Sunday, September 29, 2013

30x30: Take a dance class

Full disclosure: I spent the better part of my first twenty years on this earth in dance classes, orchesis recitals (my high school's dance club), and playing second girl on the left in community theater chorus numbers. I grew up in a performing household, and there were more than a few times my mother and I devolved into perfecting the triple time step while brushing our teeth before bed. I cried while watching Michael Flatley and his Irish step dancing troupes transform into actual lords of the dance before my eyes, and there are a large number of dance routines from famous movie musicals that I can do by heart.

So why did taking a dance class warrant a spot in my 30x30 challenge? Because even though dance was, and is still, such a huge part of my life, I hadn't stepped a pointed foot into a dance class in almost 10 years.

Sometime in college, the fact that I would never actually become a professional dancer became all too clear. Genetics had made me short and round, talent in the organizational arts was driving me to managerial, rather than creative, roles, and frankly a lack of physical drive prevented me from pushing myself to the extremes needed to pursue a life of dancing as a means of making a living.

And so the story goes. I took an internship, I worked hard, I moved to New York City. Time and money became a commodity, and I all too soon found myself scheduling the choreography rehearsals that I used to attend. And to be perfectly honest, I hadn't actually given my lack of dance too much thought. I'm still very physically active - long walks and lots of yoga keep me moving, and I've been known to hop around my living room to online Zumba classes now and then.

But last week, my lovely friend Kristen mentioned in passing that she would be taking a tap class the next day. My ears perked up. A tap class? I used to love my tap classes! It would be so fun to take a tap class again!

So come with me, she said.

And so I did.

It was actually that easy. For once, all schedules aligned so that she and I and the class time were all available. The studio (Broadway Dance Center, for all those living in this area) allows you to drop in without pre-registering or signing up for an entire series of classes, so I was able to one-off this class without any repercussions (the uneven nature of my daily schedule precludes me from ever signing up for reoccurring classes). So with taps in hand (um, foot), I took the first Advanced Beginner Tap Class of my adult life.

And it was great! Admittedly, I was a little rusty. I concentrated pretty hard for those 90 minutes, forcing my brain to talk to my feet in a language my body had long forgotten. Eventually, the steps came back to me. I was by no means the best in the class, but it didn't actually matter. Since we weren't rehearsing for a recital at a later date (one of my issues with childhood dance classes, but I won't tangent on that now), we were able to focus on a few techniques at a time and then add those into a combo. The final routine we worked on was a waltz to the tune of Mr. Bojangles. Stereotypical, yes, but it's one of my favorites. When there was just one minute left in the class, the teacher, who had spent the class correcting, fixing, and adjusting, announced that we were going to do the combo one last time - and that we should just enjoy ourselves and dance, because that's what we came there do do. So with one last fa-lap-shuffle-heel-ball-change, I leaped back into my teenage self.

If you go: Broadway Dance Center is located at 322 West 45th St., 3rd floor (between 8th/9th aves.); classes are open to the public and available on a walk-in basis. Prices and times vary, so check the website for class specifics.

All photos were taken by me with my trusty iPhone 4s and edited with PhotoToaster, Snapseed, and/or A Beautiful Mess. 30x30 is my name for a silly little bucket list project that I intend to complete by my 30th birthday at the end of March, 2014.

Friday, September 27, 2013

On routine

I had been in Portland for all of 36 hours when I realized I had developed a routine. 7am: wake up sans alarm, turning off my three "just in case" alarms. Leave my hotel, saying goodbye to the same chipper doorman on my way out. Walk down the same downtown street, passing the same homeless guy wrapped in a blue fleece blanket. Decide that, meteorologically speaking, Portland wouldn't be too terrible a place to be homeless in (if you absolutely had to, that is). Walk into the nearest Stumptown Coffee, standing behind the same befuddled Norweigan couple still unable to navigate the American sizing system. Oder a latte (with skim, please) and a bite to eat, choosing between the apricot/honey/cardamom scone and the hazelnut/sour cream/blueberry muffin. Sprinkle some cinnamon into my coffee while admiring the artful frothy stylings of my barista at large. Sip. Breathe. Enjoy.

I only remained in the rainy Northwest for about 20 hours after that second Stumptown latte. I was there for work, on a schedule, and didn't have much time to linger. I was amazed, though, at how quietly necessary it was for me to establish a personal routine. I was in an unfamiliar land and needed a constant, albeit a small one, and found it in my mornings. Had I stayed in Portland for longer, I absolutely would have worked my way through the dizzying array of independent coffee roasters offered by the city - but I only had two days, and a lot of stressful work to accomplish within those two days  - and relished in the comfort that the same 12oz. latte could provide.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30x30: Chrysler Building Lobby

It's one of the most famous New York icons, yet I had never gone inside the Chrysler Building. Yes, I had admired it's Art Deco spire from afar, allowing images of dusty Depression-era builders working day and night to erect its' 77 floors to flood my head. But other than cursory glances at times when I wasn't looking down at my phone, the Chrysler Building had been nothing more than a passing thought.

Chrysler Building lobby

Until I made my 30x30 list. What better time to take in all that the building has to offer? And, come to think of it, how had I not taken a tour of the building in the five years I'd been living in this city?

Art Deco mailbox

Because it's not allowed. More specifically, tourists are not allowed beyond the building's lobby. Unlike the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center, there is no observation deck near the top of the Chrysler Building. Private offices occupy the entire building, and you must work there to use the elevators.


Ok, fine. So I'll just look at the lobby. At least that's open to the public!

And so I did. Taking advantage of a break in between nearby meetings, I walked over to 42nd and Lex, passed through the golden revolving door and into the rust-colored lobby. There were some info signs on the walls detailing the history and technical specification of the building, and it was populated by foreign tourists taking photographs, but beyond that, my entire "tour" took less than 10 minutes and was fairly anti-climactic.

Ceiling mural by Edward Trumball

Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Granted, I'm glad that the lobby is open and accessible to the public, free of charge. The city's museum admission prices are ever-increasing, so it was refreshing to not be nickel-and-dimed to death. And it's never a bad thing to let a little Art Deco into your life ;)

Retro meets modern as the Chrysler Building is reflected in a next door skyscraper
If you go: The entrance to the Chrysler building is located at 405 Lexington Ave (and 42nd Street); the lobby is open to visitors during normal business hours.

All photos were taken by me with my trusty iPhone 4s and edited with PhotoToaster, Snapseed, and/or A Beautiful Mess. 30x30 is my name for a silly little bucket list project that I intend to complete by my 30th birthday at the end of March, 2014.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

back to work

Even though I heralded the end of the Summer of Yes a few weeks ago, my vacation still had a ways to go. Or rather, it had two more out-of-town weddings to attend, a kitchen table to purchase, a challah to make, and one blissfully indulgent lazy day to while away.

But now it's back to work for real. The emails are coming in, the paperwork is being printed, and I've already been to Staples three times this week. However, for the first time in who knows how long, I am more than ready to face the next four months of rehearsals, double show days, production meetings and broken set pieces. Taking a month off was one of the better ideas I've had in quite a while. Normally, I feel guilty for not working even a few days in a row - I beat myself up, doing the math on how much I could have made/saved by taking that gig instead of that flight. This time, though, I refused to do so. I made the choice to attend the family vacations, weddings and girls' weekend, and then I let myself be ok with that choice. And then I let myself enjoy the repercussions of that choice.

As a result, I am tanned, I am rested, and I am truly excited to start a whole mess of new projects. Verdict? Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. If they are telling you, no, screaming at you to take a vacation, then please do so. You will be so much happier in the end.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

30x30 - a challenge for my 29th year

I love a good challenge. In fact, my ├╝ber-organized, nearly Type-A personality thrives on checklists, to-dos, flow-charts, maps and goal sets. When I say I'm going to do something, I usually get it done (or at least make everyone around me think I've gotten it done). That being said, I recently decided that one challenge at a time isn't enough (I'm still going pretty strong on my 365 photo challenge), so... <drum roll, please!>

In just a little over 6 months, I turn 30 years old. I'm honestly incredibly excited. For reasons far and wide, I am not dreading/terrified of/freaking out about meeting a new decade, but actually can't wait. I've loved my 20s, but I'm ready to embrace all that my 30s have to offer. I will not, however, go gently into that good night. In celebration of all that is awesome about being 29 and childless in New York City, I've created a bucket list of 30 things I've always wanted to do but have just never gotten around to doing. Just to be clear, these aren't crazy, insane, one-last-hurrah hopes and dreams - I won't be base jumping off the top of Mt. Everest, running with the bulls in Pamplona, or tight-roping walking over Niagara Falls. I'm simply realizing that there is no time like the present to do some things I've always wanted to do.

The other day I completed #25 (I'm not going in order) - a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I walked along tree-lined paths in deep thought, I contemplated the nature of a bumble bee, I questioned why anyone would spend even a moment of their time creating a topiary - and it was delightful! I enjoy a good solo trip. The frenetic energy of the summer had left me feeling untethered, and it was great to spend an entire afternoon wandering amongst nature and not too many people (I went on a Tuesday afternoon and there were moments when I was completely alone).

If you go: The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are located in the northeast corner of Brooklyn's Prospect Park (take the 2/3, 4/5, B, Q, and S all stop near the entrance). The gardens are free on Tuesdays, Saturday mornings, and weekends in November and December, but will run you $10 all other times.

All photos were taken by me with my trusty iPhone 4s and edited with PhotoToaster, Snapseed, and/or A Beautiful Mess. 30x30 is my name for a silly little bucket list project that I intend to complete by my 30th birthday at the end of March, 2014.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

365-photo-a-day - August wrap-up

sunset - last look - mountain time - bangs! - club-fetti - arch
flamingo hotel - lazy tuesday - it all fits! - tramsportation - q'boro bridge - neon museum
dockside - can't stop - bellagio fountains - dinner with friends - after work drinks - vegas calling
more neon - o captain my captain - m&m fancy - waiting for a truck - lake wake - inspiration
friendly skies - chihuly glass - going out with a bang - my morning - lake norris - wynn

The Summer of Yes is officially over. With one last swig from a Prosecco bottle in a bag as we walked down the street, we put the summer to bed - and not a moment too soon. Our legs are tired, our voices are strained, our livers are complaining, our bank accounts are depleted, and our souls need some serious attention. 

Once again (I seem to be a bit of a broken record on this subject), August was a month when some days I just couldn't seem to find anything interesting to photograph, but other days were full of photo opportunities. It helped that I spent almost two weeks out of town and on vacation - both a girl's weekend in Vegas and a family vacation in the middle of the Smoky Mountains kept the shutter button clicking, but many of my days were spent in long rehearsals and seemingly endless storage wars as Jon and I continued to merge all my worldly possessions into his already-full one-bedroom apartment (spoiler alert: we were amazingly successful and I even have an entire closet to call my own!). What also seems to be a recurring theme in this project is that I'm realizing there are many instances in which I would really like to take a picture, but just can't - dim lighting in the back corner of a restaurant, playing paparazzi with someone else's child, an un-showered, hung over friend - these are just some examples of the ever-increasing occurrences in which I think to myself, "gosh this would make a great photo!" and then immediately realize that I would be disowned by whatever friend I'm thinking of photographing at that moment. Because at the end of the day, this is just my hobby. I'm not getting paid to take photos, nothing is riding on me taking the world's most perfect Instagram, and my friends don't necessarily want to be my models every day. So for the sake of my relationships, I abstain from some photo ops. And we're probably all happier because of it ;)

August by the numbers:
Photos of my feet: 1
Photos of other people: 3
Selfies: 1
Photos of the sky: 8
Photos of food/drink: 3

365/Photo-a-day is a personal undertaking to capture one photograph per day in 2013. All photos were taken by me and processed with Instagram, Snapseed, PhotoToaster, and/or the new A Beautiful Mess app. The images were compiled using Picture Collage Maker Lite. What to see my pics as they happen? Follow me - @maspad on Instagram!