Old Jugglers

A white-bearded fisherman was arranging his nets on a pier in the early morning, near an old juggler, who had shared the pier with him for years. He took a moment to watch the juggler throw a ball as high as she could into the air. It was windy, and they both noticed an interesting wobble in the ball that neither had ever seen before.

A second, younger juggler, seeing that a small crowd of people had begun to gather, stood up and swiftly threw three more balls into the air, and then, worried it was not enough, added a chainsaw, a baby, and a flaming scimitar.

Together, the two jugglers stepped forward to catch the items as they descended. The younger audience in the crowd pushed forward to gasp as the pair caught the chainsaw, the baby, and the flaming sword. No longer content with balls, the younger juggler left the three balls he’d thrown to the older juggler, who caught them softly and easily, before moving her gaze back to the first ball, still descending, still spinning in a way she’d never seen.

By the time the final ball returned to earth, the young juggler had moved on in search of bigger crowds. The fisherman could hear him in the distance, throwing bells, wine bottles, firecrackers and anything else he could find.

The old juggler reached for the ball with her wrinkled hand, and it made a soft sound that reminded the old fisherman of his first new baseball glove, the one that his mother had given to him on a Christmas when he’d expected only socks.

The fisherman smiled at the juggler, and she smiled back, just for a moment, before each turned back to their days. There were fish to be caught, each a little different, to a fisherman who knew how to look.

An @InternationalWomensDay In The Life Of My Partner

Its #InternationalWomensDay, so I’m going to talk about what happens when @AdmiralAsthma and I do the same job, since we both direct improvised plays, and we’ve both been an obvious part of the Seattle improv scene for about the same time. This isn’t a “big deal” story, on its own, leading to any big conflict. It’s a very normal, every day sort of story.

When I run an audition, I usually wear the first mostly-unwrinkled Fred Meyer button-up shirt in my closet, yesterday’s jeans, and the same shoes I wear every day. Sometimes I remember to brush my hair, but usually I forget. I don’t really think about it, except to make sure I don’t have any food stains on my shirt.

When @AdmiralAsthma runs an audition, she carefully puts together an outfit, made out of clothes that are all more expensive than mine. The right neckline, some professional pants, and a blazer. She puts on the right amount of make-up. She puts product in her hair with confusing names I don’t always understand, but which make it hard to breath. She looks at herself in the mirror and decides if she’s putting out the right combination of authority, but also fun to work with, but also not too scary so that auditionees aren’t nervous.

Auditionees arrive and they hand me their audition paperwork. Not just for the auditions I run: if I’m sitting in on @AdmiralAsthma’s audition, they’ll often walk up and hand me their paperwork as well. These are all people who probably consider themselves “woke”, and who are well aware of systemic inequality. But patterns are ingrained, and they’re anxious about auditions, and they’re not thinking too hard about it, so I’m maybe the person in charge.

When everyone has arrived, I just start talking, and the auditionees almost always quiet down immediately, especially if they don’t know who I am.

@AdmiralAsthma says the exact same thing, and people sometimes look surprised at who’s talking, and they finish up their conversations, and they start to listen. So she starts again when they’re quiet enough. The ones who know who she is actually quiet down quicker than for me.

I once counted the extra actions that I could perceive @AdmiralAsthma needing to take to subtlely reassert herself one time, and in the five minutes I counted, I hit 50. And those are just the ones that I picked up on.

I said this isn’t a “big deal” story, but that really just means its a normalized story, and one that’s composed of a hundred-small paper-cuts rather than a big obvious thing. It’s that one out-of-place thing that you don’t notice until someone tells you about it, and then you can’t stop seeing it.

@AdmiralAsthma doesn’t complain about much of this, because she’s used to it,¬†except when clothing manufacturers fail to take the fact that she actually -does- things in her clothes into account, or when a particularly oblivious improviser won’t stop arguing against a note. But I’d complain up a storm if a tenth¬†of it of it happened to me, because I’m used to what being born white and male and American came with for free.