Wrap Up

Well lads, it’s been real. We’ve had some fun times in class and some self conscious times in class and lets not forget the day we twinkled, but we’ve learned some things too. I, personally, got pushed way beyond my comfort zone on more than one occasion but growth happened.

I remembered what perseverance in the face of technological difficulties felt like. I figured out a few important things about the way I want to run my own classes someday when I become a prof in my own right. I grew closer with my classmates if only because difficult times draw people together and having a common frustration can give a group of strangers a starting point for conversation.

Got to go to some amazing shows out at the Firkin Crane. Things that I certainly would not have gone to see otherwise. Got to collaborate with an architect, which was a really amazing concept but probably could’ve been explained a bit better to the architects. Got to do much more physical exercise than I ever thought would be involved in a creative writing course.

But it was fun. Overall, through the highs and lows and frustrations and midnight skype calls halfway around the world to have my mother talk me down from whatever tizzy I’d worked myself into, it was fun. It was an experience that I will likely never repeat, but that is not to say one I wouldn’t want to do again.

Like I said, someday I hope to be a PhD and have my own classroom full of baffled students to direct and this semester I learned a lot about the sorts of things I do and do not want to attempt in that classroom. So this was valuable.

Yeah, lets leave it there. Valuable.

Now go read the period post I made about the 4th, it was way better.

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Blanca- Firkin Crane

Well, of all the shows we’ve seen out at the Firkin Crane this one certainly felt the most like a period metaphor. And not just any period, a first period.

I mean it starts with white- cleanliness, innocence, virginity, whatever meaning you want to attach to the color so long as it remains in that vein. Then there are all of these discordant noises, pained movements, a girl rolling around on the floor in what seems to be confusion and hurt- much like heavy cramps can leave a girl who’s never felt them before.

Then there are intervals of lightness and heaviness, like the hormonal mood swings that accompany some women’s flow. And remember, the first time all of this happens it can be very traumatic for a young girl. No matter how many health classes and private talks with her mother a girl has, there’s not a whole lot that can entirely prepared her for what sometimes feels like a full on rebellion staged by her body.

Near the end there was a period of serenity in which the dancer seemed to walk through snowy woods, the calm before the storm. After the cramps dissipate and the crazy mood swings fade, but before the bleeding begins.

The show ended with the stage and screen behind it drenched in a red light, so yes, it felt very like a period metaphor to me. Maybe not quite Carrie but a period metaphor nonetheless.

Whether it was intended as such or not, I find the thought of a woman’s menstrual cycle portrayed through dance a little intriguing. I mean, it’s this development in our bodies that we prepare for by watching terrible health films and having “girl talks” with our mothers about. It’s sprung on us, somewhere in the middle of our childhood that by the way some month soonish you’ll begin bleeding between your legs but don’t worry cause that’s the way it’s always  been and it’s a beautiful thing because it means you’re entering womanhood- because womanhood should be greeted with blood and belly aches?

Bleh.

But it’s the truth. The start of a girl’s cycle is another stage in her growth toward adulthood and like it or not it is one that we all have to go through. Maybe that’s why we tell ourselves it’s a beautiful thing, or better yet why we tell our daughters that. Because even if it is a lie, it’s a comforting one.

It’s a lie that reminds us that women have been tough enough to put up with this shit for thousands of years, and they did it without tampons as we know them today. So being reminded that we’re a part of that history, and that our daughters will carry it on in turn, maybe that’s the beauty in the blood.

Or maybe I’m just crabby and crampy and trying to put a brighter spin on things. Someone give me chocolate.

Presentations

Well, faith in humanity and whatnot… it seemed like most of our projects- regardless of the actual topic we were endeavoring to discuss- ended up being about loving people. Whether we were talking about Syrian refugees seeking shelter across Europe, or the ways in which music can save a person and therefore shouldn’t be criticized, or an instrument that isn’t really played any more, it seemed like all of ours held a kernel of hope for a shared future.

Which is good. By now, anyone suffering through these writing rambles of mine should have figured out that I’m all about celebrating humanity, and I think we did that in fine form with our presentations this Thursday. Yes, there was trouble with the space being a bit more public than private and technical difficulties with sound and whatnot (a thousand and three apologies) but we also got to share our work with people outside of our program. Using a space not our own to present, and giving other students the opportunity to see our work, was really an interesting concept to me. We’ve spent this entire semester talking about words and art and stories and text in unconventional places or tied to physical spaces or whatever, so I thought that putting that into practice for our last class was really fascinating.

Watching people from what was that, food science?, react to what we’ve spent a solid month creating was really cool and I could tell that some of them were really impressed. Yes they were a bit loud, but we were also in their space. Far be it from me to criticize a person in their own home, or study space, but we were the interlopers in that case. Of course the room could’ve been booked with different understandings of how the space is used by food science students and how crowded it would be while we presented, yadayada, but in that case it’s tied up in the semantics of the people communicating for the use of the space. For my part, I was happy we got to share.

And happy that everyone’s projects turned out as brilliantly as they did. Good job guys, we made it! Basically. I still have to send out feedback for my group. Shit. See you at Blanca!

Class 11.19.15

As per usual, I was staggered by my classmates’ ability to adapt this week. Through conversations and on our common Facebook threads I knew that several of us were, had been, and would continue to be nervous about the sort of quality we could produce with foreign software like Premier Pro, but man everyone rose to the occasion. And this was just us having the first half of the project ready, and giving feedback, this wasn’t the final presentation.

But still, I am continually, happily, surprised and impressed by people’s ability to learn. And that we could learn, figure out, tease out, however you want to say it, so much from a program that was dumped into our laps with only one introduction was really amazing. I thoroughly believe that, given enough time, humans can learn just about anything- and this extends far beyond class projects. My Dad taught himself architecture, one of my best friends taught herself chess before were were teenagers, I figured out this summer while I was camping that I’ve got a talent for learning knot tying, people are pretty damn amazing.

When approaching a problem like a puzzle instead of a problem, tasks can become infinitely more interesting. Puzzles are just games. Problems are something nastier, or at least more negative. Given the choice, I’d rather play a game any day.

Well this is what I get

for attempting to be clever. That last post, the one that said it was for the 6th, yeah- it was really for the 13th. Friday the 13th actually, so maybe that’s the trickery involved in me not getting the right date clicked on my publishing thingy-ma-whatsit.

Anyway, class for Thursday the 12th was nice because it was a bit of a reflection day. We had so much information thrown at us with Premier Pro and these ME-morial things and whatnot that having a class where we basically sat in a circle and talked it out was just…nice. Made me feel a little less hunted, knowing that we had this opportunity for breathing space.

Breathing space that didn’t last because the chunk of sentences from Ulmer that were thrown at our head seemed  almost comically nonsensical, but there was a little relaxation in there. If anything, Ulmer is an inspiration as an academic because apparently after a certain point grammar, and the common courtesy of trying to keep your audience from getting totally lost, quit being concerns. Instead you get to write a language all your own and make students around the world scratch their heads while professors laud your brilliance.

I look forward to becoming similarly unintelligible.

Junk Ensemble

I was actually pretty taken aback by the beginning of the Junk Ensemble performance, not because it wasn’t beautiful, but because it was totally not what I was expecting. I didn’t do any research before going to the Firkin Crane for this Friday’s performance beyond looking at the groups name, and drew rapid and pretty concrete conclusions on what kind of show we were in for from the name alone (blah blah, books and covers and whatnot). I was in band back in middle, junior high, and high school and one of the few films the directors approved of for us to watch on days that they were away was of the (literal) junk percussion ensemble group STOMP! (for a glimpse of this epicness click the link: STOMP!). I, and my fellow east Texas band nerds, spent more time watching and re-watching STOMP!, and The Sound of Music, than I really care to think about, and while I hardly expected the performer’s Friday night to harness themselves to a scaffold over the city for a performance a la the clip, I was at least expecting some trashcan drums maybe like this.

Looking back on those clips, I realize how much STOMP! and ensembles like them were a product of the ’90s. Fun times in band class with directors stuck in the previous decade….

Anyway, Junk Ensemble blasted those expectations right out of the water. There wasn’t any real “junk” involved, nor much incrementalism, but to call the dancers any less than an ensemble does them  disservice. The whole was certainly the sum of its parts and the amount of trust and training that must’ve gone into this performance was staggering. Solid minutes of lifts that shifted or moved like liquid organisms, it was stunning. The amount of muscle control required for the numbers they performed was impressive to me as a former athlete, the amount of trust that each member of the ensemble must have in the others was breathtaking.

It truly was a wonderful show, very much not what I was expecting but once I set aside the indignation of thwarted nostalgia, it was great. It was good to see a modern dance troupe that was willing to slow down. By slowing down and showing the audience control rather than speeding up and overloading their senses, Junk Ensemble set themselves apart from the modern dance troupes in my, admittedly limited, experience. So, you know, good show and on to the next one and whatnot.

Manifesto

Manifesto

We the voices of the United Mind of Jenni, do here solemnly declare before whatever higher powers exist, and these witnesses, that we have always been, and will gladly remain, loyal citizens of the many faceted nation known hereafter as Whimsy. Furthermore we declare our intention of never vacating this nation, nor abdicating our citizenship. We, the undersigned, make these statements being of sound soul, body, and bone.

ID

Superego

Ego

Jennifer R. deBie