunately, we caught a flight to Lousiville and Jody's sister Goldie picked us up that night. Got home at around 1:30 am, completely exhausted, and I still went back to work. Having to drive to Cincinnatti just to pick up my car was totally annoying, though.

All in all, a good trip, aside from the crushing disappointment of my beach day. I'm glad to be home, though, and would you believe it, I'm glad to be back at work.
» On Scuba Diving
So, now we´ve been diving for four days. Our first two days were all shore dives in the same place - Paraiso, to finish our certification. Yesterday and today have been our real diving days -- bigger sites, from a boat.

Yesterday was Palancar Breech, followed by a short break to get rid of residual nitrogen in our system, then Tormentos. Palancar Breech was everything Discovery Channel shows you about coral reefs, only better. HUGE coral shelf, with overhands making small canyons you could swim through. On the other side was about 5 feet of sandy bottom, then a sharp drop off to about 3,000 feet. The coral was so rich there, it´s beyond comparison.

Tormentos was a little shallower and calmer, with sandy bottom on both sides. The coral formations weren´t so high, but were spread out more. Towards the end of the dive, we saw a large white breasted sea turtle! It swam slowly away from us, but didn´t seem overly disturbed by our presence.

Today was Santa Rosa, followed by a longer dive to a different part of Paraiso, the place where we did our certification. The current at Santa Rosa was much stronger, and the coral formations were right on the side of the drop off, creating a wall which we hovered about 70 feet down on. We just drifted, letting the strong current carry us and looked up at the schools of fish swimming overhead, and below down the coral wall towards the deep blue depths. There were more overhangs here, so we swam through canyons created by the coral, crossing over from the shallow side of the coral wall to the drop off side. The beauty just can´t be described in words.

Paraiso was much calmer -- there isn´t a coral shelf so much as random outcroppings of coral in the sandy bottom. No drop off here, and we averaged about 40 feet in depth. We saw more swimming life here -- lots of schools, a baby moray eel, and a small fish in a hole in the coral called a black sailfin blenny. About the length of a finger, it hunkered down in a tiny hole in the coral until our dive master dangled a caribiner clip in front of it. Then it would lunge out of the hole towards the shiny object in front of it. It was actually incredibly cute.

We´re going on a night dive tonight, and I´m told that all the aquatic life really comes out at night - octopi, crabs, lobsters, even the occasional shark.

I wish I could find the words to describe how incredible this experience has been, but there is nothing adequate I can say. What I can say is this: DO IT. If you love the water, if you have even the slightest interest in marine life, get certified! It´s worth every penny and more.

I AM A SCUBA DIVER FOR LIFE.
» Greetings from Cozumel
Hola!

We´ve now been in Cozumel for two and a half days, and we have finished our certification dives and are now officially scuba divers! We booked two more days of diving through the same dive shop for Monday and Tuesday. We saw a few moray eels, a puffer fish and a scorpion fish, as well as a huge lobster, but the reef where we did the class was somewhat sparse -- small outcroppings of coral instead of a large shelf. Still, the large schools of fish were incredible. We´ll go to different dive sites next time, so hopefully we´ll see some new sights.

We booked an all-day tour to Chichen Itza, the Mayan capital, tomorrow. It´s on the mainland, and from what I have heard, is a must-see.

Our hotel is nice -- big room with a huge shower. The beds are hard, but thats apparently the case with all Mexican hotels. If we had come in May, it´s only $45 a night to stay here.

We´ve definately fallen into the siesta habit -- diving is very tiring, and we come back wanting a huge lunch to replace all the calories we burned. Since you can´t drink the water, and beer is cheaper than soda, we eat a huge lunch, drink a beer each and then want to return to the room to crash immediately afterwards.

Hotel breakfast is awesome - fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh pineapple, papaya and melon, and lots of little small Mexican pastries that are way better than donuts.

We plan to rent a scooter on Monday or Tuesday after we dive and run around the island. We´re on a sort of warf-front, none of the beaches on the island are real, they´re all man-made, and we want to scope out a good one to visit on Wednesday before we leave. We may try to squeeze in a horseback ride through the jungle one afternoon as well.

Cozumel got hit hard by Hurricane Wilma, and though most of the business have been repaired, there are still many places under construction. Often, in the residential part of the city, there will be an occasional block that has a small lot that´s still filled with rubble when all the buildings around it are repaired -- places where the owner hasn´t had the money to rebuild yet.

More news later!
» Off we go!
Well, Dear Diary, today I am leaving for Cozumel.

I promise to try to write at least once while I'm gone, and to bring home lots of lovely pictures for you to see. I don't think your interface would tolerate a margerita, but I promise to drink one (or two or three) for you while I'm there.

Take care of yourself, and I'll be back in a week!

Love,

Abby
» Blogger's Silent Recitation
For the blogger's silent recitation day. Link here.

Dissolution
by Arthur Reynolds

For 1001 days
James (Not Jimmy, Jimbo, or Jim)
Sat in a 6 x 6 cell, cubicle
And between gouts of numbers,
Columns of entries,
Rows of figures,
Stole glimpses of a
Five-dollar oil painting
Bought at a yard sale,
Until the flicker and hum
Of the yellow fluorescent lighting
(Not the color of daylight through leaves,
But the color of tobacco stained glass)
Made the trees of
The two-dimensional forest
Shimmer and whisper
On invisible breezes.

On the 1001st day
(The day after the thousandth)
James dragged himself
From the mire
Of ledgers,
Sums,
And balances,
To walk to the edge of the painting,

Then he wandered farther in.

At first he moved silently as a ghost
Across the luxuriant carpeting of
Rust-colored pine needles,
Sidling between
Black Spruce
And Moss bedecked Poplars
Down the slope
Towards the floor of the basin,
Passing through waist-deep flame heather
Like wading a sea of balmy lava,
While the fog gathered in wisps and curls
Round his ankles
Hiding his black leather oxfords.

Still he pressed on
Deeper into the gathering gloom
Never looking back,
Always ahead,
Always towards the distant clatter
Of moving water
Reminiscent of temple bells,
Even as the fog consumed his knees
And waist.

Forward he idled,
Passing banks of Lace Ferns,
Each step emptier than the last,
Never expecting to
Emerge again into light.

As the fog thickened and
Swallowed his cheeks,
James became certain that
There was nothing left below the mist,
Nothing that was James,
And nothing that was not.
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