The Dancer Lady

Peanut Butter-Honey Ice Cream with Sriracha Candied Peanuts

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I stared at her as she stood in the locker room and moved her hands slowly up and down her perfectly flat, milky-white abdomen from under her black camisole. The top’s low back showed off strong back muscles and its spaghetti straps sat snuggly on pulled-back shoulders that extended into skinny, lean arms. Tight, flared, floor-length spandex covered endless legs. She had finished working out, but you wouldn’t know. There was no rose to her cheeks or shine to her skin, and her blonde pixie cut—soft not blunt—sat untossled on her head, framing her heart-shaped face with perfect waves. She’s a dancer. I don’t know her beyond the blonde and the pale and the black. But I know her.

I know her because I was her. Well, a brunette her. Though likely six to seven years my senior, she is my younger self before illness, fatigue, and injury diminished the place of the art and the sport in my life, aged my limbs and heart, bloated my face. I’m not sure if the trance she put me in was heartbreaking or uplifting. I’m still the bendy-twisty creature with decent balance and an ear for a beat. But I can no longer call myself a dancer—I’m just one who dances. Dancer Lady’s too old to be in a company. She may be a teacher. I don’t know. But she’s a studio rat of some kind. She scurries to the gym on her rare days off to crosstrain, to maintain her strength and stamina. She straddles the equipment with such grace, staring dead-faced ahead and never tiring.
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Five

Roasted Persimmon Yogurt Parfaits with
Burnt Lemon Honey and Pistachios

burnt honey
I avoid writing about the subject of a new year with each passing one because it just seems so big. I lack the hearty optimism of those who can expound on the year that passed and the one to come. But the number five holds a lot of weight. A number with a five in it automatically seems more important than others. So for some reason, in 2015, I’m attracted to the idea of embracing a “clean slate” mentality, which I’ve typically ignored since I measure my time not by years but by accomplishments. I’m looking at the new year with a slight sense of urgency. Urgency to do what? I don’t know. But there’s a little spark and, at the very least, it’s kept me from hitting the snooze button in the morning, even though I had no intention of stopping that.

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Keeping On

Sable Breton Galette with Rosemary Poached Pears and Honey Caramel Diplomat Cream

Rosemary Caramel

I hold Christmas tightly. Too tightly perhaps. It’s not a holiday. It’s not religious. It’s not a time for vacation. I hold whatever it is tightly because after the lights come down, it’s grey until April. There’s nothing to look forward to. There’s no celebration to plan. There’s nothing for the mind to stir over. I get anxious when I’m lacking something to stir over.

I’m not sure I can spend too many more years in this city, though there’s a chance I’ll never leave. I started writing this in mid-December in my laundromat, where I learned, as snow fell steadily and the thermometer read 18 degrees, that there’s no heat (or perhaps it wasn’t working for just that day). I take breaks to quickly hide my hands between my thighs until they’re warmed by my body’s heat and can hold onto that electricity for a moment so that they’re strong enough to tap keys. I blast music through headphones to keep my toes tapping and my head nodding; otherwise, my toes would pop off, and my head would explode. It would be messy.

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Rhubarb to the Rescue

honey-cardamom panna cotta with roasted rhubarb

I don’t think I’ve been bored since around 1996. Physically bored, that is. I don’t understand the idea of having nothing with which to fill time. Jaded, I get. Monotony, sure. Ennui, mais oui. I may not always enjoy or find meaning in what I’m doing. But, on the off chance that my to-do list is completely stained with the harsh boldness of my pen’s horizontal slashes, I can always find something to keep my mind turning. I guess this is a curse for many — the unfortunate result of a hyper-connected age. For me, it’s a lifeline. It’s not that I don’t appreciate calm or silence. I do! Man, do I ever, sometimes. But I’ve always been afraid of extended periods of nothingness, of white noise.

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