Scenery Chewer Heads West


Our cute patio, where I would sip wine and read, any time of year.

Our cute patio

I never wanted to move to California in the first place.   My husband had been accepted– tuition free– to the MFA program at Cal State Long Beach.  In New York, my career was humming along, and I was surrounded by friends.  California, with its endless sunshine and cheery, beautiful people, seemed surreal.

“You’re going to love it,” people warned, people who had lived there, people who had moved kicking and screaming, just as I was about to do.  I doubted them all.  We loaded up Andre’s mother’s (ancient) car and drove cross-country.  Andre gamely tried to make the experience as much fun as he could, and I played along.  We’d always wanted to drive across the country!  But after days in the car, the fun began to wear thin.  A sense of dislocation set in, intensified by our failure to find a suitable place to live.

The Spanish Colonial Library down the street.

The Spanish Colonial Library down the street.

But finally we found it:  a two bedroom for $1300 a month, unheard of in New York City.  We didn’t even need the second bedroom, not yet.  It had a teeny tiny outdoor patio and laundry on-site.  It was three blocks from the ocean, two blocks from Bixby Park and its weekly farmer’s market, and one block from the library, where I spent a lot of time.  Nearby Fourth Street was lined with coffee shops, thrifts stores, wine bars, and our favorite art theatre.  I made a project out of decorating the apartment with flea market finds and Target sale bin steals.

Friends who came to see us!

Friends who came to see us!

My friends came to me.  Broadway touring companies play both LA and Costa Mesa, and we were comfortably situated between the two.  Everyone who came through stopped by to see us.  And I didn’t realize how many friends Andre and I had that already lived in LA.  But still I missed New York.

When I booked the Billy Elliot tour, I was relieved.  Grad school kept Andre very busy, so I was home alone a lot.  I had finished decorating and my unemployment was running out.  I began to fear that I would have to work in a restaurant, which represents the absolute pits for me, the antithesis of where I want my life to head.  So I jumped at the chance to leave.

I began to miss Long Beach almost right away.  On hiatus from tour, I returned to New York and was surprised to find that I hated it:  the noise, the crowds, the crazy people.  What had once seemed sophisticated and exciting now seemed pretentious and neurotic.  Tour ended and I came back (pregnant) to Long Beach, and I fell even more in love with California.

After she was born and after Andre finished school, we felt a little unmoored.  We worked steadily through the summer, but went through a dry spell in August that left us shaken, unsure of whether to stay or go.  Out of the blue and without auditioning, Andre got the offer to do the Grinch back in New York.  The same day I found out I had booked Big Fish at Musical Theatre West.  We decided I would do the show, and then we would move back.

While I loved the ocean and the farmer’s market, not to mention the Vietnamese food and the Olympic lap pool, I didn’t expect to love the theatre community so much.  I didn’t expect such a warm embrace.  I didn’t expect so much support from our friends in Long Beach.  Puddin’ had a million terrific sitters.  I started teaching ballet and private voice lessons at studios within walking distance from where I lived.  I began working with a theatrical agent I adored, and a commercial agent who worked tirelessly to get me auditions.  Things were picking up for me!  But we were already scheduled to leave.

We’ve been back in New York for a little over three months, and I am finally admitting that I hate it here.  I do!  What a relief!  I hate it!  I’ve started begging Andre to move back.  I have no commercial agent, and my NY representation has barely lifted a finger.   My LA agent has been wonderful, but it’s clear they want me to move back.  Instead of teaching voice and ballet, I’m working at that dreaded restaurant.  I hate it with a passion I had forgotten I had.  Every day I feel like I am slipping down a wall into depression.  I try not to think about California, but it’s impossible.  Every time I go into the grocery store and see what passes for produce, every time I go to the Equity building and see a million actors lining up for some $300-a-week job in the middle of nowhere, every time Puddin’ wakes us up in the middle of the night in the one bedroom we now share, I am reminded of how good we had it.  And I miss it so much.

 

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Our gorgeous, ruined love seat.

Our gorgeous, ruined love seat.

The CA-NY move marked the first time I hired a professional moving company.  I don’t count Kline Movers, the Chinatown moving company that transported me from the Upper East Side to Harlem, and then from Harlem to Brooklyn, for $400 a pop.  In retrospect, I should have hired them to move us cross country.  They always did an excellent job.

Our move from Fort Greene to Long Beach consisted of ten boxes, which were mailed to my friend in North Hollywood, and a car loaded down so heavily that it never quite recovered from the cross-country trip.  We sold that car to pay for the move back East.  The boxes had tripled, but we only had a bed, a love seat, a coffee table, and a changing table in terms of real furniture.  So we hired CA-NY Express.

The price was right.  The sales person, Eric, was kind enough.  The movers who arrived at my house November 18th were competent.  Our move turned out to cost several hundred dollars more than was originally quoted, of course, because our stuff took up more square footage than they had estimated.  We didn’t find this out until the truck was loaded, naturally.  If only I had made them unpack the truck!  I wish I had done that!  Especially given that they were going to destroy a vintage love seat anyway.   I may as well have saved the money and put it on the curb.  But we wouldn’t know that till later.

“The bed’s different,” my husband told me on the phone from the East Coast.  Our furniture had been delivered, but I was in the Midwest with family.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“It just feels different,” he said.  “Not as comfortable.”

“Well, it probably got shaken around in the move,” I suggested.

“But it doesn’t fit the frame,” he said.  “I think it’s a different mattress.”

“I don’t see how it could be a different mattress.”  And I didn’t.  The mattress had been boxed and put on the truck with a bar code that matched our order.  How they could mess this up, I couldn’t begin to fathom.  But when I got home, he was right.  It didn’t feel the same.

“Maybe it’s just the other side of it,” I suggested.  But that didn’t explain the extra three inches at the foot and headboard where it used to be flush.

My mother took one look at it and knew it was off.  “What happened to your bed?” she said as she walked into our Brooklyn bedroom.

Unfortunately, we had been given this mattress by a friend.  We have no receipt stating what type of mattress it is, and we can’t even be sure of the brand.  Our friend wasn’t much help.  “It’s from Ikea?” she guessed when we asked her.

“They’ve given us a Sealy!”

“Um… it could have been a Sealy.”

All we know is it’s not right.  But lacking conclusive proof, there’s not much we can do.  CA-NY Express insists they delivered the right mattress.

The love seat, however, is a different story.  After filling out a claim form requiring photographic proof that our love seat was broken, we received a paltry insurance settlement of $168.  We had only purchased basic coverage, so that was the extent of our entitlement.  However, the frame is not merely chipped, as the pictures suggest.  The entire thing has been compromised.  The CA-NY Express movers packed it very well, so I don’t think it got bumped around.  The damage is too severe. My husband and I believe that they dropped it when they were transferring our furniture to a different truck, which is also where they switched our mattress with someone else’s.  So we’re stuck.

I would like an additional $200 to pay for the love seat’s repair.  I would like a king-sized Ikea mattress restored to me– either a new one or our original.  Someone, somewhere, is complaining that their mattress is over-sized and doesn’t seem to lay properly.  They’re probably just as confused as I am, and their complaints have probably been met with the same attitude: that the movers couldn’t possibly have gotten it wrong!

In the meantime, I would heartily recommend CA-NY Express if you like your stuff arriving in broken pieces.  If you’d like your mattress replaced with a strangers, go ahead and use them.  And if you don’t particularly care for your complaints being heard by management, CA-NY Express is your company.

But whatever you do, spring for extra insurance.

 

 

I cannot believe I’m writing this.  I really can’t.

Like most actors, I have spent most of my career bemoaning the existence of a casting director, which most of us view as a “hurdle” to getting cast.

“If only I could get seen for that,” we’ll moan over a few drinks.

“So-and-so never calls me in!” we’ll say to one another, or simply to ourselves, when we learn that [insert dream musical here] is being revived on Broadway next season, and that so-and-so is casting it.

Of course, for every casting director who “won’t” audition you, another casting director loves you, goes to bat for you, and calls you in with regularity.  Each casting director keeps a stable of people:  regulars, like on Cheers, who presumably audition consistently and well for their respective offices.  As actors we know this, and we appreciate their loyalty.  But still, most of us are in this profession because we’re passionate about it and it KILLS us when we can’t get seen for a dream project.

And sometimes we’re not even happy when we do get seen.  “If only I could get in front of the creatives!” actors say when they have gotten the audition, but haven’t gotten the callback.  By “creative,” we mean someone from the directing, music or dance team who can see how truly great you are, someone who knows talent!  The casting associate sent to the first round of auditions is frequently a 22-year-old liberal arts major from the University of God Knows Where.  (If you’re a CD and you’re reading this, you’re probably like, “That’s not true!”  And you’re right.  I am exaggerating.  But that’s how it feels!)  Especially on an open, first, or replacement call, offices tend to send the lower-ranked associates.  Not the interns, exactly.  But a step above.

What we forget, of course, is that this particular not-quite-an-intern has been extensively schooled in What the Creatives Want.  He or she may not have any experience (or imagination, for that matter), but that person is looking for something specific.  What we also forget is that these 22-year-olds have nowhere to go but up, should they choose to stay in the field.  And many of them do, working their way up the office ranks or branching out into directing, managing or some other aspect of the business.

But, like ’em or lump ’em, casting directors have always been part of the business for me– a hurdle or a conduit, depending on the project.

Until I moved to L.A.

Not only am I blown away by the number of casting offices in this city, but I am also blown away by the number of projects without a proper casting director.  In L.A. the business is bigger.  Much bigger.  This is because the city of L.A. is a one-trick pony.  It’s got the entertainment industry, and that’s it.  New York is the epicenter for finance and fashion and journalism and architecture:  reason 4,024 that NY is the best city on Earth.  But in L.A., all they’ve got is Hollywood.  Now, I came to town well aware of my position at the bottom of this giant totem pole, which was good.  If I weren’t aware, I would have been made aware in a soul-crushing manner.  Of course I fit right in to L.A.’s theatrical totem pole; however, compared to NY it’s more like a pogo stick.  (For NY actors:  I can walk into any EPA and get a slot 20 minutes later.  In line behind me is a non-union kid auditioning in character shoes.  To sing.  Bless her heart.)  But of course I don’t go to many theatre auditions because a.) there aren’t any, and b.) I can’t do theatre till after Puddin’s born.  This has also been a problem for the handful of agents I’ve met with.  My lack of TV credits, coupled with my questionable ability to work over the next, like, nine months, have added up to a lot of “Nice to meet you.  Maybe get in touch once the baby’s born.”

So to build a reel and get some film experience, I have been auditioning for non-union projects and student film.

And that’s how I learned the true value of a casting director.

A casting director is the hallmark of true professionalism.  A casting director will not waste your time.  Yes, he or she may send you 41 pages of material to learn in three days (unlike last time, I am NOT exaggerating), but he will not have everyone “just show up at 11:30.”  He will send you detailed and specific instructions about the audition; you will not have to email him to find out if an accompanist will be present or other such nonsense.  If a casting director is present, you will not be auditioning in someone’s home.  You can safely assume that the creative team is looking for talent, and not just somebody to sleep with.  A casting director won’t call in a million people.  They will wade through the submissions and eliminate those who aren’t right for the part, as well as the amateurs; i.e., those who show up without a headshot.  (“Do I need one?” I heard somebody ask.  You always need one!  Even in the age of digital submissions, they will need to make notes on something.  Like a picture of your face.  At the very least, give them something to file away for later.  Even if they don’t take it, bring it!  Eye roll.)

I’ve learned that casting directors exist for good reason.  I’ve always known they make the casting process easier for the ones doing the hiring.  What I didn’t know is that they make the casting process easier for the actor, too.  I’ve learned to steer clear of any project not helmed by a professional CD.  I’m just too old for the bullshit.

And I miss being a part of somebody’s stable!  Come to think of it… I miss the whole barnyard.

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This week I set foot inside the Apple store by myself for the first time ever.  The only other time I had gone into one was to buy my Mac last summer.  That computer was chugging along fine; it was my iPod that was causing me problems.  When I arrived, I expected to be able to walk right up to the Genius Bar.  I was halted by an eager young employee– the worst kind, and they’re all like that– who made me schedule an appointment on a nearby computer.  The earliest time, 4:00, was 90 minutes away.

Fortunately, the Beverly Center mall also hosts a Bed, Bath and Beyond, and if there’s a BB&B around, I am never bored.  I picked up a sham and some jewelry cleaner and was back at Apple by 3:45.  I had been told to check in with an employee with an iPad, but since almost all the employees have iPads, and I chose the wrong one.   He directed me to Justin with the GREEN iPad.  (Oh, now I get it.)

Justin was lording it over the genius bar like a bitchy hostess at Per Se.  He checked me in and informed me that they were running behind.  He never once looked up from his precious screen.

I didn’t really mind waiting except that I was wearing heels.  (You didn’t expect me to go to the Beverly Hills mall in flats, did you?)  I can dance in heels, I can walk in heels, I can even run in heels.  But standing in heels is the absolute worst, as any bridesmaid will attest.  All the stools in the store were taken by people who weren’t me.  And the Genius bar was running pretty far behind.  I don’t know if there was a shortage of geniuses, or if they had all come down with something, but this bar was short-staffed.  The longer I waited, the more it seemed certain that there was an outbreak in the genius community.  Something annoying, probably.  Something vaguely academic and relatively obscure, like scurvy or tinnitus.

I leaned against a counter, transferring my weight from one foot to the other, until my genius approached me.  His name was Jason.

“So what’s wrong with your iPod?” he asked.

“It doesn’t work.”

“Okay…”

“I mean, it won’t turn on right now.”  Jason was turning it over in his palm.  “I have to reset it every time I plug it into my Mac or my Mac just ignores it.”

He plugged it into some doohickey behind the bar.  “It looks like it needs to be charged.”

Asshole.  “I charged it last night.  It’s pretending.”

I suddenly became aware of my tendency to endow Apple products with human characteristics such as subterfuge and free will.  I used to endow my cat Pants with personality, creating entire dialogues replete with back story and sub-plots.   Now I do it to inanimate objects.  Such is the state of my life.

However, I’m not entirely sure electronic devices aren’t devious little shits with wills of their  own.  I realize this borders on paranoia, like I may actually believe my computer is out to get me.  I mean, I don’t really believe that… but I could be convinced.

I tried to explain my dilemma to Jason.  “Last night when I tried to charge it, it kept saying it wouldn’t sync.  When I tried to repair the hard drive on disk utility, it said it couldn’t.  Also it said I didn’t have permission for something.  I don’t know what.”  To me, it simply amounted to my iPod being a devious little shit.

“Well, I can’t open it up,” Jason the Genius said perfunctorily.  “It sounds like the hard drive’s going.”  He fiddled with it a second.  “We can replace it, but it’ll cost you $129.  And you’ll still lose everything you have on it.”

I already knew the hard drive was on its way out.  I hadn’t driven all the way to 90210 to be told that.  I had driven to 90210 so he would push the right combination of buttons and get the damn thing working again.

But because I had read Steve Jobs’ biography, I also knew Jason couldn’t open it.  Jobs had been anal about that.  He didn’t want people figuring out how to rip off his designs, which kind of happened anyway.  There are other MP3 players, however there are none that work so seamlessly with a platform as efficient as iTunes, which is something else he was anal about.   The iPod technology paired with the iTunes program are in fact genius, unlike the person who was seated across from me.  I have respect for Steve Jobs, I just hate going in the damn store.

So anyway.

“It’s strange it doesn’t work.  I have a Nano that’s even older that I’ve never had problems with,” I was saying.  And it’s true.  I do in fact have two iPods, so don’t go feeling too sorry for me.  I bought the second when I lost the first, which I then found again.  Where did I find it?  Oh, in my pocket.

“Do you use this one to work out?” Jason asked me.

“Sometimes.”

“Well, this has a lot of moving parts, and if they get jostled a lot, they can break down.  Kind of like your laptop.  They’re not meant to be moved around.  The smaller Nanos don’t do as much, so they’re much more durable.  The new iPods are made better.”

I was out of the store and into the parking lot before I realized what a dumb explanation that was.  I had a vision of the inside of my iPod looking like the bomb underneath the bus in Speed, full of wires and things that could get jacked up.  Except that my iPod was designed to be a portable music device!  It replaced the Discman, which was impractical on a lot of levels.  And while I had never taken my “not-meant-to-be-moved-around” laptop to the gym, I had taken it to three different countries and about 15 different states.  We’re not supposed to move these things now?  Will jostling them cause them to deteriorate?  Or was Jason just a pathetic excuse for a genius?

I did not buy a new iPod that afternoon.  I did not pay for its repair.  Instead, I put it to rest.  I am currently reconfiguring my itty-bitty Nano, which is meant for fun and travel, and which hopefully I will be able to carry with me just a little bit longer.

I didn’t realize how much I’d grown to like Long Beach until I booked the national tour of Billy Elliot.  The knowledge that I would be leaving and would have to endure hotel after hotel with an entirely new group of people made me appreciate the cozy lemon of an apartment my husband and I shared on the corner of 3rd and Hermosa.

“Life out here doesn’t suck,” I said to friends with more than a touch of surprise.  Living blocks from the ocean is every bit as cool as I’d imagined.  Even though I have yet to take the plunge into the somewhat frigid waters of the Pacific, I have driven, jogged and biked beside it under the hot-but-not-too-blazing sun for weeks now.  I love the water.  I love the Olympic-sized pool where I swim laps under the flags of other countries.  I love the thrift stores and restaurants.  I am even growing to love our quirky apartment, where one window is still painted open and the lesbian couple below us engage in violent domestic disputes.

The discovery that I love my life came at the end of a long day of traveling.  I had flown back from New York for the second time that month.  The first had been for an audition for the Broadway company of Matilda.  I am pretty sure I blew that audition, not because of my performance in the room, but because I have a strongly held superstition that the more people I tell about an audition, the lower my chances of booking it.  And due to circumstance I had had to tell everybody what the hell I was doing in New York:  my sister, her husband, her college roommate, my soon-to-be-married friends Eve and Charley, my recent homeowner friends the Boags, the book club, and almost the entire cast of Mary Poppins.  The second time I was much more discreet.

Having auditioned for Billy a million times I was fortunate to have to simply audition privately for the dance and the music supervisors.  The director, apparently, already wanted me.  I had flown to New York so they could cover all their bases, or at least that’s how my agent made it sound.  I tried to work up audition nerves, but two months in SoCal had worked their magic, and all I could work up was a Zen-like tranquility.

When I got back to California, I walked into our comfortable house filled with flea-market furniture, and I didn’t want to leave.  I found myself hoping the call wouldn’t come.

It did the next day.  I was comforted by the tour schedule, which had a whole slew of gaps in it according to the Billy website.  I would be able to come home every couple of weeks to see Andre.  He and I agreed that it was the ideal situation:  grad school kept him so busy that it was a matter of time before I would begin to feel neglected, and I could earn money and insurance weeks doing a show I’d always wanted to do.  That illusion was shattered the following week, when I got the actual tour schedule, which filled in the weeks not posted yet on the internet.  We’re going to some cool cities:  Austin, Vancouver, Montreal, and some clunkers:  Fayetteville, Peoria, Greenville, SC.  But from January to March I’d be hard pressed to see Andre.  This depressed us.  We headed out to the mountain town of Idyllwild, California to celebrate our anniversary, determined not to talk about it.

But in the car I pondered.  Is this how Jay-Z and Beyonce feel when one of them has to go on tour?  It is the nature of our business to be apart, and we knew this when we got married.  One of us needs to be working– subsisting on unemployment and student loans has been stressing us both out.  And I was glad to get the job.  But after the vibrance of California, life on the road seems to be a dismal proposition.

After begrudgingly shelving my pursuit of a career on the Broadway stage and resigning myself to the placid, sunny shores of southern California, I began to feel forced into  mid-life crisis.  What’s a girl to do when her formerly successful actor husband decides to chuck it all in favor of imparting Truth to the next generation of actors?  Start taking lessons in pole dance, that’s what.  Did I have a choice?

I’m an Aquarius, and by birthright I am allowed to start new projects and abandon them.  My past is littered with hobbies I’ve pursued to a more or less intermediate level:  Spanish, crochet, swimming, (sometimes) this blog.  But many things I’m passionate about I’ve stuck with for years:  ballet, book clubs, musical theatre, once again, this blog.  My blog, which I tend to and neglect in equal measure, is sustained in part because of the positive feedback I get from my dear readers.  (Thank you!  Keep it coming!)

So the latest obsession, thanks to a timely Living Social coupon, is pole dance. I’ve been dabbling in it for a month now, and boy, is it fun.  But it’s made me think a lot about the effect of positive feedback can have.  And a lot about aptitude.  And talent.   One of the interesting things about about pursuing any form of exotic dance is it forces each woman to confront her own sexuality.  I’ve watched all sorts of women– college students, fat people, gym rats, OC moms– attempt the slow, sensual form of movement that for most is completely alien.  Clad only in tank tops and booty shorts (the pole is easier to climb without the slippery element of clothing), we follow our teacher, Michelle, a buxom mother of two who denies ever having been a stripper.   Whether she’s telling the truth or not, she turns out to be a fantastic teacher, and since I only took her beginning classes at first, I left each class thinking I was God’s gift to the pole.   It made sense to my ego that pole dancing would come easily to me.  After all, I have spent a good chunk of my life studying yoga and ballet, which are pretty slow and sensual when it gets right down to it.  Since I found my inner stripper so easily, I began to wonder if I hadn’t missed a more lucrative, if not higher, calling.

Then I took Celeste’s class.  Celeste must have been a stripper because she sure couldn’t teach.  She decided within the first 30 minutes of her class that I could invert, by which I mean twirl upside down, which, as you can imagine, is fairly advanced.   Now I have no problem being pushed to my limits, but I’m actually afraid of going upside down.  I struggle with it in yoga too; my body resists it for some reason.  If Celeste had been better able to explain how exactly to invert, that might’ve been helpful.  But I had no tools in this class other than guts, of which I have plenty.  I will throw myself into anything with wild abandon.  If that enthusiasm isn’t coupled with technique, the results can be disastrous.  I came home that night after Celeste’s class with such hideous bruises that my husband didn’t want to be seen with me, for fear of looking like an abusive spouse.

But what was even more unsettling was how terrible I looked in class.  Pole dancing tricks done well are incredible to watch, but done badly, they’re painful both to watch and to do.  I felt like an oaf.  To be more specific, I felt exactly like the overweight middle-aged woman must have felt when she struggled with a simple 360 spin in Michelle’s class before.  I’d respected her then for having the gumption to try something new and risqué, but now I felt that we had a little more in common.  It got worse the next class I attended, which was taught by my precious Michelle, but filled with students so advanced that they made my gorgeous 360 look like a cakewalk.  Literally.

My pride was taking a beating.  I had spent the last couple of years making a living off of my dance ability, at least in part. The Target boy-cut underwear  I wore to class drove home the fact that I am no longer in the first flush of youth.  But worse than anything, I was being shown up by people who weren’t dancers.  “Normal” people, we call them, meaning people who aren’t in the entertainment industry.  (Although come to think of it, “sane” people might be a better term.)  It was unlikely that any of them had ever taken a serious dance class in their lives.  And they may not have understood about pirouettes, lines or extensions, but damn if they weren’t working that pole.  I was jealous.  I was frustrated!  I was struggling.

Allow me a brief, but related, tangent.  Recent controversial studies about parenting suggest that we shouldn’t praise our children for doing the things they’re good at.  Of course little Johnny should be encouraged to practice every day if he has a gift for the piano, but we should really conserve the praise only to heap it on Johnny when he learns how to conquer something he sucks at.  Johnny will go further in life, apparently, if he learns to overcome challenges. He needs to learn how humble himself in order to improve.  If that lesson is learned, he can then apply it to his natural gifts, such as the piano, and knock it out of the park.  So these studies suggest it’s more important to praise improvement now, instead of aptitude.  We will thereby nurture willpower and determination in our children, shaping the character of the next generation.

Now I may not be a mother with children to praise or not praise, but this study rings true nonetheless.  I had always been a smart, precocious child.  I made A’s through school, and I barely studied.  Granted, I paid attention in class.  I loved to read, loved to debate, loved to learn.  But I loved the performing arts more than anything, and that’s where I learned that the struggle was worth the reward.  I certainly didn’t take to ballet any easier than I took to kickball or basketball or anything else physical.  There were and are better singers than me.  But I applied myself and I got better.  This lesson proved worthwhile years later when I was trying to get my career started, and my lifelong dreams came up against the harsh realities of New York City.  But because I was willing to struggle, because I had the discipline and determination, not to mention some top-notch training, I persevered.

So that’s what I thought as I attempted to invert for the millionth time.  Yes, I was struggling with something new, both in and out of the pole-dancing classroom.  Yes, I was out of my element.  Yes, I looked like a graceless mutant.  But I was trying.  So was the overweight woman beside me.  She had perfected her 360.  And she was well on the road to inverting.  I had better hurry to catch up before she left my skinny ass in the dust.

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