Tag Archives: dance

7 Quick Takes That Are Actually Quick This Time

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— 1 —

My long-term attempt to establish a bedtime has been going much better than usual over the past few weeks. I’m behind on my blog reading, but I found myself at Jen Fulwiler’s rebranded site recently reading an old post about how to survive burnout. (Thanks for the link in your Monday Musings a few weeks ago, Kim; I needed that.) Her first recommendation was to get more sleep. Message heard; life changes begrudgingly made.

— 2 —

I watched a Theology-on-Tap style presentation that Bobby and Jackie Angel gave a few weeks ago in New York City. It’s about a Catholic vision of dating, and it’s worth a watch if you’ve got some time. There are some gems in there. The best was a (parody) Catholic pick-up line dropped by Jackie:

I would say “God bless you,” but clearly, he already has.

— 3 —

My office wi-fi password has been the same since I started working for the company two years ago. It ends in a string of letters. I always thought they were random, or maybe based on someone’s name who is no longer with the company. One of the superintendents came into the office and asked me for the password, and he instantly connected those “random” letters with a phrase that totally makes sense. Never underestimate construction guys, and never overestimate yourself: lesson learned.

— 4 —

After my explanation of how finding the beat is critical to learning to dance and linking to a simple video teaching the same, my dance teacher gave a very quick lesson in doing that exact thing. It happened last week and with such uncanny timing that he might have been reading my blog! (He could be; I guess. It’s public. That’s my name and picture in the sidebar.)

It’s more likely that he just noticed how incredibly off the beat some of us were and knew he needed to fix it ASAP. But what’s life without a tiny bit of feeling like you’re being watched? Being watched in class worked out for me, because my teacher complimented me when I randomly helped him demonstrate the pattern from two weeks ago, and that ultimately led to this milestone:

— 5 —

Grammar news is not terribly frequent, so I don’t post about it here as much as I think about it in my day-to-day. I greatly enjoyed reading Neal Whitman’s essay, read by Grammar Girl on her podcast, about why English words have silent letters. That’s more of a pronunciation, linguistic, and spelling issue than a grammar one, but it’s just as fascinating. My standard explanation is that funky silent letters are found in non-English words that we have “borrowed” into English. We’re never giving them back, but we’ll “borrow” the extra letters just the same. We just won’t pronounce them. So there!

— 6 —

Continuing on my theme of “favorite topics I don’t actually blog about very often,” I stumbled across this amazing sheet of J.K. Rowling’s plot outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix via the Goodreads blog. It’s incredible!

I don’t care much about plotting vs. pantsing. Whatever she did worked out swimmingly. What sticks out to me are two of the column headings. The original poster seems to have missed it, but it looks like Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix were originally reversed! Read the columns. The things that are listed as happening to the “O of P” happen to Dumbledore’s Army in the published novel, and vice versa. I support the switch. I’m less supportive of changing Umbridge’s first name from “Elvira.” That is a much less likeable name than” Dolores.”

— 7 —

In case you missed it, I posted a reflection on some marriage advice for singles to Austin CNM last week. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, there’s some useful food for thought. Single people need marriage advice, too!


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on How to Find the Beat and How Not to Miss the Company Meeting

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— 1 —

I wrote last week’s takes long before I published them, so I wasn’t able to include my most recent dance intro because it hadn’t happened yet. I took a friend to Newcomer Night several months ago to learn a sprinkling of Foxtrot and Jitterbug. Last week, I took a different friend to refresh my Salsa and learn a sprinkling of Bachata.

She got there a little late, so I had to leap right into the Bachata lesson. By listening, I was able to pick up that all I’d missed were discussions of walking steps versus triple steps. NBD. It was relatively easy to reprogram my brain for Bachata since that started by moving side-to-side (whereas West Coast Swing and Two-Step move mainly backwards and forwards).

— 2 —

I also learned that I should stop taking beginning Salsa lessons. I think that was my fourth overall. I have a total of three moves, but I am a pro at those three moves! If I get some extra cash, I might dip into Salsa 1 at my studio. It meets right before my regular West Coast Swing class. Maybe that’s not a coincidence.

— 3 —

My company has a quarterly, off-site, all-hands meeting. They are scheduled at the beginning of the company year in February, but our COO usually sends a reminder email about two weeks in advance. You know the kind: “Be there. If you think you can talk your way out of it, you have one week to do so.”

This time, we did not get that reminder. If I hadn’t overheard one of my project managers talking to my old boss about it in the hallway, I would have forgotten completely—and I don’t think I would have been the only one. It worked out in the end, but I have little doubt that if I hadn’t been cubicle eavesdropping, I would have been sitting at my desk, happily typing away, when people started leaving for the meeting.

The moral of the story: always look ahead on your calendar.

— 4 —

I’ve been learning to dance West Coast Swing for a few months now, but (of course) I can only dance it with someone who can lead it. In the course of my Internet research (you are not surprised that I do research), I found a video showing probably the easiest dance on planet Earth that is not the middle school sway.

See? Even if you think you can’t dance, you can probably learn to do that, especially to something with a strong, thumping bass. DJ Snake songs are some of my favorites to dance WCS to, actually. The beat drops, and all is well.

— 5 —

The creator/author of the previous video, James Joseph, also has one on how to find and count sets of 8. I used to play instruments, so that’s second nature for me. I have actually physically stumbled when someone starts on 2 or 6 because I can feel in my body how unnatural that is.

James Joseph makes a point I have yet to see anywhere else: all dance teachers expect you to know how to find and count beats of music, but none of them teach you how to find and count beats of music. In their defense, they’re not music teachers. Yet you must know how to find 1 if you’re ever going to learn to lead a dance to music. When your teacher kicks you out of the nest and says, “Here’s some music; start on your own,” you must fly!

If you know me in real life, I can help you learn this. I have rhythm and a teaching degree (in English, but it’s more broadly applicable than that).

— 6 —

Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.

That is a palindrome. Mind. Blown. Courtesy of Grammarly.

— 7 —

I was so excited about this last week that I forgot to blog it: the relics of St. Maria Goretti are coming to the U.S. this fall. She is my absolute favorite saint. I pray her novena every summer. Her relics have never been brought to the U.S. before, and one of the cities she will visit is just a few hours away from me: Houston.

I don’t really believe in coincidences, but I do believe in small miracles. I just happened to be living in the perfect region to fairly easily see Pope Benedict when he visited the U.S. I won’t be able to see Pope Francis in Philly, but not taking the time and money to do that will enable me to take the time and money to do this.

Really, what more could I ask for?


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Blog Goals, Derby Parties, and Dance Class

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— 1 —

I thought I was turning over a new leaf by drafting this post on Friday. Not posting it until now is evidence to the contrary.

I haven’t blogged about blogging in a little while. I’ve found that setting goals is critical for me. That third week of April crashed and burned, so I skidded my way into May. Now is recovery time.

My blog goals for this month are:

  • Publish my regular link-ups every week: What I Wore Sunday, the Not Alone Series, Booking Through Thursday, and 7 Quick Takes. BTT is always at the mercy of the weekly question being posted, but the others are open-ended or available in advance. (Thanks to Jen and Morgan for always planning topics for us!)
  • Fix the alignment of the comment section. It’s been on my to-do list for too long. Blog comments are changing in the face of Facebook and Twitter interactions, but since Facebook basically won’t show anything on a Page to your Likers without payment (I don’t have a Facebook Page for this blog) and Twitter is only useful if you can space out your retweets, I think I’ll stick with comments for now.
  • Finish my Pope Francis series. I might take super-long breaks, but I don’t quit things easily. A longer-term goal is to publish a series on the questions for this fall’s synod before it starts. Gotta finish the last series first.
  • Finish my YNAB series. I will have been using YNAB consistently for one year at the end of this month. It’s changed my life so much that I’m especially eager to finish my (our?) love story.

— 2 —

I went to my first ever Derby Party on Saturday, hosted by one of the regular members of my always-fluctuating trivia team. I wore pink and a giant hat. I felt fabulous, although many of the other attendees seemed to have missed the message that Derby is about big hats and pastels. Oh, well. The company was delightful, and although my chosen horse did not win, I was tickled that The Tonight Show‘s Puppy Predictor was correct.

— 3 —

I’m from Maryland. The Preakness Stakes race (the second jewel of the Triple Crown) is run in Maryland. Yet we do not have Preakness Parties. Despite the insinuation from the Maryland Alumni Association’s recent email, I maintain that Preakness Parties are not a thing.

I knew Derby Parties were a thing, but I had never been invited to one before moving to Texas, actually. The one I went to was hosted by a Kentuckian for maximum out-of-state authenticity. I would be surprised to hear of a Derby Party outside of the South (or at least one not hosted by an obvious Southerner). Maybe it’s because my Maryland family are not Derby people. Are there Belmont Parties?

Then again, I had never even heard of homecoming mums before I moved to Texas. I guess some customs just don’t cross state lines.

— 4 —

I did not mention it in last week’s Quick Takes, but I successfully completed my first month of dance classes on Saturday. It is awesome. I graduated from Level 1 in West Coast Swing!

— 5 —

I’ve written here about my opinions on leading and following. I stand by those opinions now that I am putting them into more regular practice. Spoiler alert: no romance. Just dancing.

One of the first things we learned in the first week was not to lead ourselves. It was agonizing to stand still waiting for a lead who didn’t start on the instructor’s count, but I gritted my teeth (on the inside) and smiled (on the outside) and practiced patience. I learned to ignore my leads’ counting under their breath and to just wait for the physical signals and try to follow those in what seemed to be his tempo. Sometimes, the leads’ counting was not even in rhythm with their steps or mine, which was bewildering. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Eventually, I got around to practicing with the stronger leads and with my instructors. When my main instructor left me to change the music, I felt like I was getting it. And, as evidenced by my current presence in Level 2, I was! He even used me to demonstrate all the moves we’d learned at the end of the last beginner class. I still need practice, though. I could feel in it in my first intermediate class. I’ll be on this level for a while.

I also reaffirmed that it is very difficult to follow a lead who’s not on the beat. As I’ve danced with better leaders, I find that they manage to stay on the beat, so I can just follow them and feel that I’m still on the beat. I even felt comfortable enough to try some style variations.

— 6 —

Better leaders have helped me increase my comfort being around strange men and almost never interacting with the other women in the room. It helps a lot to be in a smallish, safe environment. Several of my friends do West Coast Swing, and one of the men in particular told me that learning to dance made him much less awkward around women. He’s married now. That’s solid evidence despite being a sample size of one. I am not usually awkward around strangers, male or female, but these are the kind of strangers I have to stand really close to. That’s new. I’m working on it.

— 7 —

It’s always been a little weird for me to dance with a partner. I almost never have one in social dance settings (these days, just weddings), so I’ve never improved very much. It’s a catch-22: I’m not very good at partner dancing because I don’t usually have a partner, but when I do have a partner, I get dragged around the floor because I’m not very good at partner dancing. It doesn’t matter how good your lead is if you don’t know how to follow.

So I’m learning how to follow, and I’m enjoying it and slowly improving. Now I have a handful of West Coast Swing, Two-Step, Salsa, and whatever you call the shuffle step I was learning last fall. The only dance I ever learned in school was the Macarena (true story), so I’ve just become a great solo freestyle dancer. Freestyle: the dance of the perpetually single.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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