Last year when Pinky Swear produced “Killing Women,” a play about female assassins, everyone involved with the production was asked for a funny way to describe how they’d die. It was cute and made for a little kitsch in the program. Mine read something like, “Will catch 3-inch heels on her bike wheel, take out a group of drunken hipsters, and plummet to a watery death in the Potomac.” Hahaha. I was only partly joking. Continue reading »
7:00am on Saturday morning, I woke up to a booming voice yelling “The pig is on fire! Get up! The pig is on fire!” Obviously I turned over and tried to fall back asleep, but the sound of the world’s most annoying, yapping dog barking from the tent next door pulled me even further from my slumber until I finally threw on my hiking boots and went to find a crisp morning full of fall colors, people cooking breakfast over propane stoves, and a pig happily roasting in the corner. This was my first pig pickin’.
Have you ever walked down the aisle in the vitamins and supplements section of Whole Foods? WTF? It’s outrageously overwhelming. I honestly don’t know where to start, and that says a lot because I have a background in fitness.
The Smithsonians are hands down some of the most amazing museums in the world. I get asked quite frequently by my bike tours which one is my favorite. The Natural History? The Air and Space? The American History? These are the most popular and offer things you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Who can deny those ruby slippers, after all? But my favorite, the sanctuary in the city, is the botanic gardens. It truly is the garden of Eden resurrected at the foot of our nation’s Capitol. I could probably go on for hours about the irony of putting up the secret garden next to the very seed of American corruption. What a lovely metaphor for our government pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people. But…. I’d actually rather just show you some pretty pictures and take you on a journey. So American of me. Sigh.
I think the general consensus among Americans is we are sick of politics. That’s nothing new. Talking to tourists from around the world, recently I’ve come to decide it’s not terribly different for them either. Worldwide, we, the common people, agree that politicians are mostly slimy and the game of politics sucks.
So I have long heard complaints about the women of D.C. being less than up to par. This seems to be a pretty common opinion among the men here, and they bitch about it frequently. Though it was published over a year ago, this stupid bit of trash gets referenced frequently:
I’d be shocked if most of my friends in D.C. haven’t read it and heard it referenced a billion times by now. It’s started a little bandwagon of other blogs that have followed suit, and it seems to have collected a fan base over the last year. The most disturbing part, perhaps, is that this was not written by some country bumpkin tea bagger. I’m pretty sure this guy considers himself a liberal.
Some of his reasons why D.C. “sucks for guys” include the following:
- “There aren’t many attractive women. Most are sloppy, ugly, fat, and don’t care about looking good for men…Said women believe that their education level and wack governmentalish type job makes them more of a catch than looking photogenic and being feminine.”
- “There aren’t enough cute white girls for white men who don’t want to date minorities.”
- “There are not as many young and nubile au-pairs coming into the city as before.”
- “Women who live in DC gradually become status whores.”
I would agree that most of us don’t put on slutty heels and tight tops like in some of the other cities he mentions. Our wardrobes are in direct response to casual flip-flops the men love to wear, and we don’t sell ourselves on being hot trophy wives. The women in D.C. do indeed have political careers, or in this dude’s words, “wack governmentalish type jobs”; they are lawyers or run nonprofits or work for senators, and they are smart. And because we are smart and educated, we expect the same from our partners. Yeah, I don’t really want to date a guy who is unemployed; apparently that makes me a status whore.
Women in D.C. outnumber the men by 11%, which means that not only do men have their pick of the litter, they don’t really have to try very hard. Maybe that’s why many of them have overblown senses of entitlement that allow them to berate and look down on the abundance of lovely women here.
I don’t want to stereotype all our men. I have many male friends who are great human beings and appreciative of the women of D.C., and this guy is clearly a racist asshole who wants bang as many 18-year-old European imports as possible. And yet, I’ve met a decent amount of men here who share these opinions and think they are acceptable, which in a town that is supposedly extremely liberal and forward thinking is really disturbing. How can you consider yourself a liberal when you view women this way? And yet, they do. Many of them.
Note to “liberal” men: being liberal means more than supporting taxing the rich. Just because you support legalizing marijuana doesn’t mean you are forward thinking and have therefore earned your right to bash women.
Many smart women have written better counterpoints to this, and some of the locals may feel like I’m beating a dead horse with old news. But I feel the need to keep defending us, mostly because I keep hearing men bring it up, and it’s frustrating, not only for the ladies of D.C., but for the country in general. The fact that we still judge women this way is unacceptable. Especially in our nation’s Capitol, where so many of us came here to make changes. Men, isn’t that why you are here, too? Why else did you come to the hub of our government if not to push forward-thinking policy? It knocks my hope for our future back several notches to realize this is how our liberal men think. Urg. Depressing. I sincerely hope this fan base of “liberal” men leave D.C. in search of cities with dumber, hotter chicks and leave us to run the government. Yes, it means the the ratio of women to men will increase, but who needs men like that anyway? Guess that’s why I’m still single. I want respect.
The conundrum: I really need a vacation, but I have no time or money for a vacation. I think many Americans are in the same boat, which is where the idea of the staycation comes from. More and more of us seems to be taking them. Every couple of weeks I find time in my insane work schedule to actually take a day off. I found a random Thursday this July where miraculously I only had to work ONE of my jobs… so I called in sick and went to see The Dark Knight at the Smithsonian IMAX.
This time I actually planned ahead and gave myself a day off. Every time I get city bound for too long, I hear Colorado yelling at me to come home. Obviously that’s not happening, but I find I can dampen the screaming to a subtle whine by spending some time out in nature. So I demanded my friends find a single day this month that they could take off from their equally busy lives and drive down to Shenandoah National Park with me to go tubing. It’s not the Rockies, but Appalachia is certainly beautiful, and there was lots of fun to be had.
Tubing down the Shenandoah is certainly not a whitewater rafting, aggressive adventure. For the most part, it was delightfully relaxing, but there were just enough obstacles along the way to make it fun and interactive. There were a few small rapids to get through, several places where we got stuck on weeds or rocks and had to maneuver ourselves out, and several spots to stop and swing from a vine along the way. There was even some cliff diving to watch. But mostly lots and lots of floating in a tube, laying in the sun, and chatting with friends.
I wish I had pictures, but none of us wanted to risk dropping our iPhones in the river so we opted to go sans technology. Possibly one of the best decisions ever. By the end of the day, we all agreed this was one of the best days we’d had all summer.
Here are my top 5 reasons why:
1. Since we were all in the Olympic spirit, the rope swings and cliff dives gave us an excuse to have our own little live competitions. Crowds would gather around to watch the action: hooting, cheering, hollering, laughing, scoring the best dives, and one of the louder members of our group provided hilarious drunk commentary. So much better than Ryan Seacrest, by the way.
2. For over 5 hours we floated down a river with no phones, computers, music, or any other technology.
3. Meeting new people on the river… and then making fun of them. We heckled a lot. Made fun of the groups of country bumpkins that rolled by. Made a new friend named Nate who we called Travis til we realized his name was Nate… then we started calling him “fake Travis.” We thought it was hilarious, I’m sure he thought we were morons.
4. Warm water, mountains, glorious blue skies, and a perfect breeze.
5. Alcohol. Lots of it.
I wish this adventure could have continued, that we could have had a whole week, or heck, even just the whole weekend to relax on the river. But I’ve learned never to underestimate the power that just one day can have. This one certainly made an impact on me, and inspired my group of friends who never have enough time for each other. We are trying to dedicate at least one day a month to have some kind of fun adventure. Here’s to staycation!
I had been feeling kinda sick all week, so I shifted around my work schedule a bit and got 6 hours of sleep last night. Wow! I feel so energized this morning, I haven’t gotten 6 hours of sleep on a weeknight in literally months. My average sleep this summer has averaged at about 4.5 hours on a weeknight and 6-7 on weekends. Eight hours does not happen. Ever.
When debating the pros and cons of pursing my dreams, I’ve had many discussions with friends/colleagues/parents about my financial future, my romantic future, my family… etc. But no one ever really brought up sleep. Perhaps instead of all these big picture perspectives someone should have just asked, “Are you willing to live for years without sleep?” Hmm… if I had thought of it like that I may have opted for that desk job after all.
I count myself as having four jobs, though only three are paid. The problem with starting a theatre company is the same as with any small business – the first few years are about putting money in without expectation of getting any back. In the case of a non-profit start-up it’s even worse because by nature you don’t actually expect to ever make a profit. But that’s my dream, so I’m putting the time in without any expectation of money, but of course I need to pay my bills. Which brings me to my other three jobs.
In order to live in such an expensive city, pay my student loans, credit card debit, and the ever-increasing amount of other bills while being a freelancer, I must work at least two, and right now three, jobs at a time. Currently I work as a personal trainer, theatre educator, and D.C. tour guide. The blessing and problem with all three jobs is that I am constantly in motion, pouring energy into each thing that I do, and when I start my first job at 6am and finish my last job at 10pm 6 days a week, plus fitting in friends and the Fringe Festival, I find myself living in a constant manic state. For a month or so I thought I was handling things well, then they started to go downhill. I have heard stories of people being so tired that they fall asleep at the wheel or at work. That doesn’t happen to me. I’ve had insomnia for years so I’m accustomed to lack of sleep, and I always somehow managed to find a way to function, leading my sleep-deprived brain to believe what I’m doing is okay. But it’s not. The changes I’ve experienced since following along this path have been subtle and gradually increasing.
It started with not being able to find my keys. I would think I put them one place and realize they were somewhere totally different. I’ve had to buy carabiners and clip them to my bags. The memory problems have gotten worse; I used to be an ace with memorizing lines and lately I can’t remember them. The last straw was last week when I just outright forgot to pay my rent. Luckily I always pay early to appease my crazy landlady, so I was able to realize it before the end of the first.
My immune system is in the crapper of course. I’m pretty much sick every other week, though sometimes I can’t tell if I’m actually sick or if I’m just nauseous because I haven’t slept. The last few weeks since Fringe began I’ve been getting outright dizzy spells whenever my heart rate spikes, which has caused me to pull back on my workouts. That’s a problem because my workouts are my primary way to relieve my stress, so the problem perpetuates itself.
The thing that is most noticeable to others, and most bothersome to myself, is the change in my personality. I’m grumpy, emotional, and overreact to silly things. I’ve basically reverted to my teenage self. I’ve found myself more than once snapping at friends or losing my temper at rehearsals. And while I can living with being spacey, I’m unable to accept myself as a bitch. I like being a nice person, and being a good friend is of the utmost importance to me.
I have about a month left of teaching contracts and thick tour guiding schedules, and then I’m going to try to find a way to pull back. I don’t know how I’ll pay my bills. If someone has a suggestion I’d love to hear it, but I don’t see that I have much choice. I think I’m hitting my shutdown point and it’s starting to work against me rather than for me. Ugh.
This whole thing probably sounded very negative, but the sad truth is I’m actually really happy. I love my jobs, I love my theatre work, and things are going well with all of it. For the first time I see my efforts starting to pay off. What a weird place to be. I finally understand why you hear all those stories of celebrities getting checked into rehab for exhaustion. Everyone always thinks it’s a disguise for drugs, but perhaps it really isn’t. Maybe they are just really freaking tired. I can relate.
I work part time as a tour guide in D.C. This seems to be a pretty common way for theatre artists to fill in the gaps; about half of our staff are working actors in the community. Most of us are trying to avoid getting stuck in the food service industry. Personally, I lose half my gym clients in the summer to Europe or the beach, so I need something extra til they return. So I got my tour guide license (yes, you actually take a pretty thorough exam on U.S. history and sites).
Bike Tours: This is my main and preferred focus these days. I get to spend three hours outside on a bike, performing and talking to people. If you know me at all, you know this is sort of my heaven. It’s combining everything I love: fitness, people, performance, and the outdoors. Last week, another actor and I gave a tour to a group of 25 Norwegians. Delightful people, those Scandinavians. There was an elderly gentleman who flew down the bike lane and at every stop would light up an old-fashioned pipe. Who does that? It was great. I hear stories from all around the world. You know who are consistently the nicest people on the tour? Texans. Who knew? Good tippers, too.
Segway Tours: If I could avoid these, I would, but as it’s the biggest part of our business, I am required to do some. It’s not that I hate Segways – they are actually pretty fun and hilarious. It’s not that I care so much that I look like a huge dork. It’s that Segways scare the hell out of me. 90% of people who get on a Segway are fine, but the other 10% are injuries waiting to happen. Segways move according to how you shift around your body weight. In order to maneuver them properly, you need to have some sense of balance and coordination. I’d say roughly 10% of Americans are so badly in tune with their bodies that they can’t figure out how to lean forward properly. Sad. Also true. I’ve gotten pretty good at teaching and avoiding complicated areas, but no matter how good a teacher I am, every few tours or so someone falls. Usually they are ok, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they run into a car or a tree or each other, and end up in the hospital. Think of it like skiing – likely you’re gonna be okay, but you might get hurt. Every time I take a Segway tour out, I’m in constant fear that I might need to call 911 at some point. Luckily it’s only happened to me once, but some of the other guides have some nasty stories. I doubt the tour company wants me to write about these, so I’ll just say shoot me an email or ask me in person if you wanna know.
Learning the History of DC: I aced U.S. AP History in high school but haven’t touched it much since. I always loved it, I was good at it… but I forgot almost all of it. Oops. Relearning has been truly delightful. Do you know who the first president born outside of the original colonies was? Do you know what the Capitol Dome is made out of? ‘Cause I do!! So I’m taking you now on a little mini-tour. Here are just a couple of the sites my tours see.
The White House:
This was originally named the Executive Mansion and it was sandstone, not white. The British tried to burn it down in the war of 1812, but it was saved by a freak rainstorm. Unfortunately some pretty nasty scorch marks were left on the outside. In order to cover them up cheaply, we threw on a coat of white paint. This view of the North side of the White House is unique. Why? Look at the flag; it’s at half mast. The presidential flag flies high at all times, except in the wake of a great tragedy, such as what happened in CO.
Possibly the most grand of our memorials, it has 36 columns that represent the 36 states that were in existence when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. He sits on his throne overlooking the Reflection Pool and stands just around 19 feet tall, the height limit for statues in D.C. The limit is based on the height of our Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol Dome. She stands just over 19 feet, and no one can be taller than Freedom.
Eisenhower Executive Building:
This is where the Veep works. This picture is unique because I took it on the Fourth of July so it’s all spangled out with decorations. The architecture is very unique for D.C. in that it’s based on French design, which Americans hated. So much, in fact, they drove the architect Mullet (feel free to make a bad hair joke) out of town. We never paid him his commissions, and a few years after he finished it, he committed suicide. Nice story, I know.
Korean War Memorial:
Often overlooked as it shares a site with the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, this one freaks me out a little. The 19 life-sized statues of soldiers tromping through the landscape feels all too real. There were supposed to be 38 soldiers to represent the 38th parallel, but we ran out of money. Oh, well. So we put up a reflective wall instead, and the other 19 statues are implied by the reflection.
WWI: Soldiers from the District:
This little memorial is a hidden gem nicknamed the “forgotten memorial” because it usually is. It’s D.C.’s tribute to its own soldiers. It’s very basic, just a rotunda with Roman columns, but look at the architecture in the dome. I could stare at this all day. Only my favorite bike tours see this one.
Without question, this is my favorite memorial. It’s stunning. It’s not just a single structure, it’s a walking memorial with four parts that you pass through, each representing one of his terms as president: Great Depression, post-Depression recovery, WWII, his death. Each section has waterfalls, inscriptions, statues, and art work; it’s lovely. If you come to D.C., you need to visit this one. Most people don’t.
That concludes your tour of D.C.! There is much more to see of course, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this little taste of what we have to offer.
What could cause Washingtonians to willingly hang out in an un-air-conditioned tent during one of the hottest summers in history and brave sitting through a bad case (as one audience member put it) of “swamp ass”?
Why, the Capital Fringe Festival, of course!
WHAT IT IS:
I’m stealing directly from Cap Fringe’s website:
“Capital Fringe Festival is the only major un-juried, self-producing, open-access Festival in the Washington, DC area and occurs in July each year. The Fringe Festival provides all artists, whether new or established, a venue to express and develop their talents and artistic visions in total freedom.”
HOW BIG IT IS:
In 2011 alone, Fringe sold 28,000 tickets to 715 performances of 137 productions, featuring over 3,000 artists at 12 venues located around the Mt. Vernon, Chinatown, and Penn Quarter neighborhoods. This year, ticket sales are up.
WHY D.C. ROCKS IT:
This ain’t my first rodeo, as they say. I was producing work for the Boulder and Minneapolis Fringe Festivals before I ever made my way to the District. Boulder’s festival felt like a wacky venue for a few oddball artists; it was fairly unprofessional and community oriented. Minneapolis was the opposite; the height of professionalism, it brought in international competition that often left the local companies in the dark. D.C. has the perfect in-between. We are well run and draw a few traveling companies but are focused on helping the small professional companies grow, giving the newbies a shot to show what they’ve got.
The hub of the festival occurs in a pseudo-outdoor beer garten/performance space called “The Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar,” or as artists call it, “the tent.” The tent could not be a better designed hub if it tried. It draws you in with its hanging outdoor lights and graffiti artwork. You want to go in and have the Prosecco on tap and check out the dude in the skirt with the crazy hair. Throughout the festival, I kept saying I was taking the night off and then finding myself back at the tent again. It reminds me of a Ray Bradbury story where a circus tent lures you in and you can never get out again. I read too much science fiction.
WHAT UN-JURIED MEANS:
The fact that this is un-juried is one of the most important parts. NYC and Philly both jury their festivals, which means you have a selection committee filtering the work they have deemed worthy. Here in D.C. (as well as at many other festivals, I should say), we believe that the fringe by nature should be unfiltered. Yes, that means crap gets put into the mix, but that is part of the fun – figuring out what to see and what not to see. If you are savvy, you figure out what’s good very quickly. Most importantly, this is the chance people have to experiment. To test their hand. To see if something crazy might actually be something amazing. How can you make really good art without failing a couple times, or at least taking some big risks? Jurying a festival takes that away from artists. AKA death to art.
I am a huge advocate of the theatre community in this town because I believe the artists here are supportive of each other and good, down-to-earth people. Of course, you get your token crazy assholes just like in any other profession, but for the most part you have to have your shit together to do well here, and you have to have help. Fringe allows us to connect with other companies to talk about things like sharing rehearsal spaces, co-producing work, talking up the next productions, fundraising, and brainstorming artistic ideas. I found like minds, I found ideas for projects, I’ve kept up with friends from past shows and made new ones.
HOW IT WORKS:
The shows themselves are short, most running about an hour but no more than about an hour and half, which allows folks to see multiple shows per night. The festival itself has several different spaces so shows can happen simultaneously, but they attempt to keep the venues close together so you can see things in different spaces easily. You must buy a $7 button as your entrance to the festival and then each show costs an additional fee.
If you live in D.C. and don’t plan on coming to this festival, you are missing out on one of the biggest local artistic adventures of the year, so I feel bad for you. If you need recommendations, let me know; I’m seeing my sixth show of the festival tonight and will double that number by the end of next week.
Most importantly, come see “CABARET XXX: Love The One You’re With” by Pinky Swear Productions. You won’t regret it. We promise.