The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Performance Anxiety

You: So are you excited? Performing a self-choreographed solo piece on silks at a nightclub in a variety show? I mean that is some high-level shit.

Me: Yeah. And I’m actually feeling mostly prepared.

You: Really? Not freaking out??

Me: Well, I mean, the routine is pretty solid, as long as I get the drops in the right place for the music. And I’ve been practicing makeup, which seems to be going better. I’m happy with my costume, and it seems low-risk for a wardrobe malfunction. And I even taught myself how to do retro-pin curls by watching YouTube videos.

pin curls

You: Wow. You’ve been busy. Not working, but certainly busy.

Me: Hey! I’ve been working, too! In between visiting various Fascination shops and Castle Boutique locations around town. They have the best aerial costumes, you know.

You: I didn’t. But now I do. So wow, you’re really going into this cool as a cucumber? That’s a change. I mean, usually at 48 hours out from any of the ridiculous events/performances/gigs/races you’ve gotten yourself into, you’re in a corner rocking and weeping, repeating, Why did I agree to do this? Why did I agree to do this?

Me: That’s true…

You: But in the end it always goes well and you’re glad you did it.

Me: Yes, generally, except for a couple of minor hiccups. Like my hands shaking through my Ignite presentation. And when my mind went blank and I forgot the end.

You: And your make-up at the Desoto gig. You’re mother is still horrified about that one.

Me: Yeah. And that ridiculous blister I got on the first Ragnar I ever did. Or the dent in the van from the hit and run in the parking lot at the Ragnar I headed.

You: But the point is, you were such a mess with worry over all of those things beforehand, but they all ended up going well. And look at you now. You’ve learned from your crazy behavior and mellowed out. I’m so proud of you!

Me: Well… I mean, now that you mention all of that, what if the worrying was part of the process? Like, what if by not stressing until sick, I’m jinxing myself and this show is going to be a total fucking disaster?

You: But you just described how well-prepared you are. What could go wrong?

Me: Oh there’s plenty that could go wrong. Like, I could fart in the middle of the routine. That could definitely happen.

You: Ok. So now we’re going to go down this road? Fine. Let’s say you fart. The music and crowd are going to be too loud to hear it. Not a big deal. Next?

Me: What if I can’t get my eyelashes on right?

You: Monique promised she wouldn’t let you go out looking like a weirdo. She PROMISED. I think fucked-up eyelashes fall under that umbrella. She’ll help you.

Me: The backs of my knees could be too slippery from the thigh-high socks I’m wearing that I can’t do the knee climb at the beginning of my routine.

You: You still have time to test that out. You should bring them in to rehearsal tomorrow and see. You can always spray the shit out of them with spray rosin if they’re a problem, or ditch them altogether. That wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Me: What if I don’t hit my drops at the right spots?

You: Like 3 people will notice and no one will care.

Me: What if the rigging isn’t secure and I do my first drop and it falls out of the ceiling and I hit the ground?

You: The people who did the rigging for this venue are professionals and have as much at stake for it being done properly as you-

Me: Not “as much” as I do!

You: Alright, not “as much”, but they have a lot at stake, too. It’s definitely not in their best interest for you to go crashing to the ground during a performance. It would speak unfavorably of their skills. Also, you’re just worried about the rigging because it’s new. It’s a fallacy of logic to think that the rigging is more likely to fail because it’s untested. It’s actually probably statistically more likely to fail at some point while you’re on it at the gym, because it’s been used a million times and will eventually wear out.

Me: I’m not sure that made me feel better.

You: Sorry, it’s true.

Me: What if I miss the 360 like I did that time I was rehearsing and almost hung myself?

You: That was a fluke. It’s already happened once, and it won’t again. You’ve done it a dozen times flawlessly since then.

Me: What if I do my shooting star and as I’m flipping down, I swing too far wide and smack my head on the metal railing surrounding the performance area? And my skull bursts like a watermelon at a Gallagher show, and that’s how I die, hanging from a white silk, blood pooling on the floor from my crushed skull, my limbs still automatically holding the landing position of the star, in front of an audience of a hundred people?

murdery railing

You: …well that would be a dramatic way to die.

Me: True.

You: That can’t really happen, right?

Me: I mean… I don’t think so.

You: Luckily, you seem to have worked yourself up sufficiently do avoid the ‘no nerves’ jinx.

Me: Usually I’m just worried about humiliating myself or letting people down. This time I’m equally nervous about looking fat in my leotard and death. So that’s new.

You: Break a leg?

Me: I’m gonna go rock and weep for awhile.

You: Yeah. It’s your process.

To My “Friend” Who Sells the Thing

Dear “Friend”,

It’s so nice of you to reach out and reconnect with me! I can’t believe it’s been so long since we graduated/ran that Ragnar/worked together/met in the ladies room that one time when we were both super drunk and you let me borrow your lipstick and we decided to take selfies together. Time. It just keeps trucking along, doesn’t it?

As we are friends on social media, I have noticed that you’re taking on a new business venture. Good for you! I’m all for self-improvement and am happy to see my “friends” pursuing success. That said, I appreciate you taking time to send me a personal message to let me know, just in case I missed all 8 of your posts over the last 3 days about how excited you are to “be [your] own boss”, “empower other women to meet their full potential”, and in general “help others become better versions of themselves”.

You know what’s funny? Our mutual friend who also sells that product you’re selling, also sent me a message awhile back. It was nearly identical to the one you just sent me! No, like literally, most of the words were the same. The beginning was different, because she mentioned how we used to eat lunch together in Jr. High, and you talked about how fun it was when we took tap class together when we were 8, but after that, it was pretty much interchangeable. Isn’t that hilarious? I guess this thing you both are doing just elicits the exact same feelings of passion, and desire to convey it to others, in both of you.

Again, thank you for thinking of me, but at this time I’m not interested in purchasing the product you are selling. I’m also not interested in being my own boss (under you, of course, and the large, wealthy, corporation you represent) and selling your product, either. It’s not that I don’t want to help you support your family or that I don’t want to see you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. I do! And I totally get that you believe in your product. I just feel like it’s possible I could get the same results in “before” and “after” pictures without your product if I just change the lighting, smile, suck in, and flex a little better. Also, putting my hand on my hip and adding eyeliner and mascara, plus better fitting pants, seems to do the trick at my house. And the thing is, I have my own family to support, and bootstraps to pull up on. So giving you my credit card to auto-bill monthly and send me products I don’t want and won’t use, makes it harder for me to do that.

Anyway, I hope you’re well, and good luck to you! Not that you asked, but I’m well, too. I’m not sure if you use social media much, because you’ve never liked a single one of my amusing anecdotes or pictures of my happy family over the 7 or so years we’ve been “friends”, or interacted with me in any way until now, but I’d love to see more of you online or in person. Unless you’re too busy with your new business. Then I guess we’ll just continue as we were.

Sincerely,

Your “Friend”

 

Hanger: A Public Service Announcement

I’d like to take a minute to highlight a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide every day, hanger.

I know we’re all familiar with hanger. Brave advocacy groups like Snickers have done enough to raise awareness in the last few years that it’s no longer a condition shrouded in secrecy and shame. Now, sufferers can take comfort in knowing their loved ones and coworkers will at least understand, if not respect their choice to respond to a question like, “Hey, Claire, how’s it going?” with “It’s 2PM, I haven’t eaten lunch yet, and your face is irritating the shit out of me.”

That said, I think there’s still a lot of work to be done educating the public about the dangers of hangriness and how to care for someone in the throes of a hangry episode. Now is not the time for complacency. Complacency will only lead to rage-filled omissions of inappropriate honesty and subsequently uncomfortable relationships. Who among us hasn’t wanted to tell Fred he needs to stop constantly interrupting your work to make small talk about his weekend Netflix binge-watching? But if Judy does it when she’s nearly blind with rage over her plummeting blood sugar level, she’s also going to mention his BO and that he wasn’t invited to the potluck barbecue at Cindy’s because he always stares at Sasha’s boobs and makes her uncomfortable. And then Fred will make everyone else feel uncomfortable by asking if this is true. No one needs this sort of unbalance in the delicate ecosystem of the workplace, right? We all just want to do our stupid, ultimately meaningless jobs and go home!

My nephew, Colby, was recently involved in an unfortunate incident at his Montessori that could have easily been avoided if only his teacher had been sensitive to the needs of the hangry child and had helped him open that banana. That banana didn’t need to end up trapped, mashed beyond repair. Though she may have deserved it, the teacher could have avoided the name-calling and tears she was subjected to. Education is the key.

This is why now, more than ever, it’s important to share our stories and continue to get the word out about hanger and what we, as a community can do to help.

I, personally, have both seen and felt the ravages of hanger. This is my story.

Yesterday morning an ill-fated sequence of events led me to leave the house at noon after a 2.5 hour hike, without eating anything. I was on my way to a title company in Scottsdale to drop off an earnest money check, and I thought I’d grab something to eat on the way, or after. Unfortunately, even though I’m a 37 year old woman who has been suffering with hanger my entire life, I forgot that sometimes, with the right combination of exercise and attempted rehydration, the hanger will skip the initial symptoms of growling stomach and shaky hands, and go straight for the brain.

I pulled away from the house in a fog, and tried to formulate a plan of action. The title company was 25 minutes north and west of my house. There were lots of restaurants between here and there… where should I stop? My brain hazily struggled to come up with some possible options. A BLT sounds good. Lot’s of places have BLTs… bacon is pretty. And chips. Chips are happy things. Maybe if I just pull off at the next exit and knock on someone’s door they’ll make me a BLT?  This was when my gas light went on, snapping me back to reality and inserting a further sense of urgency into the situation.

I know, I thought, finally coming up with a solution, I’ll call Jason and ask him where I should eat. He always knows stuff like this. 

Me (slurring): Hey.

Jason: Hey, what’s up? I’m just getting back to work from lunch.

Me: Oh. Ok. Um… oh right. I need help. 

Jason: Ok? 

Me (taking a deep breath and trying to keep it together): I… am driving to Scottsdale, and I almost died with the 10 mile walk and no water and now I need to find food. I don’t feel super hungry, but I think I need to eat. I want a BLT and I don’t know where to go. So… can you tell me where to go?

Jason: Um… well, there’s this place Mandy said she was just at the other day in Tempe, it’s called Nocawich. It has lots of sandwiches and it’s supposed to be good.

Me: Yes. Sure. Where?

He texted me the address and I reset my GPS, feeling more secure about a plan in place to secure nourishment.

My relief, however, was short-lived. As I drew closer to the restaurant, I realized, with growing horror, that it was located directly on ASU’s campus. I turned down College Ave and was suddenly surrounded by meandering 20-somethings in crop-tops and on long boards. There were buses vying for a spot in my lane. Cars honked behind me. Nocawich was a storefront with no visible parking and a line out the door. This was not a situation I could possibly navigate in my current condition. My overworked, starving brain began to melt down. I forgot how to drive. I considered putting the car in park right there, turning on my hazards, and laying down to die in the front seat.

Gradually my misery shifted and I began to see red. THIS WAS JASON’S FAULT. I took a deep breath and made a U-turn in front of a service vehicle and narrowly missed flattening three jaywalking coeds. He had obviously sent me here ON PURPOSE, knowing it would be hell-on-earth, just to torture me! That bastard!!

As I sat through three cycles of a green arrow, trying to extricate myself from the congestion of the campus, still food-free and running even more low on literal gas, I let fly with a series of furious voice-text messages to my husband, beginning with, “This was a terrible fucking idea” and finishing off with the dramatic, “I really really hate my life right now”.

Jason, being well-versed in the signs of hanger, knew he could do nothing from his vantage point, and minimized provocation by only responding in sad faced emojis.

At that point, I decided just to continue on to the title company. I would stop somewhere in Scottsdale that looked empty with parking close by. And somewhere with wine.

Getting off the freeway, I remembered that Scottsdale is a landscape barren of gas stations, and if I didn’t want to run out and be forced to hitchhike to the nearest Taco Bell, I needed to stop at the first one I could find.

The Shell station on Indian Bend and Hayden was where I exited my car for the first time since the morning’s walk from hell. It was also where I discovered my leg muscles were revolting from over-use and in utter misery. I limped to and from the gas pump and cursed my life even further.

Finally, at 1:15pm I pulled up to the title company building. Of course it wasn’t in a strip mall where I could park right in front, walk 10 steps in and hand the check to the receptionist. It was in an enormous, three story office building with 8 separate entrances and no indication whatsoever which was closest to the title company I was looking for. I circled the parking lot once and wept furious tears before sucking up every ounce of will I still had to offer, and limped, miserably, toward the building.

Once I entered the door of roulette I’d chosen, it was clear I was in some 7th circle of real estate hell. The downstairs housed at least three different real estate sales companies, and I could see three title agencies upstairs. My poor, feeble brain could not compute. I looked down at the check in my hand to remember where I was trying to get, and hobbled over to a touchscreen directory.

Eventually it became clear I’d need to climb a set of winding stairs to get to the title company. Of course. I cursed every stupid, fucking step as I slowly, deliberately climbed it. I’m sure the other people in the building thought I was disabled or was autistic. The steps infuriated me. The receptionist was a raging twit who deserved capital punishment for her laugh. That lady who passed me on the stairs on the way down and gave me a sideways look had no idea how lucky she was she was to be just out of tripping range at that moment.

When I got back to my car, after laying my head on my steering wheel for a minute, I resolved to stop at a “pizza and wine” sign I’d seen a mile or so back toward the freeway.

The restaurant was almost empty at 1:45pm when I entered, but at that point I gave zero fucks as to whether this was an indication of the quality of food. I sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of wine, a salad and an individual pizza. I still wasn’t shaky or even traditionally starving, just sore, exhausted, and furious with all people and inanimate objects within a 2 mile radius (and my husband, of course).

Four bites into my arugula and white bean mediterranean salad my vision started to clear around the edges. Breathing became easier. I realized my husband probably wasn’t a stupid selfish asshole who didn’t care about me or my well-being at all. He was just trying to help. It was good I hadn’t told him all of the stuff I’d been thinking. Things… were going to be ok. By the time I finished the pizza, the world looked like a giant double rainbow had appeared over the horizon, and I was really, really glad I hadn’t committed homicide in the last 2 hours.

You, too, can avoid being the victim or perpetrator of hanger violence by arming yourself against this common, but dangerous condition. Carry snacks. Near mealtimes, speak in soothing tones. Make and always have on hand a list of restaurants you, or your hangry-afflicted loved one has enjoyed in the past, to refer to during cloudy-brain episodes. And always apologize to a hangry person, even if it’s not your fault.

Spread the word!

Weekend Reflections: The Burgundy and Circus Edition

I went to the mall Friday, and EVERYTHING WAS BURGUNDY. It’s apparently a whole thing for fall. I reject the trend. I’m rallying a network of support. Feel free to join our cause:

burgandy is gross text 1

burgundy is gross text 2

 

Or wear your stupid ankle-length, flannel, sleeveless, burgundy and black plaid, faux-boho/grunge dress all fall and look like a dumbass. I don’t care.

***

Facebook updated their mobile app at some point, and now the notifications sometimes say things like Jenny recently liked a photo you are tagged in. Sometimes it still just says Jenny liked a photo you are tagged in. I haven’t been able to discern the reason Facebook makes this distinction, but it means that when I open my notifications and quickly scan through, sometimes I think it says Jenny REALLY liked a photo you were tagged in, and before I can help myself I think, “Oh, that’s so nice! I wonder what made her really like that one? Like why did she like it more than the other one? Was she just liking the other one out of obligation, but this one she actually, genuinely likes? What’s wrong with the other picture? Do I look fat in it? The other picture must actually be humiliating in some way I didn’t see. I should delete it. OMG, what if all of my pictures are humiliating in some way I’m not seeing? I SHOULD DEFINITELY DELETE ALL MY PICTURES RIGHT NOW. Except the one Jenny really likes. That one’s probably OK.”

Dear Facebook, Please quit fucking with my self-esteem. It’s like really stressful for me.

***

I performed at an event this weekend. It was a circus-themed fundraiser for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It went well, although I’m still learning the ins and outs of aerial performance and there are still some issues I’m not sure how to handle. For instance:

1. I can get through the 15 minute sets in the air, with a general amount of grace. I feel good about my tricks and poses, things are fairly smooth, and everyone is taking lots of pictures and seems to be enjoying the show. But when it’s time for me to come down, and I’ve literally got sweat dripping into my clown makeup, my heart rate is at 200, and I just need a glass of water and a towel, apparently I still need to take pictures with people and field compliments without looking like I’m going to pass out or throw up on anyone. This level of professionalism is something I need to work on.

2. What to do when drunk people insist on engaging with you while you’re performing.

Desoto gig 1

I went with, “You’re going to need to step back now unless you want me to kick you in the face,” but I feel like there might have been a more graceful way to react.

3. I’m not sure I can do any gigs unless I have my husband assisting. So… I’m just going to go ahead and put that on my talent contract stipulations from now on. In addition to picking all the brown M&Ms out of the bowl in my dressing room, and leaving seven perfectly chilled Diet Cokes in the mini fridge (sure, you can substitute Diet Pepsi if Coke products aren’t available, IF  YOU WANT TO GET FIRED), I need you to provide my husband with an all access pass so he can:

  • Climb ladders when they look rickety and I don’t want to
  • Hold both a glass of water and a glass of wine for me at all times so I can switch off when I feel like it
  • Be in charge of the designated spray rosin and flipflop area
  • Create and hang DO NOT TOUCH signs for us when we get paranoid someone will swing on the silks when they’re not in use
  • Tell me I don’t look fat and I’m going to be awesome 12 times in the three minutes before I perform

I really can’t be expected to work without him. It’s just not optional.

Despite those struggles, the event seemed to go well, and afterward I was glad I did it. Beforehand I spent the three preceding days and nights asking myself why, WHY, do I get myself into things like this because I’m obviously too old and fat and ridiculous to be an aerial performer. Why can’t I just stay home like a normal person? What is wrong with me??? I’m a goddamn idiot, and I don’t know what’s good for me, that’s what’s wrong.

But that’s just “my process”. It’s an artist thing. It’s how I do my best work.

Eliz 1

My Awkward Introduction to Stitch Fix

Dear Stitch Fix,

I think there’s been a mix-up with my box. It’s ok, though. I’m pretty sure if I explain what happened, the situation is easily remedied.

I have a bunch of friends who use your personal shopping service, and they’ve all been really pleased. I was hesitant, at first, to sign up, because I firmly believe shopping is one of the key joys in life, meant to be cherished and savored. If someone else shops for me, how will I cheer myself up when I’m having a bad day? What will I do when I have to show a house infested with spiders, the school principal calls because Jonas got into a fight on the bus, and three people unfriend me on Facebook right after I post an anti-homeopathy rant (one because she thinks I’m against gay people)?

But then I remembered there’s still wine. Also, I almost never have time anymore to indulge in any shopping that doesn’t involve Target or Kohls, and I’m pretty tired of pretending I’m shopping for my teenage daughter in the junior section so I don’t end up wearing the same wrap dress as the teacher to curriculum night. I decided it would actually be really nice to have someone mail me five cute wardrobe options once a month.

So I signed up, and when I did, I made sure to fill out the whole questionnaire about my tastes and desires. I labored over my true feelings regarding ‘statement pieces’ and crop tops. I created a Pinterest page with clothes I like (as suggested), so you’d understand my special unicorn clothing opinions. I even alienated my mother, who has always considered herself my personal shopper, in the process. (What do you need that for??)

When my first box finally came, I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to get it open and look super adorable in all my new clothes. I was sure this was the element of my life I’d been missing in order to truly reach my full potential. Step 1: Look fantastic without having to spend time shopping. Step 2: Secure a reality show where I sell real estate and do circus performances. Step 3: Write a best selling book about my life. Step 4: World domination.

As soon as I tore back the cardboard strip and peeled off the top of the box, I could tell something wasn’t right. These clothes… didn’t seem fabulous. But the directions had instructed me to try everything on with some of my favorite pieces already in my wardrobe, before determining whether I liked an item or not, and I’m not one to subvert the proper process, so I pushed forward.

Item 1: Gray and white sweaterish top, $48

1

 

It’s not a hideous top. I like the color gray and I guess the price is ok. The shape isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. That said, the day I got this top, the high was 112 degrees. It’s won’t be sweater weather in Phoenix for three more months. I’m pretty sure you accidentally grabbed from the pile meant for a woman named Susan who lives in Cleveland and feels nervous about color and showing her upper arms. Right? Isn’t that what happened?

Item 2: Burgundy dress, $68

2

This one… uh…

3

Er…

4

Oof…

5

Ugh. Just… ugh. I tried, I really did. I mean, again, it was 112 degrees the day I got this, so the long sleeves are already an enormous problem. And the color. Can we talk for a second about the color? Who likes burgundy? Who?? Raise your hands right now, everyone who likes burgundy. See there, Stitch Fix? The only people raising their hands are that lady whose house I showed last week with the cat urine odor problem, and my 9th grade choir teacher. Those are the people who like the color burgundy. Setting both those aside, unbelted, the billowing tentness of the shape makes it look like I’m smuggling drugs in over the border under my dress. This sort of voluminous silhouette only works on models who exist on champagne and cigarettes. It makes everyone else look like they’re trying to hide a muffin top under a tent. Adding a belt helps with the illusion of a waist, but only if I’m transported back in time to 1984.

This one was meant for a 22 year old model named Chloe, who lives in NYC and has recently discovered reruns of Blossom on TVLand. Right? She’s been hot gluing plastic flowers to a floppy hat she found in a thrift store and this would go perfectly with it when it’s done.

Item 3: Sleeveless polyester top with black and white stripes, $58

6

Ok, I think this one is my fault, isn’t it? I just remembered I put on the questionnaire that I live in 2005, work in an office and am trying to hide a pregnancy until my promotion comes through.

No, wait… I didn’t.

Cheryl, the admin assistant who’s back to work for the first time in 20 years after raising her children called and would like to buy this top. She thinks it looks like you wouldn’t have to iron it when it comes out of the dryer and she heard vertical stripes are slimming.

Item 4: Black leggings… as pants, $78

7

 

 

If you were friends with me on Facebook, Stitch Fix, you’d know I’ve rallied for leggings as pants in the past. Although, mostly I like to wear wild leggings, and I mostly wear them just out in public, when I’m on my way to and from circus class. I’m actually not one of those people who understands how formal leggings as pants work. I have short legs, so long, dressy tops aren’t my go-to attire. I’m just… not sure what to do with these (besides pair them with an equally sad burgundy top).

8

Maybe this?

9

Or I could wear them to circus class. Although if I’m going to spend $80 on leggings that are probably see-thru, I’m gonna do it at Lululemon or Athletica so I can get them with a cute pattern and a matching sports bra.

I’m assuming these were meant for Caroline, an equestrian show rider from New Jersey. She wore through her last pair and specifically requested a replacement.

Item 5: Long, gold, fringy necklace, $68

10

 

This last one was obviously meant for the girl who doesn’t mind throwing away SIXTY-EIGHT DOLLARS on a necklace so poorly constructed it could have come out of quarter vending machine in a plastic bubble. I’m not sure who that girl is. I don’t know anyone like her.

See, Stitch Fix? It was just all a big (depressing) mistake. After I tried all of that on, I felt bad enough about myself and clothes in general, I dug through my closet and styled myself from shit I already own and hardly ever wear, so I could renew my faith in fashion. When you send me my real box, feel free to fill it with stuff like this:

11

Anxiously awaiting your next (possibly final) attempt,

Elizabeth, the 37 year old mother of three who lives in Arizona and loves to actually look cute.

To-Do List For When They’re Finally Gone

Things I fully intend to accomplish when my kids finally go back to school after summer break (8.5 MORE DAYS):

  1. Get a pedicure. The long kind where he massages your calves with the sugar scrub, and it causes you to think, for a moment, that you’ve fallen in love with an elderly asian man wearing bedazzled jeans.
  2. Nap, during the day, like I’m Mariah Carey or something.
  3. Take private lessons with my aerial coach. Finish choreographing my piece. Field calls from agents wanting to represent me.
  4. Try on swimsuits at Target without being called over the loudspeaker to come pick up my unruly offspring from the video game section.
  5. Learn to crochet and make myself a mermaid tail blanket for my Mariah Carey naps.
  6. Complete an entire thought without once having someone interrupt to ask if he’s allowed to make a bow and arrow out of a stick he found in the greenbelt, my embroidery thread, and a fork.
  7. Effortlessly lose 10 pounds because no one is constantly eating french fries or muffins within reach.
  8. Clean and organize my entire house. Unpack boxes still sealed from when we moved here 6.5 years ago. Develop personal decorating style. Maintain a home I’m not embarrassed to let the pest control guy see.
  9. Rewatch Game of Thrones. Keep track of the number of times someone should have murdered Joffrey but didn’t. Attempt to pinpoint the moment Jon Snow stopped being attractive and became insufferable. Mourn the fact that Daenerys got famous enough she was able to renegotiate her contract so she doesn’t have to do topless scenes anymore.
  10. Start a zine* called Blue and Rose’, dedicated to my cat and favorite sort of wine. Publish poems, short stories, and drawings featuring wine and cats both together and separately.
  11. Teach my back to be flexible enough so my toes can touch my head.

Things I will actually do when the kids are back in school:

  1. Read all the Huffington Post, Jezebel, and Snopes articles that were ever written.

 

*Are zines still a thing? If not, reestablish zines as a thing.

 

Committing Sudoku

Conversations with Ben while in line for the diving board at the public pool…

Me: So this time, I want you to do the approach like you did last time, but tuck your knees and then dive in head first. Also, make sure you circle your arms all the way back after you hurdle.

Ben: MOM. Do I have to? I’m really terrible at this.

Me: Yes! Just a few more times. You said you want to be on the diving team. Wouldn’t you rather have me show you the basics now than show up to the first day totally clueless?

Ben: uuuuughhhh. But I’m so bad… It’s humiliating. I’m going to commit sudoku.

Me: *eyeroll*

Ben: *elbows my side like an old-school vaudeville comic* Get it? Cause seppuku is violent ritual suicide by disembowelment, but sudoku is a math game? And they sound similar?

Me: Yes. I get it. It’s your favorite joke. I’ve heard it once or twice before.

8 or 9 year old kid who just went off the board climbs out of the pool and cuts in front of me in line. He waves his friend over to stand in front of him. Friend dumps several gummy candies into his wet hand. Kid tosses them into mouth. Neither acknowledge me, Ben, or the 6 other kids behind us.

Me: Uh, hey guys? Really? There’s a line back here.

Kid turns and appraises me, trying to decide if I’m just a bossy kid with sun damage and crows feet. He glances toward the cluster of moms on the bleachers under the shade and back at me, raising an eyebrow as if to say, “Are you lost?” and then moves directly behind me and Ben. Friend follows.

Me: Really? You’re just going to cut all those little kids now?

Kid: *points to Friend indignantly* He was there.

Me: Oh whatever.

Me (to Ben): Did you see that? Little kids are such cutters! What the hell?!

Ben: Of course they are. Have you never met a little kid before? That’s like all they ever do. Can’t we take a break for a little bit? I’m gonna decapitate myself.

Me: No, no. You can do this. Just watch me once more and do it like that.

Ben: I’m not any good. It’s embarrassing…

Me: You’re fine! It’s your first time trying it. And I’m really not a very good teacher.

Ben: You’re right, this is entirely YOUR fault. You’re an awful teacher. You just say, “Do this.” and when I try what you did you go, “Ok, good, that’s right, good job, oh wait, NO, not like that!, uh… good try, let’s do it again. but not like that next time.” 

Me: Sorry… I don’t know how to break it down. I’m old and I can’t remember how I was taught, I just know how to do it. Can’t you just watch me and do it like I do?

Ben: Do they have morphine in the lifeguard stand?

Me: Why, does your back hurt from when you landed last time?

Ben: No, that was just another suicide joke. I was trying to get as many in as possible.

Me: That one was kind of weak. Here, take my turn and just try once more.

Ben: OK.

Me: You’ve got this, I know you can do it. Yes, that’s right! Good job-wait, not like that! No! Uh… no. But that was a good try. Let’s just do it once more. But more like this, here, watch me.

 

 

Thoughts On Art

I took a class last night at the aerial gym called Act Development and Refinement. It’s meant to help aspiring aerialists create cohesive works they can showcase at student shows, festivals, or just when you want to have your friends over and force them to watch you perform (check the mail for your invites, guys!).

There are generally two types of aerial performances: Ambient and Choreographed Pieces. Ambient aerial is when you have a set amount of time to go up on an apparatus and perform for a milling crowd. Usually there is a DJ or sound system playing music. For this type of performance, you plan out series of sequences you can do back to back, with lots of pausing to pose and spin and shit like that. It’s popular at bars or corporate events. Usually you will do multiple sets during an event. A Choreographed Piece is a set routine performed to specific music and is generally used at a show where the performances are the main event.

(Maybe you already knew all of that. I’m just explaining it because it took me like a year to figure out.)

I’ve done a little bit of Ambient performing and I performed a duo routine on silks in one student show last year, but I haven’t ever put together “An Act” before. It’s something I’d like to do, so I’ve been taking private lessons and doing a lot of internal whining about how I really wish I had an act. I’ve also been daydreaming about performing in a super great sort of gothic, but also sparkly costume (after I lose 10 pounds) and like really fantastic fake eyelashes, where all the people who ever made fun of me for anything, or made me feel shitty in any way were in attendance and forced to admit I’m far cooler than they will ever be. This is an important part of “The Process” of act creation, obviously.

The class last night was the first one, so there was a lot of dialog about theory behind creation of a routine and how to go about it. Toward the end of class, Monique, the instructor and burlesque performer, told us, if nothing else, we need to remember to be authentic. We need to figure out what sort of style works best for us and create a voice out of it.

I spent my run this morning (because I’m doing that nonsense again) thinking about what authenticity in aerial arts means, and how it specifically relates to me. Generally speaking, one of my strengths is authenticity and having a voice. I’m fairly opinionated and I like attention, I think any Facebook personality test would say. Truth and transparency are things I value highly. But being authentic in an aerial performance? This gave me pause. How can I be true to myself when the essence of what I’m doing is an act? My goal, in performing, is to appear more beautiful, graceful, strong, and generally amazing than I actually am. If I’m gonna be real with who I am when I’m performing, then I’d better plan to trip over a crack in the floor on the way to the silk, sweat and shake while I’m in the air, and possibly fart accidentally for the grand finale.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Aerial is an art, like any other form of art. My job, as the artist in this medium, is to communicate my personal perspective to the audience. I just need to figure out what my personal perspective as an Aerialist is.

I have a bunch of Aerialist performer friends. We all know a lot of the same tricks, but when I really broke it down, I realized they each has a wildly different personality in his or her act. Monique is a sexy, liquid, burlesque performer with an affinity for a dark edge. Lauren is whimsical and light in her performances. Dakoa is bendy and gothic. Monika is sensual, but with a characteristic seemingly infinite extension in every movement. Karen is spunky, strong, and dynamic. Each voice is clearly unique.

This, apparently, is what I need to determine for myself. So far, I think I’ve ruled out a sexy burlesque kind of a style. I think I’d rather watch that than be it. I just can’t pull that shit off with a straight face. And I’m not flexible enough to lean toward the contortionist side. But I’m strong. And I have nice lines. My toes are always pointed. I might tend toward ‘quirky’. I like sparkles. Can that be a style? Sparkly?

I think I need to meditate on this. But I’ll figure it out. Just you wait.

Hiking Tales: The One With the Wasps

We met at the trailhead at 5AM. It was a long hike, eleven miles, but I’d done Tom’s Thumb before, so I was pretty sure it would be NBD.

It was an out and back, and for most of the ‘out’ the sun was behind the mountain. We started with a group of 8, but my sister, who runs 7 miles every other day, quickly pulled ahead of the pack, followed by her bestie, and former Division 1 collegiate athlete, Jen. I trotted behind them, mostly keeping up.

The last time I did this hike was 2 years ago when I was running 12-15 miles a week and 4 months into a weekly long hike training program. I was also hiking with non-super athletes. We did things like Stop For Rest Breaks. This time was different.

About 3 miles in, the gap between me and Jen (behind Sarah) was starting to grow and I was breathing hard. I began to fantasize about hiking with my husband, who bitches bitterly, but gives me an excuse to rest occasionally. I looked up, and in the distance, Sarah stopped. Jen piled up behind her, and I quickly caught up, ready to complain about the pace and non-resting. I was bitter bitcher of this group.

“I don’t think this is the way,” Sarah said, looking toward a dip in path that went over a small wash. It was overgrown with trees and bushes.

“This has to be the way,” I said. “Where else would we go?”

“There’s… bees,” she said, and I paused, listening for a moment. Sure enough, I heard the eerie hum of hundreds, maybe thousands, of wings.

“This is the way,” a voice behind me said. It was a guy we’d passed awhile back who’d caught up to us. “They’re wasps. You have to go through them. They were worse yesterday. I turned back. But today I’m going through. You just have to keep your mouth closed and not swat at them. They’re attracted to the moisture in your mouth.”

“We have to walk through them?!” Jen asked. It sounded completely insane. We could see them swarming around in the wash. It was about 5 feet of branches and bushes and a little bit of water, covered in buzzing, stinging kamikazes.

“I talked to the park ranger about having them removed, but they won’t do it. If you want to finish the hike, you have to go through them. Do you want me to go first?” the guy asked. He was weird, but he didn’t seem like a complete lunatic, and we sure as fuck didn’t want to be the ones to test his theory.

“Yes please,” Sarah said.

The guy took a deep breath, clamped his mouth shut and walked down into the depression in the path. We collectively held our breath as he took three or four steps through the mass of insects, but they didn’t change pitch or fervor. The guy didn’t scream or fall to the ground writhing. On the other side, he shouted back to us (with more surprise and relief in his voice than I was comfortable with), “I made it! I didn’t get stung!”

Sarah, Jen, and I stood there for a few moments just looking at each other.

“I think I’m going to hold my shirt over my mouth,” Sarah said. Apparently we were going to do this, too. I was sort of hoping everyone would decide a 6 mile hike was decent enough for the day and pack it in.

“Alright, let’s go,” said Jen (she’s an attorney, so she has experience staying calm while under attack).

Sarah lifted her tank top over her mouth and plunged in. Jen followed quickly behind. Before I could lose my nerve, I held my shirt over my face, took a step, and closed my eyes, walking as calmly as I could.

Wasps dive-bombed my head. I could feel them bouncing off my cheeks. Their wings were in my ears. It took everything I had in me to keep from screaming bloody murder and using my arms like propellers to keep them the fuck away from my orafices. With my eyes still shut, I took three quick steps through the brush and was out on the other side.

Shaking with relief and residual terror, I opened my eyes. Sarah and Jen were standing there, also unscathed.

“That was horrible!” said Jen.

“That was the most terrifying thing I think I’ve ever done,” I told them, without exaggeration.

“You know we’re going to have to go through again on the way back, right?” Sarah said.

Vacaysh Travel Reviews

Last week we vacayshed in La Jolla for a week with the fam. It was a mostly enjoyable experience (which is really the very highest praise you can hope for of an eight day trip with 8 kids and 9 adults in one house). I feel compelled to do my due diligence as a proper vacayshee and review all the establishments we patronized for future vacayshlings.

1. Some hotel in San Diego we stayed the first night – Showers are super excellent for washing your mid-section and knees. A room with two double beds is perfect for a family of 5, unless your teenager wants to sleep lying down without being a fire hazard. Walking distance to a bar my brother-in-law really loves because it has a piano player and paintings of naked ladies on the wall. I’m pretty sure he and my sister named their dog after that bar.

2. Cody’s (restaurant in downtown La Jolla) – Fantastic champagne cocktails. Adorable waiters abound (my favorite was the one with the man-bun, but the one with the black-frame hipster glasses and accent was delicious, too). We went back a second visit to sample different cocktails and waiters and it did not disappoint.

3. Our rental house – Extremely homey vibe. With all of the owners’ personal belongings stuffed into closets and drawers and all their old family photos up around the house, it felt like we were visiting my Great Grandma in Minnesota, down to the ancient peeling wallpaper, unpredictable plumbing, and possible haunting. The feral kittens who live under the deck in the back provided endless hours of entertainment for the children. Also the hot tub is the very perfect height for epic jumps and flips into the swimming pool. And it seems like maybe someone hosted swinger parties in the room we affectionately called The Ghost Dance Party Room, so… that’s probably useful, for someone. Tip: If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, don’t use the middle switch on the second floor bath for the light. It goes off and back on every 13-ish seconds, so you might die of a heart attack when you’re half asleep and plunged into darkness mid-pee. The far left switch stays illuminated more consistently. 

Feral kitten.

Feral kitten sighting.

4. The La Jolla Farmer’s Market – Absolutely superb location for fresh, local produce, poke’ over rice, and nonchalantly stalking that actor from Pretty Little Liars while he buys souvenirs for his girlfriend from the guy with the table of crap he swears he found on the bottom of ocean.

5. Birch AquariumThe place to go to spend $17/person for 12.5 minutes of entertainment for your children. If you’re in a big rush, just go straight to the sea dragon exhibit and stand there for 7 minutes and you’ll get your money’s worth.

Sea dragon. Real thing. I think.

Sea dragon. Real thing. I think.

6. Legoland – Completely endurable if you go to BevMo beforehand and stock up on tiny cans of margaritas to carry in your purse.

7. Surf Divas – A legitimately excellent place to get surf lessons complete with a harbor seal and a shovelnose guitarfish sighting. And no one even drowned!

Offspring surfing! And not drowning!

Offspring surfing! And not drowning!

Post surfing! (Pre-drowning.)

Post surfing! (Pre-drowning.)

8. Being on the Beach – Supremely beautiful experience when the sun is out. I recommend bringing a nephew who is obsessed with chasing seagulls. This will keep the birds away from your snacks and provide entertainment when you get bored. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your super-fair middle child’s hands and forearms. They will literally turn purple and swell from four hours of gripping the boogie board in the sun if you don’t.

9. Prison Hill Brewery in Yuma – A far better choice for lunch than Arby’s. Yes, driving home sucks ballz, but you might survive after a BLT and fries from this place.