Back to Reality

When I woke up on Saturday morning I should have jumped out of bed in excitement but I had a hard time shaking off my Friday night coma. I stayed in bed for a few minutes trying to figure out what I was going to wear. I needed to be warm, comfortable, “upscale and hip.” It was hard to put a finger on those last two requirements which had been emailed by On-Camera Audiences, Inc. Luckily they sent us a whole sheet of rules to help us figure it out: no jeans, sweats, sweatshirts, hoodies, t-shirts, all white shirts, logos of any kind, opened-toe shoes or heels taller than one inch. In short, “When you look great, the show looks great!”

Despite my best efforts I ended up wearing something I would wear to church. I didn’t have the patience to dry my hair so I just put it up in a bun. At 10:30 am my roommate and I began our trip to the Capitol Theater to watch the “So You Think You Can Dance?” Season 9 auditions. We had four tickets to the 1:30 pm taping. Our first stop was to pick up Liesl. Once we got to the city we found a prime parking spot and had breakfast at Bruges Waffles and Frites. The weather was definitely not as nice as it had been the week prior for Stella’s wedding. Although it wasn’t snowing it wasn’t nearly nice enough to go on an extended stroll downtown. We left Bruges and decided to park across the street from the Capitol Theater in order to minimize walking. Even though it was only 12:30 the events staff was kind enough to let us in. (I got nervous just seeing dancers parked on the curb outside!)

The lady in charge of the door allowed us to stay in the atrium just outside of the lobby. We were the first people to arrive for the 1:30 taping which sort of surprised us but most of all we were relieved we could stay inside. Two more couples arrived right after us and got the low-down from the events staff. We exchanged pleasantries as we watched all of the commotion in the lobby. We could see contestants exiting the auditorium (including one guy who had to exit the auditorium yelling “I’m going to Vegas!” four different times), contestants being interviewed with their parents and spouses (we were totally in the shot) and the occasional film crew capturing the arrival or departure of a contestant. The observations were fascinating. By far the highlight was spotting occasional glimpses of Cat Deeley interviewing contestants on the balcony of the lobby.

As the excitement built other audience members began pouring into the atrium. We were warned multiple times that we were making too much noise and the boom mics in the lobby were picking us up. Finally the place got too crowded and our friend in charge of the door called our group over. She marked our ticket voucher with a series of letters and told us to come back at 1:30. She did the same for the four people who had arrived right after us. Everyone was dismissed and the seven of us felt very lucky to have the next best thing to a golden ticket.

With 45 minutes to kill and a brutal wind to avoid we set out for a bookstore a few blocks north. After a lot of hooting and hollering (aka me whining loudly) we made it to the bookstore. Liesl’s sister met us there and we told her all about what we had seen thus far at the theater. When it was finally time to return to the theater it seemed a bit warmer outside but that could have just been my improved mood affecting my perception of the temperature. Upon our return to the theater we saw a massive line of people outside. I handed the signed ticket voucher to my roommate and the four of us walked right up to the front door, dirty looks be darned! We recognized the door lady from before and she put us in front of our four friends (whom we were glad to see) and behind a group of girls who were there to see their dance teacher audition. Everyone else looked quite bewildered.

When the door opened and it was time for us to go through the security screening I got some serious jitters! There were camera people on either side of the lobby filming contestant as they warmed up and there was a camera person right in the middle of the lobby filming the audience members. Scary! Still, it was fascinating. We entered the auditorium and we seated two rows behind the contestants’ reserved seats. After getting a few more instructions from a producer the judges came in. We didn’t know which three judges we got but in my opinion we had the best combination: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman. Liesl and I had the distinct feeling we had walked right through our television screen and it was weird! I loved the fact that I could look around at whatever was going on. The only problem I had was not being able to hear a lot of the conversation between the judges and the contestants on stage.

We tried to guess how long the auditions would be. Based on the number of contestants sitting in front of us I figured it would take about… “OH MY GOSH THAT’S ROBERT!!!” Robert Roldan was one of my favorite dancers from Season 7. We weren’t quite sure what he was doing there but it turned out he was there to teach the contestants during the choreography round. Every time he walked up or down the aisle near us I either missed him completely or just chickened out of addressing him. As the next four hours unfolded we saw contestants of many skill levels. Only four people received tickets to Vegas (the next official round of competition). Everyone else was told to go home or stay for choreography (a little something I like to call “Sudden Death”). I definitely gained a level of respect for the judges. They spent a lot of time with contestants and they were never out to humiliate anyone. Even if the audience was bored to tears at times I felt like the judges were doing their best to make sure the contestants left with useful critiques.

By 6 pm the solo auditions wrapped up and Robert and Courtney hopped on stage to teach a routine to the remaining dancers. It was very difficult. While I really wanted to stay and see how it all played out, I was genuinely drained and on the verge of starvation. We had spotted a German delicatessen on our way back to the theater and we all agreed it would be the perfect place since Liesl was born in Germany and she’d be returning for Study Abroad this summer. Liesl and her sister help us navigate the menu and I opted for “Goulash with Spaetzle.” It was truly the best thing ever. We marveled at everything we had seen. We wondered if we’d be able to spot ourselves during the audition episode which will air this summer. We speculated if anyone we had seen would make it into the top group this year. More than anything we felt heartily cultured and wildly famous – at least for one day.



We're on the edge
We're on the brink
Don't stop to think
Don't stop to think

Been searching for a while
Been looking for so long
If it were right in front of me
Would I know if it was wrong?

Blinded by what I want
Deafened by what I need
My crossed eyes can't make sense
Of anything I read

The storm comes rumbling
And rips down my house
The sun hovers smiling
And fades out my blouse

What if this is it?
This is what I seek
Could something so plain
Really be unique?

We're on the edge
We're on the brink
Don't stop to think
Don't stop to think


Dim Gym

Last Thursday I decided to exercise my gym-wandering privilege and visit a different gym than the one I normally go to. My friend had told me how much she enjoyed doing Cardio Cinema at this particular location and watching a movie while running sounded quite appealing that night. When I walked into the gym I was surprised how quiet it was. The place I normally go to is one of the largest in the state (if not country) and it is always packed with people causing quite a ruckus. This gym was laid out so differently that I had to ask for directions to the locker room. If I hadn’t been so embarrassed I would have also asked for directions to the drinking fountain.

After I changed clothes I noticed a black tinted glass door labeled “Cardio Cinema.” I was like, "Oh boy, here we go!" I walked in expecting something much different (and less stifling) than the small room with three rows of cardio machines packed in for the ultimate sauna effect. I was like “Huh?!” but I rolled with it. Luckily there was a treadmill available so I jumped on and put my empty water bottle in its rightful holder. The room was super dark but I stumbled upon the right button and got the thing going. When I looked up from the control panel I had the strange sensation I typically get when I’m standing on the shoreline facing the ocean and looking at my feet as the waves recede. Do you know the feeling? It’s trippy. In the Cardio Cinema room I felt like we were all on some kind of boat and we were paddling the heck out of it but not actually going anywhere.

They were playing a movie I had never seen before. It was a suspenseful action flick with lots of chase scenes culminating in a fight-to-the death showdown in the main character’s home. Thanks to the constant action I didn’t succumb to the heat in the room although I often cursed my empty water bottle and stared at the ceiling wondering why the designers didn’t include a ceiling fan or two. The only real problem I had was “countering” what was happening on screen. If a character ran from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen I countered the movement by gradually wandering off the left side of the treadmill. After a few close calls I decided to switch to an elliptical machine. They are very hard to fall off of but let me tell you one thing: they are hard to start in the dark!

All in all my first Cardio Cinema experience was very positive. I got to combine something I never dare to do outside (run in the dark) and something I love to do (watch movies). Little did I know I’d be doing some more dim gym wandering in the very near future.

Last night my ward had a very interesting pre-Valentine’s Day activity. We were told there would be appetizers and desserts and that was all we knew. The second I walked into the brightly-lit gym I should have recognized the speed dating table configuration but the reality of the situation eluded me until I got a good look at the questions carefully taped at each place setting. My first reaction was to run away but my trusty friends helped me be a little courageous. Lo and behold people stayed and the Activities Committee pulled off a really fun speed dating activity. I was so keyed up when it was over I ran around protecting the helium-filled balloons from a certain knife-wielder (you know who you are) and was happy to join my friends dancing by the stereo. One friend mentioned a big dance in south P-town. After a little coaxing/convincing/teasing five of us girls set out for the dance with spontaneity on our side.

I once again found myself in a dim gym. I don’t know about you but for me the first 10-15 minutes of dancing is incredibly difficult. I worry about people watching me (though some may say that’s the whole point) and my feet tend to feel glued to the floor. Of course, unfamiliar music never helps the situation. This particular dance had a strong Latin vibe and after observing from a safe distance my friends and I joined the crowd. I tried to channel my Hispanic heritage but these hips don’t lie: I have no rhythm! (Okay maybe I have rhythm but it is something I have to push out of mind or else I get all tripped up.) I had to throw caution to the wind and just go with it. At least in this particular dim gym there was no risk of falling off a treadmill.

Dancing became easier and more cathartic as the night went on. The only problem was the heat. Again I found myself scanning the room for fans. The best moments were when a familiar song was so engaging I forgot the heat and the sweat and the fact that it was only Monday. I was with wonderful friends and plenty of fun strangers. Everyone was respectful of everyone else’s space (except for the occasional in-your-face dance-off) and there was no shortage of friendly guys asking us to dance. The night peaked (perfect song, perfect crowd, perfect person-to-gym ratio, perfect everything) and when the moment passed I scrambled to recreate it. The only problem is that when you’re desperate for all of the elements to combine again you’ll always be missing one key element: surprise.

I can never tell what a particular weeknight will have in store for me. Perhaps it will involve avoiding collisions with characters that appear to leap off the screen. Perhaps it will lead me on a constant search for water. Better yet it can drop me off in the middle of south P-town with a pack of trusted companions, a rocking beat and a flexible curfew. Last night found me floating above a floor I had previously felt glued to. As I stared at my bedroom ceiling well after midnight last night trying to process all of the crazy things that had happened in the past five hours I learned a few things: Mondays can be just like Fridays, strangers can be my new best friends, and familiar faces can still melt my heart.



Home is...

Eggshells in the sink
Dust on the mantle
Rain in the window
Backpacks on the floor

Mail on the table

Bills on the desk
Cookies on the counter
Milk in the door

Cracks in the paint

Splinters in the deck
Floorboards that creak
Faucets that leak

Skylights in the ceiling
Cats on the lawn
Clothes in the drawer
Fish in the pond

Pictures on the shelf
Cars in the driveway
Blankets on the couch
Sawdust in the garage

Tools on the bench

Thread in the needle
Laughter in the room
A feeling in the air


Home doesn’t have to be a stunning multi-page spread from an interior design magazine. It can also be the little messes and tangible reminders that remind you that there are living, breathing people inside. Sure, the furniture and paint make everything look pretty but for a home to be beautiful there has to be love. This love can start with one person and spread to a second and a third as a family grows.

Our homes evolve with our lives. Sometimes they are full, sometimes they are empty. As I have grown up and lived on my own for several years I have sought to make my place in P-town “home.” It’s full of my own furniture, clothes, and souvenirs. While I love time by myself I must admit I am happiest when my place is full of friends. I am reminded that my friends are my family and, at least for now, this is home.