From the window to the wall

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Image courtesy of Vladimir Pustovit. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The last few weeks have seen a pleasant, if repetitive, cycle of doing an unprecedented number of enjoyable, similar activities. Last week: team trivia on Tuesday, improv class on Wednesday, improv show on Thursday, improv volunteering on Friday, and a birthday party (for a friend I met through improv, because where else do I meet humans) on Saturday. I spend enough time at the bar attached to the theater that the waitress knows my name. I have, somewhat unexpectedly, become a Senior Volunteer Who Knows Things when a real employee is not around. It is very enjoyable.

It is also, for the most part, very boring to write about: I either am busy learning how to make things up for audiences, watching others make things up for audiences, or taking out the beer-filled trashcans of audiences who have recently watched someone make things up.

That said, this week’s birthday party was a completely delightful quasi-break from the routine. A friend turned 30, and her boyfriend rented out a local bar—a Cheers-style bar, a bar that emphatically Doesn’t Host Dancing—for an all-night dance extravaganza. No one was trying to look cool, at all, and so it was a glorious mash of drunk adult former theater kids ironic-dancing to early-90s Britney Spears with complete abandon.

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In With the New

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Image courtesy of Horia Varlan. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Next weekend, I begin round two of improv classes. I will no doubt continue my fine tradition of walking the thin line of complete mortification at my own failures while also being secretly quite pleased when things work out (improv, my personal life, whatever). I am very much looking forward to it.

The first time I took improv classes, my main takeaway was that even if I sucked–and I was very, very sure that I did–it was okay. I could fail and it would be fine. I could fail badly and it would be fine. Nothing would eat me. And as completely cheeseball as it is, that has stuck with me in the months since.

Since I first took classes, I’ve continued with my volunteering at that improv theatre (I’ve quit writing about it because “this weekend I sold people tickets, drank beer, and hauled trash” is only compelling fodder for so many entries). Most nights that I’m there, I sell tickets to folks. When I started that volunteer position, I was actively, painfully terrible at it. I blushed and stuttered and couldn’t tear the ticket stock right. I was very sweaty. It was mortifying. Continue reading

Halloween is Upon Us

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Image courtesy of CleverGrrl. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

Little Five Points is Atlanta’s Haight-Ashbury equivalent–it’s the neighborhood where you can, as a teenager, wander unsupervised to buy we-swear-it’s-just-for-tobacco pipes and crystals for magick before making a stop in the natural food co-op and heading out for pizza. As an adult, it’s a place where you can go access several of the city’s theatres and performance spaces, and get drunk (while sadly ignoring the pizza in favor of the natural food co-op). Halloween is, of course, the neighborhood’s favorite time of year.

That’s why there’s a Little Five Halloween parade each year, where the neighborhood’s art organizations, theatrical troupes, and general weirdos gather together to march a mile down the road with floats ranging from hastily-assembled to elaborately-planned (credit goes to this year’s Godzilla entrants, whose paper-mache beast was 30 feet tall). As part of my volunteering with the improv theatre, I found myself marching in the parade this year. Continue reading

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

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Saturday night, I attended the closing party for the 280 Elizabeth Street location of Dad’s Garage, the theater where I’ve been taking improv classes. On the one hand, it was bittersweet–I have been going to this theater since I was 12, and it is weird to see your hometown change. On the other hand, the party was insane.

Before we even wandered into the party, my friend and I had our first encounter of the evening: as faithful readers may recall, a few weeks ago I hit on a will call volunteer via Twitter at this very theater. Because my life is fun, he was in fact working will call for this event. Awkward banter was exchanged, we were set up with wrist bands, and my friend and I wandered inside. (The boring conclusion to the Twitter bro story is that he seemed to have a lady friend at the party, so, uh, whoops.)

A kindly volunteer, seeing my friend and I wandering around after we had come in, oriented us to what was happening: the main stage had turned into a four-table flip cup tournament moderated by Lucky Yates (who had a bullhorn because reasons), the part of the theater that had previously been offices had been transformed into a sweet black lit dance floor, and the back corner of things had been turned into something with a sign proclaiming it “The Bone Zone.”

“It was Lucky’s idea,” she said. “Don’t go in there. You’ll get pregnant.”

With that somewhat ominous warning (which we did heed), we headed off to wander. For the first hour, that was most of what we did–we’d wander into the dance floor, see that it was still empty, and wander back to watch flip cup or read some of the wall graffiti that was being added to the building. (Since the place is being destroyed soon, vandalism was encouraged so long as it didn’t involve punching through walls, because no one likes an electrical fire.)

Between the dance floor of people looking slightly uncomfortable, the flip cup tournament up front, and the dedicated portion of the theater for semi-public theater sex havers (or people doing cocaine, I have no idea), the whole event basically served as a reminder that frat parties pretty much never totally leave you. Unlike a frat party, however, the beer was good and the floor wasn’t even really that sticky. Continue reading

On Shaving My Head

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Image courtesy of Vanessa_Hutd. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

On Saturday, I paid a very nice woman a sum of money to shave off most of the hair on the sides and back of my head, using a variety of clipper guards for reasons that she explained to me and that I did not understand. Afterwards, she gleefully Instagrammed my head, which was charming.

This was a little bit of a personal dare. I am afraid of so (so!) many things in my life–chief among them looking foolish. I have been trying to be better at confronting this by going out and doing those things. Mostly it’s worked out well (or at least not awfully–my improv teacher told me last week that he thinks my face always looks like I hate him, so).

I have a massive, dorky, middle-school-sized fear of trying to do something fun, or cool, or interesting, and being called out on it when I fail. This is tied up with a summer that’s been spent feeling boring and unattractive, for reasons which are unexciting to anyone but me but which involve OKCupid being a Kafkaesque hell-scape.

This haircut managed to combine both of those fears: there is a part of me which still thinks someone is going to see it and realize that I’m not an art school girl who weighs 90 pounds while sitting and smoking cloves in some sort of Instagrammed photoshoot that will wind up on my very popular tumblog. (You guys, I use WordPress. I am so square.)

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A Very Special Tweet

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Image courtesy of TopGold. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. 

My experiences at the local improv theater continue to be a delightful combination of fun and profoundly mortifying

It all started on Thursday. I had decided to go–as I have been doing for the last few weeks–to see a show there on Thursday night after work. Due to the weather and some miscommunication, the friends I had invited were unable to come, which was fine. I am comfortable attending things (concerts, Paris) on my own.

I filed in early, grabbed a middle seat in a middle row, and waited for my fellow improv enthusiasts to file in. And they did–in front of me, behind me, but none next to me. I wound up sitting in my row completely unaccompanied, surrounded by an otherwise-packed theater. 

Determined not to be bothered by this, however, I tweeted a joke involving the hashtag #improvleper. Tickled with myself (hashtag joking with the youths!) I followed this up with a tweet noting that at least that night’s will-call guy was cute–a pleasant fact of an otherwise kind of embarrassing evening. (And he was!)

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Nonfatal Embarrassment

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Image courtesy of Stew Dean. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Recently, I’ve been taking an improv class. When I tell people about this, it sometimes seems to strike them as slightly adventurous, which makes me laugh. I am anxious about many, many things in the world, but never has being on stage been one of them. Heights, my own failure, smalltalk? Yes. Stage? No.

So, when I graduated, I decided that I needed a hobby that wasn’t drinking beer or crying on cars (an actual search term that led someone to this blog today–hello, whoever you are!), I settled on two things that I already knew I liked: class, and theater. The fact that I am not a particularly good actor (and am by far a worse improvisor) was immaterial. I dropped a chunk of my paycheck, and got myself a slot at Dad’s Garage for the next eight weeks.

Three classes in, I can say that I’m pleased with my decision. I’m firmly in the bottom quartile of the class in terms of skill, but I’m trying to build adult skills like not wanting to vomit on my shoes in embarrassment every time I do something asinine. Improv class is great for building your realization that–to paraphrase Merlin Mann–if you screw up, it’s okay, because no one’s going to eat you.

I was telling all of this to two of my friends on Friday night in the middle of drinking a mid-range hefeweizen, when I looked up from my seat and nearly spat out my beer. Standing next to my booth was my improv teacher. This shouldn’t have come as a shock, given that we were maybe two miles from the theater where I am taking the class, but it was still unexpected.

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One Week Out

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In the Venn Diagram of things that are both terrifying and true, the fact that I just meandered through my first post-graduate week is pretty firmly in the middle of the circle. And it wasn’t even like I had a boring, quiet week to help ease the transition–I managed to attend the (lovely, tasteful) wedding of a (lovely, tasteful) friend, pack the vast majority of my belongings, and haul my life across town.

So that’s been fun.

But in between assembling furniture and crowding six to a hotel room in south Georgia, a weird thing has happened. I’ve begun to gather glimpses of my looming adult life. The end of moving is in sight, and that means that soon enough I will have substantial free time in the mornings. I could take up running! Or sit in my local coffee shop and flirt with baristas before work! My tiny studio, which seems Parisian if you click your heels together three times and just believe, is within walking distance of Atlanta’s largest park, most famous art museum, and (to my knowledge) only botanical garden.

Y’all, I signed up for an improv class. On weekends. To expand my social circle. Truly, this is a brave new world. Continue reading