Thanks, DJ Kool

sneakers
Too squishy to dance in, but I’m ready for Spring.

Some strange things have happened since I started taking a hip hop class three Saturdays ago. I’ve become happier, more confident, and more likely to shake my hips in the Hazel dressing room. I haven’t become a better dancer, but that’s beside the point.

At the first class, I was so confused I couldn’t even fail properly. I like yoga because it’s flowy and you usually get multiple chances to try a pose that eludes you. Also, you’re never forced to do steps across the floor, in twos, which I haven’t done since kindergarten ballet class. At the first class, not only was I unable to do the steps, but I also couldn’t count to eight, so I kept stumbling across the floor too soon and bumping into the poor twos ahead of me. “Are you alright?” asked my hip-hop dancing friend, and all I could answer was, “What am I doing here?”

So during the week, I read the Wiki on hip hop, bought some sneakers, practiced the video they sent around, and signed up for a free month of The Daily Burn. When I tried to do the hip hop class on Daily Burn it was so impossible that it made the Saturday class look easy.

The second class went better until the teacher added new steps to the old ones, and they included hip swivels. I’ve always had trouble moving my hips. I can still hear my high school gym teacher calling, “You’re not moving your hips” or “You need to move your hips” or I forget the exact line, all I heard was HIPS+YOU=WRONG & IT’S BEEN NOTED. For women who can move their hips, this sounds so trifling. “You just do this,” they say, and demonstrate for me, like I must have misunderstood and thought I was supposed to be wiggling my ears.

First the teacher isolated it: “Right, front, left, back, right, front…” That made sense, even when she speeded it up. “No problem,” I thought, “that Wiki really helped.” But then she said, “Great, now just incorporate that when you move. Step back, swivel right; step forward, swivel left, just like that.” And just like that, I was lost.

Also, there was a 10-year-old girl standing too close in front of me, with flashing sneakers on. I wanted to say, “Can you move forward a little?” but I didn’t want to be the bitchy lady who says that. Then I did say it, and I did feel bitchy, and then I really started to resent her. But when we got to the hip-moving part, the teacher told her, “Don’t worry, I know it feels strange. The boys in my kids class never want to move their hips, but I make them. Just keep doing it ‘til it feels normal.” So now I swivel when I’m brushing my teeth, and while I’m waiting for water to boil, and once I practiced at Hazel while Dave was trying on pants. They have big huge mirrors and no one was around.

There have been times over the past three weeks that I’ve said, “I don’t have time to do this class. I’m never going to be able to do it well, and I’ve got too much other stuff that’s more important to me, like writing and work, to be wasting time trying to figure out to do the Humpty.”

I skipped today’s class because my quads are so sore from yesterday’s Daily Burn weight ball class. But at about 3:30, just around the time I should have left for hip hop, I started a Vinyasa class that ended with my legs still hurting but in a better way than they did before. Scheherazade and Xeena have both signed up for dance classes, and Dave says he too wants to take a class in something he’s no good at. Three people (two in person and one on TV) have said that we store emotions in our hips, and I’ve been able to think, “Not all of us.” None of this has much to do with hip hop, except that it wouldn’t have happened without it.

Nothing but trouble

Everyone dressed up for the Oscars. No lie.

I dreamed I went to young John Malkovich’s apartment to cancel my lie audition. He was about 30 and dressed in evening clothes. His huge 1930s apartment was lit with chandeliers and filled with people drinking cocktails. He came toward me with arms outstretched, very elegant with that leonine Malkovich walk but also like a society hostess.

I’d come to use Malkovich’s computer to email my cancellation, but I suddenly realized the auditions were actually being held right here in his apartment, right now at this moment. Yes, I’m having audition anxiety.

I tried a couple times over the weekend to cancel my audition. I told Dave, “I don’t think the story I came up with is the kind of story they’re looking for.”

“You don’t know what they’re looking for,” he said.

“But I don’t even want to get cast,” I reasoned.

“But you don’t think you will get cast.”

“I know.”

“Go ahead and cancel,” Dave said. “Then you can stay home all day Tuesday and not go out at all.” I have anxiety about turning out like my mom, who never wanted to go anywhere except TJ Maxx. That shut me up for a while.

But then Scheherazade called when I was at Walgreen’s, buying a curling iron for yesterday’s Oscar party. She’d heard about the audition and said her impression was that it was more for guys who would be one-upping each other with outrageous stories. “Like drinking stories,” I said, trying to choose between a 39-dollar ceramic curling iron and a 9-dollar non-ceramic one.

“Exactly,” she said.

“It’s not that I’m scared of auditioning,” I said as I pulled a 19-dollar compromise curling iron off the shelf, ceramic but only two heat settings. “I just feel like there are more important things I need to be working on.”

“If it’s not your thing, honey, don’t sweat it,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said, “it’s not my thing.”

“So don’t sweat it.” I love Scheherazade.

I typed up my story and had the lady from Final draft read it. At the Oscar party, I told my friend Xeena how this lie thing is taking too much time when I really need to be working on my play.  “So it’s not a fear thing,” she said.

“No, not at all.” I love Xeena, but she has these crystal clear eyes that seem to stare right into your soul. “I don’t think so. Maybe a little. But also I need to write a new scene for my play.”

“Hm. It’s hard when it’s both.” I got another plate of food from the Oscar buffet. My favorites were the spinach balls, blue cheese gougeres, mini fruit tortes, Nutella sandwich cookies, some kind of cheese that you put on a tiny skillet ‘til it melts and you put it on flaky cracker, peanut butter buckeyes, and champagne grape focaccia slices. All homemade by Vandamm Lovely and Kismet. I’ve given up drinking for Lent so I ate as much as possible.

When we left, a lovely young woman who was extremely drunk was also leaving, so we walked her to the train. Dave asked if she was from London and she said, “No, Pakistan.” Then a minute later she added, “I’m sorry, that was a stupid thing to say. Yes, I’m from London. I’m really sorry.”

Then she asked what we did and when I said Dave was a violinist she said, “That’s brilliant. No one plays violin anymore. Everyone plays fucking guitar or fucking bass, I hate fucking bass.”

“I play bass,” I said.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry.”

I laughed, “No I don’t. I was just messing with you.”

“Oh God,” she said, “I’m always saying these stupid things. Why do I–”

“No,” I interrupted. “I was lying.”

She didn’t seem to hear me. “I don’t know why I say these things.”

“But I was lying,” I said.

She didn’t seem to hear. “I’m British so I’m always bloody polite even though I’m always swearing and saying something insulting and then I’m always apologizing.”

“But I really don’t play bass. I wasn’t insulted.”

“I’m really sorry,” she began again. We were still a block from the train. This lying business is nothing but trouble.

The milk of human sunflowers

Scheherazade tells a story
Humans are awesome.

Scheherazade called yesterday to check on me. I was down with some 24-hour stomach thing. I’m not going to blame the caterpillar I found crawling out of our farm box greens the night before because 1) I found it while I was washing them and did another two washings; and 2) a healthy caterpillar is proof that we’re getting healthy, fresh-from-the-farm produce, which is a good thing, right?

Dave carried it outside. He reminded me that one day it will be a beautiful butterfly, so I shouldn’t be grossed out. I don’t blame the caterpillar, but yesterday as I lay moaning on the couch, Dave threw out the rest of the salad greens.

Scheherazade checked in with texts a couple of times throughout the day. Then she called, but I missed it because I was able to stand up long enough to hold the back screen door while Dave took its hinges off.

She left me a message. “Hope you’re feeling better. I had a nice little Trader Joe’s story. I was buying a card for a friend of mine, and I told the clerk that it was for my friend who’s going through chemo, and she said, ‘Hold on one second.’ And she came back with a whole bouquet of sunflowers and she said, ‘Please bring this to your friend.’ That just made me feel so good. The milk of human kindness. And I am extending that to you. Feel better.” And I do.