An auspicious beginning.

Today marked a fabulous start to the new year. Midnight saw me with a small group of lovely ladies whom I'm proud to call my friends. I then got to come home to Steven, who is quite possibly one of the kindest, most supportive, most emotionally mature men I've ever known. And see, up until meeting him, I thought "emotionally mature man" was some sort of an oxymoron, kind of like "jumbo shrimp." Not so, I've discovered, to my delight.

I had a yummy lunch with my homegirl Tracy (Yes, I just said "homegirl." Because I'm old and I'm a dork. Kiss my ass.) and then we went to see Black Swan, which was just amazing. I loved the way it was shot, the colors, the creepiness factor, Natalie Portman's performance, everything was just flawless. Disturbing and unshakeable. One of those films after which you're driven to sit in the theater until the lights come up, just trying to process it. You want to talk about it all the way home and make everyone else you know see it so that you can discuss it. So yeah, two thumbs up, five stars.

Definitely one of the reasons I got so into the film was because of the subject matter. I danced for many years in my youth. (Listen to me, "in my youth," as though I'm eighty or something.) I was never under any illusion that I would dance professionally. I knew I didn't have the single-mindedness or the drive for that, let alone the physical capacity to go that far. But watching dancers on the stage always reminds me what it was like to perform. My body remembers the pirouette, the fouette, the hot, sharp ache of long leg muscles straining to make their movements appear effortless. I remember the flood of the stage lights in my eyes and the way it felt to give myself over to the moment of performance. All of this may seem absurd, since I gave up dance fairly early, before I turned fifteen. But ballet is powerful; dance is an art form I respect. Watching dancers, true dancers, on the stage tugs at me in a different way than a painting or a photograph, or even a poem.

My own Swan Lake moment was much less dramatic. I still have a photo of me in costume. hahahahaha. That photo makes me laugh my pants off. I look so young and so innocent. Because I was, I guess. So delicate and white swan, posed with my hands stretched above my head in imitation of wings. When you look down, however, you see that my kid self hasn't thought to clean her ballet shoes for the photo. They're light pink, but the leather is cracked and dingy, dirt lining the edges along the top where the laces thread through. I don't remember much about that show, other than being excited that I got to "die" onstage. (I wasn't the swan queen, just a part of her entourage who dies and revives later in the scene.) I thought my dying technique was pretty badass. I totally sold it.

I do remember the headiness when the curtain fell, the rush of applause. I can easily imagine how one could be sucked in by the adoration of an audience, the physical and mental demands of the work, the completely punishing nature of the culture that surrounds it. I find it fascinating.

After the show, I came home to watch the series finale of Six Feet Under. I've been slowly moving through that series all year long. It is easily the best dramatic television series I've ever seen. I loved it. I hated to see it end; the characters have become so real to me that I talk about them as though they're people I know. If you haven't seen Six Feet Under, you have to watch it this year. Add it to your Netflix queue immediately! Two thumbs up!

I give today two thumbs up as well. Five stars for January 1, 2011. Great start to what I hope will be a year full of joy, celebration, much sleeping in, eating good food, seeing good films, being surrounded by good company. I look forward to it.

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