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Fear(less)

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Jan. 9th, 2012 | 02:55 pm

She stands up and smiles. That’s the important part. She stands up, smiles, waves, and steps backward out of the light. I’m already there, “Are you all right?” and I know that her nodding without speaking means that speaking is impossible without crying.

Only one move to go. The other two aerialists spin, while I scan the audience, no-one is looking this way, good. There is enough not-looking that when she steps back into the light she has to tap the award recipient on the shoulder to get his attention, hand him the forty-thousand-dollar Rolex she’s been wearing twenty feet up. The middle aerialist is upside down at the bottom of a triple, she’s nailed her landing, reaching over her head to the other Salesman of the Year seated right below her, handing him an identical watch.

The Salesmen of the Year are astonished. The audience is astonished. Where did they come from? Even those who looked up as they walked in from cocktails slid their glances past the black fabric hammocks hiding the aerialists, just more technical things among the chandeliers, nice to see you, Bob, let’s eat. And then “Welcome!” and darkness and the band crashes in, spotlights on three aerialists appearing from nowhere, the client so pleased her rings are crushing my hand.

The three girls are in the lobby, struggling into pants, always pants over tights at a corporate gig. Two of them still don’t know. The assistant rigger hands off jackets. He starts explaining while I take her by the waist and get her to the green room. There’s ice. There’s jokes. And she’s crying in pain, her hands burned from a long fast slide, her heels bruised and possibly fractured while I’m praying she’s better tomorrow night for the next banquet, one down, three to go, and I’m not good enough.

The assistant rigger gets a wheelchair, and more ice, and we go through FIRE EXIT STAFF ONLY and wind through the concrete corridors of the resort to the service elevator, avoiding stragglers at the bar. Protect the client.

I used to fear heights, but a lift is different now. Rigging at thirty feet isn’t scary when you’ve done it at seventy, sharing a tiny cherry-picker with a compact Filipino who held my legs while I reached on tiptoe, three hours of sleep in the opposite time zone. Flying up sixty feet pulled with a chain motor, then stepping over the catwalk railing, the three-foot gap a yawning chasm. Being lowered in a harness and angel wings into a megachurch, telling the head rigger, “Put someone else on my rope—the guy’s got a Creation Museum t-shirt and I don’t want my safety supervised by a man who believes the afterlife is better.” 

There’s no ‘funny’ in corporate, and I can’t do half the moves in this routine. But if I have to, I’ll get up tonight. I’ll fake it and wing it and bend my back leg in the splits. I’ll get my partner to the doctor (thank God she’s under 26 and on her parents’ insurance), mark the skills in the afternoon, figure out which costume will fit well enough. Twenty-seven countries and in every one the reward of audience approval—when was the last standing ovation at your job? Do your customers pose for pictures with you, do their children want to be you when they grow up? And here in Texas, this is the price. This is the fear that overrides intuition, not the terror of landing on concrete or that long last fall, but the craven selfishness that makes my primary thought, be better, and not, how are you?



whipchick is going on tonight.

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Comments {34}

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the middle of the road's fine with no cars around

(no subject)

from: noodledays
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
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ohhhhh man, best of luck to you! I don't know if my head for heights (or sore lack of one) would let me do that.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Yeah, I still am not super comfortable with balconies or ladders, but I'm OK if I'm actively doing something like rigging or performing when I'm up high :)

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lawchicky

(no subject)

from: lawchicky
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
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You are a brave woman!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Not quite as brave as a public defender, I'd say :)

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C.S. Inkheart

(no subject)

from: frecklestars
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
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"Break a leg" is technically the appropriate sentiment, but in light of the situation I'm not sure I should say that, lest I jinx you.

SO, um. Rock it. Just rock it. Yeah. That.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!! Aerialists usually say either "merde," like dancers, or they say "in boca di lupo," which is "into the mouth of the wolf." My company says "F--- you" to each other before we go up :)

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The Monster Under Your Bed

(no subject)

from: sorchawench
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:47 am (UTC)
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Great entry!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :)

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nodressrehersal

(no subject)

from: nodressrehersal
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
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What a great "behind the scenes" glimpse!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! It went OK last night - I couldn't finish the routine, but I was clean, and then they took my light out, so it was fine. Tonight will be better!

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Shadow Wolf Byrd

(no subject)

from: shadowwolf13
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
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Oh wow .... very brave of you.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 10:43 am (UTC)
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Thanks - it went pretty well, but I definitely need to learn some more moves in case this happens again :)

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basric

(no subject)

from: basric
date: Jan. 10th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
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It sounds like an Adrenalin rush career. But you are facing your fear every time you do it. Written very well and I learned something too.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I feel the same about your pieces! And talk about adrenaline rushes.... :)

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Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

(no subject)

from: n3m3sis42
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
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Wow! You lead a very exciting life.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I have to say I love it, even when I'm afraid.

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A Karmic Sandbox

(no subject)

from: karmasoup
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
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Fascinating lofty perspective here. It's interesting what draws people to the spotlight, and what we can put aside to get it.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 10:45 am (UTC)
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Thanks - I have moments every now and then where I'm all "I'm at the airport at 4AM, my life is so HARD" and then I smack myself :)

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One Phil to Rule Them All

(no subject)

from: dslartoo
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
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Part of the fun of reading these entries is seeing stuff like this, so far outside my sphere of experience that it really is like looking into someone else's world. Fascinating stuff, it seems, being a rigger. :)

cheers,
Phil

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I love performing, but this type of corporate is not my strongest suit, and I enjoy being the rigger and stage manager, too - it's a lot of fun making everything go smoothly. Still, I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing symphony orchestra event next :)

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unmowngrass

(no subject)

from: unmowngrass
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Lovely entry, and interesting to learn more stuff too!

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Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 10:22 pm (UTC)
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I hope it went well! Man, your life sounds so different and dare I say it, exciting? I'd love to trade in my job for something like that. Well I'd just love to trade in my job... Standing ovations here? Ha!

Anyways, I hope it went well. I love reading about your travels!

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Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
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How amazing! What a thrill it must be. I had no idea that you performed like this. What wonderful behind the scenes information.

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Snark

(no subject)

from: snarkerdoodle
date: Jan. 11th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
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I really enjoyed reading this! :D

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rt_sparrow

(no subject)

from: rt_sparrow
date: Jan. 12th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
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“Put someone else on my rope—the guy’s got a Creation Museum t-shirt and I don’t want my safety supervised by a man who believes the afterlife is better.”

Love this. :)

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