Many of my friends are turning 30…and I will be in June. I drew this as a birthday card for one of these friends and thought it might be nice to share (I hope it’s readable):
Thu 25 Jan 2007
Many of my friends are turning 30…and I will be in June. I drew this as a birthday card for one of these friends and thought it might be nice to share (I hope it’s readable):
Sun 21 Jan 2007
First off: The snow has finally melted. While it was pretty while it lasted, it was with a cheerful farewell we bid the last bit of slush. Here is a picture of our house’s first snow (with us):
It is with great appreciation that I find lovely lake views a mere half mile from our home. High atop Water Ave. one can see for miles up and down Lake Washington.
Sam and Erin bustled themselves up to Seattle this weekend. We hit the Pike Place Market and each fell victim to the almond booth. Perhaps its the free samples that got us tasting and buying. At any rate, Josh picked out the most disgustingly sweet, sugar coated almonds he could find. At first I was like, bleech! But then I couldn’t help but start to consume them. Here is Erin going the savory route by purchasing smoked almonds sans sugar:
Josh prettily framed in the doorway of Pike Place:
I had to take Sam and Erin to the notorious gum wall outside the Market Theatre. Of course Sam had to take advantage of the obvious photo op:
I had big hopes for visiting the new Olympic Sculpture Park. Saturday was opening day for this curious place that I’ve only driven by. A wonderful outdoor park with gorgeous views of the mountians was not to be missed by the rest of the city and we were overwhelmed my hordes of people. Parking nearby was not an option so we drove through the park and I hastily took a picture of this beautiful silver tree:
Mon 15 Jan 2007
I decided to audition for several choreographers in town at a big cattle call type audition in Capitol Hill on Saturday. All in all, about seventeen girls showed up and I have to say (with a smidge of pride) that I wasn’t the worst one. I will say that what started out as an OK audition during the first hour became brutal by the second hour. So let’s just cut to the chase: I’m a ballet trained bunhead turned modern dancer. I left ballet at seventeen because I loved theater more at the time and because I simply wasn’t flexible enough. I could handle the technique part but you just can’t fake putting your leg over your head. I was (and am) successful as a dancer because I can act…and that can make or break any dance piece. Even the skinniest, 90 pound waif can’t get the audience’s compassion if she can’t show expression in her face. I wrote this on my audition form before they had me attach the unlucky number 13 to my shirt: I can’t put my leg behind my head but I can act. If you need a dancer who can emote, express, or talk on stage I’m your girl.
Well, by now you’re realizing that they didn’t want a dancer that could act. They wanted dancers who could do stunts, flip in the air, and do tricks. It all started out fine with the first two choreographers asking for very pedestrian movement–one even asked us to rip a piece of paper and throw it into a bag, ooooo, I can do that. I felt pretty good, I new two of the girls there, and I felt okay about the stress of quickly memorizing choreography–something that always makes me choke at dance auditions. The second to the last choreographer was a short, older, white guy–the kind you see lurking around the dance scene and don’t entirely trust. He started with throwing us all over the floor, backward shoulder rolls, butt spins, and then he wanted us to slowly go into a headstand then tuck and roll into a somersault. This was entirely out of my league. I flubbed my way through it the first few times. Then he asked us to take two minutes and come up with our own little movement phrase inspired by the choreography. I hate stuff like this, but at least it meant I could flail around on my own. He then began to call two people onstage randomly and we were suppose to do our phrases together on the stage. It would have been fine had I not been paired with The Jack Hammer. This dancer had a pretty tough, hard, look about her. Like she’d been a street gang and could kick my ass if she wanted. When we both got called I tried to make eye contact with her–an acting trick I’ve learned to help stabilize and connect with your stage partner. She wouldn’t even look at me and actually turned her back. When the choreographer said, “begin’ she started spazzing all over the place, hurling her body in the air, flinging herself onto the floor, doing all sorts of crazy spastic moves with no concept of space or rhythm. I couldn’t play off her at all, so I just sort of ho-hummed my way through some random shit–a backward shoulder roll, a little back arch here, a stylish leap there. She jack-hammered FOREVER leaving me with very little left to do toward the end…finally she threw herself in the air and landed spread eagle on her stomach. Ow. I neatly folded my arms and torso over her as if I was some sort of crescent moon shape hoping it would be a nice finishing touch. The applause at the end was forced.
As we slunk offstage I questioned my motives for even being there. Initially I was like, well, what do I have to lose? If I don’t go then I won’t get in regardless, and if I do go then maybe I’ll get in AND meet some new people in the community. What I realized is that I had a lot to lose…my dignity, my sense of pride, and my self-esteem. Failure has never been my prized specialty and it’s one reason why I have taken a very un-traditional route in my performance career. My tactic has historically gone like this: Sick of not being cast I simply wrote my own stuff and found a way to get it on stage. This dance
audition was making me want to crawl into a hole.
The last audition of the two hour stretch was for a local dance company. They’re the cheery type that always shout at the end of my Monday night modern class, “HI! We’re such-and-such company and we’re performing TONIGHT at the space, it’s only twelve dollars, so WE’LL SEE YOU THERE.” My heart sank when they asked us to find a partner who was similar in height and build, (oh GOD, no, they’re asking us to do partnering work). Then they demonstrated the duet we would be learning and let me tell you: I almost threw up. I wanted to go home. I knew I was toeing the line but I made myself stay because if I didn’t I would be letting my partner down. Let’s call her “Eloise.” I’m sure she’s a very nice woman but the pressure of the audition was causing her poker face to wain…she was not pleased to be partnered with me. I could read it all over her face and there’s nothing worse then a duet with no trust. I wish I could accurately describe the feats they were requesting us to do. One of them involved me running and throwing myself at Eloise so that my body was horizontal to the floor and my arms were clasped firmly around her waist. Inevitably I ended up mashing my face into her ample bosom upon impact. I tried to aim lower but I was sure I was going to smash my knees into the floor so the move started looking like some sort of desperate hug that missed. I had to sort of flip Eloise over my back while on all fours and then she had to launch me in the air with her feet, sort of like an airplane, which was kinda fun and I thought for a moment that maybe we might be able to pull it off. Eloise was still stand-offish but I think she was coming around to my goofy charm.
Then came The Big Move. This involved Eloise running and jumping at me…I was suppose to catch her upside down while she hung on to my right leg. I had never seen this move and if it sounds impossible let me tell you it was. The auditioners demonstrated it flawlessly and all I could think of was dear-god-i’m-way-in-over-my-head. Before I knew it Eloise was hurling her frame at me and I was doing my best to look ready with my knees bent and my pelvis rooted. It all happened so fast, all I know was that we fell…or I fell and in a desperate attempt to save my partner I took one for the team and cushioned Eloise. We made a terrific noise as we landed on the hardwood floors and everyone in the room gasped and stared. It was terribly painful and I almost started crying. The auditioners ran over to me and I said flatly, “I’m not doing that again, I’m sorry.” We agreed to modify because there was no way I was going to get injured further much less put Eloise through that again. The worst part was losing any ounce of trust I might have had with her and now we had to perform the duet twice for the room. I was badly shaken and my right hamstring–which has a longstanding injury–was aching. If I quit I would be letting my partner down, it was an audition after all and it wasn’t her fault she got paired with a flub. So I put on the cheeriest smile I could and stumbled through the duet. It was horrible because I had no self-confidence by then and really, what was I doing putting myself at risk like that?
When the final duet finished I was out of that room so fast. Luckily The Big Move was the last part of the day and I practically ran out of the studio. I had already done a body assessment and had decided that nothing was broken, sprained, or ripped. However, I had badly strained and/or pulled my right leg somehow during the fall and I limped back to my car like a wounded bird with little pride. When I came home I lay on the floor and tried to re-align my pelvis with my limbs and yeah, I totally cried. It hurts to sit, it hurts to walk, it hurts to sleep on my right side. The topper is that I got a rejection email…not even a phone call. They posted the Chosen One’s on their website the next day–I only knew this because I wanted to show my sister their site. Eloise was cast, which was lucky…perhaps they empathized that she was stuck with a partner who dropped her. It kinda stung. I lay in bed staring at the ceiling last night and felt the slow seep of rejection curl inside: “Hello, old friend.”
Here’s the thing: the experience sucked so why would I want to be part of it? Partnering work is something I have always had to work into with dancers I trust and know well. I found it unbelievable that they would request dancers off the street to throw themselves into advanced partnering right off the bat. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Perhaps I should have left when I had the chance, when I knew I was in over my head. Now is my cue to huff off and start something BIG, like back in the old days…but I’m totally deflated. I told myself I had nothing to lose, so why do I feel like such a loser?
Fri 12 Jan 2007
Johnny has tagged me with an internet meme: Five things my readers may not know about me.
1.) When I was small I used to imagine my food turning into little cartoon character vegetables holding trays of whatever veggies they were; The food would join a big party and maybe do a few choreographed numbers in my stomach.
2.) Panels from one of my earliest zines are in the book From Girls to Grrlz : A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines .
3.) When I was in college I dated this guy while his girlfriend was in Spain for a quarter. He claimed to be a former hit man for the South American mafia. He came to Seattle for a fresh start and would only tell me a few ‘hit man’ type stories–not too many…he didn’t want to scare me.
5.) I was a catalog model for a seamstress who specialized in old-fashion underwear worn in the annual Frontier Days in Wyoming.
As I look at these, I figure a lot of people may actually know these stories…so perhaps I’m cheating and they don’t really count. (Except for number one, I know I haven’t told anyone about the dancing vegetables).
I’m tagging Erin, Kimberly, Samuel P., Clay, and Jeff.
Thu 11 Jan 2007
In Colorado I was expected to drive in a lot of different types of weather and I did it…not well, and not always with a four wheel drive vehicle. This was the one downside of the snow in CO versus the snow in WA: people plow on regardless of the conditions. Seattle has notorious, freakish, hills and awesomely ill-equipped drivers. Hence, when asked to come in today for a mere three hours (12-3) I said: NO. Well…I said, “I would prefer not to.” I said this while feeling guilty. I also get paid a pittance per hour and it didn’t seem worth it to get in my car and teeter off down the highway to my low paying hourly wage job. (Let the salaried workers do that). I also have a husband who is concerned for my safety on the roads–although I didn’t say that either. He’s that type of guy who worries that I’ll park under the viaduct at 10pm and not call before I leave to ensure I haven’t been mugged. It’s sweet and I like that he worries about me.
I also have a strong sense of self-preservation…or perhaps it’s the infamous ‘chicken-shit’ gene that runs in my family. Basically, it confronts the fact that we’re a conservative folk who tend to avoid danger, bodily harm, and extreme forms of adventure. You won’t catch any of us sky diving off a cliff or riding a motorcycle over twelve barrels. Josh is always asking me hypothetical questions like, “Would you ride that roller coaster for a million dollars?” I usually say ‘no.’ If asked if I wanted to join a bunch of space men to the moon I would probably decline. Even in Colorado if the snow reached four inches and I couldn’t envision myself confidently driving I would call in and flatly state that my safety was being compromised. I’m sure this was frustrating to my co-workers. However, four years ago a mother and her daughter left the dance school I worked for and were killed on the highway heading home. The snow was piling up early that the evening and yet they still hadn’t canceled rehearsal. After that incident I felt a certain agitation whenever I was hassled for not fighting a blizzard to show up and teach class. There has to be a limit, and for some it’s very high and they’re proud that they can withstand a certain amount of traffic, snow, and uncertainty. For me, it weighs partly on how comfortable I feel and if it is worth it.
Perhaps this goes back to my genes. I would rather hole up at home and let the rest of the population risk their necks. Perhaps my ancestors were too delicate to brave treacherous conditions and spent most of their time staying in a cave and hibernating. Oh sure, I could be concerned about money-and I am-but it seems like a small price to pay. Again, is it worth it for nine dollars an hour? No…a resounding no. If the school district is closed then so is the House of Mara.
Of course, I’m sitting here feeling guilty for my lack of motivation and bravery. This gets me to thinking:when have I been brave? Well, I once rescued a dog on a highway in the mountains. I live in a neighborhood where there’s a shooting and/or stabbing about once a month. I’ve been known to eat some pretty weird things and not be concerned about ‘where it’s been.’ I enjoy public speaking. I’ve driven twice when I was alone and there was a white out from the snow and I sang loud prayers the entire time. I learned how to snowboard at a later age–that took a lot of bravery. My neighbor was arrested and then posted his own bail only to return to our duplex that evening. No big deal except I was the reason for his arrest (two counts of harassment and one count of noise disturbance). I honestly thought my plants were going to be butchered and I kept my cat inside.
Have I ever saved someone’s life? No…my type tends to shy away from the medical profession. Have I ever done a dare devil stunt? Hell no…I’ve never even jumped off a diving board before much less a cliff. Am I a coward? Well, I don’t like cold-calling people or asking strangers for help. My sister went on a three day bike trip down the Oregon coast in the rainy month of March and I didn’t envy her one bit. (Side note: I asked my 3-5 year old students what ‘envy’ meant and they all agreed it’s when you’re sorta, kinda, sleepy). When faced with an immediate ‘emergency’ (i.e. an entire jug of soap explodes on our floor, a live animal finds its way into our ceiling, or the alarm on our car refuses to turn off) I find myself falling in a state of calm. This is a nice balance because Josh tends to freak out during the above examples. I hope that if I am ever to face any serious hardship or accident in the future I’ll take the calm route versus the super freak out path.
Fri 5 Jan 2007
January is historically been a difficult month for me. Starting from the huge holiday let down to the horrifically bad weather I have fallen into a bit of a malaise. Therefore I’m posting a big conglomerate of thoughts and ideas:
1) Last night I freaked out: Our neighbor had parked squarely in our alleyway, preventing me access to my parking pad. Call me an over-reacting nut, but there are some things I find unacceptable. I can handle the barking Chihuahuas and the guy who fires up his diesel truck for a half hour in the morning but I can’t be down with someone blocking access to my driveway. Josh felt that I behaved a bit like a monster last night. It didn’t help that I stormed over to my neighbor’s house and demanded to know if the Saab in the alleyway was there’s and could they not park in the alleyway. Of course the man of the house (owner of the Saab) was at work and the lady of the house was a scared, disheveled woman of Russian descent who seemed confused by my request. Her son, a likable kid we see skate boarding down the street occasionally was amicable but unhelpful. Josh tried to tell me I was over-reacting and of course I went and did the exact opposite and over-reacting some more by shouting in the living room, “What’s wrong with people? Why do we live so far away from civilization? After a long and lame day at work and all I want to do is get home and I can’t even park in my goddam driveway?” I sounded just like my Dad used to and even shouted, “I’m not yelling!” Before huffing into my office for some alone time.
2) The above freak out reflects my rather manic attitude lately. Either I’m consumed by an underwhelming malaise that puts me in a sloth-like mood or I’m all fired up and pissed at something. My inner Italian hotheadedness comes out in fits and bursts and Josh has to duck and cover to avoid being drenched with verbal piss and vinegar. It’s at times like this where I catch up with myself and realize, “I’m almost 30, why am I behaving as if I’m 13 all over again?” And then I start the brief and mindless spiral of, “oh-no, I’m getting so old, life is passing me by.” Both Josh and I have weird discussions where we debate when one becomes truly ‘middle aged.’ (I say it begins at 40, Josh believes it starts at 35).
3) Our cat did not survive the week long absence of her owners very well. When we first got her five years ago her previous owners assured us that they went on 14 day rafting trips and left her alone with no problems. When we returned from a week long holiday filled with weddings, funerals, and holiday treats we found our cat howling with protest. She had fretfully vomited on our afghan (which Josh had carefully laid out to protect our new leather chair), and proceeded to barf two more times in the twelve hours after our return home. Now Katie had written us a very nice note documenting her visits, so we know Hobbes was not without company. However, Hobbes was inconsolable for many days after our return and one would find her pitifully (and loudly) meowing in the isolation of the empty hallway or alone upstairs. This puts a dent in any future plans to Europe or even our upcoming trip to Whistler. Hobbes went from being a laid back middle aged cat to an over-sensitive, dependent, old fogey at the ripe old age of ten, (which in cat years puts her at 55, so what’s her problem?)
4) Several aimless months and no real job opportunities in sight. I console myself with the fact that schools are starting to put stuff out for the summer and the following school year. I find myself stifled in my current work space, sneaking peeks on the internet, and shuffling through papers and data entry while listening to endless Dave Mathews on someone’s ipod. (Thank God somebody removed John Mayer from the mix, because I thought I was going insane for a while there). The only reprieve I have is teaching the occasional class or hanging out with the occasional kid. (Sorry folks, I know many of you looked at my blog only for the teaching stories).
And now, to spare the many of you out there who are suffering from your own weather-induced malaise, I digress…
Mon 1 Jan 2007
We kicked off the new year with good friends Kimberly and Justin. For the record, we met them back when Kimberly was a wee 21 in the summer of 2000 when the four of us were living in Capitol Hill. We hit the streets of Seattle early enough for Josh to exchange his fancy snowboard pants for a different color. While browsing the racks of pants we found this incredible print and convinced Josh to model it for us:
Not to be outshopped by Josh, Kimberly and I really, really wanted these fold up ballet flats from Nine West to work for us. We tried them in various colors, parading up and down Macy’s, and yet we couldn’t get over how poorly constructed they were. Sure the little pouch that came with them was cute, and yeah, we were enthralled by the idea of wearing gold lame’. The shoes were split sole, something borrowed straight from the dancewear world, but they gouged our heels painfully.
Kimberly fought off her boot-obsession and did not purchase the giraffe print boots on sale for $300. We headed off to the legendary Crocodile Cafe in Belltown so we could take in a cheap performance from “Awesome” the band. I haven’t been to the Croc in probably six years, and it was the same old dive it’s always been. From the strange paper mache beehives hanging from the ceiling to the hideous bathrooms I once hid in as a way to sneak into over-21 shows. For some reason we began to act like a bunch of kids who have never played with a black light before: Josh even excitedly remarked, “WOW, I need to buy a black light now.” We even took some time to take several “artsy” black light photos:
“Awesome” was truly magnificent, regalling the underage crowd with a nose flute solo and a cameo appearance of Sean Nelson from Harvey Danger. Here’s a nice picture of Kimberly and Justin at the show:
We returned home on the early side, having already decided to spend New Year’s in the comfort of our own home. We pulled out all the liquor we could find in our cabinets… it was a meek but effective selection:
I even broke my cardinal no-drinking rule by succumbing to a tasty gin martini with olives specially prepared by Kimberly. We ate a bowl of peanuts, appetizers from Trader Joe’s (including the incredibly sinful chocolate lava cakes), and drank. While reflecting on our New Year’s I realized we did a lot of this: and some of this:
But mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company. Eventually a deck of cards came out and Kimberly and Josh tried to teach me (and Justin) how to play Texas Hold Em’. We became so engrossed in our card game that we narrowly made the count down. At one point Kimberly–quite inebriated at this point–said, “Do we CARE about the count down? Do we even want to bother with it?” I think she said this largely because she was kicking all of our asses in Texas Hold Em’. At any rate, we rushed to the TV right when the count down started, making the whole thing rather unimpressive. We did spend some time smooching our partners and toasting with some very nice champaign–the real deal not Cook’s sparkling wine.
This morning I awoke to hear Kimberly’s laughter: “Omigod, I’m still DRUNK, how did that happen?” We had brunch at the Broadway Grill, an old favorite from our Cap Hill Days and watched Josh install a stain glass lamp in our kitchen before Kimberly and Justin headed back out to Eugene. Josh and I are hanging out, dreading our return to work, and realizing that the week went by way too fast.