Category Archives: That’s Not Real

What will my human crystal ball tell me?

Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions about my life and what I should do with it. Do I want to write or act? Travel or stay in NYC? Marry Zac Efron or marry Chase Crawford?

These are challenging questions that I’m not equipped to answer on my own. I need guidance. Psychic guidance.

It’s time to go to Cassadaga.

Settled by a group of Spiritualists from Pike, NY in 1894, The Cassadaga Spiritualist camp is not a typical stop for tourists hitting the Orlando-Disney circuit. It’s in the woods off of I-4, by a lake that has “unusual energy properties”. The camp is home to about 90 certified mediums and healers who give readings at pretty good prices, considering the price people are willing to pay for this sort of stuff. There is a bookstore, cafe, a small hotel and three short streets lined with good old-fashioned southern homes.

My two pals, Amy and Brittany, and I arrived a little after seven P.M. Unfortunately, we discovered that even psychics like to keep normal business hours.

I asked Amy if she thought if we’d still be able to get a reading even though it was after hours.

“Somehow psychic doesn’t scream 9 to 5 to me.” Good point.

We snooped around the porch of the closed bookstore, aimlessly looking for a sign or flyer that could lead us to a psychic. We ended up finding a small information center located behind the bookstore. The lights were still on and it sounded like people were inside. I gave Amy a nudge and suggested she go in first. She awkwardly pushed open the door and interrupted about five people sitting in a circle discussing ghost orbs.

“Can I help you?” asked a tall man with red cheeks and the most amazing handlebar mustache ever.

“Um, can we come in?” asked Amy. We were already inside.

“Who’s we?”

“Uh, Sarah.” Alright Amy. Pass the awkward off to me.

“Sure, Sarah can come in! But only Sarah. The two of you have to stay outside.” He was joking but we were too dazed by his mustache to realize it. “So Sarah. What are you looking for?”

“A reading?” The badge pinned to his shirt said Official Cassadaga tour guide.

“Yep. We have those here. Most of our mediums work during the day but we do have one that works at night. His name is Thomas and he’s across the street. Go over and ring the bell. If he doesn’t answer he’s probably with someone. Just wait and he’ll come out. If you’re interested, we also do night-time orb tours. Tomorrow’s tour is going to be a good one. Got a lot of people coming for it. Gonna be plenty of energy orbs. You all should come too!” His exuberance was unparalleled. “Lately, there’s been a bunch of activity with the fairies, elves… ” He looked at me and gave me a big grin, as though he were saving this next one especially for me, “and trolls. Do you believe in trolls, Sarah?”


“Then let me show you something.” He gestured for the three of us to follow him to his desk. He pulled out a thick binder full of photos taken on the orb tour. “See this little guy? That’s our troll. He was out last night, bouncing all around.” The photo was of a tree, taken at night, and sitting on one of the branches was a yellow glob of light. It strangely appeared to have the facial features of an old Brother’s Grimm troll.

“Huh.” I said. I didn’t know what to make of that.

Mr. Handlebar flipped through all the photos, explaining all the spirits and fairies caught on film. The photos looked authentic enough but I figured most of these spirits were brought back to earth by people who don’t know how to use the flash on their camera.

While the photos were interesting, we weren’t there to do no troll hunting. We said good-bye to Mr. Handlebar and headed across the street to meet Thomas.

“I’m not paying more than 40 dollars,” announced Amy. Amy was planning to lie to him to test his abilities. She had created an elaborate back story and was confident she could fool him.

“It’s going to be more than 40 dollars,” I said. Brittany, who was experiencing Cassadaga for the first time, chimed in and said that she wasn’t going to pay more than 20 dollars. “Maybe you’ll get palm reading for that price but not a psychic reading,” I told her, even though I knew it didn’t matter. The idea of Brittany participating in a psychic reading was ridiculous. She’s too practical of a person to believe in this stuff. I imagined her reading ending in a completely calm and rational argument of logic vs. the metaphysical.

We marched up the brick stairs leading to Thomas’s front door and huddled together under his awning. “That seems like an excessive use of exclamation marks,” Brittany said, pointing to a small handwritten note taped under the doorbell.





I pressed the doorbell and held it for a borderline obnoxious amount of time. No answer. I rang the bell again. The door opened and a man, slightly shorter than me and looking more like a fish bait salesman than a psychic, stepped out.

“Can I do something for you, mmmyes?”

Oh my God. It’s the Slingblade of Cassadaga.

“How much for a reading?” I asked.

“40 dollars.”

I looked at Amy with surprised glee. 40 dollars!? I said with my eyes. That’s your cut off price! I ignored her flat and unenthusiastic face and said “We’ll do it!”

“Wait in here.” He opened his door wider to let us in. We stepped into his unlit patio that he had turned into a makeshift waiting room, complete with uncomfortable chairs and old magazines. He disappeared into his house and left us alone to quietly ponder the questions posed by the religious paraphernalia cluttering the room. “Heaven or Hell?” asked one of the posters tacked to the wood-paneled wall.

“I think I’m going to pass,” said Amy.

“What?” I knew I couldn’t count on Brittany to leap into the future with me but I didn’t think Amy would bail. She was my partner in all of this! The one who, just a few hours earlier at Subway, was telling me her mischievous plan to thwart the psychic. “I was born in Massachusetts. Salem. Wait no, Deerfield. Salem’s too suspicious. And my grandmother’s name, Patsy. She was a seamstress.”

“Your grandfather?”

“Died in the war.”

With Amy out, I felt trapped. I didn’t know what to do. This night was about getting answers to all the questions I ever had about my life. I couldn’t quit now. I was desperate to hear that my future contained phrases like “Oscar Winner” and “Married to George Clooney”. But with the uneasy feeling we were getting from Thomas, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend 40 bucks on a potentially lame reading.

Before I could decide what to do, I heard the hinge on the house door squeak. “Ready?” Thomas grunted.

I couldn’t make up a lie quick enough so I said, “Yep!” Amy and Brittany shot me a WTF are you thinking look and I shrugged my shoulders. We did come all this way. Might as well go whole hog.

The screen door slammed behind me. I was officially in Thomas’s lair. Lair may sound dramatic but that’s what it felt like I was entering. I didn’t know what nefarious objects I would come upon. Medieval torture tools… a functioning meth lab… a corner designated to his taxidermy hobby…

Or, I’ll find the sweetest little dog ever and a collection of Shirley Temple commemorative china plates.

“You like my dog, yes?” His speech pattern was so unusual that even though he spoke clearly I still had a hard time understanding him.

“I do.”

“You like my dog, yes?” He repeated himself, which initially I thought was odd. But as I started put it together, his collection of knickknacks, the note with broken syntax on the door, his aversion to eye contact, I realized that he must have Asperger’s.

And getting a reading from a psychic with Asperger’s only means it’s going to be THE BEST PSYCHIC READING EVER.

After asking one question (where I was from), Thomas started throwing down. He immediately brought up how worried I’ve been about my family and noted the reasons for my concern…A mom with cancer who needs help taking care of my younger brother*. He mentioned dates that would only have significance to me. Announced a trip to the Jacksonville area and how he senses a north coast connection. (Uh yeah. I was born there and just planned a trip to visit in Dec. Say what!). It was all so specific and accurate. I was amazed. I couldn’t wait to hear what other things I had coming my way in 2011. A Golden Globe nomination? A trip to India?

“You’re getting married. Next year.”

Um, okay. That’s exciting to hear. I guess. Slight problem though.

“I’m not dating anyone,” I said, offering the only piece of insight into my personal life.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s a strong marriage.”

Oh good. At least my out-of-the-blue and completely impulsive marriage is a strong one.

Suddenly, two phones started ringing, his cell phone and his house phone. He excused himself to take the calls, placing the reading on hold.

Normally, I would have laughed off such a ridiculous prediction but since he’s been right about everything else, I have to take this seriously. Married by next year?! To whom?! Is it Zac or Chase? Or does George come back into my life, years after our last kiss goodbye, apologizing with Princess Diana’s engagement ring? Tell me Thomas!!!

“I’m sorry. I have to cut this short. Just pay me 20 dollars.”

Excuse me, what? You’re going to tell me I’m getting married next year and then cut off my reading?!

I dumbly put twenty dollars on the table and left. Didn’t even try to question or protest it.

Now I don’t know what to do. Should I go back in a couple of weeks and get part two of my reading? Or should I see if he remembers me, get a reading from scratch and see if marriage comes up again? Or should I just let fate take over and marry the first guy I date in 2011?

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Also, here are some photos I took from a previous day trip to Cassadaga.

*Mom’s officially cancer free as of a week ago. Yay!






Filed under That's Not Real, Travel

One day, I’ll be a real actress

The email sounded promising enough. “You have been selected to audition for the Roots and Branches theater company.” Key word: Selected. You see, being selected, as opposed to being asked or invited, automatically makes me superior to all the other actors in this city, as if they pulled my headshot from the massive stack of mail and said,“Her! She’s the one! She’s got talent! Pizzaz! A real dynamo this one!”

Yes, this may sound like a scene from a Shirley Temple movie. And?

I continued reading the email.

“Roots and Branches is an inter-generational community of artists, interested in exploring past and present situations to combine individual moments of personal growth into a collaborative creative presentation.”

Whatever. Just give me a job. Please. I can’t feed my two kittens. I say kittens because even though I don’t have kittens, you can believe that I do. I thought about saying children but really, the idea of me having a child at this point in my life is just ridiculous. And I need you to believe that I have some sort of desperation to go to an audition that will ultimately take me nowhere. Cause why else would I keep putting myself through these useless and often humiliating auditions? Why?! WHYYYYY????

Because I have hungry kittens, damn it!

I arrived at the location provided by the theater company. From the outside, it looked like one of those recreational facilities where you play basketball or indoor soccer. But when I entered, I didn’t hear the usual squeaks of sneakers on wood or grunts of defensive play. There was only silence. A stillness to the building. I took a look and saw no one around. I stood in the empty lobby, alone with my thoughts about how I was alone. However, instead of being creeped out by this Unsolved Mystery waiting to happen, I had an odd sense of familiarity, a feeling like I was home.

I was at a retirement complex.

Growing up in Central Florida, I am no stranger to the elderly lifestyle. Living in conjunction to the second largest retirement community in the United States, The Villages (spreads over three counties!), old people silence is something you learn to live with. Occasionally, a golf cart hums by at 3 miles an hour. Or a house will blast Maury and Montel at full volume. After seven P.M. the silence fills your ears and starts to eat away at your brain.  Soon you’re talking to yourself to fill the emptiness in your head and phrases like, “Baby needs Mr. Q to bake something.  Banana. Banana.” or “Mr. Q ate my tulips. Baby wants her red ones.” start to make complete sense.

A painting by Mr. Q

Lauren, head elder of the Roots and Branches, came out of an elevator and greeted me in her wheelchair. I volunteered to push her to where ever we were going and she directed me to the back of the complex, to a large rehearsal room she called their “jam space”. A group of elderly men and women sat in a circle and applauded as I rolled her in. I noticed there was only one other actor there to audition. His eyes kept darting from the group to the door. I sat down next to him, away from the elders. He nodded his head at me.

“Hey, I’m David.”


“Looks like we’re the only ones here to audition.”

“Good.” The fewer the better in my opinion.

One of the elderly men rose and a hush fell over the group. He groaned the entire way.

“Boy, them knees don’t work like they used to!” Knowing laughter filled the room. “Well let’s get started here. Kids, this isn’t going to be your typical audition.  We’re going to do a little improv, story-telling to see what we come up with. Sort of like we’re workshopping you. That’s what we do. We workshop and tell stories and then we write a play. We’ve got Dina here on guitar, so if you want to start singing, she’ll start a melody and go along with what you do. Dina, why don’t you stand up. Where’s Dina? Dina!?”

A woman with a shaved head stood up behind him. Stickers about saving Mother Earth adorned her guitar case. “Hey guys. Who’s ready to jam?”

“Sarah, why don’t you go first?” The elder pointed at me with his cane. Seriously?

“O-okay.” What was he going to make me do?!

“Sarah, take this cane.” He handed me his long knotted walking cane, maple oak in color. “Take this cane and tell it something you want it to know. Anything. Just something you feel it needs to know. I’ll speak if I feel the cane wants to know more.”

I held the cane tenderly and began to tell it a story.  Sadly, this story is true.

“So, um, I was doing my laundry the other day.  Um, and, uh, I had a sort of bad week. And I hate doing laundry. I mean, I HATE it. And I was really tired and stuff and I went to put in the quarters into the dryer and I hit the wrong button and refilled someone else’s dryer with the quarters. MY quarters. And, um as I said, I had a really bad week and when I did that I started to cry. In the middle of the laundromat.”

“How did that make you feel?” asked the elder, or should I say, asked the cane since, while it is capable of creating thought, it is unable to vocalize its concern for me.


“It made you feel what?”

“STUPID!”  I shouted this line to make my story sound more meaningful.

“What do you want the cane to know about that sad story?”

“Um. That people are good. Cause this man, he didn’t even speak any English, he came up and put four quarters into my machine. Of course, that only made me cry more. But it was still nice.”

“Sarah, do you sing?”


“Do you dance?”

“Yeah.” Crap. “I mean, I used to.”

“Would you do a little dance with this cane?”

‘Yeah, I’ll give you a beat!” shouted Dina as she began to strum a cheerful melody. I figured my dignity was shot with that laundromat story, so I began to dance a beautiful dance with my partner, the cane.

We twirled in circles together. We tangoed. We did the twist. I lifted the cane high over my head and pandered to the elders, tapping my feet vaudeville style. I could tell they were enjoying my performance even though what I was doing couldn’t really be considered dancing. What I was doing looked more like what a four-year thinks dancing is; an uncooordinated mix of hip thrusts, arm poses and funny faces.

“Now say something to the cane,” the elderly man commanded.

I looked at the cane and, in a rather inspired moment, said, “You’ve been so good to me, baby.”

Laughter and applause filled the room. I had pleased them. I sat down and a female elder leaned over and whispered, “That’s how I always feel.”

After I watched the other auditions (two more actors came late), I felt pretty confident that I was going to be jamming with the Roots and Branches full-time. While the other actors may have had better stories, I beat them all with my dance.

They never called me back.

And somewhere, in New York City, a cane sits alone, wanting just one more dance.


Filed under That's Not Real

Whipping My Hair: Part One

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. I generally don’t like to make big plans for my birthday, not because I dread getting older, but because once I start planning anything, I start having expectations. And I know all too well what happens if those expectations aren’t met. Tears. Lots of them. I prefer to go to bed after a day of not celebrating my birthday, content with the knowledge that I may have gained a year in my age but I have also gained in my awesome. This isn’t an over inflated ego talking. It’s science. Take a look at this graph chart taken from Google images. You can see precisely how my awesome increases after each birthday.


It's not predicted to level off. Ever.


Even though I don’t like to make birthday plans, I’m not going to say no if my friends want to celebrate or do something special for me. My friend J.J. called me with the news that we’d both be getting our hair colored and styled into a “red-carpet up-do” courtesy of a L’Oreal celebrity hair stylist. Apparently, the L’Oreal salon hosts hair workshops once a month featuring a celebrity hair stylist and people come from far away to learn their secrets. “Models” are used for these workshops and in exchange for modeling, L’Oreal does their hair for free. If getting a free hair makeover wasn’t enough (and for me it definitely is), they provide breakfast AND lunch. Oh, and what’s this? A goodie bag of hair products? Can I say happy birthday to me or what!

The night before, instead of dreaming about birthday cake and presents, I had dreams of hot rollers and frizz free hair. In one dream, the stylist, represented by Ken Paves, highlights my hair while saying things like, “Jessica Simpson’s hair isn’t nearly as soft as yours” and “Why don’t you start your own hair extension line?”

“Maybe one day.” I demur.

In another, strangers stop me on the street to compliment my glamorous hair. “So this is what it’s like to be beautiful,” I whisper, as my new boyfriend, Ryan Gosling, leans in to kiss me.

However, when I woke up that morning it was raining. And it wasn’t just regular rain. It was old-testament-gonna-flood-this-city-till-everybody-dies rain. It didn’t help that the L’Oreal salon is in the West Village, where I’m lost the moment I step out of the subway station. It took asking two strangers, a pair of ruby-red slippers, Gryffindor’s Sword, and a golden ticket to get me heading in the right direction but eventually I made it to the salon just as they were removing the cellophane off the breakfast buffet table.

Bagels, I’m a-gonna eat you.

I was the first model to the salon. I thought the man who greeted me looked familiar but I figured he was just another fah-bu-lous! hair dresser getting ready for another long day at the salon. I didn’t realize it was David Evangelista.

THE David Evangelista.

David Evangelista: A red carpet stylist and friend of celebrities

Not to be confused with the other David Evangelista: Your neighborhood magician and friend of birds

By 9:00, the other stylists participating in the event had arrived. But David Evangelista was the only one who mattered. His words.

I kept looking for the cameras filming David. He was, as the people in the entertainment industry like to say, “on”. He danced around the salon. He bemoaned the horrible weather. He name dropped. He kept half yelling at me. “Oh, this ONE! She looks scared!”

Turns out, there were no cameras around. This is just how he is at 9:00 in the morning.

My friend J.J. was swept away by David’s celebrity stories. “What’s Rosie O’Donnell like?” asked J.J. after David made a casual reference to the time he was on her show.

“She’s great when she takes her meds.” he said in a sort of world-weary, seen-it-all tone. I thought that was a pretty honest answer.

Soon it was time to go in front of the people who paid a lot of money to learn how to style hair. David decided that J.J. would get a 60’s beehive, a la Mad Men, and I would get highlights and waves like Rita Hayworth.

Let’s start with my before picture, taken right after I came in from the rain.



Good luck making this look good.


After my hair went through the highlighting process, David went to work. He started by placing my hair in rollers.

And then he– well that was pretty much it. He did take my hair out of the rollers and sweep it to the side, though.


Look at me Mom!


J.J.’s look, however, required a lot more hairspray.


That is allllll hair.


J.J., George, and Me, looking glamorous

After lunch, the students had to practice recreating these looks on bodiless mannequin heads. The live models were dismissed.

I couldn’t wait to show the world my new look. My hair looked fantastic. It had a weightlessness to it. It bounced. It no longer looked as though I wrestle rabid raccoons for a living. I’m a somebody! I’m going places! I’m–

Missing my umbrella.

“A couple of students left early, they had flight to catch. One of them probably took it.” said the receptionist.

“But it’s still raining!” This was a terrible turn of events. I couldn’t ruin David’s work! Not when I’m so close to having it all!*

The receptionist handed me a shower cap to protect my hair.


“Thanks.” I meant it. This woman saved my hair and my birthday.  Of course, I didn’t realize that David’s work would not hold in the shower cap as I headed home, losing myself twice in the W. Village, but I’d find that out later. It’s okay. I have a second chance at hair bliss as L’Oreal contacted me and asked if I wanted to get a free haircut on Monday. Uh, you better believe I do! I can’t wait. I hope David’s there and he remembers me.


*I don’t even know what “having it all” means but I pretend like I do, just like I do with a lot of other sayings like You complete me and Love means never having to say you’re sorry and Superman that ho.

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Hog or Heifer? Or Both?

Fired. Again.

It’s just not working out, they say. I don’t blame them. After working three years in various Manhattan restaurants, it’s inevitable: I’ve acquired the bitter waitress syndrome. I couldn’t care less about working in another restaurant and learning five different ways to fold a napkin. They can take their Zagat rating and shove it.

Yet here I am, in a heap of tears on my bathroom floor.

It’s January in New York City. Fucking January. Nobody is hiring in January.

After this restaurant and many others have so readily disposed of my services, it might be pragmatic to stop waiting tables and do something else. In my defeated state on the bathroom floor, I think about bartending. That’s an upgrade, right? It’s not waiting tables but it’s still a night job that allows me to pursue auditions and write during the day. I don’t have much experience but I like beer and know how to pour a pint. I also like to dance and be sassy.

And if there is one place in New York City where dancing, being sassy and pint pouring come together, it is at Hogs and Heifers.

New York City lore has it that the inspiration for the late ’90′s feminist movie, Coyote Ugly, comes from this bar. According to the movie, the bartenders or “coyotes” that work there are wild and unpredictable. They dance choreographed routines on the bar and cut men’s ponytails off while pouring pitchers of water over their svelte model-esque bodies. One coyote is so talented she can stop a bar brawl by singing. I know! She’s that good. These coyotes make a ton of money every night (the movie never shows them working the day shift) and they do it by capitalizing on their sexiness. Or sluttiness. However you want to look at it.

Sitting on the edge of my toilet seat, I dial the phone number for Hogs and Heifers. It is 7:30 PM. I hope I’m not calling too late.

“Hogs and Heifers,” a husky voice answers. I can practically smell the cigarettes through the phone.

“Hi!” I cringe at the perkiness of my voice and attempt to lower it. “Are you hiring any new bartenders?”

“We’re always hiring.”

“I will be there in thirty minutes.” I hang up, exhilarated.

I rush to put on some appropriate clothing. It is a frigid night so layers are a necessity. My white lace tank top peeks out from underneath my lavender argyle sweater. I pull on some jeans and sling a black knit scarf around my neck. A pair of black platform boots adds extra height to my 5’7 frame and keeps my double socked feet warm. I check myself out in the mirror. Not bad.

The Meatpacking District in Manhattan is where Hogs and Heifers is located. Like Space Mountain at Disney World, you can’t miss it. The outside of the bar is rusty and worn down and a row of motorcycles rest on their kickstands along the curb. Blasts of Johnny Cash are heard whenever someone steps out for a cigarette. A red neon light displaying the name of the bar sizzles and pops with danger.

A large tattooed bouncer checks my ID. He lets out a tiny smile when I tell him I am applying to be a bartender. “Good luck, honey.”

It may have been the dead of winter but judging by the bikini tops and cutoff shorts donned by the bartenders we were in the middle of a heat wave in August. I approach the bar and ask for an application.

“For what?” the bartender wearing an American flag bikini asks.

“To bartend? I brought my resume…” I trail off feeling hot and itchy under my sweater. The bar is empty, except for about eight bikers, all wearing serious amounts of facial hair and leather. A lone female wanders back and forth from the bar to the bikers, until she finally loses her battle against testosterone and settles in with the bikers by the jukebox. A mountain of bras hang from the ceiling, sloppily discarded as the remnants of a good time had. I notice the other two bartenders are having fun being complete smart-asses to one of the bikers. This could work, I think. I bet I’ll become one of the favorites here…

“Sweetie, you want something to drink?” American Flag asks.

Caught up in the atmosphere, I slam my hand down on the wooden bar. “Gimme a shot of Jack!” My voice growls with an unusual ferocity.

“That’s my girl.” She pours the shot and slides it to me. I slug it down, the alcohol burning my throat. I’m not a Jack drinker. American Flag grabs a megaphone from underneath the bar and it crackles as she turns it on.

“Hey. Hey. Listen up!” She glances down at my resume. “Saaaarah wants to work here!”

Oh my. It’s exactly like the movie. I start hooting and pumping my fist in the air to make it clear that I was the Sarah she was talking about.

“So you know what she’s gotta do! She’s gotta show us her moves! Get up here and show us what you got!”

I continue hooting and hollering like an over excited ape. I proceed to clumsily mount the bar. It is higher than I expected. My stomach turns, partly due to the shot and partly from the realization that I can’t clog or two-step my way out of beginner’s dance class, let alone freestyle on a bar as a prerequisite for a job interview.

A country western song starts to play on the beat-up jukebox in the corner. I gently start to sway my hips to find the rhythm. I glance at the men below me, trying to entice them with my smile and upbeat attitude. They are unresponsive. It must take them a minute to warm up.

My mind flashes to one of the scenes in the movie, where the main character Violet is trying to survive her first night. She can’t handle the pace of a packed bar. She balks when the owner tells her to dance on the bar. She pisses off the fire marshal. She fails at everything. Things are looking grim for Violet. But right before she gets the boot, she figures out a way to win over the crowd and her boss by auctioning off a really cute Australian guy for the ladies.

So since this place has been just like the movie so far, it’s clear that the key to getting a job at Hogs and Heifers is to interact with the crowd in some manner. Show them I know how it works here in this bar. And what better way to do that than encourage the bikers to buy a shot for me, their new favorite bartender?

“Who’s gonna buy me a shot after this?!” I shimmy precariously in my platform boots.


“That’s cool!” I skip to the other end of the bar. That’s right. I skip. I skip because it has become apparent that I am a terribly unsexy bar-top dancer. My moves are generic, uninspired and limited. In addition, my platform boots have shifted my point of balance causing me to awkwardly teeter after any move I make and my thick sweater is wearing me down, making my body appear shapeless and bulky.

“Why don’t you take off your sweater?” suggests American flag, via megaphone.

American Flag has a point. Why don’t I take off my sweater? I wriggle out of my sweater and with a bucketful of sass, toss it out into the crowd, hitting the only biker slightly interested in my performance squarely in the face. I’m left wearing an ill-fitting tank top with a hole in it and my hair is sticking straight out from sweater static. The bikers start to notice me.

“Yeaaaaah, watch out!” I shout, energized by the slight breakthrough I have made with the crowd. Thinking it the appropriate time to pull out one of those cool knee slide moves demonstrated in the movie, I prep myself and go for it. I slide a mere two inches, more of a heavy plop than a slide, my knees catching on a sticky film of spilt alcohol.

“Get on your knees in the bedroom, not in my bar,” chastises American Flag.

Embarrassed that my knee slide did not garner awe and appreciation, I stand up with a broken spirit. I tap my right foot to the beat. It is no longer exciting to be a potential hog. Or heifer. Not really sure which one is better. The song finally ends. The megaphone crackles.

“It’s a two song minimum, honey.”

Sometimes the desperation for a job and the panic of not having rent money gets in the way of common sense. In this case, it would be to accept defeat and get down from the bar. Call it a night and circle want ads in the morning. Not to keep dancing in a trashy dive bar where the bartenders encourage quickies in the bathroom.

“Let’s hope the next song isn’t a slow one,” comments a bartender with braided pigtails.

Another upbeat country song begins. Going by my last performance, it is clear I need to do something other than dance. Like the singing coyote, what I need is a gimmick. My eyes fall to the lone female. Two is better than one I figure.

“You! Get up here! You know wan-na!”

She responds in a baby doll voice. “I’ve always wanted to dance on the bar.” Her hopeful eyes look up at me, glazed over in a way only a kitchen made narcotic can do.

“Then get on up here, you crazy lady!” I pull her up next to me. She stumbles as she stands, her thin figure hidden by a men’s white T-shirt. Her stringy brown hair falls flat in front of her face and over her eyes. She’s missing one of her back molars but I think I am the only one who can tell. Basically, this is girl is stone’s throw away from sitting out by the local truck stop taking whatever she can get for a blowjob. Which makes her perfect for making me look good. Of course, assuming that this isn’t a bar full of truck drivers and/or vagrants.

Almost instantly, the men in the bar swarm to her and gather at her feet. I pretend not to notice the snub and attempt to capitalize on the attention she is getting by dancing harder and faster, much like an insecure cheerleader overcompensates by yelling the loudest, forcing everyone to look at her and not the real star of the squad, that damn Kelly Kapowski girl.

Any hope of gaining attention was lost when she removed her white T-shirt, leaving a pair of pale floppy breasts exposed, sunny-side up.

“Tits at 8:15! Tits at 8:15!” yelled American Flag into her stupid megaphone.

My right eye began to twitch with suppressed rage. How dare she? I was the one who invited her up, the one who made her bar-top dancing dream come true, the one who desperately needs this job. And here she goes, getting naked and distracting everybody, taking their focus away from where it should be: on me. Now I have to deal with the fact that I am standing on a bar next to a topless woman whose name is Gina.

This is officially not how imagined my night would turn out.

Since I wasn’t going to join her and go topless myself, I decided the only other option was to acknowledge the situation and support her in her nakedness.

“Whoo! Yes. There it is. Yes!” I clapped my hands hard, in vain. It’s not like anyone was paying attention to me, not with a pair of boobs jiggling about.

As she twirled her tits around on the bar, I sensed it was time to for me to get down. I lowered myself from the bar and back to the sticky floor. I felt a disorienting mix of things: embarrassment, anger, shock and oddly enough, accomplishment. Even though none of the bartenders would look me in the eye, I still thought I did okay. I mean, I made it through the two song minimum. I waited for American Flag to tell me when I could start training.

“At least you gave it a go.” American Flag said as she wiped down the bar with a rag and walked away. Excuse me, what? She didn’t care about giving me a job at all. She probably didn’t even remember my name. Later on after her shift, she’d refer to me as “that girl” who came in and skipped on her bar. How depressing.

A biker came over to talk to me, probably out of pity. “Can I get you that shot you hollered for? Whatever you want.”

I looked at American Flag who was now licking Gina’s face. Maybe not working here was a good thing. For everyone involved.

“Yeah. Make it a Jack.”

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I’ve got a license to… sign?

“I have to tell you something but you have to swear you won’t tell anyone. Like, no one. I don’t even think my mom and dad know and if they do, their lives might be in danger. I’m not supposed to tell anyone but I know that if I didn’t tell you, I’d regret it on my death-bed.”

I was on the phone with my cousin Kate.

“Oh my god, I’m scared. I mean, I swear.”

“Megan is going to work for the CIA.”


The news that one of my cousins was going to work for the CIA was definitely a surprise. As far as I knew, I was the only one in the family who harbored aspirations of life as a spy. I wasn’t mad at Megan for wanting to work for the CIA but I was sad because I knew one day we would both be spies on the same mission, probably somewhere exotic like Estonia or Seychelles or George Clooney’s Italian villa, and despite being of the same blood, we’d be forced to double cross one another and become rival spies, each unable to rest until the other is dead. Most likely I’d be the one to survive and after an epic six hour spy showdown, I’d find myself alone on a bluff overlooking an ocean, holding the body of my dead cousin, beautiful even in death. In that moment, a peace would settle over me and I’d finally understand the lyrics to Bitter Sweet Symphony by the Verve.

I couldn’t dwell on the inevitable though. I had an in at the CIA. My years of watching Alias were about to pay off.

“Yeah, she has an interview to be a sign language interpreter.”

Anything other than international super spy would have disappointed me but to find out that the job was for sign language interpreting was particularly annoying. None of us, myself and my three cousins, desired a career involving American Sign Language even though our parents are deaf. Our hands are very tired after years of interpreting for our parents. They need a break. They want the freedom to do other non-signing things, like pet a cat, catch a frisbee or receive a kiss from a handsome prince. Yet, despite achieving finger freedom in adulthood, Megan found herself seduced at an Indiana University job fair by the CIA’s promise of benefits and a healthy salary. This bizarre act of rebellion against us Fitzpatrick/Walker CODA’s (children of deaf adults) only fueled my “Megan is adopted” theory. Her sisters and I don’t desire normal lives, why must she hurt us with hers? And why does the CIA need sign language interpreters to begin with? How many deaf people work at the CIA? And are these said deaf people actually deaf? I had so many questions.

“That’s why I think that sign language interpreter is really code for spy,” said Kate. I agreed with her. Of course the CIA needed ASL fluent spies. If the Russians think we can’t hear them, then they’ll accidentally spill the code to the underground bunker holding the really terrible thing that will destroy man kind.

There was enough intrigue around this situation for me to do further exploring. I went to the CIA website and filled out the application for “Sign Language Interpreter”. It was easy to fill out. It reminded me of one of those internet surveys from Old Navy. Sorta long, a few stupid questions, but worth it for your 10 percent discount on your next purchase or job with the CIA.

The holidays were coming around so I didn’t think much of my application after I hit send. I went to Florida for Christmas and it was there that I received a phone call from an unknown number. I sent it to voicemail.

I nearly choked on my Pizza Hut breadstick when I played back the message.

“Hello, this is Dino with the Central Intelligence Agency. I am calling for Sarah Walker. I have some questions for you. Please call me back either today before four or on Monday and Tuesday between the hours of 8-3 or Wednesday between 12 and 5. Don’t call this Thursday or Friday because my office is closed. My office will be closed again the week of December 27th. Thank you.”

Oh my god. This is it. My spy career is about to begin. I wonder if it’s too soon to start fantasizing about my bad ass code name.

I called Dino from the parking lot of Pizza Hut. It seemed like the appropriate place to make this kind of call. He picked up the phone on the third ring.

“This is Dino.”

“This is Sarah Walker.” A longer than necessary pause followed while I debated whether to add, a.k.a Cobra. I didn’t. “I’m returning your call.”

The conversation was brief and consisted of a re-hashing of my application. How did I know sign language and how proficient was I? Am I willing to re-locate to Washington D.C.? What other languages do I know? Could I pass a drug test? I must have answered all these questions to Dino’s satisfaction because then he said, “You’ll be receiving an unmarked envelope in the mail at the end of January. There will be instructions on what to do next.”

“Can’t wait!” I immediately wished I hadn’t sounded so excited. Real spies play it cool, always keeping their emotions in check.

I took the long way home, which really wasn’t very long, and narrowed my eyes as though I were already living a life full of fake passports and lies. Everyone and everything looked suspicious. I passed my old elementary school and shook my head. That place, I thought, there’s something just not right there. Too many swing sets.

My parents weren’t above my squinty eyed scrutiny either. Especially not after I told them I was in talks to work for the CIA.* My dad reacted in the usual manner, a positive exclaim that supported my latest scheme followed by an incorrect pop culture reference. “That’s a great idea! You always liked the X-Files.” Not the same thing dad, but okay. However, my mom had this to say.

“You can’t be an interpreter, you don’t know sign.”

“What?” I shook my hands in front of her face. “What am I doing now?”

“Well, you need to work on it.” And she went back to reading her book, expertly ignoring my angry face.

I knew why she was acting like this. My mom wanted to keep me as far away from the CIA as possible. I was getting too close to the truth, to the secret she’s been keeping from me my entire life.

That she too, is a spy.

Around my mid elementary years, I started thinking my mom could actually hear and was a spy for some government agency. I still think this and there are several reasons why:

  • She can never remember if she was born deaf or lost her hearing at a later age. To me, things like your name, eye color and how you became deaf are easily remembered. My Aunt can’t remember her deaf story either and every time someone in the family asks about it, she always thinks hard, as though today will be the day it all comes back to her. It never does. My cousins think she’s a spy too.
  • Store sensors beep as she walks through them, entering and leaving. You can shrug and act confused all you want, Mom, but I know there’s microchip implanted into the base of your neck to keep your whereabouts known to your people.
  • One day I was driving with my mom to pick up some dinner. I was listening to my favorite pop station on the radio. I went in to get the food and by the time I got back into the car, dinner in hand, a Barry Manilow song was playing on the radio. Someone had changed the station. And just like Shaggy said, it wasn’t me.

When I was 9, I came up with a test for my “deaf” mom. I was certain she’d be unable to keep up her charade of being deaf after I said the worst word I knew, fuck. If she really loved me, she’d blow her cover by taking me straight to the bathroom and washing my mouth out with soap while saying things like, “No daughter of mine’s gonna talk like that” and “Surprise! My ears work after all.”

I planned to say it after dinner as my brother and I watched Wheel of Fortune. A big risk for me, considering my brother’s tattletale history, but I knew saying fuck in front of a boy so young and innocent would make the offense even worse.

I made sure her back was completely turned toward me before I said it. I didn’t want to give her any reason to use “I can read lips” as a justification for hearing me. As she washed the dishes, I said it.


No reaction. I must not have said it loud enough.

“FUCK.” Still nothing. That’s okay, I expected this. If your mom is a professional spy she’s gonna be hard to crack.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” This time I thought I saw her freeze for a half second. Or maybe I just blinked. No. She’s breaking. Definitely. Time to drop another bomb and this time it’s not going to start with the letter F.

“I hate you.” Five painful seconds passed. My mom didn’t react at all. What?! I just told her I hated her for the first time and it was without cause or being a teenager. I decided she was crying on the inside so I quickly followed with a “But not really!” She rinsed off the casserole dish and stuck it in the dishwasher. She didn’t even look at me. It was time to acknowledge my defeat.

My mother’s lack of confidence in my signing abilities didn’t stop me from wanting to sign/spy for the CIA. That happened when I called Kate for an update of Megan’s interview status.

“Supposedly, they’re flying her down sometime in March but she hasn’t gotten any paperwork yet.”

“Me either! Did they tell her what the interview is going to be like?”

“Yeah. It sounds pretty intense. She has to stand in front of a panel of deaf people with a moderator. The moderator will speak and Megan will have to sign what she says. Then the deaf people will all say something to Megan and she’ll have to translate to the moderator.”


“I know. Megan doesn’t want to go anymore.”

“Well, yeah! That’s so scary!”

It wasn’t until this point that I realized my interview was not going to take place on The Farm. The CIA was going to fly me to D.C. to sign in front of a group of deaf people. For a real person job. That I don’t want. What am I doing? My mom’s right, I don’t know how to sign!**

Dropping off the CIA’s radar is easier than you would think. They never sent me the paperwork to set up the interview! The same thing happened to Megan. Since Megan actually wanted the job, she tried to follow up but her contact yelled at her saying they’ve sent her paperwork three times already and they weren’t sending it to her again.  Our CIA careers were over before they even began.

…Or were they?

*I’m the worst spy ever! I told my parents about the CIA like, 5 minutes after I got home from Pizza Hut.

**I do know sign language pretty well but my mom and aunt made up their own signs before they learned ASL. So my cousins and I know more of a slang version. Signbonics, if you will.


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The first Black Spring Break trailer

A follow up to my recent black spring break post…

This is the trailer to the first one… just imagine how good the third one is!

My favorite part is the guy on the beach with a giant snake wrapped around his neck.

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My first movie role ever: Black Spring Break 3

EXTRAS NEEDED: BLACK SPRING BREAK 3. Male and female. 555-5555. Possible pay.

I practiced my pitch in my head as I dialed the number. Hi, my name is Sarah and I would like to be in your movie. No, that’s not good. Hi, my name is Sarah. I’m an actress and I want to be in your movie. Ugh. No, stupid. Crap. My name is Sarah, I’m calling about–Oh god, someone’s picking up!!!

“Yeah?” It was unclear if the person who answered was a man or woman.

“Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m calling about being an extra in your movie.” (Score! I sounded normal!)

“Oh yeah. Thanks for calling. Can you come tomorrow morning?”

“Ok. Sure! I’d love to! What do you want me to wear?”

“Bring some outfits, like a club outfit and a beach outfit, cause you know we’re at the beach but we’ll be filming in a hotel. Can I ask you something? Are you white? You sound white. Like a perky little white girl.”

“I am.”

“Okay, well we might have some lines for you to say tomorrow, is that cool?”


The next day I drove my 1987 Cutlass Cierra to Daytona Beach ready to begin my life as a movie star. Who says it takes 10 years to be an overnight success? Try one phone call bitches!

The trilogy that is Black Spring Break started in 1998. As you can see by these video covers, I was born to be in these movies.

A short synopsis of the first movie, taken from Amazon….

As all-american college football star day-run southboy and his friend rapper kenny flyy hit the sands in daytona beach for black spring break the biggest wildest party of the year every sports agent and gold digger in town wants a piece of him.


Can we talk about spring break in Daytona for a minute? Since I grew up only an hour and a half away from those golden party shores, you better believe I hit the scene all four years of high school. I wanted to go so bad my freshman year, I lied to my parents and told them I was going to softball camp for the week. I wanted, nay, needed to know… was it really as crazy as MTV VJ Bill Bellamy said it was? Would I find myself partaking in one of those wet T-shirt contests or do a keg stand or stick my tongue down that cute college guy from Georgia’s throat? And then immediately turn and stick my tongue down his best friend’s throat? What would happen during this week of very adult fun?

Nothing. I left after the second day. Fifteen year old Sarah was not ready to handle Daytona’s debauchery. The next couple of years weren’t as traumatizing and I ended up having a pretty good, if tame, time. No college boys from Georgia, wet t-shirt contests, or keg stands. Just some off-key karaoke to I Love Rock N Roll, the Britney Spears version.

Daytona is pretty dead in February so when I got lost on the sidewalks of A1A, styling in my club outfit, the only person around to give me directions was a homeless man. “You should be in the movies.” He told me as I walked away. I wanted to squeal when he said that because what? That’s exactly what I’m about to do.

I met Shalomar in the lobby of a Ramada Inn and she thanked me for coming on such short notice. She handed me a page of dialogue. I would be playing Dumb White Girl #2. “What is this? Typecasting?” I joked. She laughed.

Shalomar took me up to the hotel room the production company was using for holding. I met my co-star, Dumb White Girl #1. She definitely was more of a Dumb White Girl #1 than Dumb White Girl #2. She was very blond and very booby and learned how to talk from Marilyn Monroe. She let me know immediately that she had two kids and if we didn’t start filming soon she was going to have to pay the babysitter extra. And this was not okay.

When Dumb White Girl #1 found out we wouldn’t be filming until at least six o’clock, she decided to “fuck this” and “pay her god damn babysitter”. She left and never returned.

Guess who got promoted to Dumb White Girl #1?!?!?!

*This girl!*

We had to get another Dumb White Girl #2 but luckily, according to Shalomar, this hotel was full of them. We found one in the lobby who was on vacation with her parents to play opposite me.

Me and DWG#2 memorized our lines but before we could go act, Shalomar wanted us to help the strippers pick out their outfits. That’s right, strippers were now in the room getting dressed for their upcoming scene. At least, that’s what they told me. These strippers were the real deal. I knew they were the real deal because they arrived on a cloud of cheap body spray and glitter. They and their bags of ho-wear took over the two beds in the room.

“That’s a really flattering color on you.” I told the one who was wearing a peach sequined scarf. And nothing else.

“Are we going to film our scene soon?” DWG#2 asked. “I’m on vacation.”

“Oh yeah. We gonna film soon. But first we gonna go to Burger King! Ladies, let’s go get some Burger King!” The strippers got so excited and started talking to each other at decibel level that hurt my ears. Next thing I knew, I was getting into a van packed with strippers who kept saying they were going to show me some “culture”.

“Can’t wait.” I said and gave a thumbs up. Apparently this was hysterical. What other silly white person things could I do?

“Oooh, turn this up. This is my jam.” It was Juvenile’s classic hit, Back that Azz Up. Howls of laughter. I wasn’t joking. They turned it up and we pulled into Burger King with me throwing lyrics down as hard as I could. They were so impressed they bought me one of those small dessert pies.  Shyeah!

With the cast and crew rolling into Burger King like they owned it or something, I started to get the sense that Black Spring Break*, in general, is a lot more out of control than MTV’s spring break. That’s why they have to make a movie about it. They can’t show this much titty on television.

Speaking of making a movie, is that what we’re doing? I’ve been here for 10 hours without hearing words like action and cut and the camera loves you, Sarah Walker.

“Okay, let’s go to the lobby and film your scene. Day-Run is ready.” My stomach did a little hippity hop. My moment had come.

The scene went like this. Day-Run (star of the movie) was hiding from his stalker, some crazy banshee of a woman. This woman asked us if we knew where Day-Run was. Cut to being dumb and white. I can’t remember the exact dialogue but there was a “joke” in there about O.J. and Nicole Simpson. On top of all this hootenanny, the stalker had a stalker herself, who ran around the hotel shirtless, asking everyone to touch his moobs.**

This is the cinema at its finest.

The first part of the scene, with us joking about Nicole, went well. The end of the scene was a little more… well, I don’t know what it was. Basically, the scene ended on the steps of the hotel with me and the other DWG each cupping a moob of the stalker’s stalker.

I honestly don’t remember how it got to that point. It wasn’t in the script. But I rolled with it and made sure to cradle his fleshy moob in my palm like a pro.

For my 11 hours of waiting, I ended up filming about a half hour of footage.  I asked Shalomar when I would get paid. It was obvious by the way she scrambled for some paper in her purse that she wasn’t expecting to keep in touch.  She took my address down on the back of a ripped envelope.”Yeah, ok. We’ll send you something in the mail, like 75 dollars maybe. Thanks so much for coming, girl!”

I have yet to be paid and this movie has never been released.

*Black Spring Break is not the spring break on MTV. It’s a whole separate week in Daytona, also known as Black College Reunion or BCR. It attracts 200 to 300,00 people annually.

** Moob= Man boob. In case you didn’t know. Try and use it in a sentence today.


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Rihanna watch out.

This is what woke me up this morning.

It may have been a music video shot in a back alley with her neighbor’s home video camera but mark my words! She’s going to make it.

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Never stop dancing

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From model to vampire

I love it when I watch movies from back in the day and find an actor who was unknown at the time but is a super famous vampire now.

For example, Alexander Skarsgard in one of my favorite movie clips of all time, the gas station scene in Zoolander.

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