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[personal profile] chimerically
Last Wednesday, I played with a pottery wheel for the first time in 10 years. In high school, pottery was one of my respites from hectic days full of AP classes, along with orchestra, print-making, and (even) auto mechanics. I found wheel-throwing particularly meditative, with its paradoxical combinations of muscle tone and gentle movements, extreme focus and sensory awareness, planning and improvisation, exercise (kicking the wheel) and stillness. The feeling was addictive. I've since found similar paradoxes elsewhere, particularly in karate, sewing, and partner dancing, but I've still longed to find the time to go back to pottery again. So a few weeks ago, I looked around for a class nearby that hadn't started yet -- and, after ruling out many options, found one in Sunnyvale that met once a week. Sold! First class was last Wednesday, and I found that I still had the muscle memory for throwing off the wheel. I threw three cylinders, two of which I sliced to make sure my walls were even, and one medium-sized bowl. I have lots of ideas for other things I want to do. I'm so excited to be back. And soon, Stanford will have its own brand-new studio up and running!

Having the time for this was predicated on a few other big changes that I haven't mentioned here yet. For instance, I'm no longer dancing competitively. Through the first half of the year, my partner and I were practicing maybe two times a week, with no coaching, while he juggled being a new father of twins and work commitments. In mid-summer, we talked about ramping up to our usual practice schedule of practicing four or five times a week, plus having coaching, training, or competitions on the weekends, and I balked. I've done it for years now, and there is a lot I love about ballroom dancing, but I just don't have time for 15-20 hours/week of it anymore. I've still been social dancing, I'm still teaching ballroom to kids (though high school kids this year) once a week, and I've continued my yoga practice, but I haven't been practicing ballroom since before all of my traveling in August. I miss it, but it really is for the best. It's funny that I find myself fidgeting in dance steps more than ever before, though.

I'm also taking a quarter off from school to finish up a project at Nokia Research and to be able to make more time to tackle my ever-growing reading list. More on this and other research directions later.

If I decide to pursue research on One Laptop Per Child for my dissertation, I'll need to re-learn Spanish, and I've been wanting to anyway. I was originally planning to take a refresher course through Foothill community college, but the first class session brought back all the horrors of high-school syllabi and petty grading systems, so I scurried home and bought a whole slew of teach-yourself-Spanish books instead. I'm hoping it will come back relatively quickly, with some practice, and that I can start conversational classes at Stanford in the winter. I still understand decently; I just can't remember many words or any conjugations. Pues, necesito practicar!

I'll be traveling this fall, as well! I'll be in Europe in late October, and in San Diego for the CSCW conference November 8-12 (participating in a workshop on family communication). Anyone else going?
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