This Has Been: July Edition

July began in the throughs of packing for my Berlin/Italy trip. I was still going through syptoms of Buffy withdrawl and trying to fit a month and a half of my life into a backpack (I think I did a pretty good job actually).

When all the packing was well and done (and after my computer spent too long updating itself), I was on my way out of the country on the 4th of July. I like to say to myself that I am starting a tradition of leaving the country on Independence Day, but we’ll have to wait until next year to make sure. A part of my brain is planning a trip to Congo to go to SKIFF, but that’s a whole year away.

In Berlin, I have spent three weeks now learning the tones and forms for Eurythmy to Betoveen’s fifth symphony and a pice of music by Abo Part. I am working on the fourth movement which is very fast and (all together now) INTENSE. Of course this has lead to a handful of pains and soreness. My feet are currently taped up to hold them together (one in pink and one in blue to show my Frequency TV pride).

The really great part of What Moves You has been the friendships that have formed and deepened. I came into the game knowing seven out of 83 people, and I can now at least name the majority of the 83. I have gotten close to the girls I’m rooming with (none of whom were part of the seven I knew) as well as some of the people in my group. I’m also glad to see the relationships I already had growing, even though it can be painful.

To have some semblance of balence, I’ll divulge that my German skills seem to be at a standstill. I’ve learned a few new words here and there, but for the most part I only know what I came into this with from school. It’s frustrating, because I sometimes feel like I’m just on the verge of understanding what’s going on and then we start moving and I realize that I have no clue what was just said.

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Writing About Writing (week of July 23)

Monday: Emails
Tuesday: blog – Polishing Waldork
Letter that I’ll never send
Wednesday: nothing
Thursday: blog – This Has Been July
blog – This Will Be August
Friday: nothing
Saturday: blog – Polishing Buffy series
Sunday: blog – Polishing Buffy series
blog – this post

Meh. So yeah, a little disapointed in this week because reasons. I didn’t meet my goal of geting to look at my pilot work wich was disapointing, but after this weekend I’m not surprised. Not sure if I’ll ever get around to posting about it in more depth than this, but this was a hard week. Lot’s of rehearsals and too much staying up late.

As of right now I have no goals for next week. I have posts scheduled for Monday to Thursday that are completely ready, so I don’t NEED to write anything, and with the scheduled rehersals coming up… maybe it’s better that I don’t try. I’m feeling a general burnout coming on and that’s a little scary.

What Moves You? Eurythmie Perfomance

It is shocking to me that we are now a week away from a full Eurythmy performance. I can’t even decide how I feel about it. It’s bittersweet to think about finishing this project soon even though it feels like we just began.

That being said, it is time to begin thinking about the end, and of course with that comes the performance. It feels somewhat silly to me to share the program and project information because I know that my readers (at least those I know of) come from North America. But in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I am going to share them anyway.

What Moves You?
August 3 and 4, 2012, 8:00 PM
Freie Waldorfschule Kreuzberg
Ritterstasse 78
10969 Berlin
Germany

We will be performing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (in C minor if that means anything to you).  It’s the one that starts with the big dun dun dun DUUNNN.  You’d know it if you heard it.  The other piece is by Arvo Part and is called Frates.  It’s a strange piece of music, but I’m actually really excited to finally see it coming together.

I Am A Waldork

Since I am spending four whole weeks working on Eurythmy in a Waldorf School, I figure it may be a good thing to talk about how Steiner schools work.  Note: Waldork is not an actual term.  It’s what I and others I know in the community will occasionally call ourselves.

I would like to put a disclaimer on this that I am only speaking to my experience. Waldorf school’s have a bad rep in some circles for various reasons, but I have really enjoyed my time here and imagine that I will continue to be a part of this community if only in continuing to be friends with the people I have meet at school and events like What Moves You.

Waldorf schools are based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher/educator/farmer/architect/everyman who created a theory of education and growth (among many other things) for young people in the early 1900’s. The first Waldorf school was in Stuttgart, Germany. The system grew and multiplied all over Germany and eventually spread to other parts of the world. There are now just over a thousand Waldorf schools in 60+ countries.

At the lower school level (K-8) there is a strong focus on imagination and learning through artistic experiences. My friends who are “lifers” know how to knit, crosstich, spin their own yarn, sew, and many, many other hand based craft things that are amazing to me. Classes in early years at Waldorf schools include lots of stories and singing as well as Eurythmy. They study German and Spanish (at least at the one I went to) and do math with crayons until something like fifth grade.

In the upper school classes grow to be more accademic, while there is still equal merit given to artistic capabilities. Students are called upon to ask their own questions, not ones asked for them by a book. Main Lessons (classes on History of Music or Astronomy, among others) are focused on for about a month of intense consentration along with other subjects and art classes. While I only attended Waldorf school for a year and a half I still was able to do jewelry making, weaving, bookbinding, and sewing (though I already knew how to do that).

One of the things that drew me to the Waldorf community was the idea that everyone can do everything. This leads to very high expectations across the board. Those who typically do well in math are encouraged to also play an instrument and work in the arts. Students gifted in the humanites also do physics expirements. Everyone is expected to meet the same marks, with the knowledge that each individual will excel at something different. There is also a great balance of how everyone must be a part of the group, but each individual must also find ways to grow in their own lives.

Now, I’m not going around saying that this is the perfect system and everyone should start going to Waldorf schools. It’s not for everyone. There are problems that arise within the system. Contradictions are contradictory, and arguments are argumentative, but every system has it’s problems, and there are always critics. I’ve found a place that I can be a part of a community here, and I am so glad to be a part of it.

In a similar vein, but somewhat removed is Eurythmy. Waldorf kids take classes in Eurythmy, and if they’re interested they can go on to do Eurythmy training. The thing that Eurythmy training is closest to (at least from my understanding) is going to college for dance, but that doesn’t feel like an accurate description. As mentioned in a previous post, Eurythmy is hard to explain without some threshold of previous knowledge for it, but for today I’ll say that, when done intensely (we rehearse three to six hours Monday to Saturday), it is hard work. Everyone that is a part of the program is consistently tired or sore in some way. We now have a week and a half left to go and I’m anticipating some of the most exhausting days ahead. I can’t wait.

Whedon Wednesday: Eulogy for Buffy Summers

Whedon Wednesday is a tribute to the many Joss Whedon characters who have died over the years.  A combined effort with Laura, Megg, and Elspeth, Whedon Wednesday is a series of Eulogies morning the loss of these characters who died in fiction, but will never die in our hearts.  Archive.  Introduction.

Buffy Summers has always been the choosen one, but we feel just as honored to be chosen to be her friends. In losing her we have lost not only the Slayer, the defender of the human race, but also a dear friend and sister.

Buffy has saved the world time and time again. She built our confidence and helped us to grow up. In many ways there was no choice but to quickly realize the true darkness we face and turn to face it dispite any fear we had. For these gifts we thank her from the bottom of our hearts. She had a hard year, no one can argue that, but she was stronger for it. Buffy was learning to be the sister she needed to be to raise Dawn. She was growing into the person she wanted to be.

Of all the things I will remember her courage the most. Weather it was a fight against the vampires she was called to face, a killer robot, or a goddess, Buffy was always willing to fight agaist evil in the world. Buffy gave us the strength to fight our demons,real or metephorical. Her kindness and strength made her one of a kind. She had a heart for both people and deomons that was displayed time and time again. It’s only not, since she gave up everything, that was can see how much love she truely had.

She said death was her gift, and in some ways she was right. Her gift to us, to let us continue living, was to stop living herself. We will never forget the deep sacrifice that she has given. Buffy was never one to shy away from a fight, and she faced even death with bravery and wisdom. Without her we wil now have to go on in a world that seems to have lost some of it’s magic. Without her the danger will only grow, but her memory will help us to fight the fight.

Writing About Writing (week of July 16)

Monday: blogged – Polishing on History of Berlin post
Email
Tuesday: nothing
Wednesday: journaling
Thursday: nothing
Friday: blogged – Writing on a Whedon Wednesday post for next week
Saturday: blogged – Polishing Whedon Wednesday
Sunday: blogged – finalizing Whedon Wednesday

I feel pretty okay with this week’s writing. This week finally felt like I fell into a routine of living here in Berlin, which includes sore ankles and tiredness (ich bin murder) as well as actually properly learning the choreography and remembering people’s names. Still working on the writing bit. I’m thankful for the time I have, even if it is small.

Next week I’d like to get a chance to take a look at my pilot project even if only briefly, and possibly get myself to an internet cafe to work for a few hours uninterupted. I am splitting a wifi stick with a few people, but I try touse it for only bits at a time, and having some solid stright work time would be awesome.

I would also like to acknowledge that there is currently a German man (one of the project producers) sitting in the courtyard in his tricked out wheelchair and playing the accordian. This has been going on for quite a time. I love this about my life.

History of Berlin

When I was younger, we would wonder aloud amonst each other how countries and peoples who were on the losing side of wars and disagreements would teach them in school. How did the South teach the Civil War? What did they say about Hitler in Germany? When someone is “wrong” how do they say that to the younger generation?

But the world isn’t that black and white. There is not always wrong and right in the moment of decision, only what looks right from what you can see of the near future. It is only now that I am here in Berlin that I am able to get the proper perspective to see how these things happen.

In the United States, we teach our own perspecive. We see how World War I leads to the Golden 20’s and the stock market crash brings on the Great Depression. We can clearly see how the United States enters World War II, but it is foggy to us the idea of why the war began to begin with. How the rest of the world also had this progression of World War I, the 20’s, the stock market, and the Great Depression.

A more grown up and (I hope) wiser version of me is beginning to understand how a country can be so willing to try anything to return to normal. After the great depression, the German government was in shambles, opening the door for a new political group, the third reich, to come to power. No one ever told little me how desperate people were for change and how good Hitler was as convincing people that things were going to be better under his command.

Being here in Berlin, I am able to see more clearly how these transitions happened. I have begun to humanize the past, seeing anew the ways that history changes a place, a nation, a people. Here, representing fourteen countries all around the world, I see how history changes the culture and the ways of living. We are all so different, but we are still all the same.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: ‘Ships

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It took me six years to finish Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nearly a decade after it has been on the air, and now that I’m finally through it all I can’t shut up about it.  Friends, acquaintances, and strangers have all fallen victim to my renditions of “Once More With Feeling” (among other related topics).  Slowly, I am publishing my thoughts on the series.  Other topics covered so far include: The Beginning, and Fun vs. Serious.

Yes, I just used the phrase ‘ships to refer to relationships in a non-fangirl way.  Which is not to say that I don’t fangirl this show, just…  We can squee over that later.  What I’m talking about is the huge diversity of relationship — romantic and platonic — that go on in Buffy.

Friendship is basically the reason that Buffy is able to kick ass the way that she does. It’s clear right off the bat that in order to be the Slayer, Buffy is relying on a lot of people as backup, both in the field and behind the scenes.  Xander and Willow have been with Buffy since day one (faster than I have ever made friends with anyone in my life), and have come in handy on multiple occasions   One shining example is when Giles, Xander, and Willow use magic to give their energy to help Buffy defeat Adam during Season four’s final battle in, “Primeval”.

In some ways Buffy’s friends are at odds with her Slayer duties.  Kendra says so on repeat, and Giles is never in argument with that.  As much as she relies on her friends, there are also times that she must act alone.  When Anya returns to being a vengeance demon and must be stopped it’s Buffy who is forced to stop her (“Selfless”).  This whole superior/inferior complex is most of Buffy’s character arch in season 6 (that and Spuffy, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

Some friendships are unexpectedly wonderful.  Spike and Dawn have an awesome friendship that is difficult to describe.  Anya and Giles’ employer/employee relationship is oddly wonderful.  Joyce and Giles have some crazy chemistry in “Band Candy”, and then some awkward moments after.

Joyce shows nearly undying devotion to Buffy (and later, Dawn), but she is always Buffy’s mom.  On some shows (*cough*Gilmore Girls*cough*) the mom also takes on other roles as friend or defender or whatnot, but Joyce is never anything other than Buffy and Dawn’s mom.  Even among Buffy’s friends she is not treated as anyone else (unless she’s under a spell: “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”, “Band Candy”).  Also, her friendship with Spike is possibly my favorite thing in the series.  “Lovers Walk” anyone?

As far as unpopular opinions go, the biggest one I have is that I love Dawn like no other.  I think she was the best part of season five (I didn’t really warm up to the Glory story line until we found out she was a god in “Checkpoint”).  Some would argue that her existence messed with the relationship that Buffy had with her mother, Joyce.  I can’t really argue that point, but what I like about Dawn is the new relationship that she created as Buffy’s sister.

Sisters are constantly at odds with each other, and so I liked seeing that relationship playing out on fiction.  There is this acknowledgement that Buffy can call Dawn annoying and irritating or whatever else she wants, but if anyone else says a word against her they will have to suffer the consequences.  It’s the exact feeling that I have towards my sister (who for the record hates Dawn with a burning passion, Frick and Frack as always).

Along with the family relations and friendships there are, of course, the romances.  Since Buffy knocked Angel off his feet (“Welcome to the Hellmouth”) there has always been a romantic aspect to Buffy.  Because how can a teenage drama exist without relationship problems?  (It can’t)  In the beginning crushes and awkwardness ruled.  Willow had a crush on Xander, Xander had a crush on Buffy, Buffy was pretty stuck on this mysterious (and much older) Angel fellow.

While I’d hardly call Buffy and Angel’s relationship a fabulously mature one, no one can deny that it was pivotal to the beginning of the series.  Most poignant was their break up after Angel lost his soul (and on any other television show, that would be a euphenism).  Once again, the feeling of this relationship has been captured perfectly.  Joyce guesses with more accuracy that she could ever know, that Angel is “not the guy [Buffy] fell for.”

High School relationships grow, fade, and break apart to make way for college relationships.  Xander and Cordelia’s mutually loathing relationship breaks apart to make way for his relationship with Anya, which in turn grows from casual to serious. Willow goes from a rock band werewolf Oz to Tara, a fellow Wiccan who she would destroy anything to protect (and nearly does in “Grave”).  Buffy and Riley are nearly on the same level, but their relationship kind of falls apart after the Initiate is shut down.

Perhaps the strangest romantic entanglement in the series comes in part from Spike.  While he had been, for nearly a hundred years, involved with the vampire Drucilla (a strange but wonderful relationship in it’s own right), when Dru leaves him Spike eventually finds himself pinning for Buffy.

Their relationship is discombobulating at first, then more so.  You know when one person in a relationship is more committed than the other?  Yeah.  Ironically, Buffy shows how much she cares for Spike by breaking up with him.  No matter what happens, these two care about each other.  You would never have guessed it from the beginning (“School Hard”), but by the time you get to “Touched” the emotions are clear.

The diversity of relationships in Buffy is what makes the show relate-able to such a variety of people.  No matter what the premise of a show is, it’s the relationships that keep people watching.  Buffy is a show about vampires and monsters, but also about friendship and the strength that comes with togetherness.

This week in Whedon Wednesday: Eulogy for Joyce Summers.

Next in my Buffy rants, Character Growth.

Writing About Writing (week of July 9)

Monday: nothing
Tuesday: nothing
Wednesday: blogged – Stiner draft
blogged – Berlin’s History draft
blogged – In Transition draft
Thrusday: emails
Friday: emails
Saturday: nothing
Sunday: nothing

Yeah, this week was pretty sad. All in all I don’t feel terrible about it because it was the first week of What Moves You, and I did get SOME things done. Still, I was hoping for more. Thankfully I seem to be much more adjusted to the time and energy level that is needed for both being here and for doing Eurythmy.

This next week I want to polish some things to actually post something other than this and my pre-sanctioned Buffy series this week, so hopefully that will be a thing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Fun vs. Serious

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It took me six years to finish Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nearly a decade after it has been on the air, and now that I’m finally through it all I can’t shut up about it.  Friends, acquaintances, and strangers have all fallen victim to my renditions of “Once More With Feeling” (among other related topics).  Slowly, I am publishing my thoughts on the series.  Other topics covered so far include: The Beginning.

In the spirit of this-is-my-favorite-show-in-the-world-right-now, one of the truely great things about it is the consistent balance of fun and funny hilarity to actual and serious matters that can be harder to talk about.  Buffy manages to give us things like adults acting like teenagers (“Band Candy”), invisibility rays (“Gone”), and spells gone hysterically wrong (“Something Blue”, “Tabula Rasa”) in the same space as issues like death, depression, and addiction.

Fun: Body swaping witches (“Witch”), a giant praying mantis (“Teacher’s Pet”), students turning to hyenas (“The Pack”), and a ventriloquist dummy that’s able to talk on it’s own (“The Puppet Show”).  Granted, most of this is also terrifying in it’s own way, but hey, it’s hard to imagine any of these things causing the end of the world.

Serious: All three seasons of the High School years come with something that is quite common of high school: trying to fit in.  The Scoobies are just trying to figure out their identity in the world.  Buffy’s identity is seemingly chosen for her, Willow begins experimenting with magic, and there are relationships all around that are trying to determine how the world works.

Fun: Spike and Drusilla.  Spike and Drusilla are a vampire couple that are at the same time haunting and hysterical.  Drusilla in particular is certifiably crazy in a way that is wonderful to watch.  Spike starts out as a serious threat (he later turns into something else entirely, but we’ll get to that).  Together they are season two’s big bad, which I guess might put them under the serious coulum.

Serious: Consequences.  Mid season two Buffy and Angel sleep together which triggers the curse that gave Angel his soul and takes it away again.  This turns Angel back into Angelus, the vampire he used to be.  Talk about some serious consequences for pre-marital sex.  The season cumulates in Buffy having to kill Angel, sending him through a portal to hell.

Fun: “Band Candy”.  I love this episode too much to not include it (note, it may be mentioned in every Buffy post ever).  What’s not to love about a bunch of parents and teachers acting like teenagers.  Giles turns into his rebel teenage self and seduces Buffy’s mom, Joyce.  Awesome.

Serious: Relationships in season three get a little wonky.  Xander and Cordelia have been dating, as have Willow and Oz.  When Xander and Willow have a bit of a thing, it ruins one relationship, and puts the other on eggshells.

Fun: Anya, a vengence demon, creates a parallel universe where the town has been taken over by vampires turning some of our favorite characters into vampires.  Vampire!Willow anyone?

Serious: Faith, a party happy second slayer turns on the group and joins the mayor who is attempting to become a demon of some sort by devouring the town.  This of course has to happen during the Sunnydale High School graduation ceremony which our heros were supposed to be the stars of.  Well, at least they get to blow up the library.

Fun: Anya joins the gang as Xander’s girlfriend.  As a now-former vengeance demon Anya doesn’t exactly understand or follow social norms.  She is greedy and blunt, hysterically so.  She also has an irrational fear of bunnies which is brought up possibly too often.

Serious: Relationships again.  Buffy takes a stab at a normal relationship.  Riley is a TA for one of her classes and is secretly a member of a covert ops group under the cover of a fraternity.  The Initiative is… military.  Meanwhile Oz leaves Willow, and a friendship with a fellow Wiccan turns into romance.  Xander proposes to Anya, then leaves her at the alter in season six.

Fun: “Something Blue”.  While Willow is morning her relationship with Oz, she casts a spell to make her will be done.  This has hysterical effects on her friends when she accidentally wills Giles blind, Xander into a demon magnet, and Spike (did I mention that Spike is one of the gang now?) to propose to Buffy.  Awesome.

Serious: Dawn shows up as Buffy’s sister which throws some of the relationships off balance.  How is it that everyone remembers her, but she didn’t exist until she was created at the beginning of season five?  Dawn, goes through the same identity-finding problems that the Scoobies went though in high school, with the added drama of the fact that she only just started to exist.  At the end of the season Buffy scarifies herself for Dawn, dying in place of her sister.

Fun: Spike and Harmony.  Spike is now incapable of violence even when he does sort of want to kill Harmony.  Harmony is a former classmate of the Scooby Gang turned into the most human (and annoying) vampire you’ve ever seen.  (ETA: and this was before I even knew she would be coming back in Angel.)

Serious: “The Body”.  This episode is serious is subject matter and in tone.  Joyce, who has been sick for most of the season dies in this episode which features awkward silence where music would normally diffuse tension.  All the characters are faced with this unexpected death (Joyce was recovering) and have to find a way to deal with it.

Fun: The Trio.  The ‘big bad’ of season six is a trio of nerds who are out to destroy the universe.  Where as in most seasons the big bad is to be taken seriously, these guys are comic relief to the multitude of not-so-nice things that are happening throughout the season.  The trio’s shining moments include a freeze ray (“Smashed”) and an invisibility ray (“Gone”).

Serious: After Buffy sacrifices herself in the season five finale, her friends resurrect her.  She sinks into a horrid depression, eventually revealing that Willow, Tara, and Xander pulled her back from heaven.  Buffy now has to figure out how to deal with the real world which includes being the caretaker for her sister Dawn, and getting a job to pay the bills now that she is the sole provider.

Fun: “Once More, With Feeling” While this episode does deal with some pretty heavy things (Anya and Xander’s fears for their upcoming marriage, Buffy’s depression, and two character’s plans to leave the group), it couldn’t be dealt with in a more fun way.  A demon comes and puts a spell on everyone so that the whole town starts singing their true feelings.

Serious: Addiction.  Willow becomes addicted to magic.  She tries to use it to solve every problem that she comes across, even erasing Tara’s memory so that they don’t fight anymore.  This eventually leads to a blow up where she turns into a character that has been referred to as Dark Willow to try and get revenge.  Of course, she then tries her hand at causing an apocalypse.

Fun: Dawn goes to the newly renovated Sunnydale High School.  There is a feeling of returning to the shows beginnings as Buffy is hired as a school guidence councelor.

Serious: The first.  The big bad in season seven is the first evil.  Supposedly, this is the thing that all darkness has spawned from.  It’s a non-corporal being that can take the form of any dead person it wants.  Just for kicks, this includes vampires (who are technically dead), and Buffy (who, to be fair, has now died twice).

Fun: All the potential slayers come to live with Buffy in their house.  It turns into a season long sleepover party.  Andrew, a former member of the trio, is now their hostage and is intent on documenting the event for the future.  If there even is a future.

Serious: The end of the world.  Again.  But this time everybody knows about it causing a mass exodus from Sunnydale.  And then they blow up the entire town.  Well.  Spike blows up the entire town.  Oh.  Spike.  This is the point where I curl up into a ball and start sobbing because Spike died (yes, I know, Angel, but still).

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What is your favorite fun or serious episode of Buffy?  Character?  Story line?  Inquiring minds want to know.

This week in Whedon Wednesday: Eulogy for Angel.

Next in my Buffy rants, ‘Ships.