Wednesday, October 15, 2003

down hips and snake arms

Tonight some things started to feel like they were working in my belly dance class. I'd been concerned--I haven't been able to practice very much lately, and I haven't made it to class as much as I'd like. But there's definitely something positive going on in my obliques--I'm able to get deeper into 'down hips' than I was before--and I started to coordinate the arms with the hips on the taqsim.

That latter is a colossal struggle. Every time I try to get arms and legs and hips to move together, each according to their own particular task, I gain more sympathy for my own students, most of whom are in the first and second grades. They're not entirely coordinated yet, they are still growing into their bodies. Many of them are dealing with some challenge or another of various degrees of subtlety. One boy can't seem to cross the mat without hopping like a rabbit. Another appears to be incapable of remembering the simplest technique long enough to perform it. One girl starts a front roll and ends up back rolling, and her sister just gets tired because there's something wrong with her heart. We get kids with Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, all kinds of stuff, because the occupational therapists think martial arts will be good for them. Even the kids with no problems still have to learn how to focus; an hour is a long time.

We do what we can. We tell them to do what they can. We praise the smallest victories.

Something that has come up in my reading lately ('How to be an Adult in Relationships', by David Richo, if you really want to know) is that we love people the way we wish to be loved. We show them what we want by the way we love them. Spookily enough, today I came across a journal entry from February when the pain of what had happened with E was greatest. I had written that I needed to start treating myself the way I'd been treating him. I go comatose whenever I read anything about drawing myself a luxurious bath and making love to myself, blah blah, but there is a kernel here of something important. I need to be my own hero, my own heart; and as I do for those brave kids who keep coming in, I need to praise my own small victories. Tonight it is that my teacher told me that my snake arms looked great and then she pushed me and one other student to do something harder. She believes in me, I believe in my own students, I believe in myself.

Something I didn't write yesterday about the camera lucida, because I was too tired, is that the device is really quite simple. As Hockney says, it's a prism on a stick. The stick telescopes and has a little foot, so you stand it up on your drawing surface and by looking at it the right way, you can see the subject of your drawing and the paper at the same time. Such a thing can be very useful to the portraitist, who marks in the corners of the eyes, nostrils, mouth; the reference points that will make the rest of the drawing easier to get right.

The thing is, the camera lucida does not project an image onto the paper. Instead it creates an illusion in your eye, sort of like the trick that makes binocular vision possible, two things in the same place that aren't.

All of which is happening entirely in your own head. Look away, bump the prism, and poof, no image.