Friday, August 21, 2015

What Being in a Pole Competition is REALLY Like

Short disclaimer: There are a lot of things about competitions I like, obviously, or I wouldn't keep participating in them. This post is meant to be tongue in cheek and while I feel that there is truth written here, it is not without respect to all pole event producers, judges, and competitors. 


Pole competitions. They're so glitzy and glamorous. Not to mention all the rage...because pole isn't interesting enough to sell tickets unless there is a clear winner at the end of the night. And sometimes even with winners and losers it still isn't enough to sell tickets. But if you want to sell any tickets at all, you may as well at least declare a winner. So competitions it is!

You've probably watched your favorite idols rise to the top by claiming championship titles and fancy trophies at such pole competitions. You think, all starry eyed and full of hope, "that could be me up there one day, being validated by a medal and cheering people and viral videos on Facebook and thousands of Instagram likes." You dream of living the exact same dream and career path as every other star in the industry. You know the one? The dream of touring Europe and other white people countries teaching and selling your very own overpriced clothing line while meanwhile still making almost no money.

I call this design "Pole dancer on a kitty-corn carousel with glitter." I'm going to put it on a t-shirt and sell them for $100 each. 

But don't worry. It's all for passion.


You wanna compete? Wanna know how it really goes? Can you handle the truth, punk!?!?!

If you think so, read on.

One day, after letting all the feelings described above brew in your hopeful little heart for awhile, you decide there just isn't enough stress in your life and try to enter a competition.

Don't think you're good enough? Don't worry, you can just pay someone $100 to put you on stage if you can't qualify through a video submission. Despite the absolute absence of filtering for quality, I'm sure it will still be an interesting show and valuable of your time and effort.

Otherwise you just grab the latest routine you've done on video and pay someone about $50 or so to decide if you are worthy.  You ARE doing routines like, all the time, right? No? Just freestyle for 4 minutes. I'm sure you'll be fine. You don't get that money back if you aren't, by the way. Oh no. They keep that fiddy bucks for having to sit through your worthless video. Mwahahaha. Evil laugh.

Try to forget about it for a few weeks. Then three days before you are supposed to hear back, anxiously check your email every 5 seconds.

You also check it every 5 seconds for another three to seven days after that as well, because most likely they'll be late putting the results out.

Boom! The email finally comes. Congrats! You got in. Quick, you better tell everyone you ever knew via every social media platform RIGHT AWAY because they are presently not thinking about you or how awesome you are and need a reminder as often as possible.

You get right down to things by putting off starting your routine for anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. That shit isn't nearly as important as being lazy and/or aimlessly rolling around the floor next to the pole.

Then, about a month before the big show is a really great time to freak out and panic and start hashing something together. I recommend putting every single you move you have ever learned how to do in your routine. Or at least all the hardest ones. Think nothing of the concept, the character, or the composition of movement to create a unique and interesting work of art. That's not what competitions are about. They about DIFFICULT, MIND BLOWING SHIT. Plus maaaaybe some highly derivative and uninspired contemporary dance moves thrown in  there. You know. For that artistry score.

You've probably got a really good song though, at least. They play it on the radio ALL the time, so you know the audience and judges will love it. Another bonus: if the song is especially good there won't be any dramatic moments to add in refined musicality. You won't have to worry about missing a single beat.

You go into the studio as much as you possibly can. Your training starts with an hour of procrastination. Or "polecrastination" because this is the pole community and we can't have enough puns. Then you're like "ok, ok, I'll do this thing that I don't actually want to do because it's super hard." Then you get distracted drooling at your body in the mirror for another 5 minutes because you have lots of cool muscles to look at.

Be jealous of my 2-pack

THEN and only then do you run through your combos and/or routine over and over again, each time being unable to breath immediately afterwards in a way that requires you to lay prostate on the floor for at least 5-10 minutes each time so you can de-sweat and start again.

After 3 hours of training you've only really moved for about 30 minutes total. Yet somehow you are still feeling like rubberbands attached to a giant cinderblock. You trudge out the studio, go eat an entire pizza because you def need at least 3000 extra calories to refuel after all that training, and don't socialize at all or get anything productive done for the rest of the day because you are too wiped out.

If you couldn't tell, that is a cinderblock with rubber band limbs eating a pizza.

You repeat this as much as 5-6 times a week in preparation before the big show, ignoring bodily injuries, work, all your friends and loved ones, and basically any other thing that will signal to you that this process sucks super hardcore and you need to stop so you can live an emotionally stable life. (But don't worry. It's all for passion) You start a special diet which you immediately ignore in favor of ice cream because, um, ice cream? You consistently oscillate every half an hour between feeling like an utter piece of turd being birthed by an even uglier piece of turd because your work is so shitty and then feeling like a goddamn freaking queen of all badass pole bitches and practice your faux-surprised "I WON?!?" face in the mirror because you know for sure you will wipe the competition away. This goes on for awhile...until you finally feel ready to hit the stage.

This is of course a week before the show and then you realize you still don't have a costume at all. So you order random pretty things online that have nothing to do with your theme and pay double for the expedited shipping and pray it arrives on time and everything fits and is perfect. Because if it doesn't you are screwed.

Give yourself a day off beforehand to make sure you are ready. This will give your body time to rest and your mind to freak out as you anxiously re-watch your practice videos over and over again and think about how you could have worked harder but it is all in vain now.

Try to keep your face from doing this all day.


If you are lucky the competition takes place locally and you can enjoy your normal life up until and on the day of, even though you probably won't because you'll still be anxious and bouncing off the walls all day. If you had to travel, not only did you have to pay anywhere from $200-$2,000 to get there, along with the rental car, hotel, costume, and food funds from your own pocket so that someone else can make money off of the show* you've worked your ass to be in but you also get to sit around alone all day because you don't really know anyone there and it's really awkward and uncomfortable. But don't worry. It's all for passion.

Aren't you having fun making new friends?

You wake up at 6 am even though you normally sleep until 10 because your heart has been racing in your sleep and you worry you will go into cardiac arrest if you are helplessly laying in bed any longer. You have approximately 12 hours before you need to show up to the venue. So no need to rush things.

You start doing your make up at 8 am and make sure to put that costume on at that time as well, complete with tape around the crotch already. You will inevitably forget about this as you go to the bathroom about 15 times throughout the course of the day and then another 5 times while you stress poop at the venue and will have to keep re-taping your vagina shut. (i.e. make sure you have plenty of tape and get a Brazilian beforehand). This all goes right along with making sure you warm up 4 hours early and then stay warm the entire time until you go on stage.

At the venue, you test the poles. The spin pole is always too slow. Always. Meaning your spin pole pass will probably turn out like shit. Get over it now.

You go back stage. Make a big mess of all your shit, ideally mixing it up with all the exact same shit other people brought. You try not to make any eye contact in case anyone is gonna be the backstage bitch but still be smiley and friendly in case people start mistaking you as the backstage bitch. This is the anomaly of the backstage bitch in pole competitions. There isn't one. Yet everyone is it.

You get coffee, get really jittery, do 500 jumping jacks. But stop there, because you want to save your energy for the stage. You sit around for what feels like 500 hours, waiting your turn with your headphones plugged in while you do really intense pantomimes of your routine like a mad woman. Your breathing gets really intense. You take a shower in grip aids. You jump in place for about 10 minutes straight just before getting on stage. You keep applying your goddamn lipstick because how does anyone keep that on for more than 3 minutes at a time, anyway?

Goddamn lipstick

Ok. It's time to go on.

You black out for 4-5 minutes.

You come off stage dying and gasping for air as you feel a black demon rain cloud lifting out of your body and into the ether, losing about 10 lbs of weight in the process, getting a little light headed as you crawl to your water bottle and think "holy crap it's finally over," and contemplate why anyone ever tries to do this, especially yourself. You collapse. If you are lucky you collapse into a decent pair of pants so when they drag your body onto stage for the prize ceremony you don't look like a complete hot mess in your sweaty costume, your taped vagina askew, and stage make up smeared all over your face like Linday Lohan after a night of clubbing. You clap and smile as people say things and chances are you get boned and get nothing in return. If you were especially exceptional, you get a medal or a trophy and a slightly empty feeling inside of "now what?" ...Unless there is a cash prize and then you are actually happy because you maybe broke even on the cost of doing this whole thing, unlike all these other gullible bitches. If it's a qualifier to another competition you also get that lead weight of dread inserted right back into your stomach because congrats! You are about to do that all over again.

You also get that feeling if you didn't want to win but one day you still really want to win and so you know you are going to do it again.

But don't worry. It's all for passion.

You were gonna go out to the after party but as it turns out bouncing up and down for 8 hours straight and then doing a 5 minute routine is really exhausting so you just go home, but not without swinging by McDonalds first so you can eat a celebratory meal you will instantly regret. You sleep off the night of anxiety and wake up in the morning and try to pretend the whole thing never happened, but not without posting about to instagram first and thanking every person you have ever met in your entire life on Facebook.


...still want to compete?

If no, congrats. You are a sane person.

If yes, congrats. You are just as stupid as I am. Welcome to the club.

*Which is no one in the end, really. But usually the judges teaching workshops get at least something out of it...which are usually people that have paid their dues, AKA competed before it was super duper popular and easier to win even though they haven't done anything very interesting in the past 2-3 years and are the reason that even if you do win you won't be able to achieve your identical-to-their-career-dream because their experience and idolization is dominating the oh so circular market...This is still a humor blog, right? 

Friday, August 14, 2015

10 Things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself at 18

Why hello there. 

Oh my adoring fans. How I have missed you so. It has been almost a year since I have written here, what with the training and living life as a general female badass. I haven't had much to complain about, you see. Even though I've missed writing, my life has all around been too good and too busy to have anything brilliantly witty to say. I'm happy and therefore comedy is dead. So it goes. 

But then inspiration struck, so I return once more for another post. I can't promise there will be more in the future, but perhaps...perhaps...


PS I went a lil' crazy with the GIFs because I'm too lazy to draw. If this offends you then there is the door. 

PPS Imagine me pointing to a door up there in that last sentence. 
 So, I've been taking classes once again at the Aerial Dance Festival here in Boulder, Colorado. I have a huge crush on ADF. I'd totally ask it to go steady with me if I could. I'm only taking classes on the CU campus this year, which is interesting in a way that is only interesting to me personally because in one to two short weeks I'll finally, at last, be a student of the university. I'm getting all oddly excited about it, because I get a sneak peak of what things are going to be like in the academic mecca of Boulder. It's a beautiful campus with a diverse student body, complete with it's own culture and events and actual buildings and stuff. And...well, it's just been a long time coming to this point.

I'm so excited I bought a planner. And a pencil box.

I'm a real student again!

For the first time in ages, I'm actually looking forward to a new school rather than cynical and morose about the whole thing. Why? I guess I feel like I am getting to press the reset button on my college experience. But I get to keep all the wisdom and life experience of the past 5 years (and unfortunately all the loans) and skip over the bullshit 18 year old crappy dorm and freshman year shit.

Also this is a really big school that results in good careers for many, many people and feels a little bit less like a cash-hoarding tomfoolery school that tricks you into thinking you are getting an actual, practical education. (I'm looking at you, community college. Plus all liberal arts degrees).  Godammit if this isn't the school that gives me my adult certification piece of paper (also known as a bachelor's degree).

Anyway, I know 23 is far from wisened and old, but I've still learned a lot about life and things and myself in the years since I left high school and somehow landed back in my parents house (LIFE AMIRITE?) Now I look back and have a million things I wish I could have told myself when I was 18. I'm feeling all smart and better-than-thou today so you get to hear about 10 of the things that will make life way better for everyone who is exactly like me. Which should be everyone in the universe even though it isn't because I'm just so damned great and wise.

Ok here we go.

10 Things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself at 18
And not to take a page out of Buzzfeed's book, but no, they are not what you would expect. 

1. Your friends are balls. 

Maybe you, dear reader, are one of the fortunate souls who actually had decent friends in high school, but I was not. Many, although not all, of my friends were very focused on partying and having fun and thinking about themselves, as opposed to things like being good friends and people in the universe. 

For awhile, I really tried to keep those friendships in tact. There were a lot of one way streets during those days, where I did all of the work to make sure we spent time together. It made me feel frustrated, sad, and inadequate.

So don't cling to those high school friends. Let them go. High school is awkward time where you most likely have a pool of 300-500 people from which to choose your friends, and that pool is based on nothing but your location. Unless you won the friend lottery, you probably didn't end up with very many people who gelled with you well, especially if you have bizarre interests like me.

  Get off the horse. Just do it. 

Of all of those friends that I had back then, now I really only see and talk to a handful of them on a regular basis still. And by regular basis, I mean twice a year. Everyone else? Poof. Out of my life. Every now and then I run into them in town or go to a graduation/going away/I'm-more-accomplished-than-you-and-so-I'm-gonna-rub-it-in-your-face party for one of them, and I get to feel really awkward and out of touch. I'm happier on the other side. 

Be patient. New friends are out there. 

2. House parties are balls.

Going right along with the friends are balls, turns out all those things they glorify, you know, like the lame basement parties where everyone gets wasted playing a stupid game with pingpong balls in cups and makes bad life choices and then spends the next day feeling like absolute shit, are actually really lame. 

For my entire senior year in high school, parties were THE thing. How it went was if you didn't go to the party that weekend, you didn't participate in conversations for the rest of the week. Parties were essential to keeping my crappy friendships, so I worked extremely hard to get "in" on them. Which didn't always work. Thanks to my crappy friends.  

I tried to keep this up in college for awhile. There was one chilly winter evening my freshman year that turned me off the whole thing, however. I remember it as the time I magically turned invisible. 

Imagine this but the opposite

I came back to my dorm one night to hear my neighbors pre-gaming. In a rare moment of social bravery, I decided to go over and see what was happening, because I was basically lonely basically all of the time during freshman year. They were getting ready to go to a Christmas themed party down the street, so I tagged along even though I wasn't technically invited by the hosts. This became obvious when I arrived and everyone was dressed head to camel toe in the wintery, christmas themed lingerie. I hadn't had time to change before leaving, so I was wearing something actually logical for a December night in Ontario: a blue turtleneck sweater. I also hadn't had time to buy any alcohol beforehand, and it was a BYOB event where absolutely no one felt like sharing with a girl in a jewish turtleneck.

So there I was, sober in a sweater and virtually invisible to EVERY person at the party. The girls were dancing on tables. The guys were watching girls dance on tables. Everyone was very drunk. I tried to leave and some guy convinced me to come back inside. I thought "hey, maybe I'll actually have someone to talk to" so I went back in and then he immediately abandoned me for girls dancing on tables in their underwear. The friends I had come with were too wasted to notice me as I once again left. It was an all around demoralizing evening.

There were still a couple of parties after that over the years, although much fewer and far in between. All of them made me feel equally as shitty in such ways that I decided I no longer need college house parties in my life. At this point I can't even remember the last one I went to, despite my persistent "being in college." Nowadays, I much prefer quiet BBQs, beer tastings, or my favorite, staying home. 
Doing what I do best, which would be sleeping.
3. Higher education is a joke

I mean this both cynically and also metaphorically. Let me explain. 

Schools come in many forms, especially colleges. Some will rip you off. Some might actually offer you a good education. Many are what you make of them. You can waste your time, or you can utilize all their resources to achieve your goals.

I can't tell you getting a degree is a waste of time. Sometimes it is. Other times it isn't. You education can be a sick and sad joke, if you let it be. Or, if that is the way things are going, I advise that you steer into that skid. If it IS a joke, then laugh. Be playful about it. 

Use your carefree, not-worrying-about-loans-yet time to explore, innovate, and do the kind of stuff you'll never get another chance to do. Even if your teachers and your curriculum are wasting your time. Make lemonade out of lemons. Use all the cliched metaphors in the book to have a good time. You can write the dumbest lie of an essay and get a C in the class because you know it doesn't matter, but at least you had a good time being creative.  Piss off your elders. It's ok now, because you are an adult too and technically it is your student loan money so do whatever you want with it. Design your own education. And dammit, make sure it's fun. 

4. Do what feels good, not what looks good. 

I was out dancing at the one [shitty] club in Boulder a few weeks ago when this revelation came to me. I like to go out dancing about once a year. And that one time a year, it feels good. Any more than that is too much. But this time was especially good. Half the night I was getting it on like the sexiest stripper on the dance floor, and the other half I was dancing like an old white guy experiencing mental deterioration in a sweater vest. Very much like these fine men. 

Interestingly enough, this is also an eerily accurate representation of me doing toprock work in break dancing class. 

Anyway, it was a revelation because I finally realized I don't care. I don't care about looking good on the dance floor. (I also found this to be an extremely effective strategy for keeping creepy guys from trying to grind on me). I was just doing what felt good. Which in my case is a mix of being a sexy beast and a total weirdo at the same time. 
But I've applied this to so many other parts of my life. I talk to myself out loud all the time. I stopped showering every single day. I make jokes to people even when I know they won't get them at all, because I still think they are funny. I renounced the life of jeans in order to live in sweatpants. I don't aim for the hardest, craziest aerial tricks unless I really feel like working on them because I want to have a badass kind of day. But if I just want to roll around on the floor, that's okay too. Think I'm lame for living with my dad? I don't care. My house is awesome. My life is great.

I have my therapist to thank for this one. Every time I worry about what people are thinking, I just remember what she says. It's their problem. Not mine. 

Project confidence. You'll be fine. 

5. Drink good beer.

Binge drinking is dumb. It only took me two years of going out to stupid parties (see life lesson number 2) to realize I just couldn't keep up with the hangovers, the puking, and the shitty drinks. There is nothing in it for me besides feeling like crap. Thank god for my mom and then later for my current boyfriend, who have kept me in the know-how of craft beer. 

Good beer has kept me from over drinking at the majority of social occasions I now attend, as it is meant to be enjoyed at a rate in which you can actually taste it, much unlike fireball whisky, rolling rock, svedka, and all their ilk. It gives you something to focus on when socializing and keeps you in a circle of people who also don't want to excessively drink. It sends you to new places to try out different breweries and tastes. You appreciate your time, your money, and your health a helluva lot more with good beer. 

And if beer isn't your thing, do wine. Or whisky if you have those special sort of masochistic taste buds, but only in small amounts. Or kombucha. I don't care. Just please, end the epidemic of crap alcohol and binge drinking it. If you are going to get drunk, make it worthwhile. 

6. Take care of your body.

This blog was originally the start of my endeavor into becoming all athletic and having beastly, sexy as hell lats. If there was one thing I've gained over these past five years, it has been learning how to take care of my body and knowing how good that feels. 

The moral of the story is this:

When I was 18, I: didn't work out, eat well, or generally take care of my body.
The way I felt about my body was: shitty. I had terrible self esteem.

Now that I am 23, I: work out almost every day. I try to eat fresh and balanced nutrition, with the occasional indulgence.
The way I feel about my body is: amazing! I love my body. I feel great, even when I'm sore and tired, it is worth it.

My entire self image has changed. Yes, getting the braces off helped a lot, too. But being mindful and finding a physical activity that I loved and committed to was what really did it.

7. It's ok to need others

Once I decided all my friends were balls, I had to start from scratch. Also because I moved all over the country all the time. I was single, as well. And for awhile there, I just decided I didn't need other humans. I was just going to be on my own, and everything was going to be fine. What this resulted in was deep, crushing depression and laying in bed watching Netflix day in and day out.

Even Batman had Miranda. Or Vicki. Or Catwoman. Or some other hot chick. Or Superman, in some timelines. You can be a badass and still have friends and companions who emotionally support you. Independence is good and all that, but being strong doesn't mean you have to deal with everything on your own.

  Bromance at its finest.

8. Creativity comes in many forms

When I was in high school, I decided I should go off and study art and become an artist because all of the other subjects in school bored me or seemed impractical (I mean, what are you actually going to do with an english degree?) At the time, visual arts were the only creative practices I really knew, besides performing or playing music. Of which I am too tone deaf to sing and entirely ungifted musically. They were the only thing that gave me any sort of satisfaction. So visual arts it was! 

As the years wore on, well, if you know my blog, you know this story. As it turned out visual arts and I were not meant to be. It just wasn't the right fit. But in the process of breaking up with art school, I discovered a vast universe full of other creative practices to fulfill my needs. Writing dumb blogs. Rolling all over the floor. Making stupid poetry videos. Even harder sciences, like writing code or contemplating quantum physics have challenged my mind to create and sculpt in ways just like art school had. There are many creative careers out there, some involve photoshop while others do not. If you want to live a creative life, consider ALL the possibilities, not just the obvious ones. 

9. Your parents will be your best roommates you'll have ever had. 

There are many reasons I moved back in with my father, mainly financial and emotional but also very important is that I realized how messy other people are. By living with horribly disgusting humans I realized something about myself: I absolutely need a clean living space in order to feel sane and not like crushing skulls everywhere I go. I may appear to be a bit messy in my own space, but I just own a lot of things (as my father often needs to remind me). They are organized. There are just a lot of them. I can, at the very least, keep them off the floor. And put my dishes away. And not get ants everywhere. And take out the trash before everything begins to rot indoors. 

By moving away, you gain an entirely new appreciation for how your parents kept the black and orange mold from growing in the toilet, or how they made sure milk was always fresh and in the fridge, or how they bought toilet paper, or didn't read fan fiction porn out loud in the middle of the living room, or picked up trash from the middle of the floor and didn't just leave it there for several days while you waited to see how long they noticed it, or didn't have strange women over at 3 am, or didn't smoke pot 24/7 on your couch, OR CLOSED THE FUCKING KITCHEN CABINET DOORS.

Basically they didn't make you want to do this every time you walked through the door.

You know, the little things.

And if you parents did do those things...I'm sorry. I have a great therapist I could recommend to you.

10. "We become what we think about." - Earl Nightingale 

I found this quote just a few days ago in a notebook full of inspirational quotes at the top of bottom that my aerial instructor Mary gave to me upon pro-track graduation. A lot of them are cheesy or boring, but this one struck a chord, and I think it wraps up a lot of the points I've been trying to make.

If you spend all your time preoccupied with parties, gossip, and other trivial things...Or if you spend all your time thinking about how unhappy you are...OR if you spend your life thinking about donuts or earthworms or fancy hats...that is all your life will ever be.

Though to be fair, a life of donuts does not sound bad.

  This is by far the weirdest GIF I have ever seen. 

But if you focus your time and your energy on making this world better or making yourself better, then slowly, you will start to carve a path in that direction. You absolutely have to let go of what is negative and let the positive fill in the gaps. It's like if you are eating noodle casserole and you pick out all the tuna and let mac and cheese fill it in. LIFE IS JUST BETTER...Assuming you don't like tuna.