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Iphigenia Rising

A Little Bit 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

 

Funemployment: Week Two

Heyyy.

It’s been another week and this one has been drastically different from week one, which I am grateful for. I was really done with all of the crying. This week has been insanely productive. I have this problem where I suck at having down time. You can’t take me on vacation because I can’t just sit and relax in the sun, I have to be doing something, even if it’s something small, or I’ll start getting all cabin-fever-y.

Last week, that cabin fever stayed away until about Friday and then I was done with relaxing and crying and not thinking about work. My poor Capricorn brain was starved of tasks and started to rebel. So job applications started to be a thing and I find myself trapped in the absolutely satanic hell hole that is Writing Cover Letters. Cover letters are some of the worst things that we have to write, in my opinion, and while I see the point, I also know that for the most part, people read them the same way they watch an audition: they know within three seconds whether they’re gonna call you back or not.

Luckily, I’ve written hundreds of them, so it’s a process that I could follow in my sleep if it weren’t for the having-to-sell-myself part (this self-promotion aspect is what I think I would suck at the most if I ever did take up stripping. Hustling can be a learned skill, but it also seems exhausting and I’ve heard from multiple people that it is). Self-promotion struggles aside, I’m getting shit sent off and now we play the lovely waiting game. Progress will always be made at the speed of Human Resources.

The speed of gigs is much faster than that of HR though, so there’s been some significant progress in that realm of my life. I’m doing two pole performances in the next two months, plus debut burlesque stuff, AND I was offered a paid stage management gig yesterday, which I have accepted. I almost forgot that before there was Office Mom Lexi there was Stage Mom Lexi. I cannot wait to be a Stage Mom again. I’m a little rusty since I haven’t stage managed anything since 2012, but it. Will. Be. So. Good.

Other than all of that busy shit, my personal recovery has shifted from gaining my appetite back to trying to fix my sleep. My insomnia has decided to show up again and that’s just peachy (JK). Like great, the last thing I needed as my life fills up again is to not be able to sleep. Thanks body, for being a weirdo. Hopefully, this not sleeping thing will be over soon. Like, I don’t know, when I have to wake up to do things at a Real Person time of day.

I think all of this equates to progress in some direction or another. I’m confident about all of it and I’m happy to be filling my time with cool people and art until other things show up.

Thanks for keeping tabs on my Funemployment Adventures. It’s appreciated.

Iphy

 

Iphigenia: Achilles

The great warrior Achilles

Would have me fora bride

Just before the wrath of our great families

I know this is a lie.

Golden God boy, shining with the sun

It doesn’t make sense

That I’m the one you picked.

What kind of trick is this?

Perfect man, go sharpen your knife.

I have no greater desire

Than to be your wife.

Smooth steel piercing flesh and bone

Thank the gods for this bit:

You won’t hear me moan.

Please admit this won’t be graceful

There is nothing more impure

Virgin blood will spill

And you’ll have settled your own score

You can try, sweet man, to save me

From this cursed world of men

But as a bright young woman I can tell you

It will happen time and time again

Get your dagger ready

I promise I’ll close my eyes

Or if they remain open

I’ll be looking at the skies

Just know one thing for certain

Right before we start

Of all these terrible people

You’re the one who has my heart.

Funemployment: Week 1

I told you guys I’d keep you updated, so I’m fulfilling that promise with this weekly update thing until I have a new gig. (Dear God, please let this be a short lived series).  Anyway. Week one kinda felt like when you go on one of those cleanse diets like the Whole 30 and you did it for your health and you’re super stoked for positive change, but first your body has to go through this disgusting detox period. It’s been like that. I know that not everyone does health-crazed eating things, but I do, because I’m a masochist and I like pain and brussel sprouts.

This time, instead of having to eat kale when I want chocolate, I had to put up with a psychological detox. Oh, joy. It’s hard to admit that you’re not into a thing that the rest of society thinks is an awesome idea. It’s rough to be like, “Yea, I could have a 401K later, but I’d rather have my sanity now.” And to say any sort of stuff like this and not feel like an idiot takes a boat load of confidence. #fakeittilyoumakeit

I think I am half way successful at that sort of stuff, and there definitely has not been a day where I have regretted my choice. I am loads happier right now and my cravings for people pleasing are dwindling down to nothing. But this detox process is still hard and so much of it isn’t even about still wanting to continue previous behaviors, but has to do with that build up of gunk in your system. Only psychological gunk is a hell of a lot sadder to look at than physical gunk.  My deepest apologies for that image.

This week has contained a lot of crying. Like Alice in Wonderland-drowning-everything-fucking-crying. I’ve been crying at nothing. I’ve been crying at tiny little things. I’ve been crying because I touched a pole. I’ve been crying because my teacher made me do splits. I cried at rehearsal last Friday (I’m a real performer again, yay!!!!!!). And to make things worse, I’ve been beating myself up about all the crying, but really, it’s just gunk that needs to get out of my system so that I can move the fuck on. And you know what? As this week has progressed, I have become okay with the crying. I am now of the opinion that everyone should cry more. It will make you a nicer, more humble person, I promise.

When I have not been crying, I’ve been regaining my appetite. Yes, diet started out as my framing device for this piece and now it’s in here for real too. As I mentioned in my post about quitting, I essentially stopped eating because I was so stressed out. Now I have the lovely task of reintroducing my body to eating the amount that it should be. Since I’m an athlete, I typically eat a lot of food. Like six meals a day. So food. Much eat. When I quit, I was barely eating a meal and a half a day, while still trying to pole dance. HA HA HA. I am slowly but surely making my way back to my normal, food-vacuum-like self.

But it’s hard. My body doesn’t want to eat at normal times. Solid food sounds terrible sometimes, and other times only veggies sound good. Or I’m getting a craving for like One Thing and that’s all I eat for 24 hours. Liquids are happening though. (Liquids= Water+Coffee+Liquor). Baby steps. I’ll get there.

Other than those two mainstays– Crying and Food– I have treated this first week like a mini-vacation where I get to do all the art that I’ve been meaning to. I wrote a ton. I danced quite a bit, and I spent a bunch of time in coffee shops with artists who I have missed. All that being said, I do check all of the standard job sites daily. I think I still need some more time to decompress and really figure out which rabbit hole I want to fall down next. I’d rather not rush the White Rabbit. He’ll find me when he’s supposed to.

So, yea. Week one has been an odd cocktail of tears, joy, and productivity. The detox stage and closing a chapter on any part of life is rough. Getting rid of shit you don’t need to be carrying anymore is taxing and takes a lot of conscious effort, but you feel loads better after it’s done. Week two will most certainly contain more of the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I think after this kind of detox, my next Whole 30 is gonna be a breeze.

A Tale of Two Catcalls

Here are the two most memorable catcalls that I received while living in Vegas:

  1. Let’s start with the funny one. I was in the process of busing to the ballroom studio and was making my transfer from my southbound bus to my westbound one. It was a hot summer afternoon and I was daydreaming my way through my commute. I was crossing the street at Rainbow and Flamingo, completely lost in my own world. There was a guy crossing the street in the opposite direction and just as he was passing me, I realized that he had been trying to talk to me as we crossed paths. He realized that I wasn’t listening at the same moment that I did and he turned around and called after me, “Hey yo, Strawberry Shortcake!!!!” I stopped in the middle of the intersection in disbelief and laughed my way to my next bus stop.
  2. The creepiest encounter that I’ve ever had on public transit has to be this one. I was riding the Decatur bus. Background: The Decatur bus was one of the sketchiest. I never, ever took it unless I really needed to and even then I was glad to have pepper spray on me. Unfortunately, in order to graduate high school I had to take this really dumb online health class, but I had to go into a testing center three times throughout the course to take exams. And that testing center was on Decatur…hooray…. On the way back home from one of these testing days, I was sitting on the bus, not doing anything fancy. I had a giant hoodie on, sweatpants, not a trace of make up, and my high school health textbook visibly sitting on my lap. (I know none of this matters, because it doesn’t matter what I was wearing, I shouldn’t be harassed at all, but I think knowing how plain I looked makes this guy look extra stupid). I’m looking out the window, when out of my peripheral vision, I see a guy walk up to where I’m sitting and he says something. Again, I’m in my own world which means I don’t hear shit until I realize that what he said was, “Do you like my tattoo?” I look up at his face and he’s drawing his tongue up under his upper lip, licking across his top front teeth. On his upper lip, where a mustache would be, he has the word PUSSY tattooed in big Gothic print. After a moment of shock, all I could say was, “No.” He left me alone on the bus, but proceeded to transfer to my next bus with me and at that point I was terrified as shit. When he got off at the same stop where I did, close to my house, I ducked into a Starbucks and waited for someone to come pick me up. The next week, my now-ex-fiance bought me my first Swiss Army knife. Not sure how great of a solution that was in retrospect.

 

A Perfume Kiosk in Caesar’s Palace

My second job in Vegas was at a perfume kiosk in Caesar’s Palace. My first job had been at Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery, and my stint there only lasted for a month. I was sixteen and the only thing I remember clearly about the bagel joint was that, one day I was leaning on the counter, propping myself up on my elbows, with my hip popped and my manager turned around and said, “Lexi, please don’t stand like that.” The perfume kiosk was far more interesting than bagels and they didn’t care how I stood.

The kiosk was by far the sketchiest place that I have ever worked. It was a part of a little franchise owned by a pretty blonde woman who seemed to disappear after she hired me, and her Hungarian husband, who managed the Caesar’s Palace location. The job was commission only and there were three stores (read: two kiosks and one actual shop front)– Caesar’s Palace, Circus Circus, and Flamingo. Flamingo had the store front and that is where I finally made my first sale. God, I will never forget standing in high heels on marbel flooring for that long.

But anyway, Caesar’s was where I normally worked. The kiosk was located on the third floor of the Caesar’s palace shopping mall, right out side of Anthropologie and twenty feet away from the escalator that led to the third floor. The woman who worked the kiosk would position themselves between our little perfume island and the escalator and take turns reciting the same line to whoever would make eye contact: “Would you like to try some perfume?”

It should be noted that I was the only person without a Hungarian accent who worked at the stand, so by the end of my shifts, I would go home speaking as though I had one.

I remember my first day at Caesar’s really well. The shift was long and it was a Friday. I was to work from 4pm to 12am, and then Hungarian Dude Boss would drive me home. (Yes, you read that correctly. I always got rides from Hungarian Dude if I got off work late. It was either that or take the Flamingo Road bus at midnight and that was a far worse idea than some weird dude’s Lexus). I think I may have sold one set of perfume on that shift, meaning my dinner from the Planet Hollywood restaurant on the first floor cost me more than I made that day. I took my pasta bolognese dinner break on one of the stone Roman-esque benches and watched tourists go by in packs.

The women I worked with were quick to teach me the rules of working at the kiosk. If you ask a person to try the perfume and they refuse, that’s your turn. Everyone else has to ask someone before your turn comes around again. You have to take turns in the order that you are standing and you can’t change the order. You can sit down near the kiosk basically whenever you want, but you can’t ask people to try anything if you are sitting. It never seemed like any of us really made any money. We all sat a lot.

After a bout six weeks of this, I quit, without another job lined up, which made my dad pretty cranky. My stepmother really wanted me to be working. But the week after I quit I got offered a receptionist gig at the ballroom studio I trained at. My dad wasn’t paying my tuition, so the owner said I could work off my balance. That sounded great compared to an endless round of, “Would you like to try some perfume?”

 

 

I Quit.

My New Years resolution for this year was to blow up my life, not literally or violently, but just to get rid of all the stuff that wasn’t working for me…which turned out to be a lot of it. In December, I realized that I had built a very quaint, totally safe, super stereotypical life, complete with 401K and subscriptions to organic food boxes delivered to my front door. And guess what? I hated it.

I hated so much of what I had built. None of it brought me joy, sure it brought me money, which came close, but even five months ago my soul was shouting from the depths of the cute Queen Anne apartment I had buried it in (while munching on an organic carrot). About two years ago, I decided to give up being an artist. It didn’t make money, no one knew what dramaturgy was or liked dramaturgs, so fuck it. Work administration. Get paid to keep other people’s shit in order. Get really fucking good at keeping other people’s shit in order. Make more money. Rinse, repeat.

This plan for killing my artist-self might have worked if every fiber of me wasn’t so stubborn. While administration paid, it was boring as shit. One of the lessons that I’ve learned after nearly three years of it is that I can be incredibly busy and still bored out of my skull. So, I did what all my coworkers did, I got a hobby. Only my hobby of choice was pole dancing, which acted like a gateway drug for my sober-artist-soul. After six months I realized what I had done to try to cut out a whole part- who the fuck am I kidding?- my entire being and I decided that I needed to find a way to change. I needed to blow up my life.

I can remember the moment that this realization came over me. I was at work, sitting at my desk, trying to find something else to do. At some point I just gave up and looked up for a moment, over at one of my coworker’s offices. It was one of those rare days where she wasn’t working from home and her door had been shut since I arrived at 9am. She still hadn’t emerged, but to microwave her lunch, and it was now 2:30pm. I could see through the window that she was hunched over her laptop, earbuds in, on a web conference- probably the fifth or sixth one of the day.

This woman is amazing. She’s a brilliant communicator, one of the best managers I have ever had, and just the sweetest, most hard working person ever. She had spent 16 years at the Society and was one of the top dogs now,  Vice President of blah, blah Making Awesome Resources Available for People with MS. She was-she still is- the definition of success at that organization and she spends her days trapped in a small box on a screen, literally chained to her computer, unable to interact with the very real people around her. In that moment, all I could think was, “If that is the top, I don’t want to get there. I can’t do that.”

So I resolved myself to find a way out. I knew I had to give up my Queen Anne studio to have more discretionary income anyway, so I moved in with a roommate on cap hill (HI DREW!). I surrounded myself with artists again and I started signing up to perform in whatever I could. I started spending ever second I could at the studio. Slowly, Real Lexi was coming back to life.

In the midst of this reawakening, I was also trying to keep up the persona I had built for my work life. This was unbelievably challenging. I know everyone has a “work-self,” and that not every aspect of your humanity is captured in that little slice that you show people for 8 hours a day in order to bring home money, that’s fine. But this, this was like flat out lying.

I was the only queer person in the whole office (hooray for bi, super demisexual exhibitionists!)

I was the only single person. #singlesawareness #partyofone

Most of my coworkers had kids, wanted them, and all of them loved them. (Due to my trauma, children are a significant trigger for me and if I am not prepared to be around them, I do quite poorly).

In a sea of white women who have husbands and children, who all go snowshoeing together for funzies, I was a queer lady pole dancer who couldn’t even answer the question, “what did you do this weekend?” With honesty. Because, “I spent the majority of it at the studio, on a pole and the rest chilling on my roommate’s floor talking existential shit while we drank and he smoked weed. OH. And I spent yet more time looking into whether becoming a stripper in Seattle is a lucrative option.” Is not an answer that I could actually share at all.

I have to stop here and say that I worked with some lovely, super caring people, and the lifestyle that they all share isn’t wrong or bad, it just isn’t mine. And pretending that my lifestyle was “bad” or didn’t even exist was an oppressive situation. If you happen to be one of these folks and you’re reading this, none of it is meant to be a dig at you. I’m sorry that between cultural values and feeling like the odd duck out, I couldn’t share my true self with you.

All that said, the socially awkward, “You best lie about how often weed and strippers are involved in your life,” stuff would have been fine if it was standing alone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Due to the Society cutting 11% of its staff and me needing lots more money for pole classes, I took a promotion and was buried in work. If I wasn’t busy and bored before, I sure was by the time that rolled around, and terrified to boot, because the jobs that we had all been shifted into were built to be impossible.

And, if you know me, you know that I’m a class A overachiever, so I like impossible shit. I graduated from Cornish with like a 3.8. Impossible shit is my jam…but not this. Unless I wanted to eat, sleep, and breathe this job, I wasn’t going to achieve the impossible. Considering that I already decided that I didn’t want this job to consume my life, I had to take a hard pass and just only be good at this job, not great at it.

Eventually, I stopped eating. I was nauseous for most of the day. Constantly miserable. I couldn’t go to dance class without crying. Finally, one of my best friends told me that “this job is killing your soul.” She was right. So I left. It was far from perfect timing and definitely not the most responsible resignation that I have ever given. I also don’t believe that there was a graceful way to do any of it, not without sacrificing more of my sanity.

So, now… I don’t know what yet. Who knows? I really have no clue what comes next, but I hope it will feed my soul (or at least not make me feel as though I have to hide it) instead of kill it. This certainly wasn’t exactly what I intended when I resolved to blow up my life four months ago, but I think things are now sufficiently blown up and ready to be rebuilt.

I am seriously so happy that I am back and ready to play again. There are no regrets about the time I took for all my #adventuresinadmin, because I learned for sure that the 9-5 world is not where I belong. If this were a communication at my job, I would probably end it with this phrase: “Stay tuned!”

Cheers Bitches,

Iphy

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