Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just grab the front of your board and go.

For those of you who have just met me in the last ten years, you may not know that I used to be a professional rollerblader.*

My dream job.  Half of my days were spent in a half pipe suspended by bungee chords so I could fling myself into the air and do crazy tricks with no fear of getting hurt.  The other half of the days I was on the ground skating up and down small 3 foot ramps.

Here's the catch:  all of this happened on a moving float.  Yep, moving.

So, at our first rehearsal they asked us to skate down the back of the float.  Here’s the thing, it was just a classic drop in but when you got down to the bottom of the ramp, it dropped a foot to get to the ground and the ground felt like it was moving because the float was moving.  This was nothing anyone had ever done before.

The other rollerblader was a girl who claimed to have just won the female division of the national championships in rollerblading.  We both stood on the ramp on the back of the float and the choreographer causally says “ok, let’s see how this works.”  Um… you want me to skate off this... right now?

Well, a couple months earlier I had worked at a summer camp in the Santa Cruz mountains where I spent my afternoons at a skate park that was surrounded by redwood trees.  I was helping kids drop in and keep their momentum going. I did the easy stuff.  I left the tough stuff to Peter Culp, the coolest, most patient surfer kid I had ever met.  I saw kids over and over again get hippers and Peter Culp would say, “grab the front of your board”.  (Kids would always fall backwards while trying to drop in and hit their hip on the pipe after not committing enough.)  If only they would grab the front of their board they would have been fully committed and do fantastically.

So, with Peter Culp ringing in my head, I thought “Just grab the front of your skates and go.”  I didn’t even think about it,  i just leaned forward and committed.

A huge cheer rang up from the people around me.  Success.  I turned around and there was the national champion still standing at the top of the ramp.  Too scared to move.

I sometimes think back to that and laugh at myself.  Who does that?  What kind of person skates off a ramp that a national champion is scared of?

I do.

You know some people say I'm courageous, I don't think so.  I think to be courageous you have to have fear.  I think I just don't know to be scared sometimes.  Then again, maybe I'm just lucky.  Maybe I'm just lucky to have people like Peter Culp in my life who teach me how to skate, while accidentally teaching me how to live.

Find something you want to do, fully commit to it and give it everything you've got.  You will normally succeed and if you don't, you will fall on your ass and look like a fool, but at least you aren't a national champion still standing on the top of a ramp too scared to move.

* A person who gets paid to Rollerblade.  (I got paid to Rollerblade at Disneyland.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stop smiling... it leads to trouble.

I smile a lot.

A couple months back I was at the hollywood bowl by myself.  I was smiling, as usual, while walking up to the ticket takers.  Well, this guy sorta stands in front of me and says hi.  Here's how it went from there:

Liz (just being nice): Hi.
Guy:  I'm excited for this.
I'm a little confused why this stranger is telling me he's excited about the Hollywood Bowl show, but sure, why not.
Liz: Me too.
Guy: Have you ever seen them before?
Liz: It's a french night... Is there a way to have seen it before?
Guy: I guess not.
Small pause.
Guy: Should we go in.
Liz: With me?
Guy looks confused.
Guy: I'm Tom.
I'm confused.
Liz:  I'm Liz.
Horribly horrified look crosses his face.
Tom: What?
I just stand there totally lost.
Tom:  I'm looking for Jackie.
Liz:  I'm not Jackie.
Tom:  Why were you smiling at me as you walked up?
He was actually a little angry (probably just embarrassed).
Liz: I was just smiling.

Moral of the story... If you are alone, don't smile because people who are supposed to be meeting their match from will think you are their match... awkward.