June 2013 Archives

Happy

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I just have to take a minute to talk about things in my life right now. Maybe it's because I am coming off of a life-changing vacation--but not even because of that--but I am happy to say that I am so freaking happy right now. And proud of myself. And feeling good in my life. I feel better than I have in a really long time.

I feel like the last 13 years of living in Chicago have all been for this moment in my life now. I am more capable than ever before. I can juggle more than ever. I am loving all of my projects and what I am acheiving.  I have confidence again, and it feels great.

Creatively:
I have 2 major choreography projects about to start rehearsals. I have a lot of work ahead of me, and the next few months are going to be busy, but I am excited for the prospects.

We are about to launch a new Blewt! web project that is so funny and stupid and amazing and it makes me incredibly happy. The shoot we did earlier this month ran beautifully and easily, and it was pay-off for all the shows we've produced together over the years.

We previewed a new show for kids and adults alike yesterday, and I am so proud of the results. I've directed some improv and done lots of advising and producing, but this is the first show in my 16 year professional career that I have properly directed. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment on this one.

We're going to be shooting a music video soon for a local rap group. Fuzzy and I always want to make music videos (they are my favorite medium), so I am happy that we've paired up with them on this.

Drunk Monkeys, man. That's all I have to say about that. We are having a ball, getting more viewers and making connections left and right. Good things are happening for us. Expect some really cool shows coming up soon.

Work keeps on rolling in...feels good.

Personally:
I've signed up for a Sprint triathlon again in August. I figured I would be too busy with rehearsals and my part time jobs to train for a full olympic this year, but it will be nice to be training again.

New tattoos! Still riding high on that one.

Friends! I love meeting people and making new connections and friends. I love all the people that are coming into my life these days. And my old friends are treasure to me.

MY HUSBAND. How is it that after 9 years together and almost 7 years of marriage, this amazing man can keep surprising me, making me laugh, and providing me with so much love, passion and companionship? We are having more fun these days than ever and really enjoying the time we get to spend together. I am more in love every single day.

 

Yes, I still have some challenges in my life that I am dealing with, but I am doing as best I can at dealing with them. I know that this happiness can be fleeting and it will not always be there, but I am blessed that right now I can just really exist in it and sit in it and feel that it is good and know that it is good. All I need is to just be present in it. And I love it. I sort of even feel like I am still on vacation, and that is the best feeling.

I am grateful.

SNORF! and the WGN Morning News!

I have a new goal this year, and it is to see how many times that I, or one of my projects can be on the WGN Morning news. So far, I've visited the station 4 times: once with Don't Spit The Water, once with World of the Weird Monster Show, and twice with the Noah Ginex Puppet Company. This week was to promote our new show SNORF!, the Saturday Afternoon Monster and Piggie/ Comedy-Variety Show. SNORF! opened today, and I meant to blog about the show before now, but when you are directing and hosting rehearsals in your dining room, things fall through the cracks some time. But I am happy to say that the show was awesome, and we have another one coming up on July 20th! Yippee!

So Thursday, we were on the WGN morning news to celebrate National Handshake Day, and in all my years of knowing Noah and working with the NGPC, this was my first time ever puppeteering. I am honored that I got to play Bessie, the Cow.

Erica as Bessie on WGN Morning News

And Fuzzy was Ron the Snake, who got a huge laugh.

Fuzzy as Ron on WGN Morning News

Here's the whole crew!

NGPC on the WGN Morning News

Watch the video here!!

New Mrs Mucha!

Here is Jan and me at the rehearsal dinner last Thursday. I had only just skyped with her once before, so it was so lovely getting to spend time with her last week (IN PARIS.) She and Jeremy make a great couple.  More photos to come soon!

(also, check out my awesome tattoo!)

Jan and me!

True Love

Look at these photos that Sandy took on the boat on the Seine at Jeremy's wedding. Gorgeous!

True love on the Seine

Romance on the Seine

I am a lucky lady.

First things first: Fuzzy and I were in Paris last week.

It was amazing. For many reasons. I got to see Christopher and Katie. I saw one of my best friends get married. I fell in love with the city of Paris, and I fell in love all over again with my husband (which I do every single day, but it was especially romantic in Paris).  I am going to talk about these things some other time. Right now, I have something else I want to talk about.

Fuzzy and I got new tattoos.

Several years ago, Fuzzy used to subscribe to a number of tattoo magazines. We would look at them and ooh and ahh and talk about our future of tattoos. Both Fuzzy and I were big tattoo fans, though then, we both only just had a couple. One day, we got one that had a feature on Lionel Fahy: Lionel Out of Step, and we were both awe-stricken. I am pretty sure that this is the article we had, from International Tattoo Magazine in May of 2006 (found on Lionel's site--click each pic to read the whole article). We became obsessed with his portfolio, and we added to our life wish list "get tattooed by Lionel." We showed his work to all of our friends. We googled him and got alerts on his work and obsessed constantly. In May of 2007, Fuzzy emailed with him and got on a waiting list for a trip he was planning to New York for December of that year. Sadly, his trip was canceled, but in looking up this timeline just now, we would have had to cancel our trip then anyway, due to Dad's passing away.

So we started planning and scheming and dreaming about how to get to France. Fuzzy decided to save his entire right arm to let Lionel do whatever he wanted. I got my 2 arm tattoos by Esther, but still had space on my arms to get a tattoo from Lionel. He started a blogspot, which made for easy subscribing, and I probably tested the patience of Fuzzy daily with the constant repetition of me gasping, oohing, and saying "Fuzzy, look at this one" and then saving the photo to my phone. Fuzzy and I decided that no matter what, we were going. It became the plan.

From an email from my brother in January of 2011, when I said we were planning a trip to France sometime, he said "Are you going to get tattoos from that French dude you like?"

From an email from my bro on Aug 6th, 2012: "Looks like your French vacation plans may be coming to fruition:  Jeremy and Jan are getting married on June 21, 2013 in Paris."

I emailed Lionel November 15th requesting a slot. We were to book our flights around the tattoo. Turns out, he was going to be working in Paris the week we were there. Meant to be. I paid our deposit, he gave us the info, and then we had to wait.

Lionel and shop-mate Fred

For months people would ask us what we were going to get. We would reply "whatever he wants to give us." As it got closer to the date, Christopher booked the apartment. One day, Fuzzy and I decided that since the tattoo was happening our first full day there, we needed to find out how to get there earlier than the day of, since we would be tired and jet-lagged. So we put the addresses into google maps and discovered that the parlor was literally down the street from our apartment. A short walk. The stars were aligned.

Before we left town, we compiled a list of things of his that we liked and what we wanted so he could have an idea of what to expect. Fuzzy wanted pictures and maybe a tribute to our old sweet cat Mustapha. I wanted lines and colors and abstract movement. My only request was for it to work with my flowers and birds that I already had.  And then we were off.

LIONEL FAHY v Praze from jan dufek on Vimeo.

Monday morning, we had breakfast with the group in town for the wedding, then set off to the parlor. We were excited, only a little nervous, and very very ready. When Lionel entered the room, it was an amazing feeling. It was like meeting a celebrity to us, but a warm, compassionate and charming one.  We got along great & made some jokes. He even asked about an episode of Drunk Monkeys that he had watched (I have links on my email signature about it). This guy was good. 

We chatted about what we wanted, and he pitched an idea for me that I instantly loved. Then he sent us off for a bite so he could sketch some things up for Fuzzy.

Erica, Pre-Tattoo

Fuzzy, Pre-Tattoo

Before Pics.

And then, the magic started.

Stencils for Fuzzy

Fuzzy's stencil. After these were applied, Lionel did a lot of hand drawing to fill out the arm.

Lionel and Fuzzy

Adding free-drawn work

Adding free-drawn work

Ghost Cat

Then Lionel got to work.

Black work

Black work

Black work

Black work

Black work done

Black work done--time for color!

Colors

Color Work

All done! Fuzzy's took about 4 hours.

Done!

Done!

Amazing! SO GORGEOUS. I love it so much.

Documenting the tattoo

Lionel and Fuzzy

That's a whole lot of handsome right there, I tell ya.

Then, it was my turn. For me, he was going to do one in a series he was doing based on constellations. He hand-drew directly on me, anchoring many of the lines to my freckles and moles. Talk about custom work!

Drawing constellations on Erica

Drawing constellations on Erica

Here is me, doing a great job of looking like a turtle (above).

Erica, RTG

Mine goes down to my elbow, and across my back.

Erica, RTG

Down to business.

Working on Erica

Working on Erica

The lines are immaculate. I can't imagine how much concentration and focus that took.

Working on Erica

Life passing by on the street outside.

Working on Erica

Working on Erica

Working on Erica

Black work done

A brief break for color, and then--All done! Mine took 1.5-2 hoursish.

Documenting the tattoo

Lionel and me!

Lionel and Erica

I received lots of compliments on the tattoo the rest of the week. One person even thought that my previous tattoo was also a part of the new one. Mission accomplished!

Amazing. Perfect. Wonderful. I can't think of a better souvenir for a wonderful trip than original custom art that we get to wear every day from an artist that we've loved and admired for a long time. Unforgettable. And as each day goes on, I love them more and more. They are perfect for us. It really is a dream come true.

We still have some healing to do, but here we are, one week later:

Erica's tattoo, after one week of healing

Erica's tattoo, after one week of healing

Gorgeous! I'm so happy. So in love with it. I love that my flowers are mostly on the inside of my arm, and the constellations are mostly on the outside. It flows together perfectly, and it makes me feel beautiful.

And Fuzzy's:

Fuzzy's tattoo, after one week of healing

Fuzzy's tattoo, after one week of healing

Fuzzy's tattoo, after one week of healing

Fuzzy's tattoo, after one week of healing

Fuzzy's tattoo, after one week of healing

I'm so happy that I get to look at these every day. Lucky me! Gorgeous tattoos for my gorgeous husband!

As we left the shop, Lionel made a comment about maybe getting more work done in the future. That would be yet another dream, but now we know that really anything is possible, right?

Oh yeah, and there's this:

Erica, new tattoos, and some tower

Erica, new tattoos, and some tower

I am so blessed to have had this experience.

Read Fuzzy's blog about it here! And I second what he said about checking out Lionel's band Copenhagen. I've been listening to it on repeat all week.

Lionel also gave us some amazing advice about buying wine while in Paris. And he was right--we didn't pay over 5 Euro a bottle (mostly in the 3-4 Euro range), and it was all amazing wine.

Thank you, Lionel, for sharing your art with us!! Hope we can meet again.

Holiday!

Team Gerdes is taking a little hiatus for a week!

I'll be back with stories and photos, etc etc, after June 24th!

Have a great week!

Awwww...

Check out this awesome photo that our friend Zach took last Saturday at a 5k:

cutestever.jpg

(photo editing also by Zach)

Team Gerdes is in loooooove.

This.

This is everything.

INSPIRATION AND BEAUTY!

Hi! Time is running out on the Sweetie Maude Fundraising Campaign! If you have an extra $15 you'd like to share, please check out the site!

Thank you!

Worst Best Massage

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I have a friend in massage therapy school. Having a friend in massage therapy school is the BEST thing, because sometimes their homework is "give a massage."  I was the fortunate lucky recipient of this assignment a few months ago.

We set a date. I was to go to the friend's house for the massage cause that's where her table was. Perfect. Golden. I'm in.

At 9am the morning of the massage, I received the following email: "Hey, so i dropped my phone in a toliet on saturday. but i wanted to email you and say we are still on for one." Bummer about the phone! But yay, we're still on. I showed up to her place at 1:00 and buzzed the door. And waited. And buzzed again. And waited. I checked my phone to see if she texted--oh right--she didn't have a phone and I couldn't call her. I sent her an email saying "I'm downstairs!" in case she was on her computer and her buzzer was broken. I buzzed again. About 10-15 minutes later, I saw her running down the sidewalk. Her bus had been delayed, and she couldn't text me to tell me. No worries, I was easy breezy. "Next time, we'll start on time," she said.

We went into her apartment. She reminded me that she's been staying in a friend's living room temporarily, so things were in a bit of chaos. There was a futon in the living room and stuff all over the floor.  No worries for me, I get it. She lit an incense stick and started getting her table out to set it up. I asked to use the bathroom.

After I was finished with my business, I tried to flush the toilet. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. I exited the room and told her that it didn't flush. She replied, "Oh, yeah--it only flushes like once every couple of times." and apologized. No worries; if she was ok with it, so was I.  "Next time, I'll be in a different place, so it will be better," she said.

Back in the living room, it became clear that we needed to move the coffee table out of the living room. She asked for help. The coffee table was very large and square with two-tiered shelving. It was also loaded with stuff. We lifted it to try to get it out of the room. It didn't fit through the rectangular doorway. I mentioned to her that we needed to tilt it to get it out, but we had to be careful cause of all the stuff. We angled it a bit, and things started to slide around. She grabbed the incense and put it on a nearby bookcase so it wouldn't fall.  We tilted the table more, and suddenly, everything came sliding off of it--books, papers, food, things--absolutely everywhere. We sort of shrugged like "oh well" and just pushed forward. As we were getting it through the door, I noticed a sudden burning sensation on my left arm. I said to my friend "I am being burned by something." I pulled up my left elbow, and the incense stick was sticking into my arm.  My friend yelled and grabbed it from my arm, but the cherry from the stick was still attached to me. She grabbed that off, too. We set down the table. My arm instantly blistered and started to hurt. She apologized and got some ice cubes from the freezer for me.   "Next time, it will be better, I promise," she said.

As I sat on the couch icing my arm, my friend went to work assembling the table. She pulled some sheets out of a wad on the bed to use, assuring me they were clean. It's ok! I'm easy breezy! Free massage! "Next time, the sheets will look nicer," she said.

I've recently become incredibly sensitive to all sort of bath products. I try to only use paraben free, and I have to make sure that no natural strawberries are used, etc. Facials and massage creams usually break me out, so I asked if I could look at her lotion to double check. I looked at the ingredients, and it looked a-ok with me.

When we were ready to begin, she told me that I could get undressed and under the sheet. She was going to step out of the room. As I started to take off my dress, I realized that the large bay windows only had curtains on 2 out of 3 of the window panes. I looked out of one of them and saw a man walking his dog...which means, he could see me. As I was undressing.  I called to my friend "Hey, is there anyway that people can see up into this window while I change?" She answered "Oh...yeah, they can," and apologized again. I thought for a second and then decided to get under the sheets before taking off my dress. Boom! Brilliant. Let's begin!  "Next time, none of this will happen," she said.

She asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to, and I said "just something relaxing." She chose a nice mellow station on spotify. The massage began. It was awesome. Free massage! This is what it's all about! Burn or no! A few songs in, a really weird one came on. I had never heard it before, and it had a very aggressively pointed female vocalist singing. I tried to not listen to the words, but  few crept in. "La la la the red and green..." It was weird. I let it go, but I started to get giggly. She kept massaging. "LA LA LA LA RED AND GREEN!!!" Finally I burst, "Is this a CHRISTMAS SONG?!?!" and died laughing. She said "Yeah, I don't know WHAT this is!" and changed the channel. I couldn't stop laughing. Or giggling. After all the events of the day. It was the perfect storm. She settled on some Indie rock, and then got down to business.

I'm very happy to say that the massage was amazing, and I felt incredible afterwards. She is very talented, thank goodness! And nothing else bad happened.

That is, until I got home, and my skin was on fire and itching to death from the massage lotion. So I took a shower to wash it off.

Next time will be better.

What the Fokkens

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A few months ago, I was visiting Erica in New York to spend some time with her before the arrival of her baby. The sole purpose of the visit was to "loll about in bed and do nothing" for the weekend. We've always been really good at doing this, and this visit was no exception. There was lots of bed lolling, bed magazine reading, bed youtube video watching and bed napping over the weekend.  One night, we decided that we wanted to watch a movie, so we got in the bed, pulled out the laptop and loaded up Netflix. We both love all things documentaries, so when the documentary Meet the Fokkens popped up in "new arrivals", we were intrigued.

fokkens_poster.jpg

Meet the Fokkens is about 69 year old identical twins in Amsterdam who have been prostitutes in the Red Light District for over 50 years. In the movie, they talk about their lives, their histories, and their present lives, in and out of the industry. How could we pass that up?

The movie took forever to load. We waited patiently. We asked Danny, Erica's boyfriend if he wanted to join us. He declined and said that he was going to walk the dog. We waited. Finally the movie loaded. We learned that it was in Dutch with subtitles. Oh that's neat. It froze up again, no! We waited. And waited. These ladies were worth it.

Finally, it started to play. Success! The Fokkens are adorable and charming.  Danny returned with the dog. We asked if he now wanted to join us, since he had only missed a little. He agreed. At this point, Erica was on the right side of the bed, (and super pregnant) and I was on the left side. I asked what they wanted to do: should I move over to the side to let Danny in the middle so they could be next to each other? Danny didn't know if he was going to commit to the whole movie, cause he had other things to do.  Did Erica want to move to the middle? She didn't want to move, cause that side of the bed was her pregnancy-pillowed side, and she also wouldn't have been able to hold the laptop in her lap. So I was the meat in the bed sandwich, with the laptop on my stomach.  I decided to start the movie over so that Danny could see what he missed (which really wasn't anything). It froze up again and started reloading. NO! More waiting, as the clock ticked on.  Finally, it came back, and we were ready to go.

I guess I didn't really know what to expect in a documentary about prostitution, but I felt like I was ready. I'm no stranger to erotic imagery, what with Fuzzy's previous job at a certain gentleman's magazine and my career in the burlesque world. And Erica and I can watch anything together no problem. The subtitles were a little blurry, so you really had to work hard to read them, and their voices and the other language was really lilting and soothing. It was an interesting juxtaposition to the subject matter--the things they were talking about were really explicit. After one graphic and unpleastant description, Danny made the ironic comment "Sexy..." and we all giggled.

Only, I realized that Erica didn't giggle. And I realized that she was breathing pretty heavily. Because of how her head was propped and my being on my back with the laptop on my stomach, when I looked at her, I couldn't tell if she was still awake and just quiet, or if she was asleep. And I didn't want to ask that super annoying question, "Are you asleep?" especially not to a super pregnant woman with inconsistent sleep patterns. So we kept watching.

As the movie went on, things got more real, and they showed one of the twins at work. Which is to say, performing sex acts to male clients with blurred faces. And I got more uncomfortable. I started getting shifty and sweaty. It became clearer that Erica was totally passed out, so essentially what was happening was that I was watching some sex at night with Erica's boyfriend in their bed. No big, just watching some porn on a computer on a Sunday night in Brooklyn with my best friend's baby daddy while she's asleep next to me. You know, just sandwiched between a couple in the bed that the baby was conceived in, watching an elderly woman be a dominatrix to a paid client in Amsterdam. As one does.

I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. If you can't watch porn with your good male friends, who can you watch it with, right? So I let a few more minutes go by, and I don't remember if it was Danny who decided to leave, or if I bit the bullet and said that I was tired and needed to go to bed, but one of those things happened. We stopped the movie with about 45 minutes left to go, and we started moving around. Erica woke up a little. I told her I was going to go to sleep, and I asked if she was interested in watching any more of it that evening. Her response was, "Well, I have been listening to it."

To the movie that was in another language.

I said my goodnights, and went to my room and read for a little while. We never finished the movie.