Upon further investigation, I appear to have inadvertently collected all of the props I need to embark upon a career in rhythmic gymnastics. Not pictured in the pile of shiny things was the jump rope, which I tend not to consider a prop because it's not especially pretty. It's just black nylon with some handles and a bunch of knots tied in it for length -- exactly like the one I had when I was nine, in fact, except that I was nine years old in 1990, when everything was blinding and the only color available was neon pink. I didn't think I should have to cough up eight dollars for eleven cents worth of Chinese plastic, but I didn't think it should have taken me more than eight minutes to find a jump rope without fourteen widgets and a rotation counter attached to it, either. Clearly I do not know where the grade schoolers buy their playground equipment anymore.

This worries me slightly, because it wasn't intentional. If you went on Family Feud and had people start shouting out "Hobbies you pick up in your thirties," you'd get things like 'craft brewing', 'golf', and 'collecting classic albums on vinyl'. Gymnastics is something you start when you're like ten. I'm frankly not at all sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my thirties, but I apparently still look about twenty-four, so I can get away with it.

(I'm quite sure the other performers do actually think I'm in my mid-twenties. There's a widespread idea that all women want to be told they look young, which is likely to skew results on things that people say to my face, but one of my very long-time friends happens to know one of the circus arts people via internet. There was evidently some amusing shock value in Tommy reporting that I was only a year behind him in high school. Whenever a modeling job asks my age, I tell them 'old enough to buy my own beer'. I get away with that surprisingly frequently -- they get that I'm reluctant to tell them I'm out of the usual 18-22 demographic, they just underestimate by how much.)

I didn't particularly intend to be good with hula hoops, either. I was in Marshall's downtown one day, buying the same stupid shit I always buy at Marshall's when I go down there for shoes and find they don't have any interesting ones in my size, and they happened to have a fitness hoop on the shelf. I thought, 'what the hell, it's on clearance, the hoopy-spinny thing looks pretty cool, let's give that a go'. And now I'm sitting here with a huge awkward heap of hoops leaned against the wall behind the clothing rack, and a bunch of gigantic bruises all over my upper arms and one shoulder because yesterday I was in the studio with "Chandelier" on repeat, trying to bounce the 46" monster around without using my hands.

I brought a couple of hoops into an art collaboration I volunteered for last week, and when I told them how long I'd been at it, I got a lot of those looks which I have always suspected mean I have just done that thing where I've crammed a new thing into my head way too fast and too easily to be believed. Not everything is easy for me; I think I'm just bright enough to grab the things I have an aptitude for, and see how far I can push them. And I reclaim a lot of time by dropping "recreational" activities that aren't any fun. I don't get any inherent satisfaction from enduring misery. I have to do enough necessary things that I don't like, why would I keep doing ballet or social dancing or balance beam work that I dread? Apparently a lot of people get a feeling of achievement from powering through that sort of thing.

If I did take up gymnastics, I'd have to start all over again with tumbling. It's been over twenty years, at this point, and last time I did it was before puberty. I definitely have enough arm and shoulder strength right now to use them as pivots, as in cartwheels and roundoffs, possibly enough strength to use them as balances, as in handstands, and definitely not enough strength to use them for propulsion, as in handsprings. I might have enough leg and core strength to get some proper saltos, but I wouldn't try without a professional spot. Mooch has suggested I get over my terror of heights by learning aerials. I generally consider Mooch to be a very smart man, but my primitive lizard brain is doubting his wisdom on this one.

(Mooch is one of the juggler-acrobats from A Different Spin, and an executive producer at the Boston Circus Guild. Mooch does not look like the executive producer of anything; he looks like a guy whose friends call him Mooch. Many people in the BCG are not what they seem. It's part of their charm.

Mooch encourages me a lot. I have no idea if he's encouraging me for realsies, or just because he is a nice guy who encourages people. It may in fact be both. If I suck at this, he's being a supportive friend. If I don't suck at this, he's nudging me to pick up skills that he may someday benefit from when I get professional enough to use the BCG as my booking agency. Bright guy, Mooch. It's the kind of non-asshat political strategy I respect.)

I would not want to compete. I wouldn't have wanted to compete if I'd gotten serious about it as a kid either, although probably everybody would have pushed me to. I never understood that one; they did it to me academically all the time, too. I have a vague recollection of being shoehorned into a spelling bee once, which I also didn't see the point of. Yes, I want it to be acknowledged that I am good at spelling weird things, and I want praise for it, but I sincerely could not care less whether I am better at it than anyone else. I kind of assume that I'm better at a lot of brain things than whoever I'm talking to, but only on the statistical basis that I'm dangling my feet off the top end of the bell curve on most of this stuff; I'm always happy to be proven wrong, because then that's one more thing I don't have to either explain or avoid in conversation. I'm totally uninterested in trying to prove I'm better than any particular other person. I just want to find that intersection of 'weird' and 'pretty' that gets me allowed on stage.