Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Will Dance for Meatballs

Signed up for Pittsburg Halloween Feis.

The fact that it is 3 weeks before my wedding does seem a trifle ambitious of me.

There were several things that swayed me into registering.

First: I bombed at Celtic Fling. Like, I have never embarressed myself so badly on stage. A month later and I STILL don't want to talk about it. Needless to say, that damned Slip Jig is still eluding me, and I want everything out of AB by the end of the year (which was my goal last year, but we see how that went). I need a few more to try and place out, and Pittsburg is close.

Second (and possibly more important reason): the Feis is located EXACTLY 7.4 miles from IKEA and I have been jonesing on some meatballs and flat-pack furniture like nobody's business.

Ah, the things that will motivate me to dance. So not normal. . . .

Anyhoo, the third reason was that I can dance in a halloween costume. Years of being deprived of halloween costumes as a kid has left me with a penchant for dressing up round-about October time. When I sat and pondered what I would dress up as, my usual halloween costume seemed logical - Hogwarts School Uniform. It's not totally unlike what I dance in already, would look super cute, etc. But then I thought that was boring, and I should get creative. I *do* have a closet full of Ren Faire garb, but pretty sure steel boned corsets would count as "carriage aids". Thoughts?

Then I thought about getting all ironic and finally making myself that dirndl that I've been wanting, so I can finally look like what I truly am - a dumpy german haus-frau irish dancing.

But I will probably stick with Hogwarts Uniform because it requires very little thought and effort. And Wizards are cool . . .

So, agenda for next three months:

- Make it to some summer session classes. 
- Practice!Practice!Practice! Even if I can't drill steps, practice walking in turn out, up on toes, etc.
- start re-building stamina, so when full time classes start again, I don't waste three weeks wheezing and stumbling my way through.
- watch lots of videos of slip jigs and wonder what the eff I am doing wrong. . . .

Slainte, gang!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Once more, with feeling . . . .

So today was day 2 of the double header weekend of Feis-doom.

Having done this exact same weekend last year, I am starting to notice a trend. I always do better on day 1 while expecting to do not so well, then expect better from myself on day 2 and fall just a teensy bit short.

That being said, I am pleased with today's results, even though I still wish they could have been better.

I didn't place at all on my slip jig, so it, along with Saint Patrick's day are the last 2 things I have left in Advanced Beginner. I am still waiting to see judges comments to find out how far I was from placing. I will be honest - I am kind of disappointed. I thought I danced pretty well in this today. Toes were pointed, kicks were high, legs were straight. The only thing I can think of was that I didn't have a lot of "bounce" today. Venue didn't allow outside food or drink, and while I accidentally smuggled in my can of red bull (I didn't have room in my regular dance bag, so I had shoved it in my dress bag, which they didn't search) I didn't want to run the risk of getting kicked out of venue/disqualified for disregarding that particular rule. Asking me to be bouncy with out giving me the requisite 80mg of caffeine doesn't seem like a good idea. So, I guess I will really, reaaaally need to focus on Slip Jig over summer session at class and hopefully place out at my one summer feis.

Also did not place in my novice Light Jig. I think this had very little to do with my execution, and mostly to do with the fact that the competition was fairly large and the other dancers executed their slightly more novice-level dances just as well. Not too sad about that. I mean, While it would be a real feather in the cap to place out of 2 of my novice dances without learning a single novice step, I have no delusions of grandeur.

So, the hornpipe that got me FIRST yesterday got me a fifth today. Again, not actually too disappointed by this. The fact that I tied for fifth with 2 other girls out of a total of 20 competitors is still nothing to scoff at. If I had never gotten that first yesterday, I would be blown away by a fifth, so I chose to be still happy with this score. I mean, let's be realistic. I was up against twice as many dancers and I still got a medal. I still scored better then 14 other dancers. That thought just blows me away.

However, The highlight of the day was my Treble Jig. Twice in one weekend I have the jaw-dropping, heart racing, mind numbing, unbelievable experience of seeing my competitor number written up in First place. I was convinced I wasn't going to get much in it. I had the unpleasant experience of finishing my Slip Jig and having to literally RUN all the way back to my camp in the nose-bleed section of the stadium seating to grab my hard shoes and be back in time for Treble Jig. I had banked on there being 3 competitions between my SJ and my TJ. But one of the competitions had 0 competetors, and the others only had 2 or 3, so really, I had NO time. So, I was already a little breathless but I danced as best as I could. Timing felt a little off, but I managed to keep with it and. . . . well, I guess I did better then I thought.

This weekend was the boost I needed. Spring has been rough and I have once again gone through the agonizing thought that maybe I should just give up. I will probably always have those doubts, that stupid inner voice telling me to quit. But my hardware tells me otherwise . ..

Every award is a pat on the back. Every award is encouragement. Every award is at least one impartial voice saying "YOU DON'T SUCK!". And everyone I get makes me want more. So, I will get more, come hell or high water. 

But for now, I am going to sit back, watch a Rocky marathon with my ever patient and loving fiance, while cuddling my medals and eating ice cream.

Good night all, happy memorial day and happy feising!

Day 1: 4th AB Slip Jig, 3rd AB Treble Jig, 1st Novice Hornpipe
Day 2: 5th Novice Hornpipe, 1st AB Treble Jig

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I'd like to thank purple lace, Red Bull and Saint Bridget

Feis today; What a roller coaster it was - assumed scene of "meh" turned into strange triumph.

It started as most feis days start for me. No desire to crawl from bed and an impending sense of doom. I had stayed up to late packing. I had orginally planned to do it as soon as I got home from work, but I got a last minute bug up my butt to go over to my best friend's house and rummage through her sewing shop and see if I couldn't due anything to make my Jumper-of-Frumper a little less. ..  well, frumpy. It worked. She had a miraculously perfect bundle of purple lace trim to add to the hem of my dress and it really makes the whole thing look much more polished than it had been. I think if it hadn't been for that shot of confidenc, I might never have crawled out from under my blankies.

Did my usual 'dawdle to long around the house and leave the house fifteen minutes late' routine. Luckily, traffic was nil and my minorly lead lined foot has not left me. Got there right on time and fought for a camping spot. Besides the fact that the place was already pretty darned packed, it's not easy being  a single camper at a feis. You'd think it would be. You take up so much less space than a large family/group. But seriously, the large groups will judge nudge and push you out of the way to make room. Word of advice to those that don't already do this; if you see a solo camper, ask if they would like to set up with you, rather then just build up around them making it complicated for them to climb over your stuff and awkward for them while they are trying to sit there, minding their own business and you are literally talking over them. Might just make their year!

Anyhoo. ..  got geared up. Makeup. Hair. Wig actually cooperated with the new hair cut, but it took a bit more 'doing' than it used to. Dress on - incidentally, may I just say, my jumper and shirt combo may look frumpy teetering on the verge of derpy, but I love how easy and comfortable it is to put on/wear. Completely changed from warm ups to competition wear without a single sight to scar young children. Also, as a side note . . . new adult irish dance wins . . .

Also, this way, no one needs to see my thunder-thighs. . . .

Anyhoosen-whatsit. . . .

Changed, ready to go, have guzzled a 12oz can of Red Bull and I'm ready to go (read; jittery). Go down to my stage, and realize that while there is only a handful of dances before my first, there is a METRIC BUTT-TON OF DANCERS, so I decide to wander around. Look at the T-shirts. Same dreck as last year. Look at the shoes and wigs I have no intention of buying, and then hit the jewelry stand. I always look. I have been getting by with a borrowed brooch and a safety pin to attach my cape, and I am thinking to myself, maybe if I do well today, I will finally buy a set of actual cape pins and then, along with my newly lace-trimmed dress, I will feel SUPER spiffy. I had never bought any of the brooches, cause, well, none of them seemed to say "buy me". They were all nice, but I didn't love them enough to say "Shut up and take my money". But today . . . I found the brooches I was meant to have. . . .

Let me rewind here, and give you a brief narrative on events in my NON-Irish-Dance life (amazingly enough, yes, I have one). I recently had the great honour and joy of being baptized into the Eastern Orthodox church. I took Bridget as my Saint's name and as my patron Saint - I was thrilled to discover that she is venerated as a Saint by both Catholic and Orthodox churches, so I was actually able to have her as my patron.  When my priest asked me who I wanted as my Saint, she seemed the obvious choice for me - I have always been fascinated by her both historically, culturally and spiritually.

So, when I got to the jewelry vendor today, I saw these pins and I knew I had to have them, and I had to have them before I danced. They were Saint Bridget's Crosses in a circle of knot-work. That visual reminder of my Saint, and the idea that she was with me suddenly cast a whole new light on the day. I bought them immedietly and scrambled to get my cape re-pinned before it was my group's turn to dance. (Also, again, if you don't already; you see a lone dancer struggling with zippers and trying to pin their own cape to the dress they are already in, offer to help. Just don't sit there and tease your daughter's pouf when it's already teased within an inch of it's life and you just established 2 seconds previously that she doesn't dance til after lunch. I swear, you will be thanked profusely and given all kinds of compliments and praise. ) 

So with the love of my friend stitched onto my dress with lace, and the emblem of my Saint pinned to my shoulder and side, I danced. 

And between that, some stubborn determination, and enough caffine to make small animals go into cardiac arrest, I actually danced pretty well.

I only ended up making it to three of my competitions (stage conflicts that I just didn't feel like trying to sort out), but I placed in all of them. 

I placed fourth of five in my Slip Jig. Respectable. Still get a nice ribbon 'placement'. Still a thrill to see my number on the board. But still doesn't get my slip jig out of Advance Beginner. (But there is always tomorrow)

In my Advanced Beginner Treble Jig, I got 3 out of 5. Certainly an achievement to be proud of, and that means that I am offically placed out of AB in my Treble Jig (but I have no intentions of moving up to novice in it until the new year)

But here is the ultimate highlight of my day. I was registered for Novice Reel, Light Jig and Hornpipe. Hornpipe was the only one I made it to the stage on time for. There were ten girls total dancing. Most of them looked like they belonged on the cover of IDM - new shiny wigs, expensive, blinged solo dresses and all kinds of fancy steps that I can't do. I was pleased with the way I danced but I accepted the fact that there was no possible way I was going to really place up against these girls. Maybe, MAAAAYBE get a fourth, or even a third - I did get a fourth and a third in 2 novice dances back in February, but the competition was much smaller, like 4 girls.

I got first. 

I still . . . I don't really believe it. Me. I got first. This was my first "real" first so that was thrilling in and of itself, but . . . I got a first in NOVICE, while still doing AB steps, competing against 8 or 9 other girls. Me. Old, overweight, tights-wearing, home-made-jumper-wearing, second-hand-wig donning, old-fashione-pin-wearing ME. In a dance that I used to HATE cause it was so hard. I didn't believe it when I saw my number. I didn't believe it when they gave me my medals. I didn't believe it when I went out to dinner with friends to celebrate. As I sit here now, I still don't 100% believe it!

But there it is. My medal is sitting right next to me. They wouldn't have given it to me if it wasn't mine. 

I just hope I can do half so well tomorrow. . . . .

And now . .. we nap!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Non-Traditional Speeds; An Irish Dance Novel By Meara Kelly

The official "blurb" for my book;

Lorna Wozniak is 25 years old, twenty pounds overweight, has the physical coordination of a three legged hamster, and has never hear Irish music a day in her life - other then the requisite playing of “Danny Boy” and House of Pain every Saint Patrick’s day, which she is sure doesn’t qualify. But all of  that changes when she stumbles into a dance studio on the wrong night of the week. Instead of the thumping base and strident horns of music for Zumba, there are bagpipes and the thumping of feet.

Dhá mBráithre Scoil na Rince na hÉireann – or Two Brothers’ School of Irish Dance, for those who don’t have enough phlegm to try and pronounce the Gaelic – is owned and run by Patrick and Aiden Murphy, brothers who are as dissimilar as could possibly be, except in their love for dance. Their constant, personal rivalry is only overshadowed by their epic rivalry with the neighboring school. Taking a foolish  barroom bet, the brothers find themselves in the position of need to change Lorna from clumsy Adult  Beginner to winning the World Championships in three years time, or face closing their school. 

Not only does she have odds stacked against her, and stigmas to defy, Lorna’s path to the Worlds is made more complicated by the brothers themselves. As Aiden’s obvious affection for Lorna grows, Patrick’s notice of her changes too. Somehow, she has to decide who’s training– and who’s heart- she
will accept.

Now, let's get this sucker written . . . .

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Non-traditional Speeds; A work of Irish Dance fiction for the "old" people?

Hey Gang! Still alive and dancing here. Haven't killed any bratty kids and have managed to get in a better head-space about it again. More details on that in some other post.

By the way, happy early Saint Patrick's day. I know everyone is probably running ragged with shows, parades and parties. I am not. . . .

So, instead I am dedicating some time to a little Irish Dance side project I've been thinking about for year, talking about off and on for about that time, and finally started taking a whack at.

Some of you may know, when I am not spraining ankles, being the laughingstock of children and managing to get better scores than I deserve at feiseanna, I am a writer. And no, not just this strange, oft times Joycean, stream-of-consciousness blog. I have been writing stories and novels from a young age. Luckily, most of my pre-highschool graduation work has been lost to the ravages of time and the world is a better place for it. But for the last ten years I have been working on several pieces - a couple historical pieces, some modern, some tending towards the epic-y other no more then romantic schlock.

But I digress.

Everyone always tells writers, write what you know. The problem is, I know a little bit about lots of things, but there is very little I know well. Irish Dance from a unique perspective just happens to be one of those things.

There is some Irish Dance themed fiction out there - some of it remarkably good. If you haven't read "Awakening" by Christy Dorrity, do it. It may be geared more towards the YA crowd, but I couldn't put the thing down. Read it in less then a day and am anxiously awaiting Book 2.  Fantastic writing.

But that's just the thing, most of the ID fiction out there is geared towards the largest demographic - the younger crowd. And that's ok . . .but I have always thought to my self how fun it would be to have some Irish Dance story geared to my own reading level. And then I got to thinking, that I am not the only Adult Irish Dancer, or Adult Some How Involved With Irish Dance out there, and that maybe there are others out there that would also get some pleasure out of reading the same. I mean, not just late starter like me - Dance mom's waiting for class to be over could kill some time reading, late teen to college age dancers traveling to feis/O's/Nans/Worlds, even people who love watching Irish Dance but aren't involved themselves.

So, with all this thinking, I also remembered - hey, you want to write a book. Why don't you write this grown-up Irish Dance novel that you are always complaning doesn't exist.

So, just recently, I started to.

I've got a synopsis, a basic plot outline, characters in the early stages of development. I kind of like where it is going and  I think it could turn out ok, but I guess I am just worried that maybe I am going to write something geared to too much of a niche market. What do you all think - think Irish Dance fiction would be enjoyable? Would it be something that would interest people, do you think?

I have also thought about perhaps not "publishing" it, in the real sense, but just posting it on Wattpad, or or the like (probably Fictionpress as I already have a account and they are practically the exact same website). Y'know, get a feel if people would actually enjoy what I am putting out there, before I go through the agony of actually trying to put something out there "for real."

Perhaps I should put up a chapter here, or a blurb or something? Let everyone get a taste for it?

Anyway . . .there's lots to think about and I am trying to get the first chapter done, so I've got plenty of time to try and figure out the answers. In the meantime, I will keep jotting down ideas between classes and feiseanna. . . .

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dance Class Update: In which the nine year old has finally made me cry. . .

How does one tell a parent that their child is a little shit-head?

How does one tell a parent that if said little shit-head is being this deliberatly snotty to you - an adult that she barely knows, chances are she is being as equally cruel to her peer-set?

At least, how do you express this without you traumatic experiences with bullying as a child turn you into a screaming neurotic mess?

I mean, I can see how this conversation goes;

me: so, you are nine-year-olds mom?
mom: *beams with pride at her baby* Yes, yes I am.
me: Oh, ok. Your kid is a shit-head.
mom: *gasps in shock* How dare you say that about my precious baby!
me: Well, she's been shitty to me for the past year and a half . . .
mom: she's NINE?!!? You're how old? Thirty? Get over it! She's just a kid . . .

So yeah - not really a conversation that I want to have.

In a futile effort to be fair to this kid, my confidence has already taken a beating from lots of other angles, so it's not like she had to be supremely shitty, to finally get me to crack.

I mean, I've been feeling in rough shape - at least when it comes to my confidence with dance - since my Feis at the beginning of February (that I still haven't blogged about, because my emotions about sway to violently still).  Long story short on the Feis front, it was hard. It was my first time dancing 3 of my dances in novice, and I felt thoroughly unprepaired in every aspect. I hadn't learned my novice steps yet, so I was still dancing my AB moves, wearing my Jumper-of-Frumper against a bunch of girls doing moves I last saw in a YouTube video of an OC Parade of Champions wearing $2000 dresses. I mean, whatever happened to not getting a solo dress until Prizewinner?

Anyway, I technically got three medals at that feis. I feel I can only be proud of one though. I actually got 4th out of 9 in my Novice Reel. That really shocked me. But the other one was a 3rd our of 3 on my Light Jig in Novice is really nothing to write home about, and the last one was a 3rd out of 4, on my AB Treble Jig. Again, don't get too excited. This isn't to sound intentionally cruel or critical of the other dancers, but beating one of them was not particularly hard to do. I could blame the  music - I had said I needed fast but they played slow - but really, I just didn't do well.

But what does this have to do with nine-year-old-shit-head? Well, other then the fact that she really managed to get under my skin at the feis too, and I spent the whole day in a funk after she talked to me ( Me: *sitting in my camp chair, in a corner, minding my own business, putting on my wig/make up  Shit-head: *walks past, sees me, double-takes, walks back, looks me over critcially* You're Meara, right?  Me: Yeah.  I guess the wig makes me look really different, huh?  Shit-head: Woah *sneer, walks away*)

So, lack-luster results, bitchy comments about how I look, another feis without a single soul talking to me (other then shit-head making fun of me), several missed dance classes, an extra five pounds I gained over the whole christmas/holidays/winter thing. . . and yeah, I will admit. I am kind of in a fragile state of mind.

But! I made it to class today. It's a struggle getting there alot of days. I work long weeks. It's a long, sometimes harrowing drive getting out there. I'd like to have some time occasionally just to sleep in and hang out with my fiance. But I went, and I was drilling, doing my steps, working hard. I rolled my left ankle pretty hard right at the begining of class -  second step of my hornpipe, I landed funny. But I was dancing through it. I was trying to baby it, but then incessant leap drills were getting the better of me, so I had to sit out a few bars.

Well, towards the middle-ish of class, TC sends one of the new-new little girls off with the class helper, making a teasing comment "So that way she can stop staring at me like 'I can't do that' every time I have them do the harder stuff." Then turning and smiling at me, she jokes "You know, like Meara does" I don't mind when my TC teases me. She knows I am working my butt off, knows what I can and can't do, etc. But, in the jovial spirit, I laugh, and feign offense. "That's not true!" I protest with much laughter.

But then this shitty little voice out of the back corner of the room, where she is showing off, rather then waiting her gaddam turn to dance says. "Oh, it's true. It's like, totally true. Meara can NEVER do the hard stuff." I turn and shoot her a dirty look, thinking maybe she will shut up, but she doesn't. She turns to one of her friends, and still lauging at my expense says "It's true, she really can't" And they giggle like it's the funniest thing in the world.

So there I stand, ankle still throbbing, exhausted, and giving my all . .. being laughed at.

I know what you are all going to say -God knows I heard it when I got home, still crying. "You are taking it too personally." "She's just a kid" "You are a grown woman with a job and car, who's getting married, you should be past crying when a kid is mean to you."

But here's the thing, hearing that malicious little laughter is like a proverbial Agent Orange flash back and suddenly I am nine years old again, being told I'm weird, being laughed at, being friendless and ignored. Yeah, I'm 27 years old now, but all that means is that my inner nine year old has had to put up with being picked on for 18 years.

I can try to talk myself up all I want. Use all the confidence boosting cliches. Remind myself that I am supposedly so above this. But in the end, it doesn't work. In the end, no matter how hard I work - and there are days where I literarlly feel like I am slowly killing myself doing this - but no matter how hard I work, there is still someone laughing at me.

That kind of thing sticks with you.

Then, to make matters worse, I was rushing out of class to my car, still favoring my left ankle, and I didn't see a pot-hole in the tarmac, stepped right in it, wrenched my right ankle and took a total prat fall in front of like five people.

This has just reaffirmed that I need to drop this class and start going to Monday nights. I don't think this kid goes to that class. I CAN'T keep dealing with her. Today, after leaving class, still crying, I was seriously considering quitting because of this kid. Now THAT would be stupid.

I think I am going to go buy a wedding veil now, to attempt to cheer myself up.

Goals for this week: Keep practicing Novice reel step that I started last class, get to Monday and Wednsday night classes, stop eating . . . 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


So . . . I have yet to manage to find that perfect balance of dance/rest of life. Let me sum up the last few months (both sides of life)

1. Got Engaged
2. Immedietly started planning wedding
3.Started learning St. Patrick's day and was doing pretty well with it
4. Extra curricular church type things in the process of becoming a member
5. Christmas and all the brands of crazy that entails (including a road trip to another state to see all of the extended family that hasn't seen you since pre-engagement.)
6. Missing my only winter feis because of above said road trip.
7. Started class again after holiday break.
8. Realized I have forgotten pretty much everything I learned of the St. Patrick's day
9. Got another year older. Yep. I'm offically ancient as far as Irish Dance goes.
10. Miss 2 weeks of classes due to exhaustion, over time at work, and bridal expos.
11. Going to bed tonight with the shocking realization that I have a feis in a week from Saturday at which time I am signed up to compete in 3 dances in novice and I haven't learned my novice steps at all yet.

But, I am going to that feis, gosh darn it, cause I still need to get my slip jig and treble jig into novice. Honestly, I still can hardly believe that I got my Reel, Light Jig and Hornpipe into Novice. But yeah.

I have got to drill this week. I am thinking of cutting my loses on the novice dances and just focus on doing well on the other two and place well in them, and pull all of them up to novice, and then really prepare for the summer competition season.

In good news, though, my TC has suggested I start coming a bit earlier on my Saturday sessions, so I can actually start dancing with the Novice class. That is thrilling to me. Mainly because I can start not having to dance with the new influx of 4 year olds. But also, so I can get away from that gosh-darned evil 8 year old that keeps making fun of me when she think's I'm not noticing! Silly kid - I've got 20 years on her, there is no eye roll too subtle to escape my notice. But I digress - I am hoping to see more progress in the coming months.

But in the continuous struggle of Adult Irish dance woes,  I still really want my new shoes. But I also want a wedding cake. So much demand on my money, so little actual cash . . . oh well. On that note however, I will rap up tonight with this happy thought. . . .