hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
I have to admit to being a little surprised that with the economy being what it's been, that so many people are still willing to put the kind of money we're putting down into dancing. I don't think it would surprise me that people who are into this as much as we are, or more, would keep going, because clearly we're here because we love dancing, but I didn't expect to see such a large influx of new people.

And yet, there's definitely been a large influx of new Bronze I dancers. So much so, that we've been spending Thursdays and Saturday classes going over Bronze I stuff, even basic stuff.

Let me back up and explain my schedule somewhat, as much for my own memory as for anything else.

Cut for Brevity )

In retrospect... wow, that's ALOT of dancing. Up to 6 1/2 hours a week, if I actually do all that including the Saturday dance.

.. hopefully that helps get me in shape, huh? :D

Woo!

Apr. 30th, 2009 07:08 am
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Happy Open Beta Day! Woo! :D
In.. about 14 hours or so, I should be the proud owner of a Seed account. :) I should also have plans to hang with [personal profile] zorkian, [personal profile] janinedog and figure out what I'm doing while [personal profile] phoenixsong hangs out with [personal profile] synecdochic Sunday. Woo, and double woo! :D
(I'd hang out with D and others Sunday, except I'm not so much interested in the Stitch part of Stitch n Bitch ;) )

Yesterday was, except for a brief shining moment just before bad, kinda craptastic. Work sucked me totally dry (I'm mostly over that now, though. It just is...) and my brother decided to start some STUPID Internet Drama with my wife (I haven't figured out what, if anything, to do about it. I'm not sure it's worth it to get into it with him, but at the same time I'm sick of his Passive-Aggressive garbage and I haven't ever explained to him why certain things are...)

However, that brief shining moment... :D
We checked out of Bronze I. We were able to show that we knew what we were supposed to know to move forward into Bronze II. :D When I go in to Dance Practice tonight (K is staying home to snag a seed account, but I'm totally going), it will be as a Bronze II student. :D

Details about checkout, cut for the non-interested. )

We left feeling... exultant! We'd passed. We'd checked out. We had things to work on and most of these things were things we knew about already, and all of those things were things we could definitely get alot better at in the next nine months or so (approximate time it takes to get through a dance level is nine to ten months.)

So... here we are. :)
I don't remember the exact date we started Bronze I... It was after the wedding, officially.
But as of last night, April 29, 2009, we started Bronze II

So... what do we have to look forward to?

Alot of refinement. That's how Arthur Murray works, in general. They start off with the very basics, which is what we've learned in Newcomers and Bronze I and they build up on that.

Each dance has it's own feel, it's own motions, and it's own.. emotions. Bronze II, in short, will have us working to make each individual dance look... more like that dance should look.

In specific, we'll be adding cuban motion to our Latin dances, which will be, I think, our biggest challenge of Bronze II. We'll be completing our rise and fall action in Waltz, going all the way to our tiptoes, which will be new to us. it looks like we're going to work on control, balance, etc. alot more, and maneuverability, trying to get around a crowded dance floor. And some work on dealing with Tempo and Rhythm.

Oh, and add things to our repertoire as well. I mean, that goes without saying, right? ;)

*looks up* Spammy, ain't I? ;) Well, at least I cut out a big part of it. :D
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
This is going to be one of those nobody may actually care what I post here, but I'm doing it for me sort of posts.

and so, given that, I'm going to hide the bulk of it behind a cut. Warning this is REALLY long and probably NOT interesting to anyone else )
hkellick: (Dreamwidth)
Thing the First: Open Beta Party. I've got a place in mind that I personally think will be best for all of us, the Tastee Diner in Silver Spring. It's drivable, it's near a metro, it's got wi-fi, it's mandated by law to be wheelchair-accessible and they said they could EASILY handle a group of 15 or 20. No reservation needed.

I'm waiting to hear from Mayorga Coffee, also in Silver Spring. Numerous people have suggested it as a possibility, so.. I contacted them to go "O Hai, U Has Party That Day?"

I really want to get this finalized soon, though, so... I hope to hear from them real soon.

Also.. more stuff and things )
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
So, as I just typed in my facebook status, I have every reason to believe that in a couple of weeks or so, K and I could be Bronze II students.

Blathering about Dancing. Important to me. :) )
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Yesterday was, more than not, a good day. :)

Well, work was OK, but I don't want to TALK about work. I want to talk about Dancing. :)

For the new people to this journal, my wife and I started taking ballroom dancing classes through Arthur Murray a little over a year ago. We started doing it so that we could both do a little actual dancing for our wedding last year and stayed because we enjoy it greatly.

This past weekend, we took place in a dance competition, Freestyles. In short, we dance with a group of people in our level and judge us on.. well, everything. How good our steps look, styling, and whether or not we look like we're enjoying ourselves. This was our second Freestyles and by and large, we felt we'd done better than we had the first time.

Having gotten the results, I know we have. :D The results are as follows... in the Club Swing (soon to be hustle), I got a Gold Medal, first place of the six or seven who danced at the same time I did! And K and I got the Gold for our Open Waltz Routine. :D For the Cha-Cha, I got a Silver Medal, second place among the six or seven who danced with us. :D and K and I got Silver in our Waltz too. The rest are Bronze which doesn't mean we did a bad job, so much as someoen else did a better. :) I can deal with that. :D Especially the two Golds. :D

I'd half-joked that I LIKED the fast dances but was GOOD at the Slow Dances. Well... that's not ENTIRELY correct. :) Still struggling a bit with keeping my legs bending correctly with Swing, but clearly.. I'm just good. ;)

OK.. that was the egotistical part of the post. You may continue on now ;)

Anyways... not much else to say. Tomorrow, we head to Buffalo. Hopefully to see friends and family and then we're back in DC Monday night.

Check-In

Apr. 7th, 2009 12:40 pm
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
There's a bunch of minor things I could talk about, and I WANT to post, but I'm not specifically sure I know what I'd want to say.

Freestyles is over.. for another approximately six months. Six months to prepare ourselves for the next Freestyles. Well, really, six months to finish up Bronze I, begin working on Bronze II material and practice whatever we can. :)
Though I have no doubts that Michael will wants us to do more in the next Freestyles than we did in this one. More opens, at least.

I've been thinking alot of dance-related thoughts.
For example, how we nearly dropped Foxtrot for Bronze I, which would have been a pity because I'm GOOD at Foxtrot. (I'm pretty good at most of the dances, but I struggle with moving my legs move properly for swing and think it'll take me a while to learn Cuban Motion (K seems to have much more of a knack for it than I.)
For example, how gratifying it is to still feel like (and still be reminded of by others) how much better I'm getting and to concentrate on the positives and not the negatives.

Next week we head up to Buffalo for Easter/Passover. I need to call my grandmother tonight (oops) to make sure we're on for our half-plans for dinner on Saturday (it may not be a full Seder, but that's OK. She'll have leftover food and that's what I want. ;) )
I'm actually not thinking too much about Buffalo at all, which is better than freaking out about it. We won't be in town THAT long and I'm not too worried about too much either family will do.
And I want to see my other three fuzzy dorks. The ones living with Josh!

Past that, there's a whole lotta nothing to say right now. So... I shall end this instead!
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
So, Freestyles the Second! Bigger and better than the first.. mostly. :)

Long review of freestyles )
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Hey, I get to actually use my default photo correctly for this post! ;)

So yesterday was the last group class and practice before Freestyles. I thought about it and decided I wanted to go, not because I was afraid I needed the extra practice, but because I love dancing and Thursday night affords me an opportunity to hang out with one of my communities. :) K decided to stay home, do laundry, pack and do some other things that needed to be done.

This is no longer a big deal for us. I'm used to going to Thursdays alone (K likes to go to her church choir every other week). However, there's been a bit of an added... complication lately. The complication is in regards to road work they're doing on 495. We never know when they're going to close lanes and bar access to 66, the way we usually go home.

But something goes amiss and Howard has a little adventure along the way home. ;) )

Anyways.. onto the main event: FREESTYLES! )

I'll no doubt post on Sunday or Monday giving me thoughts about Freestyles. :) This is a Big Deal for me. :)
hkellick: K and I dancing (Dancing)
Yesterday was the Arthur Murray Medalist Ball, which is a special ball where
all the Arthur Murray students who've graduated and moved up to another
level get recognized for their achievement. This recognition, in true Arthur
Murray fashion, is a special honor dance. For example, the Bronze I
graduates (which we are not one of this year. Next year, for sure!) all
grabbed their partners (if they joined with a partner as K and I did.) or an
instructor and all foxtrotted around while the rest of the students clapped
and occasionally hooted and hollered before going over to one side of the
room to receive a certification of completion and have your picture taken
with Estelle and your instructor. It was a semi-formal occasion, which means
everyone was looking especially nice today.
I must say... Ballroom Dancing just looks better in formal clothes. I'm not
sure about some of the super-fancy dancing costumes, but put a suit on a guy
and a nice dress on a girl and.. it just seems more.. right, more
appropriate.

It occurred to me, as I was thinking of writing this post, that I can't
remember the last time I talked about Arthur Murray with y'all. Things have
changed a bit since the last time I THINK I wrote.

I knew before Christmas that K wanted to go back to Choir. Choir is very
important to Kristen. She loves singing. She loves the community. She loves
her church. The only trick we've run into is that Choir practices happen to
be Thursday night, the same night as Arthur Murray's Group Class and
Practice. We tried having K skip out on Choir because we thought the
practices were more important and K was MISERABLE. She Hated It. So we knew
that this year K had to work out a reasonably way to do both.

One concern.. honestly both of us had was what I'd do when K was at Choir.
She was concerned (with good reason!) that I'd skip out on going to Group
Class and Practice if she wasn't there to dance with. We both knew this
wasn't really ideal and that sooner or later, it would be good if I could
get comfortable with the idea of going to Class and Practice alone.

Looping the Life Tape backwards a few months, I DID try to go to a Group
Class alone one week. I think it was the week K went into Buffalo alone for
the Bridal Shower/Bachelorette Party. We were both still newcomers at the
time and, honestly, the entire day felt like.. a total disaster. It was one
of those rare, at the time, days when there were more men at the class than
women and I could NOT find anyone to dance with. The Practice was worse. Not
only couldn't I find anyone to dance with, but I ended up spendingt he night
dancing with the instructors, feeling stupid and uncomfortable (not helped
by some of the instructors. K has her horror stories about dancing with some
of the instructors. So do I. Most of my horror stories hark back to that
night.)

So, with all that known, during the Christmas Ball last year, I made a point
of dancing with other women. In part, just because I wanted to keep going
where K needed to stop, and partly.. to try to get used to the idea of
dancing with other women, so I COULD feel comfortable going to dance classes
and practice without K. Truth be told, dancing as a medalist is very
different than dancing with a newcomer. There's alot more people in practice
and there always seems to be a spare lady or two, at least until 9:30
(though I'd already met the one medalist I didn't enjoy dancing with.) The
Christmas Ball was alot of fun and I had a chance to pick a handful of
people I felt totally comfortable dancing with.

For those who don't dance... dancing is... well, to use an aphorism one of
our instructors used.. dancing is like a conversation. You want to talk to
people you feel comfortable talking to. There's all sorts of things that can
turn a conversation sour. Someone with a style of conversation you just
don't care for. Someone who doesn't know how to give and take in a
conversation, etc. All of that applies to dancing as well.
In Dancing, you want to find a partner who at least is willing to match your
style. If you're the type of man who likes to have his partner's dress
swishing this way and that, you need to find a partner who doesn't mind
being twirled and whirled. Otherwise, you have a mismatch in style. And give
and take.. lead and follow is vital for all dancers. Lead establishes to
your partner what it is you're doing and where it is you're leading her. A
good Follow can read the signs and do her part. It really IS alot like a
conversation.

ANYWAYS, so during the Christmas Ball, I picked out a couple of other Non-K
non-instructor partners I felt totally comfortable dancing with. These were
people who were in my level, by and large, which might have helped me feel
comfortable dancing with them.
After the Christmas Ball, I knew I felt more comfortable with the IDEA of
going to a dance practice without her. Which was good, as she'd already
planned to go back to Choir right after the holidays.

So every other Thursday, by and large (with one skip over the last two
months because the weather threatened to get ugly), I've gone to dance class
and practice, sans my wife. That's been an.. interesting experience, because
it's really given me a chance to come out of my shell a little bit (a lot
bit) with other dancers and really get to know some of the other people
around me a bit. In the two months I've gone to alternate classes sans K,
there's been a bunch of interesting "get to know everyone else moments."
Things like.. on Valentine's Day, they put out dance cards and you had to go
around, find five SEPARATE people and make them be your dance partners for
at least two dances. Or... OK, let's all get in the middle of the room, guys
on the inside, women on the outside.. to the left, to the left.. stop. That
person in front of you is #1 (you'll rumba with her later). OK, to the
right, to the right, to the right. Stop! That person in front of you is #2
(You'll Waltz with her later) Now to the left, to the left, to the left.
Stop. That person in front of you is #3 (You'll Swing with her after you
Waltz with #2).

And sometimes.. sometimes I just can't find a partner and I don't feel like
not dancing, so you look around the edges for someone who's sitting or
standing around, walk up to them and go "Care to dance? Hi, I'm Howard. Nice
to meet you!"

Over the last two months, I've really gotten a chance to get to know some of
these people a bit more. i've gotten to know their names and enough about
them to crack an occasional joke (I'm the class clown, when comfortable. I'm
sure this shocks you all).

The changes, as they were, all sort of came to my attention in a moment of
Infinite Amusement last Thursday. K's come to dance class. We practice
together, do a couple of dances. K gets scraped badly across the foot by
someone's heel and goes to sit down to look at it and until her foot hurts.
So I, without a second thought, wander off and get another partner to dance.
K reappears, we dance a couple more dances and then she has to sit down, so
again, I go, find another partner and dance some more.
Somewhere near the end of the night, the moment of Infinite Amusement
happens. K reappears and says something to the effect of "I don't mind you
dance with other women, but when I'm here, *I* want some dances with you
too!"
Well now. Turn around sure is a Butch, isn't it? ;)
And seriously, as I sit and think about that statement and what it means and
what I've done in the last two months, I realize I've done to Dance Classes
what K has done to Choir. These people are my community. Dancing is a
conversation, remember? (And often we have REAL conversations while dancing.
:) ) I've gotten to know alot of people. I know whom to joke with, whom to
harass a little (you know I like you when I harass you.). I'll clown around
in class a litte, say hello to people and... wow. I have another community.
I community I really enjoy spending time with. This is POSITIVE. It's GOOD.

And that's good. Dancing isn't always easy. Sometimes it's stressful.
Sometimes we take stress with us from other places (like.. oh, say... WORK!)
and bring it with us to dance. So it's good to pause, look around and
realize just what it is I've built for myself here.

And once again, I have to smile a little, shake my head and wonder
"Seriously? Ballroom Dancing? Who knew?"

PS: Somewhere, and at some point, I want to actually get done another
dancing thought I've had, regarding favorite dances and how THEY'VE changed
over time too. I'm excited about Bronze II, in part just because I'd love to
see a little new life breathed into some old dances we haven't done much
with in, say, nearly a year (like.. oh.. Club Swing which looks almost drab
and boring now since, so far, there's not much to it.)
hkellick: K and I dancing (Dancing)
You know I'm not complaining about adding more moves to my 'dance arsenal'. I really am not.

But I can't help but be a little surprised when we got into class today and Michael says "OK. Back to Freestyles work. Rumba! We want to teach you a few new things to get you moving around the floor a bit with Rumba.

*blinkblinkblink*? But.. we DO move around the floor with Rumba. We've been able to do that since the wedding and we've, like, learned things since then. So... uh.. what are you talking about?

Crossovers!

So he leads us through this fairly complicated list of footwork. Forward-left-together-left-forward-step-back90degrees.. meh, you don't care. It was this complicate list of footwork that took us 20-25 minutes to entirely understand well enough to be able to do on our own. (And it only gets more complicated from here! But that's another post! ;) )

By the end of the day, K and I could do the pattern well enough. We just have to keep practicing it until it's memorized.

I can't help but wonder what he's going to throw at us next? Something to help make our Swing Dance move around the floor?

... actually.. yes, probably!
We'll find out Monday!

Update

Feb. 8th, 2009 07:51 pm
hkellick: (Roller Coaster)
So as of Friday, I have officially quit Calorie Count. For those who've actually watched my account there, never fear, I'm about to make it easier and just post here. Sadly, this does not mean my accessibility to LJ has increased any or that I have suddenly more time to read/respond to posts, but it does mean I'll be posting here more often, via email, mostly. It also means I've finally changed my setting back to make all new posts, by default, public.

So... what's on the horizon?
Well, short term.. I NEED to get my hands on Super Mario Kart for Wii. I played it over at Joey's house this last weekend (K's brother, for those who aren't sure) and it was awesome fun. :) I thought I might like it. Now I know. :)
We're hoping to get a few local people (and possibly Joey and his girlfriend Julie) to this Friday's Arthur Murray Valentine's Day guest special. You'll learn the basics of two dances (not sure which two) and then get to practice them with us. :) We've never successfully gotten guests before, so we're hoping this will be a first. ;)
Um.. in about a month from today, the contract I'd been working under ends. The good news is.. I'm fine, I have a job.. the bad news is.. I still don't know what, specifically, or where. Nor do I have a clue what it means for the work I'm currently doing (does it get left with Baker? Does it go with me?). No clues whatsoever.
Which is less than thrilling to me, btw.
In.. about 8 weeks, will be Freestyles. K and I will be competing (sort of) with all the local Arthur Murray schools. My father and Elaine (my stepmother) are coming down to watch us, and K's parents are considering doing so themselves, so this will be a Big Deal (tm). This would have been a big deal anyways. We're each doing 10 dances and we're learning some pretty nifty moves. ;) Just you wait, some of you lucky guys, til you see the two of us in Vegas at the end of May. ;) We're going to knock your socks right off you, without even stopping to take your shoes off! ;)
K's family is TALKING family vacation. Who knows if it'll happen (or if we'll have money to make it happen), but on the table is the possibility of Orlando, where they own a timeshare. This would, for K and me, mean a second chance to go to WDW. I repeat, this is not a definite, just a possibility, one of many. But it's an exciting prospect in any case. :) I LOVED WDW and I'd LOVE a chance to go back. :D
Oh, and Sims 3 has been reset to ship out June 2nd (to arrive June 3rd), and as we ALL know I'm very much looking forward to THAT! ;D

And that's all the news on the horizon. As I said in my Facebook status a couple days back, this is looking to be a busy year, in a good way. :)
And I'm really really excited about being able to show off the dancing to some of you people. ;) We've learned a few tricks since the wedding ;) And a few more dances ;)
Muahahahahaha. >;)
hkellick: K and I dancing (Dancing)
So, this last weekend, K and I took place in our very first Arthur Murray freestyles event. I want to discuss it, but I want to discuss our relationship with Arthur Murray before freestyles so I can put it in the proper context.

First.. some background and context )

And now the Main Event, Freestyles )

Weighed In

Sep. 15th, 2008 07:09 am
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Weighed in Saturday. 1.8 lbs. lost last week - Total Loss of 4.8 lbs. since I got back on the diet. Not bad given a couple weekends ago.

So, Marie, that marks me as 17.6% completed with our challenge. How YOU doin? ;) Don't think I've forgotten about our challenge. I still intend to win it! ;)

Speaking of.. going to the gym today. I want to get in the habit of going thre days a week (it hasn't happened yet, but I'm working on it.) Sadly, I know I won't be going to the gym Wednesday because I have to pick K up at the metro station and we have to go dress shopping for her.

Freestyles (the Arthur Murray dance competition we signed up for) is in about two weeks. If anyone in the DC area can get up to Vienna and would like to see me dance, send me a PM and I'll give you details. :)
Anyways, Freestyles starts about 6:00 on Friday September 26th and lasts through Midnight the 27th. There'll be students dancing (including us), instructors dancing, food, socialization. it'll be a formal affair, so we both need to wear formal clothes. K has a semi-formal dress which MIGHT be OK as she's a newcomer, but we're looking for one or two formal dresses for her anyways.. with a solid colored skirt. I also need to get on the internet and get two black vests for me. I've got everything else already.

That's.. about it. :) Still losing weight. Mini-golf next weekend. Freestyles the weekend after and then K's ditching me the weekend after to go on an adult retreat through her church she really wants to go to. So... busy weekends ahead!
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Where to begin...

First of all, the diet is.. mostly going. I am still struggling against stress and tiredness (and I did SOMETHING to my back on Sunday I'm getting over.), but... in general, I have more good days than bad. I've decided, for now, to back my weighing in to once a week.

So, I'm still in this, Marie, and I still intend to win! I'm planning on stopping by the gym and take a light workout today. If what I did had to do with the extra-long workout I did on Friday (I walked for 40 minutes instead of 30), some light moving MIGHT be the soup de jour. Perhaps about 30 minutes of 4 or so mph, no slope. Just to get back into things.

K and I had a discussion this morning about dance classes. We agreed that for now, at least, once we get through Freestyle on the 27th (dancing competition), we're going to take it a little easy on the dance classes and space them up. K is missing choir and I'm finding I'm finding the Thursday classes and practices very to too challenging for me.

Plus, somewhere in all this, I need to start studying for my PE I want to take next year.

The job remains.. draining and stressful more often than not. There are days I'm barely getting through. I'm not quite sure what, if anything, I can do to relieve this. I'm just trying to deal with the stress better (going to the gym will help with that.)

K and I are still ticking along best we can. At least there's nothing between the two of us that is stressing us out. Kristen remains a source of compassion and caring and someone who'll at least listen me vent about the daily stresses, and who knows when to back off and let me play my games. In short, things are still fantastic with her.

So.. wish me luck in getting through everything, keeping going, staying on track with the diet, studying for the PE and working through the stress in a relatively healthy way.

Stress

Aug. 22nd, 2008 07:19 am
hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
Stress is not good. It's not your friend. it affects you biologically and it makes weight loss really hard.

The last couple of days at work, I feel like I've barely survived. They've been very stressful. So it's not really a shock that my weight has shot up. I've eaten a little more than I had last week, but not much. I'm pretty sure the shoot up is just the stress. That and not having had the time to drink as much water as I normally do.

The stress left me feeling exhausted and used up especially yesterday at class. I BARELY made it through class. We were doing Cha-Cha and I kid you not, I could not get my legs to move the way I knew they were supposed to. It was like

Me: OK, that's the beat. Move
Legs: No.
Me: What do you mean No? MOVE!
Legs: OK OK OK..
Legs twitch a little out of time.
Me: Goddamit. :p OK, now move. Next beat.
Legs: No.
Me: MOVE IT!
Legs twitch again out of time.

So... not going to sweat it, but I am hoping a good relaxing weekend and some water will help turn the weight back around, since I know I've been good the past two days, no matter what my weight says.

Going to the gym today, but I may take it easy, since I'm still feeling wiped and I don't want to hurt myself.

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