it’s fine…

Those words…it’s fine. What do they connote?

“Having a blast!…I’m on top of the world!…Life couldn’t get any better!”


“Life is so-so. …I’m getting by. …It’s just a job.”

Most folks understand that dancers put their bodies through the ringer. Afficionados of the art form consider dancers to be athletes.

Houston Ballet dancers in front of Houston Cit...

Houston Ballet dancers in front of Houston City Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that they make pennies compared to NFL football players or major league baseball players doesn’t lessen the passion dancers have for what they do. I would go so far as to say that money is a minor consideration when these artists look for work.

Dancers subsist on nights in…recovering from the day’s work, and preparing for the rigors of the next. Rarely, if ever, are they hung over from a night of partying hard. Dining out often means sharing tapas or appetizers with wine. Most dancers cook their own meals. The luxuries they might enjoy include a massage, a yoga or pilates class, new dance wear, a pedicure…an occasional concert or hockey game.

Of course there are those few designated principals who, every now and then, might be able to purchase a pair of designer jeans at $400 a pop. Every sport has its stars, after all.

on the cover of a dance magazine

on the cover of a dance magazine

While my daughter was comfortable in her previous job, she felt as though she’d hit a plateau. And as a member of a ballet company, there’s little a dancer can do to change the dynamics.

With the repertoire in place a couple of years in advance, casting is more or less set in stone. Unless there are injuries or a phenomenon joins the ranks, the die is cast as to who dances which roles. It’s not uncommon for a dancer to perform the same role forever. Not much challenge in that.  Ask any dancer who’s done the same thing in The Nutcracker for say…10 years.

While the position of soloist is somewhat fluid, especially in smaller-sized companies, principals are dug in for the long haul. It’s not to say they haven’t earned their prima dona ranking…they have. It’s that they will dance all the leads for as long as they remain. And they will make it known, subtly or not so subtly, that they are not to be messed with.  Try and get past them for a role…and your stress level just went through the roof.

Molds are meant to be broken. Individuality should be encouraged, even celebrated, not discouraged.

website image for contemporary dance

website image for contemporary dance

However the bigger issue is…the patrons. Whether seated in Yankee Stadium or The Metropolitan Opera, the paying public holds “all the cards.” It determines what succeeds and what doesn’t, and who makes it…and who doesn’t.

That’s life.

So when life doesn’t line up the way we would like, it makes sense to chart a new course.

My daughter’s chosen path as a freelancer has breathed new life into her career as a dancer. She is thrilled to be working with a choreographer who pushes her to do her very best every day. She is equally humbled to know a man who respects her as a professional, like himself.  

That Dominic Walsh was a principal with Houston Ballet for many years and, now in his 40s, still dances with the same bravura, gives my daughter someone to emulate. She considers herself fortunate to have befriended a renowned artist in the dance world. I know she wishes…

…there were more like dominic walsh…her mentor and friend…


“secrets of the operating room”…part 2 (read part 1 first)

The twos of all four suits in playing cards

Image via Wikipedia

Dr. Ruggieri goes on to say…

Like poker players and their cards, surgeons are sometimes only as good as the patients they are dealt. Obesity, excessive scar tissue from a previous surgery in the same area, disease that is more advanced than anticipated–any one of these physiological conditions creates more work and a more difficult environment for the surgeon.
     Even before the surgery begins, underlying or chronic conditions such as a history of hypertension, cardiac disease or lung disease put patients at risk for complications. Today, based on your medical history, surgeons can usually analyze, quite accurately, your risk of complications (or death) before setting foot in the operating room. All you have to do is ask.
     I had no idea how bad Mr. Baker’s colon disease would be until I opened him up and looked inside. It was a mess. If I were playing poker and this man’s anatomy were the hand dealt, it would be time to fold.
     “That is one of the ugliest pieces of colon I’ve ever seen.” I grabbed the scrub nurse‘s hand. “See, touch that thing. Look how inflamed it is.” When given the chance, scrub nurses love to touch organs in the operating room. “OK, don’t poke it too hard, it will start to bleed again.” Her hand drew back onto the instrument stand. I was in for a long night.
     Tonight, the diseased colon on the menu was angry, cursing and taunting me: “Good luck, Mr. Big-Time Surgeon, trying to remove me.” Surgeons frequently have conversations with the body parts or organs they are trying to remove. We also have conversations with ourselves; it’s a way to blow off steam while our minds scramble to deal with the unexpected.
     “By the time you are done with me, your back muscles are going to be in a heap of pain,” the colon went on. “Looking forward to that drive home in your new Porsche? Well, too bad. It’s going to have to wait. You better take your time or I’ll come back to haunt you in a few days.” I could hear the colon laughing at me. I was crying inside.
     “Nurse, hand me a curved scissors.” Finally, I was granted a little success in freeing up one end of the colon. But that was short-lived. More bleeding. I hate this. And I had cut myself. I stared at my finger. “Nurse, I need a new glove.” The outer skin under my glove was breached, but not deeply.
     “Almost got you,” the colon said. I could not shut the thing up. “How do you know I don’t have hepatitis or H.I.V.?”
     Just great, I thought. Now I have something else to worry about.
     “You’re going to earn your fee tonight, Dr. Surgeon.” The colon kept talking. “I hope you’re not in this business for the money, like the last guy who operated on me. Between what Medicare pays you, the phone calls in the middle of the night and the time you spend guiding my recovery, I figure you will make about $200 an hour for this operation. How does that grab you?”
     Should have gone for my M.B.A., I mumbled to myself. Big mistake going into medicine, never mind surgery. If I could only go back and do it over again.
     The colon’s rant continued: “Wait, subtract what it costs you in overhead to bill for this operation (double that if the claim gets rejected), plus malpractice costs for the day, and we are now at $150 an hour. And how could I leave out the biggest expense of all? The price of the mental stress from worrying about me after the surgery (and double that if there’s a complication). Now, I figure you’re under $100 an hour. Plumbers make more than that just to step inside your house. I bet they sleep well at night. Just remember, Dr. Surgeon, nobody put a gun to your head. You chose this profession.”
     I could swear that the thing was laughing at me. “Forget about keeping those dinner reservations tonight. You and me, we’re going for breakfast once this is over.”

A lot to mull over.

The World's Greatest Superheroes

Image via Wikipedia

Is it refreshing to learn that doctors are, after all, only human? Or is it better to continue foolishly believing that they are beneficent super-heroes?

Does the surgeon have a breaking point? What happens if it’s in the midst of an operation? Is there a back-up doc who’s a principal…or merely an under-study not good enough for cast A?

Has a surgeon ever quit in the middle of an operation…leaving to become a plumber instead? Maybe plumbers should operate? Both deal in…nuts and bolts…pipes…rotor-rooting…plungers. Probably make the same money. Could be interchangeable…you think?  

Makes me think I’d better brush up on my medical books…and get past self-diagnosing. Never know. I might be called on to take over for the doc…and self-operate. Sheesh!!! As if i don’t have enough to do…lying there, worrying. And i’m scheduled for a dual procedure the end of the week…an endoscopy/colonoscopy.

I’d better start cramming…big time!…which shall it be?

…medicine…or plumbing?…hmmm…

………hugmamma.  😉

“secrets of the operating room”

Deutsch: Operationssaal: Ein Patient wird für ...

Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t resist sharing this WSJ article with you. I think you’ll find it as eye-opening as I did. The surgeon authoring the piece is Dr. Paul A. Ruggieri. It has been adapted from Confessions of a Surgeon.”

“Secrets of the Operating Room
     “GET THIS THING out of my operating room!” The colon stapling device exploded into pieces when I hurled it against the operating room wall. I was fed up with its failure to work as advertised by the manufacturer. The stapler had probably cost less than $100 to make. The hospital paid $300 for it (and then billed the patient, or insurance company, $1,200). Now the thing didn’t even work.
     I do not react well to imperfection inside the operating room. I cannot tolerate it in the tools I use, the staff assisting me, or myself. Defective devices–I can have them replaced. Unmotivated staff–I can have them removed from the operating room. I haven’t quite figured out yet what to do with myself.
     Surgeons are control freaks. We have to be. And when things don’t go our way in the operating room, we can have outbursts. Some of us curse, some throw instruments, others have tantrums. These explosions are a go-to-reaction when we’re confronted with the ghosts of prior complications.
     Several months earlier, I had performed the same operation on a 66-year-old patient, using an identical stapling device. Everything seemed to have worked perfectly until the patient developed severe complications four days after his surgery. We soon discovered the cause: the nonperformance of the stapling device.
     When the stapler hit the wall, I had been in the operating room for more than four hours, struggling to remove a diseased segment of colon from someone I’ll call Mr. Baker, a 330-pound middle-aged man. Trying to keep his fat out of my way during the operation had been a continuous battle. The pain in my upper back reminded me that I was losing the fight.
     Obese patients create more physical work for a surgeon during any type of procedure. The operations take longer, tie our upper body in knots and leave us with fatigue and frustration. Obese patients also automatically face an increased risk of complications like infection, pneumonia and blood clots during recovery.
     If the difficulties posed by Mr. Baker’s obesity weren’t enough, he had been steadily losing blood during the procedure. His tissue reacted to the slightest graze with more bleeding.
     Why does this guy have to bleed like this? As if it were his fault. Here I was blaming him, even though I was the one causing the bleeding. But in surgery, it always has to be someone else’s fault. It’s never the surgeon’s fault.
     Interestingly, after an operation, most surgeons tend to underestimate the amount of blood that was lost. Whether it’s ego or denial, they can’t help themselves.
     The reality is that blood loss can be measured. Hospitals know which surgeons are losing blood, and how much, during every operation. They have data from their operating rooms, but the public cannot get access to this information. And this information matters, too. A large amount of blood lost during an operation can be a harbinger of complications to come. 

Here’s where I hit the “pause” button to let you digest the information…before proceeding to…part 2.

…first, slip your eyes back in your head…i did…second, i gotta lose some weight…diet and exercise anyone? 😉


Eye death

Image by @Doug88888 via Flickr


pet peeve…over-the-top salaries

One of my biggest pet peeves is the salaries paid to pro-athletes…and celebrities. I realize they work both sides of a sharp blade…they’re damned if they do…and likewise if they don’t. We need them for the diversion they bring, especially when we’d rather not focus upon the state of the nation and the world. And there’s no better time than the present, it seems, for some mind-numbing distraction.

Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant(

Whatever happened to LSD? That was Cary Grant’s drug of choice…for a long time. He even tried getting ex-wife Dyan Cannon hooked. Unfortunately her inability to “float” outside her body with her Svengali was the undoing of her marriage.


Where would all our pro-footballers, basketballers, baseballers, hockey players, soccer players, and golfers park themselves…if not on the field, the court, the mound, the rink, the arena and the green? And what would all the millions of fans who are glued to stadium seats or living room couches, do with themselves if they weren’t mesmerized by flat screens, iPads, iPhones and any other means by which they can channel their favorite pastime…pro-sports?

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to glamorizing stars of radio, screen and stage. They get my few, paltry dollars as recompense for whisking me off to “never-never-land” with them, every once-in-awhile. I too leaf through magazines and books, curious to learn some dirt that might make them seem more human…more like me…than the untouchables they might think they are.

I don’t fault pro-athletes and celebrities their jobs. God knows I wouldn’t want them infiltrating the already, lengthy unemployment lines. Although the bread line might be a little humbling for some of them…bring them down a notch or two…again, a little closer to the rest of us.


So what set me off on this mini-tirade? A photo of Kevin Spacey with Demi Moore in tow. I’m not over the moon about either one. He’s a fine actor, and so was she. While I gave her credit for snaring a young, hunk like Ashton Kutcher 6 years ago, as time passed his immaturity made me roll my eyes…at both of them. Seeing her with Spacey made me think “Oh good. Maybe now she’ll settle down with an adult and fade into the background like him. I’ve no problem with Moore returning to acting. I’d just like to see her step out of the public eye once-in-awhile. That way I’m not reminded of how much money we pay these people…

…for playing ball…or playing make-believe…yuck!!!…i could tear my auburn hair out…by its white roots!…


reality dancing…not up to the task?

DS boxshot

Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t surprised when I came across the following information about celebrities who sign up for Dancing with the Stars. They are indeed no match for the real thing, real-life professionals who dance for peanuts by comparison, and not for a paltry 6 weeks, more like 32 to 52 depending on the generosity of patrons who contribute to dance company budgets. And some celebrity dancers complain about the meagre pay they receive for their pain and sacrifice, only $150,000!!! Whatever would they do if they had to dance for a living???

‘Dancing With the Stars’ is one of the more profitable shows on TV, making hundreds of millions each season through ad revenue, but, how much of that bounty is going to the celebrity contestants?

“When you sign up, every contestant gets $150,000 for 6 weeks rehearsals and the first two shows,” an insider with knowledge of the arrangement tells me. “Then every week you survive you make an extra $10,000 then $20,000 then $30,000 and so on, so the winner takes home $350,000.” Which sounds like a huge amount of money, but not to one past contestant, who complained to me this week about 12-hour work days and “ridiculous” amounts of “stress and strain” on the body.

“The show doesn’t pay for massages or anything else,” the former contestant, who is not part of the current cast, alleges. “The amount of physical stress and strain they put your body through, rehearsing six days a week, eight hours a day, is ridiculous.”

My source said “I have never worked so hard in my life” and described one particularly busy performance day: “Our call time was 6:00 AM and we were rehearsing with the band by 8 and then live on the dance floor that evening. That’s a 12-hour day.”


Image by trhnlhi via Flickr

And although I agree it doesn’t feel right that the cast of ‘The Jersey Shore‘ earn far more than Kirstie Alley and crew, I say welcome to the real world, where we pay for own massages too!

Follow @NaughtyNiceRob on Twitter!  

what’s the appeal?…our fondness for celebrities…rather than real artists…hugmamma.

world series, the “angels” won

Looks like the San Fransisco Giants had higher ranking “angels” than the Texas Rangers. Hope Sister Maggie Hession and Sister Frances Evans weren’t too disappointed that their beloved team didn’t win. I’ll say a prayer for them. I think I’ll say one for the teams as well.

“We Love You, but at That Price? exclaims a recent Wall Street Journal article. The subtitle reads “Yesterday’s Postseason Heroes Can Become Tomorrow’s Cost Burdens; the Giants’ Tough Choices. While athletes and ballet dancers may not have salaries in common, seems job security might be something that can plague both sets of professionals.

Whose baseball careers are being called into question? Looks like “several generally mediocre or aging…(who) have played some of the best baseball of their careers and become local legends in the process.” Giant’s managing general partner, Bill Neukom, is concerned about the consistency of his ball players. Not swayed by their performance “in the heat of the moment,” he’s looking for staying power. “‘What you see most recently is at the front of your mind, but what you always worry about is a recession to the mean…It’s important for us to be hard on ourselves, and not be emotional about any one particular player.'” Prime examples mentioned in the article are “pitcher Barry Zito and outfielder Aaron Rowand, who will collect more than $183 million from the club and barely played in the just-ended postseason.” Outfielder Jose Guillen earned $12 million this year and hit 3 home runs in 42 games. Beginning this season with a payroll of $98.6 million, “$38 million has already been committed in 2011 to Mr. Zito, Mr.Rowand and backup infielder Mark De Rosa, who hit .194 in 26 games.”

Authors of the article, Matthew Futterman and Mike Sielski, are uncertain that  postseason heroes, first baseman Aubrey Huff and hitter Cody Ross, should keep their jobs either. “There’s a reason Mr. Huff was out of a job last winter. He hit .241 with a meager .694 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2009.” Of Ross, the writers argue that while “he emerged as their most productive and feared power hitter in the postseason, slamming five home runs and toting an eye-popping 1.076 OPS…In none of the four regular seasons in which he has played at least 120 games has he had an OPS higher than .084.” Earning $4.45 million this year, Ross isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season. Without a signed contract for 2011, “the Giants must decide whether to sign him to a multi-year deal before he hits the market.” Ross’s attitude?  “‘If we take care of this here, in the offseason that will take care of itself. But I really want to stay here.'”

The Rangers are in less of a pickle it seems, for their core players are “locked up.” Although there are concerns with “ace Cliff Lee,” who’s eligible for free agency, with a price tag of more than $25 million a year.  “‘Cliff’s the only guy where we might not have a say in the matter’, ” according to general manager John Daniels. Then there’s “Vladimir Guerrero, the creaky but still slugging designated hitter whose contract has a mutual option for next season worth $9 million.”

General Manager of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the World Series, Joe Garagiola Jr., currently serving as the MLB’s senior VP of baseball operations asks  “‘Was this what this guy does? Is it what he’s likely to keep doing? Is it some high-water mark that he’s not going to reach again?'”  Tampa Bay Rays’ senior VP Gerry Hunsicker poses a “larger reason for the shotgun weddings.” Even though there might be regrets after the fact, he claims  “‘Nobody wants to hear about five-year plans…They want to be successful now.'”  Unfortunately, that seems to be the way of the industrialized world these days.

Having evolved into a “plastic” society, where instant gratification can be bought with a credit card, perhaps our mindset is also inclined in that direction. I’ve heard employers speak of new hires wanting to hop-scotch over entry-level positions, straight into higher paying management jobs.

I personally know one young man who quit college just shy of 3 credits, announcing that he was going to “flip houses” to begin earning the millions he’d always envisioned for himself. He felt there was no more he could learn from his professors. With the implosion of  the real estate market, he is now trying to sell houses as a realtor. Unlike him, his business partner,  disciplined in old-fashioned beliefs, was able to “fall back” on his degree, and expertise as a former programmer.

It’s difficult to say who really “won” the World Series, the ballplayers, the owners, the fans, the bookies? Personally, I think the real winners are Sister Hessian and Sister Evans. They followed their hearts, maybe a good thing when hedging one’s bets. They went into the Series with wholehearted passion for their team, and, in my estimation, hit the winning “home run.” Two Catholic nuns, devoted fans, not looking for fame or money, just out rooting for a baseball team.

Isn’t that what baseball was all about in the good old days? Isn’t that what life was  also about, back then? Or am I just being overly nostalgic? Remember, I’m all about antiques and vintage collectibles. So what do I know about the World Series, about sports?

just old, i guess…hugmamma.