For all things ballet and my adventures as a zaftig girl in a leotard, check out Beginning at the Barre
The Empress: What do you desire most?
My PhD, health insurance, and a really magnificent wardrobe (plus the confidence to wear it?).
Strength: What gives you strength?
My family and my need to do right by them; my Jewishness and the sense of obligation that brings, the hunger for justice that demands, the hope for the future that gives. When all else fails, I ask what Archie Kennedy would do and I get on with it.
The Fool: Tell an embarrassing story.
So I was in high school and I had just started in marching band, and being the shortest girl in the drum line, they gave me a huge bass drum to wear to go out to do pep band for a soccer game or something. The harness didn’t fit, and I couldn’t see over the drum, but one of the other guys in the band said it was no big deal and he’d spot for me.
Well, spotter got distracted by some girls he was flirting with as we were walking out on the sidewalk around the school and down to the playing fields. There were some cars illegally parked out front of the school, but I couldn’t see them because drum. I stepped down off the curb to go down through the lot to the field and kept walking. The drum was heavy and hard to carry, and I was struggling with it. And then I felt the drum scraping something and heard a loud screeeech, so I stopped. When I looked down, I was staring at a car hood, and a tidy little BMW logo. I had walked the drum up a car hood.
All hell directly broke loose, and spotter was freaking out and the band director was suddenly there and the principal of the school and the (very wealthy) dude who owned the car and everyone was yelling and screaming at me and I, being 14 or so, just burst into tears. Everyone was wigging out, wealthy dude wanted my insurance information (which I didn’t have because 14, cannot drive!), and I was terrified I was going to get suspended for walking into the car of the principal’s wealthy friend (despite the fact he was illegally parked). The band director kept trying to take responsibility but wealthy dude kept yelling that this! Was! A! BMW! With a Custom! Paint! Job! Nobody was happy. And we were late for the game.
So I went home, and I told my mother what happened, and she wigged, and told me to call our insurance agent, who was luckily a friend of the family, to tell him what had happened and ask him what to do about it. I called him, and as I told him what happened, he started to laugh harder and harder. He laughed so hard at me he had to hang up and call back 15 minutes later so he could get through the conversation without giggling.
That is how I had my first car accident at the age of 14 with a bass drum and a BMW.
The Lovers: What qualities would your ideal partner have?
Well, that’s fairly easy for me. A sharp, inquisitive, flexible mind; a love for learning and an insatiable impulse to curiosity; a genuine concern with human dignity and a relentless hunger for truth; a witty and fine sense of humour; a large dose of playfulness and a love for playing the Cavalier to my Prima Ballerina; a love of the arts and a creative nature; a compassionate, sensitive soul aware of oppression, suffering, and willing to oppose them wherever they are; a natural interest in food and travel; a level-headed practicality and gentle touch; a long-standing love affair with words, glorious words.
Luckily, I have found all of these (and more), at last.
The Tower: Describe your dream home.
Books! Loads of books. That’s the primary requirement. Shelves and shelves, preferably with a ladder I could roll around and a card catalogue.
I’ve always wanted a Victorian I could carefully update in some respects and restore in others, full of art and books and luscious textiles (velvet and oriental rugs and lace curtains and tapestries!), with grand French windows, a curved staircase, and space for a studio grand piano. I really want one of the lovely old ladies down in the Garden District, honestly, with a courtyard full of sweet olive and jasmine, and wrought-iron balconies. And wood floors. Ye gods and little fishes, wood floors. And a modern, sleek kitchen with a double sink and a full pantry. (I am a fierce believer in the double sink.)
Death: If you were able to reincarnate, what would your next life be?
Somewhere with a functional body would be awesome, frankly. I hope, in the sense of improving my karma and such, that I’m improving my lot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean greater comfort. I’d like the chance to know what my life had been like if I’d been born a man in similar circumstances, and I think if I could pick, I’d probably opt for that.
The Star: What inspires you?
I’m a dreadful sponge, honestly. Academic work often pushes me. Finding people who are Absolutely Wrong is my go-to motivator for any project. Advocating for a level of social justice and a redressing of bias in the study of religion and history keeps me going.
As far as creative work, I draw a lot from visuals, so I get a lot from scrolling endlessly through Pinterest and Tumblr, or watching film/television. My fiancé is a big source of creative energy for me, I think we cause fission in a room, sometimes, and he’s always bringing new things to the table for me to think about, which is one of the strengths of our relationship.
Feeling terrible because I have nothing to contribute to the hair selfies stuff going around my dash right now is really not productive, self. Recognising that the reason I rarely take pictures of my hair is because I feel guilty that it is visibly “ethnic” (read: Jewish/curly and unmanageable unless straightened into submission or scraped back into a ballet bun) is perhaps useful, but not terribly helpful. I have a lot of hair baggage. I consistently think it’s awful, and if it’s not awful, then some white person is going to come into my personal space and molest my damn hair because “curls = public property for petting.” And clearly, that’s somehow my fault for not straightening/containing/hiding my hair.
In short, I think I feel bad, so I look for ways to make myself feel worse. Go me.
Just to give you all an idea of how widespread and accepted anti-Semitism is in America:
In the three years I’ve been in college so far, I’ve only had three professors who never got weirdly anti-Semitic. My fiction writing prof (who is Jewish), my black studies prof, and my German prof are literally the only ones who never said anything covertly or overtly anti-Semitic.
Like seriously, only three. And yet anti-Semitism is just brushed under the rug as a non-issue here.
Yeah, basically, this. It’s worse at self-proclaimed progressive schools. At least at the Catholic schools, people are generally apologetic for hurting your feelings. At the self-proclaimed progressive school, I was told I was too sensitive. Ironic from people who advocate navel-gazing as ways of knowing.