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Iphigenia Rising

A Little Bit Iphy

My Shop

Absence of shirt and shoes is acceptable.

But Whatever you do,

Keep the bulls out of my China shop, 

Because I am too tired to piece all of these 

Delicate dishes back together

So that others might eat off them.

They tell me how beautiful, 

How well crafted each cup, 

saucer, and plate is,

But it is also insisted that they live in a cabinet.

They are only to be used for special occasions

Or to be shattered by a bull who gets too close…

By accident of course.

Absence of shirt and shoes is acceptable. 

Goodness knows we might as be comfortable 

Among the shards of glass. 

The Fuck It List

In my One Year of Pole Dance post, I mentioned that pole dancing was a kind of bucket list item for me when I started. Whenever I say this to my older friends, I am met with squinty eyes and assured voices that say, “You’re too young to have a bucket list.” And that’s true. Last night, mid-photo shoot, I figured out what I actually mean and what to call this brand of risk-taking. 

I have a Fuck It List. Fuck is the only word in the English language that means both to ‘make love to’ and ‘to do great damage to’ (thank you Derrick Jensen for this beautiful definition). Items on the Fuck It List are both attractive and repulsive. There is something terrifying about them, but they draw you to them with a mixture of curiosity and beauty. For me, they are things that make me think, “That’s crazy….I want that.” 

Pole dance was an item on my Fuck It List. Nude modeling was yet another and I threw myself into that yesterday. Just like pole, I was Good Nervous beforehand. (I make distinctions between Good and Bad Nerves, due to the fact that regular nervousness and anxious nervousness feel very different in my body and mind. Good Nervous is not a cause for alarm). I was also incredibly excited and, as it was with pole, I fell into the activity naturally. All of it was surprisingly easy. Don’t get me wrong, modeling is exhausting work, but it is too much fun to be difficult. 

So, on the stairs of a parking garage near Seattle Center, posing naked with the Space Needle in the background, as the camera clicked and my arms and shoulders twisted,    I realized that I had checked off yet another item on the Fuck It List. I didn’t know that I needed to do fine are nude modeling (especially in front of the fucking space needle) but I definitely did and thank fucking God I am doing it. 

The thing about Fuck It List items is that they are scary. But then you get into them and they aren’t so scary. They rock. They feed your soul (and if they’re the right kind of thing, feed your wallet too). Fuck It Lists are not about hopes and dreams, they are about doing the thing that you love and are scared shitless of. The thing that you don’t quite know if you can do or not. And the only way to find out is to go for it. 

I am in the process of fully articulating my Fuck It List. It’s not long. One has to be strategic about their risk taking. That being said, I fully encourage everyone to make a Fuck It List. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. 

We get this life once. Be bad ass. Fuck it. 

One Year of Pole Dance

Today marks one year since I started pole dancing. Holy crap.

I started pole dancing on a whim. It was kind of a bucket list thing, even though I’m well aware that I’m too young to have a formal bucket list. Pole was one of those things that I always had been interested in, but wasn’t sure when to try it. So last year I told myself that when I was strong enough to make it through a whole Pure Barre class without dying/stopping, I could sign up for pole. And I did.

I went to my first class alone, which is a fact that baffles most people. I clearly remember busing down to SODO, into the middle of Sketchville, thinking, “This thing better be worth it.” It was. It continues to be. Sketchville isn’t so bad after all…most of the time.

This year has been amazing. When I started I remember only hoping that I would be able to do things that are easy for me now. I’ve accomplished each one of my pole goals, and pretty much have been on time with all of them (as far as my goal setting standards are concerned. And yes, my standards are pretty ridiculous). From inverting to wearing eight inch heels like it’s (mostly) nothing, each thing I find that I can do surprises me and makes me stupid happy. I can barely fathom what is possible within another year or two and I can’t wait to see what more time, dedication, and work results in.

Also, starting pole on a whim has made it that much easier for me to try whatever the hell I want in other aspects of my life too. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? This attitude is lovely and freeing, but perhaps a little dangerous. Point is, whatever you’re curious about: DO IT. Stop spending tons of time thinking about, “What if…” and just go. The worst that can happen is that you find out it’s not for you.

If you are interested in pole dance, please, please come join us. I promise you won’t regret the crazy good things this art form can do for your life or the bruises you’ll get in the process. Pole life is really good.

Now. I’m gonna drink wine and have a tiny celebration.*

Bottoms up.

Iphy

*Do not be a dumb ass and pole drunk. Nothing good will ever come of that.

5 Big Things Since Quitting My Job

Time sure flies when you turn your life upside down. Here’s a list of everything that I’ve accomplished since I decided to make a hard u-turn six weeks ago and change my whole life:

  1. I’ve started my own business. This is at the top of the list because I never thought that I would actually do this, or that I would do it this soon. Surprise! Starting my own business was really, really easy. So many of the skills I needed to set up shop and take care of the legalese, tax, and banking tasks were things that I had learned from working in administration. The biggest difference was that this time I wasn’t doing it for my employer and I wasn’t running in circles trying to get all the information I needed for applications. I had all the information because I was doing it for myself. Buck stops here. Fantastic. Now that all of that is taken care of, I get to do the fun part: building a clientele base and networking like crazy. (Insert shameless self-promotion here:) If you’re writing something and you need killer feedback on it, which you definitely do, you should comment below and chat with me to book something with me so we can make sure you’re saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, a play, a fan-fiction, or something weird that I haven’t even thought I would ever help to research or edit, bring it to me. I want it. Gimme shit to read, people. In return you’ll get professional feedback or research that will blow your mind. I promise.
  2. I’m making art like crazy. By the end of next month I will have danced in three different shows. I have choreographed my own shit for all of them. I have started stage managing again. Again, by the end of June, I will have been in performances for five weeks straight. Doesn’t matter if I’m covered in glitter or wearing blacks. A year ago I would have said you were full of shit if you told me I would be doing this many shows all at once. It’s great. I’m also writing like crazy (if you couldn’t tell) and my plays are actually getting the attention they deserve. That is definitely a miracle.
  3. I’m part of a community again. This is huge. Working a nine-to-five job that was not arts-centric really divorced me from the community that I really care about. I’m amazed, honored, and truly grateful that it’s been so easy to jump back in. The Seattle arts community has its issues, as every community does, but damn, y’all sure are happy to let a girl come back after a few years of her being distant as hell. I’m over the moon to be working hard for lovely people again. It’s also wonderful to know that people have my back and are willing to help me and be creative on my behalf. Whether that’s problem solving or collaboration or helping me get a gig to put food on the table, it’s all there and it rocks.
  4. Dealing with my shit. I’m gonna say it again: I suck at down time. The biggest reason that I suck at having free time is that when I have nothing to do, I can’t avoid dealing with my anxiety and having all of this free time has forced me to grapple with things that I would normally avoid while running around like a chicken with my head cut off. There’s been no avoiding it. Grapple, I must. It has been scary because I’ve had long periods of down time before that did not go well, but this time around is actually headed in a positive direction. I’m more solution focused this time and while I’m not 100% successful 100% of the time, I am addressing core issues as opposed to just putting band-aids all over the place. It’s nice. Without getting into gorey details, here are some thoughts: Therapy rocks. Be honest about your feelings. Cry. Do some yoga and do it regularly. Eat protein. Cry again. Boundaries are your best friends. Don’t put your energy into things/people/places that don’t give you energy back.
  5. I’m learning a lot. There have been some big questions that have come out of this whole experience. Some of them are quite practical like, “What do I do next?” “How do I make money now?” And others are more abstract and have more of a long view. The biggest one of these is, “What does success mean for me? What does it look like?” What I’m discovering is that my definition of success does not look a whole lot like what many people would categorize as success. I’m done with administration as a full time career. I can’t rot in an office for my whole life. Unfortunately, lots of people think that cushy office jobs are what success looks like. I am not those people. I value different things. I value variety, spontaneity, and work that, while challenging, doesn’t feel like work because it’s too damn interesting/fun/insane to feel like it. It’s a different way of earning money. It’s inconsistent and takes some different thinking and strategizing, but you know what? I’m happier. I’m way less stressed. And I’m definitely not bored.

I’m sure there’s more than these five things. I know there’s more, but a lot of it probably won’t really make sense for a while. Stuff is still up in the air. I’m not quite settled into a new life pattern yet, but I’m getting close and it’s fantastic. As always, thanks for joining me for the ride.

Iphy

Christmas in Vegas

The first Christmas that my sister and I lived in Vegas was nothing like I expected it would be. When I first moved out there, I had visions of perfect peace– closure with my mom’s death, happiness to finally be getting to know my father–but that was all grossly ambitious. My father doesn’t celebrate holidays. I should have known better.

Dad decided that he needed to work on Christmas, so at 10am he drove my sister and me to the Fashion Show mall on the strip, handed us each two hundred dollars, and said, “Have fun!” As he drove away from us in the parking garage.

For those of you who haven’t been to Vegas, the Fashion Show mall is huge. It spans basically a whole city block (Whatever you’re thinking of as a city block, expand that by three times and then you’ll have a Vegas City Block), and has almost every store you can think of.

We were happy enough to go shopping. I mean, getting to pick out our own presents meant that we would only get stuff that we really wanted. In later years, when I was living with guardian families, I constantly got presents that I had no use for. One such relic that still lives in my closet is this hideous magenta rain coat that a guardian’s family thought would be great for me. I don’t know why they thought red hair and pink coat would be a good combo, but they did. I haven’t replaced it because I’m cheap as hell. So in my closet it stays.

The problem with this first Christmas was that we were left at the mall for my dad’s entire work day. Eight hours with no escape. After about the first three hours of shopping, we got cranky. And bored. And bought shit just to buy shit. It was weird. I remember us having to drag each other to the food court (located all the way on one side of the mall) for sustenance. As we sat and ate we really didn’t know what else to do. We bought everything we wanted, but it didn’t really feel rewarding? Like Christmas? Where was the wrapping paper? The cheesy cards?

I think even then, as teenagers, we knew that the stuff and the money spent on the stuff wasn’t the point. Thank goodness I had my sister with me. The only thing worse than being dropped off on the strip together would have been getting dropped off there alone.

Mother’s Day

Eleven. This is my eleventh Mother’s Day without my mom. Usually, I boycott every form of social media during this weekend because I don’t like to see all the memes, all the posts on walls, all the reminders to be good sons and daughters. Those of us without parents don’t exist in this cute little holiday world. But this year I am making an effort to do something different.

Losing my mother at age fifteen taught me a lot of things. Most of these things we don’t talk about a lot and the English language doesn’t allow for much conversation around these topics. (The principle response to “My mother passed away,” is “I’m sorry,” to which I always want to say, “Me too?” “I’m sorry,” is the best we’ve got for death, which is unfortunate.) Chief among all the things I learned is this: You get people once. Yes, you get to know people for a certain duration of time, whether that’s five minutes or fifty years, but even the people who stick with you for a lifetime are only there for that one lifetime. Fifty, sixty, seventy years is a blink of an eye in our vast universe. Fifteen years is fucking short. You get people once.

Despite having my mother with me for the first fifteen years of my life, I feel like I had one moment with her. One chance to learn how her smile lifted the wrinkles around her eyes, how the veins ran across her thin hands, what her voice sounded like, and what her favorite foods were. How much more could I learn with one more chance?

So my advice to all of you on Mother’s Day is not to do something extra-special, you don’t have to worship people, you don’t have to feel obligated to do something commercial because of a clearly commercialized holiday, but on this and every other day you get be present with your moms. Be present with everyone who you love every chance you get. Take them in like you will never get another chance to learn how their laugh sounds. How they part their hair. Where they pause in their sentences. What they are afraid of. Just be present to all of it because one day your time to learn about and be present with that human being will be up.

Now, this isn’t a guilt trip. If you don’t talk to your mother or father for the sake of your own sanity, don’t do it. Don’t give yourself to people who don’t fill you up. There’s no reason to stay present to a situation where the bullshit out-ways the benefit.

There’s also no reason that this shouldn’t apply to the families we’ve chosen for ourselves. My mother was my introduction to strong, bad-ass mothers. I have met many more since she passed and I am grateful for every one of them. Goddesses in blue jeans. Women with shit to do and people to care for. I will be doing my best to be present to them this weekend because God knows they deserve it.

Be there for your people. Soak up everything that you can. Enjoy each other. This universe is huge and I think that when we get someone good handed to us–by blood or by circumstance–we best pay attention to that person.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Much Love,

Iphy

Dog Story

This story is my sister’s. It happened after I moved out of my dad’s house.

My stepmother had these three dogs. Indica, Sativa, and Manchita. (Yes, you read that correctly.) My dad didn’t like the dogs, so they weren’t allowed inside the house. They had an air conditioned (I think) shed in the backyard and they generally seemed unhappy. They desperately wanted attention and were covered in flies. All of them knew how to swim in the pool because it was the main way they were able to cool off in the Vegas heat. 

One day my dad and my sister found Sativa drowned in the pool. “She knew how to swim,” my sister told me. “I think she chose not to.” After years of 120 degree weather, flies, and not enough love, I think I would have chose not to swim too. 

So they found her there. My dad fished her out and then he had my sister help carry the body to the car. Dad told my sister to get in the car.  They went out into the desert and he buried the dog while my sister sat shot gun and waited. It took him two long hours. I’m sure the drive back was filled with excruciating silence, my father’s smooth driving ability unable to make up for the shock of the situation. No matter how far you drive in the desert you feel like you haven’t moved at all. 

I’m not sure what happened to the other two dogs. 

Iphy Had a Little Lamb

When I lived with my father in Vegas, I spent most days that I wasn’t at school or at the dance studio in his machine shop. My stepmother hated having my sister or me home, so we’d get up early and go to the shop with dad. We were bored out of our minds most of the time, nothing  to do but read or go outside to take a phone call away from the noise of machinery.

My father always liked numbers more than people. Numbers always make sense, there’s a fixed set of rules, laws of mathematics. People have no rules and can be quite cruel. Dad came to America in the sixties to flee Castro and spoke not a word of English. A small, red headed boy who only spoke Spanish in Brooklyn was bound to experience cruelty. Mechanical engineering was a fitting career choice for him.

So we’d all sit about the shop, dad working with lathes and die cutting tools, my sister and I reading, texting, or staring at goddamn walls. I think we were all usually urging  time to go by as fast as possible to get to the next landmark of our day: lunch.

Every so often, dad’s best friend would join us for lunch. Rob was a weird guy, but then again, my father was only ever friends with the oddest characters. Rob was a skinny white dude of average height. He was a ginger like us and was pale as ever. He always wore plain t-shirts and jeans. I found out much later that both my sister and I suspected he was addicted to some kind of drugs. He always seemed like a tweaker. I’m not sure if dad knew about anything we didn’t, or whether he just ignored the circumstance, but either way, we would pick this guy up for lunch on a regular basis.

We’d drive around deep in the heart of downtown Vegas, on the east side of the strip, and somehow or another we would happen upon the building that Rob called home. It still looked like a sketchy motel. It still may have been. There was no signage. Rob would hop into dad’s Lexus SUV and we’d all talk…sort of. Dad and Rob studied martial arts together. Rob would always talk about whether he was going to move back to Virginia or not. He’d laugh awkwardly and try to ask my sister and me questions about our lives. There was lots of silence that was only ended by our pulling into the parking lot of the Indian buffet.

By this time, I was usually starving and ready to cut any form of small talk by shoving lots of Indian food in my face. Each of us would stand in line, picking out what we want from Ghandi’s Buffet and then take our spoils back to a dimly lit booth. I would always avoid dishes with lamb in them because I don’t like eating baby animal. Rob would tease me and sing, “Iphy had a little lamb.” While we ate. I would grimace at my chicken and rice. No, I do not have a little lamb. I don’t want one at all. My appetite would fade, but I’d eat anyway.

Lunch got slightly less awkward after Rob finally did move back to Virginia some six or eight months later. Then we only had to contend with dad teaching us algebra during lunch. He’d grab a napkin and a pen and start in on advanced equations of any variety. I guess that counts as an improvement to being serenaded by my dad’s best friend about lamb.

Funemployment: Week 3

Week three can go die in a trash fire as far as I’m concerned.

On Thursday of last week, I was chillin’ with Drew (HI DREW!) and I said something like, “You know dude, I’m really surprised that I haven’t gotten sick yet. With all the stress I was under and now that it’s gone, I’d fully expect my body to just have at it.” I should not have tempted fate in such a way. The very next morning I woke up, barely able to talk and by Sunday night I didn’t have a voice at all. For the past five days I’ve been hacking my lungs out at all hours of the day and night, which is oh so helpful regarding the insomnia situation. On top of all of that, being sick has decreased my appetite yet again. One step forward, two steps back.

Job applications are continuing as they can during this period of snotty peril and I definitely want to find something sooner rather than later. Remember how last week I talked about being the worst person to take on vacation? My cabin fever is now in full swing and if it weren’t for the show that I’m stage managing and for pole, I’d be going bonkers right about now.

Stage management has been one small glimmer of awesome on this backdrop of mucus and muscle aches. First, I love the play. Maiden Voyage is a beautiful story and it does something that I love more than anything else in the world: It fucks with Greek Tragedy hardcore. Basically, in this version of Penelope and Odysseus’ story, Penelope writes stories (the Odyssey) to keep her suitors away instead of weaving cloth, and when Odysseus finally returns, everything unravels. It’s dark and gorgeous, and if you’re in Seattle, you should come see this thing. (Psst…It opens May 26th at West of Lenin). On top of being part of putting up a great play, it’s been so nice to be a stage mom and to be able to accomplish all of my tasks. I love logistics and I love making things work for other people. It’s part of why I went into administration and operations in the first place. But there is a noticeable difference between managing five actors and a small production team who all have really clear, concrete needs and managing an office where I have no power to make executive decisions, but am still expected to have an answer to questions that apparently no one has thought up an answer to yet. I will take the former any day of the week. It’s good to put my skills to use in a sane way.

In between stage mom-ing, looking for jobs, and coughing, I’m also trying to get my pole routine finished for next week’s showcase… Poling while sick, not eating, and not sleeping is challenging. I need to get all of these things patched up for many reasons, but the one that I feel most compelled to do it for is for pole. I hate not having enough energy to do what I love. It makes me sad and pisses me off. So, week four of these funemployment shenanigans will be all about resetting all of my shit, getting healthy, and getting back into good habits. Wish me luck, and you know, maybe come see Iphy get on a pole next Saturday, if you want to. That would be cool.

Thanks, as always.

Iphy

 

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