Ticklish Spots

“Laughter is a defense mechanism,” she warned me. 

I smiled, “Yeah, it’s my favorite one!”


Ticklish spots are located in the most vulnerable parts of your body. They’re highly sensitive locations, dense with receptors for touch and pain. If you’re a particularly ticklish individual, they’re often places of tension, where thick layers of fascia wrapped around the muscles have solidified, forming adhesions. They’re the places where you could feel excruciating pain if anyone were to dig in too deep.

But few will ever get that far. A light touch on the spot will send you into a bout of laughter, a playful grin on your face as you retract away and shake the hands off of you. You complicate the job for doctors and lovers and TSA agents, but you complicate it with a smile.

And through the discomfort, all you will do is laugh and shake them off–so long as no one comes in too close and presses too hard.

Sometimes you wonder what might happen if you were to let someone keep digging through the tight spots. You would laugh more and more until you couldn’t anymore. Eventually, as they’d comb through the knotted layers of flesh, it might break up some of that scar tissue, release some of that nagging tension, un-train your convulsive reflex.

But as the blood vessels tangled up in those knots would rupture, the blood flowing to the surface, dark bruises would reveal to the world just where you can be hurt. And the unmasked pain on your face would reveal just how much.

So you remind yourself that, tight and twisted as it may be, you built up that impenetrable wall of fascia for a reason. And maybe not all knots are meant to be unraveled.

Besides, laughing is cute and releases endorphins.

16 Things I Learned in 2016

Remember how I learned something in 2013, 2014, 2015? Well guess what–I did it again.

  1. “Doing it all” is kind of an overrated goal. “Doing some of it really well at a reasonable pace, and also having time to sleep, socialize, and be a person” is kind of an underrated one.
  2. Being interested in the ideas behind a field is different than enjoying the daily practice of it. Both are important if you want to be happy doing it.
    • Personally, I encounter this tension whenever I find an area of academic research super important and compelling, but realize that sitting alone in a library or in front of a computer all day makes me want to smash things. Ideally, I’d like to find ways to engage with ideas I’m interested in through practices I enjoy.
  3. Don’t trust people who always say it’s gonna be okay—it’s statistically unlikely. (Cheerleaders have a pretty bad accuracy record. So do some pollitical pundits.)
  4. Lots of people manage to have impressive careers without actually doing their jobs very well. My working theory is that whoever is mediocre the loudest and most confidently wins.
    • Or in the long-term, maybe whoever sticks around the longest wins.
  5. There is a such thing as trying too hard.
  6. Dealing with uncertainty is a skill. One that I’m going to need next year on several levels.
    • I did a lot of improv this semester, including a 15 minute piece of semistructured group improvisation on stage. In the process, I got pretty used to not knowing what situation I’m going to find myself in, but knowing that I can rely on the tools and skills I’ve developed to deal with it. And if I’m out of ideas, sometimes the best choice is to stop and look to the people around me.
  7. Ironic understatement is one of the overlooked love languages.
  8. Lots of companies/organizations project a positive/progressive image, but if you take a look at their internal practices, you might get a different picture.
  9. You know how some people gain so much academic knowledge but loose the ability to use common sense or talk in straightforward language? Or some dancers gain so much technical and performance training but loose the ability to walk naturally or dance at a party? Especially as I’m coming out of school, my goal is to make sure that whatever new/fancy/advanced skills I gain are supplementing, not replacing, whatever I had before.
  10. Half of knowing how to have a good conversation is knowing how to listen.
  11. Theories and frameworks can be useful ways to organize and understand reality. But if reality isn’t fitting your theory, you should probably rethink the theory, not the reality.
  12. People are always interpreting what they learn–news, history, other people–through the lens of narratives they already know. Sometimes that makes us ignore the people and events that don’t fit the pre-established narratives.
    • And if your reality doesn’t fit the dominant narrative, it’s a good opportunity to get an alternative narrative out into the world.
  13. One way to deal with feeling misunderstood is to get better at explaining yourself.
  14. Multiple famous/cool people died this year, but there are also lots of cool people still alive. We can appreciate those people too.
  15. Most things described as “it’s complicated” and “it’s a long story” can actually be summed up in one sentence.
  16. It’s been three years, and I’m still not sure what this blog is about.

Journal Bits: Life-(is always)-Changing

In honor of #ThrowbackSunday I thought I’d post another journal bit from my Paris trip:


It’s a cliche to call study abroad experiences “life changing.” The more cynical types would roll their eyes and call that an overstatement. I would just call it redundant. Life is always changing. 

Every moment, every choice inevitably alters the course of what comes after it. Maybe not a lot, but a little. Big, pivotal moments matter, but so do the little choices, the little micro-turns you make everyday until you find yourself headed in another direction.

I’m thinking about this as I’m reaching the end of my time in college and getting ready for life as a real person/professional/adult/whatever. I used to assume that my life trajectory would be shaped by “big” decisions–what school to go to; what major and career to choose; what city to live in–but it has been and will be shaped just as much by the little choices that accumulate day after day–whether to show up for class; whether to warm up; whether to stay and talk; whether to ask that question; whether to go out; whether to sleep; whether to make one more little dance or write one more little thing.

For what it’s worth, I guess that as much difficulty I’ve had with declaring the “big” choice to “be a dancer,”  I’ve been pretty unwavering about my daily choice to dance, as much as I possibly can. I think that matters.

Anyway, what I think I’m saying is that being in Paris is life-changing, and so is being in school as usual, and so is being at home, ridiculously bored, thinking about where I wish I was, what I wish I was doing, and what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of the day.

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Updates from Texas

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog-skimming for a short announcement: You may have noticed a new “site” tab at the top of this page. You probably didn’t. So I’m telling you now: I’ve been putting together a website for my dance and writing work, so check it out here!

Some other things I’ve been making in the couple few weeks:

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Yeah, I had  a lot of time on my hands . . .

But so much not any more! I’m currently in Texas getting ready to be an RA at a Joffrey Ballet School program. (Slash professional pokemon-tracing artist.)

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Things I Did In Paris

The Shmoop version:

  • Spent time wandering through parks and sitting on benches and lingering in cafes not feeling bad about not being productive like I do in New York.
  • Improv-ed a lot.
  • Found my groove. Forgot where I left it and lost it again. Found it. It ran away. Chased it around.
  • Krumped.
  • Choreographed in a park.
  • Learned to like journaling.
  • Wine.
  • Had some late night w(h)ine and feelings conversations that dug deep.
  • Needed friends. Found them.
  • Cried in public.
  • Cried in private.
  • Had about four and a half identity crises.
  • Ate snails. Didn’t hate them.

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    Garlic can fix anything.

  • Almond croissants.
  • Macarons.
  • Monoprix brand chocolate mousse.
  • Saw seven performances, which I loved, hated, and felt meh about, sometimes all at once.
  • Noticed which moments from those performances (whether love, hate, or meh) still stuck with me after a few weeks.
  • Was impressed at the size, diversity, and casual-ness of theater audiences. Realized that subsidized tickets probably have something to do with it.
  • Developed an appreciation for NYC’s 24-hour subway service after 2am.
  • Dealt with some transportation strikes.
  • Learned to get around using actual maps instead of just Google Maps.
  • Took dance classes in French. Was thankful for ballet terms and body language.
  • Was an open class junky as usual.
  • Really felt like I was hitting a wall with my performance (in that I literally ran into the wall during a performance).
  • Got good at saying “je voudrais”” and “pardon” and “Je ne parle pas français.”
  • Gave directions in Arabic once (which is a big deal for me given that I rarely have competent directional knowledge or language skills, let alone both at the same time).
  • Got lost in museums.
  • Wondered why I was in museums and theaters when the world is a mess.
  • Went to more museums.
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Posture jungement.

  • Spent a long time looking at art and an equally long time looking at graffiti. Tried to figure out the difference.13494989_10208692991714392_1993365495488247232_n
  • Wandered around cemeteries looking for famous dead people. Wondered about the non-famous dead people I saw along the way. Tried to Google their names. Found nothing.

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    Nijinsky though…

  • Decided that I should to make a resume section for every airport security additional screening test I pass (It’s senior year–gotta pad that resume with something).
  • Realized how quickly I can get comfortable in new cities.
  • Didn’t necessarily leave with the feeling that I need to move to Paris, but with the feeling that I could move there, or a whole lot of other places, and find bits of home-ish.

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Thoughts on Journaling

As my month is Paris is winding down, I thought I’d post some bits from the journal I’ve been keeping here, starting with some feelings about journaling itself (so #meta, right?)


It’s weird for me writing on paper. Usually I like to write on my laptop so I that I can start at the middle, if I need to, then work to the beginning, then shuffle it all up until it makes sense. So I can leave blanks when I don’t know how to say it and come back to it when I find the right word. So I can iterate over a sentence, making little tweaks until it finally says what I mean.

I’ve heard that journaling is supposed to be more “raw and authentic,” “stream of consciousness,” and I see how there’s something in in getting thoughts down as they come out, with minimal editing. But usually, my consciousness doesn’t work like a stream, flowing constantly and unidirectionally down one line (as meandering as that line may be). It jumps around and disappears and stops and runs backwards and circles back on itself and sometimes flies away.

Maybe that’s why I have an easier time choreographing than I do with improv. I like to return and reorder and readjust, but it’s something else to make movement flow out on the spot in order. I guess I just have to get used to the fact that things don’t always come out just “right,” and get on with it.

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