Monday, April 28, 2014

Adventures in Gym Class: Part II

I. Last Wednesday Boot Scoot was canceled, so I had to try something new. Grind. I took a fitness class called Grind. I know about Grind because sometimes when the song is changing in BS, I can hear "Candy Shop" through the gym walls.

Grind is a "hip-hop" "dance" class that makes you "feel like you're at the club." I have never shaken my butt more in an hour period, that is true. But my butt also isn't really built to shake, or shimmy, or anything, so I mostly stiffly rotated it around kind of and was grateful not to be wearing glasses so I could only half-way see the embarrassing mess I had become.

Three things:

1. It was a 20 person class. I am pretty sure only 2 of the people present would actually make a night of being at a club. The other 18 were mainly doofy looking women of all sizes in various hodgepodge workout tees trying their best not to look completely idiodic "getting low." There's something about moving like you're in a club with a body and demeanor that say, "Club as in the cracker, or?"
2. There was a dance where we did a push-up after twerking. I'd like to see someone do that in a club sometime. Maybe that should be me. Maybe I should just start doing push-ups in the club.
3. The tunes were, obvs, club beats. Having to focus on the music to get rhythms down made me hyper aware of the lyrics. Wow. Did these songs all objectify women. My Chick Bad. The Luda bit in "Yeah." And I'd prefer to not hear "Damn, that white girl got some ass" any time in my day, let alone several dozen times repeated over and over, LET ALONE while I was jumping around attempting to jiggle my butt.

"What are we doing here?" I kept thinking. Like, what. Is. Happening? Why? It's usually assumed that when people are working out, they're trying to look better. And it's usually assumed that when women are trying to look better, it's for men. This isn't always true, obviously. I love to work-out. Sometimes it makes me look better and sometimes it just feels good. If I do look better, I'm kinda happy to be more physically appealing to men, but more immediately, I feel better. Still, society blah blah blah there was a little part of us in there for that purpose.

And there were no men with us. Besides the ones yelling over the loudspeaker to bend over and lemme see you work. And we did. We did.

II. Alternatively, I completed one of my grad school goals by closing out an all-female workshop production today.
Lady director, lady playwright, five lady actors.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Friends, Influences

Two streets from the end of my morning run there's a house surrounded by a chain-link fence. Home to two dogs--a big fluffy black shag and a muscular little brown spot.

As soon as I turn the corner they perk, they prep, and once I hit the sidewalk on the corner of their turf they run to the metal. Barking their brains out. They know they can't reach me. They follow me along their confine. Sort of jumping on each other to see who can be closest to the intruder. Yap as a get further and further away.

Yesterday morning the tiny one wasn't there. It was black shag alone, sunbathing on the lawn. He saw me and quietly did not get up.


Friday, April 25, 2014

No Day But Today

I was very bratty about seeing RENT last night. The music school was putting it on. I had no interest in seeing a college performance 16-year-old Alice's favorite musical. I used to listen to that two-disc soundtrack basically every single day for at least two years of my life. When I first saw it my junior year of high school with Henne, I really enjoyed the experience. I had been listening to these tunes without visuals for so was like, "Finally. Finally!"

The movie came out, and the songs got super popular. They started to grate on me, and after a few viewings of the (eh at best) film, I was sort of over it. Still, that year for More's birthday she wanted to see it live. I looked forward to it, but it was just okay. I was almost done with high school, and I was no longer buying the vapid puppy love. Some of the music isn't good. The answers come too easy. I was hardened by the world, and Mimi and Roger kissing in snowflakes wasn't cutting it anymore.

So when Neige kept making yummy eyes at me during improv rehearsal and saying, "You should cooome!" I was very into making up excuses. But I had no excuse for Thursday night. And Neige and I were literally walking past the box office. And I get a free comp for being a theatre student. I reserved a ticket and thought, "Hey, if I'm lucky, something will come up."

Yesterday my spirits were a little low. No matter, no matter. But they were low. And I finished up my day's tasks two minutes past curtain. I had my excuse. But then it was ten past, and I then fifteen, and something was sort of nagging me to go out into the night. I strapped on my helmet and scooted to the theatre.

I walked in without showing the ticket to anyone because "Today 4 U" was just starting, and who strolls into RENT when "Today 4 U" is starting? Me. I also unapologetically decided, "What the hey" and sat right in an empty seat in the second row. This way I can have no guilt about supporting Neige and leave at intermission. But by intermission!? I was completely smitten.

I thought I was too old to enjoy it forever, but I guess I was just a little too old to be swooned and a little too young to be okay with some plot-holed magic and cultural importance. Sometimes we have to circle back on these things. They don't change, but we do.

I cried during the finale. Because I had plopped my rude butt down so close to the stage, I felt a part of the story more than usual. And the story is partly mine. I applied those lyrics to my friends, my sorrows, my regrets for a long time. A long formative time at that. I floated out of the theatre, into the thin and sweet Arizona air. I sang "La Vie Boheme" all the way home.

Well, this is just the most boring and disgusting blog I have posted in a while. But I suppose the point is this: revisit. Be carried away. Theatre is a special thing. No day but today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Adventures in Gym Class: Part I

After the marathon I wanted a change from running. April 1st I purchased a month group fitness pass at the university gym. It's been an experience.

-My first step class I was told, "This is really an advanced step class..." I thanked the instructor, but I knew I could keep up. How tired could one get from merely stepping up and down on an itty platform? UM, A LOT TIRED. Also, so so confused. Like, how do full-on Britney Spears backup dances happen in a 50 minute step class?! Several times in the routine I completely lost the choreography and just marched in place.

-There is a Mennonite girl who takes Zumba with me. If you don't know about Zumba, it is Latin hip-hop cardio. Lots of hips. Ol' Menny busts it out like the rest of us--except instead of booty shorts, she's wagging a huge tan floor-length skirt.

-I've come to really love Step now that I have the basics down pat. It's a workout for the body and mind because you have to continually remember the combos while doing them. I like running to unwind, to clear my head, but this is a different type of head-clearing. Nothing in the world can possibly pop in the noodle when I'm rocking-horsing like a champion. It makes me sad these types of exercise are seen as "girly" and stupid because they're actually challenging in a completely different way than lifting weights (for example). More Dudes in Step Classes 2014.

-My fave class is Boot Scoot. Yeah, that's the real title. It's aerobic country line dancing, AND IT IS GLORIOUS. Apparently this opinion is not widespread because sometimes I am the only person in class. Besides the retarded man who sometimes joins, talking nonstop to himself as "Wagon Wheel" blares and I try not to grapevine into him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sugar Cookie Pop-Tart

Sugar Cookie Pop-Tarts do, in fact, taste like sugar cookies. Beside the more cracker-like Tart texture vs. the chewiness of a traditional cookie, they are the same. The frosting is lackluster and plain, decorated with stupid pictures like a skiing snowman. The inside, especially when heated, is delightful. Borderline majestic. That right-out-of-the-oven-at-Christmas game, mang.

I ate two of the box of 16. On an afternoon in December. Ro ate 13, as they were good "just woke up from a nap" snacks. And in January she took a lot of naps. She left one solitary Tart in the box, stale and lonely. A gesture of "See? I didn't eat all your food."

Taste is A. But I will not be buying these again. They're just too darn close to full-blown dessert, you might as well just go for legit cookies if that's what you're in the mood for.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The tin top roof of the maximum security building drains puddles in the corner of the yard. "So mommas build their nests there," Rog told me. A bunny had hopped out from a chain-link shadow. "They're everywhere." She led me away from the lock-up that houses a blooming writer in the program. I read his essay this morning. He quoted Bertrand Russell and says it's ironic that he finally sees his life as something he can control. Now that he isn't allowed to leave a solitary pod for 23 hours a day. This person stuck his face right into his one skinny window to talk to us. "I read your essay" I said. He smiled so politely. Nodded. He told me he wanted to write more, maybe a memoir, but he was new to this. Sometimes Rog talked about books he should read and he squinted just a little to show he was really listening, picked up a rag, wiped down the glass. Did he get a special meal for Easter? No. No, the Super Bowl is the only good meal all year. They get one can of pop and a candy bar. This guy (a kid--no older than 20) was a complete sweetheart. He is currently reading Man's Search for Meaning. I told him I have a Frankl quote in my bathroom. His eyebrows shot up, "Oh yeah!?" When we had to head out he repeated "thank you" so many times.

He has not left his teensy room without two guards holding his handcuffed arms in a year. This is impossible. There is no way this guy did something to deserve level six corrections. But there's a black tear under his eye. How did this happen?

I watched the bunny hop toward a concrete wall topped with barbed wire. It was actually a beautiful day. Right there. In the sunshine. Mountains. If all the baby bunnies come in spring and the only way in and out of the yard is guarded with and metal detectors and padlocks..."Does that mean some bunnies never leave this prison yard their whole lives?" I asked. Rog clanged the door shut behind us, "I guess so."

Ten men showed up to my dialogue workshop. One read a story about a middle school boy who accidentally drowned his friend at the public pool. The boy's father was in politics. The family decided to give up the child to the state--clearly a problem kid. In the foster system the boy was abused, so he would commit small crimes to land in juvenile halfway houses, which he found safer. He said it was fiction. He shook reading it. The author has been in prison 19 years.

And then this goofball started chatting me up about how he came here from Mexico and his aunt took him to the park to "look for eggs" one Sunday. As a farm boy, he was confused. Had the hens run away? Why were only the children looking? He came across some hard-boiled eggs and held them in his pockets. Sometimes he would find plastic eggs and throw them back on the ground. "Why is someone trying to trick me with these fake eggs?" After the hunt ended, he gave his findings to his aunt and explained he didn't appreciate the colorful ruses. She had a plastic one herself, which she opened to reveal a dollar bill and a piece of candy. He suddenly realized he was surrounded by kids all giggling in pride and joy, cracking their finds.

In the workshop a Navajo student asked how he could ever write truthfully of his people since their vernacular doesn't make sense to most outsiders. Two men did a hilarious improv scene about how their moms would smack them if they ever used the word "sopapilla" to describe cachangas. We rewrote scenes to add tension. When I mentioned subtext, someone explained "The Hills Like White Elephants" to the class. All of them shook my hand when it was over. I will never see them again.

Before the day had even truly begun, while I waited for Rog to get my guest clearance, I saw three people on the sidewalk. A man in his hot orange suit carrying a garbage bag and a bouquet. An older man and woman who were clearly related to him held duffel bags. All three were smiling so sincerely, like nothing else in the world would ever matter. They couldn't go two steps without hugging. Prisoners aren't allowed out front unless they're going home.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not Everyone Can Have

The Limited Edition Marshmallow Oreos were magnificent. And now they are gone. I shared the last few with friends on Friday night. I reiterated my desire for a big ol' pan of rice krispie treats. (If you'll remember I pined for some about two weeks ago on this blog.) Everyone in the living room nodded. Mm. MM.

When I got home Saturday night after a lovely Quesorido (THAT'S RIGHT. A BURRITO MADE WITH A QUESIDILLA. *Taste buds explode with joy*) there was a little boxy package waiting for me. Mysterious. I didn't remember buying anything. I opened it to find a pink box. When I removed the lid...A PILE OF RICE KRISPIE TREATS! From my Chicago Aunt! Who reads this blog from time to time! She read about my breakfast-made-dessert craving, baked some up, and mailed them off!

I shared the treats with roommates and Bisque, ate some myself, and yesterday I noticed they were kind of hard. So, naturally, I took the last five to school to offer to my students who will eat most anything. Indeed. Two screenwriting boys split them. "Where do you get this food?" someone asked. I am often bringing little damaged goods in for the human garbage disposals. "Well, my aunt sent me these." I explained. "I wish--!" a boy piped up before trailing off. "I was going to say, 'I wish I had an aunt.' But I have one. I guess I just wish she sent me stuff..."

Sorry, kid, not everyone can have awesome aunts like mine. <3 p="">

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Mechanics of Hearsay

Today I was "on-book" the a run through of my most recent play. The cast and director have been working on this piece as I made revisions, cut, chopped, for the past couple months. It's finally time to perform the thing, and the ladies were off-book today (meaning memorized). Usually an assistant stage manager is "on book" (meaning, reads along in the script waiting for an actor to yell "line"). We don't have an SM. Let alone an ASM, so I offered to do the job. It's weird being an on-book playwright. Each recitation of the correct line sounds progressively more condescending. "I made this, and you are wrecking it." I, of course, do not care at all. (What's that you hear in the distance? Is it "Pomp and Circumstance?")

What's really interesting about watching the play from the page is how close but not quite actors can get to the words. "You've been freezing me out" becomes "You've been shutting me out." Dropped "well"s here, added, "okay"s there. One girl mixed up "please don't give up on me" with "please don't give me up." That's actually a pretty sizable swap.

I think of how many times i relate what someone said to me--be it kind or sharp--and how often I actually remember word for word what was said. And perhaps scarier, how often I think I do.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Just finished reading The Shame of the Nation today, which is a book about the US education system's lack of truly integrated schools. A common theme in the book is that change kind of happens from the bottom, but historically, these poor ("let's face it: black" according to the author Kozol) schools don't get much no matter how bad it gets. Students are taught "I am the change." But ultimately, huge education reform happens on congressional levels. The charter schools grow, stricter rules get shoved onto the most struggling of children. They are not getting the elementary education I got in my (let's face it: white) suburb.

This is always the complaint. Why are all these people speaking for others they don't fully understand? It is an archaic system on a slow road to change. Sure. That's fine. And I'm not blaming congresspeople (let's face it: men) for not truly understanding poverty. Just like I don't blame myself. I can blame someone for not being aware, but to truly, truly understand is a different story. I would have to work very hard to understand. I have learned a lot from this 300 page book, but I am not in those little shoes.

What would it be like if in our culture you could only speak to things you truly understood or directly applied to you? On one hand, this is impossible if you believe in community. We are a web after all. On the other hand, how sweet would it be if it was extremely rude to speak about abortion unless you were currently pregnant? No sharing an opinion on a film unless you've seen the whole thing. Shut up about another country unless you live there?

I'm not suggesting this. I think we should consider other viewpoints. I think we need to. Just a daydream of sorts on this fine Friday afternoon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Today at 3:30 MST I defended my Master's thesis. I wasn't too worried.

My committee (four professors who have been giant shaping mechanisms for three years) sat smiling at a rectangle table. They were good-natured because I brought them cookies and because they knew what I knew. The heavy lifting is in the distant past now--my play opened half a year ago, my comprehensive exam was in February.

They asked me a few questions. They made a few comments. The feel was "Good on you" and the meeting was more "You have a lot of places you can go!" vs. "Let's navel-gaze at where you've been." I feel excited to move on. I love/ have loved school. But this chapter is over, and I have no desire to drag my feet.

I had to leave the room. I felt a pang of concern. It's strange to stand outside doors while people talk about you. I waited longer than I expected to. Wasn't it just yay or neigh? What's taking so long? Is someone asking I do more revisions of something? I stood still because I had nothing in my hands (which never happens anymore--hi, cell phones). The door opened. They said I'd be a Master. They all hugged me.

I don't usually love hugs, and this wasn't an acception. But that's fine. I know I have learned a lot in grad school, and most of it these people don't even know. That's also fine.

The library. Took this my first week of grad school.
I remember going out to dinner with my cousin when I was living in San Diego winter 2007. A strange thing. We went to a nice Italian place and one of his friends joined. We both got risoutto. Halfway through the meal she mentioned she had just finished her final grad school exam that day. I remember thinking it was an odd way to celebrate such a big thing. A rando dinner with two friends and a cousin? But now I get it. I'm here. The show must go on.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I've been feeling shifting sand lately. I look up an employment page, get sucked down a wormhole of articles about this generation's workforce, think about writing, comedy, watch some vines, feel I did a lot but blink because my eyes are tired of the universe I stare into on my iPhone. An interesting thing about the internet is that when it's over, you close the boxes, and it's like you've done zip.

The world is very big lately. I had things to do tonight, so I pushed Bisque out of my house around 7. He made a little kissy face as I closed the door. I turned around when there came a knock. I opened. He beckoned, no words. Pointed. A blazing hot pink sunset over the palms. Too good for words. Too good for a photo. I have nothing of it. We stood hugging a long time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This is the most beautiful song to me lately:

While you are away my heart comes undone.
Slowly unravels in a ball of yarn.
Devil collects it with a grin.
Our love, in a ball of yarn.
He'll never return it.
So when you come back,
we'll have to make new love.
Waiting for a showing of Fantastic Mr. Fox in December 2009.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Uncle Passing

Stay near, stay dear.
Ballons from Muffy, my final day of vacation.
I am starting to sense your location.
You are somewhere in the basement
beating on a makeshift drum kit
songs that I can hardly stomach.
I'm floating up the stairwell
with my fingers shaking frantic
thinking softly what a concrete mess we live in,
And what a icebox heart I've been given.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Boy at the Intersection

As I waited for red hand to white man
a boy
(6th grade?)
hopped off the bus, slammed his fist into the WALK button
and kept toddling the opposite direction.
Rude. He prolonged my stay.
I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
That kid with a hand in a Cheetos bag. What was with that kid?
Did he know he was causing unneeded ruckus?
A little "screw you" to "the man"?
Or did he just see a silver
and itch
to press it?