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Iphigenia Rising

A Little Bit 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

Pole Dance Notes 2.7.2017

Oh my God. Yet another post that I have been trying to get up here for what feels like a century (two weeks)! Moving, interviewing for a potential promotion, going through another round of the Whole 30, trying to figure out how I can better serve my community, and doing ALL THE THINGS does not leave much energy for sitting and writing. Sigh. But now that I’ve packed up some of my stuff, worked out, trained my splits, and dinner is simmering on the stove, I finally am like, “Oh, right, I should write the thing.”

The above photo was taken during Trump’s first week in office and I’m gonna be honest. This photo was the only good thing about that week. Period. That being said, this was a really, really fucking awesome thing in the midst of soooo much bullshit. I am finally getting comfortable with beginner inversions and I’m stupid happy about it. Going ass over head has always weirded me out and for the longest time I was just simply terrified of it. While I’m so very happy with my progress, I am also struck by the timing of this breakthrough because the thing about inversion that used to scare me, and that now I’m craving more of, is the change in perspective involved. And that is very timely.

It used to be that any time I tried a handstand or something, the moment that I felt ‘upside down’ I would freak out and my stomach would come into my throat and I’d come right back down, or if someone was holding me upside down, I would probably be yelling at them. Getting used to that bodily shift was tough for me, but with the help of pole dance, that shift has become easier and even welcome. I find myself wanting to be upside down. In fact, when I was having a rough class the other week and I was nearly in tears, inverting calmed me down. (Who am I???)

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I’m finding this physical lesson to be very useful socially as well. Let’s be real, events post-inauguration have definitely put a lot of stuff ass over head, and while I don’t believe a lot of that stuff is necessarily new (crooks have always been crooks, now they just get to be a little more honest about it), it is jarring and everyone is reacting to it. We’re screaming on Facebook, marching on weekends, making phone calls, trying to figure out how to do more, and at times locking ourselves away from the world because we are too dizzy, nauseous, and depressed to deal with anything, are all happening and all valid reactions to being upside down. Despite the fact that the world is terrible, and it is, I’m not trying to minimize that, I am actually quite excited about all the reactions because we’re going to get really, really used to being upside down. And once we’re used to it, then we can do more difficult inverts, hear me?

And on top of that, I am trying my best, and seeing a lot of others try their best, to appreciate the perspectives of other people from different walks of life. And that’s super uncomfortable sometimes. Suddenly, everything is oriented differently and that’s as rough to do mentally and emotionally as it is to do physically. It’s not always successful, but something about being so terribly disoriented by our political climate is helping people listen better and take in a variety of perspectives. That listening will always be productive.

I realize that fighting fascists and doing a decent showgirl are two very different things, but the showgirl and the awareness it has given me, as well as the awareness I am continuing to build with the help of my community, are what I’ve got right now.

Power spins and pixie dust to everyone doing what they can out there.

Iphy

Pole Dance Notes 1.18.17

I swear I have been trying to write this post for like two weeks! Problem is, I’ve been so busy doing what this post is about that actually writing it has been hard to accomplish, which is okay, I guess.

ANYWAY. Enough about my new year’s writing slump! Let’s talk about cross training. I know we’ve all been told that it’s good for you, and that’s super true. I think cross training when you’re doing something extra crazy like pole dance is the only way to go. Rounding out your physical practice will only help your dancing and it will help prevent injuries and recover from them more quickly.

My cross training includes four activities: pole dance, aerial hoop, pure barre, and lots of stretchy time.

At the present moment, my aerial hoop practice is on the back burner for financial reasons, but when I am doing hoop along with pole, holy hell does it help with shoulder strength and awareness. I lovingly call the hoop my nemesis because parts of it scare me. The sensation of being completely off the floor while upside down is slightly terrifying, but by facing that fear on the hoop, it makes going upside down on a pole so much easier. The pole is fixed to the ground and, while you can eat shit falling off a pole, most likely you’ll just slide to the ground in a very, very silly position. Hoop is gorgeous (even if you sometimes shake like a chihuahua because upside down feels) and it’s another way to use your total body strength and awareness that is different than pole, but totally just as useful.

Pure Barre, which I’ve been doing a ton of lately,  is such a good compliment to pole dancing. I was introduced to Pure Barre by my friend Lauren who gave me the most accurate description of it I’ve heard: “Pure Barre is like yoga, Pilates, and ballet all had an evil love child designed to kick your ass.” She’s right. It’s all isometric movements and for the first month that I did Pure Barre (at home with a DVD set) I was like, “What the fuck do you want me to do?” Because it focuses in so much on individual muscles, you really get to know your body, even parts you didn’t know you could stretch and strengthen. The other bonus is that every position is mean to help you work your core in some way as well, and that is tremendously useful for pole dance.

If I’m being honest, I kind of use Pure Barre to torture myself, but in a nice way. The other week, we were working on Rock Star in pole class and my Rock Star looks more like a Groupie because of my lack of active hip flexibility. I was displeased with that, so the next day I decided to do a Pure Barre seat workout, which helps with active flexibility in your outer hips. It hurt. My butt was on fire. It’s worth doing for the Rock Star. (But of course I have to keep training this way, because you don’t go from Groupie to Rock Star overnight).

Pole dance always feels very global to me. It’s full body engagement, so it’s pretty hard for me to focus in on one specific muscle in class. So much is going on at once in any one move. Pure Barre helps me take the time to focus in on the local, very small components that are needed for all that global pole dance work.

Pure Barre is also a very nice lead in to my last piece of cross training. One of my favorite things to do is to go through a 30 minute Pure Barre DVD to get warm and then work on my flexibility. I try to work on it every single day. Admittedly, it’s sometimes hard to be motivated to do something that is as painful as improving your flexibility, but it’s so worth it.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a crappy knee and for a long time it prevented me from training my flexibility. Thanks mostly to Pure Barre, that’s not the case anymore and, in fact, my knee feels better when I stretch. Flexibility training has also taught me a lot about how much I protect my knee and what aspects of that protection can be let go now that my injury is healed. Right now my flexibility work is very splits focused, but I do also try to work on my back flexibility when I can and I tend to group hand/headstand work in with this piece of my training.

The point is, no single activity can teach you everything that you need to know about your body. Different tasks bring different awareness around your body in space. Without each piece of my training, I’d be missing parts of an awareness that is useful for all of the physical activities that I love doing. So yes, cross training is good for you so you don’t hurt yourself, but it also makes you “smarter” and at times, I’ve even found that it helps me learn new things more quickly, because I’ve got such a strong, yet varied foundation. Here’s to doing ALL THE THINGS.

Lexi

Iphigenia: Dreams

One dream that visits me often takes me back home. Mother and father, Electra and Orestes are just the way I left them. The whole family wants me back and greets me with tears of joy. 
Mother is ever so grateful to see me alive. She will not have to kill father for sacrificing me.

Father cries the hardest and falls at my feet. He did not kill his daughter after all.
Electra is calm, joyful even. She can quiet herself. She will not have to convince Orestes to kill our mother.
Orestes smiles at me because if I am here, nothing terrible has to happen. He will not have to commit matricide and run from the Furies. 

Eventually, I am left to my own devices, made to wander about the house- my home- seeing everything exactly as I left it, only aged. My clothes, my shoes, all of my belongings that I once cherished now mean nothing. As I sift through possessions, hoping to find something that comforts me, I see shadows move. There is a sense of unease. Despite the fact that my family lives, this house is still haunted. 

I move from room to room, disturbed. The light is wrong. Or is it right and I remember wrong? Or is this something I forgot? A memory that I’ve vanished?
My mother finds me to tell me something very important-

I wake up. I am at Taurus. I serve Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. My possessions are few and my home is this temple. My father sacrificed me to sail his ships to Troy. My mother murdered my father. My brother murdered my mother. Electra is insane. My family is dead. 

This world is a terrible place and unspeakable things happen to good people. Unfortunately, that process is the only way to make people strong. Once someone has seen so much, there is no unseeing it. A new kind of peace has to be made in order to keep going. 

Even if dreams did come true and I could have my past back, I wouldn’t want it.

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