Friday, February 27, 2009

Circus Class and a Juggling Injury

Current mood:jolly

I was in my backyard a few days ago, admiring the mess of sticks and branches that has amassed there since the various wind and ice storms, when I spied a juggle ball in the gutter. It was certainly not me who tossed it there; I am a goooood juggler. Everytime I take a trip somewhere that involves a castle, my souvenir is almost always a set of juggle balls. Let me tell you the story of just how I became to be such a fine juggler.

During my second year at NYU, I signed up for an extra 2-credit course. In addition to my regular 16-credits of philosophy and politics classes, I took a Pass/Fail class in the Graduate Acting Program called: Circus. Yes, "Circus." It was taught by a professional clown and former professor at Ringling Brothers College, Hovey (pronounced "Huh-vee") Burgess.

My parents still love to joke about how their daughter goes away to this great school and takes a class called "Circus."

The class was fantastic, and it was everything you'd imagine. We spun plates atop long, thin pieces of bamboo while marching across the room. Two trapezes hung down from the ceiling, and we learned various techniques of hanging, swinging, and catching our classmates. It was only a 12-foot ceiling, so no net was required. Likewise, a tightrope that rose about three feet off the ground (frightening!) sat in a far-off corner. My specialty was the tightrope. I was the only person in the whole class who could funambulate the entire length of the tightrope, then turn around without falling, and walk back. Seriously, the class would cheer for me as I floated across with my wee little feet.

But I could not -- not even for a grade -- juggle.

It was the easiest thing in the world. Half the class could do it before the first day, and the rest of them learned during the two hour class where we juggled. I pouted and tried again. My throw was off, I couldn't catch, and I couldn't catch on to the rhythm. Hovey gave me tips, but nothing worked. Every 10 seconds, I would drop a ball, squat down, and pick it up again. I did this for two solid hours, and still! I couldn't juggle.

The walk home to my dorm was awful. Totally defeated. I do not take failure well. Back in the dorm, all my friends showed me how easy it was for them to juggle. I tried again for about half an hour, but to no avail. So I went to sleep.

The alarm went off the next morning, and I was paralyzed. Seriously, I could not move my legs. I sat up and used my arms to lift my legs to the ground. I was barely able to stand up, but some slight feeling returned. The feeling was pain. With every step I took, my legs quivered. Sitting on the toilet was the worst pain imaginable. My quads and hamstrings were on fire. What the hell was wrong with me?

And then I realized, that I had essentially been doing SQUATS for over two hours straight because I kept dropping those stupid juggle balls.

It took me about three days before I could walk down stairs quasi-normally.

I also discovered (Lesson of the Day, folks) that the best place to learn to juggle is: in front of your bed. That way, when you drop a ball, you don't have to do a squat to pick it up again.

I finally learned to juggle, and I passed the class. And that, my friends, is the story of how I became such a fine juggler. Which is why I'm wondering how that juggle ball got in the gutter.

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