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[Walpurgis Knights] Five Letters

Title: Five Letters
Characters: Rien
Word Count: ~1000
Summary: Rien tries to write a letter home to her mother.
Notes: Little fic for [personal profile] lunapome's game.

'Not that we can't relax or are always on the run or anything.'Collapse )

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I have a Tumblr now. I'm using it as a repository for linkblogging; at the moment, all the links I'm blogging are about The Avengers, so if that's what you're looking for, have at. I expect that it'll expand to other geeky things and social justice stuff soon enough.

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Personal landmarks

First, context: I hate embarrassment more than just about any other feeling in the world, and physical embarrassment is even worse because (I feel) it's more noticeable. Also, when I'm embarrassed for any reason, I have a strong physical reaction of my body locking up.

Last night, I nearly fell on my ass during salsa class, which was remarkable not because of the infrequency with which I fall on my ass or am otherwise clumsy (haha, no), but because of my reaction: I was okay with it.

I was partner-less for a rotation because we had more follows than leads last night, so I took the time to work on the one-and-a-half spin that we've been learning. That in itself is an improvement over what I used to be able to do, because I'm usually shy about learning things in front of other people (see above re: physical embarrassment), so flailing around solo in the middle of class is progress for me (when the instructor has us practice moves facing the mirror, I have to keep my eyes locked on her rather than watching myself, because then I imagine that everyone is staring at me while I look awkward ... even though I'm sure the others are more concerned with their own learning). Anyway, I guess I was dizzy from what I'd already done with a partner, because I totally swung myself off balance and nearly ate it.

I was definitely flustered, and more cautious about trying it again (though I did, eventually, and kept stumbling a little ... I think I was just having an off night). But I didn't stop practicing; I just told myself everyone else was focused on their own dancing (which is probably true) and kept going. And I didn't want to stuff myself in a dark closet to curl up in a ball! At least, not much. Progress!

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Obligatory Avengers feels post

I have to say, I'm not entirely sure how I became so obsessively excited about The Avengers. Sure, I grew up on Marvel comics, but they were pretty much entirely X-Men; I knew of Cap and the other Avengers, but sort of ignored them as boring. (Oops.) Partly, I blame Captain America, because the adorable bastard really sucked me into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his movie, when I had previously seen (and greatly enjoyed) the Iron Man movies without dissolving into a puddle of feels.

In addition to that, though, I think a good chunk of my excitement comes from the fact that this is a superhero team movie, and the superhero team genre is my favorite of the comic book medium. Even though I love the Batman books - and even though I'm going to see The Dark Knight Rises and expect that it will be very fun - it's that core dynamic of the disparate personalities coming together as a supportive (if snarky) family who work together to do hero stuff that I really love best. (Of course, the Bat-family has this dynamic, but the Nolan movies are more about Batman-the-dark-angsty-urban-legend-loner.) The Avengers is more about that than any other superhero movie that's come out recently (including X-Men: First Class, I'd say), and it made me feel like it was 2000 and I was squeeing over the first X-Men film again.

So I saw The Avengers at midnight on Friday, and then again on Sunday (with different people! so it's totally justified! :P) and loved the shit out of it. (And have been largely useless since then.)

Spoilers within (to be safe, assume spoilers for previous MCU movies and speculation about future movies)Collapse )

Now that I've gotten all that out of my system, maybe I can finally go back to being functional ... or maybe I'll just go obsessively hunt down news about Iron Man 3/Thor 2/Captain America 2/whatever else they announce next. :P

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Lea Salonga

I got to see Lea Salonga in concert last night, and she was amazing - sassy and gorgeous and in charge of the stage. I just wanted to wrap myself in her voice like a blanket. I have recordings of her that must be 20 years old, and I've been listening to them for over 10, and she just sounds even more vibrant and rich singing live.

The audience was wild about her too - she came out on stage and immediately went to the mike for her opening number ("Feeling Good" from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, though her rendition sounded more like the Muse cover), but people kept whooping and cheering. Her response was, "It's the tux." XD (And she did indeed look hot in her sleek, black, neckline-down-to-here tuxedo.) Some people came in late, getting led by the usher's flashlight, and when she ribbed them they made a dig at Filipino time. XD

Lea performed numbers from her most iconic roles, like "I'd Give My Life For You" from Miss Saigon, "On My Own" from Les Miserables (which was also her audition piece for Miss Saigon), and "Reflection" from Mulan. And speaking of "Reflection," there was a very enthusiastic audience member who hollered for it while Lea was introducing another song ("Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal," the title song from her first movie, which sadly was the only Tagalog song she performed), and Lea proceeded to sass him about it the entire night. In fact, she said that she needed a volunteer to sing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, and rather than ask for a volunteer she said "Reflection Boy" had to do it.

Well, it turned out that "Reflection Boy" was an actor who had just played Jafar in an Aladdin dinner theater production (I think?), and he was positively giddy to sing with her. He shook her hand when he got on stage, but she insisted he give her a hug so he swept her off her feet in a bear hug. Then, despite his giddiness (and the fact that he didn't know the lyrics that well), he really hammed it up and made Lea burst into laughter mid-song.

Lea did a couple more Broadway numbers at the end: "For Good" from Wicked, dedicated to the audience for changing her for the better; and "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle, in defiance of the naysayers (such as those who said to her - before she embarked on her 20+ year Broadway career - that she couldn't do it because she's Asian). It was at that point that she mentioned she was sick, to explain why she wouldn't sing "Defying Gravity" ... which kind of blows my mind. I could ... maybe hear where a couple of high notes sounded thin, maybe, but not anything that was anywhere near bad.

It wasn't all Showtunes and Disney, though. At one point she broke out a lounge-y rendition of "Poker Face," which she then finished up at the original Lady Gaga tempo. Then, for her encore, she sang an original song ("The Journey") and then finished up with Cee Lo Green's "Forget You." XD

In conclusion, Lea Salonga is awesome. XD Next month I get to see Kristin Chenoweth in concert, then Idina Menzel in June, so my little musical-loving heart is quite happy.

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Charming moments during waltz class

When your instructor is having you practice transitioning back and forth between closed position and promenade, and the sweet older man you're dancing with (who is very tall and taking the class with his very short, cute wife) starts making jet noises.

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I was being so good about keeping track of my dance class experiences here, and then I pretty much forgot for the month of December. :P

So let's see ... I finished the beginner salsa class, and it was a lot of fun. During the final session, I danced with my instructor M, and she took all the bits we'd learned and threw them at me in different combinations. By the end of our rotation I'd taken it all and not missed a beat, and she said "Yeah!" and internally I was saying "YEAH!!!" XD I definitely want to take her level 2 class, though it's offered quite frequently so I might hold off and do other classes first.

I also finished re-taking beginning Argentine tango, and I'm going to give that a break for now. When I danced with instructor M in the final session of that class, I did not manage to do all the moves she threw at me. :P I don't want to give up on it, but it just isn't clicking with me very well. Hopefully, as I take more classes and get better, I'll reach a point at which I can come back and try it again with more success. Right now, I'm trying to commit a lot of basics to my muscle memory, so trying to add the peculiar basics of Argentine tango is just too much for me.

The introductory ballroom class I started at the beginning of December just ended last week (though I missed the final session), and it really did kick my butt. Instructor C told us in the first session that she would give us more information than we could really process or remember, and she was true to her word - telling us all about how we should make this or that step, and why we hold our bodies this way, etc. Some instructors might just say "step here and here" and save the details about how to hold your body or move your feet until later (instructor M did a bit of this, though she still taught us plenty of technique). So when we did waltz, even though I've already taken a class (only 4 weeks, admittedly), I was unexpectedly challenged - suddenly I had to pay attention to the rise and fall or how to rise to the left in hold.

The class was really about the basics, and not about getting a solid grasp of any one dance. I did like getting a taste of foxtrot and cha-cha, though. We also did west coast swing, which I've done before, but a different variation than I'd learned. I think I'd like to learn more cha-cha sometime.

This month I'm taking a beginning waltz class from C. The first session was a bit quick, because all of the students had had some waltz instruction before, so I'm hopeful about how much I'll learn.

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Ow, my feet

I've been somewhat lucky in that, over the course of the four beginner dance classes I've taken through the university, I haven't really had my feet stepped on by partners. But tonight, on the first night of a new class at a new venue downtown ... I seem to have made up for all that missed time. >_<

I wouldn't actually mind too much - we're beginners; it happens - but my feet were already a bit sore because I'm breaking in my new shoes. (If you're curious, these are the shoes - they're character shoes, rather than actual ballroom or Latin shoes, which the local dance shop recommended because they are lower in both heel and cost. I am a liiiiittle worried that I got a size that's too small, but I'm crossing my fingers that they just need to be broken in.)

Anyway, the class itself was pretty cool. It's an introductory course to social ballroom, covering four dances (foxtrot, waltz, cha cha, and swing) over five weeks. So, not very in depth. At the beginning of the hour, I had a moment of worry that I might've wasted the not-insignificant amount of money it cost to register, since the instructor emphasized how little content we would cover, and how rudimentary the course would be. In the end, though, I'm glad I'm in the class. As we were covering the basics (foxtrot was tonight's dance), the instructor talked constantly both about what our bodies should be doing, and why they should be doing those things. She did acknowledge that a lot of that information would not stick, at least on this first go-round, but I loved hearing it - I really like building an understanding of why something works the way it does, and I do believe this part of the learning will make me a better dancer.

As for the other two courses, salsa is really fun and I'm going to take the next level in January; Argentine tango continues to kick my butt and yet I'm still somehow compelled by it. :P

This week was actually pretty full, because the intro course is offered at a place that does monthly courses, whereas the salsa and Argentine tango classes are scheduled based on the school calendar; so for this week and next week I'll be taking three classes each week. Whew. But, at least I won't go class-less over the school break and totally get out of practice.

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I need a dancing icon!

I think I've felt terrified at the beginning of each session of dance class I've attended. I still do it, obviously, but there's always that surge of "What do you think you're doing here?" at the beginning.

(This was probably exacerbated by me watching the beginner hip-hop class that takes place right before my class starts, and waffling between, "I could maybe try doing that" and "ooh, that looks hard, I'd just make a fool of myself.")

That being said, Argentine tango went well tonight. I'm getting better at following, in that particularly devilish kind of following AT requires, which I think you can boil down to, "You don't have any idea what's coming next, HA!" I still had a lot of stops and starts with my various partners, but I think I am understanding how to respond to their leading - and thus responding - better overall. I danced with one guy who had taken the same class with me last session, and he led a move that we learned last session but hadn't yet gotten to this session (ochos) - I was caught off-guard and didn't pivot like I was supposed to, but I did actually turn and step in the places I was supposed to, just because my body responded to his lead.

It's funny; this stage of, "I generally know what my body is supposed to do based on what the lead does, yay!" came immediately with waltz, but I'm still clawing my way to it in AT. :P

Happily, some of our leads were students from the instructor's intermediate AT class, so they were stronger and smoother leads than the beginners (nothing against them - and I really noticed improvement in one of them - it's just fun to dance with people who know better what they're doing). There was one guy who, when I took my turn with him, made me feel like I was actually doing the dance I'd seen and admired - slow, but controlled, with bursts of sharp movement. There was a nice quality to his leading - it wasn't that he shoved me around, but more like there was a hairsbreadth of mild/gentle leading to show me what to do, so that I could go with him when he moved more firmly and we hit the step in a sharp, showy way (well, it'd be showy if I were more polished). This gives me hope that I still have the potential to learn the really "boom! pow!" kind of AT that I like to watch.

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Dancing my troubles away

On the one hand, work made me want to cry today.

On the other hand, I went to salsa class and one of the leads told me I was the best dancer he'd danced with all night.*

I also bought my first yarn (I've been learning to knit on tools donated to me by [profile] shadawyn) for my first scarf, which I'm knitting for [personal profile] ratzeo.

Now if only I could be as happy at work as I am outside of it.

*Unfortunately, because he was trying not to announce it to the rest of the class, he sort of said it into the back of my hair, which made my personal space sensors go off. Lucky for him, my reaction to being startled like that was not to headbutt the offender.

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Dancing log, entry 1

I've always wanted to learn how to dance. I've made a go at learning a couple of times - in elementary school, my parents put my sister and me in traditional Chinese dance lessons for a couple of months; in high school, I took a west coast swing class; and in college, I went to lindy hop lessons given by a campus club. But I was just dabbling - I never thought I could actually get good, because I never thought of myself as a "dancer." I just assumed that "dancers" were people who'd taken ballet/jazz/etc. since the age of 6, and would forever and always be dancers, and the rest of us just weren't. I certainly wished I could be, but I was too sure that my age/clumsiness/introversion/inability to wiggle my hips meant that I shouldn't try now. And one thing I've always been good at is talking myself out of things, especially when it comes to convincing myself why I should try something new.

In possibly one of the cheesiest and most prosaic stories of inspiration ever, I started reconsidering my attitude when I began watching Dancing With the Stars. Here I was reminded of the grace and glamour that originally impressed me about dancing, all with high-budget glitz and a good bit of reality TV drama besides. And on top of that, the premise is that non-dancing celebrities get intense, one-on-one training in order to become dancers - celebrities who are already adults, usually have little or no dance experience, and often learn to become elegant and sexy dancers (or at least pull off some elegant and sexy performances).

So that's when I started thinking about it, but like I said, I'm good at talking myself out of things, so I sat on that feeling (and just fed it bits of wistful self-doubt) for two years. But last month, I started taking some classes through the University's community course offerings. And I am still doubting myself and/or feeling terror at my lack of talent at times, but I'm doing it anyway.

(I feel like part of my motivation is the approaching three oh - I'm 27 in a month, and I want to take advantage of my youth before my body starts to feel the creaks and cracks of age. And it's not like I won't be able to do anything after I turn 30 - I realize I sound a little silly, and I think it's the right of anyone of a certain age to laugh at someone younger who is facing a _____life crisis. But, it is true that getting older does not make physical activities any easier. Even if I'm not as flexible and energetic as I was at 10 or 15 years old, I want to focus on what I can still do. I don't want to focus so much on how I "wasted" my adolescence that I hit 30 and then wonder why I wasted my 20s.)

First set of classesCollapse )

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I've been watching a lot of movies lately, mostly because I'm on vacation this week and [personal profile] ratzeo and I randomly decided to spend it with holed up at home with a stack of dvds from Scarecrow.

Actually, the kick-off to my movie binge was seeing Captain America: The First AvengerCollapse )

Since I became solidly enthusiastic about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, next I saw ThorCollapse )

To complete our viewing of the Avengers-related movies, we rented The Incredible HulkCollapse )

We also rented The LosersCollapse )

This morning, we watched Monsters vs AliensCollapse )

Also in our Scarecrow haul are RocknRolla (also on [personal profile] starbird's recommendation, though I have to admit that it jumped up my priority list after I noticed that Idris Elba was in it ...), Blade Runner (because neither [personal profile] ratzeo nor I have seen it, even though it's a sci-fi classic), and Nine (to scratch my musical itch).

Stay-cations are awesome. :D

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The rest of the post is definitely worth reading, but the main point is that pithy and powerful title. This is exactly why I have no confidence in men who announce that they would beat up a rapist they saw jump out at me from the bushes - I am vastly more likely to be raped in a home, by someone I know. Not only are such men likely to be useless to actually preventing any sexual violence; since they think those are the only targets, they're usually ignorant of - if not outright hostile to - the idea that there are other, more numerous and insidious, rapes to prevent.

(Also, if you aren't already reading Ami Angelwings, I recommend you do so. Don't let her netspeak fool you into thinking she isn't a sharp writer.)

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Doctor Who actors being silly

David Tennant causes me to (continue to) wrestle with the question of: Is he sexy in spite of being ridiculously silly, or because of it? Also, am I desperate enough to see this movie just to see more of him in guyliner?

Alex Kingston is simultaneously adorable and sexy in a Craig Ferguson interview (prior to season 6, no specific spoilers). I found the video here, and [personal profile] box_in_the_box helpfully included a link to this advertisement for the Rampant Rabbit that Kingston mentions. Now, I know I'm a sheltered USian and Europeans are used to television that isn't deathly afraid of sexuality, but ... I wonder if this actually aired on television, and if it did, that's AWESOME.

Here are some more adorable and silly interviews with Craig Ferguson, this time with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. This whole cast just seems ridiculously fun.

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5 happy things for work

There is a lot (a looooot) I could complain about regarding the temporary office space we moved in to, as well as the remodeled office space that will await us at - supposedly - the end of the year. But rather than dwell on that, I want to talk about the good things and revive my defunct happy-5 list practice:

1. I have office plants! I never really got the appeal/need for them, until we moved into this depressing basement cubicle farm (oops ... no complaining, right). [personal profile] kiwikiwi started making plans for decorating off the bat, and that's definitely more productive than wallowing, so I followed her example. I now have a peace lily, a bromeliad, and a pink quill, all in adorable teacup-shaped pots. They're supposed to be good in low-light conditions, so I'm crossing my fingers that they'll survive the basement.

2. Someone brought in an espresso machine. I'm pretty happy with the makeshift lattes I make using this and this, but it might be fun to learn how to make real espresso and real steamed milk.

3. It's kind of (really) annoying that the open cubicle farm layout means I can hear everyone talking ... But, on the other hand, I've had two conversations this morning that involved me overhearing a conversation and being able to jump in and say, "wait, I know something that will help!"

4. Due to various events (graduation, orientation, retreat), we have a plethora of leftover bagels and cream cheese. I loooooove bagels and cream cheese. And yes, this one is temporary, but food makes me happy so it's going on the list.

5. I found out that we have herons nesting on campus, and I'm going to go see them on my lunch break. ♥

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Homecoming, with kitties

Getting back from San Francisco was not terribly pleasant, as we found out at the SFO airport that our flight (already scheduled to get us back to Seattle around 10:00 p.m.) was delayed by an hour. Once we landed, I then discovered that this delay put me in downtown Seattle right as 70,000 people left a U2 concert. >___________> With the clusterfuck this caused for public transit, I didn't get home until nearly 2:00 in the morning. >_<

But! On the bright side, I had a [personal profile] ratzeo with me, because he bused all the way down to the airport to meet me and then bused all the way (aaaaaallll the way) back with me. That made me feel good. ♥

And then all the cats in the neighborhood turned out to greet me! Well, not really. XD But as we were walking back from the bus stop (we were too late getting out of downtown to catch any of our usual buses, so we had to take another one that dropped us off a little less than a mile away from home), a small cat ran into the street to say hello. He was a gorgeous little blue point shorthair who clearly thought of strange humans as sources of petting rather than fear ... Unfortunately, he was also very clearly unneutered. :/ I don't know if he was a stray or not, because he was in good shape and so friendly, plus the apartment building he ran out from had what looked like buckets of litter in the yard. So it's possible he's being taken care of by humans who are letting him run around outside without a collar and intact. >_< At least he looked healthy, but I really wish it hadn't been 2:00 in the morning and I could've called someone to pick him up.

Then [personal profile] ratzeo and I got back to our apartment building, and as we were crossing the courtyard I saw Drannor in the window of our office, looking down at us. I waved and called up to him, and he meowed back, loudly, several times in a row. And, okay, that doesn't sound like a big deal - but Drannor does not meow. He, even moreso than Kershach, is a cat who murrbles and grunts, but he does not meow to chat. He saves his plaintive, unmusical meow for one thing: a single, whiny burst of "hey!" when I'm serving his dinner kibble and I don't put the bowl down fast enough for him. So hearing him cry "hey! hey! hey!" over and over down at me made me really wooby. ;____; (And yes, I know, that means I'm as important to my cat as kibble. XD)

And then he followed me around until I went to bed, and the morning after. Every time I moved he showed up to lounge just a few feet away, making sure I didn't leave his sight. ♥

On the other hand, Kershach greeted me, as he has done every time I've been gone for a few days, with consummate Cat Cool. He walked up to me and let me pet him, but didn't immediately roll over for belly rubs or anything needy like that. He only just happened to flop over at one point, several minutes later, not too close but not too far from me, and waited to see what I would do. (I, of course, rubbed his belly.)

The next day I also ran into the neighborhood overlord, a giant orange tabby with seven toes on each paw, who is as friendly as anything. I hadn't seen him in a few weeks, so it felt like he was welcoming me home, too. XD

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- Death metal vocalist Olle Ekman warms up his death growl. Kind of cool to get a glimpse of how you have to train the grunt ... and yes, also just silly-looking. XD

- In related news, Roy Khan has left Kamelot. :( I really love that guy's voice, and he also has some fantastic charisma on stage. I was lucky enough to see him live once (though at a venue that would not be worth returning to, regardless of the performer) and it kinda sucks that I won't be able to again.

- Unrelated to any of the above, Jim Hines shared a link to (NSFW) femslash fanart of his princess books. It's Snow and Talia, for people who know who those characters are and understand why it makes me squee. (And if you don't, I'd be happy to lend you my copies of the books!)

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New Rurouni Kenshin anime!!1!

A new, unspecified "anime project" has been green-lit. It's been years since I watched Kenshin, but this takes me back to my teenaged fannish days and fills me with all sorts of nostalgic glee.

Also, I'm linking to this page instead of the original announcement because the poster added a piece of fanart by Julie Dillon, who is awesome, and is also doing the cover for the Royal Archivist universe guidebook, and that's awesome.

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[NTGC] After the Bombs

Title: After the Bombs
Characters: Nexus and many others
Word Count: ~5400
Summary: Nexus' life after the war begins.
Notes: The fic is named after The Decemberists' "After the Bombs," which is on Nexus' FST.

And after the bombs subside / And this long, low campaign / Calls it good for the nightCollapse )

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There's just over a day left in the Royal Archivist funding project. It's over the funding goal, which is fantastic, but I want to give one final heads-up because the more funding it receives, the more art RA can buy (action scenes! landscapes!). Also, the rewards for donating are pretty nifty, so if you want freebies like art-filled version of the universe guidebook (in PDF) or a physical print, you might as well donate now than later.

*I will, no doubt, continue posting requests/PSAs as various RA products come out.

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