Ang on SNL.

One of the first Saturday Night Live sketches I ever saw was one where Kenan Thompson plays a talk show host who always interrupts his guests by singing, “What’s up with that?” I sat in my pajamas laughing until I cried and have been a fan of the show ever since. With the move to New York came the craving to be on SNL in any capacity, although I had no idea how to go about making this dream a reality. But all that changed one afternoon when I overheard one of my coworkers talk about being tired from her time as an extra on SNL. I immediately yelled “Wait WHAT!? That’s a thing? How did you get that?” She replied, “Oh girl, just mail them a copy of your headshot and resume and include a note saying you’d love to be an extra on the show. They’re so casual over there; they’ll just text you and ask if you’re available.”  

They will TEXT me? On my mobile device!? All I have to do is ransom-note them my resume? WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THIS BEFORE!?

I mailed my headshot and resume to 30 Rockefeller Center around Christmas. My roommate, Kendall, convinced me to type my “Pick me!” note on resume paper instead of handwriting it on a sticky note.

Yeah, good call.

I knew Lorne Michaels wouldn’t text me the next day to offer me a spot on the show … but I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I didn’t hear from SNL within the week. Or month. By the three month mark I had forgotten all about it. SNL had joined the ranks of Those Who Don’t Want To Hire Ang, and there was no use continuing to pine over them.  

Until Thursday, April 14th, at approximately 2:10pm.

I had just taken a jazz class and as I walked upstairs to the lobby I said to myself, “Ang, every person’s story is different. Find joy in the process.” And then I took my phone off airplane mode, and I saw a text from an unknown number: “Hi Angela it’s Blake from SNL” —

I started squealing.

“Just wanted to know if you are avail tomorrow – time TBD – for background work? Would also need you Saturday for live show.”

Ok I was in class for 90 minutes; when did he send this? I hope I’m not too late if I text him YES I AM right this second …

He replied, “Great! It is for the Cold Open Democratic Debate sketch.”

Be still my heart. Dreams DO come true! My SNL debut, and it’s in a political sketch? I’ve been saying I need to expand my political commentary and what better way to do it than pretending to attend the democratic debate in an SNL sketch? I am living my dream.

Rehearsal was Friday night at 8pm. At 30 Rock. I couldn’t stop screaming, which would have been a problem if I hadn’t lost my voice. My inner dialogue was along the lines of “I’m gonna ACTUALLY be in the REAL Room Where It Happens!” I proceeded to the Visitors Center to receive a pass that granted me access to The Sacred 8th Floor, and I was smiling so big I’m sure those bored receptionists questioned my sanity.  

It was another blessing that I was alone in the elevator. It looked exactly like the inside of the elevators from the TV show 30 Rock, a show I’ve watched more times than I care to admit. I barely got out all my wannabe-screams by the time the doors opened.  

There it is. The hallway leading up to studio 8H. Ok walk reeeeeeeally slowly. Soak it in. Breathe the oxygen surrounding the black-and-white framed photos of each SNL cast. These are the genius demigods of comedic writing and performing. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HERE.

After signing in at the NBC Page Desk (omg how ‘30 Rock’ is my life right now!?) I was directed to the holding room, Seth Meyers’ studio. There was a nice spread of snacks and several long tables in the middle of the floor where people had begun to congregate. I parked it next to a couple of older ladies. Somehow I knew 80-year old actresses would be my favorite. They didn’t so much talk to me as to each other, but I didn’t mind. They discussed where to eat dinner on the UES, where to go on vacation when you retire, and complained about how long you wait around when you work as an extra. Katherine said, “At least it’s a paycheck.” I nearly lost my mind. 

IT’S A PAYCHECK!?

I would have done this for free. Every weekend until I die. You mean it’s possible to get paid to do what I love? I never really thought I would get to experience something so rewarding. Oooomg here come the tears. Rein it in, Ang.

Finally someone came to escort us to the stage for rehearsal, and I quickly surpassed my previous freak-out threshold. Suddenly, in walked Kate McKinnon. Then Larry David. Then Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And THEN the next time I looked over I saw Lorne Michaels.  

I get excited pretty easily, but there have only been two times in my life I have gotten teary-eyed due to artistic euphoria. The first was when I saw the Bolshoi Ballet perform ‘La Bayadere’ at the Kennedy Center, and the second time was when I saw Lorne Michaels.

The next day I had to be back at 30 Rock at 11:30am in preparation for the run-through. I brought the most politically-appropriate clothes in my possession, which was a challenge because Wardrobe said, “I really don’t want black, or anything too revealing.”  

I’m a dancer with an aversion to pants, so you’ve basically ruled out everything I own.

I brought my yoga pants and a sweater of Christina’s for my upcoming SNL debut as “Left-Leaning Democrat.” Allow me to explain. The extras were seated behind Beck Bennett, who was playing the moderator. The camera was going to do a quick shot of us before hitting Kate McKinnon and Larry David on the center stage platform. Because they had sent us on stage in a single-file line, I ended up in the chair furthest from the camera. So my character choice was to be an excited, ethnically-ambiguous Democrat who leans over to talk to her best friend, literally leaning over far enough to the left to ensure her hair gets caught on broadcast television.

I am totally getting the hang of TV.

We had a quick 45 minute break for dinner on Saturday and while I didn’t want to leave the building, I definitely wanted the satisfaction of saying, “Please make this to go. I have to get back to 30 Rock.” I grabbed a falafel salad, ran back to the building, and slid in the elevator with two other extras. The doors were about to close when in walked Lorne Michaels.

OMG OMG OMG LORNE MICHAELS IS IN MY ELEVATOR! Do I make a joke? I mean Larry David is here and I’m holding a falafel salad and I have a big nose; there’s a Jewish joke in there somewhere, right? No no NO Ang absolutely not. Do not say anything you haven’t had the chance to rehearse at home.

So I kept my mouth shut and screamed as silently as I possibly could.

My excitement was barely containable as we took our places for the 8pm snow. I smiled out at the audience from my far corner chair and jammed out to the music the band was playing as if everyone had come to 30 Rock just to see me dance in my seat. 

Between the 8pm and 11:30pm show we were sent to Hair and Makeup. Hair and Makeup was just a line of brightly-lit mirrors in our holding room/Seth Meyers’ studio, BUT STILL. And it’s not like I hadn’t put so much makeup on my face already and willed my hair into a tiny afro, BUT STILL.

My hair lady was a beautiful Eastern European woman named Neraida. She commented on how similar my hair was to hers. It always feels like a good sign when the hairdresser thinks you’re hair twins. We made small talk mostly because if I kept my mouth shut I would have exploded, but also I definitely wanted to make as many friends as I could.

“Hey you know who we should bring back? The ethnically-ambiguous, curly-headed girl.” THIS IS THE GOAL.

And then it was time. Baby Interns told us to line up single file, like they didn’t trust us not to wander off into the backstage. Which was annoying but also a VERY good point. They led us through the backstage area.

It’s just like Stefon said. This place has everything.

Out of Seth Meyers’ studio. Past the Wall of Casts. Back through the hallways where cue cards were being rewritten. Through the hallway where cast members were being wigged and prepped and then through the double doors to the set. Under the stairs there’s a little sacred box where I’m guessing Lorne Michaels watches the show. I saw him open a bottle of champagne and smile at a man and a woman who were sitting with their backs to me.

I feel like I recognize the back of that guy’s head.

He turned around right as I walked past.

Yep; just as I thought: Chris Rock is here to see my show. It’s almost like Lorne Michaels whispered, “Hey Chris, you see that ethnically-ambiguous, curly-headed girl behind you? You should read her blog.”

We sat in our chairs and once again I smiled at the audience as if they were paying attention to me. Beck Bennett was on deck immediately to my right, and then out came Kenan Thompson. He and Beck began quietly riffing and giggling like little kids. And then I was giggling without knowing or caring why. Whatever they were saying I’m SURE it was hilarious. Stage Manager called for quiet on the set as we were set for sixty seconds until the live show. You could hear a pin drop.

Wow, these people are good. I wonder what’s it like to be routinely incredible.

Stage Manager counted down from five seconds and pointed at Beck. The red camera light came on, and I was the best “Left-Leaning Democrat” there ever was. It was just a fraction of a second, but my giant head did appear in the corner of the screen.

I think this is what “making it” feels like.

When I finally walked into my room at 2:30am, there was a giant bouquet of flowers and a card from my family, congratulating me on the happiest I had ever been while wearing pants and a politically appropriate sweater.

Ang meets a star.

Several years ago “Bright Star” premiered on Broadway. It was written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell with choreography by Josh Rhodes, and it is still one of my favorite pieces of art I’ve ever seen. My sister, Christina, and I each saw the show four times during its brief run.

Our third time seeing the show was with Mom and Dad over Father’s Day, and on our train ride home after the show Christina noticed Paul Alexander Nolan, one of the show’s leads, at the other end of our subway car. Before I go any further it is important you know Christina NEVER loses her bearings when she meets a celebrity. She once saw Bernadette Peters on the sidewalk, called her by her first name only, and asked for a selfie. Bernadette obliged and coached Christina on proper selfie form. The first (yes, first) time she met Zachary Levi she threatened to punch him in the face if he didn’t remember her name and, surprisingly enough, he remembered every time after that. She has had casual conversations with Sting, Fred Savage, and Jonah Hill. She took a prom-pose photo with “Greg Brady” (at his suggestion) and introduced herself to Mark Ruffalo … like he cared who she was. She has an unmerited amount of confidence when it comes to interacting with people of fame. By contrast, I saw Lorne Michaels from across a room and couldn’t stop my eyes from welling up.

So, I was surprised when Christina grabbed my arm and hissed, “That’s Paul Alexander Nolan! Should I go say something?” I stared at her.

Are you kidding? He’s a Broadway star … who takes the subway. In terms of celebrity status he’s like the second string on the B Team.

“Yes, of course! Just go tell him we loved the show! Keep it casual. He’s on the subway; it’s not a big deal.” But she was beside herself and quietly shrieked, “No I can’t!” I rolled my eyes and grabbed her hand. “Come on, I’ll go with you.” This was not atypical for me; I jump at any opportunity to be The Fearless One in front of Christina (prime example here).

We walked over to his radiantly artistic self and sheepishly said something put-together like, “Hi we just saw the show … we’ve actually seen it 3 times … it’s our favorite show … we’re good friends with My Friend In The Show … do you know her? Of course you do … you’re amazing.” He graciously smiled, thanked us, and then asked if we are sisters.

Quick little sidebar: it’s weird to me when people ask us this because Christina and I look and talk like clones of each other. So I started doing this dumb thing where when people would ask us if we’re sisters, I would say “no” as Christina said “yes” and then I would look at her like I’d never met her before. I am the only one who has ever found this remotely entertaining. Thus, I was surprised when in response to PAN’s question Christina said “no” as I said “yes.” Christina immediately followed up with, “We live here.” Now it was PAN’s turn to look confused. Christina caught my eye and realized her mistake. “OH! I thought you asked if we were tourists.”

Wow. This is not going well.

I vaguely remember us bursting into laughter before complimenting him one more time and returning back to our parents at the other end of the subway car. And it was at THAT point Christina and I realized we had never stopped holding hands. How we collectively forgot we were fingers-interlaced holding hands was more than Christina could reconcile. “We were holding hands the whole time!?” she shrieked.

Yeah, I honestly don’t know how we missed that.

A couple days later I received a text from My Friend In The Show: “Hey, PAN said he met you guys on the train the other day.” Christina was elated. “Maybe now we’ll be best friends! We made an impression – I knew it! Wait! Ask her if he mentioned how we held hands the whole time like idiots.”

So I replied, “Did he happen to mention how we held hands the whole time like idiots?”

“Haha yeah he did say you guys were holding hands.”

There’s a fine line between the sweetness of sisterly support and the blatant awkwardness of two grown-ups being unable to talk to another grown-up without holding hands, and Christina and I were miles past it. We no longer ever walk hand-in-hand. Except for this one time when we didn’t know Mom had the camera.

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Ang becomes a princess.

I missed the train out to Long Island on my very first day of shadowing as a party clown. Being a shadow clown is like being an understudy for the worst role of all time. And I was late.

Not off to a great start here, Ang.

Because I was late, the team I was shadowing had to pick me up at the train station with the van fully loaded. I apologized profusely for missing pack-up and then tried to recover with an air of dignity, which quickly evaporated when I saw my costume for our first party: a Barbie-doll-sized spandex dress with corresponding leggings and a giant red wig.

There’s no way I’m not gonna look like a prostitute in this.

Girl Clown: “Don’t worry. It’ll stretch.”

Ang, dryly: “Oh, good.”

I went from Mediocre Dignity to Massive Distress when I realized we were driving around the West Village, the neighborhood in which I had lived and worked during my days with Flerm and Co at the ballet school. Boy Clown parked the car just down the street from my old apartment building. I have never been so desperate to avoid familiar faces. There is no good way to say you left a ballet school to chase your performance-career dreams while dressed like a prostitute before lunch on a Saturday.

On the up side, this is the village … and it is not uncommon to see wigged ladies in tiny outfits at 11am … hopefully people will just think I’m a drag queen.

I helped unload the van with all the speed and intensity of someone in the midst of a bank robbery.

​The event was a birthday party for a six-year old white girl (so yes, we did the chicken dance). There were maybe fifteen kids at the party, all running around like crazy. The parents stood along the perimeter of the room, ignoring their children as they sipped on white wine.

I was trying to ignore the sadness of disjointed families while I played London Bridges with a group of little girls when I suddenly heard a chorus of little boys yell, “LET’S GET HER.” I turned around just in time to see the group of tiny terrorists, collectively holding one hula hoop, run toward me.

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

I was not about to retreat, but they were more forceful than I anticipated. The hula hoop went over my head and the group of tiny terrorists pulled my legs out from under me with remarkable ease. The wig went flying, and there was spandex everywhere. The Girl Clown shot me a look, and the parents stopped their conversations to briefly observe my undoing before returning to their white wine.

Wow, really? Nobody wants to tell their son you can’t just go around knocking girls over? YOU ARE RAISING MONSTERS!

I tried to keep a low profile for the rest of that party and the three subsequent parties. Girl Clown remained annoyed with me throughout the afternoon, but I enjoyed spending time with the kids. It was fun to see how excited they got when we showed up. Turns out I love being popular for no reason.

Our last party of the day was in the Bronx. Based on what I overheard in the van, no one liked Bronx parties. The sun was just setting when we arrived in the neighborhood of tall apartment buildings. Girl Clown mentioned something about wanting us to stay together as we walked in because “this area” might not be safe.

Please. I used to live in Jackson, Mississippi. New York should probably scare me at least a little bit, but it just doesn’t. The Bronx is probably LOVELY.

The party dad met us outside to escort us into the building.

See, I knew the Bronx was lovely.

This was a birthday party for a nine-year-old girl, and the theme was Monster High (it’s a TV show about monsters in high school … I know, it sounds like real life to me too but apparently it’s fictional). My costume was a vibrant flouncy skirt and jacket, and a brown wig with little animal ears poking out the top. Ears but no tail. There was no air conditioning in the building, and we could hear the party music blaring from inside the elevator long before we reached the appropriate floor. I couldn’t help but smile.

I love it here.

When the party girls saw me, they screamed and ran to hug me. Whoever I was dressed as was clearly the group favorite and further established how much I was going to enjoy this (hashtag popular for no reason).

​The apartment was boiling hot, dimly lit, and packed to the brim with people. Moms and daughters were in the middle while men lined the perimeter like a human wall, ready to be the first line of defense should we encounter trouble.

Gosh, this place is so nice.

Our little speaker was no match for the amazing ear-drum-wrecking situation already in place, so we just danced to the music provided instead of Kidz Bop (no complaints). And it was amazing. These little kids were down to get funky, so I threw Professionalism to the wind and cut loose right with ‘em. I heard giggles of surprise and shouts of “Look at her, oKAYY!”

I get why people are surprised when I can keep up at a party. I don’t look like Nicki Minaj or Lindsay Lohan, but I love to party. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Pink Friday or Freaky Friday.

The final event of the night was the magic show. All day this had been the most uncomfortable part of the parties since I was totally the third wheel. But here, this was different. I didn’t have a chance to stand on the sidelines because the kids kept calling out for my involvement. “Ask HER! Let her try!” Clown Girl was annoyed. I felt a little bad for her, but she just wasn’t reading the room at all. She kept ad-libbing about jelly beans and stuffed animals, and this crew wasn’t buying it.

They’re SO fun! Play the room!

After multiple shouts from the kids, Girl Clown turned to me and said, “Fine, what did you bring to the party?”

I sat in my left hip, flounced my wig, and without missing a beat, said, “Hairspray.”

The response was nothing short of Exactly What I Wished For. I have never felt so good about anything I have said, and for the remainder of my clown career I wished and prayed to be given Bronx parties.

Ang is offered a Klondike bar.

During my junior year of college, I had a crush on the captain of the school’s soccer team. He was a tall, blonde foreigner, and he was absolutely gorgeous. At least, he was absolutely gorgeous in my eyes. One of my close friends insisted he had the face of a naked mole rat. Naked Mole Rat (NMR for short) didn’t know I existed since we didn’t have class together, and our paths never crossed much otherwise. I loved my rodent prince from afar and never expected the tide to turn in my favor.

Meanwhile, my daily experience as a dance major at school was battle-ridden, and I found myself in dire need of a creative outlet. I found my solace in frequent visits to a local, two-story bar. The tables and chairs were downstairs; the DJ and tiny dance floor were upstairs. My underage partying experience had been confined to tea parties and all-night swing dance jams (which I loved), but in this dimly-lit, crowded, music-filled space I felt like a real, legit dancer – like Debbie Allen, or Brittany Spears. I had the freedom of musical interpretation, a raised stage floor to dance upon and an uninterested audience to sway. I was up for the challenge. I was the queen.

One Thursday night, I was in the midst of my perform-for-no-one routine when I suddenly noticed NMR across the crowded room.

Ah-ha!

This suddenly felt like a game, and I had the home court advantage (see previous statement regarding my status as the queen). This poor bloke was at my mercy. I was a homeschooled, Jesus-loving, olive-skinned goddess, and I was invincible in my stilettos. I noticed NMR occasionally looking in my direction, and in one swift move he left his posse and ended up next to me. We “met,” and I pretended like I didn’t already know who he was. He was surprised to learn we went to the same university. His surprise surprised me not at all. I did a phenomenal job of unintentionally keeping a low profile during my time at school. I kept it so low I was still receiving “please come audition for us” mail back at my parents’ house. But no level of institutionalized mockery could taint the perfection of this moment. I was meeting an absolutely gorgeous foreigner in Jackson, Mississippi’s least-pimp-populated bar and dancing the night away while inevitably suffering from secondhand smoke. None of this sappy, overdosed, rom-com nonsense. This is normal romance: normance.

Mere hours later, after the bar closed and I was safely home, NMR and I were Facebook friends. And in the manner of all true normantic relationships, he sent me a private message, and we began chatting. It was all small talk until I mentioned Klondike bars. I can’t remember why I mentioned them, but I’m sure it was totally irrelevant to the conversation.

NMR: Do you go dancing often?

Ang: Yes, because Klondike bars.

In my defense, I find the slogan for Klondike bars worthy of discussion. “What would YOU do for a Klondike bar?” It’s like a call to action: FIGHT FOR YOUR ICE CREAM!

Where I saw an opportunity to make a dumb joke, NMR saw an opportunity for a sale’s pitch. And by that I mean he asked, in no uncertain terms, if I would sleep with him for a Klondike bar.

I’m sorry, WHAT!? Conversational whiplash.

You want to BUY what would be the best sex of your life (feels like a safe assumption) for the retail price of an ice cream sandwich? AW H**********LL NO.

“No,” I replied, without using an expletive.

Then he asked what it WOULD cost. I guess he was prepared with a backup offer in case I felt his starting bid on my body was too low. Which I very very very much did.

Now you listen here, you pathetic excuse of a man. To ride this cyclone you have to marry it. And getting married is basically the same as forming a suicide pact: you don’t know exactly how things will go down, but you know it ends when you die. So unless you’re bidding on my body with a lifelong commitment, I’m out of your price range.

But what I typed in response was, “More than you could ever afford.”

A few weeks later my best friend stole NMR’s student ID on her way out of a class they had together. She gave it to me for my birthday because she was a good friend. A couple nights later she came over in her pajamas, and we sat on the floor of my bedroom and burned NMR’s student ID to a plastic crisp with a box of matches while I sang a rewritten version of Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain.” It was incredibly gratifying.

I still love going dancing. I still revel in blaring music. But I no longer discuss ice cream with strangers. Regardless of which hairless rodent they resemble.

Ang goes to Clown Training.

I fought feelings of anxiety as I made my way back to Long Island for my first “clown training.”

Maybe this will be fun.

Thankfully, the training took place in a separate location from the abandoned warehouse where I had my interview with E. The tiny training room was freshly painted and did not give me the feeling any murders had taken place within its walls.

Things are looking up here in Duloc!

Girls and boys were trained in separate skills. Boys were trained in balloon animals, the cotton candy machine, and the magic show; girls were trained in face-painting, line dances, and games like the limbo and freeze dance (college education paying off RULLBIG). It is surprisingly uncomfortable to be evaluated on the way you play a totally-open-to-interpretation game like freeze dance. E kept suggesting I tell the kids to freeze in a SpongeBob SquarePants pose.

Don’t worry, Ang, this is the worst audition experience you will ever have. It only goes up from here.

At one point between dance evaluations E said, “Black people love the Cha-Cha Slide, so always make sure you play that song at black parties.”

O.M.G. What!? No, EVERYTHING you just said is totally wrong and completely offensive.

“And make sure you play the Chicken Dance at white parties.”

Yeah, I’ll give you that one.

I was embarrassingly bad at face-painting. You would think, as a dancer, I would be great at other art forms. Not even a little bit. E was always correcting the way I was holding the brush, dipping the paint, making my lines, and doing art. Then, much to my dismay, she mentioned I would probably only have thirty seconds to spend on each child at crowded parties.

Cool, a no-win scenario. Maybe I will be fortunate enough to encounter lots of children who only want half their face painted.

In the midst of my attempt to semi-paint half-faces, I was simultaneously being forced to listen to the boys practice their stand-up comedy skills for the magic show just across the room. The “amazing” factor of the magic show totally relied on the energy, creativity, and improvisational skills of the magician, since the tricks were nothing spectacular. The human instructing the boys was the shortest, loudest, most foul-mouthed little man I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.

Hold on. You don’t need to describe children with expletives, good sir. And I am very uncomfortable with the sexual nature of your commentary. I hope you sit on a tack.

I had a hard time concentrating on the accuracy of my tiger stripes because I was so distracted by Teenie Meanie and his protégés’ use of “and now” as their segway between magic tricks. My remaining emotional energy was spent wondering why no one was stopping Teenie Meanie from saying All The Worst Things. That is, until E mentioned him being responsible for training because of his reputation for being one of the best entertainers in the company.

Wow, that bums me out pretty hardcore.

I was still thinking about how much I disliked Teenie Meanie and his uninteresting minions as I walked back to the train station with one of my fellow face-painters. Somehow Teenie Meanie came up in conversation. Maybe it was organic, or maybe I abruptly said, “UGH TEENIE MEANIE IS THE WORST.” Hard to know for sure. Regardless, my fellow face-painter shrugged and replied, “I dunno; I’d f*ck him.”

I hardly knew which train of thought to jump on first.

  1. Wait WHAT? Really? Does your no-no-square not have standards? Did you know there are guys who don’t cuss out children and blatantly objectify women? Did you know they make guys over five feet tall? I’ve heard some of them have jobs.
  2. Also, why did you say that with all the nonchalance of “I just burped?” As much as I don’t care for him, he doesn’t deserve to be treated like a piece of garbage for you to use as you please. He is a gem, and you don’t deserve him.
  3. Clowns are the worst.

From that moment on, clown training felt like preparation for the Hunger Games. Except instead of people trying to figure out who they would kill first, these clowns were trying to figure out with whom they would fornicate first. I kept to myself for the rest of my time in the freshly-painted, murderless room and ignored giggles and whispers from those around me.

Nope, not interested in your nasty Humping Games.

What I WAS interested in was nailing my face-painting skills, so I could finally try my hand at the magic show. I concentrated my hardest (which still yielded remarkably unimpressive results) on getting my hand-brush coordination skills up to Satisfactory.

And then it happened. Teenie Meanie was replaced by Tall Hippie Guy, a beautifully tall man who spoke kindly and oozed creativity. He was like a real-life mermaid and I loved him instantly. The day he took over there was an odd number of boys at training and since they needed to practice the magic show in teams of two, a girl needed to volunteer as tribute. My hand shot up as casually as possible as I struggled to maintain my excitement.

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember the boys laughing. And not in the way boys laugh at girls when they’re trying to lure them into a local coffee shop for a casual beverage. This was like genuine not-interested-in-you laughter.

But one Saturday morning a couple weeks later, as my new partner and I were ready to drive out to a party, Tall Hippie Guy motioned for us to stop. “Hey man, make sure you let Angela help out with the magic show. She’s hilarious. Just let her vomit her magic all over you; you won’t regret it.”

Nailed it.

 

Ang embarks upon The Princess Diaries.

It was pouring rain the night I arrived in Manhattan. Soaking wet, I hauled my two gigantic suitcases up three flights of stairs only to unload them into a heat-filled room the size of a shoebox where I was to take my post as a Resident Advisor for a summer ballet program. But as I looked out the window at the city lights, while sweating profusely, I thought to myself, “Oh man, I think I love this town.” Two weeks into the summer program I was offered a position on the housing staff for the year-round program. Let me be more specific. Two weeks later my future boss saw me escorting my summer residents to Trader Joe’s, singing and dancing on the sidewalk like a Maria-Von-Trapp wannabe, and for some reason decided I would be a competent administrator. A couple quick notes here:

  1. Maria Von Trapp did not sit around organizing appointments with Time Warner Cable.
  2. Every time I have been hired for a non-musical job because of musical tendencies things have ended badly.

 

My non-musical role in the year-round program did not prevent me from singing and dancing like a Von Trapp anyway. Once during a doctor’s visit, I tried to distract a student who was nervous about receiving a shot by singing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” She looked like she wanted to punch me in the face, but the doctor started singing with me. It was definitely one of my more successful medical visits.

As much as I loathe all forms of institutionalized medical buildings, I preferred the ER to my “RA apartment” any day. I lived with the three other RAs, our boss, and her boss. Who was also her boyfriend. “Oh good, that doesn’t sound complicated,” said no one. This boyfriend/boss hybrid was my archnemesis. Let’s call him Flerm.

Flerm was a misogynistic, greedy creeper and an enemy of the people. The bottom of his shirts never quite reached the top of his low-rise jeans, which would have been acceptable if he hadn’t constantly been bending over. WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY NEED TO KEEP PICKING UP!?

I fought Flerm on everything, mainly because I was right on everything, and he was wrong on everything. It was exhausting. One night my boss pulled me aside and said, “Angela, in order to survive at this job you just need to quiet your conscience.”

Uh, HARD PASS.

I was so desperate to get out I would have worked any job.

Hence, why I listened to what Crazy Workstudy Girl told me one day during our shift at a local dance studio. CWG was the daughter of a lesbian couple, she constantly talked about “f*cking” her boyfriend, and she was obsessed with juice cleanses. We didn’t have much in common, but she wore these things on her legs that looked like a magical hybrid between sweatpants and yoga pants, so I respected her. When I mentioned needing to find another job so I could leave the insane asylum that was “Flerm & Co.,” CWG leaned toward me, lowered her voice and said, “They’re looking for clowns, you know.” As someone who has been terrified of clowns her entire life my instinct was to scream, “OMG, I HOPE THEY FIND THEM!”

Turns out she wasn’t referring to sadistic criminals but rather a company based in Long Island who hired actors and artists to work as clowns and Disney Princesses for kids’ parties. Nowhere near my favorite employment opportunity, but money is a solid bribe for those struggling to make it in New York.

I’m great with kids, and it sounds like my Von Trapp skill set could be appreciated there. I think I am actually TOTALLY qualified to work that job.

CWG bestowed upon me the first name and phone number of the company’s owner and told me to text her saying I was interested in working.

This feels unprofessional. I am supposed to send a text message to this woman, telling her I’m good at dress-up? There’s no way this is legitimate.

I texted the woman anyway. Let’s call her E. To this day I do not know her last name. I received a reply, asking me to come in for an interview. I was elated.

This could quite possibly be the God-send job I need.

Even if it was terrible and I hated it at least I would be free from “Flerm and Co.” I was eager to begin my journey as a Starving Artist, so I confirmed an interview time for the following Wednesday afternoon.

Unbeknownst to myself, I planned the most complicated and least efficient way to get from Manhattan to Long Island. But on the positive side I wore a black-and-white jumpsuit with a little black cardigan and had my hair in a messy French-twist-y situation. The jumpsuit was long enough you couldn’t tell I was wearing my haul-ass shoes. I felt like my outfit said, “I’m a good worker, but also super funny, as you can tell by the fact I’m wearing a jumpsuit.”

I made it from Times Square to Nowhere, Long Island on the train without a problem. The bus was the problem. Here’s the thing about the bus: it’s like a secret code. Taking the bus works if you’re familiar with the neighborhood and know exactly where you are going. Otherwise, you might as well be trying to paddle-boat to the moon. I was standing at the wrong bus stop when I saw the bus I needed opening it’s doors five hundred feet in front of me. I broke into a run, which is difficult while holding a duffle bag full of dance clothes and shoes as well as a large purse. I started yelling, “WAIT! HOLD THAT BUS!” but it drove away before I got to it. I immediately began to cry. You know, like a grownup. “I’m so tired!” I wailed, the April wind whipping my hair out of it’s French-twist-y situation and smearing my mascara all over my cheeks. I WAS tired. Tired of Flerm. Tired of hunting for apartments and jobs in secret. Tired of hanging out with students in the ER —

NO, ANG! Don’t say things you don’t mean.

By the grace of God a second bus pulled up, and I dragged my emotional baggage with me into one of the seats. I gave the bus driver the address of my interview and asked him to let me know when we were close because I had no idea where I was. He stopped in front of what looked like the set of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Bet those bodies got snatched because they were wearing pants.) There were wig-less mannequin heads in the large storefront windows, large streaks of brown packaging tape across the front of the windows and blue paint peeling from somewhere (probably the body snatchers). I turned to the bus driver, “No, are you sure?” He shrugged and nodded in a way that said, “Good luck with that paddle boat, Sweetie.”

You’ve come this far, Ang. Go get whatever this is like a champ.

It was just one giant room with the mannequin heads at the front, nothing in the middle and two desks at the very back. Each desk was occupied by a woman, one of whom was on the phone. I rolled my shoulders back and smiled as I walked across the room up to the phone-less woman. “Hi, my name is Angela. I’m here for an interview with E.” “She’s on the phone,” she replied, “one second.”

There’s a big slug from Monsters, Inc. who’s always complaining about Mike Wazowski’s failure to file his paperwork. E’s voice sounded just like the slug from the movie only with a nasal, Long Island accent. It was amazing and confusing, and I suddenly had difficulty not laughing.

The interview was weird at best. I had my headshot, resume and references with me since I was applying for a job to work with children. I figured there would be lots of questions and a requirement to complete a background check. I had a whole speech prepared about how I love children, how creative, funny and hardworking I am, and how my dance degree prepared me for this job. I was professionally desperate. But E didn’t ask me any important questions or request to see my resume. She inquired about my weekend availability and whether or not I had a car. I almost asked, “Don’t you want to know if I’m crazy?”

No, Ang. Don’t push your luck.

Then E said I would need to come in for several weeks of “clown training.”

Oh, that sounds degrading. Ok. This job already feels weird. But maybe I’ll get some good stories out of it.

Thus began #theprincessdiaries.

Ang goes skydiving.

Several summers ago my sister went skydiving.

Let me be more specific.

Several summers ago my sister went skydiving because she’s a total boss. She loved it and frequently told me how great it was, and also how I “would not” like it as I am terrified of heights. I emphatically insisted I am a big kid and “would too” enjoy it, especially since I have always wanted the ability to fly.

She called my bluff and bought us a skydiving jump for my birthday.  

Key Truths:

1) Everything is exponentially more fun for me when I do it with Christina. The mundane becomes fantastic. One time as little kids we put strawberry yogurt on leftover pepperoni pizza simply because we thought it would be funny, which it was until Mom made us eat it. If I could come away from the worst pink lunch I’ve ever eaten with only mild regrets, I knew the odds of being able to enjoy a Sister Skydiving Expedition were pretty high.

2) I will NOT pansy out in front of my sister. She has effortless grit about everything (which is INSANE to me). My grit is contained to a small circle of music-related beliefs and activities. For example, at lazer tag parties I am typically the first one out, and she is always the survivor. No music, no caring; caring and winning. While a gracious winner, she definitely enjoys seeing me outside my comfort zone. She’ll look at me with this twinkle in her eye and say “y’alright?” when she knows I’m not. It is a life goal of mine to be as naturally badass as she is.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting our skydiving launch site to be, but somehow I am surprised when we arrive at a trailer park. And by “park” I mean a trifecta of trailers proudly bearing “Skydiving Office” signs. ​

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​Once inside, Christina and I receive a large packet of papers to sign. Blah blah blah initial here, initial there … finally my eyes rest on the paragraph detailing the use of harnesses in tandem skydiving and how this is not to be confused with sexual harassment. At least that’s what the paragraph intends to say. What it actually says is an awkward slew of words including the phrase “private parts.”

I nudge Christina. The expressions of those around us tell me they judge us for laughing at the notion of signing away our private parts and believe we should be somberly preparing for our own funerals. Speaking of funerals, we are required to verbally acknowledge (on camera) that we might be seriously injured and/or killed in our skydiving expedition before we are allowed to exit the office trailer and progress toward the launch site. This melodrama only pushes us further into our Sister Space (abandon seriousness, all ye who enter), and we begin to flap our arms around in a pre-flight, wingspan warm-up as we wait outside for Kevs to shuttle us to the launch site.

The launch site is a small hanger with a table of harnesses, a small boat, and a rack of jumpsuits, which Christina spots almost immediately.  

Christina, to me: “Gosh I wish we could try those on.  I’ve always wanted to *in her manliest voice* suit up!”

Heather, one of the workers: “No one has ever asked before, but yeah you can totally try them on.”

Christina: “C’MON, SUIT UP!”

We jog over, each grab a jump suit, and put it on as fast we can before dramatically strutting into the sunlight and discussing the odds of being able to jump double-tandem like a triple-decker Oreo.

​Christina, gazing into the sun: “Oh tandem, my tandem.”

skydiving-suits_orig.jpgOmg. This trip has already been worth it and we haven’t even gotten in the plane.

** The above quote proves my theory that Christina is the funniest one in our family.

We suit off when Heather tells us to come get our harnesses, which is fine because we signed the waiver. We revert back to our awkward wingspan warm-ups until I hear a man’s voice say, “Christina? I’m Nick, I’ll be flying with you today.” I barely have a minute to worry about who I’ll be flying with when I see a Captain America/Incredible Hulk hybrid walk toward me.

“Angela? I’m Brock.”

Yeah you are.

I’m not sure why the thought of a gigantic man on top of me as I plummet face-down toward the earth is comforting to me, but it totally is. Maybe it’s because I know if the parachute doesn’t open his massive body weight will kill me for sure if the fall alone doesn’t do it. Regardless, my confidence is skyrocketing. Turns out Brock used to jump out of airplanes for the United States Army. Double Jeopardy.

Brock: “Ok, let’s talk about what’s gonna happen today.”

Ang, still feeling great: “Alright! Woohoo!”

Brock: “So we’ll fly up in the plane, and you’ll sit between my legs –”

*Ang hears nothing else and all the color drains from her face*

I’m determined not to let Christina sense my new discomfort, but this gets difficult because my level of discomfort increases when I see the plane. I have been in small planes before, but this thing looks like it runs on AA batteries. It reminds me of what a tricycle might look like if it had wings.

Omg, are Christina and I going to have to jump on separate trips!? I mean I will do it and I will love it but I will not be happy about it. Oh, wait; WHEW — turns out you can almost fit four people comfortably on the floor in the trunk-space behind the pilot of The Flying Tricycle. 

Nick climbs in first, sitting cross-legged. Then Christina, also cross-legged. Then Brock, spread-eagle. Then me, between the legs.  

The plane definitely feels exactly as small as it looks. The door doesn’t even have a lock or a lever like the doors on commercial airplanes, or smart cars. It simply pushes open and slams shut. In fact, we take off with the door open. Brock doesn’t even shut it until we are several hundred feet in the air. I’m still smiling and laughing with Christina, method-acting my way through this experience and trying hard to stay in our Sacred Sister Space. That is until I realize we’re five thousand feet in the air, I’m common-law married to Captain America, and there’s a sign behind Nick that reads “Maximum luggage limit 120 pounds.”

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​At this point Brock starts attaching his harness to mine. I turn my head as far as I can to watch and ensure he’s not just faking it. Brock tells me to scoot up and sit on his lap.

Scoot up!? Isn’t “up” where I’ve been this whole time? 

My facial expression must have changed because Christina starts giggling, and I feel like it’s at me instead of with me.  Brock asks us how excited we are, and we both scream. Me more out of determination than happiness. Christina can tell because she leans over between bouts of laughter and whispers, “You’re doing great.”

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​Exhale.

She’s right; this is fun! I’m loving it.

Then Brock wraps his arms around me and says, “Aw you’re so cute!  I’m not gonna let anything happen to you, my little doll.” He might intend this to be soothing, but it has the exact opposite effect.

The whole REASON I’m glued to you is because I don’t want anything to happen to me! At what point were you even thinking, “Naw, I’ma let this one slide?”

Christina is beside herself.

Brock then says for me to cross my arms over my chest and hold on to my harness straps. If there was one thing I did not want to do today it was cross my arms over my chest like a corpse.

Why can’t I just hold on to the straps like a backpack? No time for this, Ang. Just do what Captain America tells you.

Brock says we’ll lay down, he’ll open the door, put his left foot out, I’ll put my left foot out, same on the right side and then we’ll go. I anticipate the entire disembarking process will take approximately two seconds. Brock opens the door at roughly ten thousand feet. It is cold and loud and windy.

Left foot.

Right foot.

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​There are some moments you wish you could freeze and experience forever. Sitting on the front porch of The Flying Tricycle is not one of mine. But everything after that was amazing and I can’t say I didn’t love it. Brock asked me several times to stop swan-laking my arms because I was obstructing his view of our landing point.

Relax, Captain America. I won’t let anything happen to you.

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As Kevs drives us back to the office, he says, “I gotta tell ya, we don’t often get feedback from the instructors about our clients, but on your photo drive there’s a note that says to make sure you guys get all the pictures, because you’re hilarious.”

​Oh tandem, my tandem. ​

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