Sometimes you just have to join the circus [June 2012]

When Groupon offers opportunities to try ones hand at anything resembling a carnie, one must oblige.

I bought two tickets, one for me and one for Brian for Christmas. I almost didn't give him his when he almost ruined my vacation, but I'm glad I did. Brian likes experiences for the sake of something new. And he's good company.

We met at Emerald City Trapeze. Less than a half mile from my office, the building had been taunting me for at least a year. What IS an Aerialdrome, anyway? I've seen a velodrome. Drome is a suffix? The foam pits I pictured were instead, I found out, wide nets (makes sense, considering the velocity of the fall. All the better, foam pits are always somehow dusty and slimy at the same time. Like the foam squares are deteriorating with people's sweat and saliva and who knows what other bodily fluids. Nets should replace all foam pits).

We were given explicit instruction to stretch - some thirty suggested on poster board tacked to the wall. Brian told me about the Flexibility class he took in college. Mostly stretching with a little bit of meditation. My kind of class.

As we stretched, I assessed the room. A few other students were waiting their turn to climb a tall, narrow ladder to approach the launch station, where a trapezist (as I've dubbed them in memory), waited to hook the flyer (as dubbed by trapezists) to a set of ropes and caribeeners. Another trapezist belayed from the ground and gave calls. Flyer grabs the bar, jumps and swings forward, swings back to hang by the knees, swings forward to grab imaginary hands, and drops. No one seemed headed for the circus. Actually most everyone seemed pretty bland. Our instructor reminded me of my old boss Mark Conrad, who reminded some people of a hippie Harpo Marx.

The only exception was the far end of the aerialdrome, where the 'Aerial Arts' trapezists were practicing. You know, when someone swings and sways, twists and turns, all while clutching a cascading curtain between their thighs or ankles. The music they chose (and played on repeat) was pretty awful, but I can't think of a much more physically difficult task than remaining perpendicular to the earth at all, much less while keeping to some sort of choreography. These aerial artists seemed more destined for Cirque Du Soleil.

So stretching time was over and we got the run-down of events. As observed, we would climb, launch, swing, and drop. Hooked into pulleys the entire time so not even a remote chance of injury. We took turns with the 3 other people there, one girl on her second class, another two on their 3rd or 4th. They were working on different tricks. We swung from our knees, they jumped up on the bar and swung from the arches of their feet.  The main goal was to follow command and thus work with gravity and velocity well enough to catch someone's hand instead of dropping after the launch.

That guy was Hans, or Frans, or some other Scandinavian name, I don't remember. When the time came, he monkeyed up shirtless and made it easy to catch. Scariest part of the launch was leaning over the ledge, necessary in getting your center of gravity moving forward. It doesn't feel good having your center of gravity not above your feet, especially when it's 50 feet up.

But it does feel pretty great to fly.

I don't plan on joining the circus, or even going back for lesson two. They give you just enough that you feel like you could though, so maybe someday when I'm looking for a hobby or a future career I will.


Dressing up

I spent all last Saturday with girlfriends- shopping, swimming, lounging, a wedding, and a birthday celebration and realized what I miss most about roommates is getting ready. Alternating drying hair and doing makeup, borrowing clothes, generally being excited to go out and do whatever is on the night's agenda.  It's the best part of Halloween, I've known that since roommates spent some 3+ hours getting ready one year and maybe 30 minutes at the intended Halloween party. And most 'nights on the town' really are all about the process of getting there. New Year's Even especially.

I s'pose I'll have to keep my getting ready playlist handy to get me in the girls night out mood!


Ordinary People

This morning I was driving back towards I-90 from a very harried, albeit pleasant tour of a local farm and passed through Preston and by this sign, pinned to the netting holding a three-tierd rock wall in place:

With a petite exclamation mark, in case you didn't catch the grandeur of it all without punctuation.  Flanked on both sides by bright American flags, the message was decidedly patriotic.  It's a message I appreciate in a patriotic sense, certainly.  Normal guys don military gear and suddenly they are the amassadors of America, the only piece of the U. S. of A that many people will ever see or know (daunting thought, actually, now that I think about it).

The sign made me smile today because I've been reminded of how objective extraordinary can be.  I've been really into memoirs lately, mostly because I secretly would like to write one and need to be coaxed into it by others who have decided that a slice of their life is worth devoting hours and scrutiny to by themselves and by others.  In Cork Boat, a guy decides to buid a boat out of wine corks.  He ends up in a truly epic sail down the Douro river in Portugal, but the building of the boat is pretty epic in and of itself.  I'm partway through Bill Bryson's Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, which, while lacking in any real cohesive story line, very clearly shouts that for kids just about everything is extraordinary.

Even Preston, a city which most people forget exists between Issaquah (the edge of civilization that is the Seattle Metro area) and North Bend (the edge of wilderness that is the Cascades), thinks it can be extraordinary. 


Flavor stealers.

I don't know how anyone makes anything out of mayonnaise that doesn't just taste like mayonnaise with whatever else is combined.  Same thing with cream cheese.  Cream cheese frosting is really just cream cheese with powdered sugar flavoring.  I made (attempted) a cheesecake once on my mission, from the recipe right off the Toblerone bar.  Cream cheese Toblerone.  Banana has a similar condition, but it's usually welcome and recipes don't usually try to hide its distinct flavor.  Bacon, too. 

Tonight it was chipotle sauce.  Recipe says 1/2 cup mayo, 2 chipotles and however much adobo sauce you want.  I couldn't have had more than 2 tablespoons of mayo, I added 4 chipotles (seeds included, for good measure), plus adobo sauce, a little lime and some very melted butter (bad idea for consistency, turns out) and still it tasted like chipotle-flavored mayonnaise.  Very spicy chipotle-flavored mayonnaise.  A little bit curdled-looking chipotle-flavored mayonnaise. 

Still ate it on my grilled corn and summer squash.  But that's beside the point.