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Congo trypanosomiasis…

March 21, 2010

Alice, you’re not wearing your corset,

or your stockings!!!

It’s not proper…

Mother,

if it were proper to wear a codfish on your head,

Would you do it???

— Alice and her mother conversing in a carriage on the way to her engagement party,

In Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Flamenco is the sledge hockey of dance…

Yesterday Teacher gave us a pep talk before the circle…

I love a good pep talk.

it makes me smile all the way down to my cervix…

Sometimes,

but not last night,

because father wasn’t happy with the lack of jump,

I wish I could be in the Canucks’ locker room,

just to hear what coach has to say,

and make notes on the smell of hockey…

Teacher told us,

Flamenco is not for the faint-hearted…

It is all about commitment…

She can tell who is hard core…

She watches attendance drop over the course of a semester,

and she knows that the ones who are still there,

as time ticks,

have it in their blood…

Slow dripping essence right into the blue lines,

running under your skin,

on the inside of your arm…

A flamenco dancer also has to be a musician…

Jazz and ballet do not demand this of you…

I was a concert violinist,

and when I started flamenco in my early twenties I had never danced before…

Then something happened…

I started going to four classes a day…

I went to Spain…

I made charts of all of the steps I learned,

in all of the classes that I took…

I have books full of notes…

Even with my musical training that began when I was four,

it took me three years before I could even begin to understand Bulerias…

Then she laid out a path of becoming,

for all of us to hear,

First you’ll come here for Bulerias por fiesta class…

You’ll  go home and cry…

You’ll want to kill me for making you go in the circle…

You’ll want to quit…

But it will get into you…

And then you’ll go to La Frontera de Jerez…

Take some more classes…

You’ll take one thing from each teacher you meet,

and incorporate it into your own dancing…

Bulerias will sink deeper…

Then you’ll be in love with it…

It will be yours…

And Bulerias will be ALL that you’ll want to dance…

The other day Starshine asked,

Mama, are you going to finish your PhD???

I told her that I intended to be working on it for the rest of my life,

by experiencing the Univercity which surrounds me…

I said,

I’ve lost interest in comprehensive exams,

and thesis defence…

For the sake of Pete,

I”m forty-two years old,

I drive a Volvo V70 with a 20 valve engine,

I don’t need to be supervised by a GD committee…

I told her about how I saw a colleague in my program express the most beautiful,

compelling,

and comprehensive examination of poetic philosophy,

that I have ever borne witness to,

and it wasn’t enough…

She has to do more…

Then Starshine hit a nail on the head,

Sounds like having to prove yourself doesn’t work for you anymore…

I’ve seen things pass without revision that should not even have seen the light of day…

Presentations that came from a place where the sun don’t shine…

And I once worked for a principal who under the guise of giving teachers time to plan,

took each class in the school one by one and scripted each child into calling her doctor,

while she strummed her own guitar…

Playing doctor has been one of my favorite games since I was a little girl…

I never needed a title to play it,

and I still don’t…

On Friday,

while I was throwing plates,

a more senior potter guided me with some of his technique,

based on his own,

real experience…

He told me that when you start to work with larger volumes of clay,

you have to hold your left arm on your belly,

to brace yourself,

against the clay,

while you’re centering it,

Or the clay will start to push you around…

Then he passed along a secret,

To prevent your plates from cracking in the centre,

you have to compress the clay,

with the rounded edge of a wooden rib…

Keeping two hands on the rib,

as you run it back and forth over the clay,

will ensure a solid centre that will withstand the drying,

glazing,

and firing processes…

Then you’ll end up with an amazing plate,

and you’ll be a hero in your own time…

He stepped away from his teaching and left me to practice what I’d learned,

on my own,

throwing the odd cue,

while he worked on his own project of building vessels,

from calico clay…

Reminding me each time I asked him a question,

about what I should do next,

This is your plate…

Do what you want with it…

What makes a man spend his whole life in disguise???


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