Honest Scrap Award

I received this exciting “Honest Scrap” blog award from another Becca, author of Finding Flapjack blog. We Beccas seem to flock together, whether for moral support or just because we’re that cool, I’m not sure. Anyway, the rules of this award are as follows: I am to write 10 honest facts about myself, and then award it to other bloggers who I think deserve the reward. I have a feeling this will be harder than I expect; to tell things are deathly honest about me. Most of us, let’s be honest, try to embellish our lives just a little to make ourselves sound more interesting or put together to other people. Or we down play our stories out of fear embarrassment or others’ disinterest. Luckily I am used to embarrassment so I don’t think I will have a problem with this. So here goes…

  1. I raised a dairy heifer each year, for four or five years in a row and showed them in the county 4-H fair. I can’t remember how many heifers exactly; it was so long ago. Although I did win Champion Showman one year, and showed in New Mexico State Fair one year. I also raised and showed rabbits, New Zealand Whites were my breed of specialty. They look like the tradition Easter bunny: white fur with pink eyes.
  2. I started drinking coffee at age 12 to try to impress my Dad, who can guzzle gallons of the black liquid with only sugar. Somehow, I still ended up being rather tall for a girl, 5 foot 7 inches. Dad was pleased when I took at job at Starbucks – that meant free pounds of coffee occasionally for him.
  3. I played piano but didn’t practice very much so I eventually quit. The only reason my mom put me in piano lessons was because a ballet mistress I had when I was young told her I was very talented, but lacked musicality. “She hears the music differently,” is what I remember her telling mom. Piano lessons had one purpose: to teach me to count the music so I could dance to it.
  4. I went through mild stages of depression as a young aspiring dancer, when I did not live up to my expectations. I was very hard on myself, and didn’t learn to let out my frustration except through crying. I eventually learned to vent my frustrations and thoughts into writing a journals when I was 12 or 13, and I have kept one ever since. My writing style has changed dramatically and much for the better as I’ve matured.
  5. I carry a notebook or journal with me everywhere I go, and only in the last year decided to consolidate into two journals from the several different ones I would keep at a time previously: personal and Bible study notes/prayers, and arts criticism for the exhibitions and performances I see.
  6. I don’t like to eat meat. I can only recall a few times when I had a very good piece of meat that I enjoyed, and that was usually home-raised meat (beef, lamb, pork, turkey or duck), or bites out of someone’s hamburger when it smelled too good to be true. I get fed meat when I go home to visit my family in New Mexico, which is pretty much the only time I eat it. Upon coming to England, I decided to give up meat for good and call myself a vegetarian. It really was no sacrifice for me. Now, if I had to give up sweets, on the other hand…
  7. One of my favorite stuffed animals was a cow in an 18th century style pink dress. Her name was Ms. Moo. Ms Moo’s bell around her neck would apparently tinkle in the middle of the night while she slept on my bed with me, and it would wake my Dad up from all the way down the end of the hall. I never heard it.
  8. I have been in one movie: a Disney feature film called The Gameplan, with the Rock Johnson. I had no idea who the Rock was until I met him on set, and he and his Samoan cousin body double were both the friendliest celebrities you’d ever meet. He would sit down and chat with us Boston Ballet kids when he wasn’t on camera flashing that big smile of his or memorizing his lines. I regret not getting a picture with him. That’s probably the closest to fame I’ll ever get.
  9. I have really bad vision. It’s horrendous! I like to tell people when I spend the night at their house that I can’t find the bathroom without my glasses or contacts. Currently my prescription is -5.75, and that’s an improvement from two years ago! Thanks, Mom, for my hereditary eyesight. J
  10. Last one! I will preserve a little of my pride, I think, and go with this: My relationship with the Lord is the most important thing in my life. In the last few months, He has been teaching me and revealing to me how I can begin to let go of my self-consciousness and worship Him in honesty and freedom. My favorite way to do that is through singing (although somewhat badly, but pleasing to my Lord’s ears) and dancing – what comes most naturally to me.

Now for the fun part: I get to do this to several others. Don’t ignore this award if I give it to you; take it as an honor and an opportunity to share some insightful truths about yourself. We need more open people in this world. Don’t take it as one of those annoying chain letters we all used to receive when email was still in its early stages, because it’s not. Here we are, my nominees:

Becca Bluett Dunkin’s blog: http://findingflapjack.blogspot.com/


Scottish Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet


Saturday night I was in Glasgow just to see Scottish Ballet’s opening night of their not-so-classical Romeo and Juliet. They are one of my favorite companies, a must-see while in the UK. It is one of my favorite ballets, which I am set out to see as many different choreographer’s interpretations as possible.

Choreographer Krzysztof Pastor guides the audience through the couple’s love story over three eras in twentieth century Italy in his version of the love story. If it weren’t for the exuberant choreography and the excellence of the Scottish Ballet’s skill to execute it seamlessly, this version of the story would fall flat. There is hardly enough difference in setting and mood to determine the changing seasons, from staunch, dictatorial Italy in the 1930’s to post-war optimism in the 1950’s to modern day Italy in the 1990’s. Only the dress and the film running on the backdrop give the audience sure signs there is something not static about the setting for this story. It was, nevertheless, a challenge that Pastor took on to create something new without losing the magic of the original.

Principal dancers Sophie Martin and Erik Cavallari portrayed the type of connection and chemistry between them that one would expect two young lovers willing to kill themselves for each other to possess. I could watch Martin’s smooth transitions and elegance all night long; and it didn’t hurt that they are two of the most genuinely Italian (and good looking) Romeo and Juliets I have seen onstage. They certainly convinced me of their passion more than NBT’s Romeo and Juliet did last month.

As for the rest of the choreography, it was rather repetitive, especially with some of the jumps in the corps de ballet’s Montague and the Capulet families, and the two maids, Juliet’s friend. I suppose that sort of repetition create a sort of continuity throughout the ballet, and retains the families’ individuality over the 60 year gap. I liked Pastor’s choice to show off some of the very strong and captivating female dancers in the company with more supporting soloist dancing roles, among these tall, svelte and blonde Eve Mutso, who portrayed Juliet’s Mother with utmost power and understanding, contrasted that of her not-much-younger-looking and innocent Juliet. Paul Liburd earned his round of applause as the daunting, lighthearted Mercutio. His sing-songy playfulness could only work for a man so refined and brawny as he is. The friar was the most unbelievable character in the story; the sleeping potion somehow just can’t be pulled off as part of a 1990’s Venice story. Perhaps that is why Pastor chose to get over with the friar’s involvement with the couple as fast as possible. The end of the ballet came to a nonchalant ending, where each family stares at the body of their dead member, then picks up the body and walks off, oh, in 1990’s street clothes. Still, it was a satisfactory and creative ballet, not the best Romeo and Juliet I have seen, but not disappointing.

European Tour 1

So much has happened in the last couple weeks; I decided to just highlight what I could remember from each city:

Scotland March 20-23: Edinburgh, stop in Newcastle, back to Leeds for one day

  • Stayed in a kinda sketchy backpacker’s hostel w/murals painted on all the walls and staircases that clearly indicated the artists were high.
  • Skyped my family from a pub somewhere in Edinburgh. Strange, I know.
  • Chatted with a little boy, Sean, from Portugal and showed each other our homes on Google earth.
  • Toured the city and wandered into a beautiful old church on Sunday where I spent an hour talking to an older Scottish woman named Audrey who has gone to that church since 1949!
  • Went into my first real live castle!
  • Didn’t end up meeting up with the girls but had a good time with new Australian friend
  • Met up with my other girl friends coming to town in our rented flat – very nice!
  • Danced around our flat to my ITunes before they arrived.
  • Took a picture with a bagpiper(in a real kilt)!
  • Went out on the town with the girls and was shocked at all the locals staring at us.
  • Cooked spaghetti and pasties, drank wine, and decorated our new ‘home’.
  • Watched TV in our flat for the first time in years, literally.
  • Did a Scottish ‘jig’ in the grass with Pri on top of the train station.

Italy March 25-27: Venice

  • Met a fellow Leeds student from Canada on our flight, and his friend Sophie from New Zealand, who missed the flight because security called her back to check her visa and couldn’t decide if she needed a stamp or not. So we made a new friend and stayed a traveling three-some for most of our time in Italy.
  • Wandered around that maze called streets and admired all the beautiful bridges and tiny streets (there is no point in taking a map. It will only confuse you more).
  • Politely refused gondola drivers who prodded us to get into their boat, ‘very relaxing, only 60 Euro’. I’m sure it would have been relaxing, but we were on a tight budget.
  • Ate all the pb and j sandwiches I packed and found a market to buy cheese and bread to make more sandwiches.
  • Ate out once, Italian food, for Pri’s birthday.
  • Romeo and Juliet lived here!
  • Danced in San Marco’s square to an outdoor orchestra band that was playing. I entertained them and a lot of onlookers. I should have gotten paid. Left before we had to pay them.
  • Joined a free tour inside the palace because we were too poor to pay to go to the islands with Phil.
  • Spent a good amount of time practicing ballet steps with Phil on our hostel’s wooden floors.
  • Met a fourth Leeds student in our hostel room, from Brazil. Crazy.
  • Met two sweet British girls sharing our hostel and went out with them one night.
  • Got the party started in a local bar by dancing to the reggae music inside. Once we started dancing, some of those Italians caught on and one guy broke out his Samba moves!
  • Lay in the sun on the harbor.
  • Learned a short vocab of Italian, including, ‘mi scuzi’, ‘grazie’, ‘por favore’, ‘vorrai una cappuccino’, ‘Dov’e del gabionetti/toletta?’ My favorite thing about the Italian language is you say ‘ciao’ for hello, goodbye, see you later, just about anything. What easy-going people.
  • Bought glass rings to remember Venice by.

March 27-29: Rome

  • Paid to stay in a hotel last minute because my planning/organization/couch surfing plans failed. Hard lesson learned. But the old man who owned the hotel was so kind and helpful.
  • Stuffed our faces with chocolate croissants that morning so we wouldn’t get hungry later. It worked.
  • Agreed to forget our first crazy night getting to Rome.
  • Stayed in a cramped hostel up 5 flights of marble stairs that seemed more like 10. We got lots of workouts!
  • Went to the Vatican and the Basilica in Saint Peter’s Square on Palm Sunday. There were swarms of people carrying olive branches, what a sight! Too bad we missed the mass given by the Pope.
  • Joined another tour inside the Vatican for free. This time it was given by an American theology student studying to be a priest in Rome.
  • Imagined bloody gladiator fights that took place in the Coliseum, and how much excitement must have filled the stalls for the games in Nero’s day.
  • Vowed to return to Rome one day with a lot more time and money to see everything we missed.
  • I was surprised and dismayed to see a McDonalds across from the Pantheon. As poor as we were, we did not bend.
  • Ate more pizza, like we did in Venice, because it was the cheapest. Oh, and the gelato is to die for!
  • Every 5 minutes you are hounded by some street vendor though, that got annoying.
  • I am still in awe at the amount of history in that place, and the normality of the life of the locals there, as if they are unaware that this stone structure they’re sitting on is thousands of years old.

Spain March 29-April 2: Barcelona

  • Lots of angels put in our way to help us out on our trip, and lots of crazies who seemed to be after us:
  • Man who conveniently showed up at the train station to help us figure out which train to take, and even ran down to the platform with us.
  • Older gentleman who worked in the airport and promised to mail our postcards for us in Rome.
  • Harassed by a drunk guy on the plane who threw M&M’s and ice cubes at me. Oh, Ryanair!
  • Chased by a schizophrenic man on the subway and all the way to our hostel. Luckily a nice young Mexican man on the subway noticed him and walked us to our hostel, where he was staying too.
  • Met two lovely girls, one Mexican, one Columbian, who interpreted for us.
  • Random van driver who gave us a lift to the city, although we couldn’t understand a word he said.
  • The friendly gay manager in our hostel, Yarid, a Masters student from Mexico, who greeted us and helped us with everything we needed, from directions, to steaming strong café in the morning, to blankets when we slept on the couches the last night.
  • Myuki, a Japanese chef, and our roommate, who has been travelling the world for 10 months now!
  • I was surprised at the amount of Spanish I picked up in a few days there. Although it’s different from the Spanish I grew up hearing in New Mexico (which I never made an effort to learn), it came almost faster than Italian did.
  • Decided I need to move to a country to learn the language for a year.
  • Spanish people impressed me with their friendliness and openness.
  • Flamenco dancer in the streets stole my heart. He was too good to be dancing on the street to make money, but I’m glad he did, or I wouldn’t have had the chance to see him perform.
  • The harbour was filled with love-struck couples, and I thought Venice was the city of love.
  • Subsisted on canned tuna and toast this time around. Tapas will have to wait for our return, because we are returning.
  • Listened to Spanish guitars around every bend in the colourful mosaic Guëll Park, created by fanatical artist Antoni Gaudi .
  • We were running pretty low by the end of our trip. Finally ate one Spanish meal our last night there: split Paella: skillet-fried rice with seafood with our combined left over cash of 11 Euros.
  • Visited the one and only Picasso museum. That man started off normal and got stranger and stranger.
  • Caught the last musical fountain performance of the night in front of Spain’s National Fine Arts Museum palace. Perfect ending for our trip.