Mon 30 Jun 2008
I don’t complain about hot weather. This past winter was so cold I could it feel it in my extremities, my fingers and toes numb for days, my nose a blue nub, the winter was so cold I felt it all the way up into my scars (specifically the one behind my right ear). What is it about healed skin that stays so sensitive for years?
The past few days have been laced with heat, my body in a state of perpetual thaw. With joy I deeply water my garden, sitting up-right in pots, neatly stacked against the fence and our neighbor’s garage made out of cement blocks. The cement emits a heavy heat against my peppers, which cheerfully rise toward the sky. All but the sad little habanero plants are doing well. Abandoned in a smaller pot for days while the weather remained frigid, the habanero was attacked by bugs before being properly transplanted. Now, they languish under the heat in an attempt to catch up with their pepper kin.
I teach two classes in a stiflingly hot studio room. The kids are sweaty, excited, thrilled to be dancing. One mother is so pregnant that I’m shocked she is mobile. Her little girl stands in the center of the parachute, eyes bright, hands clasping at the wafting fabric. The parachute emits a pleasant breeze and I quickly figure out how to turn the fan on.
I come home and paint my toenails bright red.
Fri 27 Jun 2008
Mon 23 Jun 2008
(I have no idea this package contains a metallic silver halter leotard from American Apparel courtesy of Abigail of gold hot pants fame…)
Sun 22 Jun 2008
The sun is out, I find myself walking up the Ave looking for fulfillment. I’ve just finished a photo shoot for an upcoming event and am feeling a little blurry. Maybe it’s because tomorrow’s my birthday, or perhaps it’s because I keep thinking about my grandpa, or maybe I am just stimulated from the afternoon. I had arrived at a dive in the U to meet the comedians who will share the stage with the freedom dancers this Thursday. Turns out they want us to do a series of photos involving a water balloon flight. None of us are prepared for a photo shoot–many of us taking a break from the usual crimping, heavy make-up, hot pant-wearing we usually do for the shows. We end up changing on the sidewalk in front of Lieta’s Suburu, her back seat filled with costumes and random exotic clothing from her stellar collection. I end up in a geometric poly-blend shift that’s both spectacular and unlike anything I own. I love it–even though I have on these ratty silver thong birkenstocks that I bought on a whim during my honeymoon five years ago. When we return to the bar one of the comedians makes a joke about how I look like I just came off of the Fremont Solstice parade–he’s totally right.
The photo shoot is, ironically, in front of the elite private school where I was a resident teacher a few years ago. We do a series of staged shots where we’re walking down the street looking attractive. I’ve taken my shoes off, despite the photographer swearing not to shoot my Birks. During the staged shots, we encounter the members of a certain improv troupe that improvises slasher flicks. We are handed the fattest, heaviest, bulbous water balloons to hold ominously over our heads–they are like breasts, both in size and shape. On the count of three we pummel one of the comedians, all cackles and shrieks as the balloons explode into pieces. One of the freedom dancers poses in an ‘escape’ shot while another comedian throws a balloon at her back–exposed by the incredible open-backed leotard she has just purchased at American Apparel. The balloon bounces off her spine and rolls down the street. This happens twice. We’re delighted that one of our own is not actually wet and make off down the street. We fake jog for a full minute, our comic enemies ‘pretend jogging’ behind us, running in place as the photographer closes in behind us. The whole thing is ridiculously fun.
It is with this energy that I find myself on the Ave. Previously I had handed back the gorgeous geometric dress to Lieta, asking her where she bought it. “LA,” she says. “I’ll be there in a month for a wedding!” I exclaim. I make a mental note to visit the dressmaker who creates these polyester masterpieces and sells them for twenty bucks a piece. I decide I need a dress for my birthday, something to ring in my thirty-first year and celebrate the final arrival of summer in Seattle. I spend two hours walking up and down looking for dresses made out of t-shirt fabric. In a rare moment of indulgence I buy not one but three dresses.
Sat 21 Jun 2008
A rancid nest of twigs and branches lay hidden in our gutter
Filled with ants
They lurk inside only to disperse madly across the narrow recesses of our roof
Could this be the answer to our ever pressing ant infestation?
My husband balances precariously on a ladder, trowel in hand
Bits of debris come sailing down
Hitting the lawn in large clumps
The gutters, once sprouting ferns and small maple trees, are washed cleaned by the ominous hose
Ants go careening into the sky
As if they are little fighter pilots expelled from their planes in battle
Wed 18 Jun 2008
Posted by MS under Travel1 Comment
After a short trip to Salt Lake City I make some quick observations: the city is changing. Growing up, we spent a week or two in SLC every summer. Once I gained a skeptical perspective in my teens I started noticing the sea of blond WASPS with their tasteful t-shirts hiding bare shoulders and realized: every one is mormon. And with that assumption comes the stereotype: white, straight, conservative, and more white.
But Ok, now that I’m a homeowner, living in an urban neighborhood, struggling to make it in this world I look at SLC differently. Despite being “Bush Country” it is absolutely beautiful. The streets are clean, the sun shining brightly, the temps easily 80 degrees. I felt myself thawing out. Because my grandfather bought his house fifty-something years ago his neighborhood has evolved from being middle class to upper-class. Mature trees line the sidewalks, everyone takes care of their lawns, flowers bloom from window baskets, dogs rest on porches, the place felt like a Norman Rockwell painting. Despite the sad circumstances (my grandpa’s health has started a slow spiral south) the place felt irresistible. Why couldn’t I transplant my friends, the Freedom Dancers, U.P, Annex Theater, and everything else HERE? Or at least to the Rocky Mountains? Sigh, you can’t have it all.
Despite the landscape I noticed other changes. There used to be no coffee shops in SLC, but now there are plenty (and every SUV drivin’ maven was sporting a Starbucks mug). I spotted two black people at the breakfast place down the corner. And then I spotted a first: two visibly gay men waiting for a table at the Paris AND I think our waiter was gay. This is big.
Sat 14 Jun 2008
Soft Rock Explosion. Date/Time:Fri., June 13, 8:00pm, Sat., June 14, 8:00pm. Price: $12.
Thu 12 Jun 2008
Let’s say you’re a hardworking doctor, surgeon, PA-C, or midwife. After working anywhere from 2 months to 30 years you get feedback saying that your ‘bed side manner’ needs some work. Maybe you have a hard time connecting with your patients, maybe you’re too soft spoken, or perhaps you have a hard time with empathy. If this is the case, you will be sent away to a full day workshop where you will learn the principals of patient communication. You will be able to practice the skills and the empathy it takes to work with very sick people through facilitated role playing using actors as pseudo-patients you might have. I was one of those actors. It was the most fascinating day I’ve had in quite a while.
I played everything from an 80 year old woman whose doctor of 30 years had retired (“Are you my new doctor? You look young enough to be my granddaughter!”) to a terrified 47 year old woman in the emergency room with congestive heart failure, (“My kids! What about my 3 kids?”) In each scenario the facilitator was giving me various hand gestures (‘amp it up’ or ’start talking less’), particular attention was paid to body language, and the tone of of voice. We were in small groups of six and each medical practitioner practiced their toughest cases in front of the group for supportive feedback.
I learned that being in the medical practice is very similar to customer service–only instead of people freaking out over their latte or their purple sweater it’s their kidneys. When emotions run high a doctor has to learn how to cool it, which is much, much harder then we imagine. I had always assumed that doctors came empathetic, but many of them are so scientific and so clinical that it would appear they don’t have an empathetic bone in their body. “We have to get it done, chop chop,” one vascular surgeon vented to the rest of the room. She was a tiny woman of epic anger, the type of doctor who answered her cell phone during the session and made it clear that it was usually the patient’s fault (it should be noted that she was a rarity). It’s been her experience that all people want is unnecessary surgery, they look up their symptoms on WebMD and swear that they know what’s best for them. Out of the entire day, this surgeon was the only one who could not convince my character that surgery wasn’t an option. The more she pushed her agenda on me, the more anxiety I exhibited and the less was accomplished (fascinating).
But let’s not focus on the negative–that was highly discouraged during this workshop. An older gentlemen who had a private practice of 30 years is now working in the emergency room. While I step to receive instructions from the facilitator, he carefully makes an emergency room bed out of chairs for me to lie on. As our role-playing begins he looms over me, all handshakes and pleasantries as I shrink further and further into my ‘bed.’ It doesn’t take much for me to get into character, I’ve had plenty of experience being a patient, a surgery-recipient, a bit of a hysterical case myself. I find myself tearing up as the old doctor changes his tactic, kneels down besides me and takes my hand. The tearing up is so bad that the facilitator actually asks me if I’m ok. “I’m ACTING,” I say in a grand sweeping voice, straight out of Saturday Night Live.
We are fed lunch and the other actors and I confer. One of them played a morbidly obese man demanding surgery, another played a woman who was cranky over her pregnancy. We transition into playing the most difficult patients in our small groups. The most beautiful, tattooed, young man with scrubs on and a PA-C (Physician Assistant-Certified) in Neurosurgery tag around his neck confesses that his ‘hot button’ is when patients ask to see a ‘real doctor.’ Despite his years of experience, they have to hear it from an MD. I play a woman who has just heard I have a small, non-threatening tumor in my brain but that the doctor is unable to see me until Monday. I freak out at the sweetie-pie in scrubs, demanding to a see doctor, swearing that I have cancer and that no one is taking me seriously. I do such a good job, that the PA-C breaks character and implores the facilitator for help. “You were so easy with Mindy,” he says, gesturing to the quiet, Asian, nephrologist. She and I had just role-played a scenario where I would not accept the fact that my father’s organs were shutting down one by one and that he was dying. Instead I wanted her to approve him for dialysis. Despite my attempt to be as one-track as possible her calm nature, consistent vocal tone, and empathetic statements (“I know this must be very hard for you”) made my character finally calm down and even start crying a little bit.
“We all know you have wonderful vocal tone,” the facilitator tells the hottie physician attendant, “give it more pauses and more empathetic statements.” The PA-C assures my character that nothing will happen to me over the weekend, that he will personally assure a doctor’s appointment the following Monday, and that he understands that this must be frightening for me. I went from being a crazy character from a soap opera (“Is there a doctor in the house?!”) to a puddle on the floor. I (probably unprofessionally) tell this guy later on the elevator ride down that I would be honored to have any of his colleagues as my doctor. Turns out he is incredibly shy and I realize I should have shut my yap and stayed in character instead.
I found the day to be an amazing insight to the great lengths doctors go to build the trust factor. Simply amazing.
Sat 7 Jun 2008
Posted by MS under FriendsNo Comments
This weekend is filled with performing and parties (sometimes both)!
It is my pleasure to brag that I made the following with great pride (and mostly from scratch):
Cheese straws (puff pastry and parmasean)
Seasoned party almonds
Lite chocolate chip cookies
Two types of dip (sun dried tomato and regular)
Brie wrapped in puff pastry and topped with apricot preserves
Pot stickers pulled from the bag and fried
Strawberries with real whip cream
In short: If you’re going to move to Australia, expect to be rung out with style.
Top this off with fresh bread made for a book club meeting tomorrow and you can find me spending the entire rainy day in the kitchen. I truly enjoyed it. And I even managed not to make too much of a mess.
Thu 5 Jun 2008
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