So I had a crazy idea.

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I don’t know what came over me. I was walking my dogs over the footbridge that I always do on my way to the fake lake and I suddenly came up with a thought: What if I had a dance party on the footbridge? I know this is a crazy idea because what if we caused an accident on the freeway below when all the cars were distracted by a bunch of weirdos dancing above them. But I didn’t think about that until later when I ran my crazy idea by Payam and he pointed out the danger. So I moved my idea to the beginning of the footbridge where some trees overgrow and the bridge is hidden from the cars below. But still, what a crazy idea, right? The more I thought about it, the more I was in love with it.

I’ve had a few setbacks lately with my creative ideas and I just wanted to do something really fun and cheap. That narrows your options by a lot but photography and dancing are FREE! I was supposed to throw a make-up party at our local hoity-toity mall and it fell through when I realized it would cost me more than it was worth. And the management at the mall kept making me jump through more and more hoops. It just turned into a headache and I had to cancel it even though a lot of people were excited about coming. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. It still might happen but if I’ve learned anything this tax season it’s that I need to stop spending money I don’t have. I always put myself in these ridiculous situations and I need to get better at saying no.

Long story short I had a vision in my mind. We have this portable boombox amp thing that can play music really loud AND it’s cordless. It’s really cool.  It’s made quite a difference in the ambiance of our parties. Why not cart that thing out to the middle of the bridge, I thought? We can bring the dance party with us!

I’ve always loved the footbridge. It’s kind of my own slice of urbanity in the middle of boring snoresville suburbia. I always love walking over the ocean of traffic on my way to a peaceful lake on the other side.  It’s just a really unique spot. When the sun shines across the horizon at sunset it can turn magical. So I strung up some battery operated lights, emailed all my close crazy friends who do silly things like this for me and we set out.

Only problem was I was the only one who could really make this work and that meant I had to be model AND photographer. I wanted to be behind the camera, capturing my vision but nobody was really into dancing like a crazy fool like I was. So I set up my tripod, asked Payam to take a few pictures and then danced my head off. I waved and shouted and kicked my furry unicorn leg warmers (that I borrowed from Joon) in the air and everybody thought I was a big fool.

And I was. I was a big fat sweaty dancing fool. But thankfully the ones who are near and dear to me love me for being a big fool. Even though Bug was probably the most embarrassed of me (purely because of her age and not because we are not kindred spirits in weirdness) she danced with me too. She kept trying to pull me to the side when people walked by, like it pained her to have the general public see me acting this way. I know it was hard for her with her friends being there too. But at the same time who’s going to make her crazy memories if not me? I think kids need to be embarrassed of their parents once in a while. It makes for good stories.

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It IS a good story. But mostly it was a good lesson for me. I did a hard thing and I learned a ton. I organized a spontaneous dance party and really put myself out there. It wasn’t a complete win. I see lots of failure when I look at the photos (the 200 I am not sharing with you.) I see awkwardness. I see myself being vulnerable. I see parts of myself I don’t like seeing. I see others looking at me.

My energy was at a 200 while theirs is barely getting up to 80 which in itself is really cool because they are there and not sitting at home on their couches. I see love. I see my close friends putting themselves out there for me because they love me even when I am silly and weird. I see the light. I see how I didn’t have my camera set properly to catch the light… I have so much to learn. I would love to do it again and apply what I have learned but I’m not sure I could wrangle another crowd together. It’s hard to get people to dance in public!

One of the coolest things that happened was when a woman walked by and started dancing with us. That warmed my heart and made me so happy. A lot of people walked by us and smiled. Some people bobbed their shoulders but this woman woman raised her arms and sashayed in a circle as she walked by us. She even came back for another round and told us that our party made her feel like she was in New Orleans! golden-hour-dance-party-5We were a small bunch. But what a bunch! These are the people who will probably come visit me when I am dying in the hospital. (Well maybe not Bug’s friends but who knows!) These are the people who would come rescue me if I had a flat tire on the side of the road in a rainstorm. These are the people who wear unicorn suits and totally understand me when I have panic attacks.sandra-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerThese are the people I met when I moved to the apartment complex. That apartment complex is kind of known for being a transitional place where people move to when they are in between stage in their life. Lots of single moms. Lots of divorcees. Lots of people who couldn’t afford to live in big houses but it was the nicest place they could afford near a really good school. My heart runs deep for these friends.

maria-and-the-dragon-hunter-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerMy dragon-hunter model who poses for me when I do craft posts for Alphamom now that Bug is too big for little kid crafts…golden-hour-dance-party-photographer

And Neilochka! Neil isn’t from my apartment complex but he was in town and as a fellow photographer (who’s work I adore) I knew he’d be down.

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Bug and her crew of school friends. They think I’m nuts but not too nuts to completely shun. I think they reluctantly admit I have a good idea or two when nothing else better is going on. Emphasis on the latter.

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We danced for forty-five minutes, counting down the last minutes zealously. And then we packed up and went home happy and tired.

I felt insecure about it for days. But now I’m putting it down in the books as a learning curve to help me through the next big idea. I wonder what it will be?!

The “13 Doesn’t Succ…” Succulent Party

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It rained all week and then suddenly on Saturday, the day of Bug’s thirteenth birthday party, the sun came out, the rain dried up and it was a brilliant lovely summer day. Pretty much perfect for an outdoor succulent-themed birthday lunch!

(Of course we had a back up plan. We would have went ahead and had a birthday lunch inside and crowded everyone into our dining room. I would have pan-fried the hamburgers three at a time and it would have been a smokey mess but we could have pulled it off. I’m just so glad we didn’t have to.)

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From the outside everything looked perfect. It was sunny and warm day in January. The napkins I found stuffed in my party box were the perfect color of orange to match Bug’s neon orange shirt that she picked out last minute. The adorable little succulent plants fit perfectly into their little terra cotta pots. The cupcakes were the most cute! The hamburgers were delicious and the avocados were even the perfect amount of ripeness to make a big bowl of tasty guacamole. The puppies were happy guests in the side yard petitioned by a puppy gate. Everyone was happy.

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I, however, was not as happy. A shame, I know. It’s just that I’m think I am ready to retire from party-throwing. I know. Nobody believes me. And maybe I’m just all talk. Come May when it’s time to throw Joon’s “baking challenge” birthday party, I’ll probably be rearing to go again. But right now I just feel like I’m done. I’ve spent way too much money on these parties over the years and it’s starting to get to the point where the wonderful creative aspect of party-throwing is not outweighing the financial and operational stress of making them actually happen.

It’s finally come to that. Maybe 2018 was a rough year for me and I’m finally growing up.

I love parties. I just don’t love who I become during party prep count-down time AND I don’t love how much money I spend. Unfortunately I’ve set the bar pretty high and the kids have come to expect this kind of festivities but I think it’s time to train them out of it because this can’t sustain itself. At least not for a while while I recuperate from losing my laptop and camera in Italy.

But you are not here to discuss my mental health and my party planning retirement. You are here to look at the details.

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Details! The green bar, the green lemonade, the sunny day, the succulents everywhere… It was all lovely

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Bug and I fell in love with the idea of succulent cupcakes. They are all over Pinterest these days. I didn’t really put a lot of effort into researching the how-to steps to make them though because Joon has become the baker in the house and I figured between the two of them, (Joon is the baker, Bug is the decorator) they would probably pull it off. I bought the Russian tips and let it all sit on the counter for a week until the day of the party.

Well, as luck would have it, the girls let me down. Not terribly but they kind of expected me to pull it off for them like I usually do and they were off in the bathroom somewhere doing their hair. So maybe you could say I let them down. Chalk it up to a miscommunication.

So there I was a the eleventh hour trying to figure out how Russian icing tips work. The kit I bought was super complicated with widgety plastic parts that for some reason with the last minute stress of it all turned into a rubic’s cube mystery operated by Greasy Fingers Mc-frustrated. Nothing worked and the cute little succulents of icing turned into smooshy blobs instead of leaf-like peaks. The color was perfect (because Bug, the color expert added the food coloring) but the shape was just a mess.  Of course it was 101 degrees in the kitchen because that is how our house works when the sun is out (pretty windows have an ugly side effect) and that probably contributed to my stress.

I grunted and screamed and pretty much turned into a Tyrannosaurus rex for twenty minutes. Poor Payam hovered nearby but there was really nothing anyone could do to calm me down or fix the situation.  I muttered through it and in the end the cupcakes turned out pretty cute. And since no one was comparing them to the Pinterest pin I had in my head, nobody realized they were a collassel failure.

Typical Brenda. Freak out and nobody knows.

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Payam cooked the hamburgers. Joon had perfect hair…

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And the party went off without anyone knowing that I was officially throwing in the towel. Last party I vowed.

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A funny thing about Bug and Joon. Bug loves to draw (of course! She’s just like me) and many of Bug’s friends like to draw too. Joon does not like to draw and many of Bug’s friends don’t like to draw either. So the party kind of split into two groups: the drawers and the game players.

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Joon LOVES any kind of game. The more active the better. I never realized how much I hated games until I met someone who really loves them. There are just so many games I am bad at!  Pretty much anything to do with math or being on the spot gives me anxiety. So that rules out all games except Pictionary. I love Pictionary because I love to draw. Sadly nobody else really loves Pictionary as much as I do.

When the party started out Joon was kind of moping around because it was a day for Bug and all of Bug’s friends were there. Joon didn’t get a chance to invite any of her friends, an oversight on my part. She was sad and bored.

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But then when Bug went off to a corner with her drawing buddies some of her non-drawing buddies got bored and wandered inside to find Joon who was standing by to save the day with TWISTER! and CARD GAMES! All the gamers were so happy and so was Joon. And that’s how that worked out.

It’s funny though because Payam came to me and said, Why are there two groups? Why are Bug and her two lone buddies off being anti-social to which I turned to him and said, Let them be. That was me. I always hated parties because I hated games and I just wanted to be off in a corner drawing. So we let them be.

 

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And that was that! Thirteen didn’t suck so much. But being the party planner did so maybe this is my last party. At least until May. And then THAT will be my last party.