The Liebster Award: Warning… Candor Ahead

Fellow dance blogger Rachael from Back to First Position has honored me by nominating me for a Liebster Blog award. She describes it as “a blogger-to-blogger pay it forward kinda thing to recognize other bloggers whom we feel are great at what they do and deserve some recognition.”

Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  • 1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  • 2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • 3. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  • 4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  • 5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  • 6. Go to each blogger’s page and let them know you have nominated them.

Thank you, thank you, Back to First Position! ( And here are replies to your questions:

1)    Why did you start writing your blog? I’m a writer and I must write daily or I’ll go mad. Several months ago I finished an eighteen-month project, a novel about two sisters, set in the ballet world. After it went out to my agent, I felt so darned lonely without that ballet world to go back to, delve into, every day. Working on a new novel with a new setting/subject wasn’t taking away the ache. And so, voila, this past February I started up The Classical Girl. A blog allows me to once again have a reason for researching and following the ballet world. I also love writing about classical music, having posted essays at for seven years now. I figured it was high time to start doing the same thing on my own site, and it pairs nicely with the ballet.

2)   What is the most fun thing for you about your blog? I get to pour myself into writing about what I care about, not worrying about “the market” and/or whether I can sell the essay (most of my entries are essays; I’m a born essayist and just seem to spew out ideas that are 850 to 1100 words). I love capturing this thought, this emotion that has been haunting me, getting it into word form, and sending it out there into the world for anyone to read. Sometimes my subjects are obscure—like why Max Bruch, a 19th century composer, has such a powerful impact on me in his symphonies, and yet remains relatively obscure next to the giants like Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, all fellow countrymen. I loved that essay sooooo much. I spent days and days on it. Sadly, it hasn’t garnered the attention the other posts have (oh, poor Max Bruch – even blogs about you get overlooked! But hey, not if I can help it:, but I don’t regret the work I did for a single minute. I reached deep into my heart, found words for complex emotions, and crafted them into an essay. It’s my own little art form, my giving to the world. The world may not leap for it. But that’s art for you. There’s commercial art, and the kind you do in an attempt to douse that fire burning in your soul. Or stoke it. Can’t remember which is the good one and which is the lethal one.

3)   How much time do you spend on your blog weekly? As a writer, I devote, on average, thirty hours a week to my writing. Blogging, however, has mucked up the familiar routine. Sometimes the time is spent writing, but much more often, it’s Internet surfing, visiting other blogs, commenting here and there, looking for places to plant seeds for more growth. And oh, don’t even get me started on the technical aspect of running a site. I have a site, which is self-hosted, which means that if there’s a problem, it’s all mine, to be figured out myself. So. Some weeks, it feels like those thirty hours go straight to the blog, and we’ll add an extra ten hours in the evening, problem-solving and trouble-shooting the techie issues. I’m hoping this is a learning curve thing, and that in another six months, that time-commitment will have subsided. And at least one day a week I completely ignore the blog and do my “real” writing, which is either fine-tuning a nearly finished manuscript or working on a new novel-in-progress. Those are very pleasant days. Like a different world entirely.

4)    What is your happiest memory? Too complicated to answer in a short space. Likely involved food and friends and a glass of wine. Or several. Next question.

5)     Can you drive a stick shift? Yes. But I learned at age 35 and it was difficult as hell. My husband kept trying to teach me and finally I shrieked at him that I was done, no more. But a year later, we moved to London. All the cars there had manual transmission, including the car my husband received as part of the expatriate package. It was either learn, or not drive for two years. And my husband often traveled (without the car) and there it was, in our driveway, prime for adventure, if only I could learn. So. Yes, I learned. In city traffic, driving on the left-hand side of the road. With the driver’s seat on the right side, like all British cars, which meant learning about the clutch with my left hand, after having failed to learn with the clutch to my right. Not sure whether that part of the equation made it harder or easier. But I called a driving school, set up an appointment, and I did it. (I had no choice, really; I’d paid for six lessons in advance.)

6)    Can you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time? Yes.

7)   What has surprised you the most about having a blog? How much more difficult it is than writing novels, particularly when you’re an introvert like myself. I love silent retreats and can live without phones and TV and all electronics. And all social media. I thought that was a good thing, a lofty, noble thing. It’s not. It’s humbling to realize how much I need to push myself to get out more into the blogosphere and start interacting more with the rest of the world. But really, there are so many life lessons out there for me, to help me grow, be a better person. Including being less technophobic, less of a social media neophyte.

8)   What was the last movie you saw? Hmm. In the theater or on Netflix? Trying to remember movies is a funny thing. You think you can recite all your favorites off the top of your head, but when it comes to the moment, you’re standing there scratching your head, searching a mind gone blank. Will have to get back to you on this one. I’ll tell you what it wasn’t, however. Wasn’t violent, too mainstream (okay, I saw Skyfall), it was quite possibly artsy and indie and/or foreign. Intelligent and/or funny. That kinda thing.

9)   What is your favorite ballet? Confession time. Even though I am The Classical Girl and a former ballet dancer, I have never seen a full-length ballet in its entirety. Well, there’s the Nutcracker, but that was me performing in it, year after year, and I got heartily sick of so much of the music, the story, that I would never call that a favorite. Doubt you’ll ever catch me at a performance of it. There are scenes from ballets that I love. How about that? Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s “Rose Adagio.” La Bayadere, The “Kingdom of the Shades” scene. Omigod. I weep every time I watch it (on YouTube). The Don Quixote grand pas de deux. Gorgeous; the music gives me chills.  The closing scene of Gisele (actually maybe I did watch that whole ballet, on DVD). 

10) Who is your favorite ballet dancer? Changes monthly. This month it’s Ulyana Lopatkina. The week before it was Alina Cojocaru. Before that it has been Sarah Van Patten, Vanessa Zahorian, Yuan Yuan Tan. I love all the dancers of the San Francisco Ballet.

11) Can you do the splits? Yes, with my left leg forward. Not with the right leg in front, however. Hurts like a son of a gun to try. But in my yoga class, it’s one of the things the teacher will have us work on from time to time. Fortunately in yoga, it’s never a competition. You just go till your body shrieks at you. And then you breathe. I tend to forget that last part.

Okay, time for Part III of the award…

Eleven Random Facts About Me

1) In my life I’ve been a college student, dancer, waitress, secretary, Peace Corps Volunteer, English teacher, ballet teacher, sales representative, sales manager, expatriate wife, travel writer, mommy, essayist, foodie, violin student, aspiring novelist and now a blogger.

2) I’ve lived in provincial Africa (Gabon), Kansas (grew up there), London, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hope to stay here in the latter destination forever.

3) I am one of eight kids, nine if you count my brother John Francis, who died when he was just a few days old. In my adult years it has become more important to mention his name. Keep his memory alive, remind me that I have three brothers and not just two.

4) I can put my left foot behind my head.

5) I’ve written five novels. No, you can’t find them because they were rejected by editors. Still holding out hope for #5, however, which is currently on submission to aforementioned editors.

7) Music plays in my head every waking moment of the day. Mostly classical. Toss in some Celtic, some African. If it’s Sunday and my son and I have been to church, it’s church-y stuff. Which makes for annoying ear worms. Until I run to turn on the CD player for more classical to drown it out.

8) I got fired from four of my first six jobs as a teen/young adult. It was always a miscommunication, a misunderstanding. Theirs. Of course. Teens are never at fault.

9) I love good food and good wine. I live to eat. Wish I could embrace the “eat to live” philosophy, but it ain’t gonna happen. Ever.

10) My five sisters are my best friends. My other best friend is considered by all to be an honorary sister.

11) I can’t not write. Writing makes me so happy. Paradoxically, a really good writing day makes me edgy as hell to be around.  Poor you. Lucky me. I think.

Okay. That satisfied Parts I, II, and III. Yikes. Two more parts. Um…

To be continued…

Thank you so much, Rachel! (And did you readers visit her site? You’re supposed to do that, you know. Go ahead. We’re watching.

5 thoughts on “The Liebster Award: Warning… Candor Ahead”

  1. OMG You are SO amazing!!!! Thank you so much! I really enjoyed reading your answers. I knew you liked to write but I didn’t know you did it professionally too. How cool! About all I can manage behind my head is my ponytail! Haha!

    Thank you again! You have such a wonderful blog and I always look forward to your postings! Definitely worth following!

    • Oh, what a sweet reply – and whew! I didn’t offend you with any of my answers (like the “dunno, too complicated, probably involved friends/wine, next question please”) one. And this line of yours cracked me up: “About all I can manage behind my head is my ponytail!” Hilarious! : )

      Thank you again for nominating me, and thanks for being a great blogger-buddy. I really appreciate your friendship and your support.

      • LOL! No not at at all. I thought it was actually a very honest answer.

        Awwww…you are too sweet. I in turn appreciate your blogger-buddy friendship and support. 🙂

  2. My confession? Other than the Swan Lake performance our company did that I was not in, the only full length ballets I’ve seen are the ones I’ve been in (and watched on DVD and cringed when I saw myself). My favorite of those is Romeo and Juliet (I don’t put Nutcracker in the same category as other ballets).

    And I love Alina Cojocaru. She’s amazing

    • Oooh, loveballet89, I have a hunch you’ve got a lot of fun dance-related stories to tell. Good thing you’re on my blogroll and I can regularly check them out! : )

      Thanks for your comment (and your confession!).

      PS: Oh, and on Alina C: did you see my little blog-tribute? A yummy embedded link included at the end. Utterly sublime.


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