Perfectly Imperfect

Last night was the first time I performed solo on aerial fabric. First night performing on fabric in a club environment with throbbing electronic music. That was a little more distracting than I expected, while also being as absolutely wonderful as expected.

I had only 3 practice sessions to prepare this piece. Prior to this I’ve had nearly 2 years to learn techniques but I’d only performed in 2 student shows and both times I was part of a group. Looking back now this was a pretty big deal for me.

I screwed up twice, neither resulting in someone needing to come rescue me or me falling, just had some trouble unwrapping. The first time I awkwardly managed , the second I was in a position to lean back and so I did while having a good laugh at it and somehow the extra wraps just fell away.

Three things went better than planned: I couldn’t and/or wouldn’t do the Star properly in rehearsing but when I was performing I just told myself to do it, listened, and while not ‘perfect’ I’m pretty sure it looked better than I’d ever done before. Two, a stranger in the crowd told me I was ‘sexy’ at the end. Three, I can’t do the splits, but when I gave the illusion that they had taken place, I heard people cheering. It was nice to also hear cheering in a simple and easy pose or two. Good reminders that you don’t always have to do something spectacular to impress people.

I like this 2:3 ratio, maybe I will assess every future performance like this.

I bought my own 10′ tall rig a few weeks ago for my apartment. I let down my fabric and played a bit tonight, not because I had to, but just because I wanted to, and I was inspired a little by this song which started playing in my head early this morning before I left my apartment.

P.S. Thank you Virginia for photographing me! 🙂

Zonal Flow

A couple weeks ago I kidnapped myself and took me to Southern California. The initial reason for my trip was to do trail work on Santa Cruz Island, but as it happened I also got to spend a bit of time in Newport Beach with a couple of close friends.

When I lived in California I did hundreds of hours of trail maintenance with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (SMMTC), mostly in the Santa Monica Mountains, but our group also developed a relationship with the National Park Service on the Channel Islands and have been going out there for about a decade. I’ve probably been out about 6 times, usually for a 4-day, 3-night excursion.

It was foggy this trip, the weatherman said something about “zonal flow”… I don’t know, but it reminded me a little of “June gloom”, only it was cooler and March. I don’t recall it ever being foggy on one of my trips to this part of the island, so it got another chance to make a first impression for me.

The trails didn’t have a whole lot of growth compared with some years, aside from Scorpion Canyon trail. Wednesday’s weed whipping began at the top of the trail. This kind of work is what I come out here for: sweat dripping, covered in plant debris and smelling of gasoline while enjoying sweeping views of the island, ocean and Ventura County. The second best I-like-to-be-useful experience was on Friday: we moved dirt around until we’d fashioned a 120 foot new trail diversion to “keep people away from the bat cave.” There was no sign of Bruce Wayne or Alfred, but we (hopefully) saved the bats and it was rewarding to see the end result.

In addition to the work there were a few other memorable island moments: A hike up to Montanon Ridge, a view of Potato Harbor like I’d never seen it before with the spectacular ever-changing fog, and on the boat ride back we happened upon some gray whale sex. None of my photos came out really, but I can confirm that it did look a lot like this. An interesting bit of trivia is they normally perform this activity in threes.

After the island trip I spent quality time with some friends who were RVing it in Newport Beach for the weekend. I always wanted to sleep in one of those granny’s attic parts of an RV and I got my wish. I also enjoyed some really fun kayaking in the bay past really expensive yachts and waterfront homes.

See more photos on my Flickr.

California Dreamin’

I flew to LAX yesterday for a week.

I’m expecting fresh air on my trip, yet I’m afraid I won’t be able to breathe.

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake southwest of LA shook things up 1 minute after my flight landed. I didn’t feel it.

Tuesday through Friday will be a working vacation. As it turns out, it is to be my 243rd week of my 244-week vacation. It will be on a tiny island in the Pacific without a big volcano, where the rule is that big things get smaller and little things get bigger. The crew list includes my dear old friends Barry and Jerry, me listed as “Liz Badman”, and someone I’ve never met before whose name means “good wind”. How poetic.

I planned this trip in January, at the same time I had a strange burning desire of unknown origin to move to Boston. The coast was calling, and I picked the other one.

I’m bookending (and beginning) the ocean voyage spending time with a couple of dear friends, one of whom seems like my publicly personal psychic at times. I’ve never been to see a ‘real’ psychic. I’m not the only one for my friend.

Yesterday afternoon I just wanted to lie on the hard ground and nap in the sun in front of a beautiful mountain. So I did.

It’s strange being back in a place I lived for 8 years. I’m a mix of who I used to be and someone new.

Santa Cruz Potato Harbor


Last week I held a tarantula named Rosie. A friend and I heard of this hairy possibility a few weeks earlier and decided to visit her at the Butterfly Pavilion on Monday.

Spiders in general disturb me, I suppose this could be described as fear. I thought holding Rosie would be a good safe way to face some of that, like a controlled fear. Rosie liked my warm hand and would not immediately move off of it, which made me a little nervous, mostly because I heard they can bite. I didn’t know if the ability to bite had been removed from this arachnid ambassador or not, and I actually prefer not knowing. It preserves the thrill.

In between the butterflies in my stomach and the promise of winged butterflies is a room with a bunch of glass cages with jellyfish, crabs, urchins, lobsters, starfish, etc. I expected an octopus but the only one I saw was inanimate, unreal, enlarged and looming over the top of the jellyfish aquarium. I petted a starfish. It didn’t seem to notice. They don’t seem to do much either, until you get a view of their underside up against the glass, or listen to a guide who volunteered a story about one of the starfish eating a sea cucumber while no one was looking. I couldn’t resist breaking into a few really horrible fish puns… did it also want some jelly on its salad? I guess it just had the urchin to do it.

Next we went to what should have been the primary reason for this excursion, the butterfly area. There’s something relaxing about watching these ridiculously beautiful creatures stumble vertically from flower to flower. I wonder if it feels like a straight line to them. Maybe their flight pattern has something to do with the rotting fruit we caught some of them sinking their proboscises into.

While not the primary reason for our trip, I admitted to having a special agenda with the butterflies, in that I wondered if I could will one to land on my shoulder. I told this to my friend, but did not fully convey that I wanted one to come of its own accord. I waited, non-moving, for a while. I went up to a few and leaned my shoulder in. No butterfly. Eventually my well-meaning friend could take my nonsensical patience no longer, coaxed a butterfly onto his finger and then directed it onto my shoulder. It immediately flew off. While I appreciated my friend’s gesture, it flying away made me glad. For one thing I simply would not wish for a butterfly to land or remain on my shoulder if it does not want to be there. But also, more practically, there are signs up saying not to disturb the butterflies. I suppose this is probably not followed to the letter judging from the tattered edges I saw on some of their wings. And maybe such precautions deny them their own controlled fear. Maybe the rotting fruit means they have no fear anyway.

On exiting the butterfly area there is a hall with mirrors on either side. If you look at it a certain way (which really means you look at your friend, or you put your camera off to the side a little to take a photo – no, this does not break the camera like you might expect) you see dozens of you replicated in the reflections. This is not unlike a photo I was compelled to have taken of me a few weeks ago. Since then I keep happening upon situations that remind me of it, both literal like this experience at the Butterfly Pavilion, but also several abstract metaphorical situations as well.

After the fluttering butterflies we had a little time left and decided to bid Rosie farewell again before leaving. She still was the primary fascination of this place for me. I guess in the end, it was more satisfying extending a warm hand to a tarantula than a cold shoulder to a butterfly.

Incidentally, a friend from high school posted yesterday about both a bee and a butterfly landing on him. That made me smile 🙂

It’s My Birthday and I Won’t Let It Rain On My Parade If I Don’t Want It To

My birthday was on Wednesday. I spent most of that day driving from Amarillo Texas back to Lafayette Colorado after attending Burning Flipside just outside Austin. Amarillo City is a strange place, full of false advertising and unwelcome propositioning, so perhaps overnighting there means you carry some of that strangeness with you when you leave.

So it was I made my way to McDonalds for breakfast and more importantly to use their wifi since my motel didn’t live up to their advertising. A bunch of wonderful people had said a bunch of wonderful things to me on Facebook to brighten my birthday. I was finishing up and about to leave when I noticed a status update pop up from a friend I don’t remember meeting. Next to his smiling Willie Nelson middle finger profile photo were the words:

“I Hope your birthday sucked and it rained giraffe shit all over your parade. Ok, now thats done, everyone else have a great day! I know I will!”

It should be noted this was on his own wall and not directed to anyone and I have no real reason to think it was meant for me. Except it was my birthday this day. And while he used past tense as if the object of his disaffection was born yesterday, I happened to be returning from an event called “Freaky Deaky Time Machine” and furthermore the post office had just notified me essentially that my hold mail request “has expired tomorrow”. So it seemed time was not following normal rules.

While this snarky status update (someone else boldly declared “Rude!”) clearly couldn’t have been meant for me, there was something about it which I felt a mysterious connection to and so it malingered in my mind as I headed north out of Amarillo. After stopping for gas in Dumas, I was at a light waiting to make my left turn to follow highway 87 to New Mexico and noticed the tractor-trailer in front of me was dripping brown liquid. It was one of those trucks to hold livestock. I suppose one might imagine cattle in there. Or dumb asses; maybe that’s what grows in a town called Dumas. Or giraffes, though I imagined their necks getting bent out of shape in the tall-but-not-tall-enough trailer. Wait… wheels turned… must be giraffes… light turned… THAT GIRAFFE SHIT IS GONNA RAIN ALL OVER MY PICKUP IF I DON’T GET AROUND THIS TRUCK BEFORE I GET OUTTA DUMAS!! Luckily there was plenty of double lane road ahead. I didn’t look inside the box, though a trailer full of giraffes surely would have been something to write a blog post about.
giraffe shit

I can’t help pondering, now, whether I would have made the connection between dripping brown liquid and that it would rain giraffe shit on me if I didn’t pass, had I not had that snarky post nagging at me that morning? Quite possibly not. But then, I probably would have been well ahead of that giraffe truck had I let the snarkiness slide like water off a duck’s back. Seems like it was meant to be, or not be; maybe that is the answer. Or like Sophie said: It is what it is, and it isn’t what it isn’t.

Continuing on over and up highway 87, I first had a good hearty laugh at how I dodged a dirty disaster. But then I noticed another truck, and another, some birds flying overhead and some giraffe-shaped clouds and I realized the day was still young. I was on renewed alert and thoughts again of the snarky comment started chasing away the laughter and gnawing away at my mood again. In Raton, New Mexico I stopped for lunch and when I went to sit down I heard the song “Laughter in the Rain” in my head. At first this prompted a knee-jerk defensive flash of hostility, only then I realized it came into my head by way of my ears and some speakers. (Now that’s a good golden oldie, how did that not come up when I asked for Rain songs last year?) More importantly, I remembered I in fact avoided getting giraffe shit rained on me and it was me doing the laughing, not being laughed at. This time I won, if only by keeping a negative attitude and not losing.

Still, the day was not over. In spite of Colorado welcoming me with its colorful vistas, the other part of the snarky post about “hope your birthday sucked” started festering and for a little while I was seriously contemplating spending the evening wallowing antisocially at home by myself while trying to make a dent in cleaning up the post-Flipside mess, as a defensive move to avoid potential inevitable further birthday suckiness. But then it dawned on me that letting fear of suckiness win would only guarantee a sucky birthday. It is what it is and it isn’t what it isn’t. Furthermore, it would seem mighty rude of me to let some snarky indirect comment overshadow all the kind wonderful amazingly sticky sweet things all my other friends said to me. Like Greg says, all of my wallowing is unbecoming, and I didn’t want to let friends and family down. So I picked myself up off the floorboard and invited some of my close friends to meet for dinner.

I warned them I was a little cranky and one well-meaning friend did try to rain on my parade a little but I let her know I wasn’t having any of it today. I know she was only trying to help, and she’s right, only she’s wrong, just as am I, but this day I played judge and overruled her.

If there is any point to all of this it is something that was kicking around in my head the previous day anyway, in that you can always say “no thank you” to someone’s manifestation on you. There’s no saying it won’t boomerang back to you later or deflect and hit someone else instead, however. Maybe that’s how this one came my way in the first place. And now some other poor sap in Dumas is wiping giraffe shit off their windshield.

When all was said and not done and the day was over, the only raining I ended up saying “yes please thank you may I have another” was in the form of the myriad toppings sprinkled and hot fudge drizzled over some froyo.

Before someone suggests I was hallucinating again, I’ll have you know that this sort of “that which was written shall come to pass, but those Rainy Day wipers were never meant to last*” thing has in fact happened to me before. Frequently it involves weather. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not some sort of figment of Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams’ manifestation, namely the lorry-driving (that’s British for tractor-trailer) Rob McKenna, aka the Rain God. He had 231 types of rain. I’ve started my own tally, I’ve probably missed a few, but I figure I’m up to at least 14 now.

*About the wipers quote: Last summer I bought Rainy Day brand windshield wipers and the guy at the counter helpfully warned me they wouldn’t last very long. I shared this with the world and my friend Jean had said then that I should write a poem about it, I tried but really only came up with that sad excuse of a two-liner above. Meanwhile, I finally replaced those Rainy Day wipers just before my Texas adventure, and found that the helpful guy was in fact correct, for they are now branded as Rain Guard wipers. Wonder if they are improved to withstand giraffe rain.

Twigs in Your Sandbox

My Mom recently shared some little anecdotes from when I was kid. I found this one rather sweet:

“Discovered the other day that Beth doesn’t cower when involved with selfish children at the sandboxes in the parks. She hangs right in there, quietly knowing her rights. One little girl had a mass of toys and wouldn’t share them. Beth gathered some twigs we had been using as candles on a ‘sand cake’ and gave them to the little girl – all that she had – and the girl threw them out of the sandbox. It was touching – as have been other recent expressions of sharing Beth has been showing. Am glad to see her strong little spirit and that it’s allied with gentleness.”

I got to overthinking about this from all sorts of angles. Unsolicited twigs, ungrateful little girl. No wonder I sometimes get reluctant to give them out to people. But then, who wants a whole load of twigs anyway? That’s mighty rude of me to dump them in someone’s sandbox like that. There are better twigs out there, toys even. I probably should keep my twigs to myself. Or ask first. Or at least have the sense to spread them around a little, maybe a twig or two won’t piss you off like a whole bunch of them, maybe you’ll be indifferent enough to allow me to put one in your box. Dead detritus from living trees. I myself will pick them out of the volleyball court with my toes between plays.

And so in a sense I’ve conditioned myself to expect that no one wants my twigs. I hesitate to promote them. I underestimate their value. I try to keep them in my own sandbox. And so I go off there and sit quietly playing and building things out of them, things that I like, that I find pretty or interesting, never expecting anyone will want or understand the new things I fashion from the unpopular twigs. No one will want to play in my sandbox, why would they? It’s just me and my twigs in there.

Then every now and then someone expresses an interest in them and I get confused, disturbed, like my mind is struggling to divide by 0, or take the square root of negative 1. Does not compute, it’s too much, irrational.

Why? Maybe because if someone starts wanting my twigs, starts playing in my sandbox, starts gathering up their own, what does it say about me?

I don’t know. I take myself too seriously sometimes. That was a long time ago, I’m not the same little girl. Maybe I’ve turned into the other one, shellfish. Maybe she’s turned into me.

Sometimes I can’t see the tree for all its twigs.