Center Of Gravity

The fun time I had on Thursday has continued on for the last several days, I am happy to report. It’s really getting to be summer now (i.e. it’s only rainy and windy twice a week instead of every day) and it’s almost Fringe and there’s a lot of stuff going on around town. It’s really nice to have things to do and people to see and plans to make; Wellington is fluttering its lashed and playing footsie with me pretty hardcore lately.

Friday night I had big plans to see Grease, the first offering of Twilight Cinema’s inaugural season. Since the night before in the Botanic Gardens had been so much fun I had really high hopes for it and spent most of my workday singing those suh-huh-mer niiiiiiii-hhhhhhhhiiiiights under my breath as I printed out yet more humor-free academic articles on my office’s recalcitrant printer. I thought it looked a little overcast on my walk home and I was more dubious still when I discovered I needed a jacket to walk to the bus stop, but I tried to stay positive. I met Simon and Nessie at New World and was all excited about the inflatable big screen they’d put up. We got a good spot near the front and settled in to watch what I’d call swing dancers but everyone else called rock-n-roll dancers, and I reminisced fondly to anyone who would listen about my callow post-college youth spent at the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association. By the time Jill and Cecile joined us, though, it was beginning to spit a little and when they started to try to teach everyone the Hand Jive it was really raining. There is nothing sadder, I discovered, than a bunch of very earnest poodle-skirted Grease enthusiasts doggedly smiling and doing hand gestures in the rain as everyone packs up their blankets and heads for the Welsh pub. I personally was not in the mood for the Welsh pub that night so it was home to my jammies and some late-night TV that evening.

Saturday I slept in as late as I could until the burning sun through my window forced me up and into my planned activity of pottering around the house until my dinner with my lovely friends Giulia and Filippo. Have I told you about them yet? They are an Italian couple who have moved here and are trying to get residency; I met them because Giulia was looking for information about Seattle for another friend of hers and happened to Skype my old co-worker Melissa who is now in med school. Melissa gave Giulia my email and Giulia emailed me and invited me to dinner a couple of months ago. I immediately fell in love with her and her partner and their delicious cooking, and we all got along like a house on fire. They’re a lot of fun. I especially like it they tell me things like “You look like you’re from the South!” meaning the south of Italy, and “You don’t even know how Italian you are!” after I bang my hand into a chair because I am gesticulating so wildly to make a no-doubt-very-important point.

I hadn’t seen them since before Christmas so it was high time we got together again. I suggest, if you’re going to have friends, have the kind of friends who not only pick you up at the Mediterranean Food Warehouse instead of making you take the bus and make you some delicious pasta with chicken in béchamel sauce, but also have a glassed-in conservatory overlooking the harbor. Those, those are the kind of friends you want. They cooked and I ate and we talked and then it was time to head out into Saturday night Wellington traffic, which meant we were only twenty minutes early for our movie. We’d wanted to see Babel but the only seats left were right under the screen, apparently…movie theater seating, by the way, isn’t the first-come-first-serve free-for-all it is in the States, but more like when you go to a play in that you have an assigned seat. It’s very weird to be in a big old theater waiting for your movie to start, with everyone bunched up together in the middle. It makes me want to rebel and go sit somewhere—anywhere!—else, somewhere not proscribed by the man. (I never do it, though, I just do like the man tells me).

Anyway, the guy behind the counter seemed oddly invested in our seeing The Pursuit Of Happyness and while I am generally pretty meh about Will Smith movies, the combined efforts of the ticket seller guy (“It’s really good eh!”) and Giulia (“The director is Italian!”) convinced me. It was better than I thought it would be, I’ll give it that. And I enjoyed Will Smith’s mustache very much. I noticed with some pique that it was a gorgeous night when we came out of the theater, absolutely perfect for, say, watching Grease under the stars. Oh, Wellington. You tease.

This morning I leaped out of bed with a glad cry, ready to face the day, because this day was going to be a day where I tried to do a free circus workshop in Civic Square, plus Farmer’s was having a sale so I could replace my poor serviceable black t-shirt bra, which, inexplicably, came out of the washer yesterday missing one underwire. I know not to put my bras in the dryer but I’d thought putting them in the washer was pretty safe. The underwire, however, is gone, and by gone I mean not only is there no evidence of the exit point from the body of the bra, like a rip or a tear in the fabric or anything, but also there is no evidence of the underwire itself. It wasn’t in the washer. It wasn’t in the rest of the pile of laundry. It wasn’t anywhere on the floor. It is a mystery, much like trying to find a bra that fits you is, when you don’t know what the brand names or sizing conventions are.

Underpinning needs solved themselves in the end, and soon it was time to head over to Civic Square and see what this circus thing was all about. The first thing I saw was this guy, and I knew I was in the right place:

Unicycling Fire-Juggling Guy

I walked by him later as he was pushing that unicycle and he said, sort of randomly, “I don’t really ride this…it’s just to get girls.” Yeah, dude, a lot of guys I went to college with said that same thing.

Here’s the band. Note the dude on the left with the patriotic coat, there.

Some More Zirkus Band

Here’s a guy setting up the static trapeze…um, thing.

Trapeze Maintenance In Civic Square

I had kind of wondered how, exactly, one did a circus workshop in the middle of Civic Square, but it turns out that they just set up their…stuff…and invited people to come and give it a try. I saw a gaggle of eight-year olds and thought if they could do it I could do it, so I took off my shoes and got in line too. It was much much much harder than I anticipated. I used to be pretty good at the monkey bars when I was in third grade but in the intervening twenty years I have gained a lot of weight, most of which is concentrated in my center of gravity, so to speak.

That's Quite A Center Of Gravity I Have There

I couldn’t believe what a difficult time I had just getting my legs up. The little girls would just hop right up there and swing up; there were some other people in line who’d taken circus skills classes before and they did all sorts of lovely and intricate poses. I was happy just to make it to a sitting position.


I was thinking about how my beautiful friend Jessica makes her work in this area look so serene when my friend Cecile tapped my on the shoulder. I was very happy to see her, as I hadn’t had the chance to chat to her either on Thursday or Friday when she was part of the crowds of International Friends with whom I was hanging out. Cecile is from France and I met her on a walk to the Southern Cross a couple of weeks ago. She is an infermiere psychiatrique and we always have a fun time trying to talk shop in our respective second languages. She just happened to be in town so we took a walk around the square before heading to Espressoholic for lunch.

Very Patient Circus Horse

Well, Hello, Very Flexible Sailor!

Stupid Human Tricks (tm)

Hula Hoop In Civic Square

Cecile turned out to be quite the juggler.

Showing How It's Done

They were doing a flying trapeze “workshop” as well, and once again I was lulled into thinking I could do it after watching all the little kids shinny up the ladder and hurtle through the air. The spotters were really patient with them, saying “Swing your legs!” over and over and clapping when they were done. I was a little nervous that I was going to be the biggest person there and that they wouldn’t be able to fit the harness thing around me. My worries were unfounded, though, and even though it was really hard it was really cool.

I'm Up Next




Look Ma!

I may have squealed a little and I was swiftly reminded that a) I have no upper-body strength whatsoever, and b) bellydance muscles don’t seem to be the same ones as trapeze muscles, but man was that fun. I am trying to decide whether to do some classes next month: I really need to be saving huge giant heaps–thousands of heaps–of money for Oz and SE Asia, but I think I also maybe need to participate in this specific type of awesomeness. It is a tough call sometimes.

The rest of the day has been spent going to New World, drinking my one cup of coffee for the year (usually I have a cortadito when I go home to Miami for Christmas and that sees me through the next twelve months), making a delicious Tracy-inspired dinner, mixing up another kilo of yogurt, putting on yet another face mask, and hearing about A.’s new nephew who was born this weekend. It’s raining again outside (Wellington: stop letting my calls go to voicemail, okay?) and I am feeling pleasantly sleepy and ready for bed. Tomorrow is Amy’s birthday and I’m going to dinner at Cherie’s house. I’m happy. I’m grateful. Occasional overwrought navel-gazing aside, I’m starting to get something right, these last couple of weeks. I don’t know what it is or how I’m doing it—probably it’s as simple as having fun and enjoying my friends, yes, breaking news there—but I’m just really liking life right now.


  1. When life involves a trapeze, I think it’s impossible to not like it at least a little bit, you know?

  2. They say that there’s a decrease in civic engagement these days, but I can see it’s alive and well when there’s mad trapezing in Civic Square. What could be more engaging?

  3. oh my gooodness girl, it makes me so happy to see pictures of you on trapeze! Look at those pretty pointed toes!

    I haven’t taken class for about six months, because life got crazy. But you’ve inspired me. Maybe I’ll go back today.

  4. What fun! You must be having such a good time that I picked up your vibes here in NYC: in my dream last night, I peeked in on a party you were attending, and you both looked amazing and were having an amazing time. Maybe while I was having that dream you were swinging through the air with a giddy smile on your face!

  5. I am so jealous of your circus fun!

    How bizarre about the bra. I usually put mine in a mesh zipper bag while they’re in the washing machine to keep them from getting frayed…but I’ve never had an underwire diappear on me. Weird!

  6. You are so brave and cool! (And dollars to donuts, those little girls swinging with the greatest of ease are in gymnastics four days a week. Unfair advantage!)

  7. The underwire, doubtless, is now tightly coiled around the axle of the washing machine tub, under the agitator-thingy that goes around and around with periodic (and mixative) bursts of retrograde motion.
    Unless you’ve got a front-loading, horizontal-drum, tumbly-washer — in which case the wire must have quantum-tunnelled to wherever Olivia is now.
    Yay, trapeezery!