Monday, May 27, 2013

Adventures in being my own Feis Mom, Part 2

Day 2

Because of the super long nap I took after the feis on Saturday, I couldn't sleep so I was up til about 2, and had to be up for 6:30. 6:30 ended up being 6:50, but because all my stuff was still packed from the day before, I was able to get out the door, and to the venue for 7:30. What can I say, there was no traffic on route 90. I got to the venue, parked, grabbed my stuff and went to find the Reg table. I guess I must have looked exhausted, cause the lady at the table checking me in, asked if I had been out late the night before. I just explained I was still beat from the feis the day before, and she nodded - I am still not sure if she thought I was picking up the card for my kid or myself, but I guess she figured it out, cause then she asked if I danced in the Adults catagory. Nope, &Overs, I say. I won't say her face got sour, but it certainly looked the smallest bit taken aback. I have to keep up with the kids, I am one of the brave ones, haha. She doesn't look convinced, so I take my dancer's card and walk away. Which brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 4";  Don't assume everyone is being critical of you, but don't be surprised that it happens.

Dancing in the Adult category, you are just kind of viewed as a pet anomaly by large parts of the ID society. Like, 'aww, you want to take up dancing so you can hang out with your kid.' No one expects much, and because it is it's own under-represented category, most just tend to ignore them. But an adult dancing with the kids always shakes people up. A lot won't like it. I've yet to face head on hostility about it, but I know the day will come. Until then, I am just going to smile and nod when the check in lady is at a loss for words that I would dare to compete with the 13 year olds.

Any rate, I find a seat - which wasn't hard at all as there was stadium seating - and once again, I go about setting up my lonely camp spot. I will admit, it's tough not having ANYONE to hang out with at a feis. No parents or friends to help you get ready, or take your mind of nerves. I mean, I see all the kids from my class running around, all excited cause this is their first or second feis and their parents are trying to wrangle them where they need to go. But my wig makes me look really different, so most of the little ones looked right at me and never realized that I go to class with them. Besides, they've got parents, siblings and grandparents to keep them company - they don't want to hang out with the creepy grown up that is in their class. But I am digressing.

I wig up and slather on some makeup whilst the are having Mass. It's been years since I've been to a Catholic mass, so I have to admit, I was curious. I just sat quietly in my seat while the rest of the freaking arena participated, and once again I felt very much like the odd man out - a would-be Russian Orthodox convert sitting in a crowd of Catholics, a 26 year old woman dancing with 13 year olds. Just can't catch a break for fitting in, but then, trying to fit in would mean compromising what I WANT to be, and that shit's only for self-conscious teenagers.

Anyhoo, get wig on, realize I have little time till dancing starts, and I am up right away, and I also realize that I am STARVING. Run to the concession stand, buy a hot dog, get hit on by the guys working the concession stand, scarf down the hot dog, and then run to my stage and wait for the dancing to start. While finishing getting my shoes on and what not, I hear a mother bollicking her child for forgetting bobby pins - actually, that makes it sound too tough. I hear a mother telling her child that "No, WE didn't forget bobby pins, YOU forgot bobby pins. You have to learn to take consequences when you forget your responsibilities." Had to make me laugh a bit. Teenagers. I offer them my tray of bobby pins, but the mother kindly refuses. She said that no, her daughters will have to find some/borrow some from their friends - they have to learn to deal with problems without some one always taking care of stuff for them. I was amused. Good parenting in action, and also, a brief light into the fact that not all Feis Mom's act as a pack-mule Jeeves to their dancing Woosters and will take care of everything for their teenaged dancers.

This feis, very unkindly in my opinion, decided to smash all my dances right in a row, back to back of each other. The good side is that you get done quickly. The down side is that you have no time to change gears and maybe go over the step once in you head before you go up. But, like I said in the last post, either you know it or you don't. Dances went Reel, Light Jig, Slip and treble Jig (which I sat out again) and then hornpipe. I don't know why, but I never pay much attention to how I do my reel, so I can't say if I was pleased with how I danced or not, but I did the step, no mistakes, so I have that. Light jig, I was trying harder, had big plans, but then the girl that I was sharing the stage with would not GET OUT OF MY WAY. I couldn't go behind her because when I tried shifting behind her on my side-step, she would drift backwards. When I tried going in front of her, she drifted forward. I don't think she was doing it deliberately, but damn! I am not unaccustomed to having to dance around other people, I do have small children that often times get in my way in class, but this girl was like a boulder that I couldn't get around.

Anyway, un-checked in with the stage monitor, telling her I wasn't planning on dancing the next two. Ran up, took my time changing shoes, slugged back some water and went back to wait for hornpipe, while everyone else was finishing up the Treble Jig. I had a very nice feis volunteer tell me that if I wanted to, they would totally still let me go up for Treble Jig. That was mad nice of him, but I wanted to focus on what I knew, not stress myself about a step I only half have. So, we all line up for hornpipe, I am in the last set of 2 dancers and I am feeling MAD confident. I start on time, I start strong. My bangs are loud, I am in time to the music and I have the judge's attention (Incidentally, it was the same judge who placed my hornpipe second the day before) First step right foot - perfect. Left foot - loud and clear. Second step right foot, sounds great! Second step left foot . . . . wait . . . where did it go? No literally - I had it a second ago. Don't know why, don't know how, but suddenly I was doing part of my first step from my old school. A step I never fully got good at and that I haven't danced in almost 2 years now. Knowing that I had to get back into my step but not sure how exactly to transition, I almost stalled out. I was just running out of ideas when we hit the part of the music that I knew meant leap 2-3's in my actual step, so I finished the dance right. Not well, cause the entire time I was mentally freaking out and trying to remember if that WAS the right ending. But it ended I bowed and voila, dancing day 2 is done. Go back to my space, shimmy out of dress and back into warm-ups. Swing by results, nothing is up yet. Buy ANOTHER overpriced tee-shirt and spend a while looking at the jewelry. Back to the results board, which now has my dance's up.

Nothing on light jig or hornpipe - no surprises there. But another second for my Reel! Very pleased with that actually. If I am being honest with myself - I kind of phoned this feis in. I am still getting my feet wet again with this competition thing. Somedays I am great at my dances, other days, I forget them. I drill as much as I can over the week, but that often isn't much. The fact that I placed at all in any of my dances thrilled me. It means, I CAN hold my own against the kids. It encouraged me to put more energy and work into practicing - if I can get results with little effort, what results would I get if I tried harder. I could try and be dissappointed that I didn't get any firsts, or didn't place in all my dances. But that would be selfish and unrealistic of me. I still placed. It was still MY number written up on that board. It was still my old self beating out 7 other girls, all younger and more fit then me. In general - it has been the confidence boost I have been looking for.

It was also kind of sad that I had no one there with me to share the excitement. I don't mean to keep whinging on about it - but being alone at a feis sucks in alot of ways. But knowing that I had a boyfriend waiting at home who would be more then excited for my small victory, I decided to leave, even though the day had barely started. Because:

No kids or sibling to wait for. There are up sides to the lonely aspect of feising alone. I was home by 11am, out to lunch with friends by 1pm and home napping by 3, while the feis didn't even end until 5. And let me tell you I was never more happy to wash my hair. Because just remember, that after 2 feiseanna, this . . .

Is just a clever disguise for THIS . . ..

So that was my double header feis weekend of doom, in a very long, multi-post nutshell. Results were as follows:

Day one: 2nd in Reel and Hornpipe, 5th in Light Jig
Day two: 2nd in Reel

Judges comments from day one were all "heels in" and "on toes more", so y'know, stuff I already knew but never really work on. Must do better with that. My school is heading into summer break, so while I might not be able to practice my steps fully, I CAN and WILL work on my turn out and dancing on my toes.

Happy Memorial Day all, I am going to go finish recovering.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Adventures in being my own Feis Mom, Part 1

So the double header weekend of doom is done. Those who are on my facebook page got the play-by-play, but I figured I would do a full report here.

And away we go.

Day One:

I didn't get out of work until 1:00am Saturday morning, and having remembered while at work that there were a pile of things I would need, a late night store run was in order. Thank the Lord that there is a 24 hour walgreens right across the street from my apartment, sparing me from walmart. So, after make up, more hair bands, bobby pins, hair clips, mousse, hairspray, new water bottle, camp chair and a can of red bull were purchased, I made it home. Knowing that I would do better to stay up and pack then sleep to the last minute, I stayed  awake arranging everything. And let me just take a moment to say - I don't know how people end up taking like a full roller suit case plus duffel plus make up bag plus dress bag. I mean, admitedly I could have used a *bit* more space then I ended up having in my one knapsack and dress bag, but as I don't have a pack-mule/parent to carry all my crap for me, I figured packing light was a virtue. And no kidding - I fit my entire feis experience into this . . .

Yep. No kidding. And that is everything I could possibly need. Hard Shoes, Ghillies, wig, makeup, hair crap, dance dress . . all of it. I thank my bad-ass awesome wig box. I am inordinately proud of it. I "made" it myself and fits my wig, headband, hand mirror, bobby pins, hair ties and make up (I only bring the bare essentials),  and keeps it all organized too. And the whole box fits in the bottom of my bag! Remind me to do a whole post dedicated to this wig box. Anyhoo, it brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 1"; Pack light, pack tight, pack smart, but always make room for a towel.

The reason for the towel? Well let me rewind here a bit. So, after about 2.5 hours of sleep I sleep through my alarm, and rush out of the house 15 minutes later then planned. With a judicious application of speeding, I still made to the feis by the time I wanted to be there. Checked in, and set up my lonely little single chair camping space. Crack open my red bull, whip out the wig box and start getting to work on attaching the scalp poodle, trying to not envy the kids that just get to sit there while their mother does all the work. My attempt was successful; however, as I stood to jump around and make sure that it would stay put in action, I might have accidentally knocked over the can and spilled pretty much all of the 8.3 oz of heart-attack-in-a-can all over the floor. Hence, why I was wishing for a towel. Douglas Adams, you would be ashamed of me. An obliging hoodie took one for the team and served as a mop.

That was not the best omen for the start of my day, but I let neither it, nor my entire lack of friends/companions to get me down. Anthems are sung, dress is put on and a merciful dance mom camped next to me was kind enough to help me zip.

I had about three groups before my first dance, so I pretty much just go to chill at my stage. Light jig was up first. I am usually most confident about my light jig, but looking back now, I was still half asleep and was not really pushing it. Reel was next. Got through it and felt good. Can't say it was the *BEST* I could have done, but I was pleased that I didn't space out on the step and flub the whole thing. Slip jig was next and I gave it a miss. I had been practicing it all week but I have learned something about my self. I never crammed before exams in school - I could never learn that way. My logic was either I knew it or I didn't, and even if I stressed out and crammed before an exam, I would forget it all under the pressure. My dancing is the same way. I spent the whole  week drilling both my slip and my treble jig, but I knew, if I got up there infront of the judge, both dances would just be gone and I still have a little bit too much pride for that. Brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 2" Know your own limits. I can run on 2 hours of sleep. I can shlep all my own stuff. I can even sew my own dance dress, but I can't be responsible for all this AND stress myself out about dances I don't know fully yet. So I never checked in for Slip or Treble Jig. Hornpipe came last, and that was a happy note to end on. For all I used to LOATHE hornpipe, it's kind of becoming one of my favorite dances.

So, all that work to get there, get the wig, makeup and dress on, sign in for dances and wait, and it was all over and done with in under an hour. Strip back out of the dress, into the warm-ups, change back into sneakers, and head to the results board.

Be not at all shocked, but rather pleased that your number is on the results boards as fifth for light jig (I started late, so right there I was pretty sure I was out of the running for top 3.) But I at very least wasn't last, and warrented my number on the board and a lovely ribbon.

And then nearly fall over when I see "1496" written in the 2nd place slot for Reel. Freak out internally, double take to make sure it's not a typo. See it there again. Walk away. Call boyfriend and tell him that you think you got second. Go to vendor tent. Buy an overpriced tee shirt and a number holder (which, for some reason you had never gotten around to purchasing before.) Walk back to the results.

To add insult to injury, they have now posted hornpipe results up, and once again "1496" is sitting squarely in the 2nd place slot. Calmly walk over to a secluded corner, squeal quietly to self, while jumping up and down like you are being attacked by crazy bees, compose yourself, then walk back to check the boards yet AGAIN, because you still can't believe it. Stroll over to the medals distribution and tell the lovely ladies there that you think you won some medals. Try to act your age as they tell you "yes, you got 2 seconds and a ribbon for your fifth place." Thank them profusely, and walk away, calmly. Because, "Being your own Feis Mom tip 3;" Dignity, always dignity.

I am not saying don't indulge in some giddy excitement, but try not to gloat. You don't want angry feis moms accusing you of stealing away medals from their wonderful babies and being a sore winner. What's more, do you really want the world know the evil thoughts of "HAH! Suck on that, you limber, fleet-footed fifteen year olds! You just had 2 mdeals and a ribbon yanked out from under you by an old woman!"  . . . Yeah, I try to not be generally hated. And lord knows, I have NO friends in this region anyway.

I went home shortly after that. Before passing out for a five hour nap, I forced the boyfriend to take me out for a celebratory Buffalo Chicken Mac n'Cheese melt and a Pint. Which brings me today's win:

 I will catch everyone up on day 2 of being my own Feis Mom tomorrow. . . .

Monday, May 20, 2013

You are too old for this class

Well, I finally got it.

The thought that has been bouncing around inside the munkins' heads for weeks now.

"Aren't you too old for this class."

Maybe it sleep exhaustion, but I've never wanted to commit an act of violence against an 8 year old ever before in my life. I managed to contain myself, but I am sure my response of "I'm not to old!" was said a little more petulantly and childishly then I would normally of cared for. The kid quickly back-peddled and tried saying that she meant that I was too tall. I am 5'4". Admittedly, while that makes me much taller then all of my class mates, I hardly think it has anything to do with me twisting my ankle, which is what started this conversation.

A minute late, she asked me if I was 16. The look on her face when I told her I was 26 was something like this:

Sadly, this girl is so young, she wouldn't get the reference. The year she was born, that film was already 15 years old. 

But it really did make me question - again - for a minute if I am too old for this. My ankles twist, my knees ache. I work 45 hours a week and have to be responsible for bills, meals and cleaning. 

But ironically enough, not 30 minutes before this interlude with this kid, I was talking to one of the waiting Mom's  about my dancing, while I was changing my shoes. (Please note, this was the first time one of the parents has actually TALKED directly to me, so that was a bit thrilling.) The conversation was something like this:

Her: *Upon seeing me stumbling out a downing almost an entire bottle of water* "Quite a good work out, huh?"
Me: *still panting for breath* Yeah, sometime I envy the kids. They can go for hours without even breaking a sweat.
Her: How long have you been dancing?
Me: *with a shame-faced grimace* Ten years, off and on. But because it's been off and on, I've never gotten very far. I tried starting while I was in high school, but couldn't keep going to class. So I started after I graduated, but with work and bills and stuff I haven't always been able to keep up. You know, all that annoying adult stuff.
Her: I know what you mean, a few years back I tried taking an adult class and just couldn't manage it. Well, you seem very dedicated now.
Me: Yeah, I figure, why the heck not. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid and couldn't. I don't have any kids yet, so the only schedule I have to worry about it my own. So I am just going to go for it.
Her: Good for you!

And that's that. Good for me! Good for any "Adult Dancer". Good for any person who fights for their dreams.

I am choosing to dwell on that conversation from class this week, rather then the talk with the kid. What I keep telling myself it this "Kids just don't know" and honestly, if their parents are doing their job, kids shouldn't know, at least, not at that age.

Kids don't know that childhood flies by faster then you can ever begin to imagine and the someday, they might too be in their twenties, wondering why they weren't able to do all the things they wanted to as kids. But being an adult doesn't mean you need to give up on those dreams.

Kids just don't know that life doesn't end at 18 - that really it just begins. Yes there are alot of responsibilities, but all that self-governance teenagers rage for can be just as fun as they imagine, and the responsibilities are like salt - on their own, they are terrible, but the make the tasty things of life more flavorful.

Kids just don't know that life existed before them. It never really crosses their mind that when you were their age, and first falling passionately in love with Irish Dance, they were -9 years old. They don't understand that you've been obsessed with this art form for longer then they've been alive, and your age and their age have nothing to do with it.

Kids just don't understand that, historically speaking, when the Dance Masters were traveling through Ireland, teaching the ancestor versions of these steps, he wasn't teaching it to the 8 year olds. He was teaching it to the teens and young adults.

Kid's don't realize the only difference between me and them is seventeen years and about a hundred pounds. And if they do, they don't realized that the challenges age and size present can be worn as badges of honor, rather then stared at as insurmountable obstacles. I am proud of the fact that despite any physical limitations, I can leap in the air as high as the small, less gravity bound children.

So, let the kids call me too old. Let them think that I have one foot in the grave and another in an untapped hardshoe on a slippery stage. Let them look at me askance and question why I am in "their" class. And bless them for their small, child-like perspective. I have been an outside observer of the Irish Dance world since 1996, and I refuse to be on the outside looking in any more. I am an adult. I am the master of my own world. And I choose this!

And now, I am going to go drill, because I have 2 feiseanna in a week's time, and I STILL don't know my second slip jig or treble jig step. I will leave you all with this thought, that will really show how old we really are . . .