Saturday, February 25, 2006


Just another day in the life of a Professional Hooper.

My knees are still cold, almost two hours after I got out of the rain, and my false eyelashes are impeding my view of the computer screen.

My shoulders hurt, my costume is incredibly muddy, my boots are soaked through, and the hoop with the glowstick necklaces taped all over it is still glowing.

However.. I have a cheque in the pocket of my jacket, made out to me, from Public Dreams, that pays me for the time I performed and facilitated hooping tonight. This was my first paid gig. Woo!

Mountain Mardi Gras was a neat event. It was strange seeing it, in its very first incarnation, from the point of view of a performer rather than a member of the audience or a volunteer. This was the first time I was on the inside of the "green room" area, hearing the five-minute calls and the time-to-go calls of the green room manager, visiting with other performers during the down-time between our sets, and NOT being at the beck-and-call of anyone who needed help from a volunteer, or a volunteer volunteer-coordinator. (yes, that is not a repeat.. for a time, I was an unpaid assistant coordinator of volunteers for Public Dreams)... AND, not having to help with any take-down! I LOVE being a performer!

First set: arrive on first shuttle bus, which is ten minutes late so as I am walking into the green room tent, the performance coordinator is telling me that I'm supposed to be On, Right Now. Drop bags, dump jacket, slide on gloves, and GO GO GO. Ariel, the other hooper, and I were assigned to "animate" the entrance when the gates opened to the public, and to bring them into the Anansi Spider area where much fun and games were to be had. We started hooping 5 or 10 minutes before the gates opened, dancing hard and fast to get warmed up in the gentle wind and light SNOW! I discovered quickly that I had to keep my feet down and avoid any kicky steps, as the heels of my boots were caught frequently in my spiderweb skirt... BAD costume! Hooping around to live performers is also very different than hooping to CDs: performers stop, and chat about what they're going to play next, and leave you kinda hanging there with a hoop spinning around some body part... sad. Audience participation in this zone was slow.. the high point of this shift was having a mom and two daughters lined up working on some vertical hand hooping and behind-the-back passes, with success! And, proving that it takes very little to entertain small children, encouraging them to jump through the hoop (two inches off the ground) was well received.

Second set: accompany Pedal Play procession to a certain area, and animate with hoop dancing and workshopping. Great, no prob. Except.. no one knew where the procession was supposed to begin, so we followed a band out from the green tent, and wound up hooping around them in the middle of a treed area until the performance coordinator found us and got us sorted out. New experience: having three photographers snapping shots of me as I danced.. do I pose? Do I try to smile whenever I'm facing them? Do I stop dancing for the crowd while I dance for the cameras? Tonight, the answer to all of those was "yes". In future, hopefully it won't be. When we got to the area we were supposed to inhabit, after hooping along the path to get there, the people in the crowd now understood what was to happen when I handed them a hoop. There was quickly a mob of hoopers playing around a stilter while avoiding the wacky modified bicycles that were weaving their way through and around us. I actually did not see a single hoop-accident.. will have to check with Ariel to get her confirmation, but this seemed to be the safest crowd I've ever experienced, in terms of understanding what a safe distance might be for those wishing to stand and observe something else. Maybe it is Public Dreams' history of working with fire spinners that has people trained about minimum clearance requirements.

Last set: this wasn't really a requirement, but I wanted to hang around til the end to dance to the DJ from Beats Without Borders, so I plopped myself into the final procession. Darkness had fallen, so my battered rainbow hoop was pressed into service as a glow-hoop, with those cheap glow-necklaces you see at fireworks nights taped around the hoop with clear hockey tape. The silver ribbon of my spiderweb skirt turned out to be wonderfully reflective, too, so I could do less fancy arm moves and relax into twirling and spinning and letting my costume and hoop stun the crowd. (Okay, not stun. Maybe mildly impress...) The nicest thing about doing this set was the positive feedback I received from the performance coordinator, who was actually out in the parade at the head of the band.. "Go Christa! That looks great!" "Awesome, girl!" etc... Immediate, specific.. everything that feedback should be :) The least-nice thing about doing this set was getting to the end of the parade, to where the DJ was supposed to play, and finding out (after ten more minutes of hooping to a somewhat ragged marching band) that they were cancelling the DJ set due to the rain. (total truth: it was due to an important cord being missing from the amplifying gear they rented for the event, BUT, it was starting to piss rain pretty hard anyways, so either reason worked.)

Bus-ride back down to the SeaBus was a neat opportunity for participants of the event to chat with me about the hoops, and again providing more feedback.. once half the busload got off mid-way at a park-and-ride location, I took advantage of the space to change out of my soaked clothing. Stripping down in a bus, in front of people who think of you as a performer, is an interesting experience... they cheered when I took off my top, skirt and pants, but were silent asI changed into dry socks. Odd? Reasonable? Hard to say. Seabus brought a seatmate who I'd re-met on the way into the event, having chatted with her last summer about my hoops while waiting for a bus at Granville Island. Our conversation this time was all about employment, and working your dreams vs working safe... very interesting to be on the OTHER side of this discussion, instead of being the one talking about having dreams but not actually doing anything about them. Still feels good to be where I am right now.

Time to go get rid of the chill, and figure out how to get the false eyelashes off while retaining my real ones. Wish me luck.

Weather: crisply grey, followed by downpour. Brr.

Chai's: two. I managed to be early for Seabus both on the way to and from the event. How nice of Starbucks to now have a store on each side!

Water: tub in the morning, followed by a game of polo with a bunch of teen girls trying to get picked for the national team.. was nice to be able to tell the coach that I preferred LESS playing time so I could conserve my energy for the afternoon of hooping. (also nice to hear that he was trying to make sure I got lots of playing time so it was worth my effort to come out to the game.. how sweet!)

Wardrobe: the easy-to-pack-and-be-dry-and-warm outfit: big fluffy red fleece Modrobes pants, green stretchy longsleeve t, and black fleece Modrobes jacket. I'm so sad their store closed :(

Craft in progress: cream cabled cloche got finished, though ugly and non-wearable in current form.. pattern DID get written down, which is a good thing. Other two sweaters still incomplete, and unstarted... but I found a pair of almost-finished socks that I made with handspun wool, which were waaaaaay too tight to be functional socks, so I'm revamping them to be armlets. Cool colour combo of chartreuse and purple.. not much to go WITH them, but that's okay.

Friday, February 10, 2006


How much do I miss Katie? Let me count the ways..

1 - I miss the 10-minute bitch-about-the-morning-and-previous-evening-shifts we had every day sometime between Noon and 1:00.
2 - I miss that, even when bitching about something, she'd crack a joke and we could laugh about it.
3 - I miss sharing the excitement of new things... for instance, I got to try a fire hoop tonight for the first time, and I'm half-tempted to go into the pool at 8:30 tomorrow morning to tell her about it, before her NLS course starts.
4 - I miss the way she could talk about Weight Watchers and dieting, without ever, at-all, not-even-once making me think that she might think I was anything other than perfect, just as I am... and that she would give me the funky clothes that used to fit her, because they fit me :)
5 - I miss listening to her talk about the nummy yummy meal she made the night before, sometimes with commentary about how easy it was, but again without anything resembling pressure for ME to start cooking for myself.
6 - I miss talking about crafts, daily, with someone else who is craft-passionate. The roomies are cool, Phil is even artsy, but they aren't crafty.
7 - I miss the almost-daily Steve and Derrick stories.
8 - I miss her smile, because it invades her entire face, and when I think deeply about it, shows her connection to her widely-smiling family who are also all cool.
9 - I miss the blunt talk about sex, the ups and downs and ins and outs and battery-assisted or STD-challenged (me, not her) but all of it empowering and open. Sex rocks. Being able to talk freely about sex rocks harder.
10 - I miss the intelligent, educated opinions and insights on politics and the environment and our effects on both
11 - I miss having someone else to sigh and shake my head with, for she knew what I knew, mostly felt what I felt, and understood the need to grin and bear it... and...
12 - I miss watching her do a better job of grinning and bearing it than I could do... it still amazes me, to this day, the things that Katie can take, waaaaaay past my intolerance-of-stupidity boundary.
13 - I miss having her catch my mistakes, but not lay guilt or pressure on me about them... I could fix it (what, like create test sheets from five months ago?) and that would be fine.
14 - I miss having her nag about the fixes that I didn't get done in a timely fashion... I could use some of that right now, about the things that I'm STILL putting off.. (sometimes I hear a Katie voice, or see a Katie face, that tells me I'm letting a bit too much slide... hence the WCB claim that is being filed on Monday, instead of last October..)
15 - I miss seeing her in the pink t-shirt that makes her look like she's wearing makeup, even though she isn't.
16 - I miss trying to keep my mess on my side of the desk space... and Katie ranting at me for stealing her pens.
17 - I miss watching her fool around with the staff, particularly KTS and Scott, who may or may not be in her bracket right now.
18 - I miss the teamwork, of knowing that there was someone else there who understood that the load was shared, and either of us would do anything to help the other out.
19 - I miss chatting with her over the front-desk as one of us moves past while the other plays cashier - non-stop multitaskers, anyone?
20 - I miss compromising the integrity of the facility, the furtive knitting under the cover of our desks, the two-guards-guarding-while-gossiping on deck, the baiting of the swim coaches, the teasing of the swimmers, insulting the annoying regulars.. and all the other bad stuff we did to balance being so damn good at our jobs.

She was the best co-worker I've ever had. Thankfully, she's still a friend, so I don't have to miss her so much... but it would be pretty cool if she was just around the corner here at home, when I want to share excitement about an interview or ask an opinion on my new website, or talk about my work plan for the day, or bitch about not getting my laundry done even though I've had 3 days to put a load in the frickin' wash...

MSN helps, but it just ain't the same. A toast: To Katie!

Weather: sunny clear and crisp, and bloody cold to be out teaching a hooping private at 7pm in the crisp, clear, CHILLY night

Chai's: one, when I had my mug with me on the way to the pool for a swim, plus a hot chocolate in-store (to avoid the disposable cup) on my way to the hoop private

Water: tub in the morning, a swim in the afternoon that actually felt GOOD for the first time since the polo tourney last weekend.. I don't remember ever being so stiff and sore FOUR DAYS after an event, I must be getting old...

Wardrobe: black flare-ish sweats that I bought for bellydance/hoop classes, but that are about two inches too short and need something sewn on, a long-sleeve MEC t in navy (new jammies top, accidently wore it out the other night without realizing it was food-stained), and the giant cream Aran sweater that Phil's Claire gave me, to bring my body temp back up after the cold night of hooping

Craft in progress: still haven't finished the last bit of the multi-coloured sweater, but it is living in the pile of clothes on my floor. Started a multi-textured sweater for my mom, still swatching the options, and also started a cream cabled cloche, carefully writing down the pattern in the hopes of getting it published! Go, me!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I still haven't found enough deep, poetic, meaningful, truly true and won't-make-me-cry words to talk about Katie.

She's the GOOD reason that I've left the pool... from her support as I was realizing just how bad it was, and agreeing that it wasn't worth sticking out another six months, to her encouragement for me to go out and use my CREATIVE skills and follow the dreams I've been talking about for the last three or four years... rather than taking another pool job.

More later, I still can't do her justice.

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