Married, Saved, and Still Sexy | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

Married, Saved, and Still Sexy | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

Confronting Our Elephants: Hollywood Exes and Facing Our Misconceptions

Mayté Garcia and Jessica Canseco of “Hollywood Exes” discuss their differences

I wanted some time to settle into writing this blog before I opened up a vein online—there are some subjects that are very personal to me that I have not discussed with many, if any, people. In fact, I would have liked to open up sooner about this to some of those closest to me before spilling my guts to the whole of cyberspace. But a certain reality TV show has brought out a subject about which I can empathize with both of the combatants…and opens a lot of old wounds and unresolved issues in my own life.

Despite my resistance, I have gotten sucked into Hollywood Exes. Following the exploits of Mayté Garcia (former Mrs. Prince Rogers Nelson), Nicole Murphy (former Mrs. Eddie Murphy), Sherree Fletcher (former Mrs. Will Smith), Jessica Canseco (former Mrs. José Canseco) and Andrea Kelly (former Mrs. Robert Kelly), and their adjustments into a less high-profile world than they enjoyed during their celebrity marriages, the ladies act as each other’s social and emotional supports. The show in large part has stayed on the classy side thus far, with few outrageous moments and burgeoning “catfights.” However, in one episode a confrontation arose between Mayté and Jessica regarding Jessica’s seemingly callous mention of having had an abortion in a previous altercation with Sheree. Mayté is the only one of the five women who has no living children—she miscarried one and the other, while born to term, only lived a week. So to be sitting amongst friends and have this touchy subject come up in such a cavalier way did not sit well with Mayté. As viewers, we had the opportunity to hear Jessica relay part of her story to her daughter Josie—and we see here that though it may seem that Jessica is glib about it, this is not an easy thing to deal with. Unfortunately, in that given moment at the restaurant, Mayté doesn’t know any of this and kind of loses it, throwing a glass across the room and walking away from the table shaking in anger and frustration. Jessica is nonplussed, not understanding why Mayté is so upset and believing that this behavior is an overreaction. Feeling that the mellow vibe of the evening has been lost and that she is under attack, Jessica decides to leave the restaurant.

VIDEO LINK: Hollywood Exes–Opening Old Wounds

I could relate to both sides as I have been through the emotional process of an abortion and I am mourning, lamenting and second-guessing my current childless state. I was a young college student when I discovered I was pregnant, and the circumstances with the father did not lend themselves to our successfully completing school, finding gainful employment and being responsible for a young life. I knew well from friends and classmates that, while difficult, it could be done; I just didn’t know if I could do it. Additionally, I had yet to tell my parents, who I knew would not be happy about my being an unwed mother and was fairly sure that support from them, if I got any, would be tinged with disappointment and the heavy leverage of guilt. I vacillated every day between keeping my child while facing my parents’ censure and releasing my child from a possible life of struggle. I thought long and hard about giving my child up for adoption despite protests from the father—a conflicted adopted child himself-—and facing the fear and potential pain of the Procedure, which was the only way I could think of it to get myself through with my heart semi-insulated. I imagine these are all of the feelings Jessica was trying to mask, distancing herself emotionally from a statement about an actuality that was more painful to disclose than she was willing or able to let on.

I truly believe that I would never have accomplished any of the things in my career had I attempted to do so while being a mother, yet I often have times where I wonder if maybe the tests of that situation were exactly what I needed to happen to me. I think often about what he or she would have looked like and what it would have sounded like to have them run around with their cousin. I’ve had two different surgeries on my uterus and have had the overwhelming guilty feelings that I was being punished for my choices and would never be blessed with a family of my own. I see my friends and classmates interacting with their children and sometimes grandchildren and am wistful about what I have missed. I have not given birth to a child and watched him struggle to survive for one week like Mayté did, but I did have a bond with my unborn child despite my ultimate decision to discontinue the pregnancy. Even with that, I knew that my feelings were not exactly the same. Having spoken to a few friends who have gone through that, the majority of those who have dealt with miscarriage have had the same run of polar emotions, with the added anguish of having seen or held their child at least once, and possibly having known that young little personality for all too brief a time in reality, as opposed to the abstract connection I feel with my unborn child—or children, as the doctor was never able to confirm whether or not my pregnancy was a multiple. And a surprising number of them are pro-choice in spite of what they’ve been through—or at least pro-choice for the woman that choice directly affects. The majority all agreed that this was a subject that required more understanding and sensitivity and less judgment, so that women wouldn’t have to feel defensive or put up a façade when talking about it. They all thought that we as women should be able to have open and honest dialogue amongst ourselves so that the treacherous emotional waters would not be quite as hard to navigate, or need to be dealt with alone. (Or even to some extent ignored or unacknowledged, as outside of this post my circumstances have not been approached by or discussed or with anyone close to the situation.)

Subsequent episodes have the remaining ladies talking to both Jessica and Mayté about what happened and trying to dissolve the tension; not knowing each other’s full story and dealing with their own pain, both are reluctant until finally on one group outing Jessica tentatively approaches Mayté and suggests they schedule some one-on-one time to really talk it out with each other and clear the air. The magic of television edits down a lot, but it seems that once they finally have that lunch everything is put out on the table and Jessica has come to the realization that her response may have come across as insensitive, while Mayté accepts that what seemed like indifference was a self-protective front.

VIDEO LINK: Hollywood Exes–Do You Have Plastic Cups?

I was concerned that despite the positive resolution of other difficult conflicts that this particular one would continue to cause tension with the ladies; while excellent for ratings and promotion, not only would this not be helpful to either Jessica or Mayté’s private pain or interpersonal interactions, but it would eventually put a strain on all of the other ladies and deteriorate the group dynamic. As one of the few “fantasy reality” shows that has adults women actually behaving as such and solving their problem in a manner befitting that status, I was glad to see the intelligent and genial resolution to a weighty encounter. It also helped ease a few heartaches of my own in the process. If we have to look to celebrity women as role models, these ladies offer a very reassuring example.

SYTYCD—Team Ballet’s Road to Reign

Nine seasons and a format change is what it took to boost not one but two ballet dancers to the top spot on So You Think You Can Dance. Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tchopp were crowned America’s Favorite Dancers, the first ballet dancers of a very small field to reach such broad appeal. Here’s my take on how they pulled it off:

–Versatility of technical foundation
It’s frequently said that in dance, all roads lead to ballet. While there are many fabulous dancers who have had little formal training or have specialized in other forms, the dancers who seem to have the easiest time moving between dance forms have some ballet training in their background. It’s a lot easier to break form from years of regimented posture, isolated movements and perfected turnouts and positions than it is to intensively train muscles in a few days. The posture taught at the ballet barre translates well into many of the ballroom styles, and the musculature developed is very helpful toward the precision and stamina of Bollywood. Even though there are definite style differences that must be learned, the muscle memory from ballet training seems to speed the adaptation process. Eliana brought the added experience of the aerial arts with her, having spent about three years in the Cirque du Soleil Viva Elvis show doing pole work (and aerial silks). Her flexibility—which was already veering into “freak of nature” territory—is off the charts, and coupled with her ballet foundation made every movement look effortless. Chehon demonstrated a similar degree of facility, particularly in the jumps that seemed to launch into the stratosphere and hang in mid-air. Both were billed as contemporary ballet dancers, meaning that their strict formal training translated into a less rigid performance repertoire than that of a classical dancer. Contemporary ballet tends to include shapes and movements from modern dance, so while the strict posture and placement is still in place, the dancers have a little more fluidity of movement so as to not come across as stiff, and that translated well for both dancers.

–Performance energy
All dancers radiate a certain energy when they dance in order to connect with their audiences, but there’s something extra in the wattage of Eliana and Chehon’s smiles that seem to extend through their whole bodies. Eliana in particular had a captivating personality—the self-proclaimed goofball brought joy and vitality to every performance. She jumped straight into every style with enthusiastic glee and seldom looked like she was struggling. While Chehon has a bit more of a struggle with effectively translating the technique and the underlying emotional themes of his dances, there was something in his manner that carried across to the judges as worth keeping on the show. His later triumphs in the Argentine tango and subsequent contemporary numbers proved the save as a wise decision.

–Social media
Since the advent of the network-driven Facebook page, the dancers who are especially social-network savvy have used them to their full advantage. Many of the contestants add their own personal posts on these pages and welcome fan questions, and such was the case with Eliana and Chehon. Chehon was especially interactive, sharing articles (including this really good one), offering thanks after getting through to the next show and even asking advice on potential themes and music for future solos. Eliana, in turn, was open to answering fans’ inboxed questions, posting candid photos and making the occasional totally random comment.

We can only expect greater things to come from this pair. I absolutely cannot wait to watch them happen.

Viva Team Ballet! Photo by Joe Toreno

The T1D Challenge: Being a Virtual Diabetic For A Day

“You down with T1D? Yeah, you know me….”

Challenged by a friend with Type 1 diabetes, I signed up for the T1D Text Challenge with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The challenge consisted of up to 24 text messages simulating many of the trials, symptoms and decisions that Type 1 diabetics have to contend with every day. I signed up for the challenge at 11:20 pm on Wednesday, November 14. Though I got an immediate confirmation, the texts didn’t begin until Friday, November 16 with a general disclaimer (the whole educational purposes only and don’t use this to replace professional medical advice thing) and my day as a diabetic “officially” began a little before 8:00 AM. I went to bed around 9:00 am with the phone buried in my purse, and didn’t get out of bed until after 3:00 pm…so 8 or 9 texts had already come in. Looking them over, it’s lucky for me this was simulated and not real life:

    7:47 AM, Nov 16
    Before leaving home, grab blood meter, insulin injection tools & emergency glucose supplies. Constant preparation is top priority for T1D. TxtStop2End

    8:30 AM, Nov 16
    Give self the daily pep talk on doing everything possible to keep blood sugar level within recommended range. Stay strong if set-backs happen. TxtStop2End

    9:35 AM, Nov 16
    2 hours since breakfast. Check blood sugar. Higher than it should be. Why? Sometimes there is no explanation. Take injection to correct high. TxtStop2End

    10:41 AM, Nov 16
    You are hungry & want to eat an apple. Every carb needs insulin. So test blood before eating. Consider when you eat lunch & what you will eat. TxtStop2End

    10:42 AM, Nov 16
    Every fingertip feels sore and tender. Still, you need to lance one to get a drop of blood. There is always the backup spot: the thumb tip. TxtStop2End

    12:16 PM, Nov 16
    Lunchtime blood test too high. Count carbs you will eat. Calculate insulin dose. Increase slightly based on high meter reading, per your MD. TxtStop2End

    1:49 PM, Nov 16
    90 min since lunch. You feel low & test is low. Drink just the right amount of orange juice (fast acting carb) to bring blood sugar back up. TxtStop2End

    3:05 PM, Nov 16
    Feeling sluggish & a bit emotional from that earlier low. Try not to beat yourself up. Stay positive even after a couple out-of-range tests. TxtStop2End

There’s a lot of preparation and forward thinking involved in just having a normal day–I’m lucky if I can remember my purse, phone, keys and Nook in the first trip out of the door. And there are many days when I get lazy and leave some of those things behind if I’m rushed and I can’t find them. Leaving behind my insulin or emergency pick-me-ups, while indulging my laziness, could be foolish or even fatal. Up to now I thought the insulin was prescribed to balance blood sugars because of what was eaten; I had no idea that every action–eating, exercising, basic body functions–was driven by that insulin dosage, and that dosing fluctuates depending on these activities and precise nutrient intake. And see that lancet business? I got one to deal with some staph bumps that were being a nuisance (with proper disinfection and handling, of course). Very few of those were on my fingertips. I can testify–that quick prick is NO FUN AT ALL. Some of the newer meters allow for arm testing, but still–stabbing myself daily, on purpose, without fail? I think the wuss in me would seriously be considering a diabetic coma.

    3:46 PM, Nov 16
    2 hours since low sugar episode. Test again. Wow! Blood sugar number is exactly where it should be. Do not celebrate w/ a big load of carbs. TxtStop2End

I chuckled at this one, because knowing me, I probably would have done exactly that and messed up my levels. We are often told to use rewards as motivators for reaching goals, and that would have been the first thing I ran to. I also noticed in one of the earlier texts about self pep talks; I already have to boost up my self-confidence over the normal “woman” issues and my own self-esteem–I simply can’t imagine having to boost myself up to keep myself alive and well.

    5:19 PM, Nov 16
    Back home. Ready to relax but you want your 2-mile run. Regular exercise is a big benefit for people with T1D. Take necessary precautions. TxtStop2End

OK, there is NO WAY I’m doing a 2-mile run under any circumstances. However, I do know that an active lifestyle is important in any state of health, so maybe if they’d texted “Zumba class” instead, I’d have been OK with that.

    5:23 PM, Nov 16
    Good blood sugar level. Based on experience, you consume extra carbs to prevent hypoglycemia while running. Carry glucose tablets on run. TxtStop2End

More of the preparation thing. If I do decide to do any outdoor exercise activity, the only things I carry on me are my keys, my ID and maybe my water bottle (though I would keep that in the car or on the counter by the door if I’m doing anything high-impact that requires that I carry as little as possible).

    6:30 PM, Nov 16
    Almost dinner time. Check blood. See number before deciding what to eat & how much. Factor in 2-mile run for pre-dinner insulin injection. TxtStop2End

Calculating what and how much to eat against current blood levels and the exercise I just did, and balancing the amount of insulin to use based of all of that? I’m lucky if I can decide WHAT to fix for dinner, and that’s usually a last-minute decision.

    6:50 PM, Nov 16
    Dinner! Lots of protein, vegetables & fresh fruit. As healthy as fruit & veggies are, they still contain carbs, so they still require insulin. TxtStop2End

Healthy eating STILL has to be monitored and counter-checked. LIVING is a full-time job.

    6:51 PM, Nov 16
    Insulin bottle almost empty. Check supply in fridge. Buy more, enough to last through even unexpected events: weather emergencies, etc. TxtStop2End

Having gone through several hurricanes–with the last few taking pointed aim at my refrigerators–I can now fully understand the mad rush for ice and generators, and have a new understanding and respect for anyone who has had to ride it out in a hospital, nursing home or other health care facility.

    8:09 PM, Nov 16
    Skipped dessert at dinner & now crave cake or ice cream. Satisfy sweet tooth and inject more insulin? This is a constant daily T1D dilemma. TxtStop2End

    9:43 PM, Nov 16
    Did not resist dessert; took fast-acting carbs. Blood glucose now too high. Inject 1 more insulin dose to bring it down. TxtStop2End

Resist dessert? I had two mini-cheesecake squares and some chocolate chip macadamia cookies for BREAKFAST. I did make some sensible choices during the day–8 oz. of fresh squeezed juice (fruit and veggie combo), one King Hawaiian sweet roll and a few blackened shrimp out of the batch that would augment my leftovers later, but I am completely and utterly helpless in the face of sweets.

Now the next few texts came while I was at work–and scared the hell out of me:

    10:28 PM, Nov 16
    Blood test before bed: number is only a bit lower but heading in right direction. Lights out. Full nights of sleep are important for T1D. TxtStop2End

    In my particular line of work, full nights (or days) of sleep are an anomaly. I know there have to be some people in the television and production industry dealing with diabetes, but I can’t see how they do it.

    2:07 AM, Nov 17
    Wake up sweaty, confused, agitated. Somehow do blood test; dangerously low. Drink fast-acting carbs kept by bedside. Do glucagon injection? TxtStop2End

    2:12 AM, Nov 17
    Call emergency contact who lives nearby. Say what is happening. Ask contact to be on standby. Do another test. Slightly higher/safer. TxtStop2End

THE HELL?!? EMERGENCY CONTACT?!? The phrase “diabetes related complications” in obituaries always seems an abstract concept, a byproduct of NOT properly taking care of yourself. This just got real. My virtual day was up and down but at every stage there was monitoring and measuring and medicating…but there was still a possibility for a major health crisis. I had to look up glucagon–it didn’t even occur to me that diabetics also needed something to LOWER blood sugar. Many people, my friend included, deal with this fearful situation on their own all the time. I can imagine this scenario with asthma because I’ve ridden out a few asthma attacks with my now-husband. Emergency watch for diabetes? Can’t quite wrap my head around it.

    2:43 AM, Nov 17
    Wait 30 minutes. Check blood sugar to see if number is moving higher. It is. Eat a low-carb snack to stabilize. Try to relax, try to sleep. TxtStop2End

    6:00 AM, Nov 17
    After rough night, you want to stay in bed. But no. Prick finger, test blood. Good number. Goal today: no highs/lows. Another T1D day begins. TxtStop2End

After a day of cramps or being depressed I want to stay in the bed. AND inhale a pint of ice cream. Neither would be an option for a diabetic. It takes a warrior to carry this disease.

This experience has been a great eye-opener for me. Managing diabetes is way more involved and complicated than I thought. And though I never physically felt a symptom, I think I got a better understanding of what people with diabetes live with every day. The challenge closed with this final message:

    Final message (9:30 AM Nov 17):
    When you live with T1D there is no *TxtStop2End* but you can help end days like these with a $10 donation: Text JDRF to 20222. Thank you. TxtStop2End

I believe I will. I hope you will, too.

10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family | Psych Central

The key to marital bliss during the holiday season is keeping the relatives from driving you bonkers. Here are a few tips:

10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family | Psych Central.

Who needs Superman when there’s Banting and Best

A brief primer on the history of World Diabetes Day (and probably a whole lot of inspiration for me in the near future)…..

Ahhh insulin, we’ve had quite the ride haven’t we. In the beginning, I thought for sure you were my enemy, and just like the scared, little kid I was, I avoided you at all costs, health included. But as we grew together, once I was forced to accept your wisdom, our relationship gradually evolved into something that is now quite beautiful. You could even describe it as BFF-like.

And so today, dear insulin, I give you homage.

Today is World Diabetes Day, and I’ll be honest, despite having this disease for more than 24 years, I had no clue that Nov. 14 was World Diabetes Day until just last month. It probably had something to do with the fact that I never really cared, and again, I’ll be honest, I’m still kind of dubious about the whole “day” thing. All day the Twitter feed, blogs, even my own email…

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Am I BLUE! Today, you be too!

Today, November 14, is World Diabetes Awareness Day. True, in terms of publicity it’s not quite as sexy as say, breast cancer or AIDS. But considering that according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes kills more Americans per year than AIDS and breast cancer combined, it’s about time we gave this disease its due attention…and to those who live with it every day, our support. Two things we can start with:

    Wear something blue today. Or put on the blue light–there are many monuments and prominent buildings around the world illuminating in blue for tomorrow, so while a $6 light bulb might be a small act, it’s a start.


    Become a Type 1 Diabetic (or T1D) for one day this month. Sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, this challenge will give you a virtual glimpse into the day in the life of an insulin-dependent diabetic. Here’s what to do:

T1D For a Day …

Throughout November, we’re asking people to better appreciate what people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) experience every day, every hour by taking part in a unique mobile-based challenge: T1D for a Day.

When you sign up for the T1D for a Day text challenge, you agree to receive as many as 24 text messages over a 24-hour period that simulate the constant blood sugar testing, insulin injections, and dietary decisions that confront people with T1D.

While no virtual campaign can recreate the many needles required or the physical and financial tolls of this serious disease, T1D for a Day seeks to deepen understanding of the many heroic steps our friends and loved ones with T1D take each day.

Please sign up for the T1D for a Day challenge now … just text T1D4ADAY to 63566. You will receive a confirmation text that completes your registration.

Before the month is out I’ll follow up with my own response to the challenge, and an in-depth conversation with a friend of mine who is an advocate–and a 15 year Type 1 diabetic. Stay tuned….and for today, GO BLUE!

SYTYCD Live Tour 2012–Playing the Superfan Game

Big ups to Emma Skelton for the photo assist!

I had been looking forward to this concert since the end of the last one, or at least since the posting of the last blog when several of my friends came out of the woodwork saying they would have come along if they’d known I was going solo. The crappy work week that preceded only served to further my desire to put “real life” behind me for a few days and have a nice mini-vacation. I had my friend pick me up from work in the morning so we could hit the road immediately. After working a 10 hour shift by myself, I’m amazed I even held out for one coherent hour in the first leg of the drive. The trusty GPS and my uncanny knack for waking up at the right moment were most helpful, as we were making a detour to stop at a friend’s in Alexandria who was doing me a huge favor making some tour surprises for a couple of my favorite guys, and my snoring and drooling was not conducive to her finding her way.

We made pretty good time (and really good gas mileage—we only stopped once for gas in my friend’s Toyota as opposed to the 2 or 3 stops we’d have had to make in Belle) and got to the hotel, where my Dallas friend and third companion for the show made a beeline to the hotel so we could hang out for a few hours. I had my first Red Robin burger (and my friend half-flirted with the bartender after ogling a bottle of Tuaca on the bar) and we hung out in the hotel room eating and giggling like teenagers. Well, like teenagers who were pre-writing blog reviews and watching political/hurricane coverage with rapt fascination.

The next day my travel mate got to visit some yarn stores and a pub she’d heard about, while I got to have lunch with my friend—who had taken the day off to spend with me and be fresh for the concert—and another Dallas friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I even got the bright idea to stop at a Hallmark store to get a birthday card for one of my students (with the intent of getting it autographed after the show) and an ornament or two while I had the chance. Too bad I left the hotel without the card in tow—I was trying to do too much. (Mental note: bringing copious souvenirs for the dancers sounds like a really good idea on paper but is hell at the security check.) We stop for dinner at Mimi’s Bistro, a reasonably passable taste of New Orleans ambiance in an Arlington strip mall, where thanks to my Dallas friend driving the two of us visiting girls get to enjoy a white wine flight before the show. We arrive at the arena shortly before the show and encountering the parking attendant mambo, my friend—who, since we’re in her car with the handicapped parking placard—inquires about remaining parking spots in the handicapped section. They direct us to a spot closer than we’d had gotten in the other car and aside from trying to rip off the underside of her car with the curb in a too-tight turn, get parked right in front of the entrance ramp. We get inside and I realize I spent all of my side cash…cash I’d intended to hold on the side to buy a souvenir program. Oh, well, I’ll have to head for my seats and brave the t-shirt line at intermission where I KNOW they’ll take my debit card. We work our way down to our seats—slowly, as my friend occasionally needs a cane to walk and we had quite a few stairs to go down. (Found the elevator at intermission so at least she didn’t have to hike back up after the show.) More off to the left than I might have liked and 16 rows deep, the only “obstruction” forewarned by the tickets was the light assembly that partially blocked the central video screen. Oh, and the tallish woman who wound up sitting in front of us and had this amazing knack of leaning over to talk to her friend right when I was snapping a picture

The show’s awesome (as evidenced by the epic novel I wrote previously) and I’m waiting around for after the show to see about a meet and greet with the dancers. You see, Chehon posted on Facebook to message him the day of the show you were attending to be put on the door list, and even though I messaged him three separate times with all of our names, I got no word back as to whether or not it was a go or what to do to get in. After lingering a while a lot of young girls had these stickers in tow, which apparently were issued to area dance studios as…wait for it…passes for the meet and greet. Security was not having it—those stickers had to be on and visible or you had to get out. My friends were not as interested in waiting for the dancers as I was, and as the night air was getting colder and my friend was definitely not up for leaning on a cane for nearly an hour I didn’t want to keep her longer than I had to. But I was emptying that bag in Grand Prairie one way or another. So with one friend already waiting in the lobby and the other one heading up toward there to go to the car, I tried to at least distribute my goodies without having to wait, but was ushered outside in the line with the rest of the diehards.

My camera was nearly dead and I had not yet mastered the smartphone I inherited from the hubby, so I stood outside hoping for the best. I worked my way close to the barricade next to a mom and her three kids—a teen boy, a teen girl and a nine-year old girl who was dismayed at “losing her spot” to me. I had been listening to her siblings mercilessly tease her for the 10-20 minutes we’d been out there, so if the fact that she was a young child wasn’t enough for me to let her up front when the dancers came, the tormented baby sibling thing clinched it. I told her she was fine and I’d let her in when the time came, and also eased her mind when her brother kept telling her the dancers weren’t coming out because they knew she was waiting and being impatient and they just wanted to annoy her. My new friend Carlyn and family were pretty humorous, particularly when Dad, tired of waiting in the car came out to try and coax everyone out of the line (to no avail) and was asked by his son about the “hotness” of some of the girl dancers. Surprised at Dad’s appreciative response to the girls, the teens responded in semi-horror, “But Dad, you’re OLD!” I almost turned red hiding laughter at the teens’ reaction.

It only took maybe 45 minutes for the inside meet and greet to end before dancers started trickling out two by two. The pairs of dancers started on opposite ends of the line to try to make to process go faster. And having learned from the New York trip how beads tangle in a tote bag, I took all of those jokers out and put them around my neck at one time so I could transfer them one by one. Considering I’d forgotten my child’s card and the beads and shirts were getting hard to manage, I had shuffled my personal t-shirts and the poster I was going to get autographed off to the car to make my life easier. So Matthew gets to me first and I give him his beads. Emma, Carlyn’s older sister, has offered to snap pics for me and sets up my camera to click….and it chose that moment to completely die. Efforts to use my phone fail, as there’s no discernible flash function (believe me, we LOOKED) so Matthew whips out HIS phone and promises to tweet it later. As the others come up, Emma offers to take my pics as well as theirs on her phone and text them to me later. We go through the line dancer by dancer—all thrilled to get their beads—and snap pics. Will comes by and after getting the beads reaches for his shirttail. It takes me a minute to realize he’s trying to flash me. After mock-scolding him and pointing out that there’s a child present, he lets go of the shirt. I wasn’t quite as quick with Cyrus though, as a couple of abs came out before I fussed at him. I really didn’t have the heart to tell either of them that not only would they have had to flash BEFORE getting the beads, but they were also undoing the wrong article of clothing for that to work for them. I found out Audrey is a semi-homegirl, as she told me she’s got family in New Orleans and they regularly visit.

After a while I see Cole come out, and I’m suddenly nervous about talking to a 26-year-old guy. I thank him for reading and acknowledging the blog post I wrote about his Gravity performance, and presented him with his beads and the shirts I’d had designed and made for him and Chehon with the #ninjaballetfusion thing on them. He seemed to like them and I wish him well in his future career (and tell him to tell his mom I’m a fan of hers too). Most of the girls are coming out in really cute but mostly sleeveless dresses, and even though I’m actually comfortable for once in the Dallas night air, it’s still pretty chilly for them to be out meeting with fans without a jacket or a shrug…which Tiffany and Eliana happen to mention when they get near me. At this point I’m about to have a stroke as I have one pair of beads left and Tiffany, Eliana and Chehon yet to talk to. Since I KNOW I left Accent Annex with 12 pairs of beads and I stuffed all of them into my tote before leaving New Orleans, I’m trying to figure out how two pairs of beads walked out of my bag—especially when Eliana walks up all excited and asks, “Are you the one with the beads?” I had given that pair to Tiffany since I had extra stuff for Eliana and Chehon, and the near-crestfallen look on El’s face would have wounded me had I not also brought her a souvenir New Orleans t-shirt. I gave words of praise and encouragement to all the dancers, but I felt like I really needed to let Eliana know what a phenomenal dancer she is and that she had a fan for life in me. She hadn’t moved too far down the line when I shifted my jacket to my other arm….and found those two sneaky pairs of beads hiding and mocking me. I called her back and dangled them and you’d think I was waving a pair of Louboutins or something. Happy that she was happy and I wasn’t losing my mind, I finally got to talk to Chehon and give him his beads and shirts. He also whipped out his phone to get a shot of the two of us and the now clearly visible #ninjaballetfusion t-shirt I had on (which I have to message or tweet him again to see if he posted it anywhere). Somewhere in the course of this I think I killed Emma’s phone too, but her dad came to the rescue and gave her his phone for the rest of the shots. Satisfied and touched by the generosity of my waiting friends and my last-minute photographer, I give Emma and Carlyn’s mom both my phone number and email address (as I still have yet to figure out why pics won’t download on my “smart” phone) and head for the car.

It’s nearly midnight and as Texas shuts down much earlier than New Orleans, I have not only kept my friend up before a workday but I’ve kept her from her nightly addiction of Sonic ice (from the back) and diet Dr. Pepper. Nevertheless, she drops me and my travel buddy back at our hotel and heads home. It takes me several hours to actually go to sleep, even though I know we have to hit the highway very early. We make our way back to New Orleans and we’re lucky enough to have our gas stop bring us around Natchitoches. Having spent 2 1/2 years living up there due to That Storm That Shall Not Be Named, I took her on a brief sightseeing tour of Front Street—sort of the French Quarter of Central Louisiana—which included driving past the Steel Magnolia house and having lunch at Lasyone’s Restaurant (famous for their meat pies). If we’d had more time there I could have looked in on a few friends but food and gas were all we had time for.

We had a nice semi-uneventful ride up until we got to Lafayette and my friend, who had taken over driving again, needed a shot of coffee to make it the rest of the way. Our search for a Starbucks took us in circles over the same stretch of roadway three times and confused as to why we saw no tell-tale signs in a strip mall that seemed to have everything else…until we got the bright idea to ask the nice young man wrangling carts for Target if perhaps the mecca we sought was actually IN Target. After confirming this was indeed the case and apologizing to the somewhat pushy lady inside my GPS, we made a quick pit stop and got back on the road. The one positive about that fun little detour is that it eliminated the sit in Baton Rouge rush hour traffic we would have had to endure. We managed to get back to New Orleans a little before 8 that night, and I retrieved my car to head home and get to my email ASAP, as Emma had been texting me pics all morning that of course refused to download. She was very nice about emailing them to me and really patient waiting for me to get them downloaded so she could clear her phone memory. Sadly for me, I was able to get pics from her of me with everyone…except Eliana. Considering that if it weren’t for her and Matthew I wouldn’t have ANY pics, I couldn’t be too disappointed…though I must say that scouring the ‘Net for Grand Prairie after pics I can Photoshop myself into (not to mention trying to justify a plane and possibly a concert ticket just to catch her backstage again—and this time with a fully charged camera AND an extra battery) has definitely crossed my mind a few times.

Just in case you missed the epic review post, you can go check it out here.

My gift to Chehon and Cole. Special thanks to JWill Designs and Louisiana Pro-Stitch for helping me produce them!

Couple of 73 Years Shares Advice On How They Make It Work | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

Couple of 73 Years Shares Advice On How They Make It Work | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

Simply Grand–The SYTYCD Live Tour 2012

It has been quite the feat chronicling all of the happenings on the Grand Prairie leg of the 2012 So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour. As usual, the tour was all that and everything. So much happened that like the Lin-Manuel experience I’m going to have to break the trip into two posts for the show review and the travelogue.

MAJOR HUMUNGOUS SPOILER ALERT: I will be revealing the swing dancers and describing the show in minute detail from beginning to end. So if you’re going and DON’T want to be surprised, read on. If you want to experience the show fresh, bookmark me and come back later. I’ll give you some time….

Everybody here that still wants to be? Are we sure?

Goodie! Let’s get to dishing! Pack a lunch, ’cause this read is gonna take a while…..

I have to say they jammed as much as humanly possible and then some into this show. They took last year’s seamless run of mashups and applied it to the entire show, and though I do miss the comic relief from the cast introductions (Season 5’s Russian dance bit, anyone?), it does help to guarantee a little of everyone’s audience favorites gets to the stage. The only verbal introductions outside of Nigel’s pre-taped talking heads were from Chehon and Eliana after the opening number and cast intro. I’ll try to take you through the show as best I can with very few pictures so you can get the full experience even if you didn’t watch the show this season. (translation: I need a better digital camera or better seats. Or maybe a better photographer.)

You might as well start awesome WITH awesome, and as I surmised from the tour pic in the Yahoo! review article pic, the show opened with a 12 man version of Christopher Scott’s Mad Men inspired office piece. After this we move to the Top 10 intros and pose, then Chehon and Eliana’s short greetings. These are the last spots of the show when there are any visible breaks, so at this point it’s take a breath and hold onto your seats ‘cause we’re going full throttle to intermission. The first contemporary block of the evening begins with Amelia and Will’s duet from Week 2 that Stacey Tookie choreographed, which morphs from them to Eliana and Cole’s solitary opposing figures about to do battle with Mia Michaels’s ram/anger piece—not something I’d have risked putting on tour given the potential dangers but it fit with the somewhat dark theme. The mood stayed serious but gained a little lightness by moving to the Travis Wall number done for the Top 10 girls in the Meet the Top 20 show—you know, the one with the door and the light on the other side that represented their journey. I’ve got to say I wasn’t overly crazy about it on the show, but with fewer girls it was a lot easier to see the artistry. Following that, in a move that convinces me these dancers have stageside dressing assistants, we go into the Top 20 number from the finale that was the brain lovechild of Christopher Scott and Sonya Tayeh. I’m telling you—the two minutes it took for the boys to move the door offstage, move the fans in and do a few moves and turns would NOT have been enough time for me to have gotten out of those gauzy creations from the Sennen piece and into those clingy, full-body heavy Lycra dresses required for this dance…but somehow every single one of those girls got fully attired and back on that stage.

The first block ends and we come to the first solo of the evening—the “breathing points,” if you will—and Audrey’s up. I’m not exactly sure how long her solo was but they have blessedly taken that “So You Think You Can Dance” end tag off of the music so the dancers can properly finish and be applauded. We then move to the “theatrical” section, leading off with Tyce Diorio’s Chaplin contemporary. I am way too excited to fully absorb this number—the platform at the back of the stage has a pole attached. So I’m sitting and waiting for this number to end so the one I had fervently hoped to see come to the stage. However, the show producers are being teases, as the Chaplin piece segues into Witney’s jazz number that I affectionately called the “Zombie Jazz Age.” Performed on the show with All-Star Nick Lazzarini, George steps into the male lead and is brilliant, as expected. (Yes I am still fully biased, but he really was good.) After this, George leaves the stage and I hear the tell-tale whine of a trumpet that is unmistakably the intro for “All That Jazz.” Seeing Eliana and Tiffany saunter out along with the rest of the ladies confirms that we get a short original piece to lead us into “When You’re Good To Mama,” which has me literally bouncing up and down in my seat. The dynamic duet from the finale was mesmerizing, so imagine that multiplied by three. Whew! I do remember taking off my jacket for the first time in any theater, and I will certainly attribute the raised temperature of the room to this number. So…however do we move the show forward from here? Simple–turn the pole into a lamppost and have Chehon come out in full “Singing In The Rain” regalia. If you thought I was happy before, getting to see the Gene Kelly tribute live was beyond delightful—AND Cole got to dance his part this time! Now, I’m pretty sure all of the Top 10 got to participate in this number, so unless it was well hidden under that sailor suit, I can’t imagine how Witney changed into her solo outfit so quickly. I think I may have gotten one semi-clear photo of her, and that one was with her sitting down. You need a really good action function to get Ms. Carson in motion.

The third dance medley segment is another contemporary set, beginning with Lindsay and Cole’s “Wild Horses” routine from Stacey Tookie. They are joined onstage during the last few bars by Tiffany and Will, who perform Mandy Moore’s “Power Of Love” piece that Tiffany did with Ade on the show. I’m glad I got one good picture of this number, and that THAT pic was of that spectacular lift in the middle, because not only does it clearly show me Will’s face but his phenomenal performance on that lift. This contemporary section closes out with another Stacey Tookie showstopper—Witney and Chehon’s “I Will Always Love You.” Solo twofers are next from Lindsay and George, who naturally give stellar offerings in their given styles. I’m truly entranced by the way George moves; somebody’s company needs to pick him up quickly.

We ramp us the fun for the next section with the Spencer Liff Broadway piece “Treat Me Rough,” performed by Cyrus and Tiffany during Top 6 week…cue the blatant shameless plug for tour co-sponsor Just Dance 4. Come on now—y’all know good and well there was barely television back in the 1950s…video games? Special. But the same bit of cute as on the show. After that our loveable alley cats sneak into the house to cause their own mayhem—no Dumpster for Amelia and Will tonight. More’s the pity—I thought it visually reinforced their “on the prowl” mood. Just for the tour I might have made a slight adjustment to Will’s costume to make him look a little more ‘50s, since the next two numbers of this section were Tiffany’s jive—partnered by Cole and expanded to a sextet including Lindsay, Matthew, Witney and Chehon—and Eliana’s “Postman” hip-hop with Cyrus making the special delivery. Will’s barely got any time to catch his breath to do his solo before we come to the final section of Act 1 (yes, dearies, ALL of that was Act 1. Imagine how much more I have to describe to you). Keeping the octane going, our ballroom blondes are joined by Matthew to perform the J. Lo/Pitbull cha-cha trio before everyone comes out to do Doriana’s death-defying disco. Everyone was quite admirable in this number—I still can’t tell who partnered Tiffany but watching them do that upside-down split to overhead lift just reinforces how tough this number really is. I have to give a special shout-out to Cyrus, though—for all the critics and naysayers who whined and complained about his non-trained form continuing on the show week after week, he tore that disco a new one. I mean, his form was really greatly improved and his unison with everyone else was impressive. Remember that level of hard he needed to get to? He’s doing it in spades on this tour.

We open Act 2 with a Mia Michaels tribute section, with 10 of the dancers reprising the “Eyes” contemporary from the Meet the Top 20 show. The all black costumes and stark lighting make the perfect entrance for Tiffany and George, who begin the three-dance run of my Mia Night favorites with “Hometown Glory.” I still get thrown off with the assisted jétes but I love the power and vulnerability they put into this piece. Next was Lindsay and Cole’s “Gravity” redux which I tried to make a conscious effort to sit and enjoy but missed a lot of that experience getting that perfect shot of them in motion. The extended dance transition from “Gravity” into Witney and Chehon’s “Calling You” was slightly awkward—it’s really hard to go into a prop-dependent dance from one that has no props, particularly when the themes and colors of the dances don’t mesh. But the interpretations were amazing, just as they were during the competition.

Cole does a quick turnaround to perform his ninja magic, which I did give more focus to despite my futile attempts to get great stills. I guess that’s proof that you can’t nail down a ninja. 😉 The next section can best be called “Extreme Passion” as we have a seamless run through “Bang Bang” with Eliana and “I told y’all that boy was good” George; a sextet of Will, Matthew, Cole, Amelia, Audrey and Tiffany for the Peter Chu group contemporary; Chehon’s Argentine tango with our firecracker Witney; and Cole and Lindsay’s tour de force paso doble.

This section was followed by the most thunderous applaud of the night, as it was Cyrus’s turn at a solo. Clearly none of this audience cared one whit about the critics because they LOOOOOOOVE them some Cyrus. And he gave them everything. Katt Williams level everything. (EV-ER-Y-THANG? EV-ER-Y-THANG!!!!!!)

Now in the category of Biggest Illogical Hodgepodge, this next section opens with Audrey and Matthew jumping on and off the furniture and each other in their Travis Wall Titanic-inspired piece to “Unchained Melody.” Danced with just as much skill, passion and abandon, they were delightful to watch…and then, Will and Amelia enter. I suppose the chaise lounge could represent a Parisian apartment, so I’ll try to buy the producers’ rationale to put “Koop City Blues” (aka the Butt Dance) right here. But in a complete emotional 180, these two are followed on stage by Chehon and Eliana who bring with them a sheet to cover the chaise and…a suitcase. Perhaps had we not been told the full story behind Tyce’s motivation and vision for the dance that transition would have been fine, but it just seemed jarring to me to move from unbridled young passion to unabashed ogling to….devastating emotional tragedy. None of this took anything away from the excellence of the performances, though—Amelia actually found some wellspring of sex appeal this time and the Chehon/Eliana pairing for “Eli, Eli” is so poignantly beautiful you can almost get past the uneasy flow.

Fortunately, we are entering the last full segment of the evening—following Tiffany’s solo turn, we go into the “Beautiful People” group routine Nappytabs graced us with in the second Top 20 competitive show. It looks like they used the costumes from the Top 6 Kelis number which is a good thing, as the netted skirts allow us to get “Toxic,” with Team Cyriana performing the only number that was actually an original duet of theirs on the show. A not-quite-as-awkward-but-still-weird transition later finds us watching Cole and who I want to say was Audrey (sadly my seats were at an angle, on the opposite side from most of the dance action AND I still can’t tell Audrey and Tiffany apart from a distance) performing the Sonya Tayeh contemporary “Possibly Maybe.” Allison Holker is a difficult spectre to live up to, but it was well done.

Gearing up for the finale brings us to our champion solos—Eliana goes back to the beginning and performs her audition piece (flawlessly was implied—I said ELIANA was dancing), and Chehon brings out the badass Terminator/Tekken routine complete with this bitchin’ pair of multi-LED lighted gloves. Like we needed an incentive to pay attention to him…but they were a lovely bonus. The music gears up—it’s “My Homies Still,” so Witney will be allowed to get ratchet on the tour. She comes out with GEORGE—who the judges ragged on during his and Tiffany’s Nappytabs babysitting adventure—who proceeds to SHUT IT DOWN. I have to admit, even I underestimated the level of swag my boy brought to this. However, halfway into the number, Cyrus is not satisfied to let George have all the fun, so our crunk duo becomes a trio. Not to be outdone, as the threesome begins “waiting for the bus,” EVERYBODY runs out into a straight line to join them on that step.

They move from here into the finale number, which of everything performed that evening was the only original full number in the show (a few dance segue segments aside). Lots of fun and high energy, our cast takes their well-deserved bows and gear up for an encore—Gangnam style. No, seriously—the entire lot of them pranced around the stage to that song, with those steps. I suspect this was probably their favorite number of the evening, as I saw so much smiling and laughing and energy going on amongst a group of people who had just spent the last two hours busting several moves and should have been somewhere backstage passing out and looking for oxygen.

GREAT show–the performances get better every year and the staging is awesome. There’s so much going on visually with the dancers and the video accompaniments and the lighting it gets increasingly difficult to try to absorb it all in one sitting…not to mention being practical. It is taking everything in me (and the finite amount in my bank account) not to sneak off and see another show. But, oh how it would be worth it!

For more information on the remainder of this season’s Live Tour, go to

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