Friday, December 24, 2010

Gl├Ždelig Jul til alle!

A friend of mine once did her own version of 'My Favorite Things,' and inspired by her (and Christmas), I'm going to try my own version. A Merry, Happy, Wonderful Christmas to everyone...

A Charlie Brown Christmas and hot cups of cocoa,
oversized sweaters and candlelights' glow,
holiday songs that make me want to sing,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Eskimo kisses that melt the mean chill,
carolers singing tidings of good will,
cinnamon buns and snow angels with wings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

When the snow falls, when the wind stings,
when I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things--
and then I don't feel so bad.

Stockings hung over the mantle with care,
bright lights and mistletoe placed everywhere,
pine trees all dressed up as though they were kings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Rosy red cheeks on cold smiling faces,
huge winter boots with millions of laces,
parkas and mittens and lights hung on strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

When my toes freeze on the ice rink,
when I'm feeling mad,
I simply remember my favorite things--
and then I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Giving Tree

To begin with, I would like to thank everybody who read my last post, and those who sent such kind words about it: the thoughts and comments meant a lot to me. It was a difficult post to write (and perhaps even harder to post), but I am lucky to be both in a ballet company and in a personal place where I felt it was the right time and supportive environment in which to finally, fully let go.

In three days, it is Christmas--perhaps my favorite holiday aside from Talk Like a Pirate Day. The decorations, general atmosphere, eggnog, cheesy television specials (and their cheesier accompanying soundtracks)...I love it all. My favorite Christmas things are not always traditional, though, and so today I'd like to share with you one of them. Though it is not by definition a 'Christmas story,' I really love to read it at this time of year; and that book is Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. The simplicity and beauty of the story, coupled with his childlike drawings and that perfectly bright green cover make this one of the best books to read any time of year, for 'kids from 1 to 92.' And so, Shel Silverstein's text, with a photograph by someone very special to me...

Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy.
And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree ... very much.
And the tree was happy.

But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, "Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy."
"I am too big to climb and play," said the boy.
"I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?"
"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy."
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time ...and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, "Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy."
"I am too busy to climb trees," said the boy.
"I want a house to keep me warm," he said.
"I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?"
“I have no house," said the tree.
"The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy."
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house.
And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak.
"Come, Boy," she whispered, "come and play."
"I am too old and sad to play," said the boy.
"I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?"
"Cut down my trunk and make a boat." said the tree. "Then you can sail away ... and be happy."
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy ... but not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again.
"I am sorry, Boy," said the tree, "but I have nothing left to give you, my apples are gone."
"My teeth are too weak for apples", said the boy.
"My branches are gone", said the tree. "You cannot swing on them -"
"I am too old to swing on branches," said the boy.
"My trunk is gone," said the tree. "You cannot climb -"
"I am too tired to climb," said the boy.
"I am sorry," sighed the tree. I wish that I could give you something...but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy,
"Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could,
"Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.

And the tree was happy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Portions for Foxes

Though sprinkled with sarcasm, this blog of mine has maintained a fairly sunny sort of appearance. (I mean, hello: one of my recent posts was a few thousand words on unicorns. Doesn't get much more magical than that.) I don't plan on changing things, but I now feel comfortable enough to include a post on a partly cloudy subject I know far too much about, and that is the ever-so-touchy subject of eating disorders.

Yes, I used that phrase. The one so often associated with ballerina dancers (though I can vouch for my colleagues over on this side of the pond and say: we eat). It's a combination of words that has become a cliche in this profession, and yet has achieved this "cliche status" in whispered tones and behind closed doors.

Recently, however, a dance critic for the New York Times stirred up quite a fuss when he wrote some very uncomplimentary things about the appearances of two New York City Ballet principals, each of whom he apparently found to be looking too heavy for his taste. I’m sure he thought that he was being clever, but really his comments were just mean. (I’m not going to dignify it with a link; if you can use Google, you can find it.) So the topic of dancers and their weight problems has, for the moment at least, emerged from its closet.

And so now may be a particularly good time for me to share my story. As someone who has been down in that dark, addictive, and yes, empty vortex, I can tell you firsthand that it's not fun, it's not pretty, but it's not impossible to climb back out.

I grew up in a large, loud, typically dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family. With four siblings, multiple pets, busy schedules, and lawyers for parents, I was raised in a loving environment of organized chaos. There was a strict "no bullshit" policy in effect at all times; democracy stopped at the front door; if questions were not answered directly, the phrase "move to strike as non-responsive" was a perfectly acceptable request. And when it came to food--well, it wasn't really an issue. We ate healthy, we ate until we were full, we had desserts (after dinner, of course). The only "rules" applied to eating were: (1) my parents weren't chefs, home was not a restaurant, so eat what you were served, make something yourself, or don't eat; and (2) soda was only on the menu on special occasions--even at McDonald's, even on pizza night, the choices were milk, juice, or water. (Always stated in that order, I can remember so clearly.)

So. I grew up not thinking twice about food. Like most children growing up in America, I of course had an exaggerated sweet tooth, but my parents did make sure I ingested the occasional bit of the good stuff. I didn't know what calories were until middle school age; I was blithely unaware that there were heaps of people who believed carbohydrates to be evil; I had no qualms ordering (and consuming, with gusto!) a large chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with cookie dough toppings and chocolate syrup when my grandparents took us to Carvel for "special order night." Blessed with a quick metabolism and a heavy after-school schedule of ballerina dancing, the only thing I was told to think about was my genetically high cholesterol. I didn't think about it, but I was the reason for the skim or 1% milk in the fridge.

As I got older, I only got more serious about ballet. But I never once thought about my body shape. I was getting accepted into very good schools and summer programs. My parents had generously given me a favorable combination of genes which resulted in my legs being noticeably longer than my torso. My boobs fell into the "slim-to-none" category, and my leg muscles were long; I was oddly toned for a young teenager, but aside from that and my canoe sized feet, I didn't think twice about facing a wall of mirrors clad only in a leotard and tights every day. I never weighed myself except at the doctor's for my yearly checkup, and even then, I was more concerned with being taller than my mother. (Mission accomplished, and easily. The woman is 5'1" (1.55 m) on a good day.)

And then, things started to change. I was never "big," not for life and not for ballet. I wasn't a waif, but I was ok. I turned 16, and it started to become clear to me that maybe my tendency to consume large amounts of chocolate and generally unhealthy, teenagerish sorts of foods every day wasn't really going to help my energy or my figure; I knew that this speed-of-light metabolism thing wasn't going to last forever. I knew that one year I would wake up and those quarts of eggnog consumed during the Christmas season would suddenly show themselves somewhere between my hips and my thighs. So, on an Easter vacation to Disney World of all places, I ate healthier. And I found I did have more energy, and hey! I did like sushi. Salad wasn't bad either. And when I got back home and back to ballerina class, other people told me the part that I hadn't noticed: I got compliments on losing a few pounds. This, I think, is when it started.

I had never before been much concerned with my physical appearance. I didn't consider myself to be beautiful, and I'm not writing this to throw myself a pity party: I didn't think I was hideous, but I convinced myself I was too smart and too serious to be worried about my body shape or my face or even how I dressed. But with these first compliments, I realized that it felt good to be noticed for my appearance. I had a new goal: to be the epitome of fitness and health and overall awesomeness. Achieving this goal would, in my head, make me a better dancer, generally improve my life, and maybe even erase those two or three years when I had the trifecta of awkwardness--braces, glasses, and a bad haircut. (Yes, there's blackmail photographic evidence.)

So I amped things up. I kept eating healthy. I replaced the frappuccinos with coffee, like a real grownup. I joined a gym with my dad, and worked out on the elliptical machine for 45 minutes to an hour almost every day, usually after I got home from ballet, to Green Day's American Idiot album. (It was a place called Planet Fitness, which advertised itself as a "judgment-free zone." But I was, in fact, totally judging myself.) I started weighing myself, and saw the evidence that the pounds were dropping off. That scale rapidly became my altar, and the numbers could make or break my day.

It took some time, but within a couple of months I had crossed over from looking healthy and fit to looking like I really could have used a month of those Carvel ice cream nights my grandparents used to take us out for. Teachers spoke to me, my friends and of course my parents expressed concern, but I didn't need to hear it. I saw it. For me, the problem wasn't that I wanted to be so thin. I could see that I looked sick in the mirror. I was actually embarrassed to put on a leotard; I grew to loathe my workouts because they just made me exhausted; I hated thinking about food and weighing myself all the time. I wanted to be normal again, to order an ice cream and not feel an obsessive need to go do situps right afterwards. But I couldn't stop. Somehow, it was easier to exhaust myself maintaining an underweight status, armed with the knowledge that at any moment I could legitimately pig out and it would in fact be good for me; it was easier than just admitting I had a problem.

During this first trip down the dark and twisty rabbit hole, I went away to a wonderful summer program for ballerina dancing where they helped me put on 15 much-needed pounds while still letting me participate in the program. (I had auditioned for them when I was at a happier physical place.) And I felt better. In the summer dorms, I had no scale--I had friends, sunshine, a summer schedule of nothing but ballerina dancing, and direct orders to enjoy food. I learned to enjoy my life again, and in the process improved my dancing enormously over the course of the summer program.

But the dark empty pantry that was my "safe haven" was still there. I had just taken a little summer vacation away from it. After the summer program ended, I moved away from home for the first time (for ballet, natch) that fall, when I was 17. Suddenly, I had grownup things to think about on top of my ballerina dancing and making sure to avoid the dark scary place. I had to clean an apartment; I had to buy groceries and remember toilet paper and get up with the alarm and all of this business. I had to put up with a roommate who could have been, shall we say, second cast for a part in the ballet version of “Mean Girls.” On top of this, I was getting wonderful opportunities at the ballet, and I have a type-A personality. So in times of stress, I chose to not eat. Or rather, I ate "just enough." And down the rabbit hole I went again, this time further than I'd gone before. By Christmas break of that year, I was 5'7" (1.7m) and tipped the scales at under 100 pounds. I had not gotten a correction or compliment in class since November.

The school where I was studying at the time did not sit idly by while I wasted away, I should note; and nor were my parents uninvolved. I was sent to the ballet school's psychologist--a wonderful woman who was the mother of two dancers, and so understood the added pressures beyond the physical ones. But as a then-stoic person determined to guard what I thought to be my one control in life, she could only help me to the extent that I was willing to open up and start helping myself. My ballet teachers also reached out. (Outside of the classroom, everyone wanted to help me except for me.)

I understood why my teachers felt they could not and should not correct or compliment me in class: not only would it send the wrong message to the other students, but it would certainly be sending the wrong message to me. My parents, from home, did what they could in terms of emails and keeping in contact with the ballet school and phoning me often. I had to keep a food log for them, but it was easy enough to invent a menu. The lies were somehow easier to digest than actual food.

Things got so bad that just before Thanksgiving, my father made a trip to visit me. It was, to say the least, not the most pleasant of visits--for him or for me. There was a weigh-in, at which point I faced the normal daily sight of numeric, black-and-white proof that I was literally fading away, only this time, my father saw it too. The sudden lack of privacy at my newly-found altar turned what had become a normal daily ritual into a painful experience. I remember distinctly that right after this, he cooked me a delicious (if oddly-themed) Indian masala dish for dinner, which in typical Irish-Catholic fashion, we ate in uncomfortable silence/awkward conversation in my courtyard. I remember him having to force me to eat a large brownie sundae from Ghirardelli, something I previously would have devoured with glee; and that the last meal before he left consisted of me crying at a crowded outdoor cafe and him looking so incredibly sad. This I will never forget.

The holidays that year were not much better. At Thanksgiving, I can recall my mother serving me a second helping of spinach pie, and me eating it in tears. Christmas was virtually treat-free for me that year, something I shan't soon repeat. After every meal at home, I was miserable. Not because I wanted to look this way, not because I enjoyed being cold all the time or because I liked circles under my eyes or because I was losing my hair more than the usual "shedding." It was because I was exhausted, and I desperately wanted to shake myself awake, to climb out of this hole I had dug myself so deeply into. But I couldn't stop. Part of me actually feared reaching a "normal" weight--in a sick way, it was sort of enjoyable to be in a position where I could have pigged out, eaten everything in sight, and still have eaten more.

I went back to ballet school in January, no better mentally or physically. But then, one Friday night, my mom called. In an over-two-hour conversation, she asked of me one thing: to please not make her bury her child. And I don't know if it was what she said, or how she said it, or the fact that my mother--always a very strong person--was crying. But I hung up the phone, and somehow I knew that in the morning, I was going to wake up and start eating like it was my job. Because I wanted two things more than anything, to achieve what I had trained for the better part of my life to do; and to not end up in a coffin any sooner than necessary. And so I did.

I remember getting up that Saturday morning and stopping on the way to ballet class for one of my favorite breakfasts since I was little: egg-and-cheese on a roll, with chocolate milk. And slowly but surely, I kept eating. I started to put on much-needed weight. My color (well, what little I had even before the problems started) returned, the circles under my eyes went away, and I started to realize that not only did I feel better in the studio, but I had extra energy for life in general. And by the year's end, I was getting corrections again; the other students and faculty had stopped looking at me like I was on the verge of death; and I was able to face myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time.

For the next three years, I stayed out of the rabbit hole, though I had half an eye on it. Things were good: I was healthy and happy and ballerina dancing. And then things were fantastic. In the winter of 2009, I auditioned for and got a dream job here, in Denmark, with the Royal Danish Ballet. I could not have been more scared-excited-but-mostly-excited. When my season ended, I went home for the summer to spend time with my family, get my life into four 50-pound bags to move overseas, and to experience my first summer-program-free vacation ever. And during what should have been a summer of relaxing and enjoying family and having a good time before turning my life upside down, I went to my favorite dark scary place. I ignored my parents this time, consciously realizing what I was doing--or rather, not doing, aka putting enough good food in my mouth.

My initial reasoning for cutting back on the whole eating thing was multi-faceted. By my logic, during the summer I was “only” going to be taking one class a day, at best; not being in a full-fledged summer program meant no five-classes-a-day schedule for me. Thus, I would not be burning nearly as many calories, and so would not be able to take the "eat whatever I want" approach I normally would during the summertime.

Furthermore, I was suddenly faced with the reality that I was moving across an ocean to dance ballet in Europe, the home continent of ballerina dancing. On top of the giant stress of leaving everything I knew behind for a strange new city and culture, where I may or may not have fit in or adapted or made friends, I had this thought: this was Europe. I had to arrive thin and in shape and not look like I had spent the summer sitting on my butt doing nothing. And so this time, despite the warnings of my mom and dad, I ignored them. This time I was doing it for my fantastic new job, so their words fell on my deaf--and hungry!--ears. Once again, a time I should have enjoyed was spent worrying, packing up, and wasting energy on not eating.

And so I arrived for my brand new job looking frail and small and suddenly realizing that my physical state could very well get me sent right back home. I was embarrassed. I felt like a foreign idiot.

Luckily for me, however, my airplane had taken me to a very excellent place. When my dad left me in Copenhagen, after spending a little over a week helping me get settled (and trying to feed me), it was hard. I was suddenly all alone, with a big problem of being frighteningly small. I didn't understand the language or the currency. I knew no one, and from my appearance upon my arrival, had understandably alienated a good chunk of possible friends for the time being.

After a start-of-season meeting with my boss, who was amazingly understanding about the whole situation, I was sent to a nutritionist. The ground rules were simple: I understood that I would not be put on stage until I got better. (And if I didn't get better...well. I would not be a dancer. Simple as that.) The instructors were very encouraging in terms of making it clear that I was being given a very big chance to get better. And there were several people in the company who did overlook my scary physique--some treated me normally, and some were there for me to talk to about it directly, but they all ended up making me feel what I had been searching for all along: I felt accepted, and like I could possibly fit in as myself.

There were a couple of dancers who reached out to me from the beginning. It was uncomfortable for me to open up to new people about something that had become so intensely personal, so much mine in a way, but I realized that these people wanted to help me. And as a new foreigner with a lot of baggage, I had to make a choice: I could keep on keeping to myself, keep hanging out in my little empty corner (because that had worked so well before). Or I could bite the bullet--and maybe a burger while I was at it--and step out of my comfort zone and start talking honestly to these people, and to myself, and hopefully make friends in the process.

I went for the latter. And it worked: these friends let me whine and cry and be scared. And in return they gave me lots of hugs, lots of advice, and lots of free therapy dressing room cot time. I got help, I woke myself up, I developed some truly wonderful friendships from it--and I haven’t shut up since.

Some of the other dancers who at first seemed distant or reluctant to talk to me later told me that they were just wary about making a connection. This company does have a (dysfunctional, awesome) family atmosphere, and when I arrived, I certainly didn’t look like I was going to be around for very long--forget in Denmark, I’m just talking about planet Earth. But as I gained weight and confidence, and continued my new-found hobby of not-being-quiet, I found that a lot more people started to talk back. I didn’t look so much like the Grim Reaper’s girlfriend anymore. When people weren’t distracted by the bones jutting out and the malnutritioned translucence of my already-fair skin, I think I was a lot easier to talk to and look at--not Audrey Hepburn, mind you, but also? Not dying.

The nutritionist helped, to be sure, but what really made me "get over myself" and start eating--and liking it!--was the strange sensation that in this weird, lovely new place, I could just start over. Life was exciting here; I had found people, places, and a culture that made me want to get out of bed every morning and soak it all in. And on top of that, my new job and the theatre where I got to go in to work every day quickly became the best things about my daily life. (Also, it's one of the most difficult things on planet Earth to resist the powers of Copenhagen’s famous bakery, Lagkagehuset.)

So I started eating again; and I won’t lie, the occasional beer didn't hurt either. And it paid off--once I started looking and feeling healthier, I started getting onstage.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m “all better.” I’m not sure I’ll ever be “all better.” There are still days where the last thing I want to do is put on a leotard and tights and stare at myself in the mirror. There are days where all I want to do is curl up under the covers and maybe skip lunch and then everything would feel "under control." But unlike before, I know better now; I know that skipping a meal is not going to make anything better. Besides, quite frankly, things--work, personal, etc.--go better when I execute the simple task of putting food in my mouth. Plus, dinner parties and in fact most events involving large groups of friends usually involve good food (and often, good wine!). And for me, right now, my life is too good to waste away.

This post is not meant to be a guidebook on how to overcome an eating disorder. It’s not, by any means, a sort of “Dr. Hamburger, or: How I Learned to Stop Hating Myself and Start Loving Food.” This disorder is highly personal, and my experience is just one of many. I consider myself lucky every day to have gotten out of the dark place when I did, and yeah--I am proud of it. But it was such a big part of my life during an important period of growing up, and so it will be with me in some ways forever.

Writing this was sort of like getting over a breakup. For a while after the fact, you know it was the right thing to do, but you still can’t really talk about the relationship without feeling crappy; there are even days when you miss things about it. But then, so slowly you don’t even notice it, those feelings stop. You find you don’t think about your ex-whomever so much, and when the subject does come up, you can talk about it--maybe even laugh about it--without wanting to cry and run into bed with a tub of Chunky Monkey and watch all six seasons of Sex and the City.

I had to go through the same sort of process with anorexia. It had become the most personal, deep-rooted part of me over a long period of time. And even when I let it go, I was not immediately ready to talk about it, or even to be truly, totally “okay” with food. It took a very long time for the scars to heal, for me to realize that I really am indescribably better off without this thing in my life. It took time and effort and daily, conscious thought, but I managed to swap my former scary “safe haven” for a much nicer new one: life, warts and all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Honor of a Bear on a Unicycle

I have a dear friend who dedicated a survey-post to me on her blog, and so this dark and snowy Sunday morning, I will return the favor. In Lily Watkins' honor, then, I fill out this survey...

- When’s the last time you ran?
Surely, dear survey-writer, you jest: this ballerina child can barely manage walking (in boat-sized Adidas sneakers, natch) the relatively flat terrain which makes up Copenhagen. Unless someone is chasing after me, or trying to steal my tropical-flower-themed purse, I generally try to avoid maintaining a gait in which both feet are suspended in the air for any amount of time. For one thing, I am not very quick. For another, I look like a moron--I distinctly recall attempting to run in order to retrieve a stray tennis ball during a match my mother was having with some friends. Upon seeing me "run," one of my mother's friends inquired, "Is she joking?" To which my loving mother responded, "You know that Friends episode with Phoebe running? Yeah..."

- Do your jeans have rips, tears, and holes in them?
No. I did go through my Mary Kate Olsen-let's-pay-out-the-butt-for-destroyed-denim phase, but thankfully for me, my bank account, and my general dignity, I find I now prefer jeans sans holes. (I will not, however, deny owning a beloved pair of high-waisted black jeans, a style which my dad might dub "mom jeans.")

- What are you dreading right now?
I'm not dreading much. Except there is one distressing thing. It's Sunday morning, pre-9am, and this is a time/day combination I haven't experienced in a while. I'm wondering how I'm going to be once I really wake up, and hoping the answer isn't "nightmarish." Also, just in unrelated news, I need coffee like...ten minutes ago. Preferably a vat-sized serving.

- Do you celebrate 420?
Does this numerical figure carry any significance beyond being just that: a numerical figure? Because if not, I do not know what you're talking about.

- Do you get the full 8 hours of sleep a night?
Ha! As a ballerina child/amateur insomniac, I'm lucky if I get eight hours of snooze time a night. But you know, I once read that some major geniuses in history didn't sleep much. I'm sort of hoping that one day, after a night of restlessness and normal sub-par sleeping time, I wake up to find I am armed with knowledge about EVERYTHING.

- The last person who grabbed your ass?
It's funny this question should be included, since in this country, people really seem to enjoy that area of my body. I'm not a fan of my rump, to be honest, but I'm glad that other people find it pleasant. For example, the other day, nine individuals found some reason or other to touch the junk in my trunk. I'm just sayin'.

- Have you ever been on your school’s track team?

Please refer to question 1, and afterwards enjoy the fact that I will admit to being a baton twirler for several years before the "toss-turn-around" proved to be my downfall.

- Do you own a pair of Converse?
Is this even a question? Of course I do. As a New Yorker, as someone who enjoys shoes that look better when almost-gross...of course I do. Canoe-size, full of holes, perfect.

- Have you ever kicked a vending machine?
No. Vending machines often dispense chocolate, which is equal with puppies (and just below unicorns) on my "things-I-love" scale. And I would never kick a puppy.

- Do you watch Trading Spaces?
No. I did, though, and I will say this: that one episode where the designer put fake flowers on a bathroom wall? Maybe it was cute for a hot second--and that's a BIG maybe--but can we just say one word: MOLD.

- How do you eat Oreos?
Better question: How could anyone not eat Oreos?!

- Could you live without a computer?
As much as I cherish the idea of the Pony Express and snail mail and sock hops and all thatn...hell no. Lord knows I love me some Information Superhighway. Plus, I Google everything. I'm not even exaggerating.

- Who or what sleeps with you?
Robert Downey Jr. BUT DON'T TELL ANYONE.

- What do you do when you’re sad?
Oh, I am the queen of a good pity party. One of my very best friends once told me, "I feel like you're either laughing hysterically or crying." And, being a person of major excellence, he's completely correct--I'm not often ambivalent (or, to use popular vernacular, meh). When I'm upset, tears are always involved. I will call my dad and tell him everything, usually twice since the first time around he's often unable to understand me because the snottiness and sniffling that accompany my tears get in the way of normal comprehension. Then I'll take a shower, because as everyone knows, when you are crying a lot, nothing is better than sitting in a nice warm shower for a very long time, mixing the water from the shower head with the water pouring out of your face. And finally, I go home and put on pajamas. I always have chocolate milk and maybe a few cookies, and I will watch a proper fantastic movie to take my mind off of upsetting things. (This is usually Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in times of distress, since Robert Downey Jr. can take my mind off of the worst sort of day.) Then I usually sleep like a log, and wake up with those I-went-to-bed-after-crying, puffy eyes that look horrendous but feel really fantastic.

- Last time you saw your best friend?
Well...I have a couple of "best" friends. My dad, for one; I haven't seen him since he left me in Copenhagen a year and a half ago, returning to the homeland with a new cargo bike and minus a kid. But I get to see him--and my mom and super sibs, other best friends--in about a month when I finally return for some "vinterferie" fun back in the good ol' USofA. This brings me large amounts of happiness. Plus, I can restock up on peanut butter, the real(ly-fake) kind that I grew up on. And my Copenhagen best friend is currently taking some time back in the States as well. It is a bit weird to not have him around every day, considering he can more often than not finish my sentences; I was getting used to only saying half-thoughts. (I kid, of course.) He'll be back soon enough though, and when he returns I expect we'll have a proper reunion involving food, beverages, and maybe even Kiki & Herb...

- Is anyone on your bad side now?
Oh, for sure: SUNDAY MORNING. Also, I'm not a huge fan of Mother Nature at the moment. Because of her, I am forced to dress like an oversized onion--in layers--every morning, and you know, snow is beautiful, really I do love it, but enough with the biting wind already. My face is angry enough about all the ballerina stage makeup I'm wearing at the moment, it doesn't really need any other things drying it out and making it stage a protest on my skin. Thank you very little.

- What’s the first thing you do when you get online?
I usually open three tabs: GMail, my virtual mailbox of choice; Facebook, my virtual drug of choice; and BoingBoing, my virtual source of necessary "weird news" of choice. The most entertaining part usually is a tie between BoingBoing and my Spam folder in GMail, the contents of which never cease to make me wonder about the source.

- What are you doing tomorrow?
Tomorrow is Monday, a day usually reserved for sending out angry signals to the universe. But during December at the ballet, Sunday is the new Monday; and Monday is the new Saturday night, so I have a free day tomorrow! And a special free day at that: we're having the annual Julefrokost (Christmas lunch) tomorrow night, and a right proper party after the sit-down bit, so I am eagerly awaiting the plates and plates of yummy food in my near future. The schnapps? Not so much. But whatever, I got a new LBD and everything, so bring on the buffet, please!

- Do you return your cart?
No, and I'll tell you why: I always use a basket. (I assume this question refers to the grocery store and not, I don't know, go-carting.)

- What noise do you hear?
There is a cacophony of sounds going on in my head every time I take a glimpse out my bedroom window at the snowy outdoors. It sounds something like: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Also, my stomach is growling. I'm hungry. And in the mood for the best meal ever invented, aka brunch, but no: I have a ballerina show to do. Gotta give Princess Aurora some Temperament at lunchtime.

- What’s the last thing you purchased?
Last night, I was really exciting. Too lazy to cook, I stopped by a pizza shop on my way home and got a pizza sandwich. I love pizza sandwiches. And this one had like fancy ham and some cheese and vegetables all warm and melty and delicious...anyway. Oh and for some reason, I was totally craving Orangina--a drink I haven't had for, like, ever--and I went a little nuts and picked up one of those.

- What brand are your pants right now?
I am currently wearing my favorite, aforementioned (see that question about jeans) high-waisted black jeans, and they're from a wonderful Swedish brand called Acne. Who also created the LBD I'm wearing to Julefrokost tomorrow, by the way. And may I just say: Kudos to them for such good clothing, but also for managing to create a successful brand named after what I know to be an often crippling teenage skin ailment. I mean that takes skill.

- Ever been to Georgia (the state)?
I have been to the Atlanta airport. Which, for the record, is HUGE, and made me really really frantic. Thanks a heap, Georgia, your ginormous airport's a real peach.

- Do you watch movies with your parents?
I always did. And perhaps the most awkward of these magic moments occurred when my father and I went to the movies in Miami. We saw that classic father/daughter film--wait for it--Borat. Ah, the many moments to pretend I wasn't sitting next to my dad...

- What song best describes your life right now?
Is there a tune that basically says, "My apartment's kind of messy but it's ok, and my job is actually fun, and aside from the minus-temperature weather I'm actually really enjoying life right now, plus I have a new LBD that is comfy, and dinner plans with good friends tonight that I'm really looking forward to?" That'd be great.