Is She a Witch?

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Exercise Girls - Is She a WitchWho really wants to exercise? If you say you enjoy it most people look at you sideways. And those who are serious about it always manage to work it into the conversation.

Over the years I’ve purchased my share of exercise equipment from various infomercials and store ads, etc. But not until recently had I ever invested in an actual gym membership and I soon learned that would open up a whole different world to me.

I prefer to exercise alone. I don’t wish to be gawked at, or have anyone keep count of my work out and that is exactly what I was promised as I signed on the dotted line. So naturally it was a shock when I began getting phone messages from a trainer to please call him for my “assessment.”  I ignored the messages assuming it must be a mistake.

I was very excited to try the one thing that had sealed the deal for me and that was the movie room – a medium sized room with elliptical machines and treadmills and a wall sized screen.  One movie per day runs repeatedly until closing. I love movies far more than exercising so the combination was designed to be fool proof…or so I thought.

I jumped on one of the elliptical machines as the movie was starting. I was happy that it was a film I had not seen and looked interesting. I puffed away with enthusiasm. There were only a few of us thoroughly engrossed when in walked two ladies heading for the treadmills. I turned and watched as they talked loudly to each other. My fellow movie watchers didn’t seem to notice. I felt certain that the talkers would realize there are other people around and either lower their voices or bring the conversation to an end. I was wrong.

Miss Null and Miss Void continued their chatter as I turned around repeatedly and glared trying not to topple off my machine. I was getting no support from the rest of the group and that baffled me. By now I had missed valuable dialog, and no doubt some cool action shots. I was beginning to seethe.  I looked at the heart monitor on my machine and it was soaring. How could anyone be so rude? It was maddening! I knew I had to do something quick as I watched the monitor continue to climb and their annoying voices echoed across the room. But before I could think it through I felt my lips move, my teeth clinch and a loud harsh shushing sound came out of my mouth. Yes, that’s right, I shushed them…in the movie room…in a GYM.

The entire room looked at me. Stunned by my own behavior, I mumbled something lame and pointed to the screen. The room fell silent for about a second as everyone resumed watching the film and the two who had provoked my ridiculous behavior abruptly left. I had achieved victory, but it felt so wrong I left too.

As I exited the movie room I spotted the trainer who had been leaving me the messages.  I quickly ducked behind a large sweaty weightlifter and reached for a hand weight in front of me. The only one available of course was the heaviest. I pulled as hard as I could while keeping one eye on the trainer. After several failed tries and a beet red face, the wall of muscle blocking my embarrassing display decided to move on to another machine. The trainer had just finished with his latest victim and glanced in my direction.

I juked to the right and dashed into the ladies room where I sat and waited until I convinced myself he had gone on break. Peaking out and seeing nothing but a sea of muscles I raced to the exit. I had one hand on the door handle when I heard, “There you are!” Caught like a rat, I turned and smiled. He launched into his well rehearsed shpiel, and I asked him what exactly an assessment entails. He replied, “Well, I measure you and assess your fat level.”  I came so close to saying, “You had me at fat.” Then he walked me over to a large steel bathtub out in the open floor filled with water. He pointed to it and said, “We lower you in and see what your fat content is compared to the water level.” For a second I thought I was in a Monty Python scene and half expected the other members to start chanting “Is she a witch?  Does she float?”  After my incident in the movie room I wasn’t taking any chances so I smiled, politely declined and began working my way to the exit.  I glanced back as I approached the door and noticed one of the gals I had shushed being lowered into the tub.

Just as I suspected…she floated.

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I thoroughly enjoy writing. As a matter of fact it fulfills something in me that nothing else can.  I recently discovered that I am also content, you might even say blissfully happy to be behind the scenes joyfully watching my lines come to life through a capable actor.  But as they say, when duty calls sometimes you just have to take one for the team…

I was graciously invited by producer Chris Pierdomenico of Numa Network  to join his fabulous crew who were competing in the Project Twenty1 film competition –having won Audience Favorite two years in a row. Entrants have twenty-one days to complete their films after the “secret element” is announced.

I met with the director, got an idea of what he wanted the film to be about, and excitedly went about writing my portion of the screenplay.

We filmed the first couple of scenes beautifully and began going over what the next scene, to be shot in two days, would require.  The director had the location and actors lined up, but suddenly realized that the female he had in mind was way too young to play the wife of the male actor. That is when he turned to me and said, “I was thinking you might want to play the part!”

Shaking off the initial shock and wondering whether I should be complemented or not – wanting to be the team player that I am – I gulped and said “sure!” Fortunately, the part required narration, so the acting did not include any actual lines. But that did not deter the female insecurities from kicking in — how  was I going to be ready to be on the other side of a camera in two measly days? I mean everyone knows about the ten pounds a camera puts on. Being a team player was seeming more overrated by the minute.

After starving myself for two days and squeezing into a ”money back guarantee” tummy tucker as best I could, I took one last look in the mirror and told myself everything would be fine, and that this could turn out to be a dream experience.  Then I raced downstairs to meet the very lovely costume designer who had just arrived.

My eyes bulged as I watched the crew haul in all three parts to my period-piece dress. It was designed, I was told, to fit anyone of any size, through the use of satin ribbons, clasps, velcro, and perhaps a small pulley.  It was decidedly the largest, bulkiest, albeit masterfully designed dress I think I had ever seen. I exhaled my held in stomach, removed the tummy tucker, and resolved myself to the fact that despite all my efforts, my acting debut was not going to be every girls dream but developing more into my worst nightmare.

I managed to stumble my way onto the set holding up as much as I could grasp of the dress, desperately trying not to end up on my face. And thanks to Michael Dixon,  my very dapper and gifted acting partner,  I got through the scene only looking at the camera accidentally once.

I later learned what I believe to have been nothing short of divine intervention when the still photographer on set announced that her camera broke and she had to use mine to capture any photos of the dress that ate Cleveland. Realizing I would be the only one outside of the film itself to possess any evidence was some consolation.

But suffice it to say that after convincing the producer to please find an edit cut that didn’t have a wide angle, I was way too happy to  have a sandwich, crawl back behind my laptop and get back to creating scenes that real actors can stress over – huge dresses, tummy tuckers and all.

Is Bonding Overrated?

Posted: September 1, 2011 in My Life as Fiction
Tags: ,

Imagine that you decided to write a 20 page paper on Alzheimer’s for a job promotion. You also decide to ask your mate to contribute guaranteeing success, some free editing and lots of bonding. Your mate wants to be well-informed before helping you. He reads every article on Alzheimer’s, orders books etc. He begins writing the outline for you, wanting it to be perfect, repeatedly asking you to read every new edit – usually around midnight. You start wondering, “Do I really want this promotion that badly?”

You clear your schedules and figure between the two of you it will go fast. Your mate now feels an ownership of the paper since he put so much time in and wrote the outline. You begin writing, adding your own input and feeling good about it. You stop and ask for feedback from your “help mate.”

He abruptly announces, “You are not following my outline!” and you respond with “Of course I am!” He volleys, “That’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!” You backhand, “Are you blind?” He then regales you with his new vast knowledge of Alzheimer’s and you respond defensively with, “Whose paper is this anyway?!”

In-between all the bonding the dog is whining and dancing around your feet. He becomes the perfect target for your frustration. You point towards the door and shut it behind him. Your dog shows you he can get frustrated too and relieves himself on your best rug.

“Helpful Mate,” continues with his unsolicited advice and you leave the room to collect yourself. You end up at the nail salon just for the complimentary hand massage. You bond for life with the nail girl from Vietnam.

The next day you sit down together and try again. It’s a new day, new mate, and things are going well. You are smiling and getting a lot accomplished. The dog starts his antics, but you are wiser this time. You let him out first then lock him out of your room. Hours later it is time to call it a night. You hug your collaborating partner, and feeling euphoric can’t wait to share the experience with your friends.

In the kitchen you pour yourself a celebratory cup of coffee and reach for a leftover doughnut. You suddenly notice the empty box on the floor. Looking around frantically you spot the dog in the next room snoring, a dusting of powdered sugar glistens from his nose. You sigh, plop down, and switch on your favorite documentary channel. The narrator begins: “Tonight’s subject? Are animals good therapy for Alzheimer’s patients?”

You didn’t need that doughnut anyway.

It has been my experience that even people who are into “the whole brevity thing” can find it hard to be consistently clever with a mere 140 characters in the land of Twitter. So I decided to hopscotch over and try something new. We’ll see if writing a killer blog is the way to go. Let the games begin…